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The return of the combat suggestion


Erik
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The return of the combat suggestion

 

It’s been a while since my last combat mega suggestion and I think it’s time for a refresh to end this trilogy. This one is a bit more specific and tries to present a (theoretically) fully functional combat system design.

I’ve had even more time playing melee combat oriented games like Mordhau, which released into early access last year. While it has some of the best, if not the best, first person melee combat in games, the general design would be very unfitting for Vintage Story, as it requires real time sword simulation, more accurate hitboxes, high tickrate lagfree servers and procedural animations and multiple metric tons of balancing to be somewhat serviceable.

But it has some ideas Vintage Story could really benefit from, like some other games like Mount and Blade, Dark Messiah and even Skyrim. Combined with some of my own ideas, I’ve come up with a melee combat system for Vintage Story that meets these requirements:

  • Melee combat rather than a short range first person shooter
    This is the biggest problem of Minecraft combat, the long attack range makes hitting other players really difficult, as they can easily move out of the cross-hair of the other player. The game becomes more about aiming and clicking at the right moment, resembling a FPS much more than a melee fighting game.

  • Enough depth to enable a large degree of player freedom
    Having a combat system with a high skill ceiling and many viable playstyles makes the combat much more replayable. A large amount of player freedom aims to archive this and have players evolve their own styles, emotionally connecting them with the gameplay.

  • Little complexity for easy use without need of a tutorial
    Complexity is the evil brother of depth. It would make combat much harder to learn, understand and even implement for the developers. Having combat be easy to learn is essential for the new player experience, as combat is a major part of the game.

  • Simple mouse based control without need for extra keybinds
    This is a good way to limit complexity and make it easy for new players to learn the system, not having to look up controls and being familiar to many other games.

  • Working with ray traced or cone based hit detection
    This keeps the implementation effort much lower than real sword swing and collision simulations would require, as well as having a much lower potential for issues (no potential inverse kinematics, etc.) and exploits and being much more performant.

  • Allowing for both engaging PvE and PvP combat
    The game allows for both PvP and more prominently PvE combat and the combat system should reflect that, being fun and providing depth at both levels of gameplay.

  • No turning combat into a waiting game for cooldowns
    Minecraft 1.9+ combat has annoying cooldowns, making the players unable to perform any action directly after attacking. This makes for boring unengaged combat.

  • First Person use doesn’t give players big disadvantages
    Vintage Story is primarily played in first person because of the focus on the building elements of the game, having the player switch perspectives for combat seems like a very bad idea and lowers the overall immersion dramatically. Therefore the combat should be designed primarily for first person use.

  • Combat system not majorly interfering with other game systems
    The combat system shouldn’t effect other game aspects much, like exploration, as to not make these aspects less fun or more frustrating, by for example limiting running or destroying blocks outside of combat with a stamina price.

  • More player skill based than character skill or gear based
    While gear progression and character skill should have a significant impact on combat, as to allow for more PvE progression, the most important factor for combat should be player skill, to allow for an engaging PvP experience and progression of the players skills.

  • Effective reaction for every action and reaction
    This is a core piece of the combat design, the player should be able to react to any combat action and if doing so successfully forcing a new reaction from the opponent. Ideally there would be more than one possible reactions, to allow for player freedom. The goal is to never have the player in a situation where he is unable to do something helpful, making the game never feel unfair.

  • Easy readability to allow for reaction based actions
    To be able to react to an action, the player has to be able to read which action he has to react to. The first person perspective and limited animation system can make this hard from just animations alone, requiring very expressive and clear animations and sound effects.

  • Playability with higher latency and lag
    While the combat gameplay benefits from a lower latency, the combat system shouldn’t break at higher latency and therefore shouldn’t rely solely on precise player inputs and reactions and keep being playable even with lag.

 

Stagger

There are basically three types of actions in the system, the offensive attack triggered by the left mouse button, the defensive block triggered by the right mouse button and the evasive dodge triggered by the movement keys. Fitting those actions, there are also three types of stagger, fitting each of the actions.

  • Attack stagger hinders combatants to attack for a variable duration.
  • Block stagger hinders combatants to block for a variable duration.
  • Movement stagger hinders combatants to move, but not to dodge.

These staggers are mainly used as a punishment for those effected, very but short staggers are also frequently used as a way to limit spamming certain actions and allow for more dynamic combat. A key thing to note is, that the player should almost never be effected by all three types of stagger at the same time and only very rarely by two, as to not limit the players actions completely.

To prevent the player being “stagger locked”, dodging can always be performed to break out of a stagger, providing the player has enough stamina. If he doesn’t, he screwed up one last time.

During the stagger, distinct stagger animations should be played, to convey which type of stagger the player or his opponent is effected by.

