Yes this is what I was getting at. I like your description of 'flow' in TB combat as an illusion. That's exactly what it is. That's also why I don't see the value or point of animations in TB combat. Comes across as artificial and fake to me. What's the point of showing me an animation of me hitting an enemy where that enemy is a frozen statue?
Yghhh... I'll bite. Visual flurish in many games is just an "illusion". Graphics are nothing more then representation of mechanics. Devs generally don't prototype animations - they prototype mechanics - graphics are then added to either visually communicate what is happening mechanic-wise. That why games like rogue and likes worked just fine - games like that don't NEED graphics to work mechanically. But graphics make games more approachable and enjoyable to play. You don't need nice figurines and well produced pieces in a board game - but it helps in comfort of play, and understanding and remembering mechanics.
If the game is designed from ground up to be a computer game, that's true that they can use visual flurishes (such as attack animations) as mechanics. But BG3 is based on a system that couldn't be designed with that in mind - animations would have little meaning in BG3 whenever it would be semi-RTwP (afterall, BG1&2 aren't real time - they are simultaneous turns, something which confused me a lot back in the day) or turn based. I expressed somewhere else on this forum controversial opinion that I would wecome top-down RPG that wouldn't be based on dice rolls and other PnP style mechanics. I think one of the reason I like PoE series so well, that at least in some ways they make the systems more native to computers (like using real time recovery, rather then attacks per turn).
And yes, Turn-Based system does bring the mechanics to the main focus, and tends to dispell the "illusion" or "immersion" other computer games might cultivate. But one might appreciate that it doesn't muddy the mechanics up - afterall, in the end in IE games or Pathfinder the combat happens in the small box in the corner, not on the "illusion" bit of the screen.
True. While I would hesitate to say that the screen representation is NEVER part of game mechanics, I personally do not recall seeing a game where the graphics are mechanically meaningful.
Even with the most gorgeous modern games you can usually quickly see how unrelated to game "reality" the graphics are from issues with clipping, collision detection and AI/pathfinding.
What game graphics actually do is provide visual context to understand the world state such that the player can make informed choices. With 50 years playing wargames, RP games and computer games, and 35 years in software engineering disciplines, I have developed a clear preference for computer games to lean towards the strengths of the computer medium, which leads me to favour RT for games that have a personally-controlled protagonist.
Because BG3 is conceived as a 5e TB game, primarily focussed on multi-player, it has a lot of difficulty being what I would consider a good computer RP experience. But that's just me. Even within the community that prefer TB and/or MP, I don't see unanimity concerning how the game is depicted; some seem to want an "accurate" rendering, some a "meaningful" or "satisfying" rendering, and some seem to prefer abstract or even cartoon graphics.
It's interesting seeing Larian trying to reconcile their game with what everyone wants it to be:
- In terms of graphical style, I consider their direction to be generally attractive "locally", but have rather poor backdrops and distant views. Character representations seem faithful to 5e, so any problems there are WoTC, not Larian. If BG3 assets are created in an abstract manner, they would have leeway to render them in different styles ( realistic/cartoon etc ), but I suspect the visual complexity of the game is already too great for that to work well.
- As the length of this thread indicates, flow, and control, of battle seems a most divisive issue. Larian do seem to believe that a strict interpretation of 5e doesn't work for them with the more AAA presentation of the rest of the game. It's curious to see them trying to use animation while idle ( i.e. most of the time ) in TB combat to try to generate tension and excitement, but striving to minimise wasted time when actually resolving actions by limiting animation, and modifying the reaction system.
As I have an RT preference, I'm all for reducing wasted time, particularly with animations, so I applaud that, but I have reservations about the BG3 reaction system. From what I understand, you turn on/off the reactions you want to trigger, and they trigger automatically, which is not accurate to 5e. It means that the first AOO will trigger, the first received hit will trigger a shield, the first applied hit will smite etc, which may not be how you actually wanted to use your reaction resources. Solasta does this "properly" by offering every reaction pop-up every time, but that is bad for flow even if it is more TB-friendly. I really think Larian need to devlop a visual language for reactions and optional actions like smite that allows them to be selected during play ( e.g. click the big friendly AOO button while it is visible for 2 seconds ) rather than auto-triggered.