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falconhunter2020

Real-Time Combat Systems for an Action RPG

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I've recently started using some free game design software to get used to designing games with the hope of doing some larger projects with some friends, including a 3-D Action RPG. The purpose of this thread is to discuss derivation from the traditional, often boring, "hack and slash" format. Please help me out by telling me which of these ideas work or don't and which ideas are easy or hard to implicate. In my opinion, the simplest way to do this is by adding in a recoil feature (1), like in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, where blocking sends the attacker back and damaging the opponent stops their attack animation, allowing you to attack. Another element from Oblivion is the fatigue system (2) which keeps the player from attacking non-stop. A more complicated way is to add a "lock-on" feature (3), like in games such as Zelda and Fable. This allows the character to strafe and roll around the opponent, as well as jumping over them. Even with these two things, you are still just pressing the attack button, which is where melee skills and combos (4) come in. Ok, those are the four basic elements I've come up with for a combat system for my game, so now I'll go into detail on the controls (assume it will be played on an XBOX 360 gamepad). General/Movement: - Movement is done with the Left Thumbstick. - The left and right triggers will be used to jump and block. - The X-button is used to lock on to the nearest enemy, or to exit locked mode. While locked on, pressing Y-button will switch to the next enemy. Attacking/Magic (this is where it gets complicated): - All attacks are done with the right analog stick. It will be sensitive to four directions, up, left, right, and down. Each movement of the stick will register as one swing of the sword, relative to the direction of the movement of the stick. - Performing a set number of attacks in the right order (within a set time limit) is a combo, and if done correctly, will activate a special melee attack with additional effects (damage, stun, disarm, spin attack, etc). - To perform magic, the appropriate combo must be performed while holding the left shoulder button. Parrying/Blocking: - Simply holding the right trigger will cause the character to block, reducing damage and causing the attacker to recoil. - To completely negate the damage (but not cause recoil), when an enemy attacks, one of the four sides of the screen will flash and at that time, move the right thumbstick in the appropriate direction to parry the blow. That's the combat system for my game. Feedback appreciated. Someday I will post the whole design idea. [Edited by - falconhunter2020 on April 10, 2007 12:47:59 PM]

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You should probably play some console action/adventure games. Namely, God of War and Devil May Cry 3.

They pretty much have the hack n' slash/fighting game thing down pat, given years and years of game play evolution and lots of time to work on fight mechanics.

Well...down pat conceptually. Most games in that genre suffer from slow controls, illogical camera angles, and arbitrary limitations on the player's reaction time. As far as combat mechanics go, they generally use one stick to move and one button for one type of attack, with timing determining what combinations are executed. Using the right stick to "aim" attacks might sound fun on the surface, but when you test it out, it generally tends to be ineffective and confusing.

Perhaps you could use a third person perspective but adopt a "Halo" style control scheme: Left stick is for moving forward and backward and strafing left and right, right stick controls your "look." Pressing A causes you to jump. Borrowing from devil may cry, if you hold the left trigger, your character switches to a targeted mode. If you tap the trigger, you change targets. Moving the right analog stick will cause your character to roll and dodge in this mode, and conflict with the "jump" action is avoided as jumping and dodging never need to be executed at the exact same time. The right trigger is used for attacks (although the target/attack triggers can be swapped). The shoulder buttons can be used for auxiliary attacks/spells and the remaining face buttons can serve a similar purpose. The start button, or whatever the equivalent button is on the 360 gamepad, can be used to access game interface menus and all that jazz.

Alternatively, rolling and dodging could be performed by pressing in the left thumbstick and then moving. Locking on could be activated by pressing in the right thumbstick, leaving the triggers free for blocking/attacking/etc.

Most players will feel uncomfortable executing melee attacks using a trigger or control stick, however. In my opinion, the ideal setup would allow for controlling movement completely with one analog stick, using a face button to execute attacks in the current direction, and using triggers for things like well timed blocking/parrying to negate incoming attacks and using ranged abilities/"locking on." Pressing in the left analog stick allows you to duck and roll.

Just my...more than two cents.

