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"Indirect action" games


Darren
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Final Fantasy XII has Gambits. Dragon Quest XI has Tactics. Nier Automata has Chips. All three give the player the ability to effectively "program" their character(s) behaviour in battles, and to either let them get on with it or step in as required with fine-tuning or overriding instructions. And as an increasingly old gamer with diminishing reflexes and a touch of arthritis in my fingers, this has become my preferred way to play. I get all the fun of spectacular action sequences without the pain of pressing all the right buttons at exactly the right time, while still being in control rather than just letting the game play itself.

 

I have bracketed these together as Indirect Action games but the "genre" may well have a better name already. If so, what is it, and what other games might be in it?

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Watchdogs 2 (I haven't played Legion) sort of. You can play about 90% of the game's missions without engaging m/any of the bad guys. You can effectively SWAT gangsters, send gangsters after police, use your drone and RC car to hack and electrocute people all from the safety of the adjoining roof, despite being armed with a massive volumes of guns and so on. So the game becomes a game where you're sat in front of a screen watching your avatar sat in front of a screen manipulating the world.

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I think there’s a predecessor of this in FF7 endgame strategy, where most of the recommended ways of beating the optional Weapon bosses involved creating a self-reviving robot that cast multiple copies of Knights of the Round every time the enemy attacked. 

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Oh, hey. It's Loop Hero, your new obsession!
 


There's also a diablo clone, Path of Exile, where with the right end-game stuff or specific builds you could essentially automate damage, and not just through playing a bog-standard summoner build - This includes casting things due to self-inflicted damage while moving, and auras that would degen your health and apply that damage as a multiplier to anything around you in a radius (Death Aura or Righteous Fire). You'd have to build your character in a certain way and actively play to actually get to that point, mind.

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19 minutes ago, sbrandon111 said:

Like turn based strategy games?

 

Sort of, and I realise that FFXII and DQXI are turn based to a greater or lesser extent, and I love Disgaea, but I'm thinking more of games that are more real-time action but where you don't have to directly participate in that action if you don't want to.

 

15 minutes ago, Alex W. said:

I think there’s a predecessor of this in FF7 endgame strategy, where most of the recommended ways of beating the optional Weapon bosses involved creating a self-reviving robot that cast multiple copies of Knights of the Round every time the enemy attacked. 

 

I haven't played FF7 but there's definitely a precursor in Kingdom Hearts, I can't remember what it's called in that but there's a system for setting how you want Donald and Goofy to support you which is basically gambits-lite. I think FFXII just ran with that and extended it to include the lead character too.

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FF13's battle system might tickle your pickle - its 'paradigm shift' system has you output party types (aka paradigms) as a result of assigning role/job types to your characters, who then perform most suitable AI-selected actions per the role you selected for them + whatever abilities you unlocked for them. you can also intervene and select which actions to perform manually if you like.

a benefit this system has over FF12's is that because you are constantly having to change paradigms (aka paradigm shift) based on the situation, it doesn't feel quite so much on auto-pilot, while still giving you the feeling of having setup a wise strategy ahead of battle time.

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6 minutes ago, Alex W. said:

For clarity it definitely wasn’t intentional in FF7, but you could use party members and materia abilities in an unintended way to semi-automate those encounters. People have had a hunger for this for a while.

 

That's interesting, I wonder if the formalised system in Kingdom Hearts (which is a FF spin-off after all) arose as a result of that.

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Yakuza Like A Dragon has turn based combat and it can be set to auto-play (with broad strategies you can change like not using Skills or Items). In the regular battles there are button prompts where you either mash or press a button with (generous) correct timing for additional damage/defense; I've not used the auto-play really so I don't know if it accommodates this somehow so you still get the benefits without that effort.

 

How does the easiest difficulty of Bayonetta work? I remember reading that it essentially plays the battles for you?

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Just now, joffocakes said:

How does the easiest difficulty of Bayonetta work? I remember reading that it essentially plays the battles for you?


Easy Auto in Bayo 1 has you mashing one button and the flashy combos just happen. Platinum have similar systems in their other games.

 

The battles in Half-Minute Hero are great for chilled auto-playing; you have to equip gear before each chapter, and you’ll still get stomped if you’re underlevelled, but otherwise you just have to use items (if needed) and maybe flee if things get dicey.

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It's a tricky one because I kind of want auto-play but I kind of don't. What I want is full and detailed control of the character's tactics (by programming them in advance) rather than their actions in real time. I want to be the commander not the soldier, and I want them to follow my orders to the letter!

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I've worked on a few mobile games that have auto-battle (or even simulate gameplay) modes, usually stuff with gatcha mechanics. I find it interesting if strange: while you might think this leaves you with no actual game, that's not true. It sort of.. provides direct access to the metagame, which can be totally different to the game's actual moment-to-moment.

 

Like if you had a version of FF12 which didn't actually have you having enemy encounters an environment. Just plug in gambits and look at the outcomes in a big chart, and try to come up with the most efficient system.

 

Which.. I'm probably quite sure someone has done, except rather than progress a story you're trying to collect 500 shards to unlock a randomised card of an inconsequential side character from final fantasy 2.

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48 minutes ago, Jamie John said:

It's always struck me as odd that more games don't emulate FFXII's battle system, both in the FF series itself but more widely. It hasn't been bettered since XII was released.

