1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Why are Simultaneous turn based strategy games not more popular?

Discussion in 'All Other Games' started by Olleus, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2005
    Messages:
    6,478
    Location:
    England
    Title says it all really. By simultaneous turns I mean that each turn is divided into a planning and a resolution phase. All players do the planning stage simultaneously where they make decisions but nothing actually happens and, once they all press end turn, all the actions are resolved simultaneously. In practice, the resolution would probably be done sequentially for things that don't matter, and would have some rules to break ties for things that do matter.

    The classic example of this is the game Diplomacy, or the recent Frozen Synapse game. Another would be Civ where all players simultaneously decide what to build, pick research, and tell units where to move. Once all players are done, then the research/building/moving happens at the same time. This would make no practical difference for research/building, but for moving you could have the situation where two units move into the same tile or one evades combat by moving out as another moves in. Note that this is different to simultaneous turns in Civ multiplayer as of now, which is more of an RTS clickfest.

    As I see it the advantages are:
    • All the advantages of turn based strategy over real time (click speed doesn't matter, more thinking time, etc...)
    • Less waiting around time in MP
    • Far more thinking time for the AI in SP. This is especially true now that we all have 8 threads in our computers.
    • An extra layer of strategy/tactics involved in anticipating what your opponent is currently doing.
    while the disadvantages are:
    • Probably more difficult to program, especially the multi-threading
    • ?????
    Am I missing something here? It just clearly seems like the better option. It combines the advantages of the Firaxis TBS and the Paradox RTS approaches.
     
  2. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Blackpilled Idealist

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2006
    Messages:
    9,468
    Gender:
    Male
    I'm not really in favor of simultaneous turns. The big problem is that instead of acting or reacting, you'll have to try to predict what the enemy does. It makes luck an important factor and turns chess into rock-paper-scissors.
     
    hobbsyoyo and cardgame like this.
  3. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2005
    Messages:
    6,478
    Location:
    England
    I don't think it makes luck a more important factor. Or rather, it's luck that you can influence and direct rather than being at the mercy of dice or RNG.

    I've played a fair amount of Risk and Diplomacy; similar games but where the former is sequential turns (with dice to determine combat) and the latter is simultaneous without any RNG. It feels like luck plays a vastly more important role than in Diplomacy. Another comparison is between X-com and Frozen synapse. Again, X-com (sequential game with RNG) feels a lot more luck dependent than Frozen synapse.

    This is because uncertainty that comes about because of your lack of knowledge about another players intentions can be overcome. You can gain intelligence (either in the game or as some meta game) to have a better idea of what they might do. You can lay a trap to try to trick them. Or you can engineer the situation such that they only have one less bad option. Any game needs uncertainty otherwise the replay value is none. Turn based game are pretty much constraint to use an RNG for this. Simultaneous turn games use the lack of knowledge about the other player for uncertainty, and so can remove the RNG. This is good because you can influence other players, but not a dice.

    As for your rock-paper-scissors example, this needs not apply. Rock-paper-scissors is a luck based game because the best approach is to be completely random. This need not - and is not - the case with other simultaneous turn games.
     
  4. Nightinggale

    Nightinggale Deity Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Messages:
    4,129
    The problem with dividing a turn into phases where you plan, give orders and then watch the orders being executed is mainly: how do you react to the result of an order? Think exploring with a ship in a civ game. It has 3 moves, but can only see 1 plot ahead. The main problem is that if you order the ship to go in a strait line into the unknown, it could encounter land or similar. What if it happens to be ordered into an enemy warship, which hides in fog of war? Should it attack even though it has 1% chance of surviving?

    Some games, like Imperialism has managed to make a plan, then execute system, but it does come at a cost. There is no fog of war and units can't move more than one tile into unexplored area, regardless of movement.
     
  5. Fullerene

    Fullerene Warlord

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Messages:
    228
    Gender:
    Male
    I've been developing civ-like game that works for this kind of movement system for some time (few years). There are some design issues that's true. Above mentioned fog of war thing is one of them. And keeping track of the moves and results of battles is a challenge also

    My current solution goes like this:

    -Every unit has initiative score (it depends on unit type, experience, etc)
    -There is separate movement and attack phase.
    -When unit moves next to enemy unit it will lose all movement points and stop moving.
    -After moves are executed, players can give units orders to attack adjacent enemies.
    -Unit with more initiative score can move and attack first, thus eliminating some guessing element from the combat

    There's more to that, this is just some simplification that should give you the basic idea.