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Thanks, you make some strong points, but I believe that you misunderstand what I mean when I say that the attack will be relative to the direction of the movement of the stick. I don't mean left, right, up, and down, from a top-down perspective, but from the character's point of view.
Example: slashing down will not cause the player to attack an enemy "behind" him, on the bottom of the screen, but it will cause the character to swing his sword, mace, whatever downward. All normal attacks will be performed in the direction that the character is facing, and the direction is determined by moving the left thumbstick.

You claim that players would feel uncomfortable executing melee attacks with a thumbstick or a trigger, but although it's not a popular mechanic it isn't entirely unheard of. Death by Degrees, a Tekken spin-off used this system, and it was fairly comfortable.

The reason I wanted to put the attacks on the Right Thumbstick is because it allows for 5 different actions (up, down, left, right, and click) for executing combos all with one finger (thumb), but still allowing you to jump and block with the shoulder triggers. I think the face buttons are better suited for non-combat, such as the generic "action" button (open doors, pick up items) and things like locking on because each button can only recieve one type of command, but triggers (at least on the 360 and PS3) can also measure how hard and how far they are being pressed, which is more beneficial for jumping, but I'm sure it has other uses.

I agree that actions like rolling/dodging could be done by clicking the Left Thumbstick.

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Quote:
Original post by falconhunter2020
Thanks, you make some strong points, but I believe that you misunderstand what I mean when I say that the attack will be relative to the direction of the movement of the stick. I don't mean left, right, up, and down, from a top-down perspective, but from the character's point of view.
Example: slashing down will not cause the player to attack an enemy "behind" him, on the bottom of the screen, but it will cause the character to swing his sword, mace, whatever downward. All normal attacks will be performed in the direction that the character is facing, and the direction is determined by moving the left thumbstick.


Oh, ok. That would be easier for most players to grasp, although they would likely still have the button mashing instinct.

Quote:

You claim that players would feel uncomfortable executing melee attacks with a thumbstick or a trigger, but although it's not a popular mechanic it isn't entirely unheard of. Death by Degrees, a Tekken spin-off used this system, and it was fairly comfortable.


I'd heard of this game, but my experience comes from sword combat in the Metal Gear Solid series. I'm not saying "don't try it," just playing devil's advocate for the status quo.

Quote:

The reason I wanted to put the attacks on the Right Thumbstick is because it allows for 5 different actions (up, down, left, right, and click) for executing combos all with one finger (thumb), but still allowing you to jump and block with the shoulder triggers. I think the face buttons are better suited for non-combat, such as the generic "action" button (open doors, pick up items) and things like locking on because each button can only recieve one type of command, but triggers (at least on the 360 and PS3) can also measure how hard and how far they are being pressed, which is more beneficial for jumping, but I'm sure it has other uses.


I'm pretty sure all the consoles since the PS2 have some sort of touch sensitive button press mechanism. In any case, I'd suggest you build a prototype and see how it works.

I agree that actions like rolling/dodging could be done by clicking the Left Thumbstick.[/quote]

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Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Oh, ok. That would be easier for most players to grasp, although they would likely still have the button mashing instinct.


Let's talk about that. When I say "button mashing", I mean games in which there is no consequence for performing basic attacks (other than opportunity cost). For RPG examples, look at games such as Champions of Norrath and Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. In those games, when the player character and an enemy are engaged in melee combat, both opponents swing their weapons repeatedly in a race to kill the other void of any strategy. Blocking simply reduces damage done, and is pretty pointless outside of defending against arrows because (due to opportunity cost) you might as well be attacking. Combat in the examples does not force the player to think, therefore it requres no skill.

Now look at a game like Oblivion. First of all, there is a consequence for attacking, your fatigue goes down. Second, when an attack is blocked, it sends the attacker back, allowing you to attack. Third, when a character takes damage, his attack is stopped mid-swing. Oblivion is the perfect example of a game that has eliminated button mashing. Every melee fight requires skill because you have to time your attacks around all of your opponent's actions.

In my game, I would definitely include the three aspects mentioned.

Quote:
I'm pretty sure all the consoles since the PS2 have some sort of touch sensitive button press mechanism. In any case, I'd suggest you build a prototype and see how it works.


Well, I only have a couple of design programs that are only for computer games. I suppose I could try to add in gamepad support, but to be honest I'm a begginer at actually programming. My expertise is in concept design; story, gameplay, features, that sort of thing.

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