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Bullet-Time to Sword-Time

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I''d like some thoughts and feedback on another combat system. A colleague asked me how I would port the Max Payne bullet-time system into a close-combat based game... pay close attention Oh, and if you do reply, I''ll be most thankful to those of you who can give me better ways to do things. Don''t bother telling me how crap my idea is, if that''s all you have to say, I''ll just ignore you. To begin with, I will Not call it sword-time, that is no more than a convenient name that explains my intent, consider it a temporary solution. Sword-Time - Design v0.5 Taking for granted that the game setting will be based around the use of hand-held weapons (or lack thereof). Upon entering combat, the Player Character (PC) will be required to draw/ready his/her weapon of choice. For now, the combat system is based in part on an isometric view of combat, perhaps similar to that in Silver. The PC is controlled entirely with the mouse, generally, left-click implies action, and right-click implies movement. Outside of combat, the player must choose a weapon which the PC will use when entering combat. Also, the player may choose up to nine Moves and Combos which can be executed, each Move must be set to one of the keypad-numbers. The construction of Combos will be explained later. Upon entering combat Sword-Time is initiated. There is no limit to how long it will last, except in that when the PC sheaths his/her weapon, combat is over, and therefore sword-time stops. Sword-Time is a reduction of in-game time progression by a factor of two (a temporary figure that will most probably be changed, most likely the exact change in game speed will be dictated by each character''s inherent skill and speed). While Sword-Time is in effect, the player is still entirely in control of the PC''s actions, as follows: Before attempting to attack or take defensive measures, the player must home in on an opponent. To do so, the player has simply to left-click on an opponent. Note that pressing Keypad-Zero will unlock the PC from an opponent, making normal movement possible (still in Sword-Time until circumstances dictate an end to it). So right-clicking somewhere while un-locked will cause the PC to turn tail and run towards that location. Once homed in, A right click in on any position on-screen will cause the PC to dodge in that direction, while always facing the current homed target. Pressing Keypad-Enter will cause the PC to duck and remain low until released. Keypad-Plus will cause the PC to jump as an evasive maneuver. Tapping a Keypad number will execute the move that has been assigned to that key in the direction of the current target. Holding down the Keypad-Slash key puts the PC in guard mode. Pressing it interupts any move or combo being executed (within reason, so a jumping downward slash with a heavy sword will take some time to interupt in order to enter guard stance). While guarding, the player must click in a direction for the PC to perform a parry. Given some practice, a player should become aquainted with the precise timing required. A parry must fall into place near to the moment of contact of the attack being recieved. The more accurate the better the effects. Having an attack barely parried will not interupt a combo. A solid parry will not only interupt, but also knock the attacker off balance, and therefore render him/her incapable of coherent movement for a short time. A parried attack does no damage. If there is a suitable Move assigned to one of the keypad-numbers, the player can both click and press the particular number to perform a counter attack using that Move. Moves et al: Keypad 1-3 must always be Moves Keypad 4-6 can be either Combos or Moves Keypad 7-9 must always be Combos Moves: Are single offensive motions. A Move may strike the target more than once (particularly with certain weapons, like staves), but is simple on it''s own. All Moves can be executed coming out of jumps and from crouching positions, potentially generating extra powerful or useful effects (Certain Moves gain damage with jumps, and many Moves will knock over the target if executed while crouching). A series of Moves strung together as separate keystrokes can never be as fast as the same set of Moves grouped and executed as a Combo. Combos: Are sets of Moves that have been pre-grouped. While executing a Combo, the player may change targets during one Move to have the next be directed at the new target (if possible, there are always exceptions, which are left up to the nature of individual moves). If guard stance is activated, it will come into effect before the Move when keypad-slash was depressed. Certain Combo designs may gain damage bonuses due to amassed momentum between Moves, these are generally the kinds of combos that cannot be redirected to a new target. Combos are constructed under the action assignment sub-menu. They are essentially just lists of Moves to be executed together. For every two moves that are adjacent in the list, any of the following connectives may apply:
  • Momentous - damage gain for second move as a follow on to the first
  • Dependent - second Move (and rest of Combo) cannot be performed without successful landing of the first Move, this happens often with complicated kicking combinations
  • Degrading - first Move ends acting against the second Move, so there is a reduction in damage for the second Move
END All of this text is copyright 2001 George D. Filiotis, no stealing! Ok, I think that this is quite some overwhelming amount of information. Sorry to those of you who were turned of finishing reading my post because of it''s length. I humbly await your thoughts... George D. Filiotis Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

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Oh yea?