 

Stamina

Speaking of it, stamina is also a major aspect of the combat system. It’s a limiter for the player’s defensive and evasive actions. The player has a large pool of stamina, which could almost be seen as a second health bar and certainly is that important, often quickly resulting in the death of the player if empty. Stamina regenerates over time.

Most actions in combat consume an amount of stamina to balance them and punish players spamming some actions, while not explicitly preventing players to do so like with stagger. However, while many things consume stamina, only three actions are prevented by having not enough stamina for them: Blocking, dodging and running.

  • Combatants can’t block if completely out of stamina, making him very venerable.
  • Combatants can’t dodge if the stamina remaining is smaller than the cost for doing so.
  • Combatants can’t sprint if completely out of stamina, making them unable to flee from combat.

While all actions effecting stamina will be outlined later in this suggestion, there are two existing actions interacting with stamina, sprinting and jumping. Jumping just prevents stamina regeneration for a short duration. Sprinting is only possible when not out of stamina and prevents stamina regeneration, but only consumes stamina if stamina is below two thirds of the total stamina. This makes stamina normally not limit sprinting, only if the player was already engaging in combat.

This makes stamina only have a relevance in combat and not limit the player outside combat. Stamina is required for not having to result to more limiting ways of preventing players spamming certain actions. Without some way to punish spamming, the PvP combat would result in the same problems the Mount and Blade combat (i.e. feint spam) has, which resembles this system in a lot of ways.

 

The attack

The most important part of the combat system is always the attack. The player can attack simply by pressing the left mouse button. The player won’t regenerate stamina while attacking. The attack can be split into six distinct phases:

  1. The start
    By pressing the left mouse button the player begins his attack. The movement direction of the player during this decides the type of attack the player launches:
    If the player moves forward, he will launch an
    overhead attackThe overhead attack is the slowest attack and has also the least reach, but does the most damage. For hit detection it uses a vertical cone, making it easy to dodge by stepping sideways.
    If the player moves backwards or sideways and backwards at the same time, he will perform a stab attack. The stab attack has the most reach and is the fastest, but does the least damage. For hit detection is uses a ray cast, making it the hardest to aim and easiest to dodge.
    If the player moves sideways or forward and sideways at the same time, he will perform a
    swing attack. The swing attack strikes a middle-ground of reach, speed and damage. For hit detection it uses a horizontal cone, making it the hardest to dodge. The direction of the swing depends on the sideways movement of the player, moving to the left will cause the attack to come from the right and moving to the right will cause the attack to come from the left. The swing direction is only important for attack blocking, which is described in the third attack phase. If the player stood still during the attack, the last movement direction will be used to determine the attack direction. During the attack, the player will be slowed down when moving in any direction other than the direction starting the attack, making movement more important.

  1. The wind-up
    As long as the player keeps holding the left mouse button, the attack won’t launch, only the wind-up animation will be played. During the animation, the player slowly looses a bit of stamina. If the animation is finished, the player will hold in the last position of the animation until the mouse is released. The player can release the mouse at any time, even during the animation, to immediately launch the attack into the swing phase. The further the animation progressed, the more damage the attack will do.
    If the player just tapped the left mouse button a very small wind-up animation will be played and then continue into the swing phase.

    During the wind-up phase, the attack can be cancelled by blocking.

  2. The swing
    The swing phase marks the last phase of the attack the player has any control over it. When the swing phase starts, the player looses an amount of stamina, dependent on the weapon used to attack. A swing animation is played and the attack will progress to the next phase when it has ended.
    If the player presses the left mouse button during this phase, the attack will be cancelled and he will immediately start a new attack (returning to the start phase), but gets block staggered for a small amount of time, meaning the player can’t cancel his new attack by blocking if he doesn’t wind it up for some time. This is called morphing.
    If an attack hits the player during this phase and it has the mirrored direction of this attack (i.e. overhead when overhead, stab when stab, right swing when left swing, left swing when right swing), it will be attack blocked, meaning it won’t do any damage and let this attack continue.
    During the swing phase, the attack can be cancelled by blocking. This is called fainting.

  3. The commit
    The commit phase marks the phase the attack can only be cancelled by the player getting attack staggered, by for example being hit by an attack himself. The phase starts by the player making a short scream, making it clear to his opponent, that he can’t cancel his attack. The players camera is also locked during this phase, meaning he can’t aim his attack in a different direction. However the player can still move. The commit animation is played and when it ends the attack transitions into the next phase.

  4. The hit detection
    The hit detection is ran. When the player has successfully hit an opponent, that opponent gets movement staggered for a tiny amount of time. If he wasn’t blocking he also gets attack staggered, causing any attacks of the opponent to cancel. And well, the opponent gets damaged.

