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Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#1
Consider allowing menu and unit commands to be given while the game is paused that then execute when you unpause.
As examples, menu commands might include purchasing and ship designing, and unit commands might include move and attack orders in the command view, or whatever fleet control ui we end up with.

The first game I saw this capability be useful was in the original Baulder's Gate games, being able to pause, think about the situation, and queue up a response was not only incredibly useful, it was satisfying. You felt like you set up the situation, instead of being forced into it, even when you were hamfistedly forced into it. That extra degree of control and planning time is something I'd use, and I know at least some others would too, it has been mentioned before on the forums but I'm not sure if it's been formally suggested.

I'm not sure how/if this fits into the intended LT gameplay but I wanted an official suggestion for it anyway so people could comment their thoughts.
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Re: Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#2
I beg to differ. Pausing a real-time game for setting up your strategy feels like cheating to me.

I think a better solution is to allow some preparation (such as organizing your ships into groups) in advance but while the time is running. It is then up to the player to do this before he gets into a fight. For instance, before passing the jumpgate into a high-piracy-level system.
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Re: Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#4
Rabiator wrote:I beg to differ. Pausing a real-time game for setting up your strategy feels like cheating to me.
Don't use it then. Just because something exist in-game doesn't mean you MUST ABSOLUTELY use it to play the game. I always find it funny when people brings this kind of points. Don't get me wrong, its ok to bring opinions and criticism and that you did. The thing is this feature can EASILY be ignored. But it would be VERY interesting for those who are not very great a RTS games. I would not throw away such a useful feature just to make the game a little harder.

That brings a quote to my mind: "Just because you have two paths doesn't mean you must always choose the easy one". Can't remember where I saw this but it pretty much sums up what I said above.

P.S. Or Josh could add a toggleable pause option in the difficulty menu.
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Re: Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#5
There are two main arguments for this camp that I have seen come up before--to bring those who aren't aware of it up to speed;

Josh's original stance was no pausing, a la DeadSpace where the world still moves around you, and if you happen to be careless enough to not watch what's happening to you, you could get killed in battle, fly into a star, etc.

However, the counter point that was made was that when you start getting a larger fleet, managing things like that become near impossible without being able to pause first. Think of a game like StarCraft that requires a certain APM (actions per minute) in order to get halfway decent at it (also see rookie players' impression of the AI's easiest difficulty settings).


Now, when it comes this feature, I have been a fan of needing to worry about things around you, so it feels more immersive for the single-player aspect. But when you start tossing in everything else that Josh is putting into the game, I don't know how the logistics will work. For example, if you have multiple fleets in different systems trying to pincer another system. You need to be able to give orders, to coordinate attacks, and the like.

However, an option to either turn it on or turn it off would be nice. Since I'm not as much of an RTS player, I wouldn't want that on, but I definitely understand the need for it for those who will be managing enormous fleets.
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Re: Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#6
DWMagus wrote:However, an option to either turn it on or turn it off would be nice. Since I'm not as much of an RTS player, I wouldn't want that on, but I definitely understand the need for it for those who will be managing enormous fleets.
The easiest "option" for not pausing the game is not pausing the game
Or only pausing when you leave the computer.

Then you have all the immersion you want! =)

Some want to manage a pretty empire and you just can't do that in realtime. Not without real staff.
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Re: Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#7
I'm in the process of playing through Freelancer again (all this discussion made me nostalgic I guess). If you'd asked me about pause before I started replaying I'd've said yes, it was part of the game... but in fact you don't pause to access things like your inventory or star-map. Strange how memory can play tricks.

Of course, Freelancer gets away with it because it's a single-player only game. If you've got a fleet, then consideration needs to be given to what type of choices you want the player to make.

If you allow play-whilst-paused then to me that allows the player to choose any play style. If s/he wishes to fly a fighter into a battle they're also commanding there's nothing to stop that; the player can dogfight for a minute, pause and issue orders, then restart dogfighting.

Alternatively, disallowing play-whilst-paused forces the player to make choices before or during the battle. For instance, if you're "flying" a command ship, which doesn't depend on "twitch" gameplay, then issuing orders without pausing is not really a problem. But if you want to jump into a fighter then passing control of fleet strategy to an AI second officer may be a reasonable gameplay mechanic. Of course this would only be feasible if your command ship is a carrier; if it's not, then you'd have to make the call before the battle, leaving strategy entirely to the AI whilst you execute the orders personally.
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Re: Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#8
Swordmania wrote:
Rabiator wrote:I beg to differ. Pausing a real-time game for setting up your strategy feels like cheating to me.
Don't use it then. Just because something exist in-game doesn't mean you MUST ABSOLUTELY use it to play the game. I always find it funny when people brings this kind of points. Don't get me wrong, its ok to bring opinions and criticism and that you did. The thing is this feature can EASILY be ignored. But it would be VERY interesting for those who are not very great a RTS games. I would not throw away such a useful feature just to make the game a little harder.
Gotta dispute that point. Just the fact that a feature is present often changes the game experience more that just the function of that feature. The presence of a pause feature means that competitive players will feel obliged to use it, or they won't be playing to the best of their ability, feeling like they're deliberate crippling themselves. Depending on the game, this can get a little ridiculous - I've played single player strategy games where my game timer was a quarter or less than the actual time I'd been playing, probably to the detriment of my enjoyment!