I propose a really awesome game IMPLEMENTING sword time!

Copyrighted (C) Sporty 2001-2002.

You may have your idea, but I control where it''s used, boy.

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I haven't quite read the whole thing but I intend to after this post.

So far it sounds great, but I have one question:

What about range? Can you lock on a target that is at x = 1000, y = 1000 when you are at 0,0? I mean, you could throw your sword/knife/dagger/etc, right? So you should be able to lock from a distance.

Also, do jumps and crouches count as "moves"?

If this is mentioned later in your post don't respond. Like I said, I haven't finished reading it.

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Edited by - Drizzt DoUrden on December 30, 2001 10:57:39 PM

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Um, shouldn''t the sword-time at least have some limiting factor? Or is this whole game based upon fighting slow-mo enemies? I mean Max Payne had some units you had to to have in order to enable and run bullet-time so the player didn''t use it during every single gunfight. Could you plop this into a gameplay setting for us to better understand how it''s used in an actual game?


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It sounds good. A gameplay example would be nice. I like the idea of pre-planning attacks like that, but why the slow-mo?

I wanna'' ride on the pope mobile.

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My thoughts on close combat sword-style...

I think slowing combat down will do two things:

a) it will allow for greater flexibilitiy. Combatants will have more time to react, therefor the fight will be more like a cat and mouse game than like hack and slash
b) remove the speed that makes swordfights so exhilirating

So, at the same time it adds and detracts from a realistic feel.

To balance this out, I''d propose the following:

Make the regular game speed slow enough for players to be able to really counter an opponent''s attacks and to really find holes in their defense. BUT set this default speed so that the player will never really have time to do anything else than hitting the right buttons, moving the mouse into position etc (whatever the interface works like).

Now, to include the sword-time, simply create a slower gameplay mode than the default one (which is slowed but still fast enough to leave the thrill). So, when the player has gathered enough sword-time he or she can activate it and gain a slight edge over their opponent. Perhaps the more slow-mo-time is available, the more time slows down when used.


How can we implement ranged weapons into sword-time?

When arrows are shot at the player, he can of course quickly activate his slow-mo-time and try to dodge the oncoming arrow (maybe he has enough slow-mo-time to even slow down time completely and snatch the arrow out of the air)

As for ranged attacks by the player, I think it''d be neat to have the player use the slow-mo-time to be able to focus on his target better. When using slow-mo-time during a ranged attack, the player could zoom in further, aim better etc.

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Sporty: Your relevance is incontinental.

Drizzt: You can lock on at range, if the target is on screen. I'm still not fully decided on how to implement ranged combat, the problem is that it almost falls out of context with this combat system, which is one of the reasons why I made this post.

Gaiiden: I'll try to give a gameplay example later this post, to answer your question: Sword-Time is indefinite, my reason for choosing to have it that way is partly a realization of my romantic vision of sword fights. I have engaged in practice sword fights with sticks in my Kung-Fu training, and despite what you may think, when you get in the zone , everything really does seem to slow. The other reason I've chosen this is that your enemies are in no way less capable fighters during Sword-Time, remember that Max Payne had a reduction to about 1/8 to 1/10 of normal time progression, I'm proposing between 1/2 to 1/4. This is because the combat system is inherently complex.

I suspect that even a very good player would have trouble seeing an enemy behind the PC going to land a sword strike, press guard in time to get ready, and then time a click in the direction of that assailant such that a successful parry is made, all in real time. This combat system is designed for having lots of people fighting. A little slow-down for clarification never hurt anyone

Hikeeba: I thought you'd like it. Slow-Motion is necessary to deal with the complexity of the controls (even though I'm sure an experienced player could play it smooth) and to deal with the amount of shit that may be going on on-screen.