  5. The recovery
    The recovery is the last phase of an attack and plays right after the hit detection. The player gets attack staggered for the duration of the recovery, but the player can cancel the recovery by blocking (however not cancelling the attack stagger). This phase can be of really different length and animation, depending on how the last phase went
    If the attack misses, a
    long animation is played where the sword continues travelling and then hangs in the air for a bit.
    If the attack hit an opponent who wasn’t defending, a short animation is played where the weapon first stops for a small while on the opponent (hit-stop) and then goes through the opponent. The hit-stop conveys that something has actually been hit and the player isn’t just swinging through the air. And a nice meaty hit sound plays.
    If the attack hits a block, a medium length animation plays where the sword is stopped and lingers at the shield for a while. A fitting sound is played.
    If the attack hits a parry, the
    a medium length animation plays having the sword bounce of the parry. A fitting sound is played.
    If the attack hits an attack block,
    a very short animation where the sword is bounced of the enemy sword is played and a metal on metal grinding sound is played, maybe some nice spark particles get also in the mix.
    The sound and animation of each should be very distinct, to make it immediately obvious to what happened
    to preserve readability.

In summary:

  • Directional attacks (overhead, stab, right swing, left swing)
  • Holding the attack for increased damage (wind-up)
  • Cancelling attacks with blocking (feinting)
  • Changing attack direction by restarting attacks (morphing)
  • Directional blocking with attacks (attack blocking)
  • After you scream, you lose control over the attack (commit)
  • Attacks getting cancelled when being hit by one (hit detection)
  • Different animations after the attack hit or missed (recovery)

 

The block

Blocking is much simpler than attacking, just hold right click while not being out of stamina to hold your weapon or shield in front of you. Players can block as long as they want and when they release the right mouse button the block immediately stops. Stamina however doesn’t regenerate while blocking, but blocking does actively deplete a small amount of stamina. When out of stamina, the block is cancelled. This makes hiding behind a block extremely ineffective, it’s best to block only when about to be hit.

When an attack hits the front of a blocking player, the blocking players health doesn’t get damaged. However the blocking players stamina gets damaged depending on the health damage the player would have endured.

After lowering a block the player get block staggered for a while and thus can’t block again immediately after and stamina won’t start regenerating for that duration. Up to two seconds after the block has been hit by an enemy attack, this drawback is not active, so the player can block right again after lowering his block and stamina regeneration will also start immediately.

If the player presses the left mouse button while blocking he will perform a parry. A parry is an active attempt to deflect an enemy attack. A short parry animation gets played and if an attack hits the player during this animation, the attack will be blocked without giving any stamina damage to the parrying player. After the parry animation ends, the player will get block staggered for a short while if no attack hit the parry, forcing the player out of blocking. This makes parrying a dangerous but rewarding action, if timed properly.

In summary:

  • Holding a block costs a small amount of stamina
  • Attacks hitting a block cause stamina instead of health damage
  • Can’t block again directly after blocking
  • Parry negates the stamina damage from blocking but must be timed

 

The dodge

Dodging is a simple and effective way to, well, dodge enemy attacks. The dodge costs a medium amount of stamina and the player won’t regenerate stamina during the animation and a short while after. Just tapping the sprint key while having enough stamina to cover the cost will cause a dodge in the current walking direction, without changing the looking direction. A short dodge animation gets played and the player quickly moves a few meters in the walking direction, smoothly moving over up to one block high ledges.

While dodging is a very effective means of evading attacks and leaves the opponent in a venerable position after having missed an attack, being in a long recovery animation, it also leaves the player venerable right after dodging, suffering a short block stagger and very short movement stagger.

Combined with the comparatively high stamina cost, this makes dodging a supporting means of defense to be used in conjunction with smart movement and positioning in PvP, but a very important defensive measure in PvE.

 

The gear

With an armor system now in game, the system can be easily adapted for this combat suggestion. With active blocking, the effectiveness of armor needs to be reduced a bit, to not make fights last centuries. Furthermore, the move speed penalty of heavy armor should be reduced for significantly for balance and comfort reasons, adding new negative modifiers to heavy armor like reducing stamina pool and raising stamina costs for certain actions, like dodging.

Shields should be introduced, lowering the stamina consumption from blocking, but raising the cost of other actions like attacking or dodging. Spears should also only block, when the player has a shield equipped, retaining the throwing ability otherwise, giving them a very unique playstyle focused around evasion and attack blocking.

Stamina modifiers could be added in many places, however they shall only change stamina costs and the players stamina amount, not the speed at which stamina regenerates, as that would be too big of an advantage or disadvantage.

Stamina costs act as a new balancing factor and would be applied to any weapon and also to drawing a bow or throwing stuff like rocks and spears.

