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Update #44: The Rules of (Melee) Engagement

project eternity josh sawyer combat engagement

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#41
Somna

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I wouldn't be surprised if a "Spring Attack" ability would be included in this, to allow someone to make hit and run attacks without becoming engaged.

Also wouldn't surprise me if flanking bonuses will depend on if you are an engaged target or not.

#42
Ganrich

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Great update. This is making me debate playing a melee character on my first play through.

I "missed" your updates Josh. Lol. Still laughing at that opening joke.

#43
Blackblade

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The basic idea is good and it sounds like you are adding in some nice details to flesh it out.  I have some minor concerns though and some comments to help flesh it out more.

 

1) It sounds like fighters in defense mode can engage 3 guys.  That sounds like a lot.  I can see this for an experienced warrior but for a base ability it sounds like too much.  If your parrty had 3 ranged specialists than an NPC warrior could tie down all your melee guys.

2) When engaged you should still be able to move a little.  It sounds like you are planning something like this but the details weren't there.  Since movement is taking place in real time I would recommend actually making the movement rate slower until you are disengaged.  You can force the disengage at any point though to get full movement back but provoke an attack of opportunity.  You mentioned forcing an opponent to stop when engagement starts.  Maybe the slow move effect could replace that and give a similar effect?

3) Please add plenty of abilities to manipulate attackers and defenders that are engaged.  You mentioned some of these for the different classes but add more.  A more experienced warrior should be able to slowly move the opponent back and slowly circle around him for instance without provoking an attack of opportunity.  If you have a shield you can try and push them back.

4) Have the engagement radius be based on the weapon length as well as the experience of the fighter.  Small weapons could get accuracy bonuses to make up for this (easier to react to a sudden unexpected movement).

5) Not so sure about the Grimoire Slam ability.  The effect is fine but the picture that name brings to mind is a bit goofy.  Maybe just give it a different name.  From the comments above it sounds like some do like it as it is though.



#44
Adam Brennecke

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Great update and game mechanic. Was wishing to see some updates on previous mechanics (like hit/miss and armor mechs) just to see where we stand, but that's probably a WIP still. 

 

In terms of Engagement, I'm hoping that the computer AI is smart about this and isn't open to work arounds or players being able to take advantage of the mechanic. For example, having enemies constantly switching engagement between enemies and thus limiting the usefulness of this. I can't come up with actual examples right now, but computer AI is notorious for sucking when complex mechanics are put in place. Just wanted to give a heads up on this and wondering if the devs had anything particular to say about this.

 

EDIT: Also, I'm loving the camera work and the new style of updates. Very professional and it seems like this would be a great addition for developer commentary on some DVD in the future ... ;)

 

Thanks! We've been getting better at doing updates (and are able to do them more quickly) - I'll pass on your words to the update team.



#45
PsychoBlonde

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I really like how you've described this so far, but one thing to note is that melee enemies WERE a potent threat even without this in, say, Baldur's Gate--one of the reasons why ranged was so useful was that melee enemies like Sarevok would drop you in seconds if you let them close.  So while you're increasing melee effectiveness area, you may want to make sure you don't accidentally make them destroy an entire party with a single sneeze.

 

Actually, pretty much any offensive method in the IE games could be so lethal it was absurd, the real problem lay in getting your DEFENSES up against the bosses with Equally Absurd offenses so that you DIDN'T have to kite them in order to survive.  Those games were never a matter of "what tactics do I use" but rather "what particular bit of cheese do I pull out now to either WIN INSTANTLY or SOMEHOW SURVIVE THIS INSANELY STUPID FIGHT".

 

I'd like to see *a lot more* of these sorts of tactical options, though, like, say, mages throwing down walls that block ranged fire and make fighters go around, ranged banking shots off walls.  But remember that more options in a party based game means you need a REALLY GOOD interface that doesn't make you click through a ton of menus to Make Stuff Happen.