    I think it could be quite some working system and I believe the advantages mentioned in the first post of this thread makes it worth trying.
    .
     
    Kyriakos likes this.
  6. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2005
    Messages:
    6,478
    Location:
    England
    The first problem is easily resolved by having units see further than they can move.

    As for the rest - that's strategy!! It probably doesn't work with 1UPT a la civ5 or 6, but if you lock units as a stack that moves as a single army (Any total war or paradox game), then it's fine. You chose between moving slowly and always being sure that nobody is going to ambush you, or you move quickly and risk being surprised. I see this extra level of decision making as purely a good thing.

    That's an interesting idea. I was thinking of something simpler with a single phase:
    - Units are grouped into armies that occupy a single tile, multiple armies cannot be in the same tile at the same time. Players would have fewer armies than in Civ and the maps would be bigger with cities further apart to give more room for manoeuvring
    - Armies can see as far as they can move (unless moving on a road, which carries the risks I explained above)
    - All armies use their 1st movement point simultaneously. Then their second. Etc...
    - If two hostile armies try and move onto the same tile, or one moves onto a tile already occupied by another, they fight immediately, and all further movements are cancelled.
    - If two friendly (not at war) armies try and move on the same tile simultaneously, they bounce back and neither move for the rest of the turn.
    - As well as having orders to move every turn, armies also have a stance chosen by the player. These stances can modify the movement orders based on the movements that already happened this turn. Eg: March (follow movement orders), Attack (change movement orders to attack any adjacent enemy), Avoid (do not move if that would cause a battle)

    I'm sure there's more to decide about how to resolve 3-way conflicts and the like, but the main idea is fairly simple. It is rather like Diplomacy, where it takes only a little experience to be able to resolve and predict who will fight who
     
  7. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Messages:
    54,986
    Location:
    Thessalonike, The Byzantine Empire
    Most RTS games have similar things to do, eg science research, moving units, ordering production queues, etc. The feel is different. Eg a turn-based version of Europa Universalis would be the old Imperialism games. Both are nice, but have a different feel.
    Ultimately it is easier to form a better tactic in RTS, cause there you actually know - from past games - what can happen up to time x in the game, while in turn based it is all part of a turn.
     
  8. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2013
    Messages:
    9,396
    Simultaneous turns is an abomination in my opinion, it turns the beginning of the turn into an apm-fest, often with weird outcomes thanks to lag.

    Pseudo-Turn-Based real-time like we find in Paradox games is a way better solution in my opinion, it gives you the time to react without having to rush decisions thanks to the delay on attacks and rather slow warfare overall. It does still require you to make decisions in somewhat reasonable timeframes, but I think a bit of that is fine.
     
  9. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2005
    Messages:
    6,478
    Location:
    England
    That's simultaneous turns as interpreted by Firaxis. Which is indeed a click fest as it is first-click-first-come rather than actually simultaneous.

    I meant "true" simultaneous turns where everyone places their orders in secret and - once everyone is done - the orders are all carried out simultaneously. Like in the classic board game Diplomacy
     
  10. Denkt

    Denkt Reader

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2012
    Messages:
    3,114
    Location:
    Not in a Civilization City Atleast
    There are games that use a two phase system:
    1. Planing phase there the players plan their moves
    2. Execution phase in which these orders are executed often simultaneous
    A game that use the system above would be interplanetary.

    This system have the advantages turn based games have but also add the element of planing several moves ahead and guess what moves the enemy is going to do, generally it add more risk and reward than normal turn based system (which is often quite predictable).

    There are alot of skill in trying to predict what moves the enemy is going to do, normal turn based is very deterministic as it lack the chaos factor which mean it can get very predicatable what is going to happen. The system would not work for chess because it game rules are not designed for it.