 

The balance

I did not add any numbers to stamina costs or action/effect times on purpose, but some wording describing the relative length of effects, because providing hard numbers isn’t exactly useful, as only extensive testing will find the right numbers.

But generally speaking, offensive and defensive actions should be somewhat equal in stamina costs, to not make super aggressive or super defensive playstyles superior, although giving offensive actions slightly lower costs than defensive actions seems like a good idea to give incentive for active offensive playing.

Overall, the block and attack staggers are setup in such a way, that the attacking combatant and defending combatant are always switching, as there is a block stagger after blocking and an attack stagger after attacking.

 

Conclusion

I hope his system is easy to understand and fun. Other than that, replacing the red flashing when landing a hit with a proper hit animation would be a wise decision.

I invite anyone to provide any kind of feedback on this. Did you understand the system, do you dislike is, think it's too complex and complicated or maybe too shallow or do you think it's just total and utter garbage? Every type of (hopefully constructive) feedback is welcome!

Edited by Erik
Small accessibility improvement for directional attacks
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I think that your suggestions can dramatically improve the gameplay. 

Maximum Stamina level should be increased by doing stuffs and decreased by idleness overtime. 

I'd love to be able to parry a drifter and stab it with my spear in pure dark souls style. In order to be able to do that the game should give you the chance to do a parry and a critical hit. Also a chance of critical failure should be interesting like losing equilibrium or lose your weapon. 

Another idea: ranged attack for axe and knife.

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I believe that this combat system would drastically enhance the game and is an awesome idea. I also believe that the spear should be able to be made with higher tier materials, because this system would make a spear a unique weapon, as you said. In addition, in real life spears have been used up until modern times and were not only used by primitive people. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the late reply, had to deal with studying and writing exams first. Thanks for the liking the suggestion, I guess 😅

On 1/13/2020 at 1:53 PM, Yukihira_S said:

Maximum Stamina level should be increased by doing stuffs and decreased by idleness overtime. 

I don't think this is a very good idea, as that makes the stamina system very present outside of combat, punishing more relaxed playing or just AFK-ing. Being able to brew beverages and potions that increase the maximum stamina would probably be a better and more fun/involved, although less realistic and more game-y, way to do it.

On 1/13/2020 at 1:53 PM, Yukihira_S said:

I'd love to be able to parry a drifter and stab it with my spear in pure dark souls style. In order to be able to do that the game should give you the chance to do a parry and a critical hit. Also a chance of critical failure should be interesting like losing equilibrium or lose your weapon. 

A damage boost after a parry sounds like a very good idea, I really like it. Although I think it would better fit the attack blocking, as it's much harder and riskier to pull off and lends itself more towards a hyper-aggressive style of play.

On 1/13/2020 at 1:53 PM, Yukihira_S said:

Another idea: ranged attack for axe and knife.

Also like this idea, but would limit it only to the axe (and maybe a dedicated, stackable throwing knife), because encouraging players to play with a knife and a shield would make them look kinda weird imo. The regular knife could do extra damage and ignoring armor if attacking a target from behind.

On 1/13/2020 at 11:42 PM, ECI said:

I also believe that the spear should be able to be made with higher tier materials, because this system would make a spear a unique weapon, as you said. In addition, in real life spears have been used up until modern times and were not only used by primitive people. 

Absolutely. Definitively. Yes.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I think this is GREAT! It is very easy to understand. It sounds like it would be very easy to use yet very fun. A lot more fun that just hit wait and block like Minecraft. Maybe mobs can have some certain reactions like: fleeing if the player does a lot of damage in a very short time making it seem as if the opponent is scared and knows the odds are against it, if the opponent NPC has been fighting for a long time and is not getting anywhere maybe it could go into a enraged mode. Enraged mode would make the NPC run very fast around you and make growling or snorting sounds. It would also make them harder to hit and they would do more damage. Passive animals would also get enraged if their young was threatened. Here is my suggestions, and again really like the combat system idea!

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  • 8 months later...

Some weapons shouldn't be able to perform every type of attack. For example, Axes should be able to be used in a swing attack or a overhead attack, but they shouldn't be used in a stabbing attack. That would make no sense. Maybe a stab could be replaced by something else for the axe. Same thing with the spear. It makes no sense to be able to swing it or overhead attack with it ( although, maybe some type of overhead stab might make sense if done right).  

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27 minutes ago, ECI said:

Some weapons shouldn't be able to perform every type of attack. For example, Axes should be able to be used in a swing attack or a overhead attack, but they shouldn't be used in a stabbing attack. That would make no sense. Maybe a stab could be replaced by something else for the axe. Same thing with the spear. It makes no sense to be able to swing it or overhead attack with it ( although, maybe some type of overhead stab might make sense if done right).  

