The Turn-Based Tides Of Numenera: Torment

A couple of weeks ago inXile asked Torment’s backers to make a choice about the game’s combat – turn-based or real time with pause? Late on Friday, the votes came in and the developers reckon that even though “statistically it was a tie”, the combat will be thoroughly and entirely turn-based. Hurrah! I hadn’t even considered the question until it was asked, assuming that Numenera would be following in the action-sapping footsteps of Wasteland 2 and I’m glad that around half of the people who backed the game and bothered to vote agree that turn-based is the most sensible approach. A large update to the Kickstarter page explains the reasoning and I’ve copied some pertinent quotes below.

First of all, an explanation for that statistical tie (which isn’t some kind of bell-curved neckwear):

The leading system changed a couple times early on and the final tally is: 7,267 TB, 7,052 RTwP and 782 Indifferent. With the vote at 48% to 47%, and with those who voted “indifferent” being more than triple the difference between the TB and RTwP camps, it is essentially a draw.

And it’s the best kind of draw. The one that my side wins. Project Lead Kevin Saunders is the man behind the keyboard for this update and he goes on to explain that the team were already leaning toward turn-based combat, seeing it as a better fit for the game, particularly the Crisis system.

Now, when people suggest that turn-based combat isn’t best combat, I usually splurge all my remaining action points to perform a precision-guided withering gaze in their general direction and then sod off to the nearest bar. I don’t have time to defend the tactical choices that become possible and the increased likelihood of players utilising a wide range of equipment and skills rather than spamming fireballs and spam golems.

Mr Saunders is a far more patient fellow than I am and the post contains an excellent five point defence of turn-based combat. There’s also word from Chris Avellone:

The Planescape: Torment experience was never defined by its combat. In Torment: Tides of Numenera, the combat is intended to complement both the narrative systems and the basic gameplay mechanics. It is a challenging decision for the team to make, and I respect and support their decision to choose turn-based.

I don’t think he cares whether the combat is turn-based or real time at all. He’s just glad it’s not going to be an FPS.


  1. Solidstate89 says:

    No huzzah. I preferred the real-time with pause style of combat. Can’t win’em all I guess.

    • Meat Circus says:

      You know who else prefers real time with pause? Hitler. And your mum.

      That’s who.

      • chargen says:

        Real time with pause is 10,000 times worse than anything Hitler ever even dreamed of doing.

        • gnodab says:

          isn’t it great how people in the forums can disregard the greatest crime in history and make fun of the death of millions of people without anyone blinking an eye, but if there is an article propagating Tropes Vs Women the comments section is turned off…

          • DarkFenix says:

            Greatest crime in history? I think you need some history lessons mate, Hitler was little more than an enthusiastic amateur if we’re talking about the monsters of human history, he just happens to be the one that remains in current western memory.

            And given that he’s been dead for nearly 70 years I think it’s perfectly kosher for humour. Gender issues on the other hand, those are quite current and tend to get people unreasonably hot under the collar.

          • Hahaha says:

            link to

          • WrenBoy says:

            Yeah, the guy who stole my pizza 7 years ago is literally the worst criminal in history.

            Never forget.

          • SominiTheCommenter says:

            perfectly kosher

            I see what you did there.

          • mygaffer says:

            No one was making fun of the Holocaust, they were using it, in a crass way, to make fun of real time with pausing combat.

            Which sucks by the way.

            Worse than the Holocaust.

          • dsch says:

            The wheels on the PC bus go round and round …

      • JFS says:

        And me. But maybe I’m really his Mum. Or Hitler.

        • DarkFenix says:

          Or both, nothing says Hitler couldn’t be his mum.

          • WrenBoy says:

            Hitler didn’t have a left testicle. Neither does his mum. Think about it.

          • hungrytales says:

            @WrenBoy: > Neither does his mum.
            I wouldn’t call that entirely proven.

      • TimorousBeastie says:

        While the Hitler endorsement is worrying, Solidstate89’s Mother is an upstanding woman of impeccable taste, so Real-Time with Pause would have gotten my vote.

      • The Random One says:

        That’s what Hitler said when I had sex with him last night! …wait I think I screwed this up

      • Ansob says:

        Poppycock. Real-time-with-pause with configurable auto-pause settings is by far the better option. It means we don’t need to watch agonisingly long move/fight animations, and you can set the game to automatically pause at the end of each round if you want to play a turn-based game. Best of both worlds.

        • aliksy says:

          Some games do ‘fast turn based’ – skips all the animations.

        • Snids says:

          I personally LOVED watching Dogmeat gum some raiders ankle 10,000 times for zero damage. That growling noise, the full body lean-back into a re-settle. Couldn’t get enough. And Radscorpion encounters? I personally loved it when they were over in the far corner of the map and I only had melee weapon. Looking forward to this. :(

          • Triplanetary says:

            And Radscorpion encounters? I personally loved it when they were over in the far corner of the map and I only had melee weapon

            What’s the problem here? Either they’re aggroing you, in which case they’ll be approaching you, too, cutting in half the time you have to wait before stabbing them, or they’re not aggroing you, in which case you can exit combat and approach them in real time.

          • Andy_Panthro says:

            Perhaps you didn’t see this part of the announcement:

            “Turn-based combat certainly can be tedious, but that comes down to encounter design. As we stated during the Kickstarter, Torment will have no trash mobs—those hordes of filler battles that require little thought from the player”

            If they have greatly reduced combat to the point where each encounter is meaningful, then you’re not likely to run into those old Fallout problems.

        • int says:

          Goris takes off robes. Goris puts on robes. Goris takes off robes. Goris puts on robes. Goris takes off robes. Goris puts on robes. Goris takes off robes. Goris puts on robes. Goris takes off robes. Goris puts on robes. Goris takes off robes. Goris puts on robes. Goris takes off robes. Goris puts on robes. Goris takes off robes. Goris puts on robes.

          //Edit: Drat. Meant as response to Snids.

          • jrodman says:

            Is this some kind of strip-tease? I don’t remember this part.

