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NuMetalManiak

What could make a turn-based RPG much more fun?

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so I was reading this old thread and I noticed that turn-based RPGs seem to come up a lot there. now they're not obviously the cream of the crop for RPGs anymore, since action RPGs seem to be much more enjoyable now. but I had the (guilty) pleasure of playing quite a lot of turn-based RPG games, from Lufia to Lunar to Wild Arms series. I seem to enjoy them at first hand due to the fact that there's more strategy involved when selecting commands rather than doing it quickly (like in active-time battles). From my experiences, I wound up feeling alright about the game at first, and then end up getting more bored the more I played it. Sometimes I wouldn't even finish the game. This is when I wonder, how could the game possibly be better? What is it that makes me so bored playing the turn-based RPG?

overall pacing of these games tend to be slow, but I can live with that. the rather obvious thing in my opinion that could make an RPG more fun is doing away with required "grinding". most turn-based RPGs, and pretty much any FF game seems to have this. It's just not fun having to spend some time leveling up your characters on enemies that don't give super juicy experience just so they are actually capable of killing the next big ass cahooney they come upon. I know low-level runs of turn-based RPGs exist, and I've even attempted some, but in many cases, a lot of bigger fights in them are extraneously hard to the point where they come down to luck. removing the grinding would make things easier for the ones who want to play the game quicker.

doing away with random encounters is another one. I never enjoy these, since you can either walk like 5 steps, or 30 before an encounter is triggered. a well-seasoned player will pretty much find these a waste of time. that being said though, for the ones that do have enemies in the field, I should have a way to avoid them should I need to. I was playing Lunar 2 (Playstation remake) and there were times where I pretty much had to enter battle with every monster in the dungeon/tower/whatever because the monster is either faster than my character on the field or is just in the way somehow that I have to get by him by fighting him. That wasn't fun at all.

so yeah, grinding and random encounters for me are what tends to make turn-based RPGs kind of a slog. I personally think cutting them down would make a turn-based RPG game more fun and also replayable. Any of you who have played these games, anything else to make these games less boring and more fun? (pardon how I explain stuff since I'm so horrible at it)

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I tried Phantasy Star, Suikoden and some other game I can't remember. Just like you, in all cases I was kinda excited at first but got bored in a few days. It's not only the grinding that is a problem, but also the fights themselves where it feels like tactics don't really matter that much. In most situations it seems like you're either a lot stronger than the opponent or a lot weaker, and in both cases your strategy on who attacks who most likely won't matter. So it's like all these choices you make during the fights are... pointless.

I also looked at Disgaea a bit: now that one actually looked quite complex with a lot of strategical thinking needed. Maybe I should get back to it.

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I've never really much cared for turn-based RPGs myself, but there are a couple I can think of whose mechanics helped me get more into the game. The first is Earthbound - rather than simply having random encounters, you could actually see the enemies in the game world, which allowed you to potentially avoid them. There was also an element of strategy involved, in that you could also sneak up on enemies and approach them from behind for a bonus when the combat started, or if an enemy snuck up on you, then it would receive a bonus. Another feature I liked was that if you were a high enough level relative to the enemy, the fight would just end in an automatic victory without even going to the battle screen - it never made sense to me to waste time on low-level enemies when there was not even a chance of losing anyway, so it was a nice touch that the game knew there was no point to fighting them.

Another feature I found that made turn-based RPGs more enjoyable was in Mario and Luigi - Superstar Saga. The combat was your typical RPG fare, but if you pressed the attack or jump button at just the right time in the battle animations, you could either dodge an attack or do bonus damage. I liked that, because it made the battles about more than simply number-crunching and dealing with stats. Yeah there was still strategy in choosing what action to perform, but it made the battles a little more interactive. In addition, you were rewarded for getting the timing down by giving you a chance to take down tougher enemies without as much grinding, and not having to constantly heal party members if you got good at the dodging mechanic.

