Improving the combat system

If you watched the previous video (here on YouTube), you might have noticed that the combat looked a bit dull. There were multiple causes to it:
– click targetting,
– long skill cooldowns,
– no auto-attacks,
– move-locked skills,
– characters drew their weapons for an attack, then immediately put it away,
– reworked UI.

I’ll detail all of these points, but for now, let’s start with the video:

Adding tab targetting

Tab targetting is something that is well-known to players. If you’ve ever played an MMORPG, there are good chances it used tab-targetting for target selection. While some players feel that such systems have been overused, and wish for more actiony ones, it’s still used daily by millions of players (WoW, FFXIV…), and remains one of the more precise and quick way to select a target.
With this addition, the combat is more maniable than with just the click targetting, that remains available.

Low-cooldown skills

Having no short cooldown skills or auto-attacks forced the players to move around a target to avoid being attacked. While it can be interesting in itself, it was 80% running for 20% skills… Which is a bit too much. The fact that the current classes didn’t had a lot of skills surely didn’t help, but still, I meant them to be representative, so, the fact that it didn’t feel good enough made it obvious that a rework was neededg.

Adding auto-attacks was tempting. It’s another well-known system consisting simply in having a weapon-based implicit skill dealing some damages on a regular basis, without the need for a player input other than start/stop. It’s not just use in some RPGs, but also in MOBAs and other genres.
I thought about this auto-attack option for quite some time, but came up with something I consider a bit more interesting in the form a low cost skill with a low cooldown (500 ms). Practically, it’s the same thing than an auto-attack, except that it requires a permanent key press or skill click to be activated. To bring some depth, there will be more than just one skill per weapon type, though players will have to choose only one. As you might guess, these different skills will have varying execution time and damage.

Combat in motion

This is certainly the biggest improvement of all, and one that cost me a lot of development time: the ability to use skills when moving. Modifying the animation system to allow this wasn’t easy (I might write a post about it, by the way), but totally worth it, since, as you can see in the video below, the combat is a lot more dynamic now, and even the player character looks more alive when following the target.

Fighting when moving around also implies that the angle of attack is now an important thing to consider. As before, when you’re idle, then initiate an attack, the game makes your character face its target. However, if you’re running around, it’s not something that can be done without changing where you’re going to – what could be potentially dangerous – thus, it is the player’s task to make the character face the right direction. Note that the system remains quite flexible, granted your target is not in your character’s back, as you can see in the video.

Also, regarding the “why should I move if I can stay put?” argument, I plan to add some bonuses for attacks done when moving. Nothing that could turn the tide of a combat, but bonuses big enough to make the difference between two players with similar builds.

Combat mode

“Combat mode” simply means that when a player starts using a weapon, it will stay in combat mode for some time, showing a drawn weapon even when running or being idle. At first, it might seem to be an eye candy – and it partly is – but this offensive stance will have an impact on both PvE and PvP. They don’t exist yet, but some skills will require to be in or out of combat mode to be used, the most notables probably being the stealth skills.

Reworked UI

The UI has been cleaned, a lot. The chatbox is now auto-hiding itself to avoid cluttering the screen more than necessary. In low resolutions such as 1280×720, the difference is quite visible. While the chatbox appearance is still the same than, I plan to rework it a later date.

The other big UI change is the transformation of the small player status bars (HP, MP…) that were on the top left of the screen into big and visible bars at the bottom center of the screen, under the default position of the hotbar. You’ll have to trust me on this one since few people have tested the first combat version, but having these informations more visible and accessible is a lot more comfortable aswell as helpful when it comes to understand what is going on and evaluating your chances of survival.

That’s all for now!

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