Let's talk about combat!
One of the questions someone asked me is, "What is the combat going to be like?" Honestly, it's a little hard to describe, but I want to stress that it won't be like Diablo. The game will be more in line with Kingdoms of Amalur or Soul Blazer. There aren't a ton of enemies on the screen, but each enemy should be a bit dangerous. This means that perhaps a player can handle a few enemies at once, but a whole horde of them will be tough. I really don't want to make a dungeon crawler, there are plenty of them out there already.
The approach I'm making towards combat is that Desi is powerful and that will be easily shown in the power of each attack, the varied number of skills, and the amount of damage she can take. Each attack should feel strong, and there should be plenty of moves to add a bit of depth. At the same time, the game isn't about slaughtering tons of enemies. Combat is important, but ultimately it's just a piece of a whole.
In the trailer, Desi only has one real attack move. This is because I haven't fleshed out the combo system, but eventually certain attacks can be strung together to form more powerful attacks. For example:
Basic attack -> Second attack -> Wind spell -> Wind Rush Skill
Combining these attacks would lead to a nice combo that does good damage. Of course, timing is important and that's where skill comes in. Learning what and how moves can be combined is one of the important aspects of the combat system. With time, I'm sure most players will figure out what works for them. The system is built to be flexible, so I encourage everyone to try things out and share what you've learned once the game is released.
Tapping the attack button ("X" on the 360 pad) will activate your basic attack. Tapping it again will start the combo sequence. Holding the L or R trigger will change to two sets of quick cast abilities (8 slots total). The player will have the option of assigning abilities (both defensive and offensive) to these slots. Abilities will be assigned via a skill tree system, which I'll get into at a later date. If you're not holding the triggers, then "Y" is your block, "A" is dodge/evade, and "B" is your contextual button. It will change depending on the situation, which also includes finishing moves.
Blocking was disabled in the video because there were some issues with the way the character was facing when the "block" button was pressed. How blocking will work in the final game is still being decided. I'm playing with two ideas at the moment:
1. Holding "block" will make Desi immune to all damage, but will come with a little pushback.
2. Holding 'block" will allow some percentage of the damage to get through (skills can lower this number), but Desi doesn't move.
My original implementation was choice number 1. I felt it was too powerful of a move. Of course, I didn't have any enemies who could break my guard which may be why it felt that way. I'll have to iterate on it to make something that feels good.
Dodging is done by hitting the "A" button on the controller. My original plan was to have dodging contextual. So if you pressed the analog stick (or WASD) in a direction it would simply allow you to dodge that way with the appropriate animation (i.e. always facing your enemy). The problem with that was it wasn't always right. Sometimes it'd move you right or forward and it got real frustrating. After talking to a friend of mine, I decided to simply have you dodge in whatever direction you were facing. However, I did add one wrinkle to it by allowing you to roll backwards if the analog stick (or WASD) was in the neutral position. This meant that you could escape an attack by not pressing in a direction and letting Desi roll back. I don't show this in the video, but it's there and works. Unfortunately, there's a problem with the animation and it looks strange which is why I didn't show it.
There are two types of abilities: skills and magic. Looking at the screen above you should see four bars. The top red bar is your HP (Hit Points) bar. The bar below that is your MP (Magic Points) bar. The bottom bar is your SP (Skill Points) bar. The green bar to the left is your EXP bar. Abilities that use skill points will be distinguishable by the yellow bar around the skill icon, while magic spells have a blue bar around the icon. This way you can see what resource you're going to use at a glance.
How you decide to tackle each fight will be up to you. Will you be more of a finesse fighter, all about power, or more of a caster/swordman hybrid? This will bear itself out in the skill tree and you can customize Desi as you see fit.
With all that said, I would like combat to be fairly fast. I really want players to be ready to think on their feet and feel badass doing it. I'll admit that the system isn't there yet, but it'll get there as we get into refining how the pieces mesh together. I hope that before the Kickstarter is finished we will be able to show at least a general idea of how it works. As of now, since Desi only has one real move and one real defensive move, combat is essentially a "stick and move" affair as you've seen in the trailer. That part does work great, however.
I hope that I've covered at least how combat works and what you can expect from the system. This is all a work in progress, but my goal is to make combat fun and engaging. I'm a game player like everyone else and I want it to be fun.
This update was inspired by Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street.