          • aepervius says:

            It is a reference to the fallout serie (fallout 2 – vault 13) an intelligent death claw, which ravel with a robe. Once in combat it removes it robes, until end of combat then it put it back.

        • malkav11 says:

          No amount of pausing will make real time gameplay turn-based. They are fundamentally different styles of play. Real-time-with-pause is certainly better than without, but it’s not the best of both worlds, it’s a compromise. In the sense of compromised, or weakened.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          Isn’t there an overlap of method and execution here?

          Turn based can be slick and fast paced too, although often lengthy turn sequences have been a problem in the past there is no reason that has to persist. There are inherent qualities of turn based combat that are enjoyable and it seems to me to be just as valid a method of simulating combat in a game as any other.

      • Solidstate89 says:

        Just so you know, this now precludes you from ever playing Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale ever again, or ever before (I’ve changed your personal timeline, since you have this opinion).

  2. snugglez says:

    I can see both sides, but one thing I like about turn-based is that it’s much easier to play using a laptop trackpad. RTwP requires more precise mousing, which the trackpad makes annoying.

    So, I give the slight edge to TB based on that, though I didn’t bother to vote…

  3. GameCat says:

    The game is pretty much dead then (at least for me).
    Imagine a game that have huge focus on the story like The Walking Dead that is constantly interrupted with artifical turn based fights with zombies.
    No, no, no and no. Look at Witcher 3, it’s goddamn 2013, we can have great RPG without using such cheap and boring tricks and istead of it make living world or something like that.

    • Triplanetary says:

      You are what’s wrong with gaming in 2013.

      • gekitsu says:

        so very much this.

      • GiantPotato says:

        How can people have entire different categories of backlogs of games they can’t find the time to play, and still say there’s anything at all wrong with gaming in 2013? The only thing wrong with gaming in 2013 is that we’re still expected to hold down jobs.

        • Oosik says:

          /Slow clap

          • GiantPotato says:

            Sorry, I’m afraid you will need to specify “regular” or “ironic” with your slow clap. The speed of memes being what they are, I’m afraid that nothing means anything anymore.

        • gekitsu says:

          id wager its not so much that gamecat doesnt like turn-based, but that he(she?) equates turn-based with outdated and obsolete.

    • lautalocos says:

      they are eliminating trash mobs, which are the thing i hate the most about, well, almost every RPG, so the actual fights will be important fights.

      the only thing im not sure about is how will it work if a fight starts after a conversation.

      but take it easy. this is very early. there is no way to tell if it´s gonna be good or not.

      • dontnormally says:

        You got it. GameCat is assuming “constant interruptions” which can be designed out if handled properly,

        • GameCat says:

          It’s not even about quantity of encounters. I think that you either make whole game using a turn based movement (like in HoM&M) or do not use turns at all, because otherwise it will artifically split game into two totally different parts, which in plot-driven games it breaks the flow and mood.
          I want exploration, dialogues and combat to blend together, not to have any visible “borders”.

          • Snargelfargen says:

            I think Fallout2 is probably the closest example of what to expect from Numenera, with turn based combat taking place on the same overworld screen. It wouldn’t make much sense for the developers to create a second set of backdrops and animations for combat when they are already putting a tremendous amount of work into the game’s environments.

          • WrenBoy says:

            The Witcher games have turn based dialogue right? Did you think that broke the flow and artificially brought you out of the game?

          • GameCat says:

            Uhm, dialogues are “turn-based” even in real life. Sure, two or more people can talk to each other at the same time but it will not make any sense. In dialogues first person is talking and second one is listening. Then they switch places so second person is talking and first one is listening.

          • WrenBoy says:

            A conversation can only be turn based unless more than one person is talking at once?

            So a rtwp fight where noone is doing anything at the same time as per the infinity engine games is also turn based?

            EDITED to address your point properly

          • Emeraude says:

            So, I expect you want conversations to go in real-time too ?

          • GameCat says:

            “So, I expect you want conversations to go in real-time too ?”

            Not in every game, but I’m thinking about some ways to bring them into real-time right now.
            Some games like Fahrenheit or The Walking Dead already have real-time dialogues, where you just can’t wait forever to make an answer, but players are loosing some control over their characters in these moments. I want push it further where you can walk around etc. Think about Half Life “cutscenes” with option to choose what you want to say.
            Also see my post above. Every conversation must have one person who talks and at least on another person who is listening.

          • WrenBoy says:

            You realise that, in terms of videogame mechanics, real time and turn based are mutually exclusive even if no action is concurrent with another, right?

          • Emeraude says:


            Have you tried Alpha Protocol, per chance ? Methinks you’ll find interesting at the very least as far as the conversational system and the interactivity are concerned.

            Fahrenheit basically copied (or reinvented ?) the conversation system of Japanese dating sims really (it was basically Sakura Taisen, only taking itself serisouly).
            I remember being disappointed in that game. But there is potential in that model.

    • Infinitron says:

      Somebody needs to read Kevin Saunders’ update.

      “If one were to take Planescape: Torment and, changing nothing else, switch to TB combat, the result would be miserable for many. You’d be stopped midstride in every Hive back alley to perform the same boring actions on meaningless thugs and zombies.

      This isn’t what we’re going to do.

      Turn-based combat certainly can be tedious, but that comes down to encounter design. As we stated during the Kickstarter, Torment will have no trash mobs—those hordes of filler battles that require little thought from the player. That type of gameplay is at odds with our emphasis on the story and character development, so each Crisis in Torment will be hand-crafted. It will have narrative relevance and consequences. We’ll iterate on them until each one is a quality encounter and provides the experience we seek for that moment in the game.”

      • InternetBatman says:

        I somewhat disagree with the decision to take out trash mobs. Trash mobs can add a lot of atmosphere if used sparingly, and they provide a sense of progression that larger fights don’t (since they’re balanced or unbalanced).

        On the other hand, the game they’re trying to make feels sufficiently different from an IE game that it very well could be the right decision / not like anything I’ve ever played.

