Mr. Happy A Turn-Based Fallout 3

Mr. Happy A Turn-Based Fallout 3, how awesome would this be? or your hopes for combat
Oho, one of the most fiercely debated issues in the relatively short history of Fallout 3: the combat system. Should there be cinematic real time sequences in the wastes that bring a tear to Peter Jackson’s eye? A good “old skool” turn based system of the previous games, maybe with some added tactical madness Jagged Alliance 2 style? Try to through both together in realtime with pause? Break some ice with a phase based system? Try to have both rt and tb and the expense of balance (Lol)?

As with a surprisingly good sized amount of people, I’m hoping for Bethesda to go back to the roots with turn based system. Likely? Well, unfortunately, no. But before we go into my reasoning, let’s clear up some unfortunately common misconceptions first (which may or may not help you understand my position):

Fallout’s combat was SO PAINFULLY SLOW.

When playing games, it is usually a good idea to get a good idea of how much control over the game you have. Which brings us to Rule #8 of videogaming: always check the options menu . Your quality of life will be significantly improved, as now attacks are near instantaneous. Very large battles are still not warp speed, but that’s a design issue that can be solved a good number of ways, rather than a system issue.

Turnbased combat is made obsolete by realtime/ it is a dinosaur and no longer belongs in our awesomely next gen gaming arena.

Pardon my attitude, but this argument is so full of [censored] its eyes are brown. A ridiculous amount of people have claimed this, but I will never understand the position that realtime is some sort of progression from turnbased. I mean, Lol. Why? Turnbased combat can achieve things that realtime cannot. It’s simply a different approach to abstracting combat. The depth of control of the character in battle and application of their skills cannot not be effectively replicated as well in realtime. Unlike RT, in turnbased you can have theoretically limitless options, all with out compromising the application of character skill. If you are lucky, I will give examples of this later. The fact is, both systems have advantages, but it seems the advantages of tb line up better with the gamestyle of fallout. Plus, there is so much room for growth and innovation in tb combat, which I will get to later.

Realtime with pause combines the best of both worlds!!!

From my experience, it combines the worst of both worlds. You lose the fluidity, chaos and thrill of split second decision making of full real time, and the tactical control of tb. You do gain simultaneity, as well as the fact that combat is not usually reduced to madly clicking (and not knowing what is going on), but it is overall, it feels like a deformed child of both systems that was never meant to be, and you lose the interactivity both systems had. Plus, how is having to pause every 3 seconds (which is what you have to do in order to inject any sort of tactics into RT w/pause) anymore immersive/visceral/nextgen/whatever than turnbased? I don’t get it. Which (kinda) brings me to the next point.

You mean turn based like KOTOR?

Nono. Call it real time with pause, continuous turn based, a real time turnbased system (?), tb played in realtime (double ??), whatever. I’m of the opinion that this system was bad bad bad. I would actually argue that its not turnbased because, if I recall correctly (I have not played in a while) there is a degree of simultaneity to it. Yes it has rounds, but I see the definition of turnbased not being completely literal, just as an RPG is not any game where you play a role. Really? Yes. Whatever it is, I can not stand it. Not just because of the lack of options, which are a design problem, but the style of play that is inherent in the system. Basically, you attack, and you can technically do nothing for the rest of the combat. It’s so passive. Sure it looks cinematic and all, but you basically lose control of your character in order to maintain this continuity. Ok, you can give orders, but the battle rages on, with or without you. Interactivity is reduced to a bare minimum. You also lose a definition of speed normally represented by action points. This means less definition of character -> less RPGness-> bad for fallout -> omg. Action points are such an awesome thing, no reason to throw them away for the sake of making you feel like you are in a movie (one that is paused frequently so that somebody can get up to go to the bathroom.)

Yeah, but realtime is more realistic.

