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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.

PS

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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OK...

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

Combos:
+ 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.
END

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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Game sounds good, but I think the ''sword-time'' should be optional so that one doesn''t slow down every time they meet an easy foe. But they could still use it against tough opponents.

The play style seems a bit like soul calibur crossed with prince of persia (which is by no means a bad thing).

I think your biggest problem will be in balancing the different moves. In most similar games people quickly find one effective combo and use it throughout the game. You need to make sure they need to tailor their fighting style to their opponent - you don''t want people to just sidestep-slash all the time (like in the arcade game Mace).



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If you''re going for medieval stuff try
Medieval Swordsmanship by John Clements.
It''s published by Paladin Press or try B&N, Amazon,
even Books-A-Million.
Also, The Historical Armed Combat Association at
www.thehaca.com

If you''re going for kung-fu there are plenty of people
who still maintain the arts.

(Motion capture, motion capture, motion capture!)

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I just wanted to post my feeling on your idea and the reference to max payne e.t.c.
I think using names like swordtime & bullet time e.t.c.,are kind of stupid.
These are all just visual plays too highlight action in points in a game.
I don''t think anyone should start liking features like this to other games,because finally I think they will start being used quite a lot.
This is just the natural progression into using more technical direction in games, and I really see these things as sort of cutsequences which highlight action.I.E
In sports games you often get replays which highlight action,
this is just taking everything to a more realtime level.
I have many ideas involving technical gameplay additions like that,so I just wanted to give my view.
Which is that,things like this shouldn''t be seen as unique features.
Do it ,do it well and only if it''s really adds to your game.
(Also I havn''t read all of what you''ve said about your system,but in case you havn''t seen it,check out Blade of darkness and put in the matrix cheat.
It''s a similar feature.)
With improved processing these features will just be common techniques in action/sports/adventure and a wide range of other genres.
Eye candy is good.

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both sword- and bullet-time are not exactly new ideas.

how about making the rate of slowdown dependant on the skill of the pc? the better you get, the more precise and accurate your movements get. Since the player can´t accurately mirror this, you give him more control by slowing down time.

and don´t go for the Clements book too soon, it´s more of an interesting survey than the in-depth manual you´d need for a game like yours.

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This is just a concept for now, it''s not going to go to production for some times (3-4 years)

I have practiced Kung-Fu, Wushu, and Kendo, and since I''m going with oriental combat styles I have sufficient background to go on. Furthermore, I have access to the libraries of my masters for more information, but thanks anyway.

Motion capture is inferior to linked-motion simulators. I''ll be using that technology to generate the animation sequences.

Muzikus: Like I said I won''t be using that name, I merely use it for discussion purposes.

Hase: I do like the idea of increased or decreased time-slip, but when I go to production on this it is most likely that I will want to market it as a multiplayer game. So unfortunately I cannot have one player with a better time-slip than the other, the computers would not be able to sync.

Furthermore, I envision this system as dependent upon player skill, not only player character skill. Essentially, the player will be the source of combat smarts, the player character merely collects moves. What there will be for statistics will be represented by slightly faster movement for a given character of greater dexterity.

I still need some good ideas for ranged Combat.

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

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Two thoughts on this:
1) You want to slow things down to make for smarter fighting (as opposed to frantic hack''n''slash), which is an admirable goal, yet you simplify the controls by using pre-selected combos. It seems inconsistent.

2) When you say you are thinking of multiplayer, do you mean a two person face-off, or multi as in many people? If the latter, what does everyone else do while two combatants are in slow-mo?

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quote:
Original post by Plasmadog
You want to slow things down to make for smarter fighting (as opposed to frantic hack''n''slash), which is an admirable goal, yet you simplify the controls by using pre-selected combos. It seems inconsistent.

Not entirely, I''ve done this for several reasons. Firstly, it''s accurate, in combat training that is exactly how fighters train. They learn all of the moves to a limited extent, but from there you go with sets that you''re good at, and furthermore you link the ones that go together well. Also, using mouse/keyboard controls, can you propose to me a system that would allow players to make combos as they go along without using more than the keypad? I can''t. Thirdly it forces players to make critical decisions about what can be used effectively in combat. Unfortunately it''s very hard to illustrate a good example of what I mean, but I''ll quickly allude to the backstep-stab move which the player in my example used, which is not only an attack, but also a dodge-counterattack.
quote:
2) When you say you are thinking of multiplayer, do you mean a two person face-off, or multi as in many people? If the latter, what does everyone else do while two combatants are in slow-mo?