Edited by PsychoBlonde, 27 February 2013 - 12:11 AM.

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#46
IndiraLightfoot

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Wonderful update, and so many wonderful comments and suggestions! A big hug to you all!  :)

 

I love the grimoire slam, it's so true to the spirit of any good adventurous RPG! :wub:

 

PsychoBlonde: A very important point: Just make sure that ranged attacks and spells, also sneaking and mind-dazzling cipher methods get a fair share at messing up the order of things, and then especially that engagement zone.

 

P.S. But Josh, what happened to the production beard? Perhaps it's time to break such traditions, anyway, huh? They are more fitting in the setting of ice hockey finals than in the sphere of game making.



#47
Rack

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I like it, simple, clean and effective. If you can resist the temptation to add a million clauses, additional abilities and flat counters it will be a great mechanic. The examples you gave give me hope though, sounds like they all have good counter-play built in.

#48
Monte Carlo

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And, at the end of the day, this is a game where you can bash someone up with a *book*


  • cyberarmy and some guy like this

#49
Sacred_Path

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And, at the end of the day, this is a game where you can bash someone up with a *book*

I'm getting a distinctly "fun" vibe from P:E. Dunno how well that aligns with the "mature themes" thingy :geek:



#50
cyberarmy

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And, at the end of the day, this is a game where you can bash someone up with a *book*

Speak softly and carry a big book!


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#51
Shadenuat

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AOO's? Cool.

Oh and miniatures are cool too! Nice little dungeon you have there.

 

Grimoire Slam is lame though. Spellbook is wizard's life and treasure, you should't even try to do something with it which can potentially damage it. I'd make it a spell (like jedi Force Push) which you should choose to "memorise" on rest or not.

 

And where is next part of MCA's Arcanum LP? I WANT MY SEASON ONE OF DISCOVERY ABOUT WOLVES


Edited by Shadenuat, 27 February 2013 - 02:33 AM.

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#52
norolim

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This is an excellent update! I always play melee characters in RPGs, so this particular mechanic I welcome with open arms. Perhaps it will even make sense to make an all melee party now...exciting :] I wonder (as do some other backers) how this will work with long range pole weapons, e.g. a glaive. Any thoughts on that Josh?



#53
Karranthain

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Very nice update and I love the idea!

 

I wonder how reach weapons (pikes, halberds, spears etc.) would fit in with that particular mechanic.

 

Some ideas :

 

1) Engagement attack

 

- whenever an opponent approaches a character armed with a reach weapon, he provokes an automatic Engagement attack;

 

2) Warding off

 

- characters armed with a reach weapon have a chance to avoid becoming engaged with an enemy in a melee combat; the opponent still counts as engaged, however.

 

3) Range disadvantage

 

- whenever a character wielding a reach weapon is engaged by an opponent who uses regular armament, he receives significant combat mali. His opponent, however, is at a significant advantage. Weapon swapping is prevented.

 

 

Solutions 2 and 3 could go hand in hand.

 

P.S.

 

Is that supposed to be a Wild Rush, Josh? ;)

 

 



#54
Labadal

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And, at the end of the day, this is a game where you can bash someone up with a *book*


I demand that the best one is called Phone Book.

#55
Shadenuat

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So how does one grimoire slam a gelatinous cube


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#56
Valorian

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Naturally, I like this, and I also hope the AI can be fine-tuned to not massacre itself while disengaging continuously.

 

As has been mentioned by Josh, it doesn't address all instances of kiting, it only addresses the situation when a combatant has already been engaged. You can't now use him as a running bait while your ranged characters shoot the enemy to death.

If you decide to not engage and simply kite from start with ranged attacks.. I'm not sure how that will work out. Perhaps including a stamina draining mechanic for kiters would be an acceptable solution?

 

 

Grimoire slam. :no:  I'd be worried not to destroy the precious book in the process of slamming something with it, magically-charged or not.

 

 



#57
some guy

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I really like this update!

