Tobold's Blog
Monday, April 17, 2017
It's the combat, stupid!

I recently bought Sword Coast Legends on Steam, because I was interested in a game using D&D rules, either 4th or 5th edition. However I ended up somewhat disappointed. Sword Coast Legends is using the names of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons spells and abilities, but combat plays more like World of Warcraft, in real time with hotkey buttons having cooldowns. Even if you pause very frequently you don't get the same experience as in an actual 5E tabletop game.

Unfortunately I know far too many games like that, which use the setting of Dungeons & Dragons or the Forgotten Realms, but all use real time combat. Turn-based D&D games, like the SSI Gold Box series from the early 90's have become pretty much extinct. The last one I know of, Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of Neverwinter, was a Facebook game that shut down back in 2012. Of course in the current flood of mobile and indie games there are a bunch of turn-based role-playing games that aren't half bad, but then these don't use the Dungeons & Dragons rules.

I find that curious, especially if you consider that 4th edition D&D was very much a tactical game, with less focus on the role-playing part. The large number of different powers would have made a great tactical turn-based computer game. While tactical combat in 5th edition is a lot lighter, it would still work as a computer game. And a game using the D&D turn-based rules as written would be a great opportunity to try things out, or play D&D when your friends aren't available.

So if you hear of any turn-based Dungeons & Dragons games using 4th edition or 5th edition rules, let me know!

I still find it very odd that were wasn't ever a proper game made with 4th DND rules. Those seemed made to be computerized. Tactical combat in 4 was pretty good, reasonably balanced and would have been an excellent starting point for such a game.

The last good game I played that was really based on DND rules was Neverwinter Nights... Well and the Star Wars games were D20 based for a while as well..
There were a ton of series that were strongly D&D influenced in the 80s and 90s (the Gold Box games were explicitly D&D, but series like Wizardry copied a lot of the mechanisms.) Quasi-realtime games like Eye of the Beholder and Baldur's Gate were in the same vein.

However, just because computers are good for doing D&D calculations doesn't mean they are optimal for computer games, even turn-based ones. Most games have moved away from those mechanisms over time - either because they found better methods, or they just preferred to invent systems of their own.

If Grimoire ever comes out maybe it will hit the spot!
I feel like D&D is a moving target for game developers at this point. Five years (from when 4th was released to when 5th was announced) is just not that long.
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