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TL;DR

What is the less-obscure replacement to the term 'Dunnigan's Ratio' - the range of ratios of weapon ranges to typical distances moved in a single combat turn that produce tactically interesting gameplay (in the context of designing combat systems)?

Full Version

In the context of seeking ways of ensuring interesting manoeuvring tactics in a combat system of an RPG, I have lately become rather confident that the ratio of weapon ranges should not be too high compared to distance travelled during a typical turn, as I witnessed long ranges often lead to combats having a positionally static feel (e.g. futuristic high-precision weapons combined with one-second combat turns).

Recently I've seen a post claiming

For an enjoyable game experience [...] A weapon range should never be more than 5-8× the maximum single turn movement of a unit.

and calling that the Dunnigan Ratio. Some questioning didn't reveal much, other than attributing the observation to Jim Dunnigan, and usage to people who knew Dunnigan first-hand.

I tried feeding the term and a few variations of the phrase to a search engine, and none of the results (not even the excerpts of Jim's books about designing combat games) seemed to be dealing with that specific topic. Which is unfortunate, as I'd like to learn more on the matter in question.

I have to conclude that this specific way of referring to the topic is not as commonly accepted in designer circles, and thus I would have better luck with using a term other people use and recognise (both for the purposes of searching for materials on the topic, and for clearly and concisely referring to it if I get lucky enough to get into live discussions related to it).
What would this better alternative be?

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 - I think you may be conflating two separate questions, "Is there a widely-used name for this relationship?" (answerable) and "Is there an ideal range of values?" (which has the problems you cited) As a parallel example, the preferred ratio of an image's width to height has changed over time and by medium (4:3, 16:9, 16:10...), but that ratio has always been called the image's "aspect ratio", even though the preferred aspect ratio is application-dependent. \$\endgroup\$ May 27, 2020 at 6:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ This seems to be a deeply flawed rule of thumb without integrating the lethality of the weapon(s) in question. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Oct 11, 2023 at 5:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt I'm pretty sure there are a lot of wargame assumptions baked into that ratio, like a successful hit removes a unit from play and like attacking and movement are only available to a unit once per turn. Still, to be fair, abstractly, if movement is 1 and range is 10, that's a trench warfare game, and if movement is 10 and effective range is 1, that's a Jedi game, so there is something there for a game designer to be aware of. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2023 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Isn't designing combat systems already a rather obscure occupation? \$\endgroup\$
    – biziclop
    Oct 12, 2023 at 13:46

1 Answer 1

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I think @Dave Sherohman is correct in their comment under the question.

{edited for clarity}
"Is there a widely-used name for this relationship?" (answerable) and "Is there an ideal range of values?".
As a parallel example, the > preferred ratio of an image's width to height has changed over time and by medium (4:3, 16:9, 16:10...), but that ratio has always been called the image's "aspect ratio", even though the preferred aspect ratio is application-dependent. – Dave Sherohman May 27, 2020 at 6:46

There are two separate questions here to the first that Dave noted.

  1. Widely used? No. Every game system can refer to their own lists and or ratios of ranges between ranged weapons or not have a specified term for it in general.

  2. That depends on your goal with regard to game design. For example, in a game that uses hexes for movements they may not even use what you would call ratios to begin with. It may be completely narrative based, despite the hexes and its use in movement. While counterintuitive, this can actually be the case. There are a myriad of differing game mechanics with differing goals that appeal to differing targeted demographics. It might be a more pointed counter question to you to ask "What is the type of player you are attempting to target with regard to play style and demographics?"

When you can answer the latter question, you can get a more pointed answer with regard to your question of what is a better alternative.

In other words, the question, as asked, requires more depth to give you a satisfactory answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. \$\endgroup\$
    – Community Bot
    Oct 11, 2023 at 0:09

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