Over at RPGWatch, there’s a new article up about turn-based vs. real-time combat in CRPGs. Of course, we’ve discussed that here before.

I, as everyone knows, much prefer turn-based. I can live with real-time in a true solo (no NPC party tagging along) gaming. However, there isn’t much of that anymore these days, alas.

But there’s an important reason to bring back turn-based for the party, be it your own creation or a bunch of NPC pickups: spells.

When D&D (or AD&D) came into being, the spells were made for turn-based combat. That gave mages the chance to let off with offensive power, especially area-effect spells, and have a decent chance of damaging the enemy and not the party.

However, in the typical real-time game, all the enemies are moving immediately. Area effects are very hard to do, and unless the game has some mechanism for protecting the “good guys” (like the PvP settings in Neverwinter Nights), there’s little hope of area effect spells being worth much.

The enemies simply close in too quickly. By the time a mage has gotten off that fireball or stinking cloud, all the targets are past it. Or else, if the mage is running on AI, the spell goes off in the front lines, hurting the party as well as the monsters.

Bringing back turn-based combat would go a long way to eliminating, or at least ameliorating somewhat, that problem. Players wouldn’t be quite so fearful of letting AI mages (Qara, for example) letting loose with high-powered area spells.

Whether that will happen, though, is doubtful. Most players, especially younger ones – who have no experience with turn-based games – want that up-front action of real-time combat.

Yet, as the article points out, turn-based was done successfully with Fallout. Perhaps game designers should study that model, and see how it could be adapted for other CRPGs. It would certinly make magic, at least, a less nerve-wracking experience.

Turn-Based vs. Real-Time at RPGWatch