What's the Difference Between Battle Systems?
What is the difference between CTB, STB, and OTB?
This is a question I’ve seen asked often. And as it’s asked often, it’s better that it gets answered properly, as it is the responsibility of the game’s developer to understand each of the facets that govern his/her game’s mechanics.
CTB: Charge Turn Battle is a tick-based battle system. This means there are no such thing as a “battle turn” count. While “battle turns” are added in artificially through the plugin to just tie in the works of the Troop Event Condition, “battle turns” do not fundamentally play a role in determining the turn order of everything. In place of turn counts, “ticks” are used instead where a tick is a singular calculation that determines the proper positioning and relativity of each unit to each other in the grand scheme of calculating the turn order to determine which unit will have an action earlier or later. These “ticks” can be thought of as a clock ticking in seconds, only that the time in between battlers is removed and the time during a battler’s input is frozen. The said ticks will govern state “turns”, too, as they are automatically converted into ticks. In CTB, AGI is the king, the single most important stat in the whole game. A unit with a high enough AGI can potentially have multiple action turns before a unit with far lower AGI and will outlap the slower unit even after. With this in mind, CTB is the hardest to balance AGI out of the three mentioned battle systems thanks to “haste” and “slow” states being able to completely throw the battle system’s balance out the window.
STB: Part of the reason why CTB is so hard to balance properly is due to the fact that the editor is built completely around turn-based combat. STB makes a return to that from the tick-based STB back to turn-based. STB will also attempt to artificially balance the AGI stat by utilizing the rule of the “battle turn” imposed on by the battle system: Each unit is only allowed one turn by default regardless of their AGI value. Units with higher AGI values go earlier while units with lower AGI values go later. Because of this rule, AGI still has an immensely strong grasp on the battle system but not as strong as CTB did. AGI is constantly being calculated after each action to restructure the turn order in order to keep the balance and flow of the battle system. Exceptions can exist to this rule like Instant Casts, but Action Times+ aren’t as they are fundamentally different. In STB, those who stack AGI either before or during battle will often come out on top provided everything else is balanced. Maintaining “haste” on the player party and “slow” on the enemy troop is the key and core way of winning in nearly any game that uses STB and gives access to those play states/buffs.
OTB: Like STB, OTB is turn-based instead of being tick-based. However, it does a couple of interesting things.
- First, it maintains a mild dependence on AGI. Each unit’s AGI is only used for the calculation of the initial turn order when it’s being made and nothing else. Any changes to a unit’s AGI once the turn has started will not influence that unit’s position in the turn order, unlike STB. At least, not until the next time AGI is used for calculating the unit’s position in the turn order.
- The second thing of interest, however, is that instead of using one turn order to calculate the order of the units, it actually uses two: the current turn and the next turn. This means when turns are calculated, it actually does it for the next turn whenever a battle turn rolls over. This means the new “current turn” was the previous “next turn”. What makes this interesting is that this means that AGI changes not only do not affect the current turn nor the next turn, but instead, are effective only after the turn following the next turn. This makes changing AGI during battle seem nearly delayed, yet, that doesn’t actually happen… But why is that?
- That brings us to the third thing of interest: because OTB has a mild hold on AGI and thrives on utilizing two turn orders, it becomes the ideal candidate for a mechanic called Turn Order Manipulation. Having two turn orders (and visible) allows for the player to manipulate it calculatingly. And because AGI only affects the initial calculation of the order in the turns, the player does not have to worry about a sudden reversal due to a change in a unit’s AGI. Changes to the turn order through manipulation are there to stay unless further manipulated by other similar effects or when a new turn is to occur. This makes the manipulation only temporary and not lingering but still remains impactful.
So What's the Difference?
So what does this say about OTB? Its mild AGI dependency, flexible turn order mechanics, and all around openness to turn order changes means that it’s actually NOT a battle system where the only way to combat AGI is to get better AGI (which is seen in the case of CTB and STB). And because of the all around openness in the battle system, things like Action Times+ can be utilized and included into it and flow just fine. So what anyone can conclude is that out of the three battle systems we’ve compared, OTB is the most AGI-balanced and flexible.
This isn’t to say OTB isn’t going to be without problems. In fact, making a battle system flawless is next to impossible. Not all plugins or the Tips & Tricks effects we’ve learned and made will be necessarily compatible with it. However, this isn’t the fault of OTB, but instead, the fault of RPG Maker MV’s original battle structure. A lot of the original battle structure throws a lot of chaos into making it structurally compatible with old and/or future plugins. Fortunately, by Olivia tying her OTB to the Battle Engine Core, a lot of potential plugin compatibility issues are fixed but not all.