        • Snargelfargen says:

          Out of all the IE games, BG2 actually made a surprisingly decent effort at providing variety and some sort of progression or purpose to its encounters. I guess it depends on how you define “trash mobs”. Personally I think encounters become trash mobs when they start to defeat their own narrative. Placing some wolves in a forest helps set the scene. Placing four packs of wolves evenly spaced within 20 meters of each other is “gamey” and breaks the illusion.

        • SillyWizard says:

          Yes, I’ve long said that the only thing keeping Shadows of the Colossus from being worth playing was the 20 hours they could have added by endlessly spawning mobs everywhere.

          • InternetBatman says:

            Dark Souls would also be better without trash (non-boss) mobs. Also, Shadow of the Colossus had birds and lizards and other such things that could be killed but provided atmosphere.

          • Emeraude says:

            Shadow of the Colossus is a game that is willingly designed around a model built for high contrast between low-to-inexistent tension parts (the wandering) and hectic parts with a high concentration of action (the colossi).
            It is willingly eschewing gradation of tension for as pure a contrast as it can get.

            That does not mean that other games, with designs favoring other forms of pacing and tension management, cannot make proper use of trash mobs to achieve that result.

          • darkChozo says:

            Ehhhhhh. I could see Demon’s Souls over Dark Souls for a boss-only game (a number of DaS endgame bosses are of… questionable quality), and even then, you’d lose a lot by stripping out the non-boss enemies. It might work, but you’d have to essentially rework the game for it to not be mediocre.

            I’d say trash mobs are only bad when they’re not a threat to the player or they could be removed from the game without actually affecting gameplay at all (JRPGs being the big offender here), and even then it depends on what you’re trying to emphasize in your game. The fact of the matter is that there are definitely people out there who like, or otherwise don’t mind, a mostly-meaningless grind.

        • GiantPotato says:

          I think part of the definition of “trash mobs” as given by the developer is that they are encounters that aren’t used sparingly. But for sure, it’s good to have the option to get into in a few fights that you’ll definitely win, and a few that you’ll definitely lose. It helps to keep your progress in perspective.

      • Burzmali says:

        The side effect of getting rid of all combats that don’t matter is that you have to make all combats matter. That sounds like a tautology, but there has been decidedly mixed results in that style of game (Koshan Conspiracy and Circuit’s Edge come to mind, I can’t think of much made more recently). Consider this, if the player chooses to be non-combat oriented, how do you handle them being massively under-powered and inexperienced with the combat system when a “forced” combat occurs? Do you do away with forced fights? Do you force more fights to ensure the player can handle the combat-related plot points?

        Saving the player some scrub fights is a nice goal, but scrub fights don’t solely exist because developers were trying to pad out their games.

        • Emeraude says:

          Actually: force the player to confront what it means to be powerless in a world where violence is always an effective solution ? You get into that fight, you can’t talk your way through it, cant escape, can’t fight back ?
          Next module: enslavement and its complications.
          Could make for for a great RPG. If anything, I’m tired of (RPG) games based around character progression/growth and gratuitous self-congratulating undeserved empowerment.

          But yes, I agree,the terrible difficulty with their design choice is that everything is going to need to be significant.
          Which can be overwhelming if successfully pulled off, and – let’s say disappointing to remain civil – if not.

          • Phendron says:

            I like you. I’ve tried introducing the idea of permanent losses in my gaming group, but most people I game with still can’t even grapple with the idea of losing their +2 greatsword.

        • Infinitron says:

          Do you do away with forced fights?

          In Torment’s case, yes.

          • Burzmali says:

            It might be too late in the design process for that decision. Ensuring that your game has a reasonable and consistent non-combat route is a heavy burden on the designers. Assume that NPC X is dead for event Y? Well, the player may not have killed them, so you need to off ’em some other way or write two versions of the scene. It can be done, but it adds cost and development time very quickly.

    • Bull0 says:

      I can imagine “a game that have huge focus on the story like The Walking Dead that is constantly interrupted with artifical turn based fights with zombies.”, but I don’t see why the fact that I can imagine that is relevant, since that’s not what this will be like.

    • Randomer says:

      Turn-based combat forces games to fall into a binary mode of “In combat” vs “Not in combat”, which reduces the immersion. In contrast, the beauty of games like Baldur’s Gate was that combat could just happen out of the blue in the world, while the world just keeps ticking along. My main party could be shopping in the market while my thief is up to her ears in guards after robbing some poor sod’s house.

      • GameCat says:

        Yes! This is exactly why I dislike mixing turn and non-turn based systems in one game. Thanks for more clear description.

      • Hahaha says:

        Because that couldn’t work in turn based?

      • gekitsu says:

        you kids have far too fragile immersion.

        back in my day, we went out to get groceries while the computer processed his turn and it didnt break our immersion.

        remove yourself from my lawn within two turns.

      • Emeraude says:

        But again, you have no problem with “immersion” when time is stopped to pure turn-based for conversations ?

      • xao says:

        Except that Baldur’s Gate did differentiate between being in and out of combat…

      • aepervius says:

        I always found BG2, BG, torment fight to be a terrible mess which could not be saved with pause. The reason for that is simple, even if you introduce auto pause at the end of rounds, you still have a RT interface. Good TB game have an interface which *helps* making the turn goes smooth and see the results either immediately or defered. RT with pause does not have this interface enhancement and is a *chore* if you want to play it TB based.

        In fact fight in torment is such a chore to me, that I always skip it as much as I can. They are the boring parts.

      • mouton says:

        You suck at immersion.

    • Snids says:

      Wholeheartedly agreed.
      Turn based is a convenient abstraction that allows board games to represent time. We have actual time now! It’s 2013!
      And is everyone moving at the same time or what?

      • malkav11 says:

        Turn-based gameplay is about as obsoleted by real-time as cats are by dogs or apples are by oranges.

