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MMORPG combo/keybind system


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#1 Stangler   Members   -  Reputation: 152

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 04:18 AM

One great thing about modern MMORPGs is that the player has a wide variety of abilities to choose from when attacking their enemy. The problem with this is that a game with a decent level of complexity can quickly become a game of organizing keybinds on the keyboard. So I tried to come up with a simple way of reducing the number of buttons a player would have to use while maximizing the number of abilities available to the player per key. I came with a variety of ideas but I think I have settled on one that is both simple and effective. The player would have a set number of stances with an equal number of attacks per stance, with each attack corresponding to one of the stances. Each attack will reset the players stance depending on the stance attached to the attack. For example, the player has 5 stances, each with 5 attacks for a total of 25 attacks. At any time the player will have 5 attacks open to them. If the player attacks with attack #1 while in stance #2 the stance will use ability 1 in stance 2 and reset to stance #1. One benefit of this system is that it is relatively simple for the player to pick up and understand. Another benefit is that all abilities are at a maximum only one attack away. Such a system could be incorporated into a console MMORPG which primarily use 4 primary keys which would allow 16 abilities to be bound to those 4 keys. I would also add that I am not assuming that the player is only using these 4 or 5 keys. There should still be plenty of keys left over for other abilities. ---------------------------------------------
--------------My Blog on MMO Design and Economieshttp://mmorpgdesigntalk.blogspot.com/

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#2 Stangler   Members   -  Reputation: 152

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 07:19 AM

Alone this isn’t much of a system so I think it is worth trying to see what it would be like to try and incorporate some other elements into this system. I will borrow combat systems from other games to illustrate some of the potential of this system.

The WOW Rogue has a combo point system where the player builds up combo points, 1 to 5 and then has finishers which cash in on those combo points. There are a couple different ways a combo point system can be incorporated into the stance system.

1) There can be one button that turns the 5 attacks into 5 finishers.
2) The finishers can just be separate from the attacks. In this case 25 build up attacks seems a bit much so maybe only 4 or 3 keys could be set up for build up attacks.
3) Once the player hits 5 combo points they open up their finishers.
Another option deals with the impact the various stances have on the player. The stance can come with buffs. For example the player’s defense can increase in one stance and their offense increase in another.

Or there can be special buffs in addition to the attacks that can only be used in certain stances. The buff wouldn’t change the stance of the character even though it is dependent on the stance.

The abilities in the various stances could be themed. Maybe there could be a stance with only CC attacks, maybe a defensive stance, etc. Or maybe all attacks that lead to a certain stance are CC, or defensive or whatever.


--------------My Blog on MMO Design and Economieshttp://mmorpgdesigntalk.blogspot.com/

#3 Stangler   Members   -  Reputation: 152

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 04:12 AM

After messing around with this system a bit more I think 4 abilities and 4 stances is plenty. There can be a ton of interaction between the abilities for various combos and attack chains.

What I have found is that abilities don't have to be balanced but attack chains do. For example you can have a stance with relatively weaker abilities but have all the best abilities in the other stances lead back to th weak stance. There can also be builders built into the weaker stances.

For example a builder can improve the damage of the next attack and lead the player to stance #3. In stance #3 there can be 3 damaging attacks and a stun. The stun doesn't receive the benefit of the + damage but it is a very powerful ability anyway so it can be worth it.

Also, a buff that adds to the next attack probably isn't as interesting as a buff that adds to the next 2.

You can also use abilities that are more likely to trigger some effect. For example if you trigger buffs off of crits. There can be combos that increase crit chance.

There can also be counters built into the attack chains or abilities that have range.

CC and damage over time abilities also create interesting attack chain potential.

#4 rakketh   Members   -  Reputation: 192

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 12:05 AM

I really like this idea in terms of keyboard real-estate. I know when I used to play a rogue in WoW there were always some moves that I wanted to use occasionally, but since they weren't my main set of moves they were always out of the way and therefore difficult to hit when I needed to. The option of introducing more complicated combos appeals to me too, since it gets really dull performing the same attack over and over.

I'd like to know how these moves are set up - does each stance have it's own set of moves, or do you get a bunch of moves to choose from and you put them in the stance bar yourself to create your own combos? If that is the case, does a move have "stance 1, leads into stance 2" and you chose from a set for that particular slot (or maybe could lead into a choice of stances)?