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Undertale is a pretty standard Mother-esq RPG, that is until the enemy attacks. Then you have to maneuver a small cursor around the inside of a box to avoid a bullet hell representation of said attack. All between trying to figure out the specific command that will allow you to pacify them non-lethally. Or you can just kill the thing, you monster.

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A turn based game I've been meaning to replay lately is Legend of Legaia. The weird little fighting game combo input thing is still one of the most unique combat elements I've ever seen in a J-RPG.

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Some games add in active, timing-based elements to spice up the combat a bit, like the Mario RPG titles. I think that method is mostly just band-aiding a perceived weakness instead of playing to the strengths of the format though. Same thing with RPGs that add in automation options to just autopilot through mundane random encounters. I was pretty awestruck upon seeing that feature for the first time (I think it was in Lunar) and what an utterly backwards line of thinking it felt like.

I would iterate on the "less grinding" idea and say that battles should be more scarce, but in turn more challenging and meaningful. Turn-based combat means you can afford the time to really plan and think about your decisions, and I see that as an opportunity to make more slow and methodical gameplay which seems to be getting rarer in RPGs these days as they move further towards twitch-based action.

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The main problem with many RPGs is that you have to spend too much time grinding which forces the game to be a chore, and you don't get enough interaction during the fight sequences.

I like what, for example, MarioRPG does with the timed hits and timed defenses. These days, there's no reason not to take it further - Pulling off a Street Fighter-like combo to do a move on your turn would be very satisfying rather than just literally pressing a single button and watching an animation over and over.. That's just one small example of something that could be done to make playing less boring. This idea could be expanded much more effectively.

long short - more interaction during fights and less grinding

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I remember Heroes 3 and 4 also had an automated battle mode, and the computer was a lot stronger than me. It could win a fight that I would definitely perceive as hopeless. Saved my ass a few times this way.

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One of the few turn based RPG games I enjoyed was The Desolate Room.

Because it had actual strategy, you had to think about every move and attack, and one single wrong move can fuck you over big time.
most turn based RPG's have 0 strategy and are just about "attack attack attack use health potion repeat 50 times"

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Apparently minigames. To me in the long run it feels like work rather than a strategy game of chess.

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By Not being turn based for the entire game. There are a few games which i somewhat enjoy while having turn based aspects... Namely Fallout 1, Final Fantasy 8, and a few others (which is not a title but just a few other games).

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Smack the heads of today's witless generation long enough so they realize how much superior turn-based RPGs actually are.

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Lack of internet helps make the grinding more rewarding. In the case of Phantasy Star. If we got stuck, you had to call Sega of America to ask for a hint and that's even if you could get through because the line was always busy. Everything is a keyboard away now so the grinding becomes just a time killer if you know what you need to do next. When there was no internet your grinding could be done while exploring.

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dew said:

Smack the heads of today's witless generation long enough so they realize how much superior turn-based RPGs actually are.

I don't think that'll hide the truth that it's very easy for a turn-based RPG to be a less responsive version of Cookie Clicker.

I love them, but so many of them just boil down to time wasters. Games like Megami Tensei find ways to avoid that, but even the popular Dragon Quest series suffers from this in large portions of the game. The best turn-based RPGs are the ones that add something to the formula so that the amount of time you spend doing the same thing - which isn't necessarily spamming the attack command, but spamming the same spell or ability over and over is the exact same thing - is far, far less than the time you spend doing something new.

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Oops, sorry. I assumed we were talking about turn-based rpgs including crpgs. I completely agree about the tediousness of the jrpg grind formula.

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A lot of games are turning to the grind formula. Ever play River City ransom? Wow what a dull grind of a game. If the game is fun it doesn't feel like a grind or if you have ocd.

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The best turn-based RPGs, IMO, are the ones that have a decent element of tactics/strategy to them. Having it matter what formation you arrange your party in and having magic/abilities systems that add some more depth than just "alternate stronger way to attack" for instance.

