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BeanDog

2D gameplay design based on Avatar: The Last Airbender

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Firstly, I realize there's already a sucky game out there based on Avatar: The Last Airbender. I don't want to make a licensed game or even have anything related to it, I just think that something like "bending" could make for a cool gameplay mechanic. Edit for those who have not seen the show: "Bending" is the ability to move one or more elements (earth/water/air/fire in the show), typically invoked by waving your arms around like a lunatic. In a game setting, it would be the ability to exert a force on earth or water that is within a certain distance of your body, without actually touching said water or earth, e.g. pulling up the ground from under an enemy and tossing it at another enemy behind him. I was thinking about how a power similar to the earth- and water-bending in the cartoon could be managed in a video game with intuitive controls. Doing it in 3D seemed almost impossible (there just aren't enough controls in a mouse/keyboard or modern joypad to manage moving, aiming, and also bending). But in 2D, you might be able to manage it. So picture a standard 2D platformer. Along with your normal kick/punch/whatever, you also have your "bending" powers. So you're playing with an XBox 360 or PS2/3 controller, using the directional pad to move and buttons to jump, like an old SNES game. But to use your bending, you use the right analog stick. When you start moving the analog stick, you get a ghosted circle around your character showing how far your powers reach (may increase over time) and a cursor-like dot that you move onto the part of the earth/water that you want to bend. You push in the analog stick (or L1 or something), and you start bending whatever's under your cursor. Hold it down and move around the analog stick to move the water/earth around. Let go, and inertia takes over. Problem is, PC users generally don't have such gamepads. So now we have to consider how to manage the controls on a PC. We need a bunch of digital inputs (arrow keys, jump/fight/whatever buttons) and one analog input (the mouse). You have them play with the arrow keys to move, and using the mouse keys (?) to jump/fight/whatever. Then there's some button (either keyboard or mouse) that indicates you want to start bending with the mouse. Here it gets a little messy. With the gamepad, you could tell they wanted to start bending, because the analog stick moved. With the mouse, they're likely to have incidental movement frequently, so you'd have to push some key to start the whole bending process, and then have some way in addition to to the "grab and hold this piece" part of the bending. Thoughts? Ideas? [Edited by - BeanDog on March 4, 2008 6:36:17 PM]

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I haven't seen Avatar: The Last Airbender. Could you briefly describe what "bending" is, and more specifically how you see it working in your game?

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What if you merged "bending" and "fighting": just click an area and drag, and the game will perform the proper action depending on what you clicked.

I don't totally understand the bending concept (having never seen Avatar) but what would happen if you tried to "bend" an enemy? What if you telepathically throw them into the air by clicking and throwing with the mouse? Or would you stretch the enemy out, like in the PS2 game Stretch Panic?

However you do it, I'd suggest possibly removing kick/punch and experimenting with "bending" and "attacking" as one-and-the-same. It'll simplify your controls and likely lead to a tighter, more cohesive experience. Plus, why make the player use a short-range kick when you can let them instead do something cool by bending the elements? [grin]

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Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
I haven't seen Avatar: The Last Airbender. Could you briefly describe what "bending" is, and more specifically how you see it working in your game?


Sorry, my bad. "Bending" is the ability to move one or more elements (earth/water/air/fire in the show), typically invoked by waving your arms around like a lunatic. In a game setting, it would be the ability to exert a force on earth or water that is within a certain distance of your body, without actually touching said water or earth, e.g. pulling up the ground from under an enemy and tossing it at another enemy behind him. (edited OP to have this info)

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Holding right mouse button while moving the mouse is a very reasonable and normal thing to require someone to do. Would this not meet your requirements?

And I agree with your decision to make this 2D. It sounds like being 3D would overcomplicated matters while not really making it more fun.

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Quote:
Original post by BeanDog
pulling up the ground from under an enemy and tossing it at another enemy behind him. (edited OP to have this info)

Well there you go, then. I can't imagine you would ever need a close-combat fighting system if you can do something that awesome, so I'd suggest making the mouse your exclusive bending-device and creating interesting combat out of the bending mechanic.

The mental picture of this game actually has me quite excited... I really want to see it in action! [grin]

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Thanks - I'm assuming bending doesn't involve the creation of elements, just their control. Also since you can't do direct copy of bending, you also can take a bit of liberty as to exactly how these powers manifest (I'd also use another term than "bending" in an actual demo [smile]).

The problem with using two analog controls in platformers is that it's somewhat of a jolt away from the regular controls. You're moving around with a control stick under one thumb and with a set of buttons under the other, then you have to mentally map a new control system when you want to bend. This jolt is okay if you were moving between two completely different game sections, like main gameplay and menus, but it'd be a bit jarring if you had to switch between them constantly in regular gameplay. It's even worse on the PC as you won't have all the control devices built into the one peripheral - I prefer to play PC platformers with a digital gamepad, second choice the keyboard; the mouse doesn't enter into my mental map of control systems.

My first thoughts on a control system would be when you enter bending mode, you control direction and force of your bending power similar to that as using a cannon in tank combat games like the Worms series. Use the standard controls to select direction and force. A downside of this is that you'll be shifting between a cartesian control system (where up moves your character up, left moves left etc.) to a more radial one (where left angles clockwise, right counter-clockwise, up is further, down is closer etc.) - which is also a bit of a jolt to the system.

Whatever you decide on, I'd prototype it with a quick 2D platformer first before going too far in depth with the rest of the game, as it's a fairly critical part of the gameplay mechanics.

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Okay, it sounds like an idea with potential. But why does it NEED regular fighting mechanics complicateing things?

Take a look at Portal on Orange Box. Its a very simple idea, exploited into a puzzle like game. Why not follow suit, exploiting the players command over the elements and thier interaction with one another?

You could easily have a game along the lines of the Odd World series, with the player haveing to use only his command of the elements to overcome obsticals to progress through the game.

Just the arrow keys and a key for each element would suffice (heck you could prolly get away with fewer). Just use the arrows to move the character over by a rock, press and hold the earth key, now the arrows keys can move the rock while the player remains still. Move the rock over a cliff and release the earth key to watch it drop on an enemy below. All sorts of interesting things could be done with this.

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