Something that came to mind while I was reading is an enhancement (maybe) to the system, where the move sets represent combo steps rather/as well as stances. For example, move sets 1 and 2 could both be in the same stance or could be different stances. Characters who focus on 1 stance get more moves / more proficient at moves for that stance, while characters who flow between multiple stances have the benefit of confusing the defender, making it harder to block the attacks. Implementing this would depend on the skill system you are building into the game and also thinking up more benefits for each play style.

#5 Stangler   Members   -  Reputation: 152

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 03:06 AM

I played a rogue in WOW too once upon a time.

Well as I used the term "stance" every stance has it's own set of moves. Each move in that stance will lead the player to a different stance with it's own set of moves(attack 1 in stance 1 will lead the player to stance 1). An easy way to demonstrate this is to create a box with 4 columns and 4 rows. Each row is a stance and each column is a button. For each combo of stance and button there is a unique ability.

Honestly after trying to actually establish an interesting 4 by 4 set I think that this system will need a lot of play testing to get right and it is a lot more complicated than I initially thought.

I think that players will be going from stance to stance a lot. It is not like the warrior stance because a stance won't really define a tactic. Instead an attack chain could define a strategy by offering synergy. For example you can allow an attack chain that hops through all the stances but each attack could offer bonuses to defense.

The players will be min/maxing attack chains so with a 4 by 4 box you really have to offer distinct incetives that differentiate the paths.

#6 Griffin_Kemp   Members   -  Reputation: 170

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 08:46 AM

Here are some concepts from an old game design document that I still have left over that you might find of interest.
Our team wrestled with the same problem and this (in part) was the conclusion that I developed and was accepted.

(There's more to it than this, but this is enough for what you are interested in)

[note: the paragraphing did not transfer cleanly, so I apologize for that; I didn't really want to go through and clean it all up by hand.]

Quote:
STANCES
Each Stance contains a "holding tank", if you will, to place attacks into so that a
Combination can be made.
This "holding tank" is called a KATA, and is where the Active attacks (see
Combination's, Inactive & Active Attacks, below for more information) are assigned and
kept by the player for use in combat.
As stated, there are 3 Stances:
Defensive
Balanced
Offensive
A Stance will only accept attacks into it's Kata that are classed as being part of the
Stance's family of fighting.
For instance, only Defensive attacks will be able to be placed into a Defensive Stance's
Kata, and only Offensive attacks will be able to be placed into an Offensive Stance's
Kata.
...


Quote:
THE COMBAT MODES
Every weapon is designed for Dueling, Small Group combat, Battle, or multiple Combat
Environments.
This does not mean that a Player raises a Skill in a specific weapon, but rather, a certain
class of weapon and a certain use of that weapon.
Each Combat Mode has 3 Stances:
Defensive
Balanced
Offensive
Each of these stances contains a Kata.
Each Kata is capable of holding up to 5 attacks, however, a specific Player may not be
capable of 5 combination attacks for certain Modes and Stances depending on their Skill.
...


Quote:
SWITCHING A WEAPON'S COMBAT MODE
Each weapon will carry a listing of it's capable Mode possibilities.
If a weapon is capable of being used in multiple Modes then a player, at all times, has the
option to switch between Dueling, Small Group, and Battle Combat Modes respectively.
If a weapon has 2 Modes under this category, a player may toggle between the two
available Combat Modes for that given weapon.
If a weapon has only 1 Mode, then it will only be able to be used under that Combat
Mode. If the player wishes to use a different Combat Mode than the weapon is capable
of, they will need to switch weapons.
It is highly important to note that there are no restrictions that prevent a player from using
any Combat Mode in any of the 3 listed Combat Environments.
...


It's not stated in these selections, but each Stance has the option of holding 3 Kata's.

So if you have a weapon that can do all three combat modes, that becomes a total possible 27 Kata's for that weapon, and a total capacity of 135 active attacks for that one weapon type.

Quote:
SPECIAL MANEUVERS
In general, there are two kinds of special maneuvers.
The first is referred to as an "Effect Attack" and is dependent on where a certain attack is placed in a Kata of a stance, and varies the outcome of the attack (commonly increasing damage, but also can apply other effects respectively). This method offers the option for the player to select the alternative attack at the time the attack comes up in the Kata's combination. The player may choose to bypass the option and continue with the normal combination. The Effect Attacks are not restricted to being the last attack in a Kata's combination, nor do they inherently stop a combination.

