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Thaumaturge

Single Combat with the Sword: A Prototype (feedback requested)

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I've been working on a game mechanic that revolves around sword-combat, and have reached a point at which I feel that I could use an external perspective on it. To that end I have a basic prototype (a link to which should be at the end of this post), and would appreciate feedback on it.

(This is, by the way, the second version of this prototype; I posted an earlier version on other fora, and this incorporates some of the feedback that I received regarding that version.)

Regarding feedback, I'm interested in any impressions, but am primarily focussed on whether this game mechanic is worth pursuing further. I do have a few specific questions, but would appreciate it if anyone inclined to try the prototype read them after playing, simply to reduce any bias that they might introduce if they're in mind during play; to that end, I'm hiding them within a "spoiler" enclosure.

Feedback questions:
[spoiler]How intuitive did you find the control method?
Was the combat fun?
How challenging was it to beat the enemy character?[/spoiler]

Known issues:

  • Horrible, horrible graphics and sound. ^^;
  • A minor feature not mentioned in the instructions: press "=" and "-" on your keyboard to increase and decrease the game resolution, respectively.
  • If the game doesn't start up in full-screen mode, try one of the above resolution-change keys to force it into full-screen.
  • The mouse, although hidden, isn't constrained to the window; as a result I recommend sticking to full-screen mode, and even then the cursor may escape on multi-monitor setups.
  • It's possible to "dodge" out of the circular area in which the game starts.

The download is a Windows installer about 22MB in size. (It should work on both 7 and XP; I don't know about 8, I'm afraid.) The engine used is Panda3D.

You should be able to download the prototype via this link.

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im naturally atracted to swordfighting games so I gave this a try. and I liked it

it feels natural to move the sword with the mouse like that, and since this is a duel fight with the view locked at the enemy you don't have the typical problem of the genre (my own swordfighting game included) of needing the mouse for something else (rotating the view)

 

I found two flaws:

- attacking doesn't quite work as you described it. the instructions say 'swipe the mouse with the left mouse button held'. this would mean I need to click and hold, then drag. but that didn't quite feel like it because just by moving one pixel counts as a drag, and this sensitivity makes it impossible to get the attack the way I intend it to.

it felt more effective to move the mouse first, and mid-movement just click the mouse button

- you can spam attacks indiscriminately, and the game becomes extremely easy

 

was it fun? yes, it's a fresh take on swordfighting

how challenging was it? not that much after the first try. the collision detection is way too broad and generic (ie. at any angle will your sword block the enemy's) so it's really easy to turtle. not so easy to hit him, sure, but if you keep parrying eventually you get there (or if you spam attacks). I also felt we both had too much health points, but maybe that's just my own taste of a more 'life or death' scenario in swordfights.

 

 

now you mention this is a game mechanic, so this tells me this is only a small part of your game. if you have the time to improve it and add variety I'd say it's worth it.

 

btw it works in win8, but MS smartscreen filter didn't like the installer at all

Edited by Chosker

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I agreed with Chosker, 

Although you can swipe a mouse to move a sword once stabbed but miss.

I fee dodgel it isn't useful as parrying, and you will miss when dodge and attack most of time, maybe because of known issue. 

 

Also, if you intently miss an attack (stab left or right side) will make enemy stay in parry mode, and you can drag a sword into body for free hit.

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Thank you both for your feedback! happy.png

 

First of all, I'm glad that it seems to have promise!

 

I find it interesting to note that, across the various fora on which I've posted prototypes of this mechanic, the reported difficulty of the combat has varied significantly, with some people finding it easy and others finding it very difficult. I suspect that most of those who find it easy are--as seems to be the case with you two--discovering and exploiting the AI's weakness to spammed attacks.

 

 

- attacking doesn't quite work as you described it. the instructions say 'swipe the mouse with the left mouse button held'. this would mean I need to click and hold, then drag. but that didn't quite feel like it because just by moving one pixel counts as a drag, and this sensitivity makes it impossible to get the attack the way I intend it to.

it felt more effective to move the mouse first, and mid-movement just click the mouse button

 

Hmm... Funnily enough, I had originally placed a minimum length and speed threshold on drag detection, but feedback on the version that contained that indicated a sense of lag in the input, which I think that I ascribed in part to the delay incurred by those thresholds. However, I also had a visible mouse cursor, which may have been producing a bit of dissonance between the near-one-to-one response of that cursor and the slower, interpolated response of the character.

