Thanks for taking the time out of your day to offer your advice!
The "attack" animation doesn't really look like an attack; a simple change that might work with your current animation would be to have the weapon extend forward as it swings down, giving the impression of a thrust.
While you do have a flinch animation, it might help to make it more exaggerated, and more connected to what's happening to the character. For example, if you're going to keep the knock-back effect, it might be worth taking that into account, whether by depicting them staggering back or an anime-style backwards skid. (It also looks a little slow to my eye.)
Consider having the sword animation stop short on a hit, to give the impression of the weapon fetching up against--or burying itself into--the target.
Yes, better animations should make it feel better.
I checked the stream (StarMire: just forward to 21:30). I agree with the comments from Thaumaturge
also I see a complete lack of sense of physics and biomechanics. you can spam the attack and get maybe 3 attacks in one second. there's no cooldown, no inertia, no penalty for missing an attack, no way for the enemies to block your attacks, or any other interesting factors beside attacking. the fact that the enemies run towards you like zombies doesn't help either
for some games having a sword attack is enough to call it a 'melee fighting system'. it usually boils down to something like "I was hit 8 times but I hit the enemy 15 times, so I won". Skyrim goes just a little bit beyond this (with blocking, stamina and staggers) but the "I can pause to drink potions" feature ruins all of this (plus aiming and body movement / distance is meaningless)
personally I have to say that a sword attack is only the beginning, and the real fun starts when attacks can be blocked causing a flow of back-and-forth attack attempts and blocks, making all combat decisions much more meaningful.
I'm not sure what to do to remedy the fact that enemies run towards you. Maybe they should get close, then do something like boxers do when they circle. Adding a random time delay to their hits might also help to make it more interesting (although some games have extremely predictable enemies yet stay quite entertaining),
Giving the enemies code to dodge your attacks (or block) might make it better as well. This systems can get frustrating when they automatically do it, so no matter what you miss.
On physics and biomechanics, I didn't think about things like that because of the great Realism vs. Fun argument. I am way more into fun than realism on this project, as opposed to your game, which seems to try to accurately portray swordfighting. I will still add some more physicality though.
And yes, I am aiming more for the 'A' part of ARPG. This is more casual FPS-style.
Building on what Chosker says, an idea:
As Chosker suggests, allow the player to block incoming attacks if the block is performed with the appropriate timing. Give the block an animation as you have with attacking, and make both the attack and block animations fairly long--say about 0.6 seconds each. In addition, only allow a block or attack if neither the block nor the attack animation is playing. However, when an attack lands or a block is correctly-timed, end the animation prematurely. (When the player's attack is blocked, similarly end the animation prematurely, but impose a brief pause--say 0.1 seconds.)
Thus well-timed attacks and blocks make it easier to keep attacking, while poorly-timed blocks and missed attacks leave the player at a disadvantage. If you want to add an additional danger to the player, perhaps allow enemies to counter-attack more quickly when the player mis-times a block.
Good suggestions! A system like this sounds good, especially when the enemies can get a second hit in on a failed swing or poorly timed block (and the player could as well, if the enemy did the same).
I think I will keep recording my progress and iterative cycles so that maybe this thread could become a helpful reference for anyone creating anything similar. In the next recording I plan on tweaking the animations and adding the blocking system suggested by Thaumaturge. More complex enemy movements (as suggested by Chosker) may come later.
Also, I ask that you guys talking about Chosker's game start a new thread or PM each other.