The second is called a "Link Attack" and is also dependent on where a certain attack is placed in a Kata of a stance, however, these Link Attacks offer the option to the player to switch from the current Kata into another Kata without stopping the combination. This can produce extended combination beyond the normal five attack Kata combinations. The Link Attack may switch to Kata's within the same stance, or in different stances. In some cases, a Link Attack may link to a different weapon or class of magic before continuing the combination.
...


Quote:
MOUSE-CLICK ATTACKING
In General, but not for all archetypes nor for all attacks, each press of a Left-Mouse Click will advance an Avatar one more attack through their
Combination. To stop a Combination from continuing, a player will simply stop clicking. Clicking must be done in timing to correctly trigger the next attack or the first attack will simply be repeated.
If a Combination is carried out through all 5 attacks, then the attack will end and recovery
from the combination will start (this recovery is not artificial, but animated).
...


(Magic and Archery were like-wise broken down into similar systems)

[edit]I forgot to add two things that I didn't quote:
1) You aren't forced to use the Kata combination; you can select an attack from the Kata belt that's active at anytime, or flip to a different Kata or Stance and click any attack from that one.

2) You cannot key-bind or quick-key attack's, spells, etc... The system only allows for mouse-click selection of attack's, spells, shots, etc...
This even's the playing field and reduces "piano-roll" attacking (as I call it...basically where someone key-binds their attacks in a row such as 0-1 on the keyboard so that when an attack starts, they simply slide from 0 to 1 to trigger the next minute to two minutes of combat their character will do).

[Edited by - Griffin_Kemp on June 23, 2009 3:46:21 PM]

#7 Stangler   Members   -  Reputation: 152

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 10:34 AM

That is very interesting Griff. How far did you get into development? The more I mess around with the system the more I feel I have to change it to fit other demands.

Right now I am trying to use the system to develop a Knight/Paladin type of class that has honor and glory as its theme. All knights have a group buff (honor) and a self buff (glory). The self buff is what is more like the WOW warrior's stances, or the DK's "presence" system.

I am also trying to incorporate the attack system into a specialization system that will be changing the impact of the attacks depending on point allocation. So there is a lot of potential for moving parts.

I have run into a lot of problems along the way and atm I have settled on a system with 3 stances. Each of the 3 stances has 5 unique abilities (5 keys for 15 abilities): 3 unique builders (total 9), 1 unique glory ability (total 3), and 1 unique honor ability (total 3). The 3 builders are also used to set the “stance.” When the glory or honor abilities are used the stance remains the same.

I think a "builder" system is needed because it is very hard to combine balance and interesting abilities into a combo box without something to differentiate the abilities.

#8 Griffin_Kemp   Members   -  Reputation: 170

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 01:45 PM

Quote:
Original post by Stangler
That is very interesting Griff. How far did you get into development?

Not very far, as far as MMORPG's time lines go.
It ran for about a year or so.
Essentially, what stopped everything was the start-up funds were running low, and the "million dollar" handshake on the executive level was never made due to some redtape failures in some contracts...so they lost the funding they needed.

Other options could have probably been pursued, such as looking for funding all over again, but I think there was a general "headache" and damage on the executive level that could not be recovered...at least that's more or less the gist that I gathered.

Good folks...just bad times for them.

For me, it just meant that I didn't have to work ridiculous amounts on writing documents anymore, lol.

At any rate, I never got to see the concept in action, as the engine was inbound via a (at the time) newly acquired collaborative company.

I only was able to see the system in statistical simulators and mock-up concept forms.

OK, on to your system....


Quote:
Right now I am trying to use the system to develop a Knight/Paladin type of class that has honor and glory as its theme. All knights have a group buff (honor) and a self buff (glory). The self buff is what is more like the WOW warrior's stances, or the DK's "presence" system.

1) I like that you are thinking about theme's and acting parts according to the themes.

2) Is there a reason you want to use buffs (referring to effects that enhance attributes/stats temporarily)?

Quote:
I am also trying to incorporate the attack system into a specialization system that will be changing the impact of the attacks depending on point allocation. So there is a lot of potential for moving parts.

Meaning; attacks have different attributes which can be increased?
I don't think I cited the section, but our attacks were broke down into Power, Speed, and Balance; so were the weapon skills.

Weapons came with a max capacity for each of the above categories; thus displaying their "quality".

So you could increase attacks specialties, but they were limited to the rating maximum of the weapon you were holding, and the capacity of your skill capability.

