One thing I see varying a lot in "Japenese RPGs" (Final Fantasy, Eternal Sonata, Golden Sun, etc) these days is the combat system. It all started with Final Fantasy's simple turn-based system, attack, enemy attacks, you attack, and so on. Slowly it got more complex, with twitch-based buttons in the turn based whether require button inputs, timing on attacks, etc. My favorite system as of late was Eternal Sonata's. If you haven't played it (go play it now), the system was turn based, but as it was your turn, it was active and real-time. You have 5 seconds to make a move, attack, etc. You could chain like 12 or 16 attacks per turn, and then use a special move at the end, or just keep building up attacks and wait for your next character. The higher chain of attacks you reached (they accumulate if you don't use a special) the more powerful the next special move would be. Also, when you were being attacked by the enemy, you could push a button at the right time to lower the damage taken.
It kept me entertained, a lot more than Final Fantasy or several other RPGs ever did because I wasn't just watching my people attack.
Then there are full real-time systems, Kingdom Hearts is a good example. KH didn't even have seperate battlefields, and it was like an Action game almost.
I'm sure most of you remember some games you've played in which you've loved or hated the battle system, and I'm sure there were reasons. I'd like to hear some of your own ideas, likes, dislikes, or maybe even ideas that you'd like to see someone do.
Something I'd like to see is this: A complete action-based system (Seperate battle screen), with other teammates controlled by AI. I'll explain:
Encounter starts and you are queued to a new battle scene. You control 1 of 3 characters. You have a "stamina" bar or at leas thats what I'm calling it. You can move around, cast spells, attack, but everything you do drains that stamina bar. That bar slowly recharges which you are fighting, so you could get it down to 1% and then wait until it's back up to attack. The smarter thing however is to use it all the way down, you then are rendered in an unmovable state and you can't do anything except defend. Defending takes away from your recharging stamina a little bit but it reduces damage. While you are waiting for your stamina to fully recharge, you can take control of another member of your party. Also, you can pause the battle at any time, switch a new character, issue a command, and he/she will use it when unpaused. The enemies follow the same system of stamina.
That's my idea for a good battle system, you can give me your opinion on that, or just discuss previous battle systems you've seen before or even design your own! Just trying to spark some thinking here! : )
most rpg now use a full action system, the witcher use something similar to your system, a delay between actions, but IMHO it feels... artificial, usually when ones life is in stake, a living being will do everything to defend/attack/escape, instead of waiting.
im not trashing the turn based system, it was good back in the 80s and 90s, but it was mostly because full fledged battles with stats and many characters on screen were too much for the system (thoug games like little ninja brothers used already real time battle and turn based (it was nice to have the option)
the last game i played with that system was FFx, and i was tempted to get rid of it, remember, we are talking about hundreds, if not thousands, of battles, every one almost a copy of the previous... actually i used a motor to battle in my instead many times, while i switched to TV... (and im the guy who played every NES and SNES rpg game released this side of the ocean, so go figure)
in the other hand, with turn based you are the master of time, and can play with the concept, even use the time as a currency for effects and boosts.
i'd recommend you to play a bit magic the gathering, there are many gameplay ideas that can be translated to the system.
Like Jay was saying, at this point from a performance standpoint, its essentially irrelevant whether a realtime or turn-based system is utilized. The main thing to consider when deciding between the two systems is whether you want the combat to be more strategic, where players have an opportunity to assess their options, which is obviously style which turn-based is better suited for. On the other hand, if you're looking for a more visceral, intuitive combat experience, then a realtime system is the obvious choice. There are also obviously hybrid systems, such as a turn-based system with time limits, or the system you are proposing which is essentially real-time, with the ability to pause the action. KOTOR used a similar system.
I'm fairly indifferent to which system is better, although I would like to see more novel implementations of any of them. The old spell/attack/item formula is getting a bit old.
Runescape has a crappy battle system (even worse after this Christmas). It is a TB on like overkill steriods.
On a better note games like Guild Wars, WoW, Elder Scrolls series (especially Oblivion) have a really nice RT fighting style.
What I hate is sitting there watching my character/opponent fight and my entire characters life is hanging on some pseudo-random number generator.
The real question you have to ask is about immersion. Real-time can look clumsy when compared to turn-based, but turn-based can distance players from the action. I would say it depends on the nature of the game, it needs to compliment the way that you are developing you characters (in both personality and stats) and story.
I tend to get turned off by turn-based, but I know a lot of people who adore Final Fantasy. The system you described sounds like an interesting slant on turn-based but I think you'll find it needs a lot of fine tuning to get it working smoothly.
I think real time battle systems are too repetitive. Also, everyone is doing that, so you just end up being a follow the leader cloner. Strategy is more fulfilling if you make sure what the player is doing matters and that there is a lot of opportunity to find a strategy that is best for the situation. That's just me, of course, I can't even play role-playing games because they're too monotonous. A turn based system like Return to Krondor with a heavy story and not all that trading garbage is about the only thing I can play. It would be hard to write because you would need enough types of characters to sort of make it like a chess match, but simpler, where position is important, and the AI would have to be pretty good. Mainly you should write a game that you would like to play, because it's the only way you can write anything that's very good. If you ask me, there are way too many role playing games around already. They're difficult to write and most amateurs give up, which is best for everyone concerned.