Not in all senses. Sure, in real combat, you don’t get to stop and ponder your attacks. But you also don’t go toe to toe with your enemy blasting (clicking) away madly. In fact, turnbased is probably a better representation of the tactics, events and actions available in combat because of your control (as well as the game’s control, the fight isn’t over in a few seconds of mad clicking). I will give realtime props for the chaos and split section decision making and reaction involved (that would be present in real combat), but really that doesn’t have much of a place in an RPG, where the ability to make those decisions is defined by your character, not you. Realtime does offer simultaneity, but (usually) not very realistic simultaneity. Both combatants are basically hammering away at eachother until one dies, which would not happen in real combat. Actually, my ideal RPG combat system (in most cases, combat systems all case sensitive of course, I would be reluctant to have TES combat in turns) would be a turn based-like system, but with a degree of simultaneity. This of course would be a) not the kinda thing I would have Bethesda working on b ) be a little to complex to expect with a game of fallout-complexity (assuming fallout 3 follows in this) and c) therefore not relevant right now, though I would be happy to discuss it somewhere else.

Turnbased would never sell in today’s market.

If done well in an attractive fashion, I don’t see why not. Supposedly turnbased is only for hardcore role-players, but check out other turnbased games. Casual internet games like tanks, territory war, and that gladiator thing are quite popular and and are often ranked in the top ten on gaming sites. And, Civilization VI, fool. And I can think of plenty of “next gen” ways to make tb appealing to new fans, and old (ie. Not dumbing down). That brings me to my next point. You have to consider the kind of tb exposure most tb-haters have probably some simplified or Japanese system where you can’t move, there are few tactics, few attack options and no bloody death animations (yeah!!). Few people who can’t stand TB have played silent storm I presume. What developers don’t understand is that simplifying tb will not make it more attractive to gamers, because that is undermining the advantages of tb (your control, interactivity, etc.). Granted, fallout is not uber-tactical, but Fallout was what got me into tb. I was impressed by the death animations of course, and the “tactical option” of shooting people in the groin (LOL). And surprisingly, so were my friends, who generally played action and sports games. Now add more to fallout, and people will enjoy more. Add details and nuances to the combat, more things to consider, more options, and more reactions.

Another thing to consider is that the market for turnbased games is pretty empty. Check the turnbased section on the xbox 360 website for some lols. You may say “yeah, well that’s because nobody likes tb games.” Ok, well maybe if a really good one was made, where there is a good deal of demand (I mean who doesn’t want fallout 3 turnbased combat?), there could be a bit of a market resurrection. I mean, there are plenty of real time games, plenty of real time rpgs, would it really kill you to for there to be one turn based game? No difference to you really, but tb fans are happy. Sort of a win win situation. Sort of. Maybe you would even like it, who knows.

But the combat wasn’t what made fallout great. (implying that I shouldn’t care about it being real time)

Then you wouldn’t mind it being turnbased? For some reason, when people say things like this, I get an irrational urge to bite them in the neck. Completely unreasonable, I know. But, Duh, of course fallout wasn’t defined by the combat. But it cannot be denied that it was a part of it (for most characters), and for many character builds, a big part. And a nice one at that. It wasn’t uber-tactical, like I said, but the turnbasedness was certainly a big plus for me. Not to mention how smoothly it ran, and how well it utilized the SPECIAL system. I won’t die if its not turnbased (because it probably won’t be ), especially if everything else is done real well (I’m not fully confident here either though). Imagine, for a second, if TESV went from real time to turnbased. Yeah, right. But anyway, I would be very happy if it was turn based, and I’m sure many others would be too. Plus, my respect for Bethesda would increase tremendously. Even if I’m not happy with everything they do, at least there would be some balls. I’m guessing that Bethesda might even receive praise for resurrecting tb combat. Maybe I’m dreaming, but it’s not like any reviewer would take off points for it.

And finally:

Realtime is more immersive and fun.

First off, totally subjective. I’m not going to try to convince anybody of the problems with their personal taste. But I’m going to (try to) describe why I like tb so much, and why I think it lends itself so well to fallout. Forget the application of skills rpg babbling. Attention to detail at its finest. All the nuances of your character come out in tb (okay, I lied). Critical failures, ability to target or not, the speed at which you can reach for your gun and access your inventory etc, to come out from behind cover and use that to your advantage, all that. Of course I love the control over the options you have as well. Targeting body parts would be a little sticky in real time, as would switching firing modes and performing actions with the skill of your character. I also love seeing the big picture, knowing what’s going on. To me, that can be more cinematic and immersive than real time. Seeing your group, the Vault Dweller, Tycho, Ian and Dogmeat arranged back to back, seeing ghouls coming at you from one direction, seeing set blasting at your friends from the other sides, seeing the escaped girl fleeing outside the window, and being able to consider your options. Should you try to save the girl? Defend tycho? Try a grenade to dispose of all those ghouls, even tough you might miss because you suck with grenades? Try to blast Set’s head into 20 pieces and praying you make the hit? Or go for an escape into the sewers? It’s a different kind of fun then the adrenaline rush of split second decisions made in real time games, but I feel it works better for fallout.

