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dwmitch

Multi-character control scheme

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dwmitch    143
I currently have an action game (along the lines of Mario 64, etc.) in the works, and there will be three player controled characters. The problem is, how to control them. I have three styles in mind, which for simplicity I will refer to as the Lost Vikings style, Dark Cloud style, and Secret of Mana style. For those not familiar with the games I shall elaborate. In the Lost Vikings games you have three characters that are constantly "in play." When you switch to another the one you were using remains in the same spot and can still be injured. In Dark Cloud you can choose from up to six characters, but they swap out. If you're using the main and switch to the genie the main will disappear and the genie will appear in his place. In Secret of Mana you have one player controlled character and the other two are computer controlled. I think you can switch the active character, but it's been a while since I've played the game so I don't remember exactly. I'll go over the pros and cons of each system: Lost Vikings Pros: Can introduce a strategic element to the game. Allows the use of double/triple team moves if all characters are in the region. If a system is implemented to que commands players can set traps for tougher enemies. Cons: Area must be clear of enemies before switching. Enemies must be confined to a limited region to provide safe zones. Failing the use of safe zones, player must micro-manage the characters, which isn't viable for an action game. Dark Cloud Pros: Player only needs to keep track of one character. Player can swap out heavily damaged characters for healthy characters Cons: Eliminates the possibility of double/triple team moves. Reduces the challenge by essentially allowing players to heal without collecting the appropriate items. Secret of Mana Pros: Allows double/triple team moves. The attack powers of all three characters can be combined. Cons: Possibility that computer controlled characters could break off to attack a minor enemy while player is fighting a tougher enemy. If no inventory system is implemented (hoping to avoid to preserve simplicity) computer controlled characters may not grab recovery items or may grab a recovery item the player controlled character needs more.

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xycos    146
I've never played Lost Vikings, but having computer-controlled characters definitley isn't bad. You could readuce the importance of healing items or set up a very simple system for it.

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someboddy    100
Quote:
Original post by dwmitch
Secret of Mana
......
Cons:
Possibility that computer controlled characters could break off to attack a minor enemy while player is fighting a tougher enemy.


I don't think that this should be counted as a con, since the characters you don't controll are certainly not going to help you in the fight in the other controll forms you have stated. Beside, you can make command system, so you can press a single button for the common commands, like "attack my target", "stay back", and "defend me" commands.

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Frequency    442
I would throw out the "Dark Cloud" style right off the bat. It sounds like it would be too silly (magically swapping out characters?) and probably too easy, as you said.
The "Lost Vikings" style sounds interesting; it could probably be used to make some nifty switches&buttons puzzles and add some strategic thought. Without an AI-control though I don't think you would want it for a fast paced game.
SoM style seems most viable, with all characters staying on the same screen. In SoM it was possible to switch the active character and also for up to 3 humans to play at the same time. :)

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Captain P    1092
I've played Lost Vikings a lot some time ago, and I agree that some basic AI wouldn't be a bad idea. It will certainly make level-design more free with less demand for such safe zones.
The cons can both be avoided, the first by a control system as said above, the second by letting their AI check for each of the characters stats, and make the character that needs the item the most pick it up - if that's you, the others will not get the item unless you command them to do so.

Using a control system for the other, not directly controlled characters could add some strategic aspects as well: a character who can't hear you, can't be commanded, or in other situations you wouldn't want to wake up an evil creature with your shouting commands. A radio would be a nice puzzle item here, for example.

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dwmitch    143
Quote:
Original post by Captain P
I've played Lost Vikings a lot some time ago, and I agree that some basic AI wouldn't be a bad idea. It will certainly make level-design more free with less demand for such safe zones.
The cons can both be avoided, the first by a control system as said above, the second by letting their AI check for each of the characters stats, and make the character that needs the item the most pick it up - if that's you, the others will not get the item unless you command them to do so.

Using a control system for the other, not directly controlled characters could add some strategic aspects as well: a character who can't hear you, can't be commanded, or in other situations you wouldn't want to wake up an evil creature with your shouting commands. A radio would be a nice puzzle item here, for example.


Interesting points. I think I've figured out the control system I want.

It will be loosely based on the Bard's Tale (which I forgot until I read someboddy's post, which is odd because I've been playing it a bit lately). In addition to the "follow me," "attack," "stay where you are" commands there will be environment specific commands, such as ordering one character to stop at a garden hose and another stopping by the tree. The character you can control could issue a command to the one by the tree to climb it, get a group of hippies1 chasing him, then issue a command when the hippies are in range to the one in the tree to spray liquid soap on them (if he has any in stock), the player controlled character can lead the hippies to the hose, then when in range command the other character to spray them down.

For this I would probably have to implement a Mech Warrior type menu system where you can bring up an HUD without interrupting movement to facilitate individual commands, and add some AI to allow stationary characters to defend themselves.

I also like the idea of being able to win radios in a bonus level or by completing tasks in specific levels. Maybe even a shop system where you can buy them. That way if they didn't have them then issuing a command to attack a sleeping hippie would wake him up, but if you issue it via radio they can take him out before he can even open his eyes.

I'll get a rough sketch started and fine tune as I go along. Thank you for your input, everybody.



1 Brief synopsis: Four kids exploring the cellar of and abandoned house discover a portal. Out of the portal come entities that convert anyone they come in contact to into hippies. One of the kids is the first victim, which explains why there are only three useable characters. The mission is to go around the country restoring everyone to their pre-hippie state using weapons such as scissors (haircuts), soap and water, suits, etc. Lacking the appropriate equipment the characters can use a variety of wrestling moves to beat some sense into them, though it takes longer than using weapons.



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Captain P    1092
As an addition to waking up hippies, loud things like waterfalls, machines or partying hippies (:P) could effectively block you from commanding your other characters.
This sort of commands remind me of Abe's Oddyseus and Abe's Exodus. A fun and tricky game where you had to order your friends around the save them, while avoiding Slig guards and other dangers. Worth a look if you haven't played it.

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