    • Ataru Moroboshi says:

      It’s 2013, and turn-based combat in games is still popular. Have we forgotten that XCOM was last year? Or Shadowrun Returns?

      Instead, we have to look at a AAA sequel that’s probably completely different in theme and gameplay to what the developers of Torment are trying to make?

    • jrodman says:

      You’re being silly. Realtime is not fundamentally superior, variety is good, and realtime is not the only valid path to immersion. Realtime games frequently *break* my immersion with their demands for focus or quicknes that don’t match my expectations.

    • mouton says:

      Some games want me read text. Read! It’s 2013, text is so non-immersive when we got TV!

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Let me guess, you read the words “turn based” and stopped there, right?

  4. daphne says:

    I’m a die-hard PS:T fan that donated $200 to this project, and even I ended up thinking lesser of the whole thing for actually having a vote to settle a matter like this. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. I can only hope that it doesn’t set a precedent.

    I will play the game, and I will submerge myself into a realm of cognitive dissonance if it ends up being crap, but still. Something feels off about this.

    • Premium User Badge

      MercurialAlchemist says:

      This may sound a bit abrupt, but either you did not do due diligence before sinking $200 into a not-yet-made game, or you are being disingeneous. The team announced beforehand that they would be holding a vote on the combat system. It’s clearly said in their vision document.

      • daphne says:

        Nah, s’ok. I dropped the $200 because I wanted to, and they offered cool stuff like books and t-shirts too. Like I’ve said, I’ll be playing the game without regrets no matter what.

        Regarding the Vision Document bit, IIRC the Vision Document was released quite late into the project, and I don’t recall anything about a vote there. I recall the statements about how the system was up for discussion and thus not yet finalized, but nothing about an actual backer vote settling it.

        I might be wrong, but either way it wouldn’t have influenced my decision to back the game to the extent that I did anyhow. I just disapprove of the thinking behind it.

      • csuzw says:

        As far as I’m aware they didn’t mention combat until a video update (which was at the end of a longer update) 3 days before the end of their Kickstarter. Personally I didn’t find out it was up for discussion until they put the combat discussion forum up after the funding phase had ended. That’s definitely partly my fault but it was always going to be a contentious decision so it should have been given far more prominence. Of course that would have adversely affected funding…

        The main thing however that annoys me about the whole decision is that all the reasons given for doing it are wishy-washy non-answers. They say it’s a better fit for the game, especially the Crisis System but that’s not really a proper answer. Why does it fit the game and Crisis System better? The 2 most reasonable reasons for the decision I’ve heard are that the Numenara PnP system lends itself to TB far more than RTwP (which could be said for the DnD system in the original too) but in that case, they knew the underlying system they were going to use right from the beginning so why even put this up for discussion. Secondly TB is far easier to implement well however they’ve said that’s not the reason for the decision.

    • karthink says:

      Did you read the bit where they explained why they put it to a vote?

      • daphne says:

        Yes, and I didn’t mention it because it makes the whole thing sound even worse. They flat-out state that they would have changed direction if there had been a majority difference.

        They come across as quite undecided on a very fundamental matter and it just rubs me the wrong way.

        I don’t really want to come across as being a negative nancy (I tend to do that in a lot of RPS comment threads) because I’m still looking forward to the game very much. And I understand that soliciting and collating feedback from tens of thousands of backers can be quite difficult. But a vote? It’s really the most crude and reductionist way to make an important decision on an important matter like the combat system. Hopefully this’ll be last of such measures.

        • Hahaha says:

          Don’t pre fund games any more… ok thanks bye

        • Premium User Badge

          MercurialAlchemist says:

          Well, considering part of the backers were asking for a game with no combat whatsoever, I disagree with the fact that combat is a “fundamental” feature. PST wasn’t about combat, and neither is this. Now, I’ll grant you that it’s an important system, but we’re not talking about the remake of Jagged Alliance here.

          • Neocray says:

            That’s why RTwP combat system works great in Ps:T. Because it doesn’t break immersion with long, tedious combats. It’s quick and fluid.
            Even if it’s not the heart of the game, it should not spoil it with bad choices of game design.

            Now I’m a little less enthusiastic for having backed it, because I see Fallout (1, 2 & Tactics) when we speak about TB combat, and I don’t feel it will fit in a Torment game. The dices have rolled, let’s see what it’s going to be: a crit or a fumble.

          • aepervius says:

            Wrong combat in torment is breaking the flow. Here is the flow :
            * story point A
            * trash fight
            * move to B
            * trash fight
            * story point B
            * trash fight
            * move to C
            * nasty fight
            * reload go back to nasty fight (or go back to mortuary)
            * reload go back to nasty fight (or go back to mortuary)
            * reload go back to nasty fight (or go back to mortuary)
            * reload go back to nasty fight (or go back to mortuary)

            Real time *always* means you have to have your own dexterity component, and mine sucks, or you have an interface not properly made for turn based and misusing it for turn based. And especially with real time you have next to no strategical decision on position.

    • LintMan says:

      Personally, I think it’s great that they held a vote. The devs had their preference (turn-based), which they stated, but then put the question to the community. In the larger scheme of things, TB vs RTwP is a very minor difference and many fine and classic RPGs have been made with both systems. And as a community-funded game, why not see where the community stands?

      And I’m not saying that because my side “won” – I voted for RTwP. But their plans for how they will implement TB and address people’s problems with it (ie: endless boring trash mob battles) has me pretty sold on it.

    • Fry says:

      The only precedent this incident will be setting is, “Don’t hold any more f***ing votes.” I would imagine they’ve learned their lesson.

    • xao says:

      They didn’t actually hold a vote to determine the combat system. They held a vote to determine whether the overwhelming majority of their backers preferred a RTWP system. It shouldn’t come as a shock that a game’s backers, be they a publisher or the public, have some input into the construction of a game.

