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Nov 03, 2005



I still like the old PBeM games.
One of my favorites was Lords of the Earth http://www.throneworld.com/lords/index.jsp

The normal turn around in the games i played was about once per month. But there was a lot of "diplomacy" and planning/backstabbing between each turn.

It had a lot of mechanics about land control, RP, etc that many MMOGs should pay attention to :)

I loved those games, but the problem was that it was so much intensive work for the GM to run - as most of the work was done by hand, only the maths etc - so only a few games really lasted a long time.

Which is a shame.


nate > "players who like turn-based games do so because they want to be able to explore the moment of the world as it stands still"

This is a good description of what happens in turn-based tabletop hex and minifig games, which I first started playing almost 30 years ago (gulp; yes, I was around ten years old at the time). Especially in a game like Squad Leader or Tobruk, in which each counter represents so few units (or even just one), you really felt for your men as they scurried across an alley, or for that lone AFV that had got separated from the pack and was running through a graveyard of burning turrets trying to avoid catching a 72mm shell.

Yes, the turn structure of a game like ASL was highly complex, but somehow it never felt burdensome to me. (I wish I still had all my old Avalon Hill games.) It was a way to break things down into a reasonable number of discrete moments, each one of which didn't take *too* much thought, and which, strung together, did in fact give the illusion of a continuum unfolding on the board. (The Bowden Napoleonics rules referenced in the summer post, however, took a lot of commitment and kind of did get in the way of the narrative. Though played right, they could be make for a rewarding experience.)

I've never been involved in a PBeM game, but in turn-based tabletop games, despite the fact that nothing is really going to happen while you're planning your move, the pressure can be quite intense. I still occasionally play minifig games--8 commanders arrayed around a 4' X 8' tabletop on which hundreds of figures are squared off--and there the feeling can be every bit as heart-pounding as an unplanned PvP encounter in EVE or WoW. Men are counting on you, and not just lead or cardboard ones either.

Having time proceed in discrete chunks could also blaze each one of those snapshots into your mind in a deep way. You remembered the sequence of bogeymen you faced in each turn, and it was easy to reconstruct the flow of battle in the aftermath. What a cathartic moment that is, too, when the 6 or 8 hours you've alloted for a huge tabletop battle finally rolls to an end and everyone lets out a collective sigh and starts deconstructing the day. The "movie" of the day's events that unfolded in one's head was quite clear. And in fact, it was more than just "the moment[s] of the world as it stands still," but included the moments between. In a good game, those moments do become a connected, fluid narrative. Time doesn't need to be sped up at all.


I also really like the observation that the enjoyment of turn-based games is based on a desire to contemplate the world as it stands still. It's the kind of close attention to game form and genre I'd particularly like to see more educational game developers consider as they try to match mechanics to content. I'd love to see a study which explored players' experience of this phenomenon...


X-Com was fantastic. Especially playing it on the not-too-fast computers of the day, when clicking "end turn" would make the screen go blank for a minute or so while the aliens had their turn, punctuated by the occasional visible fire, rustling noises, or the screams of civilians on the city levels.

It's also one of the few games I've ever played with damageable scenery, which also made a real difference.

UFO: Aftermath is the latest inheritor of the X-Com games. Somehow it's not quite so terrifying, but more fun.


Isn't the real reason to segment time into turns in a game simply to cater to a different playstyle?

It seems to me that linear-time games (RTSs, for example) are primarily tactical, while turn-based games reward strategic thinking. If (as I think is the case) very few people are equally good at both tactics and strategy, then how you permit a player to experience time in your game is simply a recognition that the gamer market has segments.

The adrenalin junkie segment will tend to prefer linear-time games in which reaction speed matters, while the explorer segment will prefer turn-based games that reward their ability to comprehend the big picture. The former can be more engaging on an emotional level because the action never stops; the latter is more satisfying on an intellectual level because there's time between turns to convert information to knowledge.

Personally, I'm happy Firaxis didn't turn Civ 4 into another RTS game. The possibilities of the turn-based strategy model haven't been exhausted yet...

...or have they?


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