Quote:
I have run into a lot of problems along the way and atm I have settled on a system with 3 stances. Each of the 3 stances has 5 unique abilities (5 keys for 15 abilities): 3 unique builders (total 9), 1 unique glory ability (total 3), and 1 unique honor ability (total 3). The 3 builders are also used to set the “stance.” When the glory or honor abilities are used the stance remains the same.

I think a "builder" system is needed because it is very hard to combine balance and interesting abilities into a combo box without something to differentiate the abilities.

I'm not truly clear on this break down.
I'm firstly not understanding what a "builder ability" is.

Could you describe this in a different fashion possibly?

#9 Mercenarey   Banned   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 12:18 AM

Have you considered a combo system, where you chain attacks (like Tekken and other fighting games)?

Tekken (Im not implying that you should make it THAT elaborate) can be played with a console controller, which has very few keys, so if you take lessons from it, you should be able to make interesting combat depending on combo chains which use very few keys. Some Tekken characters have different stances as well (like Hwoarang, the taekwondo-guy), which allows them special comboes not otherwise available.

#10 Mercenarey   Banned   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 12:23 AM

Quote:
Original post by Stangler
Well as I used the term "stance" every stance has it's own set of moves. Each move in that stance will lead the player to a different stance with it's own set of moves(attack 1 in stance 1 will lead the player to stance 1). An easy way to demonstrate this is to create a box with 4 columns and 4 rows. Each row is a stance and each column is a button. For each combo of stance and button there is a unique ability.


Ok, I think I understand your idea a bit better now. So what you are proposing, is that every link in a chain should have it's own stance?

That sounds alot like the wheel in The Chronicles of Spellborn, where the wheel will turn to a new set of attacks after an attack has been started.

#11 Stangler   Members   -  Reputation: 152

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 02:18 AM

Quote:
Original post by Mercenarey
Have you considered a combo system, where you chain attacks (like Tekken and other fighting games)?

Tekken (Im not implying that you should make it THAT elaborate) can be played with a console controller, which has very few keys, so if you take lessons from it, you should be able to make interesting combat depending on combo chains which use very few keys. Some Tekken characters have different stances as well (like Hwoarang, the taekwondo-guy), which allows them special comboes not otherwise available.


Honestly I have not played either tekken or spellborn.

In terms of fighters, I think they tend to use the combination of keys to create combos. For example right and A will do something different then down and A. They also use progressions of attacks. I am not really talking about something like that.

I looked at the Spellborn system and it seems like a really interesting system. It is not quite what I was suggesting though. The major difference is that in the spellborn system there is a set progression from one group of attacks to the next. In the system I am talking about the set of abilities available to the player depends on the attack they use.

In the spellborn system (from what I understand) if the player is in skill group #1 and uses any skill they go to skill group #2. In my system if they are in skill group #1(stance 1) their next stance will depend on the ability they use. So in skill group #1 if they use ability #3 they will change to skill group #3. Now once they are in skill group #3 they can use ability #2 and they will switch to skill group #2.



#12 Stangler   Members   -  Reputation: 152

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 03:09 AM

Quote:
Original post by Griffin_Kemp
1) Is there a reason you want to use buffs (referring to effects that enhance attributes/stats temporarily)?

2) I'm not truly clear on this break down.
I'm firstly not understanding what a "builder ability" is.

Could you describe this in a different fashion possibly?



1) Yes, but they would be concentration based instead of timer based and would act like a stance system. Also not all buffs have to just be stat boosters. They could be passive abilities like life stealing or something like that.

2) There are a lot of examples of classes with "builder" systems. The WOW Rogue, the WOW Warrior, the WOW DK, the COH Brute, and the LOTRO Runemaster just to name a few.

Simply put builders are the abilities that allow the player to attain the power, combo points, rage, fury, whatever to do some other ability or some other ability more effectively.

#13 Griffin_Kemp   Members   -  Reputation: 170

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 12:57 PM

Quote:
Original post by Stangler
1) Yes, but they would be concentration based instead of timer based and would act like a stance system. Also not all buffs have to just be stat boosters. They could be passive abilities like life stealing or something like that.

OK, that's manageable since it's not an artificially timed system.

Quote:
Simply put builders are the abilities that allow the player to attain the power, combo points, rage, fury, whatever to do some other ability or some other ability more effectively.

Gotchya, so build refers to building up to something else...OK, I'll re-read with that in mind.






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