While not every attack makes as much sense on every weapon, for attack blocking to function, every weapon has to have every attack. War axes frequently have pointed metal tips, so a stab makes some sense. Having the swing and overhead of the spear be sideways and overhead stabs could work, but the animation might be too similar to the stab and may not cover enough area in case of the sideways stab.

I think some suspension of disbelieve is possible, as whacking someone with a spear would still hurt, as would poking someone with an axe. In the worst case, the attack damage of those attacks could be lowered, which would however have a strong impact of the usefulness of different weapons, especially spears.

Edited by Erik
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Some thoughts:

On stagger:

I think one catch-all type of stagger would be enough, as long as you balance the timing of the stagger to prevent being stunlocked. In my experience, stamina is usually punishment enough for spamming actions, especially if you add a little penalty for overexertion(trying to do an action you don't have enough stamina for), and being unable to do anything isn't too big a punishment if you keep the stagger duration low on most things and have things that result in big stagger either be hard to pull off(if you're staggering your opponent) or be attached to failing something that's really high reward if you pull it off.

Sure, it would mean that having it after lowing a block is probably not a good idea, but I think having stamina not regen until a bit after you lower your block is a good enough deterrent for that.

On stamina:

Not much to say, but having a punishment for overexertion(trying to use more stamina than you have left) would be a nice additional way to stop spamming. 

Another option, but a bit more blatant, is having repeated actions consume more stamina each time it happens in a short amount of time.

On attacking:

Getting a bit more complex here but rather than 'overhead' 'thrust' 'swing' I think it'd be better if it was something like 'strong attack' 'fast attack' 'normal attack' and change depending on weapon.

A strong attack would lean heavily into the weapon's strengths and weakness, while a normal attack would be more average, and a fast attack would be more of a 'get that guy off you' kind of attack

For example, say we have an axe.

The strong attack could be a big overhead chop that's short range and slow, but does a lot of damage. A normal attack would just be a quick chop, more damaging and slow than other weapons, but pretty average all things considered. The fast attack would be a handle bash that's short range but fast and has decent knockback.

A sword on the other hand, could have a strong attack that's a very wide sweep, a well, normal, normal attack, and a short(compared to a spear) thrust as the quick attack

Also on attack blocking and bonuses, one way would be to make attack blocking give a short lived attack bonus to both your and your opponent that stacks for every attack block done, but is removed either when you get hit, hit your opponent, or do something other than attack(like block or dodge).

Another would be to make attack blocking have a certain timing, so if you both do it at the exact same time, nothing happens, but if you do it just slightly faster, your opponent gets staggered.

Edit: I do realize this makes each attack even more different from each other and could make attack blocking not make sense, but I think it'll work visually as long as attack animations are made to move the weapon onto a certain point(like say, your crosshair) at the timing the attack blocking happens.

On Blocking:

I like it. Do think it'd be nice of parrying stuns your opponent briefly to let you counterattack, but that's about it.

Alternatively, if the parry is done by raising your shield at the last moment, you can have a feint lead directly to a parry if your opponent was trying to attack block you, and lets you add a shield bash. Also also, since you need to have your shield lowered to parry, you're extra venerable to fast attacks making trying to parry slightly more risky. But I think your idea is fine as it is, I just really like shield bashing.

On Dodging:

Nothing much to say. Unifying stagger makes dodging slightly more risky but I think making the duration short would be enough, considering this is moving you away from your opponent anyways.

That's about all I have to say. 

I'm a bit worried about this getting buried, especially since the game still in development meaning there's a lot of stuff to add, and combat doesn't really seem like a focus point for a exploration/building based sandbox, but fun combat goes a long way into making a game fun, and seeing the game already has combat, I think fleshing it out would be really good.

 

Edited by Allen
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3 hours ago, Allen said:

Some thoughts:

On stagger:

I think one catch-all type of stagger would be enough, as long as you balance the timing of the stagger to prevent being stunlocked. In my experience, stamina is usually punishment enough for spamming actions, especially if you add a little penalty for overexertion(trying to do an action you don't have enough stamina for), and being unable to do anything isn't too big a punishment if you keep the stagger duration low on most things and have things that result in big stagger either be hard to pull off(if you're staggering your opponent) or be attached to failing something that's really high reward if you pull it off.

Sure, it would mean that having it after lowing a block is probably not a good idea, but I think having stamina not regen until a bit after you lower your block is a good enough deterrent for that.

The reason the stagger is split into multiple types is to give combat a better flow and never leave the combatants out of options. Block staggered? Well then it might be a good idea to attack. Attack staggered? The enemy will then probably launch his attack and I can prepare to block. If properly balanced, it should provide a good back and forth. Sure, when stagger is more powerful (like combining all three types into one), it will feel better to stagger enemies, but being on the receiving end will feel much worse. This is why the player can't be staggered in Skyrim, but as Vintage Story has a multiplayer mode, allowing the player not to be staggered would essentially rule out the whole system from PvP, making PvP feel much less satisfying.