 

It's systems like this that provides the gameplay with a bit of character. Just be careful not to give big, slow, hard-hitting brutes to many sticky opportunities as it's kinda given you should be able to run close, past them.

 

Also: make your animators work their teeth off to make this look good!


Edited by some guy, 27 February 2013 - 05:16 AM.


#58
n0mDePlume

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WHERE'S THE SLIDE?

 

Seriously, in tabletop D&D attacks of opportunity don't prevent you from moving away from someone you're engaged with, they just slow you down to 1 step per turn.  Put another way, you have a "really cautious" movement mode which can get you away from dangerous situations when the enemy doesn't want to pursue you.

 

Think about this from an intuitive gameplay perspective.  What if enemy A is attacking character 1, and character 2 comes up to help his friend?

 

Under normal circumstances, nothing.  Character 2 can attack enemy A with impunity and walk off whenever he wants.

 

If the enemy happens to be an "engager", on the other hand, character 2 may now be "engaged".  Since he's not the enemy's primary target, he's still not going to be attacked.  He can still help his buddy safely.  Until the moment he decides to step out of range, in which he takes a nasty hit, perhaps a lethal hit.

 

 

This introduces a whole new thing to worry about in the game - if I tell my character to move (deliberately or just by accidentially selecting him), HE CAN DIE!

 

 

In my experience with IE games, when managing a party it was incredibly easy to issue an undesired move order.  I mean, in Baldurs Gate with six guys on the screen, I'd be dragging to select and it was easy to select someone I didn't want.  This didn't really matter, because moving was rarely dangerous, it just canceled some attacks.  All I would say was "woops, I canceled some attacks, better click click click and re-issue them".

 

I really do not enjoy games where making the wrong kick can be lethal!  That does happen in some games, obviously mistakes sometimes kill you, but even in X-Com which is a turn based game they required a double-click to move because they'd made a wrong move so frequently fatal.

 

 

Under this system not only is an accidental click potentially fatal, you're talking about abnormally high damage for attacks on enemies withdrawing from engagement.

 

And how the heck do I know my characters are engaged, anyway?

 

That's now a VERY important piece of information, something I need to be able to casually see just by skimming over the battlefield in real time.  It's hard to see how a character's facing or animations could reliably indicate that they're engaged, so you're going to need a bright pentagram or something around every engaged character on the battlefield at all times, and a visual indication of exactly who they're engaged by.  This needs to be impossible to miss and easy to figure out without pausing.

 

 

Is there going to be some protection to prevent mis-selected characters from being moved out of engagement?  A warning or a double-click to move when you try to move any engaged characters?

 

How do I know exactly where the engagement radius is, and exactly which enemies CAN engage?  Trial and error?  Am I going to fight a pack of 12 goblins, 2 of which are Goblin Elite engagers who wear a different color of hat?  Do bigger enemies or enemies with reach weapons engage at longer ranges (in D&D the answer to that is "sometimes yes")?

 

 

And back to the slide... will there be some way to move out of engagement, deliberately, without being attacked?  Because it just seems fantastically unintuitive that you could be fighting a guy without being hit, because he's aiming at someone else, and yet unable to back away from him without being hit.  The slide is absolutely critical to the D&D AOO mechanic to make it work - it's not supposed to lock you down, it's supposed to slow you down so much that you can't just run off.

 

If I can get out of engagement, do I need a special "slow move" option to get out of it safely?  Or will engagement act as a sort of sticky "slow field" which forces me to move slowly, then if I double-click I can run out of it fast at the penalty of taking an attack?

 

 

When I think about actually implementing this in a game, it sounds like a UI/UX nightmare.  It sounds like a tabletop mechanic that isn't a natural move to a CRPG where you're controlling a party of characters from a top down perspective.  If this was WOW, maybe it would be doable (although among its zillion mechanics I don't think WOW uses this one), but only because that's a one-character game where you're expected to be looking closely at your primary target.  Even so WOW players would have an add-on saying "YOU ARE ENGAGED" in bright red letters in the middle of their screen.

