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Combat System for First Person RPG

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Too many games out there have a very cliche and plain fighting system. With a limited variation of attacks (like three) or even just a single button which serves as every attack in the entire game, making battles between characters and creatures a simple question of who has more strength, and who can click faster.

Originally i was thinking of using an 8 directional combat sistem, using slashing attacks primarily, then elaborated on it with 8 directional blocking, parrying, feints, thrusts, and duel wielding, but im afraid that it wouldnt be very user friendly. And im havinmg trouble coming up with a way to simplify it, while keeping it difficult to master, and challenging.

In the game, fighting a goblin would be little challenge, as they lack combat skill, and could be decieved with a simple feint-thrust or equivalent maneuver, however fighting a skilled assassin would be a nearly impossible challenge to even a skilled gamer.

Additionally, I would like being hit to have more realism as well, so that if someone is wearing a helmet, and you hit them in the head with a sword, it does almmost nothing, but sliding a dagger between two plates of armor has a much better effect.

This poses an issue, ideally you would be able to swing your weapon in any direction you please (not just 8) and have to strategize your attacks based on how the enemy is fighting, and the type of armor they are wearing, while still being easy enough to use.

Any ideas on how to accomplish this?

P.s. Would you consider a combat system like this fun and challenging? youwould need to read your opponents attacks and respond quickly to survive.

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When you design a player skill based game, you need to consider the input devices first. It is like trying to paint with the mouse, which is near impossible, while using a tablet and pen makes it a very smooth experience.


There are two options: either you find a device which will enable your actions with ease or you will discover, why games uses only a few attack/defense actions.


Though there are a few games which explore the realm of interactive combat (oblivion with active blocking, Age of Conan with its combat thingy, The Witcher, TF2 Demoman rush attack etc.), most have only limited actions available.


I believe, that the basic rule of thumb is: "fast reaction time => less actions available", therefor a melee intensive combat, where you need to counter attacks, will lead to no counter action at all (think of oblivion, you block before you the opponent attacks !), as long as you don't target an absolute niche audience.


Would you consider a combat system like this fun and challenging?

No, it reminds me a lot of beat'em up, which I almost never

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i forgot to mention in the original post that when in combat or in a dangerous situation (ex: an arrow is about to wizz past your head) everything around the player for a radius (dependent on their "reflex" skill and perception skill) slows down, giving more time to react, and a cinematic feel, without making it feel unnatural. so should a new enemy run into the fray, they wont walk unnaturally slow, but when they get close enough to hit the player, they will slow to a reasonable speed.

i was thinking of the combat system in conan and/or wurm, which are similar, but not quite what im looking for, damage will be based on collisions, rather than in conan hitting the right key when a "shield" is down, or something similar, im looking for a way to balance out the extremes, not pick one or the other.

The biggest issue i have is dual weilding, because if you drag the mouse one way, its impossible to drag it the other way at the same time. so thats out of the picture. in Riddick: Butcher Bay, you could use different attacks based on the direction you were moving at the time, its similar for power attacks in skyrim, but its still just a little too short for my liking.

Edited by nullie

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The combat system from Mount & blade or chivalry could work quite well. Left mouse button attacks - the swing direction depends on the direction of the enemy from the center of the player's screen. Right mouse blocks, which uses the same directional system.


I was thinking of building this combat system into a first person fantasy rpg myself when I get around to starting it. 

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if you haven't already, you might want to check Mount & Blade and Chivalry Medieval Warfare. they both feature 1st and 3rd person combat (there's no difference between 1st and 3rd person in both games, they're both mouselook FPS-like), and on their own ways both have been designed to offer the player different attach choices that are both meaningful and strategic.

to save you up some time I'll explain a little.

(crap DaveMS beat me to it while I was typing)


Mount & Blade offers a 4-way attacking system. at any time when you move your mouse up/down/left/right it updates what will be the attack direction if you attack (along with a HUD indicator), so if you press LMB it will attack using 1 of the 4 attacks accordingly. left and right attacks are horizontal slashes, attacking down produces a vertical overhead attack and attacking up produces a forward thrust, though non-pointy weapons do an overhead when attacking up instead.

parrying in Mount & Blade has two settings: manual and automatic. hardcore players prefer the manual version in which to parry with another weapon you must select the direction (just like you do for attacking) and then press the defend button. the automatic setting makes you so that you just need to press the parry button without needing to select the attack and the character will direct the parry to the apropriate direction. both versions come with timers: there's a minimum time a parry move will take you, so you can get feinted into parrying to the wrong direction.

blocking with a shield is easier (you just need to press defend and face your enemy in enough a threshold) but shields in M&B have a low health, after which they get destroyed.


Chivalry offers 3 different attacking moves. LMB causes a horizontal slash, MWheelUp causes a forward thrust, MWheelDown causes an overhead slash.

parrying is activated with RMB and parries automatically adjust to the incoming attack type, but comes with both a minimum activation time and a maximum time you can hold the parry. the trick about parrying in Chivalry is that you must aim your parry towards where the attack is coming from.

blocking with a shield is easier, you're allowed to turtle without a maximum blocking time and shields last forever. however you still need to aim your shielding just like you need to aim parries.

Additionally Chivalry offers an unblockable kick move which knocks the enemy back, staggers him and lowers his defense.


also Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is a good example of how to add variety to a fighting system, but I played it so long ago I can't really remember why smile.png



so back to your own case, I believe your 'way to simplify it' goes through simplifying the way defending will work, else it definately won't be user friendly.

however you need to ask yourself what variety having 8 slashes and 8 thrusts would really add, and if each of those 8 would really be meaningful. playing a game of rock-scissors-paper with 8 options sounds like a pain, but making them all the same seems useless and confusing.


And like Ashaman stated, it will all change depending on your controls. and taking this one step further, since you say you're making a first-person game I'll assume you just want the typical mouselook FPS controls. so now your design problem lies in the control scheme: how you want the attacks to be input-activated.


you're also trying to make it more complex and realistic by adding situations like armors being effective in regular attacks but not through its holes. and yet again the control scheme comes back to bite your ass, how do you plan on having the player slide a dagger through a hole in the armor of a moving target?

making aiming in a melee FPS feel precise is hard because of one thing: as opposed to shooters where you usually get an instant shot at the point where you're aiming (except for grenades, rockets, etc), at a melee game when you press the button the guy only starts the attack animation and then it takes him some time before it actually lands on the enemy. it's like playing an FPS with insanely slow projectiles.

so with a standard aiming system, situations where the dagger actually goes through the hole and not just clash with the plates will happen very scarcely and will mostly be perceived like a random or lucky happening.

unless you script it, but that's a matter of what you want in terms of variety vs. control of attacks. ie. how much 'cinematic-like' and 'based on situations' attacks can be (in which the player inherently loses some control), or if attacks always are the same (in which the player has more control)




my own in-dev hobby game is something along the lines of M&B btw, so I can talk here with proof of concept smile.png

if you want you can check a [thread] I did some time ago where I asked/talked about my own combat system, basically in terms of variety vs. control of attacks, but also covering some in-depth mechanics (Ashaman was there too smile.png)

Edited by Chosker

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thanks thats quite helpful, and i agree that the 8-way rock paper sisors idea isnt all that great, which is why im tryin to think of alternatives that still require some amount of skill. im planning on implementing pvp combat at some point, so the slight slow-motion in combat is intended to balance out lag and give both parties an equal chance (assuming they're "equal" in game) i REALLY want the collision based armor system, i guess im just trying to find a way to make the ARMOR work in combat. im also planning on a sci-fi game which has a similar combat system, but rather being a shooter.

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