    I don't think it is a good idea for a civilization game because it would just be to messy and outside the focus of a civilization game in my opinion even if all the solutions are simple such as scouting could be done with click on the map exploration points (instead of units) I think it is simply going to get to messy with so many units all over the map. Maybe you could make a return of doomstacks and make combat like in age of wonders and use that system in combat.

    I have a game concept about 2 player wizard duel which would use the two phase system. The concept is inspired by boxing, each turn would be called a round and a duel would be several rounds. Like boxing you can win either by KO or by wining rounds.

    The game concept is card based, there are two major card categories:
    • Action cards which determines what action your wizard will do. Such action could be multi attack, counter attack, charge up and many more.
    • Magic cards which can do stuff such as damaging the opponent to effect the game rules such as making rounds longer.
    Each round would start out in the planing phase in which you determine your actions by placing down action cards. How many action cards you get to place down is determined by the length of the round, a short round may be 3 cards while a long round may be 7 or so. If action cards allow you have to assign magic cards which will be played with that action. A normal attack would be one magic card while a multi attack would be two magic cards.

    After the planing phase the playout phase would start. The game play out both wizards first action simultaneous and so on which is very important because what actions the opponent play will effect your actions and your actions will effect the opponent. A stunner which if hit may skip the opponents next action which can be really powerful if it ruin an important chain of actions.

    The game have a number of resources:
    • Health which if reach zero is KO and automatic win for the opponent
    • Stamina which is used to pay for the actions, very important to manage this resource otherwise you will be in deep trouble. Generally the more powerful actions would drain the stamina alot more than the weaker actions.
    • Charge is a more temporary resource which are earned by the charge action and then consumed by many magical cards to make their effect much more powerful, stuff such as doing so much damage to instantly KO the opponent. But charges are generally not keept from round to round and charge up is a risky move.
    • Cards as the game is a deck builder with two set of cards, action and magical cards which are drawn each round
    The idea is that you have to manage your stamina and cards, playing out the best actions while predicting what actions your opponent is going to play. Because each duel may use different rules such as round length, duel length and different opponent may mean different strategies are needed. A long duel for example favor stamina conservation alot more than a short duel.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
  11. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2005
    Messages:
    6,478
    Location:
    England
    I like it! It looks like a very good demonstration of how simultaneous resolving of turns can add both strategy and excitement to a game.

    Sounds like it has the right mixture of preparation and responding. I think the balance to be struck is that your cards need to be influenced enough by your opponents cards that you can't use the same tactic in every game, but not be so strongly dependent that the game turns into rock-paper-scissors.

    Have you considered restrictions on what cards can be played from round to round? IE: if I use card X now, I can't use it next round. Or if I use card Y now, my opponent can't use Z next round.
    This would allow a player to gain information/manipulate what the next round will be like, and therefore pick cards that are suitable for that. This would allow for long term strategy.
     
  12. Denkt

    Denkt Reader

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2012
    Messages:
    3,114
    Location:
    Not in a Civilization City Atleast
    The basic idea is that the game should be unpredictable while having interesting decisions and strategies. By changing some rules such as round length, stamina cost and duel length you can effect what strategies are going to be used.

    The nice thing about the system is that you need to plan several moves each round while not knowing exactly what your opponent is going to play (so you can not counter every move). Cards come in many flavors with the basic idea that low risk mean low reward while high risk mean high reward. Low risk card would be easy to play but carry little reward while high risk cards have requirements such as a certain level of charge up points or high stamina cost but these cards if successfully played can do things such as instantly KO the opponents which instantly win the game.

    I have not thought around that much around how the cards play with each other but more about general strategies and how the cards play out with those. There are two ways to win, by KO (which mean reducing the opponent's health to zero) or by points (which mean winning more rounds than the opponent) so the idea here is to focus your card on either winning one of these two (but obviously you should try to have access to both).

    Because stamina is such important resource you can not just keep playing very aggressively each round because while it is easy to consume stamina it is hard and very risky to get it back. So a basic strategy here is to play aggressively in some rounds to win them and do damage to the opponent while playing other rounds defensively to conserve stamina. Again here is the risk-reward factor. Low risk mean using more stamina but will protect you better while high risk is to avoid using stamina as much as possible but may leave your without defence during that round (which the opponent may not know about as risk reward is always two ways).

