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Engagement: The Sequel

Combat mechanics engagement attacks of opportunity character abilities

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#1
Lephys

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Do we know anything about Engagement mechanics in Deadfire? I've scoured the Q&A transcripts and haven't been able to dig up much in the way of mechanics design plans for anything, really.

 

I DO hope it's a bit more refined than in the first game. I know in some discussions during that game's production, we were really hoping that engaging foes would be some kind of active-use ability, maybe that only certain classes got. It's a bit silly for everyone to just passively stick to everyone else.

 

I love the idea of engagement and disengagement, 'cause it's equally silly to just nope your way out of active combat with someone. But... I just wish it worked a bit better. It should be a bit more intuitive. "I want to avoid that guy." Or "I want to stop this guy from getting past." Not just Katamary Damacy, "Oh no here come people towards each other! Oh no! OH NO THEY'RE ALL STUCK!"


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#2
rjshae

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I'd like to see a system that works like a wargaming-style zone-of-control (ZoC): leaving a ZoC costs a movement penalty (recovery time?), and if you move directly from one enemy ZoC to another you might get whacked. But that would probably require a turn-based combat system with a hex grid.


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#3
blotter

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Sawyer goes into the difference in Deadfire's engagement mechanics here: https://www.twitch.t...024818?t=43m17s


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#4
Lephys

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Thanks, blotter!

 

*Watches video*

 

... Okay, okay. Step in the right direction, at least. I just tried to watch that segment real quick at work, so I had to keep it super low so as not to disturb my coworkers. But, it sounded like the main difference so far is that not everyone will engage everyone anymore. This is good. Still wish there were three tiers:

 

1) No engagement.

2) Active-use engagement (limited by a cooldown or something, so you can't just switch targets every .3 milliseconds) --- [Most common]

3) Passive engagement -------- [rarest, maybe used by crazy beasts and such, or mega-elite fighters]

 

Just... Managing that many people on a battlefield, and not-knowing what the enemies are going to do, and playing in an active environment... it's not the most intuitive thing in the world to just try and literally run your people into other people (and/or make sure they don't bump into folks). At the very least, you should have some kind of option to devote all your power to dodging or something. I'm thinking XCOM's sprinting. You could use your full turn to run to a spot, and you'd sprint there, gaining essentially a bonus to evasion against anyone who might be firing at you. Coupling that with Overwatch in that game, and it's essentially the same idea as engagement/attacks of opportunity.

 

But, the Pillars 1 system just makes me think of The Last Remnant, in which you had squads of peeps on a battlefield, versus enemy squads of peeps, and they actually all had very specific placements on the battlefield. However, all you could do is say "Head towards enemy X" or "Head towards ally Y," then hope you actually encounter your target before an enemy encounters you. So, you had no precise positional control over anything.

 

I'm not saying that in Pillars 1 you had no positional control, but the idea that just "Oh, I don't know these things' attack speed, or if they're going to speed up or slow down with abilities, etc., so I'll just send my guy where I THINK they won't bump into each other," then you hope that they're not going to bump into one another... it's not very intuitive. In the decision-making portion of things, you'd think your character would have the ability to focus on, essentially, anti-engagement. Like "I'm gonna run over here, and it's really important that I get there, so I'm just gonna powerslide under whomever's attack comes at me, and skip getting locked down altogether), rather than "Oh no, I came within 5 feet of this dude and he lunged at me. NOW what do I do, other than get critically stabbed in the buttocks OR waste my limited uses of Substitution Jutsu JUST to AVOID this one dude who should have a harder time engaging me in the first place."

 

If you attack someone directly, then want to switch targets, I'm all for having to manually disengage. Or if you get stunned, then someone runs up on you and is hitting the crap out of you. Now you have to get away. But, until someone actually catches you with your focus lasered-in on something else, there's no reason you shouldn't have some kind of advantage as a moving target versus someone trying to tie you down. You shouldn't be forced to "get away" from someone who just is trying to approach you and hit you. When I move characters around the battlefield, I'm not clicking thinking "LITERALLY STEP RIGHT HERE NO MATTER WHAT!" I'm thinking that I want them to make their way to that place. They can football spin out of people's ways, or juke one way and go the other, or jump over people, or slide under them, or what-have-you all they want. I don't want them to just travel like a missile and hope no one moves a wall into their path.


Edited by Lephys, 15 September 2017 - 11:42 AM.

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#5
blotter

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Thanks, blotter!

 

You're welcome. 