 

This calls for more thought and experimentation on my part, I think.

 

 

- you can spam attacks indiscriminately, and the game becomes extremely easy

Heh, yes, I've encountered this myself, I believe. I'm not yet quite sure of how best to handle this, but do have some avenues of investigation to pursue, I think.

 

(For one, I want to do some research into how an actual combatant might be advised to deal with so aggressive a foe; I might also slow the player down, enforcing a bit of a pause after an attack, making the player a little vulnerable if attacking without thought.)

 

 

the collision detection is way too broad and generic (ie. at any angle will your sword block the enemy's) so it's really easy to turtle.

I'm looking into that--the collision system is something that I built myself (in short, I wanted a system designed to handle high-speed collisions), but I'm having some trouble with reliably finding appropriate collision normals for "glancing parries"--that is, situations in which the striking sword glances off of the defending sword (as in a downward strike glancing off of a near-vertical defender's sword). I'm working on it.

 

 

I also felt we both had too much health points ...

I agree, actually; I'll likely reduce the health at some point. For now, it at least reduces the amount of time between restarts. I might implement automatic restarting for the next version of the prototype; if I do, I may well reduce the health, too.

 

 

now you mention this is a game mechanic, so this tells me this is only a small part of your game.

Well spotted! You are indeed correct: I intend for combat in this game to involve scattered, discrete encounters, rather than the more usual business of wading through mobs.

 

 

btw it works in win8, but MS smartscreen filter didn't like the installer at all

I'm glad that it works, at the least. happy.png

 

I don't use Windows 8, and so am not familiar with the "smartscreen filter"--how is it responding? Is it like the warning screen that Windows 7 produces, encouraging the user to install only if the file is from a trusted source?

 

 

I fee dodgel it isn't useful as parrying, ...

Hmm... I have ideas for enemies that would somewhat rely on the player being able to dodge. At the moment I agree--successfully dodging is trickier than parrying, and can be tricky to attack from--but for now I think that I'll leave it in.

 

 

... and you will miss when dodge and attack most of time, maybe because of known issue.

Heh, true--although I've found that with good timing it can be a way of getting in a hit without the AI managing to parry.

 

 

Also, if you intently miss an attack (stab left or right side) will make enemy stay in parry mode, and you can drag a sword into body for free hit.

Ooh, well spotted--I'll look into that, I believe.

Edited by Thaumaturge

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New version!

Again, feedback would be appreciated. happy.png

Changes:

  • Various alterations to the AI; it should hopefully provide a greater challenge now.
  • Improvements to the physics system; while still not perfect, it should be rather better than it was.
  • Increased the damage done by hits to the head or body.
    • It was suggested that I reduce the health of the characters. I chose instead to increase damage done in order that damage done to the head or torso be significantly more dangerous than to the arm: as it now stands (and if one were attacking just one type of body part), winning takes just three blows to the head, five to the torso and a full fifteen to the arm.
  • The mechanism that recognises slashes for attacks should be improved.
  • Miscellaneous other changes.

Between various of the above changes:

  • Turtling should no longer be as easy as it was.
  • Spamming attacks should no longer be as useful as it was.
  • A somewhat overpowered side-step-and-attack manoeuvre should no longer work.

Known issues:

  • The graphics and sounds remain horrible! biggrin.png
  • The full-screen bug remains. Again, use the in-game resolution-change controls to force fullscreen. (And again, I do strongly recommend playing in full-screen.)
  • There are still a few "cheap" ways to win, I think.
  • The mouse is still not constrained to the window.
  • It's till possible to manoeuvre out of the circle of visible floor.

