Arcen Games

Games => A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 => Topic started by: Professor Paul1290 on April 17, 2012, 03:28:48 PM

Title: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on April 17, 2012, 03:28:48 PM
I wanted to separate this discussion from the other thread because I find it rather interesting.

Blocks are not terribly interesting to me, to be honest.  That makes it far too easy for skilled players to just avoid way too much damage.  Now, granted, you can already do that by dodging.  But the entire point of some of the varied terrain layouts is to make it so that sometimes your ability to dodge is compromised by tight spaces.  Block couldn't be effectively diminished in that fashion, and so that leads to less tactics.

Both blocks and combos tend to trend toward fighting games, and I'll warn you that's a genre I don't like or particularly understand.

Just from reading through the other thread, here's how I understand it so far (correct me if I missed anything):
-Some players don't like getting stuck in tight quarters where dodging to avoid damage is not possible.
-Some players want some other way to avoid damage besides dodging that adds some extra tactical element to the combat.
-Some players want some other way to avoid damage that isn't tied to or needs to have several different types for different elements.
-"Blocking" has problems because it may be abused to the point where dodging is no longer required, and dodging is an important part of the combat.

It seems to me that some players want a way out of situations where they simply cannot dodge and may take a lot of damage because of it. Currently there are shields, but some people don't like the fact that they take mana and have different variations for different elements. At the same time it shouldn't replace dodging as the primary way to avoid damage, because tight spaces in the game are supposed to make dodging more difficult and having a straight up "block" might undermine that.

Obviously anything that might come out of this would probably have to wait until after 1.0 release, but I think it might be something interesting to discuss.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 17, 2012, 03:30:19 PM
I wonder, does anyone try to block shots by spawning a crate in the line of fire?
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on April 17, 2012, 03:34:47 PM
I wonder, does anyone try to block shots by spawning a crate in the line of fire?

I have tried this a few times, though it seems that a lot of projectiles either go through the crates or they destroy them instantly on their way through.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: x4000 on April 17, 2012, 03:37:15 PM
Good point on the crates.  In terms of the tactics of combat in tight quarters, my general reasoning for not being enthused on blocking is that you already have some tactical options:

1. Draw the enemy out into a more open area.
2. Wait for the enemy to pass when you are still invincible, then sprint for a more open area.
3. Hide behind natural obstacles in the interior (walls, etc) and then pop out to hit them as something of a timing game.
4. Use greater or lesser teleport to get on the other side of enemies, and then draw them into a more open area or just simply avoid them.


My problem with blocking options is that it tends to make everything homogeneous.  Well, that's one of my problems with them.  Each way I look at the blocking mechanic, I'm just not sure what it adds but I do see what it takes away.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: Bluddy on April 17, 2012, 03:42:14 PM
(x4000 beat me to the punch, but I'll post it anyway)

I really think there are enough tactical options here. You can:

1. Dodge
2. Shrink yourself
3. Turn into a bat
4. Duck (sometimes)
5. Use a shield (and I think the elemental flavor of each shield is a *good* thing)
6. Perhaps use a crate (?)
7. Avoid/run through areas where you wouldn't be able to dodge.

I think the key point is the last one actually. This is part of the tactics of the game. The environment presents you with challenges, and this is one of them (in fact I'd like to see more like the poisonous mushrooms and other stuff) If you really care about the fact that you can't dodge in hallways, plan ahead. I think this post http://jonshaferondesign.com/2012/04/03/make-a-better-game-limit-the-player/ (http://jonshaferondesign.com/2012/04/03/make-a-better-game-limit-the-player/) is SO relevant here. Limiting the player is a good thing. If the environment doesn't create tough, interesting and varied situations and you can handle any situation by blocking, then why have an environment at all? Especially a random one?

Post-1.0 I'd like to see the environment get even more involved, with different traps, different objects that do different things (electric damage from blowing up the TV? A knocked down clock falls and hits whatever's below it?) Each environmental object could become a different trap/element of gameplay, creating both opportunities and challenges.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: Martyn van Buren on April 17, 2012, 03:45:40 PM
I think i'd rather not see a hardbound block option --- I like that there are problems in the game that have a few imperfect solutions, forcing an interesting choice.  But I think that putting something defensive in slot 0 and rebinding it to the shift key is a good enough and non-obvious enough trick that the game should lead you to it. Perhaps do that keybinding by default and either call it "primary defense spell" or add a gravestone in the tutorial that suggests putting a shield or teleport spell there? No matter how you play you're going to screw up and cornered sometimes.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: x4000 on April 17, 2012, 03:47:03 PM
This is part of the tactics of the game. The environment presents you with challenges, and this is one of them (in fact I'd like to see more like the poisonous mushrooms and other stuff) If you really care about the fact that you can't dodge in hallways, plan ahead. I think this post http://jonshaferondesign.com/2012/04/03/make-a-better-game-limit-the-player/ (http://jonshaferondesign.com/2012/04/03/make-a-better-game-limit-the-player/) is SO relevant here. Limiting the player is a good thing. If the environment doesn't create tough, interesting and varied situations and you can handle any situation by blocking, then why have an environment at all? Especially a random one?

Post-1.0 I'd like to see the environment get even more involved, with different traps, different objects that do different things (electric damage from blowing up the TV? A knocked down clock falls and hits whatever's below it?) Each environmental object could become a different trap/element of gameplay, creating both opportunities and challenges.

