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Combining Realistic Fighting with Limited Saves

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I was really interested in some of the older posts about realistic sword combat in Rpg''s ala Bushido Blade. I also enjoyed the conversations on player death and how it should be included in gaming. Then there is also the topic of the players ability to save and reload whenever they like. How can we fit these things together into a fun and realistic action/rpg gaming environment? miked

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I think that the future of MMORPGs is perma death and realistic damage models. Give players a lot of other stuff to do, and they stop to taking fighting (especially killing) lightly.

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I think realistic damage will be great, but also cause a lot of problems (if you hit someone with a sword he might die! all of a sudden, without warning).
I think for the MMORPG there just have to be alternatives to killing (knocking him out, running away, giving up, ...), for a variety of reasons. That way people can still fight (with consequences: injury, loss of equipment or money, loss of reputation).... and have all the fun of it. It might even be better that way, If you die now, you restart. If you don´t die if you lose, you can still go back to town (restart), but it will be more interesting in the sense of "I fought the black knight and WON, here, you see, this is his helmet!", then again the black knight would probably seek a rematch, trying to get his helmet (honor, whatever) back.

For single player i think it´s a bit easier, make the player fear the monsters more, the he´ll be more cautious and run away more often. If there are alternatives to win/die, then players will eventually explore them.

Combat: dying is too easy in realistic combat, how about "semirealistic", you create a stamina/reaction whatever pool, as long as it´s at 100% you automatically block every move to the best of your ability. every autoblock costs stamina (even if you deflect the orcs club he still has a lot of juice in his arm), as stamina goes down the chance to get hit increases. And there have to be controlled blocks, which, if successful cost nothing (or at least less).
Two ways to win: either get you enemies stamina down (a lot of good attacks), he´s tired, cant fight anymore, either gives up or gets slaughtered. Or score a sucessful critical hit, wounding the enemy (further loss of stamina). Until he either collapses or gives up.
And, if he doe collapse (weak or wounded), it doesn´t mean that he´s dead, right? He might just lie there, bleeding for a while, until he wakes up again and notices that his horse and money and boots are gone.
And the other one doesn´t have to deal with his conscience (or karma or reputation of fierce killer or whatever).

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Yeah I was definitly trying to figure out how to include a realistic combat engine without having the player die all the time. It seems rather difficult since the whole reason I want realistic combat is so that the player will know the real consequences of their action.

I love the fear generated from playing Rogue Spear or Swat when you know that every bullet could land your guys bleeding on the floor. It made for some intense and scary situations. I would like to recreate this fear when a character enters a dungeon and must duck behind pillars and tables to sheild themselves from lethal enemy arrows and darts.

Adventuring would really be an adventure, and the sense accomplishment from surviving a dungeon would be a great feeling and something to brag about. Your hero would really be a hero and not because he has 3 billion hp but because of his skill.

Ideas on keeping the death penalty to a minimum...

1. First I would like to take the lose your stuff in the place you die method. Going back to retrieve your priceless armor is a pretty good punishment for carelessness. But still making it available rather than perminant loss would make the player happy.

2. A clinic system where the player could maybe by some sort of insurance where upon their death the clinic would revive their body. Almost like buying an extra life in a consol game. Everytime the player dies, a villager or a wandering adventure might come across the body and bring it back to the town. If the player payed the clinic previously then the clinic would revive them. Here death is perminant, but the player can make arrangements in case of an accident. Then once revived they can retrieve what remains of their lost items in the dungeon.

3. Saving. There comes a time when the player needs to go to bed and stop playing your game. I loathe the ability to save whenever the player wants to since it cheapens the penalty and realism of death and can often lead to carelessness. I would propose an autosave feature that makes a save every few minutes that the player can not control.

It may seem like this is worse than letting the player save whenever they like. I think it might be better.

a. First, they have no control over the save so they cant save before jumping into battle with the bad ass dragon. No precautionary save, the only thing they can do is make sure the clinic will revive them upon death.

b. This means that saves could occur midbattle. If the player is hacking away at a highlevel wizard who casts a fire ball that knocks the player to critical condition, the player cant really reload to before that happened, since the game might save during the fireball cast. Thus reloading will result in the player fighting with the same losing odds.

c. All this makes it more likely that the player will accept the consequences of their actions and die, reviving later at the clinic whole again, and out of danger so that they can prepare to attack the challenge differently. And get back their stuff.