 

Positional mechanics in general don't sound like a good idea in a game where I'm trying to control an entire party of characters, potentially in the middle of a dozen enemies, in real time, and I don't even control their movements!

 

Yeah, that's another point - how do I keep my guys from getting engaged given that I click to tell them where to go, not how to get there?  How does the movement AI decide whether or not to have them run through a zone where they will get engaged?  What about when the enemy who could do the engaging is moving?  This sounds like it would give a huge incentive to keep pausing and micromanaging movement, when I want characters to slip by an engaging enemy without becoming engaged.  In tabletop this is easy because it's turn based and there is a nice map grid...

 

 

I strongly suggest that the moment you decide to generate extra attacks based on the way characters move, you're creating a giant frustration in a game where the player does not have complete control over character movement and trying to increase control quickly enters micromanagement hell.

 

If you want to control movement (and I'm not sold on the need for that), do it by controlling movement.  Kiting seems easy to stop - force ranged attackers to move more slowly after an attack rather than only having to stop for long enough to run their firing animation.  The key is that while it may take 4 seconds to fire a bow if you're already standing still with your bow out, you shouldn't be able to run, spend four seconds accurately firing a bow, and run again.  You could just require an extra delay to attack if the character has just been running.

 

Anything precisely positional, where I have to worry about moving onto "sticky ground", is just way more than I want to have to deal with.  Even an enemy who simply slows down people passing near them is someone who provides an opportunity to avoid their effect through carefully second guessing the movement pathfinding.

 

 

Over all, I suspect there's a reason why CRPGs avoid positional mechanics, and even the well-travelled "cover mechanic" is only for games whose levels are designed from the ground up to support it.  Compared to other games the player has unusually low awareness of and control of position.


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#59
Blackstream

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I'm personally on the fence as to whether or not a defensive 'slide' option is needed. I've played games with AoO that both had and didn't have it (old d&d games like secret of the silver blades did not have it, d&d 4th ed does have it.

 

But one thing I would like to see are feats/class abilities that modify the effects of engagement with that player. I.e., debuffs on the enemy or buffs on the player. Spells too. A spell that makes it so that when the enemy engages with someone, it gets a huge penalty to accuracy or something would be awesome. Or maybe the enemy takes damage everytime it engages or disengages with someone.

 

 

One potential exploit to watch out for (although maybe it's wholesome gameplay). If engagement distance can indeed be extended with things like polearms, I totally forsee sandwich techniques where two players stand on opposite ends of a creature and engage it, and no matter where the creature moves to, it provokes an AoO. And if the two PCs keep at range and keep engaging, you could essentially lock down an enemy and get lots of free (huge) damage. Add on any abilities and things like multi engagement bonuses and the such, and you could in theory have some very sick AI destorying combos (for example, the AI might be coded to not want to break engagement and take huge damage, so it just stands between two people and is effectively mezzed because it doesn't want to break either engagment).



#60
Shadenuat

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DePlume's points are valid. Although they are mostly in the realm of UI. If game will just place flying markers over characters who are already engaged it will help. Other problems can be solved by drawing an engagement circle around enemies, which can be lightened up by holding shift-button (actually, neutral/hostile circles can serve just that function when combat is on). That and an option of going into slow-mo which is already in their engine would solve maybe not every, but a lot of problems with AOO clarity.

 

So yeah, I hope you guys solve two problems with AOO's which were present in NWN:

- Lack of any signal system (engagement circles, flying markers, anything)

- Bad pathfinding (so we will be able to order a wizard or rogue run through battle from point A to point B with one click, not with 5 clicks and 5 pauses).

 

And one other question to developers. Will AOO's be a replacement for creating choking points using doors, or will we still be able to just physically block enemy progression through a door or any other choking point using one or two characters?


Edited by Shadenuat, 27 February 2013 - 07:21 AM.






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