3 hours ago, Allen said:

On stamina:

Not much to say, but having a punishment for overexertion(trying to use more stamina than you have left) would be a nice additional way to stop spamming.

Another option, but a bit more blatant, is having repeated actions consume more stamina each time it happens in a short amount of time.

I thought a lot about punishing the player more for having no stamina, but I think it should only effect defensive and evasive options. The player is already very disadvantaged when out of stamina, being unable to block, dodge or run away. The only way for the player to defend then is to either evade attacks without dodging or attack block attacks, which should be difficult to do. Attacking is still an option, but it comes at the drawback of not regenerating stamina, so overaggressive play on low stamina is very risky, which is why I don't think it needs to be punished even further by dealing lower damage.

3 hours ago, Allen said:

On attacking:

Getting a bit more complex here but rather than 'overhead' 'thrust' 'swing' I think it'd be better if it was something like 'strong attack' 'fast attack' 'normal attack' and change depending on weapon.

A strong attack would lean heavily into the weapon's strengths and weakness, while a normal attack would be more average, and a fast attack would be more of a 'get that guy off you' kind of attack

For example, say we have an axe.

The strong attack could be a big overhead chop that's short range and slow, but does a lot of damage. A normal attack would just be a quick chop, more damaging and slow than other weapons, but pretty average all things considered. The fast attack would be a handle bash that's short range but fast and has decent knockback.

A sword on the other hand, could have a strong attack that's a very wide sweep, a well, normal, normal attack, and a short(compared to a spear) thrust as the quick attack

Also on attack blocking and bonuses, one way would be to make attack blocking give a short lived attack bonus to both your and your opponent that stacks for every attack block done, but is removed either when you get hit, hit your opponent, or do something other than attack(like block or dodge).

Another would be to make attack blocking have a certain timing, so if you both do it at the exact same time, nothing happens, but if you do it just slightly faster, your opponent gets staggered.

Edit: I do realize this makes each attack even more different from each other and could make attack blocking not make sense, but I think it'll work visually as long as attack animations are made to move the weapon onto a certain point(like say, your crosshair) at the timing the attack blocking happens.

The problem with "fast", "normal" and "strong attacks" is that it's hard to balance, so there isn't a "best" attack against all or a certain type of enemies. I kinda went that way with the directional attacks anyway, the stab essentially being the fast attack, swing the normal and overhead the strong and hope that the drawbacks of each attack balance out the advantages, so there is not superior option. That they are kinda standardized is that that is required to make attack blocking work, as it is essentially directional timed blocking which means that the defender has to be able to read direction of the enemy attack very quickly, which is why having types of attacks that are different based on the weapon is very problematic, making an already pretty hidden mechanic even more hard to get into.

I like the idea of attack blocking "chaining", escalating the damage and thus creating more tension the longer the attack blocking "duel" goes on. It may be good to not only increase the damage, but also slowly increase the attack speed, so making a mistake gets more likely as the "duel" continues. It's a very risk vs reward situation, as players could opt out of it by blocking at any time if they feel they are outmatched, but doing so will be a big hit to stamina. Or they continue, while slowly loosing stamina with each new attack until they either overpower the enemy or are overpowered themselves, getting a huge chunk of damage.

3 hours ago, Allen said:

On Blocking:

I like it. Do think it'd be nice of parrying stuns your opponent briefly to let you counterattack, but that's about it.

Alternatively, if the parry is done by raising your shield at the last moment, you can have a feint lead directly to a parry if your opponent was trying to attack block you, and lets you add a shield bash. Also also, since you need to have your shield lowered to parry, you're extra venerable to fast attacks making trying to parry slightly more risky. But I think your idea is fine as it is, I just really like shield bashing.

Having parrying stagger the enemy could make it into a powerful offensive maneuver, like bashing in Skyrim. It would also take the risk out of parrying, as the player can't parry too early, because the parry would always cause the enemy to stagger and thus cancel his attack. The classical "shield bash" is just to powerful and versatile in my opinion, which is why I decided to have the parry be a kinda weakened purely defensive version of it. I could however see a small attack stagger after a successful parry, if you mean that. I purposefully left out such details, as I feel especially stagger needs to be finely balanced to provide a good pace to combat, which requires playtesting anyway.