  5. Lamb Chop says:

    I actually disagree with the complexity statement. RTwP leads to intentionally variably complex combat. There may be good reasons to go turn-based (e.g. making individual plot choices more concrete elements as they can take up a turn rather than being something that you just do and thus making decision trees clearer for the developers), but BG/BGII’s combat was incredibly complex and made time management critical in any difficult fight. Especially variable attack and casting speeds made you manage characters even between the six second round cycles, and allowed the complexity and difficulty of combat to drive the pacing. An easy fight could go quickly without interrupting the flow (by spamming fireball, as you say), whereas a more difficult fight would lead to incredible micromanagement. Turn-based combat tends to streamline the options and make each decision more impactful, but at the cost of reducing the number of decisions to make (against the high-difficulty complex RTwP fights), and it reduces the mechanical difference between high and low difficulty fights.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      I gotta agree that BG1&2 as well as Icewind Dale’s combat was both complex and fun. Those games were also gloriously unbalanced, with arcane magic systems (literally, learning how to protect, dispel and work around magic defences required study and experimentation) and potential for any class to be overwhelmingly powerful with the right knowledge and equipment. It’s interesting how Neverwinter Nights and Dragon Age were never able to replicate the same combination of complexity and chaos, although they had their own strengths.

      In the end though it’s a miracle that those games were as fun as they were, considering the complicated 2nd edition rules and the obtuse feedback. I’m not sure if that kind of gameplay could ever be recreated now, when even tabletop gaming systems have moved on.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I think a huge part of the problem with NWN and DA was the smaller parties (as well as a reduced reliance on cloud effects), compare a rival party encounter. 4v4, 8 actors, which is a lot less complex than 6v6, or 12 actors. Well, that, maximized missile swarm, and less variance in encounter design.

    • xao says:

      You’ll have to support your assertion that turn-based combat streamlines options, as there seems to be nothing inherent in the system leading that way. On the contrary, freedom from time constraints would seem to lend itself to greater complexity. Furthermore, turn-based combat precludes neither simple ability spam for easy fights nor deeper deliberation in harder fights.

      You assume to be conflating “poorly implemented turn based combat” with “turn based combat”.

    • aepervius says:

      Sure BG2 combat was more complex but not more deep. Really it was AD&D (v2) combat, and frankly it was not different to the predecessor gold box AD&D combat which were turn based. The difference is that got more complex by making it more difficult to handle for a subset of us, while not adding *any* depth at all. And this is the big problem of RTwP : it does not add any depth to the same TB combat. It adds only complexity. Do I need to say why we want depth, but artificial complexity is not any good ?

  6. lautalocos says:

    at first i liked real time with pause, but then i remembered me playing neverwinter nights 2. my strategy came down to:
    -make my mage spam any AOE long range skills he/she had
    -maybe have a cleric, who cares? i had potions
    – send my warriors to the fray

    then i look at the age of decadence or XCOM and i enjoy the combat a lot more, because it was dangerous.

    • JFS says:

      Difficulty has not much to do with the combat mode.

      • lautalocos says:

        well, ehm, my point was…ehm…no idea.

      • jrodman says:

        I find high difficulty and low difficulty to be worse in realtime games. In a low difficulty realtime game I tend to stop paying attention. In a high difficulty realtime game I tend to feel like there’s nothing I can do. In a turn based game, low difficulty can still give me things to think about if I want, or at least something to do. That’s the weak part though, and it won’t always work. High difficulty though gives me lots to consider and in the right mood replaying for mastery is a great exercise.

        This is all admittedly somewhat personal.

  7. Metalfish says:

    I played Torment on a rather small laptop, so I paused so much it was practically turn-based anyway. I’m kinda hoping I get a book with a game attached anyway, ’cause I’m contrary and edgy.

  8. karthink says:

    Here’s a post by them explaining why they put it to a vote in the first place. A lot of people are saying they don’t have a strong vision for the game because of it. I’ve been following the KS updates, and well, they do.

    “Why did we even have a vote?
    Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen some comments suggesting that we risked the quality of the game by putting the combat system up for a vote. After all, some have noted, we are the game development professionals and it’s our job to make Torment the best it can be. We should be in a better position than anyone to decide what will make the best game, right?

    Also, I’d advise anyone mad about the decision to actually go through the Kickstarter update to see their rationale and how the game will be adapted to turn based combat before leaving an angry comment.

    • solidsquid says:

      That sounds like a bit of a daft accusation to make. Both turn based and real time combat have perfectly workable solutions which other have done well in the past, and neither would detract from a game which is heavily story based. Since it would be entirely based on personal preference rather than practical limitaitons, putting it up for vote seems like a perfectly sensible approach, and letting the backers vote as well as people within the company is a great idea to increase fans investment in the game

  9. JiminyJickers says:

    I like both systems, but for this game I would have preferred real time with pause. I feel like turn based is better suited for a game with a heavy emphasis on combat, which this game apparently wont have.

    Can’t win them all. Hopefully the game will turn out well regardless.

    • Jexiah8bit says:

      This was my thoughts exactly, but I still have faith and am reserving my judgement.

  10. Carlos Danger says:

    Will need to keep this game on the radar now. Turn base play allows to make plans and choices to matter. Real time with pause just seems too passive to me and the play too shallow.

  11. Keyrock says:

    I voted turn-based, for a few reasons:

    1) I slightly prefer turn-based
    2) It’s the devs’ own preference
    3) As someone who owns the Numenera PnP game, I can attest to the fact that the system lends itself far more to TB than RTwP. I guess that would be true of practically any PnP RPG, but Numenera especially so because of the effort/edge mechanic. They would have to either eliminate this mechanic, which I doubt they would do since it’s at the very core of Numenera, or “streamline” (read: dumb-down) the mechanic so that you could use it in real time. Even if they did “streamline” the effort/edge mechanic it would still inevitably lead to constant pausing and micromanaging, which would effectively make this a turn-based game anyway, just less gracefully done.