Edit: I'm also going to hazard a guess that a lot of the long "epic" ones get boring not only because of the game mechanics, but because even the ones that are "play it for the story" games often have rather boring/generic plots that are presented in a way that's hard to care about.

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Being an advocate of ye olde Diablo, I'm gonna go with it's just not fun to click a button and watch a prerendered animation then hear a fanfare play and you get an arbitrary amount of XP

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Diablo and Torchlight are 2 series I never got into. They're just dull grinds rather than a chess game. I might as well be sitting at a slot machine.

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I enjoy them because of satisfying yet simple combat which gets more complex later on and building character stats is fun while also collecting that sick loot bruh

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SavageCorona said:

Being an advocate of ye olde Diablo, I'm gonna go with it's just not fun to click a button and watch a prerendered animation then hear a fanfare play and you get an arbitrary amount of XP

Diablo was great. Do they still run the server?

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I know you can still play Diablo 2 online if you get the Lord of Destruction expansion or if you buy it on Battle.net but I'm not sure about the first one.

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Something that's been in my mind in a while is a game that takes Undertale's combat and embraces it, with a larger focus on bullet hell gameplay in general.

I'm not sure if what I have in mind would be really turn-based, though. It'd be something closer to Mega Man Battle Network, where you have a set-up phase followed by a fully real-time action phase, looped like that until the battle is over.

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The only console RPG games I ever got into was the Final Fantasy series.

Compared to a lot of other JRPGs, few Final Fantasy games require intense level grinding and when it does it hasn't really bothered me. Same with random encounters. Unless they are really often (one every few steps), I don't mind them.

Perhaps ironically, when Squenix shifted the series to be more "action RPG" with 12 and 13 that is when they became shit and I got bored playing them. So what I might like in RPGs will not necessarily equate to what you like. Admittedly, the FF games are a rather small sample size compared to the shear number of turn based RPGS out there.

I've also played the two Chrono games which if you haven't played those I think you might like. You can see the enemies on the field so no random encounters, there's very little grinding in Chrono Trigger as you typically gain enough XP/levels just by going from A to B and Chrono Cross there is no grinding whatsoever as defeating bosses is what "levels" you up.

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A lot of problems I tend to have with turn-based RPGs were solved with Fire Emblem Awakening. Here's a rundown of what it does:

- The entire game can be sped up by holding a button during animations.
- Animations can be skipped entirely by pressing Start.
- Random numbers are all but eliminated; damage values do not vary, and RNG is used only for to-hit chance and critical chance.
- Comprehensive and easy-to-learn weakness and resistance system, that factors into gameplay enough that even a very powerful unit still requires some strategic thought so as to avoid exposing their weaknesses (i.e. armor units should avoid magic, flying units should avoid archers, etc.)
- Battle maps tend to last no longer than around 15 minutes.
- No on-screen messages to waste time.
- Auto-battle function if you don't feel like babysitting your units.

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Less grinding, but grinding was part of the fun back in the day. Turning the tables on your enemies that would whallop you was part of the experience. Don't have enough healing items to make it through the dungeon? Too bad. That is fun, being on the brink of death from a random encounter. Kinda like how dark souls is, only you lose that time vested from the last save point instead :D.

I think adding equipment or items that can give the player more EXP is an alternative to drastically changing the grinding traditional model. Simply offer the player the option to level up quicker if they wish. I think keeping some parts of the game mechanics cryptic and using expository story telling to reveal them is the best way to ease the player into the game.

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While I can't say I'm a turn base RPG fan however once in a blue moon I would fall in love with one. Fallout 2 was my first and loved it. Afterwards it was mostly turn based strategy and empire building games I preferred. Heroes of Might and Magic and the Disciples Series were my favorites in those categories.

But my most favorite turn based RPG was Gladius. The only real issue with it was at some point I became rather sick of the 'timing your hits' system, but for the most part I enjoyed it and kept me attentive, also allowing me to control the success of my attacks based on my reaction rather than just commanding my team and just watching slow paced action.

