W.U. 1: Regarding Combo Attacks

Here it is. The first weekly update.

I mentioned combo attacks as one of the things I was thinking of incorporating to the game. This is for melee. I thought it looked more natural that subsequent attacks (of the same attack type) would have different attack animations.

To reiterate, I want to have different (cycling) attack animations every time the same attack command is used in sequence.

Here is some programmer art to illustrate my point:

(You can see how I got lazy in the last attack pose. It was already 2am and I was hungry.)

I got into deep thought into how to implement a system for it and I was thinking of this:

When the player chooses to make a unit do melee attack, the game turns into a sort of action RPG (i.e. Diablo): the camera centers on that unit, and clicking on the ground makes the unit attack to that destination. Multiple clicks are allowed, as long as the unit has enough stamina.

But when I made a rough implementation of it, I thought, why am I making it like this? One of my goals was to lessen the requirement of fast reflexes. Giving the player controls akin to an action game goes against this.

Valkyria Chronicles does something similar. There, when you start controlling a unit, the game stops being turn-based for a while, and turns into an action game, a 3rd-persoon shooter specifically, in this case. You’ll have to note though, that success in attacks are still determined by formulae in that game.

Overall, that works for them since its a shooter. I, on the other hand, want to have melee attacks with different variations. Kind of like in a fighting game, or an action game like God of War.

The problem is, once I do something like that, I would be demanding good reflexes from the player; it becomes a twitch game, not a tactics game anymore.

But, if I could make a system where the player can schedule multiple attacks at his leisure, that may be able to fix it. However I could not think of a good way to implement this.

Frozen Synapse mostly does something like that by letting the player set way points for the units to move to (again, attacks are done automatically in that game). So it became a matter of scheduling where to put your unit. Hopefully he’ll be in the right place in the right time. That “hopefully” part is the cause of much sweating and excitement in that game, for me.

Again, Frozen Synapse is a game about ranged attackers, so I’m having a hard time seeing how it can work here.

So, I’m taking a step back from the combo attacks idea.

Then I thought of the idea of coordinated attacks. It’s much like combo attacks, but here, the attacks are from multiple characters. Disgaea has something like this, and the process in that one is mostly automatic. By placing your units in a certain manner, your unit’s allies help by automatically attacking alongside the active unit.

I imagined one time where a unit would throw an enemy up in the air, then an ally would jump and hit that enemy in mid-air.

However, I wanted something that gave the player more control on how the attack coordination would be. So how to make an input system where inputting the commands for that would not be frustrating?

Doing this would essentially be a simultaneous turn-based system, where you have a planning phase to coordinate attacks for two or more allies, then a resolution phase to watch them do it.

I visualized again that idea where you hit a unit in mid-air. Why would a player want to do that? Sure, it looks cool, but what’s the tactical advantage of that?

In fighting games, an enemy being juggled in the air is a helpless enemy, because he can’t counterattack. That’s why you would want to juggle enemies. But, in a turn-based game, your enemy is pretty much just standing idle while you do your turn, so why the need?

In Disgaea, it was for dishing out extra damage without expending additional resources. Those extra attacks done by allies are free of charge; that is to say, the allies who help attack don’t get marked as finished for that turn. That means, you can still use those guys in that turn. More attacks can be done than if you wouldn’t use combos.

With the stamina system, I don’t like the idea of free attacks that don’t cost stamina, so I don’t want to use that idea from Disgaea.

So this leaves me with this: I’m leaving the combo attack idea for now. If I get an idea how to do that better, then I’ll try it. But I won’t concentrate on the combo attack idea anymore.

But I’ll still definitely allow different attack animations in the game.

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