    Now, had they decided to go with RTwP, I wouldn’t be screaming bloody murder, I’d be fine with that decision as well. What makes me laugh is people throwing a fit over the combat system in a Torment game (note, this is a very small percentage of the people making all the fuss, but, as always, loud minority and all that). I understand that PS:T was RTwP, but, as explained by the devs, it wasn’t what defined that game. PS:T was an amazing game, but of all the things in PS:T, combat was the least defining feature of the game, and it is also almost universally considered the single worst aspect of the game. The other argument by the people crying about this is how long battles with tons of trash mobs will take with turn-based. They keep making this argument even though the devs have repeatedly stated that combat will be rather sparse and, most, if not all, of it will be avoidable, and that there will be absolutely no filler battles with trash mobs. Hence that argument is moot.

  12. guygodbois00 says:

    “And it’s the best kind of draw. The one that my side wins.” My thoughts exactly, sir.

  13. Asurmen says:

    I am sadly one of those who wouldn’t have backed had I know this before hand. Oh well. Nothing I can do about it now.

    • ChairmanYang says:

      Did you really enjoy Planescape: Torment’s combat that much?

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        I hugely enjoyed the combat in the original Torment because a lot of the encounters meant something. Levelling up meant I was going to unlock interesting things about my companions, not simply higher numbers on stat sheets, and spells were completely insane!

        But I wouldn’t cite the original Torment as the reason I like realtime with pause combat. Baldur’s Gate and Knights of the Old Republic are better examples. As are games like FTL and even Europa Universalis :)

        • aepervius says:

          You realize that you can have the exact same thigns with TB combat , right ? Progression has nothing to do with the way the combat is, RTwP or TB. You can have incredible spell effect in both, or poor one in both. You can have new stuff at certain level in both, or poor progression with stats only in both. The progression adn spell effect are a design decision which is independant of TB/RTwP.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            An excellent comment for somebody who only read the first half of my post. Attention spans are improving it seems, keep going and you might make it all the way next time.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Ok, bit harsh maybe. What I meant was that I didn’t find the combat in PsT to be the disaster a lot of people remember it as. I had a lot of fun with it but that fun had less to do with the mechanics themselves and more to do with the level of originality and my immersion in the game. It certainly wasn’t because it was realtime with pause.

      • Premium User Badge

        Velorien says:

        More to the point, did you really enjoy PS:T’s combat so much that you’re prepared to forego all the story, characters, world-building etc. that a Torment sequel has to offer – purely because it doesn’t have PS:T-style combat?

      • Asurmen says:

        I’ve never played it but I know its legacy which is why I backed this, plus I liked the description. I didn’t look hard enough if what others are saying is correct and they hinted at turn based earlier so no one to blame but mysellf. I’ll more than likely still play, it’ll just rankle me.

  14. Burzmali says:

    It all depends on ranged vs. melee, which is why it is silly to have the vote this early. If the majority of your combatants have ranged attacks, then concepts like cover and interrupts on LOS make sense. If most everyone is melee, you end up with silly scenarios like a warrior giant being unable to move for turns on end because he is surrounded by angry marmots and the rules say that you move THEN attack, so no movement for him.

    Can’t say I’m too excited when the dev team admits they’d have trouble hitting the lofty standard for RTwP combat set by Darklands in the early 90s.

    • Emeraude says:

      I wouldn’t describe it as “lofty”. Ancient by gaming standards, maybe. But certainly not lofty. It’s not as if we had many examples of actually compelling rtwp games out there (I’m personally of the mind that IE engines were plighted by AD&D combat and rtwp – and that’s coming from someone who actually thinks rtwp can do wonders if used well).

      • Burzmali says:

        In a heartbeat I would say that Darklands’ combat engine blows away the IE combat engine. Seriously, BG and BGII assume that you will frequently die and reload, not due to bad planning, but because some enemies can flat out kill you or your teammates in one shot. Sure you can mitigate the risk, but dying and reloading is in the game’s DNA. That alone knocks it down several notches.

  15. Jimbo says:

    I’d call it the brave choice rather than the sensible one. It’s hard to get proper turn-based combat right and easy to wreck the whole game if they get it wrong.

    They’re in the best position to judge what will work best for the game though, so good on them for backing themselves to be able to pull off the more difficult option.

  16. SkittleDiddler says:

    I absolutely loathe pause-based RT combat (thanks Dragon Age!) so this news is all good as far as I’m concerned.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      To be fair, once you got past the nice graphics and animations and had seen every basic monster type, weapon type and spell type at least once – the combat in DA was just uninspired and tedious. I don’t think it would have made a difference had it been fully realtime, or turn based or played by mail.

  17. aliksy says:

    But real time with pause means you can cheese fights by running in circles that the AI pathing has trouble with, effectively becoming immortal! Wait, no, that’s stupid.

  18. jonahcutter says:

    Can’t say as I see turn-based inherently any more complex than real-time. In fact, there’s a strong argument that it’s less so, as the micro-managing possible in RTwP adds more layered variables to manipulate.

    But hey, if it’s your bag to go grumbling into your beer over how others don’t appreciate the supposed superiority of your preferred system, have at it.

    That said, I like both gameplay styles. Either can be great. Or a fucking mess.

    • aepervius says:

      There is no micromanaging in RTwP which is not doable in TB. On the other hand there are things which are esy to do in TB (tactical positioning) which are , depending on the UI, going from horrid to nigh imposssible in all RTwP implementation up to date.

  19. Deadend says:

    This reminds me how much I wish there was a way to turn Dragon Age into a grid-based turn-system as it would become 5x better at that point and I’d concede that Dragon age 1 is better. I like DA2 more because it’s the same fundamentally terrible (Real-time with pause) combat but resolved faster/easier.

    So basically.. I’m sad that so many people think RTwP is a good idea still. As I feel like it’s a style of combat that is dead outside of BioWare because Turn Based allows for more tension and makes precision maneuvering and micro-management less annoying to deal with.

    At least ATB wasn’t one of the options.