The idea raising your block in the last moment, of "timed blocking" is also something I thought about a lot, because it is such a prevalent feature in Skyrim mods. I decided against it for two reasons: Parrying and especially attack blocking already kinda is timed blocking mechanically and as there is a constant stamina draw while blocking, the player is already encouraged to block as short as possible. Furthermore, timed blocking is a somewhat "hidden" feature you specifically have to inform the player about, as it is very conditional, while a parry is very self explanatory to perform, as it is just hitting attack while blocking. Attack blocking also suffers from being kinda hidden, but I think it's less of a problem as it is intended to be a very difficult and thus generally less useful move anyway, mainly for PvP.

3 hours ago, Allen said:

On Dodging:

Nothing much to say. Unifying stagger makes dodging slightly more risky but I think making the duration short would be enough, considering this is moving you away from your opponent anyways.

That's about all I have to say. 

I'm a bit worried about this getting buried, especially since the game still in development meaning there's a lot of stuff to add, and combat doesn't really seem like a focus point for a exploration/building based sandbox, but fun combat goes a long way into making a game fun, and seeing the game already has combat, I think fleshing it out would be really good.

I think dodging is especially hard to balance and fit into the system. I feel like there must be some balance between defensive and evasive playstyles. One thing to note is that dodging is more of a evasive counterpart to the defensive parry, while walking is the counterpart to blocking. Dodging and parrying are both timed, but for parrying it is only really important to not parry too early, while for dodging it is potentially the other way around. The dodging distance should be just great enough to evade a swing attack, it shouldn't replace player movement, just enhance it. Having the player be fully staggered after dodging would not only leave the player venerable, but also disallow any offensive actions and I think this would make dodging almost useless. The greatest potential difference of parrying and dodging is that dodging can be used offensively, first evading the enemies attack by walking and then dodging into the player and attacking, which would make for a potentially very fun and interesting playstyle I wouldn't want to lose.

Don't worry about this getting buried, you can bet I will annoy Tyron with this once he plans making a combat update :D

Anyway, thanks for the comprehensive feedback!

Edited by Erik
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Easy readability to allow for reaction based actions
To be able to react to an action, the player has to be able to read which action he has to react to. The first person perspective and limited animation system can make this hard from just animations alone, requiring very expressive and clear animations and sound effects.

 

So if this was implemented, then a system of directional based blocking like in mount and blade could be thrown in. It would improve combat. 

 

Let me throw in my 2 cents here, and 32 years of gaming experience. I try to avoid combat in vintage story, because it is neither fun nor rewarding. The first example that comes to my mind is soul reaver for the Playstation. Once you recharged the soul reaver, you no longer wanted to fight the vampires. Killing vampires and eating their souls was the core loop of the game, and it was rendered tedious by another core loop the very sword the game was based on. 

Fast forward decades later to dragon block c mod for minecraft. That took the bad minecraft mechanic, and added bare minimum flashy effects and a crappy rpg system. This simple change made minecraft a bad combat experience, to a very fun combat experience. I found myself downloading other mods to add more mobs to beat up because i wanted to be extremely op because dragon ball. 

The point i want to make:combat is currently unrewarding. The drops on the drifters are meh. temporal gear? meh i get those from panning for copper. Rusty gear? meh. Flax fiber? hell yeah i need tons of those. Now if they had a block of haliite things would be different, i would be hunting drifters into extinction because this game gets it, salt is more valuable than gold. The economy in the game is spot on in that regard. you can become a king in a server if you discover a halite deposite and mine it for yourself. 

There needs to be some sort of reward to the combat, either a fun new grind, a better drop, or an xp gain. 

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After reading and thinking about it for a while, I think this could be a really solid way to do the combat. Drifters could be really fun to fight with this. Multiple playstyles and skill based, without being too complicated (though it did take me a while to understand it just from this post, I think it'll be easier to understand for people if they're actually playing or even watching). Throw in some neat rewards (that aren't required but still useful) as AngryRob said and it'd be great!

One question though, is how would non-humanoids interact with this system? Wolves and sheep, for example. Right now they just sort of charge at you, and I can't really think of any other way for them to attack (besides maybe hooves). It probably shouldn't be a directional attack (unless a way to add the other directions is found), it could be fine to have it just be non-directional so you can't attack block it, but can still dodge/block/parry.

Thanks for the post, hope something like this makes it into the game at some point, it'd be so fun if done well!

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21 hours ago, 321BoltsOfLightning said:

After reading and thinking about it for a while, I think this could be a really solid way to do the combat. Drifters could be really fun to fight with this. Multiple playstyles and skill based, without being too complicated (though it did take me a while to understand it just from this post, I think it'll be easier to understand for people if they're actually playing or even watching). Throw in some neat rewards (that aren't required but still useful) as AngryRob said and it'd be great!

