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Melee combat mechanics

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:28 pm
by Ratiotile
There is a need for improved combat mechanics. Players of mages get to press many buttons during combat and cause flashy graphical effects, while physical damage types are stuck clicking the left mouse button. The system as it was in Xenimus was seriously imbalanced in terms of keeping players interacting with the world. Our friend EJ tried to fix this with the battle moves system, and we all know how that turned out. Other games like WoW and Guild Wars made every class into a mage, giving every player an array of buttons to press. The only difference was that the real caster classes got spells that had a longer range and did direct damage, but the tried-and-true method has been to give every class a bunch of spells.

A better approach is to give fighter-types something to do that doesn't rely on mana. They should get combat maneuvers, fighting styles, sword moves and such that drain stamina, or have a cooldown. Make the fighting moves combo-able, but give them a different feel from spells. This last part is key in having a warrior with combat prowess, rather than a guy with a sword that can also cast some flashy spells. Any ability like "huge strike of smitingness'" that deals 117-134 damage, has some cheesy explosion graphic, and stuns the target for 3-4 seconds feels like a spell, rather than a physical attack. Getting rid of the magic-like graphic helps, but having damage numbers and an assured stun doesn't. I don't think that stun is a very good idea in these games, but a good way to implement such an ability would be giving some bonus damage, or even a penalty to the regular physical attack, and having it stun if the attack hit, instead of being autohit, as most melee hits are blocked or dodged.

Something better than the old click and autohit system needs to be developed eventually. I felt that Karl's melee system was a step in the right direction. Well, maybe the pure defense system was not used, slowing down the game, but this gets into something that I have been giving a lot of thought to: level of player control. In a first-person RPG like Oblivion, the players actions directly control the character. Click, and your guy will swing his sword, click the other button, and he will raise his shield. At the other extreme, in RTS games, the player only clicks once to attack and the unit will autoattack. Under the old Xenimus system, fighters might as well have been playing Warcraft 3 and controlling a single unit, for all the control they got in combat. The challenge for a 3rd person RPG is to create combat mechanics that will allow the player more control over combat than autoattacking, yet not too much control, as it gets tedious.

One mechanic that I thought of, similar in concept to Karl's attack/defense controls, is to use stances to define priorities in combat. There is a default balanced stance that places equal weight on attack and defense, an aggressive/suicidal stance that minimizes blocking and maximizes attack speed, and a defensive stance that attacks only when it is safe to do so, and is ready to block at all times. There is even a movement/retreat stance that would sacrifice attack for movement in combat.

It would be interesting to see what people think on this subject, and any new ideas on how to control characters during combat.

Re: Melee combat mechanics

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:09 pm
by a_link_to_the_past
It makes sense to me. It adds another twist to fighter types so they aren't all the same. You build your character to your fighting style. This would also be a way to break away from two fighters standing infront of each other med tapping and waiting for the other to run out of pots.

Plus the comment you made about stamina is good. Pure fighter types shouldn't use magic at all... I think thats what made fighter types in Xenimus so dependent on MP bases and steals. They needed them to level their character.. when in reality to swing a blade in a circular motion... poo.. I can do that right now in my bed room... and I know I'm no magician.

So good points...