    • WrenBoy says:

      I prefer and voted for turn based but I don’t understand the drama. I’m sure the game would have turned out just fine if it was rtwp.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I actually think the Torment guys would disagree with you about Dragon Age. If ever there was a game full of trash mobs, that was it! I quote:

      “Turn-based combat certainly can be tedious, but that comes down to encounter design. As we stated during the Kickstarter, Torment will have no trash mobs—those hordes of filler battles that require little thought from the player. That type of gameplay is at odds with our emphasis on the story and character development, so each Crisis in Torment will be hand-crafted. It will have narrative relevance and consequences.”

      Now, regardless of whether the combat is realtime or turn based, this statement is the best thing I’ve seen from them about combat so far. All I need them to do now is post about how they’ve decided to remove, or hide, the vast majority of stats and a massive reduction in the amount of combat related loot (and consequently, lootable containers) and focus on combat equipment and character builds, that has swamped recent RPGs.

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s funny, I have the reverse impression of those two games. I’m not a fan of RTwP, but Dragon Age’s combats were either challenging and tactically interesting, or they were brief. Dragon Age II’s combats were neither because of the obscenely irritating multiple nigh-identical waves of enemies mechanic that featured in virtually every encounter.

    • Asurmen says:

      How is it fundamentally terrible?

  20. derbefrier says:


  21. JamesTheNumberless says:

    I’m more of a fan of realtime with pause, and straight-up realtime when it comes to RPGs but many of my favourite games (including the Fallouts 1&2) would have suffered from being done that way.

    I pledged exactly 1 metric fuckload to this campaign and I abstained from this vote. I trust these guys to make it awesome whether it’s turn based or with pause. Most of what was enjoyable in the original Torment revolved around making decisions outside of realtime anyway and it will be interesting to see how well their “crisis” situations help the non-combat and combat elements flow into eachother.

    Turn-based opens up all kinds of possibilities too, to present the player with interesting and multi-faceted decisions during combat. Maybe to even have one character fighting while another character is trying to parley with the enemy and break up the fight, and another is trying to sneak around the back to steal something while everybody else’s attention is distracted.

    • GiantPotato says:

      Exactly. The TBS approach opens up this whole idea of combat-that-isn’t-really-combat, like using your persuasiveness skill to talk one of your enemies out of fighting. Maybe you really don’t want to fight him, because he’s righteous/useful/whatever. So you have to sit there, getting shot at while trying to convince this guy, and you have to decide when enough is enough and it’s time to wipe everyone out. I don’t see how a real-time mechanic could tell that story.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Here’s a thought, “slow-time” sequences :) They’re like quick-time sequences except played through something similar to the old-school infinity engine dialogue box. Maybe in the midst of battle you suddenly notice a weakness on your opponent that wasn’t apparent before and have the opportunity to perform a sequence of actions related to that – like in the original Torment where a character with high intelligence (or a special book) figures out he can just pull the giant skeletons apart rather than having to wake them up and fight them.

  22. Emeraude says:

    Edit: /mumblecursemumble Reply fail.

  23. enyv says:

    I’m slightly disappointed with the choice myself. I don’t like how turn-based combat forcefully disrupts the flow of a game when it really shouldn’t need to. That’s one choice taken away from the player.

    Also, the best combat of any game I’ve played was in Baldur’s Gate II, and that’s quite a feat considering it was faithfully based in the, *ahem* less than ideal AD&D 2nd edition combat system. I’ve played many turn-based games, but they never seem to come even close to matching up to the complexity and excitement of some of the more exciting mage fights in BG2.

    Not to mention that turn-based combat almost always lends itself to silly math-exploits like waiting in a doorway just far enough from your foes that they will run through it but won’t have enough action-points left to attack you so that you can spend the next round slaughtering them with all your characters who happen to conveniently hide nearby. I find myself utilizing that one a lot in turn-based games. And it makes me feel dirty.

    Eh, guess I’ll have to live with this one. I’m sure the game will turn out okay regardless.

    • Premium User Badge

      MercurialAlchemist says:

      We must have a different memory, because what I recall of BG2’s fight was essentially hitting “pause” every few seconds to adjust positioning and select which spells the spellcaster was going to use next. That’s pretty much what a (party) turn-based game is about.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        The combat in BG2 went through three phases as the game progressed. The “oh shit, ranged weapons!” phase, the “oh shit, spellcasters!” phase and then “oh shit, spell resistance!” phase. I never once felt that it gained anything from being realtime with pause. Everything besides movement essentially took place in turns anyway, it was mostly about getting your spells off in the right sequence and nuking the biggest threat in the opposing squad as quickly as possible.

        • aepervius says:

          After a while at higher level, unless you really know all the in and out of spells in AD&D (even then….), the fight was “oh shit I missed a saving throw, now I am insta dead —- reload”.

      • enyv says:

        Saying BG2’s combat is about hitting space and assigning commands is like saying how watching a movie is about sitting still for two hours. Yes, those are the elements that make up BG2 combat, but that does not necessarily mean they are what it is about.

        And RtwP is quite different from turn-based, if you ask me; in turn-based actions that are supposed to take place at the same time (narrative-wise) actually play out one after another, while in RtwP they happen actually at the same time, giving you a whole other layer of choice and consequence. For example, in RtwP you have the freedom to cancel an action while you’re in the middle of carrying it out (mid-round) because you observe a change in your foes’ behavior and/or something happens along the way that you did not expect to. That’s a level of combat complexity turn-based games cannot reach by definition.

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          That for me is the biggest argument in favor of rtwp. You can of course have turn-based combat in which all the turns happen at once, but this basically amounts to real-time with pause, with an enforced pause at regular intervals. However, another point made by the developers here is that realism is unimportant, what’s important is that the system leads to fun gameplay. Most of us who remember old school RPGs fondly must also remember the use of imagination and suspension of disbelief that those games required in the way they presented their worlds to us. A good turn based system has to feel fair – and that’s easily achieved with good design. However something you can never do with a rtwp system is make it feel fair to people who don’t have the reflexes to make snap reactions to events on the field of play.

