Technical Update #2
In the first technical note we talked a little about how we plan to use the hardware controller to streamline what might otherwise become a challenging user interface. We would like to give players the option of learning many different moves, in many different combat systems. Keeping track of all those moves and remembering what works in which type of situation has the potential to become a headache. We've been working on some specific user interface widgets to help address this situation. These might not be the actual ones we end up using--a lot of development and testing still stands ahead of us--but we're showing them to you because doing so might help convey some sense of how we think about the game.
The Stance Bar
The vertical column of icons on the far left reminds you of the various stances available in the system. Medieval Italian and German longsword masters did us the favor of assigning vivid names to these positions, such as Boar's Tooth, Iron Gate, The Fool, Boar's Tooth, Window, and Woman's Guard. As you can see, we have translated these directly into icons. In keeping with normal UI conventions, the stance you're in illuminates. Available stances (ones you can move into from your current stance) are shown normally, and unavailable ones are greyed out.
The Attack Star
Fiore's longsword system defines seven basic angles of attack, called the sette spada or Seven Swords, which are depicted in an illustration in Flower of Battle that has become a familiar icon of the western martial arts. We have transferred it with some modifications into this user interface widget, which we call the attack star. It depicts six angles for cutting attacks, represented by the six swords, and a target for thrusting attacks. Depending on which stance you're in, some of these may or may not be available, and so the swords and the target will highlight or gray out in a context-dependent way.
The Parry Bar
In general, attacks are just points of entry to branches of the combat tree that can become quite elaborate and include a wide range of parries, counterattacks, etc. This widget in low right center serves as a dock where icons representing such moves can come and go dynamically, depending on the situation.
In a fully realized version of the game, which we hope to build later when we get more funding, your character will learn stances, moves, and techniques from a cast of trainer characters dotted around the map of medieval Europe. The trainer radial serves as a way of organizing and accessing all of that knowledge. Each icon represents a specific teacher your character has trained with in the past. When that trainer's knowledge becomes relevant to what's happening in a fight, they will zoom out and you'll see them surrounded by a sub-radial depicting the various techniques that they taught you.
The End of Fight Bar
At the end of a fight, when one of the combatants has been disarmed, disabled, or placed in an impossible situation, the three icons in the end-of-fight bar become relevant. If you're the victor, you'll be given the opportunity to spare your defeated opponent--or not. If you've been defeated, you have the option to cry uncle, which in most chivalric contexts means that the victor is expected to show mercy (and take all of your stuff and hold you for ransom).
Here's how it all looks with the widgets displayed. For testing and development purposes, we'll probably make the icons hot so that you can click on them with a mouse and make something happen. In theory the game could be played that way too. But we intend to design it in such a way that playing it with the hardware controller gives you a better experience.
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