Either is fine, if you recall from black and white, when two cretaures fight, a ring is established around them. Following that example, I would simply have other players who want to join in the fight enter the ring, and those who are not fighting, but watching simply see the slow-mo going on inside. I am perfectly fine with this solution, despite the minor inconsistencies, it seems adequate.

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

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quote:
Not entirely, I've done this for several reasons. Firstly, it's accurate, in combat training that is exactly how fighters train. They learn all of the moves to a limited extent, but from there you go with sets that you're good at, and furthermore you link the ones that go together well.

Fair enough, but the basic moves are all still available. You may TEND to stick with effective combos, but you aren't limited to just those ones.
Anyway, my point was that if you have just a few pre-set combos that are determined in your training sessions (where slow-mo makes perfect sense), then why bother slowing things down during the real combat? This is what I meant by inconsistent; you have these few combos, that you become very familiar with, and can execute with just a single keypress, yet you have all the time in the world to actually press the key.
quote:
Also, using mouse/keyboard controls, can you propose to me a system that would allow players to make combos as they go along without using more than the keypad? I can't.

Sure. Use the whole keyboard.

quote:
I would simply have other players who want to join in the fight enter the ring, and those who are not fighting, but watching simply see the slow-mo going on inside.

So those are the only options, fighting or watching? I guess that would be fine if the game was purely a fighting game, but I don't think this would work for something like an RPG, where there are plenty of other things besides fighting. In this case, anyone who joins a fight would be at a huge disadvantage compared to those who avoid it. And if it is a pure fighting game, then why would anyone be on the outside watching?

I hope this doesn't come across as anything other than constructive criticism. I like the basic idea, but it is not a game in itself, so I think it needs to be tweaked to suit the game that is part of.

Edited by - plasmadog on January 3, 2002 4:45:01 PM

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quote:
Original post by Hikeeba
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 think he put the slow-mo because, like in max-payne, it would be much much easier to use

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slow mo and bullet time are the biggest cliche in hollywood, and now in gameland.

The only reason they did it in The Matrix was becuase the action scenes happened so fast, they wanted to make sure you saw what exactly happeend (and in a cool way). It is the bullet-time loops in the path that really need to let go. Now its become this trend hitting every movie there after... Just imagine if a movie happened in realtime... Would be like everyday life... like the news or a soap opera.

running films/movies at 24FPS is what makes them so big, grand and dramatic. 29 and 30FPS on video camera''s even look a bit fast. I think slow motion in films is the most dramatic effect... "noooo..... jooonnyyy......"... "ahh....". haha. especially war movies.

but please... the bullet time has got to go. Wackowski bros....




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quote:
Original post by Symphonic
Motion capture is inferior to linked-motion simulators. I''ll be using that technology to generate the animation sequences.



What exactly are "Linked-motion simulators"?

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Ok, I thought of something else for this.

Instead of the mouse/keypad combo, how about plain old keyborad?

W and S would move you towards or away from your target respectively. A and D would sidestep(dodge) left or right when tapped, and circle when held. Q and E would cycle between threats. E would go to the closest threat to the right and Q to the left. C crouches.

On the keypad each key would be a slash in a specific direction. 4 and 6 slash left and right respectively. 2 is an upward slash and 8 is a downward slash. 7 and 9 are up-left and up-right. 1 and 3 are down-left and down-right. 5 is a thrust. / draws and sheaths your sword, also entering and leaving "sword-time." + blocks a strike from your target.

It''s not VSIM since you don''t have to preposition your sword, but some attacks would lead into stronger ones. Combos would proceed by following the way momentum would naturally flow or would be easily redirected.

You''d still have a more intelligent sword fight, but it''d keep you busy. The more I thought about it, the more it did seem like you''d have all the time in the world to hit a button for a combo. The mouse also just appeared more and more annoying to use the more I thought about it. I''ve never been a fan of clicking where I want to go. It just feels very hands off to me.

