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Considering the Turn Based MMO, Part Two

By Guest Writer on November 04, 2008 | Developer Journals | Comments

Considering the Turn Based MMO, Part Two
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For this developer’s journal I wanted to continue the discussion on turn-based games started last week. As I described the week before, turn-based games are an attractive form of play when you consider all the classic games out there that are turn-based. They definitely have strengths, but there are also some weaknesses.

So this week, I thought I would go through some of the pros and cons of turn-based games that we thought about as we created Atlantica. Hopefully, you might get a sense of how we came to decide to make Atlantica the way it is.

Pros of Turn-based

Last week I noted some of the popular turn-based games that have thrived in the East and the West, like baduk and chess. Here are the advantages of a turn-based system when applied to a computer game.

  1. First, players are not interrupted when they take their turn.. They are able to act strategically because they have the freedom to think deeply about what their move should be. This is different than real-time games, which require quick action and physical improvisation and not so much deep thinking. We prefer the deep thinking side of games, where a strategic mind is more needed. We believe a strategy-heavy, turn-based game is appealing to many players.
  2. Turn-based games provide a level playing field for everyone, since a winner is determined by how well a player thinks and then moves. There are no advantages based on physicality, so it’s fair for everyone — men and women, young and old.
  3. There is some down time for a player — when the opponent is taking his or her turn. With this extra time, you can take advantage of other features in a game, most notably on community-related aspects of the game, like chatting. With battles in real-time games, players are constantly moving or clicking something, hardly leaving any time for you to catch your breath, let alone have a conversation. That’s not the case for turn-based games.
  4. In today’s gaming world, most MMORPGs use real-time systems. Having a turn-based game enables us to stand out among the extremely crowded MMORPG marketplace. We could avoid getting into the treacherous, competitive waters of real-time MMORPGs, and instead try to provide a game for people looking for something different than a real-time MMORPG. The great thing about turn-based action is that it’s familiar to gamers. We can build on something players might remember from the past, even have a sense of fondness for, and create something new and striking in the world of MMORPGs.
  5. With a turn-based video game like Final Fantsy, you are controlling more than one character in battle. Having multiple characters to control translates to more things to explore, like the different kinds of equipment available for each character. Ultimately, that means more things to do for a player, who will spend more time playing to discover all this content. Hopefully that will give the game more longevity.
  6. There is fun to be had watching turn-based games, since these games are easy for observers to comprehend quickly and then follow as each player takes their turn. With multiple characters performing a variety of different moves, there is a lot of action for potential fans to watch. This sets up a game nicely for e-sports, which is a part of gaming more online games are trying to be a part of, especially in Asia. A game with strategic turn-based moves could build a base of professional players as well as fans in the world of e-sports more easily.

Atlantica Online Screenshot

Cons of Turn-based Games

Now let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks in turn-based action for a video game.

  1. Of course, games are removed from reality, but there’s something more unrealistic about turn-based games, as you become cut off from the external environment when you engage in a battle. To fight only one monster in a dungeon of monsters is unrealistic. Plus battles, in real life, aren’t so neatly structured, where each side gets to take its turn, uninterrupted.
  2. Since turn-based battles demand a good deal of concentration with all that strategic thinking, as well as possibly take up a lot of time, that can get taxing on players. It could also lead some players to anxiety as they try to decide what the right move should be. One of the things we came up with to address this issue in Atlantica is the Auto-Battle.
  3. The massive raids you can perform in many MMORPGs today is absent in a turn-based game. Since each player must take his or her turn individually, a massive battle with players all fighting simultaneously would be very difficult to achieve.

For us, the pros outnumbered the cons. And we applied a turn-based system to Atlantica Online.

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