Second of all, I don’t see RTw/P is anymore “immersive” in the way people describe it than TB, as I said before. Pwnd.

Third of all, if you are not a fan of turnbased combat, but haven’t tried any good tb games, try something like fallout (for bloody & guts), or for more tactics Silent Storm or Jagged alliance 2.

Okay, well I ended up discussing most of my points in the “misconceptions” section, but like I promised I will now describe some fun ways to improve the fallout combat formula, as after all, it was far from perfect.

*Ability to target environments, and to go along with this, destructible environments (think matrix lobby scene). This wouldn’t be purely cosmetic, if you are good with traps, you could blow up a support to a building, knocking it over. Or shoot away someone’s cover or through a wall, which brings me to…
*Realistic cover tactics and interrupts (where, if you are good, you get a chance to pop somebody coming out of hiding). A dirty lick in the face to all those who say tb is less realistic than rt.
*Ability to change cone of burst mode
*More complex combat situations
*More moves/options/tactics in melee and in general: pistol whack, fire while running, circle opponent, roll, crouch, go prone, trip, feint, throw gun, bite off ear, etc. The list goes on forever. As many logical possibilities as possible.
*Better throwing options
*Better party control. Not direct control, for various reasons, but ability to give detailed orders mid combat.
*Rare ammo, you gotta conserve.
*Terrain taken into account, elevation advantage.
*There’s a ton of fun stuff they could do for melee combat. Maybe something like this where you have the ability to draw attack patterns for various amounts of attack points. That screen is a quick paintshop, but shows basically a hand drawn approach, a swing across all three enemies in a given direction, and a stab at a certain angle. A bit complex, and doesn’t quite fit with fallout, but fun, and shows how awesome tb can be. Try that in realtime.
*Optional first person perspective. Omg first person tb. It would kick ass. I’m thinking like this (another quick paintshop).
*For big battles: broken up cells of action, so you don’t have to wait for people off-screen.
*Bloody bullet holes.
*Better sneak/surprise attack system
*Cinematic camera swings, changing depending on attack and attacker

Don’t worry, more will come later.

Now that I’m done, sorry for the length, the lack of editing and the bizarre tangents. This was probably more for me to get my thoughts organized, and I had fun, but If you have any hopes for a combat system, comments, ideas, opinions, questions, alternate points of view, counter-arguments, counter-counter-arguments, or snide remarks like “you are such an NMA nerd” (I’m not from NMA, and I would consider TES higher on the nerd scale than fallout, but I’ve heard that one before) or “all fallout fans are angst-filled immature preteens” (which doesn’t even make sense, because fallout is a pretty old game, so I don’t think many preteens have played it, but I’ve heard this before too). So have fun.


13 thoughts on “Mr. Happy A Turn-Based Fallout 3

  1. Hmm, I would’ve expected a reference to X-Com Apocalypse, who successfully managed to combine turn-based and real-time into one single game, allowing people to switch whenever they want.

    The concept worked pretty well and was received good by its fanbase as well (which btw is very similar a cult as Fallout’s fanbase).

  2. wormfist: Sorry for the ridiculously long delay in getting back to this. I’ve been ridulously busy, and now with the announcement of the messy sounding VATS system, this article is half obsolete :). But anyway, unfortunatley I have never played X-Com Apocalypse, so I couldnt comment to much on it.

    But, about the switching from turn based to realtime is an interesting concept. A big problem is balance and effort put into each, this was apparent in arcanum. Maybe if some stats were changed upon switch? Yeah, I would be pleasantly suprised if bethesda gave you the option, especially since they already have the AP/etc in the engine, a 2 buck tb addon would be nice.