 

Given the changes to engagement, I wonder if it will be necessary to revise talents, items, and abilities that deal with negating or impeding engagement-based attacks since they'll be less likely to occur and easier to avoid once you know which enemies/classes/items to watch out for.



#6
Wormerine

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From what I understand engagements will be rarer but more impactful. They are an ability inherit to fighter, and I believe some weapon type's specialisation will provide engagement as well.

#7
blotter

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Still wish there were three tiers:

 

1) No engagement.

2) Active-use engagement (limited by a cooldown or something, so you can't just switch targets every .3 milliseconds) --- [Most common]

3) Passive engagement -------- [rarest, maybe used by crazy beasts and such, or mega-elite fighters]

 

I didn't catch this edit before.

 

Active-use engagement as the norm does seem like it'd offer a more dynamic combat experience. I haven't heard anything that suggests that it'll be in the game (and I understand that this is your preference and not necessarily your expectation), but we're probably going to see a few things that may be functionally similar in that they involve impeding enemy mobility or making movement risky; things like traps, walls of fire, and the rogues' Crippling Strike ability come to mind.

 

As far as fighters are concerned, aside from being one of the most likely classes to specialize in passive engagement, Sawyer also mentions (https://jesawyer.tum...ake-the-fighter and https://jesawyer.tum...nk-in-the-party) that the fighter's capacity to yank enemies towards them via Into the Fray and possibly similar abilities will be getting a boost in Deadfire; this is obviously quite a bit different from engagement, but it does provide a more active method to force confrontations between particular allies and foes while likely synergizing with engagement itself.



#8
4ward

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a simple disabler like paralyze/charm/confusion is more worth countering / doing something against than engagement no matter how punishing the aoo is. The abilities of the non-caster classes would have been interesting without having engagement at all. Once my wizard reaches lvl 7 and gets that confusion spell, engagement goes out the window.


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#9
Torm51

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I am not getting the entire fuss about engagement.  It worked fine.  You would get free attacks if someone ran past you.  It simulates you trying to run buy a dude whose armed with a weapon and not defending yourself.  The "stick thing" is just a mechanic that simulates a front line of attackers wanting to attack the intended targets.  It was a temporary momentary stop and if you wanted to you could keep running by.  Especially with high defense.  My frontliners rarely care about engagement even from dragons.  So I do not think it was impactful enough.

 

Obviously characters with implements, people casting and ranged weapons should not have engagement.  Characters with martial capabilities should.  They are trained armsmen/women and should get a free shot at someone dumb enough to run by.  It should of hurt more in POE in my opinion.

 

What was messed up IMO was that you would lose engagement for making a MELEE ability.  That's dumb you are still in melee and actively trying to hit your opponent.  Also some guy would run in circles for a long time trying to get to your mage and wouldn't always get engaged for some reason.  They system is inconsistent in registering engagement.


Edited by Torm51, 18 September 2017 - 12:41 PM.

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#10
FlintlockJazz

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I'm with Torm, I never got the issue.  It was a 'designed for computers' version of Attacks of Opportunity in D&D 3rd ed.


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#11
Lephys

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@Torm,

 

To be fair, you listed various different problems with the engagement system immediately after expressing bafflement at why anyone would have problems with engagement, :).

 

Maybe you meant that more specifically? I know a lot of people were like... wholly against it from the get-go. "WHOA?! No, we should in NO way ever even ATTEMPT to simulate anything even REMOTELY similar to attacks of opportunity!" That was a bit silly.

 

It did work "okay" in Pillars, but it wasn't the best fit. It's not intuitive enough, and it wasn't restricted enough. It was just this weirdly passive thing floating around. Also for what it's worth, attacks of opportunity work in tabletop LARGELY because an actual grid is defined, in 5-foot squares, for much of (if not all of? I'm not an expert) D&D. PLUS, everyone didn't move at the same time. PLUS, it was turn-based, so you had a lot more time to plan your movements and see the consequences of them.

 

In Pillars we got "jog around and try to guess how fast the enemy will get within engagement range, and when you will leave it and get freely thwacked by them, etc." There wasn't even like a "break engagement" button (In D&D, you could be like "I wish to knowingly move one-square away from my opponent and risk an AoO"), so it was just "THIS pixel, you're fine... THAT pixel, though? You moved THAT pixel away? You're dead!"

 

Another thing I was asking for while the first game was in development -- another possibility -- was for engaged peeps to sort of be locked into a melee range, but you could actually rotate around your opponent as you fought them. Like with each auto-attack, you step left, etc. Because, yeah... trying to suddenly turn and sprint away (or back away) would simply have your opponent continue to press towards you and probably get "free" attacks. However, it's not as if no one in melee combat ever moves around.