 

This is just what I didn't want to hear!

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2 hours ago, Darren said:

Final Fantasy XII has Gambits. Dragon Quest XI has Tactics. Nier Automata has Chips. All three give the player the ability to effectively "program" their character(s) behaviour in battles, and to either let them get on with it or step in as required with fine-tuning or overriding instructions. And as an increasingly old gamer with diminishing reflexes and a touch of arthritis in my fingers, this has become my preferred way to play. I get all the fun of spectacular action sequences without the pain of pressing all the right buttons at exactly the right time, while still being in control rather than just letting the game play itself.

 

I have bracketed these together as Indirect Action games but the "genre" may well have a better name already. If so, what is it, and what other games might be in it?

Bayonetta has a cool setting:

 

Quote

Automatic Mode: On Easy and Very Easy, an "Automatic" mode is made available that can be played with only one hand: the game positions Bayonetta to perform attacks on enemies, and the player only needs to press one button at certain points unless they wish to perform their own choice of movements or attacks. Kamiya, who first added such a mode to Devil May Cry, posted a video on the game's official website in which character designer Mari Shimazaki demonstrated the mode (which Kamiya "jokingly called 'Mommy Mode") in Bayonetta.

 

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1 hour ago, Nick R said:

Isn't the B-spec mode in the later Gran Turismo games an example of this? You don't drive directly, you issue instructions to an AI driver on things like what pace they should set, when to enter the pits, etc.

 

Slightly related but not - I'm sure there are some racing games that descend into autopilot nonsense if you turn on enough assists and driver aids. I remember tweaking things in something like Forza or GT so that my nephew could just throw a car around the track (unfortunately, I didn't have any Mario Karts available at the time... :blush: )

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The Combat Mission wargames were (are?) like this. Instead of real-time vs turn-based, they have a system where you give your troops orders for the next 60 seconds of gameplay. Once you hit play there is nothing you can do except hope your orders weren't too stupid. Then you give them orders for the next 60 seconds and so on. A great system imo.

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3 hours ago, Siri said:

Oh, hey. It's Loop Hero, your new obsession!
 


There's also a diablo clone, Path of Exile, where with the right end-game stuff or specific builds you could essentially automate damage, and not just through playing a bog-standard summoner build - This includes casting things due to self-inflicted damage while moving, and auras that would degen your health and apply that damage as a multiplier to anything around you in a radius (Death Aura or Righteous Fire). You'd have to build your character in a certain way and actively play to actually get to that point, mind.

 

I really need to play more Path of Exile but the need to follow a build guide always put me off.

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12 hours ago, Darren said:

 

Sort of, and I realise that FFXII and DQXI are turn based to a greater or lesser extent, and I love Disgaea, but I'm thinking more of games that are more real-time action but where you don't have to directly participate in that action if you don't want to.

 

 

I haven't played FF7 but there's definitely a precursor in Kingdom Hearts, I can't remember what it's called in that but there's a system for setting how you want Donald and Goofy to support you which is basically gambits-lite. I think FFXII just ran with that and extended it to include the lead character too.


Bravely Default is designed to work that way once you have your strategies worked out - that's the 'default' bit in the title; the battle system!

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Persona 3 (original or FES, not P3P) only allowed you to control your main character, the rest of them just did as they saw fit subject to some simple guidance you set down. In fact this system survives in P4 and P5 though turned off by default (and simplified). I don't think it was popular as it got removed in P3P but I quite liked it. You just had to figure in what you expected them to do in what you did, added a nice extra layer to the strategy.

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I did quite like FFXIII's Paradigm system, each of your team members can be one of six classes which match traditional roles (melee attack, magic attack, defender, healer, buffer, debuffer) and you select basically the whole teams composition at once, i.e Convalescence (healer, healer, buffer), Devastation (melee attack, melee attack, debuffer), while they basically play out their role automatically.

 

It means you basically play out the battle strategising the flow, not micromanaging every individual blow - defend up to absorb a big attack, switch to healing to get back on your feet, go to offensive magic to stagger the opponent, and then to all physical to deal the damage when they're down.

 

There's a good bit of depth to it too, loads of perks that modify the system, intricacies like launching enemies to make them vulnerable to more damage, etc. It's just a shame it's in a game that's so slow and linear.

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Tower defence games are basically this aren't they? You place towers and they do all the work whilst you decide where to put new ones or whether to upgrade. There are exceptions like Orcs Must Die and Pixeljunk Monsters but I find a decent tower defence quite relaxing and satisfying to play. 

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33 minutes ago, Vimster said:

Tower defence games are basically this aren't they? You place towers and they do all the work whilst you decide where to put new ones or whether to upgrade. There are exceptions like Orcs Must Die and Pixeljunk Monsters but I find a decent tower defence quite relaxing and satisfying to play. 

 

Absolutely, and I love tower defence games but what I'm really looking for are full on action games where you do the same with your character in a 3D world. Nier Automata was basically Robot Bayonetta: The RPG and ultimately what I think I want is more of that.

 

I will check out as many of these suggestions as I can (and please keep them coming) but I think I can see Nier Automata joining my "I will never get bored of playing this game all the way through again" pile.

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