  3. I think a lot of the debate between RT and TB is personal preference. I will unashamedly admit I am a button masher and that is unlikely to change. I tried TB with FFVII and after a few tries I had to turn it off because I couldn’t stand the battle system. Something about TB just doesn’t sit right with me. But that’s my personal preference.

    On my end, I’m hoping Fallout 3 isn’t TB for precisely that reason. So I fully understand why you have the opposite hope. I have been looking forward to this game for a few months now, but I can honestly say that if it is TB I won’t buy it. If there is one thing I learned from trying to play FF it’s that I suck at TB gameplay. Which is way too frustrating for me to deal with when I’m trying to relax with my games.

  4. Hmm, haven’t seen this before. As fro Apocalypse successfully combining RT and TB, no, most definitely not. Apocalypse was biased heavily toward RT and the difference between it and TB was not exactly trivial. The reaction system in RT was mostly an annoyance given how it would at times cause your agents to react to some alien’s actions and thus stop shooting at the alien you wanted them to shoot. It’s really a shame, because the reaction system was actually improved from UFO Defense and now gave you more options in the form of aggressiveness buttons, which meant that you could tell some agents to use the TUs for hiding instead of firing back at aliens. This would have been very useful for rookies where using reaction for firing would have been a waste, while using it to hide could save the agent’s life. Still, implementing that in a game that was built as TB from the ground up could cause a few problems, because in Apocalypse, the reaction happened at about the same time the action that caused it did. So for example, the alien would try to use the reaction to hide from your shot, but would get shot in the middle of running, which I think was quite a nice solution. Perhaps it would be possible to somehow implement it in such form even in a purely TB system.
    Secondly, you had control over each and every bullet fired in TB, which caused you to spend on average 1 clip of ammo, whereas in RT you spent 2-3 clips on average. While the fire rate in RT did seem far more buyable than in UFO Defense where the auto-shot was always 3 shots, I think that Fallout had a lot better approach where the minigun for example spent 30 bullets for burst mode, if I remember correctly. If I made an X-COM game, I would have opted for the Fallout way, because I think that’s one of the things that Fallout did better than X-COM.
    Third, including RT meant that developers had to drop some nice tricks from UFO Defense which were used to speed it up quite a bit. I am referring to the bit of the combat which would skip animating aliens when they weren’t in you soldiers’ field of view, and also didn’t animate your soldiers moving outside of your view. I am pretty sure nobody who reads this will have any idea what I’m talking about, because it’s far easier to show you this than explain it, so I’l draw a little ascii picture and hope the formatting will not get ruined.
    Let’s say your soldier is placed on point A on the map, and your view (shown as a rectangle on the picture) is centered on his position. You want to move him to point B, which is (quite a bit) outside of your current view. So you move the view enough for point B to be inside the view (as shown on the picture) leaving your soldier (quite a bit) outside of it. Now what happened when you clicked on point B on the map is exactly what is show on the picture. The mouse would disappear, preventing you from moving the view or using any controls and the soldier would get “teleported” to just outside of the view and get animated for the rest of the trip. Naturally, this is under prefect circumstances, where I assumed that the destination could be reached within one turn and there were no aliens whose reaction you could trigger. Not that either of those interfered with this system.

    A – soldier’s original position
    B – destination
    xxxxxxxxxxx – not animated
    ……………… – animated
    | |
    | |
    | B…………… |xxxxxxxx<–A

    Now, if you think about it, this is something you can’t do when you have a RT system, because things need to happen at the same time.
    From my observations, neither of these systems was implemented in Apocalypse, although I can’t say for sure for the part that concerns the aliens, but I do remember their turns lasting quite a bit, which suggests I am right.
    Another thing that didn’t work between them was the personal teleporter, which if I’m not mistaken was completely useless in TB (because you couldn’t use it during the aliens’ turn).
    This is all as far as the combat system and its implementation goes, discussing all of Apocalypse’s improvements and mistakes is a broader topic.

