# Sword Hero - Idea for an RPG Combat Mechanic

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I'm working on a game mechanic for combat that combines rythem based gameplay (guitar hero, rock band, etc) with RPG combat.

The basic idea is that a character performs a series of strikes, which each strike corresponding to a button press. Using the xbox controller as an example, A would be a low strike, B would be a right side strike, X a left and Y high.
Characters would learn combos, which is a group of strikes. When combat starts, one character is designated the attacker, and the other would be the defender. The game would then queue up a combo for the attacker to perform. The attacker would be able to select the next combo in the queue while performing the current combo. On the xbox controller, left and right bumpers would toggle the next combo.

In order for the defender to defend against the combo, they would have to follow along with the combo, pressing the same buttons.

A number of attributes would effect how each player needs to respond to the combo.
- A character's strength would effect how many buttons would need to be pressed for each strike. Eg if a strong attacker is attacking a weak defender, the weak defender would have to hit two buttons for every one of the attackers.
- A character's speed would effect how far apart each strike is. Eg a slow defender would have less time to react to a fast strike.
- A character's precision would effect how accurate the player has to be when hitting buttons. Eg a precise character is allowed more space to hit a button successfully.

These attributes are also effected by weapons, skill level and the individual combo. An example of this would be a slow character using daggers and a combo called flurry of blows would have to hit lots of buttons quickly, but a fast character would have an easier time of things.

When a combo is completed, or at key points through the combo, bonuses are applied that help the character or hinder their opponant, or provide additional world effects. Completing combos will ususually reward the attacker by depleting the defender's stamina (which is used as health is in most rpg's) but may not in the case of more strategic combos.

If a defender is successful at defending against strikes for long enough, then they become the attacker and the attacker becomes the defender.
Combat will continue until a character has run out of stamina, or run away.

Thanks for reading. Any comments, questions or suggestions would be more than welcome.

[Edited by - MossStone on July 16, 2010 9:47:08 AM]

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Is the context PvP only or is it also PvE?

Do you mean instead of looking at characters in different stances and movements, the player will need to concentrate on a table with scrolling buttons?

I think you lose a lot of interesting things about combat when you do it like this, such as anticipation, distance, movement, and fighting style. The one thing that you definitely gain, is to replace the symbols of combat by scrolling buttons. This allows those that normally don't understand the symbols of combat to play the game.

Your game would have appeal to an audience who would prefer to look at scrolling buttons than animated characters that are fighting. In Dance Dance Revolution, you look at the scrolling arrows, but you are listening to the music also. In fighting, the main cues are visual cues. So there is a conflict.

Have you thought about how to map distance, movement, and style into the game? For example, you described that when a strong character attacks, the weak character can only block by pressing more buttons. But what if the weak character is faster? Shouldn't he be able to just dodge the attack? Why does the defender need to counter in the advantage of the attacker? How do you (or do you intent to) implement multiple styles to deal with an attack?

I have played such game mechanics in some Gameboy games (Dragon Ball Z). There are arrow buttons and you need to follow the pattern of the attacker to evade or block. In that game, evasion is the preferred mode. So if you complete the sequence perfectly, and your character is faster than the attacker you evade the attack. If you complete but your character is slower, you block the attack.

The two characters do not just alternate in roles. The game is turn-based, but there is a time counter. Each time you choose a move, the game calculates how long that move takes and whether you still have time to do another move. So a fast character can attack more frequently.

Because the game is turn based (and because it is Gameboy in 1990s), when an attacker attacks, all you see is the image of the attack, that image stays for a second so that you can see it, then the arrows start flashing. When the arrows are flashing, the attack image doesn't change, so that you don't miss anything looking at the arrows. Once the button pressing is done, the game shows another still image showing the effect (whether your character has evaded, blocked, or got hit).

Attacks that are harding to deal with has longer and faster sequence of arrows.

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Sounds very interesting. I think this system could be made to feel very organic and fluid if combined with strong visual (or aural) cues.

Makes sense, too: strength, precision and agility all play a role without any single one significantly overpowering the rest.

Quote:
 Have you thought about how to map distance, movement, and style into the game? For example, you described that when a strong character attacks, the weak character can only block by pressing more buttons. But what if the weak character is faster? Shouldn't he be able to just dodge the attack? Why does the defender need to counter in the advantage of the attacker? How do you (or do you intent to) implement multiple styles to deal with an attack?

If I understand the OP correctly, a fast but weak defender will have more time to react compared to a slow but strong defender: the first one might have to hit two buttons within, say, 0.5sec (e.g. forward and high-block) while the second one would have to hit a single button (e.g. high-block) in, say, 0.3sec.

It all balances out in the end, at least with careful tuning and lots of playtesting.

Definitely interesting!

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It seems that as the player grows more skilled, the input system becomes more forgiving. You would need to keep the challenge of the opponents growing at a rate higher than the player can upgrade their character so that the game grows more challenging, not less.

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Quote:
 Original post by DeyjaIt seems that as the player grows more skilled, the input system becomes more forgiving. You would need to keep the challenge of the opponents growing at a rate higher than the player can upgrade their character so that the game grows more challenging, not less.

That can be fixed by adding more complex and powerful combos as the game advances. This more complex combos could also have less time to hit buttons, so you need to increase your accuracy.

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Quote:
 Original post by WaiIs the context PvP only or is it also PvE?

One of my goals for designing this mechanic is to have it be both.
Quote:
 Original post by WaiDo you mean instead of looking at characters in different stances and movements, the player will need to concentrate on a table with scrolling buttons?

The demo I'm putting together will be scrolling buttons, but this is definitely an area that needs work. My hope is to integrate the board into the game world. One idea is to have it so that the button presses correspond to limb locations during the move animation, however that idea isn't very fleshed out yet.
Quote:
 Original post by WaiHave you thought about how to map distance, movement, and style into the game?

Certain combos would require button presses for movement, or may force the defender to move to defend against them. Movement will be based on set distance steps. A combo may also have a range, where using it is easier or harder.

As for style, Fiddler has it right, that is how I intended it to be.
Quote:
 Original post by WaiFor example, you described that when a strong character attacks, the weak character can only block by pressing more buttons. But what if the weak character is faster? Shouldn't he be able to just dodge the attack? Why does the defender need to counter in the advantage of the attacker? How do you (or do you intent to) implement multiple styles to deal with an attack?

Successfully defending against a combo is a series of dodges, blocks and parries. It's assumed that the defender will always do what they need to do to avoid getting hit.

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Re:

I think that since your buttons are assigned with meaning, you could use the scrolling buttons just to train the player to read the symbols of combat.

During a training session, you can show the player what and when he needs to press the button to react against an attack in the style that the character has been trained so far. So that during an actual fight, the player is expected to read the movement of the opponent directly, or remember the sequence based on the name of the combo.

As for style, I meant that for the same characer, the player should have several ways to deal with an attack. But this is not really necessary since if you look at the normal RPG there is no option to choose whether the character will get hit, block, dodge, or counter--the game decides that based on the character's skills.

Suggestion:

I think the sequence of the defender should be based on the current attack and the defender's intended attack for his round, and his current stance. So if the defender's next attack requires him to be positioned at a certain point, he will have to press more buttons during the current round to position himself for the attack. If the player can't get into position for the attack to start, the combo will not start.

So if one character is using a long weapon and the other is using a short weapon, the shorter one has to do more just to get into range to position for an attack. But once that happens, the longer one has to do more to get back his distance for his attack. The intended next move will determine whether the character will block, parry or dodge. So if the next combo requires more distance than the current distance, the defensive move is a dodge.

So the game not only make the character do what it needs to avoid getting hit, but also to setup for the next move.

Q:

When a combo is active, both the attacker and the defender are pressing button sequences demanded by the game. The attacker is doing so to sustain the attack, and the defender is do it to sustain the defend. While doing so, the both players are also selecting their next move. If the defender messes up, the defender gets hit. If the attacker messes up does the game flips the roles?

[Edited by - Wai on July 17, 2010 1:40:14 PM]

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Quote:
 Original post by WaiSo that during an actual fight, the player is expected to read the movement of the opponent directly, or remember the sequence based on the name of the combo.

That's the hope, but to really see if that would work the player would have to be able to get queues from the animation and that's out of scope for the prototype I'm putting together. The inspiration for this actually comes from Assassin's Creed and Batman: Arkum Asylum. However I really doubt I could come up with animation that good :)
Quote:
 Original post by WaiI think the sequence of the defender should be based on the current attack and the defender's intended attack for his round, and his current stance. So if the defender's next attack requires him to be positioned at a certain point, he will have to press more buttons during the current round to position himself for the attack. If the player can't get into position for the attack to start, the combo will not start.

I really like that idea. I'm a bit wary of movement as I don't really want for combat to stop and start as people move in and out of range. But the idea of preparing for the counter by using movement sounds quite nice. Thanks :)
Quote:
 Original post by WaiWhen a combo is active, both the attacker and the defender are pressing button sequences demanded by the game. The attacker is doing so to sustain the attack, and the defender is do it to sustain the defend. While doing so, the both players are also selecting their next move. If the defender messes up, the defender gets hit. If the attacker messes up does the game flips the roles?

Pretty much, yes. If the attacker messes up then he leaves an "opening" and the defender then has a chance to capitalize on that before taking over as the attacker. However I don't think that an attacker should be able to keep an attack going forever if they're doing simple attacks and the defender is defending against them. There will be a timer for how long the attacker can attack for. Successful attacks will merely slow down the timer.

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To be honest,i dont like the parts that rhythm-based combats are used in many games.For instance,Fahrenheit was a nice game ,but its "action sequences" or so called mini games, just freaked me out in every possible way.so imagining a whole game of pure fahrenheit style "action sequences" ,is really hard for me. Of course,its just my opinion.

Anyhow,i continue as if i liked this kind of game.I think this part that you mentioned is really hard to execute:

"A character's precision would effect how accurate the player has to be when hitting buttons. Eg a precise character is allowed more space to hit a button successfully"

Because if you make one mistake,since the whole game is based on this press-button system,the losing player may feel tricked and cheated on.

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 Original post by kasra5004Because if you make one mistake,since the whole game is based on this press-button system,the losing player may feel tricked and cheated on.

I see where you're coming from, but I hope to make it feel more fair than a simple QTE. For a start, the player won't instantly lose if they make a single mistake. If a low level character is facing off against a high level character, they will probably be presented with something that looks impossible to follow (Think "Dragonforce" from Guitar Hero) but this should be sign posted before time (Red conning in MMO's for example).

The idea is to make difficult combat make the player feel "That was really hard" rather than "The stupid game tricked me". Which in my opinion is mostly about how things are presented.

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It sounds like a combination of Bust a Move (the dancing game) with Zell's limit break move (in FF8). Your able to enter which combo you like, the harder the harder the hit.

I suggest looking in the Bust a Move game, they have a 4 secs beat so in < 4 secs you have to input all the moves then press the final button on queue on the 4th forth, you can translate some of them into attacks, where the opponent has the block in the next window (4th sec).

I feel your current system will default someone to being the attacker and one being the defender, making it feel like your one or the other, would rather design it so its smoother like a fighter game or with your current system?

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Quote:
 Original post by HoywolfI suggest looking in the Bust a Move game, they have a 4 secs beat so in < 4 secs you have to input all the moves then press the final button on queue on the 4th forth, you can translate some of them into attacks, where the opponent has the block in the next window (4th sec).

I tried that to begin with, but it didn't quite feel right. It placed a lot more focus on remembering the moves and pressing buttons quickly rather than just following along and getting the timing right. Thanks for pointing me at Bust a Move/Groove, it's very useful to see lots of other games that do similar things.
Quote:
 Original post by HoywolfI feel your current system will default someone to being the attacker and one being the defender, making it feel like your one or the other, would rather design it so its smoother like a fighter game or with your current system?

Having one person the attacker and the other as the defender is entirely intentional. I'm hoping that I can make the transition from attacking to defending and vice versa feel as smooth as possible.