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FPS Hand-to-hand Combat

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I don't think there has been a fps game so far that has featured a well working HtH system. Most of the time it devolves into a Half-Life crowbar fight. Any ideas on what would be a good fps HtH system? An idea I thought might work is simplifying the whole thing a bit. Perhaps the only commands are attack, block and a special action. And instead of having complex combos it is up to the timings of these 3 commands that decides the fight. Say an enemy swings his sword at you, if you hit the block command at the right time you could parry his sword and create an opening for an attack command, which depending on how well you time that will succeed or not. Mistimings could result in a failed block or a weak attack. Also a string of well timed or mistimed actions could swing a 'momentum' factor, which might make it harder or easier to time actions or perhaps effect the characters psychologically. Then there's the problems of whether you have to 'lock-on' to an enemy and how to deal with multiple characters fighting each other simultaneously and a ton of other things I'm sure. Anyway I thought that basic idea might be fun. Hopefully look more realistic or at least cooler than a Half-Life crowbar fight.

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HtH combat is hard in an FPS, since depth perception is distorted within FPS systems (IMO). It's getting better as technology improves, but I think for now we should stick to third-person HtH, since you actually get a perspective on the scene and the relation of distance between characters.

Alright, now this part is if you're already chosen to make an FPS:
If you're looking at the system itself (i.e. moves and combos etc), then what you've got going sounds OK, but you'll need to have some kind of training module within the game; I don't think there's a lot of people that could just jump into it. Also, if you're thinking of doing some kind of swords/fencing thing, then all I can say is good luck. I don't know a lot about swordplay, but I think there's a lot more to it than what it looks like. There's probably several different kinds of blocks and parries for different kinds of attacks. Eventually it'd come to a point where it's too confusing to learn how to play it.

Your point about Half-Life crowbar fights should be well taken. While still fun (to some people); Crowbar fights, Knife fights (for counter-strike fans), and the like always seem to boil down to the same tactic: "Jump forward, Attack, Jump back," which is hardly realistic.

Good luck with this, but I think you're going to have to go with a "more fun" approach, instead of a "more realistic" idea.

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Take a look at Breakdown(Xbox). This is a good example for HtH, you have almost no weapons in this. I played it a long time ago, so i can't remember details. But i'm sure some reviews of game explain the gameplay.

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I think when it comes to melee most people just want to see there avatar pull off some awesome kung fu kicks and such and lay the bad guy out. It doesn't really matter how it works if it looks real good. I mean you bash a guy with a crowbar in half-life because of what? You ran out of ammo or you just started the game. Ultimately your decision to smash your enemy comes out of desperation or boredom in that type of game. It's a shooter for chris' sakes.
You could pull it off in a slower paced game that uses dice rolling type calculations to decide if a hit is scored.. Just make it a hit vs dodge numbers game with a large variety of animations to show hit or dodge moves. Player does a high kick and misses so the enemy ducks to show it. I mean the calculation is done long before the animation. You could tie every attack move to an equally cool looking dodge move and end up with a flurry of fists and feet until someone gets knocked out. Then take your pistol back out and put one in them for flair. I don't know of any other way it could be done with fun in mind. It's got to look good no matter what you do. Kids these days know a good HtH fight when they see one.
Your idea of a basic timing system would work best for a fast FPS. Maybe a small set of icons in front of the enemy to tell you what he's about to do so that you can take the appropriate defense. I would suggest slowing down the moves so that strategy could still play a role. If you could incorporate balance into it you could make it a contest to knock the opponent down thereby giving you a good opening for a killing thrust from a sword or knife. Isn't alot of martial arts based on keeping your balance? I know when I fight I'm screwed on the ground (No wieght to throw around). You really just need to take the repetitive look out of HtH in FPS games. If it is only fun to see it play out isn't that still having fun?

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Dark Messiah of Might and Magic has a well-regarded first-person melee system.

I played the beta demo about a trillion times, and found that it devolved quickly into tactical kicking and the lobbing of boxes once you got the mechanics figured out well enough to exploit them, but if you restricted your use of the overpowered features (I think the retail version was patched to "nerf" the kick, at least) and used your sword/bow/daggers (Daggers were especially cool, although the shield had merit) you could have a very good time battling multiple adversaries with a variety of strokes, a reliable block and interactive environments.

Fire, hanging ropes, loosely stacked lumber and of course your omegaboots factored into the fighting in very interesting and novel ways, so the "block/thrust/slash" swordplay didn't seem as dry as it actually was. Flying heads and arms added to the fun, although the "slomo" effect when you get a critical hit was more a nuisance than anything else.

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Thanks for the input guys. I agree that any FPS HtH game would need to have a training component, but this could be done in a fun way. For some reason I've always enjoyed the training levels at the start of a fps game.

One thing that I don't like about more complexed fighting systems is that you have to think about what controls you need to use. In real life if someone overhead swings at you you will instinctively move to block or dodge it, you don't really think about it. But in a game you have to recognize the type of attack coming, then think what combination of controls you have to press to counter it and then press them in time. It's like an extra step you have to make that clutters things up and haves you fighting the controls. Unless you spend a lot of time practicing, which usually isn't fun. Or maybe I'm just not very skilled hehe :P

What your suggesting Randomnature sounds like the combat from KOTOR, which is basically what I have in mind, except with more player input. The player would decide when to strike, when to defend and when to perform a special action. Which depending on the situation, or an opportunity presented could be a variety of things. Depending on how well you time these actions the computer will play the appropriate animations.

Here's a simple example of what I have in mind,

Player is charged by enemy. Enemy swings at player. Player hits the defend button, but doesn't time it perfectly. The enemy swing is blocked but player is put off balance and is open to be attacked again. Enemy swings again. Player is off balance from the previous attack so it'll be even harder to time this defend perfectly. Player mistimes the defend action and is wounded, falling to one knee. Enemy gets an 'opening' for a special action which he times successfully and delivers a deathblow, lopping off his head.

A very one sided battle :D But I'm gearing this for a medieval set game so fast brutal fights is what I have in mind. Also if a fight can end so quickly and decisively, I think it could add a lot of excitement and tension. Especially if a fight does drag on a bit longer, knowing that a string of poor timings can spell doom.

And being set in the middle-ages with hopefully somewhat realistic or believable
fighting, I wouldn't have to worry about flying through the air matrix stuff, wild kicks and other complex or fancy moves.

In the end though any HtH system will require and be decided by tons of playtesting. Especially when it's the main aspect of the game.

Still love to hear any ideas people have!










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If timing's a big factor, take a look at Red Steel for the Wii. It's not a great game by any standard, and often feels like an unfinished tech demo, but the swordfighting uses a neat timing system to let you use parries to defeat your opponent or to destroy his sword, ending the fight bloodlessly.

If it's going to be a brutal combat system, make sure it doesn't stay "sterile", with just the swords fighting and the actual combatants serving as goalposts. I want to be bale to throw the guy off balance with a well-times swordstroke, but I also want to be able to beat his bled to the side and give him a sternum full of my shoulder, then follow that up with a stab to the face.

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On a side note you should check out Severence: Blade of Darkness. I remember that game being very high on my list of fun to plsy fighting games. You had WADS control, combo moves, limb removal (my favorite) and Shield blocking that if timed right would make the enemy's sword rebound and leave them open for more smacking. And there really isn't anything better than running up a spiral staircase to find a goblin waiting for you just so you could chop off his head with a well timed backstroke that sends it boucing back down the stairs. You could pick up his head and chuck it at someone else later on your way out! It was great and not overly complicated. Just remember that it needs to be fun!

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