SilverMyst: What you propose is treating combat at game speed? and then having the player use sword-time to gain an edge. You'll notice in my gameplay example, that sword-time does not give an advantage to the player. My position is that a limited reduction in the speed of events will enhance, as you said, the player's ability to respond to the situations that arise in combat, making it, as you said, less hack-and-slash.

I don't agree with you that sword fights are so exhilirating purely because of the speed with which they take place. Though, perhaps as a special feature, a full speed replay may be allowed. The complexity I'm trying to put into combat forces the player to deal with a complex system that could not feasibly be used at normal speed. What's more, my method may even be ported to a multiplayer setting, where individual sword-time events needn't be dealt with.

RolandofGilead: Thanks. In my current position, I am not able to dictate how realistic any engine may or may not be. However, when I do eventually complete my training in the art of programming, you can be sure that I will implement this combat system, and it will be accurate.

Before I give you my gameplay example, I must append one thing to the list of special characteristics that a chain can have:
Uninterruptable: no level of effective parry of the first attack will stop the second attack from happening (this is a characteristic of the simple attack combinations used in kendo sword-fighting).

Gameplay example

Player Setup:
1 Downward slash
2 anti-clockwise horizontal slash
3 clockwise Spinning horizontal slash
4 Lunge-Stab to stomach height
5 backstepping upward slash
6 clockwise 'gutter runner' (slash across the stomach)
7 Downward-Slash (?) Upward-Slash + Clockwise-Horizontal-Slash
8 Anticlockwise-Horizontal-Slash ! Spinning-Crouching-Anticlockwise-Horizontal-Slash (!) Spinning-Anticlockwise-Horizontal-Slash
9 Upward-Slash @ Jumping-Downward-Slash + Backstepping-Stab (%) Upward-Clockwise-Diagonal-Slash

+ means a basic connnection
() means a connection that cannot be redirected
! means a momentous connection
? means a dependent connection
+ means a degrading connection
% means an uninteruptable connection

PC walks into a Dojo, say 50x50 meters in size. Player quicksaves.

Three men stand at the far wall, the middle one shouts something, a threat.

The player double right-clicks in their direction, the PC begins to run towards them, they too, begin to advance towards the PC. When they are ten meters away, the player presses the magic button (let's say Keypad-Star for now) and the PC draw's his/her weapon and Sword-Time starts.

First the PC has not locked onto a target, and there is still some distance to the nearest opponent, but the player wishes to avoid fighting all three just yet. The player right clicks near the right side of the dojo, PC bgins to run in that direction.

The middle oppponent makes a lunge-stab with his sword and misses (the PC just changed directions). The player sees the opening made and clicks on the middle man, the player presses KP-1 amd the PC performs a downward-slash, hitting the middle guy as he regains his stance, killing him.

The guy on the right moves in close and begins a downward slash. The PC locks onto him, then R-clicks further to the right to dodge the attack. The PC then presses KP-2.

The target interupts his combo after the first strike doesn't hit, and then ducks the slash the PC made.

The player presses KP-Enter and KP-5 (Duck and backstep with an upwards slash), but the target parries successfully.

The third man closes in and makes a lunge, the player holds down KP-Slash and clicks on the third man, blocking his attack. the player locks onto the third man and dodges away from the second man just as a downward slash is attempted by the third man (successfully dodged).

The player presses KP-9 and hits the thrid man with the first attack, killing him. The player quickly clicks on the second man and switches the direction of the Combo.

The second man dodges the first attack and attempts a horizontal slash, but the PC moves out of range during the backstep of the stab. The PC then correctly realignes to the target and completes the final cut to kill him.

let me know if there are any points I have not illustrated.

Edit: HTML... did you know that tables cannot be used in these posts?

George D. Filiotis
Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

Edited by - Symphonic on January 1, 2002 3:37:13 AM

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That''s a bit like the real-time combat in the Zelda games on Nintendo 64, except slowed down to add more strategic elements instead of frenzied stabbing and slashing. Marvellous.

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I was having trouble picturing this before, but now I think this is beautiful. Particularly in isometric. You''ve got something good here.

Is this going to be an action game or more RPG-ish? I can see sowrd-time working well in either one.

I wanna'' ride on the pope mobile.

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