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#12
Torm51

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@Torm,

 

To be fair, you listed various different problems with the engagement system immediately after expressing bafflement at why anyone would have problems with engagement, :).

 

Maybe you meant that more specifically? I know a lot of people were like... wholly against it from the get-go. "WHOA?! No, we should in NO way ever even ATTEMPT to simulate anything even REMOTELY similar to attacks of opportunity!" That was a bit silly.

 

It did work "okay" in Pillars, but it wasn't the best fit. It's not intuitive enough, and it wasn't restricted enough. It was just this weirdly passive thing floating around. Also for what it's worth, attacks of opportunity work in tabletop LARGELY because an actual grid is defined, in 5-foot squares, for much of (if not all of? I'm not an expert) D&D. PLUS, everyone didn't move at the same time. PLUS, it was turn-based, so you had a lot more time to plan your movements and see the consequences of them.

 

In Pillars we got "jog around and try to guess how fast the enemy will get within engagement range, and when you will leave it and get freely thwacked by them, etc." There wasn't even like a "break engagement" button (In D&D, you could be like "I wish to knowingly move one-square away from my opponent and risk an AoO"), so it was just "THIS pixel, you're fine... THAT pixel, though? You moved THAT pixel away? You're dead!"

 

Another thing I was asking for while the first game was in development -- another possibility -- was for engaged peeps to sort of be locked into a melee range, but you could actually rotate around your opponent as you fought them. Like with each auto-attack, you step left, etc. Because, yeah... trying to suddenly turn and sprint away (or back away) would simply have your opponent continue to press towards you and probably get "free" attacks. However, it's not as if no one in melee combat ever moves around.

Well I guess what I meant to say is that there is room for improvement but it wasn't as bad as people say.  I just think it needs to be more consistent and it needs to be clear.

 

PS I don't think disengagement was punishing enough.  It was never disengage! your dead! unless you were a non sturdy class in the early game.  In the late game my frontline and buffed wizards can run through disengagement like its cool.  I really think there should be a prone type check set with it.  Not just one Fighter ability that does that.  All disengagement attacks should.  And they should hurt significantly more.  Like auto crits or a MASSIVE ACC bonus.


Edited by Torm51, 19 September 2017 - 11:19 AM.

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#13
Lephys

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Agreed. Many people made a bigger fuss about it than need be. I'm simply hoping to channel some additional focus/purpose into it for the sequel. It was just one of those things that probably could've been replaced with additional, active-use, extra-accuracy attacks for Fighter-type characters. I don't think it worked very well when simply tied to freeform movement.

 

It's great that they're at least moving in the right direction by limiting who all engages now and by making the breaking of engagement more punishing, but I hope it gets refined into the best subsystem it can be. It should integrate straight into the tactics, rather than being a strange game of movement Keep-Away mish-mashed with all the other active-use targeted stuff. I still almost feel like it should be built into the character mechanics of melee combat. Like... facings and whatnot. You could lock your facing when engaging/being engaged in melee combat. Then, you can still issue move commands and the like, without worrying about breaking it, or jogging goofily around people. You'd stay facing your opponent, while moving in a more strafing fashion, etc. Rogues and such could even gain bonuses to movement speed while engaged, so that they could circle people swiftly (especially slower-moving opponents) for sneaky counters and flanking attacks.

 

I think the other thing that hurts my head is that, if you're simply running from point A to point B on the battlefield, and some foe comes straight for you to attack, he gets to make his regular attack, AND gets an attack of opportunity, because you get engaged by him, but keep running, so you immediately break engagement. Which is nonsensical. The only thing you'd be getting hit with is JUST the attack of opportunity. It's an opportunity because your focus is remaining on your destination, and you're not stopping/slowing to deal with the foe's incoming attack. At the same time, though, a la XCOM (as I mentioned earlier in this thread), you'd think that your speed and focus on AVOIDING someone in that situation would get you some kind of evasion bonus. Unless someone can plant themselves firmly in your way, you can always jump/duck their thrust and keep moving, and be away from them before they can attack again. They're essentially attacking from your side, WHILE you're moving (speedily, one would think, to get across the battlefield quickly).

 

So, yeah. It just blanketed everything with sticky/gravity mechanics, and that was very strange. It needs to be more structured and deliberate, and breaking it needs to be a deliberate trade-off for something else gained







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Combat mechanics, engagement, attacks of opportunity, character abilities

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