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AARGH! I do apologise: it would seem that I've made a very silly mistake: the version posted above isn't the new version, but the same version originally posted, I believe. >_<;;;

In short, what seems to have happened was this: I use a separate directory for building the version that I'm going to post, allowing me to leave out files not relevant to the prototype, but which are in the main directory for other purposes (such as prototypes of other gameplay elements). When I went to build the new version, I simply forgot to copy over the new files, and so simply rebuilt the last version.

I'll hopefully post the actual new version a little later on...

On the plus side, the version that I intend to post tonight should have an options menu that allows one to set the mouse sensitivity.

I very much apologise. ^^;

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The sword fighting is a good idea and i played the updated version of your game mechanic and this is my take on it:

 

 

Feedback:

Way way too easy but i think you already mentioned that there are cheap ways to win.

 

You can deflect 90% of your opponents attacks by just moving your mouse around randomly and very rarely does the A.I manage to get you and combined with the movement you can simply move left and right and move the mouse around randomly and 90% of the time it blocks the attack. I think you should make parrying require a little more precision and timing so that its less ab useable. 

 

Attacking, despite it being reduced in this game still is spam able and works, the A.I blocks it a couple of time but it still is effective.

 

The A.I needs to be improved because if i position the sword in the middle then 90% of the A.I's attacks won't even touch me since all it does most of the time all the A.I does is swing left and right.

 

 

What needs to be improved:

- Parrying:  Should require a bit more precision and skill to execute.

- Attacking: Should require skill and should be successful if the enemy exposes themselves to the player by missing an attack or after a successful parry.

- A.I: Should punish you if you spam or have a different move set if the player is not doing anything to much and should be more difficult to beat.

- Movement: Shouldn't be as fast as it is and should be a bit slower.

 

 

What i like:

- The execution of the idea: The idea of making sword combat mouse based and swiping the mouse while holding the left mouse key feels very satisfying.

- The Responsiveness: The sword was very responsive and felt kind of real to me because of how responsive the controls felt.

 

 

Overall:

I truly think your idea and game mechanic has a lot of potential to have great combat. You need to just keep going and improving your game mechanic as you are now by asking for feedback and improving your game. I have say though you have done a great job so far even though there are some problems here and there. Whenever i am free i will help you by playing the game to bone. Good job and keep going smile.png

 

Edit: I didn't see the post so sorry for this post. Hope it helps.

Edited by Zero_Breaker

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The real new version!

The list of changes given above should still stand, with the addition that there is now a simple options screen on which you should be able to adjust the mouse sensitivity.


@Zero_Breaker:
Thank you very much! happy.png

I'm interested to know how you feel about this version--it should hopefully address some of the issues that you mentioned (including spamming attacks and the "universal parry").

There are still, I think, a few ways to exploit the AI or input mechanism--but I'll not yet mention what they are, I think: it might be helpful to know how easy they are to discover for people who don't know the innards of the AI and input mechanisms, and haven't been facing the AI as often as I have.

Edited by Thaumaturge

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Alright i managed to play the game to the bone fully. So here is what i thought about it.

 

Feedback:

 

This version is a good improvement over the other because you prevented the use moving around in one direction and spamming the slash which is you did very well by making the A.I move out of the way when that happened.

 

There's still a problem of spamming but its not as bad as before though, because if you spam and don't move most of the attacks are blocked by the A.I but at the same time the A.I sometimes doesn't dodge and tries to parry all of the moves which doesn't work as well and you can get a lot of hits in but as said before this happens around  approximately 40% of the time rather than all the time.

 

There's one exploit though, if i put my mouse in this position:

 

Combat_prototype.png

 

If i leave my mouse in this position all of the A.I's attacks can be blocked since it doesn't move or do anything else other than attack me vertically all the time.

 

What needs to be improved:

 

- A.I: Should punish you if you do the exploit above.

- Spam: Its not as much exploitable as before but is still effective.

 

 

Overall:

The improvements are good but there are still some things needed to fix.

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Ah, thank you for the feedback! happy.png

 

As to those two exploits, thank you for reporting them: I don't have solutions for them in mind yet (the "universal parry" that you noted above may be in part a physics issue), but have now made note of them as issues to work on.

Edited by Thaumaturge

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