    The opponent can see your stamina and health so you should be careful with how low you run these two because the less health and stamina you have the more predictable your moves are going to be and in a game like this predictability is not something good.

    I have not thought as much around card control. Main card control way is stamina and health. There are cards that effect the rules of the game such as increasing round length or stamina consumption. Some cards have certain requirements before they can be played such as a certain level of charge ups so these once are particular vulnerable to stuff such as stunners and are powerful if played so the threat that these once or even just basic charged cards (which can be very dangerous as well) may effect how you play.

    I think I have already talked about this. The long term strategy is how you manage your health and stamina while working towards the victory conditions, but yes there are cards that effect the game rules. You may not know what your opponent are going to play but you know what you are going to play and may predict what your opponent is going to play by looking at the stamina and health level as well as figuring out what strategy the opponent is using. But taking risks are part of the game.

    Here are some card ideas:

    Action Cards come in two types: The primary spell actions (wizard duel rules dictates that dualists must use atleast one spell each turn, passivity is not allowed (but being stunned or other similar reasons which force passivity is fair game.) Thus one spell action card must be played each turn. Some spell action cards:

    Single spell: Probably the most common action card, allow for one spell card to be played. While not powerful this action is stamina efficient.

    Multi spell: Allow several spells to be played on the same turn but at the cost of being less stamina efficient. The total stamina cost of the spells played is multiplied, the more spells played the bigger the multiplier is.

    Charge up: This increase the wizard's charge by 1. The stamina cost depend on how largethe charge value is, the larger the more expensive it get to charge it to an additional level. Charges are used by most spells to increase their power, generally uncharged spells do next to no damage. If a spell can be charged it will use all charges. Some spells need a minimum amount of charges otherwise they will not function at all.

    The second type of action cards are utility actions which while useful are not needed to be used each turn unlike the spell actions. They are always played together with a spell action Some utility actions:

    Dodge: The wizard will doge spells the opponent played that turn which mean they will not do any damage but the price is that this action cost considerable stamina.

    Quick Spell: This action will make your wizard play a specific spell (if the multi spell is used) before your opponent and before your other spells. Very useful for certain spells such as stunners or shield in which there are obvious benefit of playing it before the opponent can use their spells.

    Multi Spell Actions: This allow you to play several spell action cards during the turn which can be extremely powerful because it allow you to play stuff such as several charge ups during the same turn but much like the multi spell the stamina cost of the actions are multiplied.

    The other big category of cards are the spell cards. Unlike action cards you don't have to play a spell card every turn because certain actions such as charge up do not allow for spell cards to be played. Spells have stamina cost and some require a certain level of charge but nearly all of them get substantial stronger with charges. Here are some spell cards:

    Simple: The least impressive type of spell, uncharged it usefulness is limited to scoring some points to rounds as well as forcing the opponent to spend some stamina to dodge them. However they are really cheap stamina wise and they can do some nice damage if charged making it perhaps one of the most used spells.

    Stunner: If this hit the opponent it will stop the next opponent's actions which would have been played after the stunner. They do cost quite alot of stamina to use and the price goes up the more stunners you play each round to reduce the effectivness of chain stunning.

    Seeker: Seeker spells can not be dodged but can still be stopped by other ways.

    Shield: A shield require atleast one charge and will stop a infinite number of spells that are less charged than the shield but is destroyed by spells that have atleast equal amount of charges as the shield.

    Shield breaker: A spell that will destroy any shield no matter how well charged it is.

    Curse: A spell that will effect the opponent in some negative way the next round, require some minimal charges.

    Manipulation: A spell that effect the game rules in some way.

    Absorption: This will absorb the spells the opponent play the next turn making them cause no damage and add all charges these spells had to your own charge count.Tricky spell require alot of stamina.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
  13. Igor Galochkin

    Igor Galochkin Chieftain

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2004
    Messages:
    16
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Moscow
    There are several reasons, I suppose:

    1. many players don't like the randomness of predictions of orders of other players. Yes, you said that it's a completely different type of randomness than simple dice rolls and even a different type of randomness resulting from hidden information like the one in games with fog of war. Still, it's some randomness/uncertainty, and some players (like myself) perceive it as "too much randomness". Someone else said here that traditional games like chess may be boring while the randomness added by simultaneous turns spices them up. I'd argue that both cases are valid games, it's just that some players like digging into the game tree more than they like weighing probabilities of actions of other players. Or vice versa. It's like some players like poker and some don't. On randomness in strategy games, there is some consensus among game devs that players in continental Europe (Germany, Russia, France) generally prefer little or no randomness in strategy games while Americans, British and possibly also Japanese prefer more randomness. So, I'd expect a game with simultaneous turns be more popular in the second group of countries and less popular in the first.