Thanks for responding all!!


miked

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Saving:
I think the player should be able to exit the game at ANY moment. To prevent a player from leaving the game at a time when he/she is near death, I think the player should be given the option to design an auto-combat mode that his/her character will follow when the player leaves the game in mid-combat (or is disconnected, which is another major concern in online play)

The player should be able to create a auto-combat system much like the playbooks that football games use (the computer ones). IF at low health with strong opponent--> turn and run
IF at low health with weak opponent--> defensive pose, find opening
IF at high health etc, etc.

As for the actual battle itself, the player should ALWAYS risk the possibility of permanent death. I know that that sounds harsh, but of course the gameplay itself has to be adjusted to make permanent death an option. First off, the way it is right now is that battles pose little gain for little risk. Well, you can start by making players gain more per battle, at a higher risk (what form that gain comes in depends on the type of game you create). To not let every single combat be a ''win or die'' fight, characters should suffer from real injuries. Get hit in the arm by a club? Your strength will decrease in that arm, and it''ll take time to recover. Priests (if magic is used) might be able to heal you quicker, but there will always be a certain time that the character stays injured, even with magical healing.

With injuries like this, it''ll force a player to decide to run instead of fight a lot more.

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quote:
Original post by Silvermyst

Saving:
I think the player should be able to exit the game at ANY moment. To prevent a player from leaving the game at a time when he/she is near death, I think the player should be given the option to design an auto-combat mode that his/her character will follow when the player leaves the game in mid-combat (or is disconnected, which is another major concern in online play)


Yeah, this is a good idea. A similar idea is being used in a game called Galileo, although it''s being taken a lot further. Galileo is an MMO Elite style game but has a lot more depth than Elite. You can get out of your ship for a start. You always have a presence in the game whether you are online or not, to care of things while you are away from the game. They can be used for a variety of purposes from controlling your character or ship to running businesses, etc. I''ve thought about using a similar system for RPGs, but it felt a little to technically for a fantasy setting. In Galileo, the scripts are built into the game (e.g. they can run on computers in the game, etc). But I still think that they could work in RPGs, but should have a little more depth beyond a simple combat script. Your character should be able to take care of themselves while you are away, including fighting, resting, eating, etc. This could actually be taken a LOT further but I won’t go into that here.

In regards to saving - The in the old days games were small and there was no need to save the game but as games got bigger the need to save the player’s position became necessary to save having the player having to play through large sections of the game again just to get back to where they were. But with it came the ability to save before dangerous sections and reload if they didn''t go to well. This isn''t necessarily a bad thing, it suits some games well. But for RPGs I think that it is bad as it encourages the player to power-max rather than enjoying the game and the storyline. If RPGs were less linear and offered various routes through the game then maybe we could stop the player from feeling that failing at a task is a bad thing and realise that it is just one of the possible ways that the game could be played. It would be cool if could get the player to feel that there is no right or wrong way to player the game and that they, the player, are writing the story. A massive task, but it would be cool.

What about if the player couldn''t save the game, the game would only be saved when the player quits the game. This way they can still save and continue later but can’t abuse it and use it to gain an advantage in the game. There would only be one saved game per player profile. This way it would play as one continuous game without the benefit of a time machine I suggest having 3 different saved games. The first would be the game that is saved when the player quits.

The problem that now arises is what happens when the player dies? You could be really mean here and delete the saved game so that the death is permanent (which some games have done), but that''s evil What you could have instead is save points. This is the second kind of save. There would be designates save points throughout the game. These would be placed before dangerous locations and in the middle of long journeys. The saves would be totally transparent to the player so they wouldn''t know where they are. When the player dies they will restart from the last save point rather than from where they last manually saved the game (by quitting).