One question though, is how would non-humanoids interact with this system? Wolves and sheep, for example. Right now they just sort of charge at you, and I can't really think of any other way for them to attack (besides maybe hooves). It probably shouldn't be a directional attack (unless a way to add the other directions is found), it could be fine to have it just be non-directional so you can't attack block it, but can still dodge/block/parry.

Thanks for the post, hope something like this makes it into the game at some point, it'd be so fun if done well!

A directional block/attack would not be hard conceptually with the animals. You know the wolf attack, because they pounce, so you would block in that direction. Same with sheep. They are animals after all, so they should be easier to read. Now drifters already have multiple attack variants, and those already do give indicators. The animals give good loot already, meat and hides. Drifters? I get the feeling that the loot they have is placeholders at the moment, kinda like the feathers that zombies used to drop.... 

Edited by AngryRob
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Haven't played Mordhau, but combat in videos looks really good.
However there should be huge update to enemies AI and attack variations for such complex combat system to be added/needed.
Have played some time on 1.16 version and i must say combat now is improved. Those who don't like , i think just love homesteading and don't like combat at all.  

Combat system now is simple, and to keep it simple i would love to see only few things:

1) Possibility to block attack almost completely when using shield+weapon (sword, axe, spear) . (Possibly by holding shift and right click). During this i would not want to recieve knockback of any kind. Also take less damage. I am willing to see this because now fighting near lava is almost stupid thing to do now as you can be launched into it lossing everything. Also that would help during surprise attacks by wolf. I want to be able to hold such attacks thus avoiding being thrown away and being able to then answer with my attack to those nastys. :) 
Yet this options asks for some stamina as suggested before (or at least time limit), because otherwise you would be able to just hold this possition and be immortal almost. :)

2) Sparta kick. Maybe not so strong as in "Assassin's Creed Odyssey Sparta" game. Why it is needed? I want some possibility to get out of situations i am cornered by 2 or 3 drifters. This attack should not deal any damage to enemies. Would be cool to get out of unleasant situations. Also kicking some drifters into pits or lava would be so amazing and fun moments, so i don't understand why it's not added already, LOL. :D Maybe this could be a mod, because otherwise in multiplayer i see this as a bad possibility to kick friend away. :) 

3) Some light weapons to please those who want fast attacks. Sure these attacks should take less damage to enemies on hit.

4) I could be O.K. with more ways to attack (random directional attacks according to WASD keys pressed during attack as suggested), but it's not so important to me, because i don't play PVP in Vintage Story. And as i mentioned enemies need to made more complex for such changes to be necessary atm.

5) About skills. I would want to see some reward for me being more combat based player than others. So maybe some of the things suggested could just become availabe after some time of playing and fighting. So yea..some simple skill tree as in other games could be cool. Maybe my characted could simply become more buff than others. :D

Overall great and detailed suggestions in this post. They are great, but not sure possible or some even needed at this stage of the game. ;)

Edited by Domkrats
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Personally, I am not in favor of increased complexity to combat in general; if some method can be worked in to allow directional blocking and parrying and suchlike for those that enjoy it while also keeping straightforward approaches viable for those who don't, that would be fine. But in particular I don't like the idea of designing combat around PvP. Only a portion of VS players habitually play multiplayer, and only a portion of those engage in PvP, but *everyone* has to deal with drifters and wolves, unless you turn mob hostility completely off. There are plenty of games, even in the survival genre, that focus heavily on PvP; i don't think every game needs to go down that route. But again, if VS can incorporate some of the more PvP-centric techniques in a way that doesn't over-complicate PvE encounters, that would be fine with me.

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On 2/3/2022 at 12:27 PM, Domkrats said:

Overall great and detailed suggestions in this post. They are great, but not sure possible or some even needed at this stage of the game. ;)

I agree, but this could be useful in the distant future for some 1.25 combat update, for example. I like more dynamic battles, of course, the VS combat system is something between minecraft and hytale, but I would like to see in the future add combo strikes, evasions, slow or fast strikes, and so on, perhaps someone will make it a big mod. But that's interesting in the future. 

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5 hours ago, B3LY said:

@ErikI think you need to delve more into combat systems, and make or supplement your article, and write to the developers, I think together you will find compromises in the future. 

The devs are aware of this post, but this post is a bit outdated now that we got some updates to combat.

A big thing the devs are generally against is a traditional stamina system. Their reasoning is that they want the players to focus on the enemy rather than status bars in combat, which is a understandable reason. So the whole blocking system would need to be rethought also including some insights into the current blocking system. I plan to make a post on that and the armor/damage systems/balance (since they are kinda related to it) sometime in the future, probably.

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15 hours ago, redram said:

Perhaps be aware that for 1.17, we hope to - at a minimum - get armor repair in, in the same general way that clothing repair works right now.  Possibly further armor tweaks and rebalances as well, maybe.

this would be amazing ❤️

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