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?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this just a general question about whether such a term exists that is about anything approximately similar to the concept you've described? I just know games/systems vary wildly in these ranges and as many games do not aim to emulate the same style of combat their "ideal" ratios cannot be the same. \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2020 at 15:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure I understand the counterquestion. A pointer to the most widely accepted way of referring to the concept is way more useful than a binary 'yes, another one, better than the one you mentioned, exists'. And of course actual ratios of various systems are not the same, and one can observe the effects and consequences of different chosen ratios between systems and settings - that is what makes the idea of an optimal range of ratios for achieving desired outcomes relevant in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2020 at 16:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I'm just not understanding how such a term could reasonably exist when the "desired outcome" is system-dependent and known only to the authors. Perhaps such a term exists and can somehow be meaningful but I have not come across one in my own research into building systems. That said, I can't prove a negative \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2020 at 17:07
  • 5
    \$\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


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .