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hapaboy

A new type of RPG battle system...what do you guys think?

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Hello all, Ive been thinking for what seems like forever on how to add strategy to a RPG battle. Up until now, strategy in real time RPG combat has consisted of either finding a monster''s weak point (usually elemental) and continuously using the same attack to take advantage of it, or finding the most efficient techniques that are repeated in just about every battle. I dont like either. I do have an idea that Im thinking about incorporating into my mmorpg design. Before I do use it, I would like to get some opinions from other designers. Please tell me what you like and what you dont like about it, not just that you like or dont like it. I want to improve it if need be or if it will not work properly, I may not want to use it at all. Hapaboy''s new real time RPG combat: To bring about strategy in combat, a player must be able to determine weak points and use them to his or her advantage. Unlike the usual notion of opponents having a single weak point (e.g. weak against fire). A player should be able to see numerous weak points arise and disappear in the course of a single battle. The problem is that most real time battles occur at too great a speed for a player to quickly ascertain weak points and strike at them. A creature may swing blindly at a fighter, exposing its underbelly, yet, the player will have no time to react to this strategic opportunity. What I am pondering, is a slowed battle system. This will not occur at every battle but will occur in epic battles such as PvP battles in mmorpg or a battle against a mob boss. The player will then be able to strike at diffeent multiple parts of an opponent''s body simply by clicking on the appropriate part either on the enemy itself or a diagram of that enemies'' different parts. Different attacks would have their advantages and disadvantages. Character skills would also have much to do with it. An opponent would swing at you and a check against your dodge skill would be made, if you dodge, you succesfully sidestep your opponent and have a clear shot at his head. If you choose to strike at its head, you gain an attack and dmg bonus. Different type of attacks would create different openings. An opponent could use those oppenings to his or her advantage to do more dmg or could simply continue to fight blindly ignoring strategy. The battle will not be too slow as to make it too easy. Keep in mind, this will only occur on bosses or other players so not every battle is a slow motion slugfest. Ok thats the jist of it, it will probably become more complicated as it evolves. Thanks all for replying =) alohaz The poetry of silence is what my parents read to me, perhaps the greatest verse, for it does not bias the mind----me =)

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Sounds to me like you want to make it harder for people to play the game. Being a mmorpg this should be so, for a regular rpg, i wouldnt recommend doing this because the story should be why you play. However, I warn you to be careful. This could make the game very difficult if you don''t balance it somehow. If for some rare chance you attack and miss, and then i counter and hit, do you get penalties AND I get bonuses? If this does happen, then they better be small on both sides, or just one sided only. I''ve made a system like this before and a more powerful character walks through weaker characters, like they should sometimes, but other times it became unbalanced. If you wanted other suggestions, then ask

"Practice means good, Perfect Practice means Perfect"

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sounds a lot better that what i''ve seen in a lot of games lately... i like it...
i like the idea of weak spots changing during the battle... such as when the enemy winds up to give a devastating blow, his belly is open for an easy hit with extra damage, but only for a moment (until he smashes you up)...
in fact, if you can, you should make it so any attack that connects during the small time between when the enemy begins to attack and when the attack actually hits you, should do extra damage and cancel/weaken the attack... it goes both ways of course...
if you include some sort of parrying and/or blocking with a shield or weapon, a counterattack (struck directly after blocking/parrying) should get bonuses also...
the body area should give the best bonuses for hits, since it is biggest and in the center... the head should do a lot of damage, but be hard to hit (as it is small, and everyone has a reflex to protect their face)...
if it is not too much for you to bother with, you should allow cutting off body parts (arms, legs, etc) which are then missing permanently (unless an extremely powerful magic spell or something is used to fix it; ooh, you could also have prosthetic limbs (boy, if my hand was eaten by a Zorn i would want a sword+2 permanently atached to my stump)...
how does magic factor into this though? i mean, that can''t really change (as far as what i imagine to be the "standards", although i know there is no such thing). An ice beast of some sort will be hurt by fire no matter what... you could include spells that protect from certain other spells, or all spells (or even armor/amulets/potions/etc to do the same), for example "Protect From Flames" which lasts for some of the battle, thereby un-doing the weak-spot at least for a while...
what sort of graphical interface are you going to use? is it 2D, isometric, 3D? or more importantly, how is the player going to control their character? picking a target area from a diagram isn''t exactly conducive to real-time (although i suppose you could work out some way for it to work; i just can''t think of a way offhand)... clicking on the actual enemy might be good, depending on the view; but then it wouldn''t be exact, as the enemy will be moving and the player might "mis-click"...
i dunno... if i think of anything else i will post again... but i think your idea is a very good one...

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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quote:
Original post by KingRuss
Sounds to me like you want to make it harder for people to play the game. Being a mmorpg this should be so, for a regular rpg, i wouldnt recommend doing this because the story should be why you play.

i must disagree, it the game more interesting and more of a challenge... the story is important, but it doesn''t matter if the actual gameplay is boring and repetitive.
quote:
This could make the game very difficult if you don''t balance it somehow. If for some rare chance you attack and miss, and then i counter and hit, do you get penalties AND I get bonuses? If this does happen, then they better be small on both sides, or just one sided only.

think of a real fight with swords and axes and such... the biggerst baddest toughguy in the world could lose to a total wuss, if he missed a stroke and overextended, thus exposing his side and belly to a axe-chop. generally this proposed system will balance the same as if it was totally stat-based, but it allows truly "exceptional hits" made by the player, not just a high dice roll.
quote:
I''ve made a system like this before and a more powerful character walks through weaker characters, like they should sometimes, but other times it became unbalanced.

how bad was this imbalance? how often did it happen? i mean, maybe you were not happy with it, but was it really so bad as to make the system no good at all? i''m not being an a$$, i mean no disrespect. i really want to know.

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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I give you a lot of credit for trying to breathe new life into the new battle system. I was playing Chrono Trigger the other day and level building my characters. After about 2 hours, my roommate made the comment, "Are you still battling those eggplants?" (he was refering to the Nu, if you''ve played the game) At this point I realized how mindnumbed I had become, and I turned it off.

There definitely is a need for a more exciting battle system, or one that requires a little more thought than "Fight, Magic, Fight, Monster defeated".

If you are gonna screw around with it, I recommend that you pick up two games: Kartia and Grandia. Both are for the Playstation, but they offer two really cool battle systems.

Kartia leaves you in command of a whole army of monsters and soldiers. Battles take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours. Now the catch to this route is that just about the whole game and story takes place in the battles. I think it''s supposed to be a lot like Ogre Battle for SNES and the Ogre Battle that came out for Playstation, but I can''t tell you for sure, because I haven''t played them.

Grandia doesn''t have a radically new battle system, it just breathes new life into the old one. Battles usually take a lot longer than those of maybe Bauldar''s Gate and Final Fantasy, but not that much longer, and it''s a lot more entertaining. Characters move all around the screen slashing and hacking after you make your selection, rather than the "My party is all on the right, the bad guys are all on the left" type battle system.

There definitely is a great need for a really cool new battle system. I think that the battle system is almost, if not just as, important as the story because you spend so much time throughout the game using it. If it is bland and repetitive, players will think your game is bland and unrepetitive as well.

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I think that what silvermyst said is very applicable, so a slowed down combat system would not be easy to implement for an MMORPG. I like the idea and I should direct you towards Squaresoft''s Vagrant Story for combat based on target areas, even though there is no attack interuption.

Work this idea, I think it depends more upon the effectiveness of the implementation as a useable interface than it does on the actual concept, because your trying to feed a lot of information to the player and still make it useable. Consider raising the strategy to a type of positional strategy instead (think RTS) so fighting on a staircase in a castle would give you the opportunity to try to get high ground, you might try to flank your opponents (with more than one character) and have one player take blows from the front and others weaken him from behind.


- God created the world in seven days? I think I can one-up him!

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''Nother quick note:

One way to somewhat implement a slowed-down combat is to use the motion-armor that is used in the Dune series. This is armor that was designed to guard the user from any missile (read: guns etc).
The only flaw is that a slow object can penetrate it. You''d have to slowly slide in a dagger or something to penetrate it.

A suit somewhat like this might make for slowed-down melee combat. Make the suit heavy, which would limit the movement of the wearer.

Two fighters in suits like this would make for an interesting duel.

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As for strategy...

That doesn''t start during the fight.

To me, strategy starts long before a fight ever takes place.

What moves do you practice? What weapon do you use? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What armor do you wear? When do you decide to attack or run?

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the combat systems of all the current mmorpgs need improvement in my opinion.

i defeinately think the first person/team to incorporate a vastly superior combat engine will sell their game in a big way...if all the other aspects of the game are of a high quality also of course.

it would need to be done extremely carefully so that things do remain balanced, but for me personally it is just plain boring to fight a creature by repeatedly hitting the attack button or mouse click..etc....or even worse - commanding your character to attack and just watching.

all of the traditional combat ''rules'' seem to emulate misses vs hits and variated damage in only very basic ways. if your wearing big bulky armour (and have a low AC) you generally have a reduced chance to be hit, whereas this should be the opposite and hits to the armour should instead just be greatly reduced in effectiveness, thus a heavily suited character''s weakest point becomes the head and legs for example. bulky equipment like plate mail should reduce a characters agilty and make him/her easier to be struck. striking diferent parts of the body should be the ''manual'' measure of how much damage is done, rather than the target being plainly struck in no specific way and the damage being generated randomly. in a perfect 3d combat engine the user should be able to manually make any of the character''s available moves...such as lunges, sidesteps, blocks, slashes, quick jabs..etc...but there should maybe be a setting for the character to be in auto rephlex and auto combat mode aswell (so things dont become TOO tedious if the user feels like concentrating on other things than manual combat...so weak little bunnies which would otherwise be be slowly killing the character will be dispatched automatically). the automation would run at a slightly lesser speed than what would be available manually, so that applying strategy and manually fighting would allways be the most effective way to defeat anything (assuming the user isn''t drunk or really stupid).
when a character lunges, they should be tempuarily "off balance", disabling any available dodge moves and impairing agility for a brief moment. skill and weapon proficiancy would still play a big part in a characters combat ability but the user should be able to pick and choose in as much detail as possible their real time hand to hand combat strategy...to be able to aim at the head of a character wearing platemail, or to step out of the way of an incoming pole-arm lunge. the result would be something resembling tekken with weapons meets neverwinter nights, and would be an extremely cool game in my opinion...and one that i would certainly go out and buy.

what i wrote off the top of my head here was just a small part of the huge amount of detail a developement team could put into their game''s combat. i wrote a more in depth list recently when i started thinking about an idea for a new mmorpg that was basically based on a superior 3d combat engine. i see it as a big oppertnity to attract a lot of interest, and i hope some one if not allready working on similar things will steal my ideas and make them into a cool game soon.

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Its nice that your thinking about something more interactive for combat in MMRPG''s! However, i think the "slowing down" of only some characters would be a headache to implement.

Such things as RANGED WEAPONS, SPELLS, SPELL EFFECTS, etc all can really screw up your system. And what of the players witnessing a battle? What if they see 2 going at it and are in slow-motion battle and because the battle is going so slow, they can just sit around and wait for the perfect time to join in(if that is even possible) and deal a deadly blow.

You have to consider WHY these MMRPG''s use what you consider "simple" battle systems:

Are they simple to allow for friendly user-interface?

Do they make combat so that more agile hands (14 year olds) cannot perform better then adults?

Does internet connections to the game have something to do with why they design combat like they do (i dont know the answer to this)?

well, thats my 2 cents worth, hope you get the point and good luck, im right there with ya thinking about combat in MMRPGs too!!

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Just came across a brilliant action-based combat system...

or at least it would be brilliant if they rounded it off, but anyway, check out Silver, published by Infogrames

I really like this combat system, it''s got a nice feel to it. But it wouldn''t do for a MMORPG.

GalaxyQuest, communication speed is a very large part of the problems that have to be dealt with in considering designs for MMORPGs, because it''s hard to synchronize four thousand players. To get around it they have to keep the packet sizes extremely small so that there is a greater chance of getting through to the server. That''s just about the whole reason they keep combat systems simple, except that usually they aren''t that simple anyways, the servers often run quite complicated combat algorithms that consider positions of mobs with relation to one-and-other, armour and weapon types and materials, and then the actual damage value is fed back to the player.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Sounds like Mike Tysons'' Punch Out for the NES.

Seriously. The enemies have different attacks and usually right before they attack they signal it in some way and if you hit them at the right place at the right time you do a lot of damage.

My concern would be using the mouse in a real-time fight. Punch-Out ran quickly but using the controller you cold very quickly react and there were only two places you hit, head and body. (A lot of it was timing, not just placement)

Making people click on an enemy as they are fighting it might be annoying and too reflex based. But having them click on an image of different locations off to the side is removing them from the actual combat; you fight enemies, not body-part representations. That would be my primary concern, the actual interface for targeting.

What would really be nice would be if you could just move your character around and choose some different types of attacks, and aim yourself rather than clicking, but I suppose that is more suitable for a console and controller setup.

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Thanks all for the feedback everyone! =)

I do have some more things Id like everyone to consider. To implement the above battle system in an mmorpg may cause problems but hear me out....

Ive thought of a couple way that may work:

When a player enters battle with mob boss or another player, battle slows down in only their view. Say I was a passerby and I looked at the other player fighting the Mob, I would see them as fighting in real time. What I would see would not be a perfect representation of what is going on but will be a computer generated fightscene in real time. Now if, as a passerby, I decided to enter combat to help the other player or to attack the other player, the second that I press the attack button, or another button that will include me in the action, I also enter the slowed down combat mode. Yet to all outsiders, the other player, I, and the mob look as if we are all fighting in real time.

That will take care of the discrepencies in time between onlookers and combaters. Other problems probably exist with this, but Ill probably look into them. Please let me know if you see one.


Now I am planning on implementing special moves, a typical combat scene will be a mix of certain moves, all with weak points attached to them. A kick may leave its user open for a sweep attack. To better visualize this, imagine a fighting game such as Tekken, seen through first person or third person, and at a slowed rate of time. Defensive and offensive moves will be available, as a player gains skill in combat, he or she learns new combat moves that allow him to take advantage of other move's weakeness. Now I havent decided exactly how this will work with the targetting system, but I hope that gives everyone an idea of what Im thinking, either that or sticking with the simple targetting system that I first described.

Any comments? Ill check back when I finish work.

Alohaz all =)

The poetry of silence is what
my parents read to me,
perhaps the greatest verse,
for it does not bias the mind----Hapaboy =)






Edited by - hapaboy on October 17, 2001 2:50:54 AM

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Grandia 2 (Dreamcast) Battle system rules

It''s really great, you should try it to see how it works, it''s unfair to describe it since it''s very different when you play the game.

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-

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If you switched to a tekken style combat view you would not need to slow the game down. In a real life combat situation the effect of adrenaline on the brain causes it to interpret time as moving more slowly. The trick is to encourage the player to become so immersed in the game that this response is triggered in their mind. You cannot slow time differentially for multiplayer games, or you would get the same problems as you get with lag. You ever played counterstrike with a slow modem?
In tekken and similar games, even an adequate player can spot weakneses forming and exploit them. It''s a great idea though, and games certainly need better combat. You could also try an improved version of the creature combat in black and white - this was good, but slow to respond. Speed up, not down.


Olly

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Hello all, back from work :D

About my earlier comparison with tekken. I think a better explanation would clear it up. I dont want it to be just like tekken where you punch, kick, ect.. I dont want a person''s reflexes to be a determining factor, I want a person''s tactics to decide a battle. That is why I want to slow down combat a bit. The reason I used Tekken is because I want to give an idea of how battles would look like. I dont want those, slash, slash, slash, slash type of battles with the same animation occuring over and over again. I want it to look great. Wouldnt you have more pride for your char after you see him duck under a slash and thrust at his enemy''s belly? That effect is what I want.

In mmorpgs, I believe it is possible to slow time by giving all onlookers the "illusion" that you are still fighting in real time. I guess the combatants will have to live with seeing everything else moving faster unless I can figure out a way to do this. I was thinking of a partial blur on the surroundings, not too much as to prevent a player from seing incoming enemies.

As for the battle tactics this is a brief of what I have been thinking about:

Example of a fight sequence:
Characters will wear all types of armor. Individual parts will require their own armor. Now, say my fighter is about to enter combat against another warrior, after looking over his armor (which is evident just by looking at him), I notice that his right leg is lightly armored. I think to myself, " I must lead him to expose that right leg where I can do a lot of dmg." So I decide to lead him into exposing his leg by attacking with a move that exposes my left arm. After doing so, he notices my exposed left arm and stabs it, leaving his right leg open for a very damaging attack. After seeing this, my enemy decides not to use any moves that may expose his right leg. I try to lead him by exposing my left arm, but this time he slashes downwards at it which instead exposes his well armored head.

The above example could work with relative levels of armor instead of absolute levels as well. For example, if my enemy manages to keep his right leg well guarded, I may instead try to lead him into exposing his torso which may be the next worst armored area. Yet if by trying to do so I expose a part of my body that is even worst armored...ect..

Umm, this is getting a bit complicated...=P

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I''m going to let this be known right now, when playing MMORPGs there can be a ping of as much as 2 seconds at a time on a 56k connection, 2 seconds is WAY WAY WAY too long to send a message to the server telling it that you want to swing a sword and then have the sever tell everyone else. WAY too long. Could you imagine how long the combat would be if only the quickest movements such as a parry with a dagger happened in less than 2 seconds? The time required to swing a poleaxe could be up to 10 seconds! how would you animate something like that? I could engage in combat and order a pizza for dinner AND eat the thing before anyone draws first blood.

~Vendayan

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Vendayan has a point you know, and I''m goin to second his motion that there is no way to implement your design on an MMORPG. What''s more, I like pizza...

I''m going to bump up the idea of positional strategy again. Grandia II has a nice combat system and all, but it would have benefitted from some positional control from the player. Before anyone agrees with me and starts flaming MMORPGs for not having this sort of thing, let me say that they do. What''s more, players take advantage of it. Thieves will try to move around to the back of a large mob to backstab it while it concentrates on the bad-ass fighter of the group. That''s strategy, and it''s a start at something bigger, I guess as designers we might get carried away by all the great stuff that we can do, it''s how we limit ourselves to the medium that makes us ''Good'' designers. Knowing which elements will suffice.


- God created the world in seven days? I think I can one-up him!

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I am not exactly sure what vendalaya is saying...my interpretation is that its "not feasable to do with todays technology" i guess.

Anyways, I really have to say that I heard your point hapaboy and i dont really think you are listening to what your saying.

quote:
from hapaboy
When a player enters battle with mob boss or another player, battle slows down in only their view. Say I was a passerby and I looked at the other player fighting the Mob, I would see them as fighting in real time.


Question:
What the? How do you expect other players playing the game in **REALTIME** to be able to view a combat scene in REALTIME if that fight is taking place in slow motion? Mind you, this is a multiplayer "realtime" game you are "designing".

Answer:
For a multiplayer realtime game, you cant, unless you do some real voodoo with the players in the world. Such as teleporting them to some arena. Of course, this may sound cool but really makes no sense for games where groups can attack groups.

I just dont think your listening to some of what others are saying about how multiplayer games work...sorry.

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Guest Anonymous Poster

I am listening to what you guys are saying, in fact, I kinda gave up on the idea after vendayan''s point. I must admit that I dont know much about the technical side but I ll try to explain further on what I meant before:

What I was saying is that once you enter slowed battle, you computer will recognize that you are in slowed mode. What this will do is make your real character disappear and replace it with a representation of that character fighting in realtime. This is what will be sent to other comps. It wont actually be doing exactly what your doing. It will just be there for show. Now again, Im not very technical and I dont know if there is a big problem with doing something like this but it doesnt seem impossible.

Well Im actually glad I posted first before going on with this, it would have been disheartening to continue with the design only to find out later.
Thanks for the feedback everyone =)

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
What I was saying is that once you enter slowed battle, you computer will recognize that you are in slowed mode. What this will do is make your real character disappear and replace it with a representation of that character fighting in realtime. This is what will be sent to other comps. It wont actually be doing exactly what your doing. It will just be there for show.

so basically the non-battling players will just see an generic icon or something of the other people fighting... then if they get real close they too will be in the slow-motion combat thing, and everyone else will see three icons of the three characters fighting...
i still think this can be done if you are careful...

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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