          • enyv says:

            Do you argue that Infinity Engine combat requires good reflexes, though? Because that’s not something I would have ever thought of, honestly. One can pause as often as they like, or even use once-per-round auto-pause and then evaluate the last round before assigning new commands.

            However, one hindrance of RtwP combat when compared to turn-based that I can think of is that you sometimes need to follow the combat log rather diligently. If there’s a lot of stuff going on at the same time with 12+ characters on the battlefield it’s quite likely that you will be missing some of the vital action going on. In turn-based combat that’s circumvented by showing each character act out their round separately. (And that’s also why it’s sometimes tedious.)

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            The realtime combat was enjoyable for me when I could actually let it play out in realtime and meddle here and there. This was fine for the majority of encounters but in the tough battles you really had to micro-manage especially in BG2.

            In the tough fights I pause every couple of seconds to check how everything is going and at this point I’m really fighting against the realtime with pause mechanic – rather than enjoying it. Like I said in another comment, I think BG2 is an example of taking turn-based mechanics and translating them (mostly very well) into realtime with pause – rather than having a combat system that’s designed to be fun in real-time.

  24. hideinlight says:

    Replace pause with real-time + ultra slo-mo. Would look much cooler too.
    Imagine they did that gladiator scene in real-time -> pause -> real-time. Wouldn’t of worked would it.

    edit: omg just confused Gladiator with 300.
    Oh and add a 3 slot queue, dependent on class. It should be like redirecting a movie with more than one character.

  25. KirbyEvan says:

    Man, I wanted real-time with pause.

    Like Chrono Trigger (with the right settings), it keeps all the great parts about turn-based combat but allows it to play at a pace without having to wait through animations; the animations are simply apart of the cooldown, which makes the game play pretty nice.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I liked Knights of the Old Republic in this respect too, I don’t like real time with pause in games where the intention is that you’ll have to do a lot of pausing to micromanage multiple characters. IMO rtwp works far better in games that where combat is designed to be fun and playable in real-time with pause as a tactical option but not a necessity.

  26. Lemming says:

    I voted RTwP, largely because of the infinity-engine heritage, but they’ve covered a lot of my worries with the FAQ on their approach to turn-based combat. It’s not put me off the game by a long way. Plus, there’s always Project Eternity.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I probably would have voted this way too but I’m glad I didn’t. I can’t disagree with what they have to say about turn-based combat suiting the game better, if there is as much nuance to the combat as they’re suggesting.

  27. satan says:

    I didn’t vote, I didn’t think I’d need to, now I wish I had.

  28. dethtoll says:

    And they’ve taken the first step in getting me interested in this game.

    The tears in so many greasy beards is just icing on the cake.

  29. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Personally I’m interested in the resulting game regardless of the outcome. I voted for turn-based combat, though, as I much prefer the structure it offers compared to the chaos of real time combat with pause.

  30. Cronstintein says:

    I still prefer RTwP since it allows you to scale the amount of micromanagement based on the difficulty of the combat encounter. During easier fights you could leave the melee on auto-attack and maybe micro a few spells while during the harder fights you could micro every attack. Turn based requires 100% micromanagement at all times which I personally find monotonous.

    • enyv says:

      Agreed, this is what I was trying to say earlier but couldn’t quite manage to express it so concisely.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        This is really well addressed in their first comment though, they aren’t aiming for a game full of small encounters (trash mobs). This is the thing that really dragged down Dragon Age for me, and which prevents me from really getting into Japanese RPGs (my favorite is still Shining in the Darkness on the Megadrive!). Personally I hope this means they’re aiming for a game where “grinding for xp” is something that doesn’t even ever cross your mind as a player. Every “crisis” is supposed to be dense and full of meaning.

        “If one were to take Planescape: Torment and, changing nothing else, switch to TB combat, the result would be miserable for many. You’d be stopped midstride in every Hive back alley to perform the same boring actions on meaningless thugs and zombies.”

        • enyv says:

          For me what it really boils down to is every gamer plays games differently. Some might ponder every move they make in Watcher’s Keep and pause each fight every couple of seconds, another may just try to breeze through said fights in real time with a couple of pauses here and there and then reload if they fail. The point is that in RtwP players have that choice to make for themselves, while turn-based combat takes it away from them.

          All this doesn’t really affect all that much what I think about the game. As I said before I’m slightly disappointed with the choice, but I’ll still play the game and I’m fairly sure I will enjoy it. Combat is important, but it’s not everything.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Agreed, I trust them to make a good game. My first choice would have been rtwp, without hesitation, but now that I know it’s turn based I’m extremely upbeat about all the ways in which turn based combat can be done well. I think it does depend on how people prefer to play but it also depends on the implementation. I doubt even the most hardcore turn based fan would rather play Skyrim turn based than realtime. And I doubt that even the most die-hard fan of realtime RPGs would enjoy Angband more in realtime (without or without pause) than they would if they played it turn by turn.

          • enyv says:

            True enough.

  31. Caiman says:

    Surely all this has done is ensure that 50% of your backers will now whinge and moan every time the combat system is brought up. Still, it’s amusing seeing such spirited defense of TBwP given how widely it was criticised when it was first introduced all those years ago. Yes, I remember it well.

  32. MellowKrogoth says:

    Huzzah! I just hope they do turn-based combat with all the features that make it not boring, such as animation speedup/skip options, and giving orders to a character while a previous one is animating. Being able to drag-select and move several characters at once while in turn-based mode would also be nice, for those times where you have 3 turns worth of space to move, or when you just know you can move through and ignore the pitiful enemies.

  33. Focksbot says:

    Hmm. I guess, for me, it comes down to this: I’m almost certainly not going to enjoy the combat for its own sake. But if each encounter is meaningful and makes sense in the story, I’ll probably still enjoy the game overall.

  34. hellwalker says:

    I hate every single person who voted turn based, I hope they never eat cookies or drink beer in their lives.

    • jrodman says:

      *Spends an extra action point this turn to eat _two_ cookies.*

  35. jrodman says:

    *Spends an extra action point this turn to eat _two_ cookies.*