While this could just be my personal preference, I firmly believe the best turn based games don't allow the turn based aspect to dominate the game. Have lots of free flowing interaction before and after battles but also find clever ways to keep the player involved and invested in the battle like Gladius does. I really wish they made another one.

Returning to turn base RTS games (or grand strategy), hands down my most favorite of all is Medieval 2 Total War. The time period with medieval Knights, Crusades, Catholic dominance and corruption is so interesting and near fantasy level. The political options, religious conquest, spying, assassinations, general trait management, agent trait management, trade warfare, building and all in turn based strategy but while in combat it's a total fluid strategy game and I get to see that squad of knights I invested lots of gold and time to build facilities and train them now in action! It's so awesome. And the mods, man the mods are amazing. Even the total conversion like the Lord of the Rings mod is damn impressive.

Example of Medieval 2 Military and Political Strategies

Spoiler

An example of the political side of Medieval 2. I was crusading Egypt and doing well, however as I advanced North Turkey waged war on me and captured my Fort in Adana. I gathered spare militia and battle hardened troops in need of resupplying and marched them with one of my oldest and greatest military generals. He has a natural hate of Islam which gives him +2 command points when facing them (and it often reflects in his pre-battle speeches, he is an angry man). Anyway he barely won the battle and retook Adana however at any moment Turkey can send in another force to retake it and my efforts are wasted and I may lose a good general. I had to call a truce and return Adana to them. In a few turns I built up a strong army however if I break the truce I would gain a very bad reputation... I needed to find a way to break the truce and be justified.

Actually I do know a way. I can ask the Pope to call a Crusade against Turkey which not only justifies breaking the truce with no consequences but I can also have various Christian nations send large armies to weaken and distract them. Unfortunately the Kingdoms of Denmark and England have been excommunicated for constantly disobeying the pope when he demanded them to stop attacking fellow Christian nations. He is so butt hurt he only accepts those nations as targets... I need them forgiven before I can request one against Turkey.

How do I get these nations forgiven? Hmm I do know when a Pope dies and another takes his place such sins are forgiven. Therefore I need to assassinate the Pope and put one of my Cardinals into power... I do have a well experience assassin nearby. There is a serious risk though, if my assassin were to be captured my nation may be at war with all of Christendom and may never be trusted again.

Regardless I made the order to my Assassin. He entered Rome's Cathedral and stood on the roof tops with a crossbow. As the pope addressed his People my assassin shot a bolt straight into his heart and ran. The city was in chaos but my assassin successfully escaped.

The time to vote for a new Pope arrived. I had several Cardinals who had good voting power but not enough to guarantee the next pope will be one of mine. I Bribed Sicily and France's Cardinals to vote mine into power, which they agreed (for a large sum). But alas it worked, my Cardinal became the next pope and according to the relations the Pope sees my nation is an inspiration to all Christendom! Not only, England and Denmark was forgiven as expected.

With one of my own into power, I requested a Crusade against one of Turkey's well defended strongholds. And so it happened, he demanded all Christian Nations to send at least one Noble with an army to invade Turkey! It took a few turns but eventually many of them reached their destination and eliminated at least 2 strong armies worth of Turkey's forces while I joined the Crusade in the last minute. Instead of sending my late army to the crusade target I sent them at Adana and a spare force at an undefended city nearby. Now I conquered 2 cities and put Turkey into a desperate state. They sent a diplomat to request a cease fire, I made my terms of demanding 1000 Florins per turn for 10 turns. They just accepted, and we made peace. From there on Turkey was a much weaker nation and I was a little stronger.

That's some game of thrones shit right there.

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ETTiNGRiNDER said:

Did you really just say that?


I know I laughed.

RTS is stressful to me. There's always that sword hanging over you so its a mad rush to amass the bigger army. I don't play games to get stressed.

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