Just an idea. I can''t think of anything for ranged combat though.

I should also say, I know nothing of real sword fighting. I just know what I think would be fun without going too far out of reality.

I wanna'' ride on the pope mobile.

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Hikeeba: you just re-wrote the combat system for another game that I was working on two years ago. You come so close to writing what''s in my notes I would probably sue you for copyright infringement if I were American.

but that''s a different story, I like that design, but it doesn''t need the sword-time effect.

I had designed this combat system a while back, separately from the idea of slowing things down. I was just reminded of the difficulty if timing and accurate mouse movements when a colleague of mine asked me about a close-combat version of Max Payne. The original concept was actually a mouse/keyboard real-time fight, and as you may guess it does crash when you try to think how fast you''d have to move the mouse to get things done right.

Now that a slow-motion effect is reachable, you might say that it''s an obvious extension of what needed to be done with the original design.

Ganryu: Linked motion simulation is an extension of linked structure simulation, which is the technology used to test structures and the stresses they are under. I plan to do a masters thesis in this field, so you might say that I will eventually be an expert in the department.

Linked motion simulation is taking a structure with given limitations and requirements, and telling the computer to figure out the most efficient way to get the structure to do something.

For example, (this has already been demonstrated by IT researchers, the results were so good it was scary) you could model a human being and tell it to run. A good system will produce a model that has a run cycle indistinguishable from that of a human.

digitaldirt: Correct me if I''m wrong, but isn''t it true that everything that is done these days is close to cliche? A Greek saying is that "There are only seven original thoughts, and all others stem from those roots." I have come to the conclustion that what makes a good game is not it''s use of what it''s makers choose to call original ideas, but rather how well it makes out under the pressure of the limitations of it''s medium. Please don''t talk about cliche like it''s something that can be avoided by anyone.

"All houses are made of bricks, strength lies in what fills the cracks between."

Sorry if I am overly offensive about this position.

diseaser2002: You''re right. but alot of people seem to think that I''m slowing this thing down to the extent that it will be easy to time attacks. I have no such intent, a fifty percent reduction in speed will not make it so that the game is unplayable for ease of combat. Keep in mind that the dives in Max Payne had a reduction close to 10% of normal speed.

Plasmadog: I would like to say that you''re right about using the whole keyboard, but something tells me that you really and truely aren''t. Because if you assigned a move to every key that''s available on the letter section of a qwerty keyboard, to you really expect me to believe that you won''t make a false move typing with only one hand?

The keypad is my restriction because I firmly believe that it should be possible to encompass all that is necessary in 9 keys. Furthermore, I think that it may add considerably to player strategy in the choice of which combos are used, if the player chooses his combos before a fight, (s)he may have several customized sets of combos for dealing with opponents who fight in particular ways. I may not have made this obvious, but if and when I produce this, I''m fully prepared to fill a DVD with the number of different animations necessary to complete my designs, given that only those that are pretinent need to be loaded for any one fight, this also seems reasonable.

Sorry about the long post, I''ve been out of town and unable to address questions as they come up.

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

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Symphonic: That is very true what you say about cliche''s. Cliche''s are used becuase somehow they seem to work. Though, I think that if someone took the bullet-time technology and did something new with it, than it wouldn''t be quite as cloned as it has been used in just about every new film coming out.

The famous trinity jumping up scene in the matrix is a scene that I see everywhere. You can still be original, if you use the technology in a different way.

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sorry if this''s been said. i can''t focus long enough to read all of the posts in this thread.

i''d suggest making all combat scenes using Sword-Time but with this variation:

oponents Speed of attack is equal to the difference between your speed rating and theirs. thus, your speed is always the same regardless of your level.

thus if you are fighting a monster/other player whose speed is much greater than yours, then you percieve their attacks as being really fast, so fast that you have a hard time seeing them. as you advance in level the same monster''s attacks will appear to slow down during subsequent combats.

thus if your apponent is relatively slow compared to you, you percieve their attacks are molases speed, allowing you to easily defeat them.

i think that''d be exceptionally cool.

yours it a rockin idea.

-me

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