The third save would be an auto save that occurs every few minutes in case the game crashes or there''s a power cut, etc. When the player continues the game first the auto save will be checked, if it''s newer than the death restart save and the last position save then the auto saved will be loaded (as this would mean that something went wrong i.e. the game crashed). Otherwise the most recent of the death restart save and the last position save will be loaded.

This of course would need to be used in conjunction with a non-linear game with multiplies routes to really be of any use. What do you guys think?

- Kaijin

"The student who is never required to do what he cannot do never does what he can do." - John Stuart Mill

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That sounds like a good idea. It''d would help to reduce the save and reload mentality. But you are right, the game would have to be constructed in a way so that the player would accept the consequences of their failure. Doing so however might not be so easy.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
The dungeons of moria had a save system like that. One save per character, and if yu died, the character was deleted. You could save at any point, but you couldn''t retry things, cos you were dead when you died. The only thing was, that it was on the Atari ST, and when you lost, you could nip the disk out before it deleted your character

Id like to implement something like that, but you do have to watch for players alt-tabbing out, and copying their save file to another location, and then restoring it when they die. I''m sure that it could be made harder to cheat, but it would take some time.

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The trouble here is that it''s almost impossible to make a realistic melee combat system. The human interface that we have is simply not suitable to react adequately to what the player sees on the screen. In ranged combat, for the most part, you point, and shoot. In melee combat, you must move your entire body in such a way as to minimize your chances of being hit while maximizing your chances of hitting the other fellow. In ranged comabt, there is simply no reaction time...when you shoot a bullet, for all intents and purposes, when you pull the trigger, if you had him on target, you hit. In melee combat, it could take as much as a second from when I throw a kick or swing a blade to when it contacts the intended target area. The player also does not have the same kind of peripheral vision that we see with in real life. In real life, we can actually see the peripheral edges of our body....our arms and legs. Believe it or not, this helps vastly. Try to put blinders on, and spar with someone....and you''ll see exactly what I mean. But with a computer, our visual cues aren''t the same.

Heck, even sparring in martial arts is a poor substitute for real combat, as there is no FEAR factor involved that you want to include. To try to simulate melee combat realistically (ie not like a fighting console game) is I think a nigh impossible task.

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster

...

Id like to implement something like that, but you do have to watch for players alt-tabbing out, and copying their save file to another location, and then restoring it when they die. I''m sure that it could be made harder to cheat, but it would take some time.


Yeah, that''s true I suppose but if they really want to go to such lengths then maybe we should just let them . But there are ways around it - firstly you could disable alt-tabbing (not a good idea), or secondly (prefered method) you could store some information about the save in the registry, then when loading if it doesn''t match with the save files then the game reports that the save file is corrupt.

- Kaijin

"The student who is never required to do what he cannot do never does what he can do." - John Stuart Mill

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I''m glad my post was of use to you.

About the fighting. I want to implement a realistic fighting system in an RPG. I realise that the player''s input devices are not up to the task, and anyway, as it''s an RPG I''m doing, the fight should rely more on the character''s skill then the player''s. The character could have a proficieny in different styles of fighting, and the player chooses which to use during the fight. The computer then handles the fighting. It can be done in real time, and can be complex and realistic, and to top it all off, your character could pull off some really good moves. The computer just has to match one character''s move, with a response for the attacked character, and depending on their skill, that response will be different. An amazing character with a massive reaction, could block all the punches sent to him, and counter when the enemy leaves their guard down.

This probably doesn''t directly tie-in to what you hope to acheive, but maybe you could do a hybrid, where the player decides what to do, but at a higher level then in the game. Like block, or punch, or throw. And then the character would act in response in whatever way they can, carrying out instructions from the player as they can. So the high-level fight is controlled by the player, but all the cool moves and lightning fast attacks are controlled by the computer, folowing the player''s directives, but in a realistic manner.

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As a relative newbie I hope you can consider my idea without any preconceptions.
Perhaps a good system in an RPG but maybe not in an FPS would be to have the ability to earn save points. Characters would be given them for completing a dungeon or would get them for going level up or something. See Help Wanted for my ideas for a game where this idea could be implemented. I need some designers with more experience than me, so any veterans here (and some of you guys seem to be pretty good) might want to help me out.

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