    2. Simultaneous turns only make sense in multiplayer games. If an AI does a simultaneous turn together with you, it's all too easy for the player to say that the AI is cheating and only gives its orders after the player has given theirs. That would be especially likely for players who aren't good with the game or after they've been especially unlucky in predicting an AI's move. People's perception of randomness is pretty self-biased and they will tend to perceive an objectively fair random distribution as rigged against them and unfair. I think Sid Meyer in his GDC talk covered a lot about player's inability to reasonably treat randomized outcomes of battles in Civ games. Anyway, with a multiplayer-only game you get a pretty limited audience which is naturally smaller than that of a game which has both a single- and a multi-player mode. E.g. some players may only have time to play on a subway, on a mobile phone where there is no internet connection, or it's unstable, or too expensive. Or even those who play on their PC from home may not have enough time to play for long in an uninterrupted session because they have kids or other distractions. Some players are not social and prefer to play alone rather with random strangers on the web. You still get people who play with their friends but for such sessions you need to make an appointment, that's not always easy to organize and will tend to be rare, like LAN-parties.

    3. The concept of simultaneous turns is a pretty advanced one, so generally only hardcore players with some experience in gaming would understand it. This essentially cuts off most of the younger audiences, mobile and casual players. In contrast to that, sequential turns is a familiar concept to all people (at least in all modern cultures, not sure about some poor African countries, which folk games they have there though I bet they should have at least some variation of checkers?). When a casual player picks up a normal TBS, they'd usually be pretty familiar with the concept of turns. With a simultaneous turns game, most will be just confused and quit.

    I'm not saying that simultaneous turns is a bad concept. It's a working game mechanic, and it has its fans. But the factors above (and maybe some more) limit the potential audience for such games. So you probably won't see many such games made either in the AAA space or on mobile. More like, in some PC indie games. Or some ports to Android. In either case, they'll tend to have low-budget graphics, poorly designed interfaces and other signs of lack of funding :)
     
  14. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2005
    Messages:
    6,478
    Location:
    England
    Very interesting post, I must admit I hadn't thought of points 2 or 3. While 1 is pure preference, that also makes it very hard to argue against. Good food for thought.
     
  15. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Deity

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2012
    Messages:
    20,928
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    The pale blue dot.
    Or it turns into who can click the mostest and fastest.
     
  16. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,438
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    I would play more games like that if there were more good games like this out there. Civ counts, right?

    XCOM is like this, but the first remake just got so boring. Same thing over and over, and some of the dynamics were just so frustrating.
     
  17. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Messages:
    54,986
    Location:
    Thessalonike, The Byzantine Empire
    Major turn-based strategy were never that many. Eg the main ones were Civ, Imperialism, Battle Isle, D&D type games, WW2 or similar war-simulation games and that is pretty much it. Even when Civ came about it had pretty unusual mechanics, eg in the Amiga i was used to strategy games having a real-time focus, including Utopia, Megalomania, Populous, Powermonger (if one can call that a game :D ), with only smaller companies creating full-turn based titles.
     
  18. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Messages:
    25,110
    Luck has been a factor for ages. Predicting your enemy's choices is much less "luck" oriented than RNG that already exists in most TBS.

    Lag is ruinous in Pdox titles too, especially at the margins of high level play. Latency can lose games outright in EU 4 and HOI 4. And I say this with some knowledge of how these titles work...

    Spoiler :


    Civ MP already utilizes simultaneous turns and has for over a decade. It's not beyond conceivable that this could be built in as the way the game plays in general (creating one system rather than two) and effectively eliminate significant IBT waiting.

    Pretty extraordinary claim, and I'm not sure the evidence backs it.
     

Share This Page