Secondly, the presence of a pause function means other game features have been designed assuming the presence of a pause function. It might end up being very hard to play without pausing. Especially in genres where pause is very common, designing a game to play well without pause may require deliberate consideration!

Locking features like this in or out can look, on the surface, like just restricting player choice for no good reason, but can improve gameplay. It can also increase immersion, and keep up a sense of threat and excitement.

That said...I don't necessarily think that there should be no pausing in LT, just that the decision should be made with respect to what the target gameplay is. For my money, I think doing something like locking it to the current mode might work, and I certainly prefer 'super slo mo' to complete pausing. For example , allowing 'super slo mo' in the tactical screen, but not otherwise, perhaps.
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Re: Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#9
Revoke wrote:Gotta dispute that point. Just the fact that a feature is present often changes the game experience more that just the function of that feature.
Not if the game is not built around that feature. I see it more like an "easy mode". I mean, with all the stuff that gets added in the game, at some point, if there is no pause or "super slow mo"(which is pretty similar to pausing) the game will become a micro management hell hole. Im sure there's a lot of people who would like it that way and its fine. But for the others, it could potentially become unplayable. Just the whole munitions management almost makes my head spin. Imagine when the player will own shipyards, missile fabs, weaponry/shield fabs, fleets with 100+ ships each, mining stations, and the list goes on. At some point, there WILL be a time where pausing the games is almost necessary.

But I get your point.
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Re: Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#10
I recall that KotOR and KotOR II have check boxes in the options where you can toggle during what events will the game auto-pause. There could be a similar feature that allows you to pause the game entirely (with an actual pause menu) and/or pause the game with certain tactical or management GUIs (these would be the checkboxes), or have absolutely no pause function at all.

Of course you could always change the toggles, so it takes out the "challenge" of being forced to do everything in real time, but there could be a "lock pause/difficulty settings" select box at the beginning of a new file, which would be unchangeable (even hidden from the config file).
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Re: Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#11
Gazz won me over on this argument a while back. I can't remember exactly how he did it, but it was something to the effect of "in reality, you'd have X, but in LT you won't have it, so to compensate we need pause."

I think it was something like delegation to your crew. In reality, you can manage a large battle because you have officers reporting to you, managing their crews, etc., so that your task is not overwhelming.

In the game, you don't have quite as much autonomy - but you shouldn't be punished for the game's inability to provide it. So, instead of creating an artificial limitation, we can just lift it and say that it "compensates" for utilities that you'd have in real life to make a large battle manageable. Of course, it would all be moot if there were *really* good fleet autonomy in LT, but that's to be determined.

So yeah, I'm against pausing in principle, but at the same time, it feels necessary to provide some fairness to the player. Perhaps slowing down time by a certain factor could work as well?

Would time-slowing feel more immersive?
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Re: Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#13
I think time slowing would feel more immersive, too. Even retaining a fraction of a sense of urgency about proceedings makes a difference in my experience.
Swordmania wrote:Not if the game is not built around that feature. I see it more like an "easy mode". I mean, with all the stuff that gets added in the game, at some point, if there is no pause or "super slow mo"(which is pretty similar to pausing) the game will become a micro management hell hole. Im sure there's a lot of people who would like it that way and its fine. But for the others, it could potentially become unplayable. Just the whole munitions management almost makes my head spin. Imagine when the player will own shipyards, missile fabs, weaponry/shield fabs, fleets with 100+ ships each, mining stations, and the list goes on. At some point, there WILL be a time where pausing the games is almost necessary.
Don't get me wrong, I would like some manner of pausing. I was just suggesting that whatever form it takes be thoughtfully designed. I certainly think that the tactical mode needs something like that (RE: Gazz's 'you would have a staff and delegation etc' argument). I'm not so sure that the business/manufacturing management side requires it, though. Not being able to manage your mining stations under extreme time pressure seems reasonable? Plus it might provide a way to fill otherwise empty time, such as travel.
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Re: Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#14
Revoke wrote:Don't get me wrong, I would like some manner of pausing. I was just suggesting that whatever form it takes be thoughtfully designed. I certainly think that the tactical mode needs something like that (RE: Gazz's 'you would have a staff and delegation etc' argument). I'm not so sure that the business/manufacturing management side requires it, though. Not being able to manage your mining stations under extreme time pressure seems reasonable? Plus it might provide a way to fill otherwise empty time, such as travel.
That's an interesting point. I, too, feel like it shouldn't be available in all circumstances. Certain things you want to take time. Browsing the market, managing your station, etc...these feel like things that can and should pass the time.
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Re: Pausing As A Gameplay Mechanic

#15
I'm also in favour of time-slowing rather than a straight pause mechanic.

Just write it off as time when you're hooked into the VR combat view can be sped up by a factor of X due to the brain-computer interface (from your perspective, everything else would slow to a crawl) or something technobabbly like that. You could even make the acceleration factor a stat on a hardpoint-equipped "tactical module" that can only be equipped on capships.
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