    Lastly wormfist (though I doubt you’re reading this), saying that the fanbase received it well is not quite correct. Some did like it, but from my observations on various forums, I see a lot of people who didn’t like it, because these changes along with some other changes that were not tied to the combat system itself, but rather game balance and AI meant that the tactics were now more about going in headfirst, whereas in UFO you had to use cover a lot more and spread out your soldiers quite a bit, because even with the Flying Suit your soldiers could die from one well placed shot. In other words, while UFO was more about tense, careful gameplay, Apocalypse was more about action.
    I do think that Apocalypse’s system wouldn’t have been bad per se, and it was still tactically a lot better than many other tactical RT games, but it just didn’t fit X-COM anymore.

  5. And, as I expected, the picture got messed up. But maybe I can circumvent the space problem.

    A – soldier’s original position
    B – destination
    xxxxxxxxxxx – not animated
    oooooooo – animated
    ……………… – ignore these, they’re used only to be able to draw a rectangle. 😛
    | ………………………….|
    | ………………………….|
    |………. Boooooooo|xxxxxxxx<–A

  6. I was really excited when I heard they were making a Fallout 3. As soon as I found out it was not going to be turn based I got really upset as Fallout 2 was in my opinion, the best game I ever played. I have no interest in purchasing fallout 3 if it is realtime. I am sick of having to go through training camp just to play video games. All the games out today require you to master 100 moves just to play a game. All of the thought and strategy and story line has disappeared in favor of graphics. I’d rather play a game involving stick figures that had a real good plot and required intellect than a game that just shows you a bunch of cool images. Oh well, you almost got me excited. X-Com tried the same thing when they got to X-Com 3 and it was the suckiest game of all time.

  7. Thank you for intelligent understanding of turn based vs real time. I always ask these people what chess would be like in real time. Turn based is more fun, and you came up with a point I hadn’t thought of.

    In real life you delegate menial tasks at the commander level and therefore everyone does what you want with ingenuity and effectiveness without you having to manage every action of 20 different people at once. Turn based better makes up for the fact that you have complete control of all your soldiers and thus you are able to create a squad level response more in line with reality than you could in a real time system where you are overwhelmed with things to control all at once.

  8. I am a HUGE Fallout fan. I played the first game when I was around 9 years old and I STILL play them now at 20 years old. I have played all the way through Fallout and Fallout 2 at least 50 times. In fact they are both installed on my laptop right at this moment. So I am a bit of a fanatic. To agree with spockfu I think Fallout and Fallout 2 are two of the best games not just of their time but of all time. I remember reading in a magazine that Bethesda said they would try to stick with the original Fallout games and it would not just be a post apocalyptic Elder Scrolls. To stray from the classic turn based style of the original Fallout games that was so much fun should be a sin. In my opinion, the turn based style is an essential part of Fallout for many reasons. The SPECIAL character creation/customization system was one of the most groundbreaking parts of the Fallout games. The turn based system goes well with turn based gameplay and really makes you think about how you want to design your character with how each action that you can perform uses different amounts of action points. This causes more consequence for your character creation and gives a more unique experience to everyone who plays. If you no longer have a turn based style, then character creation becomes less complex and will throw off the balance, causing some attributes to become better than others. I can remember many situations in which the way I allotted my points affected a combat scenario. When you are low on health, fighting with a mutant and you only have 8 action points (because you sacrificed some agility for more hit points) you have to think, “Do I use 7 points for an aimed shot to the eyes and hope he drops, or do I use 6 points for a regular shot and the other 2 for a stimpack?” This also leads to my biggest problem with getting rid of the turn based style: the gameplay. The most satisfying part of the Fallout games was wondering how can I position myself to where I can take out these 5 Khans, Mutants, Zombies, or whatever. Having the time to sit back and analyze the situation, and use your brain to overcome a battle is essential. I just have to ask how can pulling a trigger on a controller or pushing a button on a keyboard repeatedly to gun down an enemy be more satisfying than knowing it was your character build and your own intelligence that made you victorious?

  9. I found this to be very insightful and informative. I completely agree with you that turn based combat offers something that realtime cannot. However, I say that you should play Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, if you have not. It’s exactly like any other fallout game but a little more combat intensive. Oh, and it’s real time. I was skeptical at first but it really is good. It adds a bit of excitement that wasn’t there before, not to say that Fallout combat isn’t exciting.

  10. Pingback: Bring back the turn-based RPG damnit!! - Fires of Heaven Guild Message Board

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