I might have beat you to the punch, but you explained it better.  Exactly all of that.  And yes, I really want to do lots of more environmental hazards post-1.0 also.  I know that's been big on your personal list since forever, Bluddy, and it's something that interests me a lot also.  Just been one of those things that got squeezed out for time constraint reasons so far; but I have loads of ideas for that sort of thing and I expect players have even more.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: x4000 on April 17, 2012, 03:48:13 PM
Oh, by the way -- we're all forgetting about the seize spell.  It lets you thrust arbitrary background objects (trees, furniture) into the way of your enemies.  And those objects usually have more health than crates, and are certainly bigger.  So all that furniture isn't just there for looks, it actually can be used in combat if you're wanting to.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: Terraziel on April 17, 2012, 03:51:29 PM
Having suggested a couple of defensive spells on mantis a fair while ago I can see the need for some more varied defensive options, but I can see no justification what so ever to not have them consume mana, or in the case of using items it consuming the item.

On the note of seize the last time I tried it, which was admittedly ages ago the objects had sufficiently little health that it didn't help much, to say nothing of being very situational.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: Martyn van Buren on April 17, 2012, 03:55:42 PM
Well, you could use shrink to build a collection of durable, portable barricades.  I really like the idea of dropping a line of trees into a hallway as I fight my way down.

That said, is there a good reason why there are no destructable objects that block shots? A few things like boulders and thickets could be good, both as useful things to carry with shrink and to add flavor to the world. I'd quite like occasionally having to tunnel through caves, too.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: x4000 on April 17, 2012, 03:58:08 PM
Non-player crates block shots, but that's it, yeah.  Everything else pretty much pierces through.

Why?  Cheese.  So, so much cheese possible with players being able to arbitrarily block a shot of any strength simply by dropping 100 trees between them and the overlord, then lobbing stones over them or something.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: Martyn van Buren on April 17, 2012, 04:02:29 PM
Hmm.  I still like the idea of encountering them in-world; blowing up bits of the scenery is fun.  How about making boulders immune to shrink?  Anyway not a priority for 1.0.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: x4000 on April 17, 2012, 04:22:21 PM
Yep, something to think about.  I want some digging sections as well, for the record -- I have some neat ideas for some "digging sands" ideas in several different styles, actually.  Those would be mainly mission-focused.  So many ideas...

I just hope the game does well so that we actually get to realize as many of them as possible.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: Martyn van Buren on April 17, 2012, 04:52:33 PM
Dang, I do hope so.  I'm buying Tidalis out of solidarity, anyway.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 17, 2012, 04:53:10 PM
Dang, I do hope so.  I'm buying Tidalis out of solidarity, anyway.
Give Pickles a chance, he'll make you laugh.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on April 17, 2012, 04:55:34 PM
From reading the previous thread as well as a few other threads, I'm getting the impression that the situations that make players feel the need for a block are exceptional situations where the randomness of the game just so happens to mess them up. I'm picturing things like absurd multi-monster pile-ups in little corners of a rooms/caves you can't escape from.
I think I had one case a while back where the last boss in a boss tower was a giant skelebot that was cramped into oddly small boss room with so many regular monsters spawning in as well that I couldn't leave the entrance to get room to fight in and I couldn't escape because the monsters kept hitting me away from the door I entered through! Thankfully it never happened again after that but it was very aggravating the one time it did happen.

When I think of it this way it seems that other games that also rely on dodging as the primary method of avoiding damage already have an existing "off-the-shelf" mechanic that deals with such cases, which this article seems to describe very well:
Player-tuned SHMUPS or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (http://paperdino.com/2010/03/05/player-tuned-shmups-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-bomb/)

Yea I know it might sound downright bizarre, but I almost think a shmup "bomb" might fit this rather well. Either that or some type of similar limited-use "Oh crap save me!" device.

It appears to at least partially address the concerns mentioned above:
-It could add an additional tactical element to combat as a limited use item that may be used either for offense or as an emergency one-use "OH CRAP MAKE THE BAD THINGS GO AWAY!" button.
-It would not undermine dodging and other tactics as the primary method of avoiding damage by having somewhat restricted use, meaning players that need it would save it until after other methods of evasion have failed.
-Perhaps most importantly, it would provide players with a last resort should the randomness of the game just so happens to ruin their day. This is especially nice to have a game where the randomness can sometimes result in rather frustrating situations.

Of course, in order for a "bomb" to work properly in AVWW there would need to be an incentive to avoid using it.
I'm guessing they could be made a pickup item you can only carry a few of at a time.
Another way to do it, is that you could have them use some other existing resource. Maybe gathering health while your health bar is full would charge a "bomb" for later use, so you'd have to "play smart" to get a "bomb" that you can use later on if you get into a situation where "playing smart" isn't enough.

"May the Ilari smite my foes in my time of need!"  :P
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: eRe4s3r on April 17, 2012, 04:58:00 PM
.... I can see no justification what so ever to not have them consume ... items.....
[/b]


Micromanagement.

That even explains why I dislike the current shield spells / platforms / consumables entirely.

1) I have to actually pause to game and look at an enemy to know what element he casts (not a bad thing as such)
2) Only then could I potentially equip a shield that even negates damage properly and only for that enemy...
3) Which I would then a) actually need to have and b) need to put on my shield button slot.. every single time an elemental attack is not what I am shielding against right now.

If it is not obvious why I dislike this system I do not know how else to explain it. It simply fiddly. And I don't use fiddly ^^

Then again, If people like the current shield system i will be quiet about it. I don't even use right now so i do not really care all that much. My suggestions only stem from the direction that i do indeed play WITHOUT shields. And better than with.

So yeah.... see the original topic on what I wrote about shields and how block could become fun and not OP, not a fan of copy pasting entire posts into new posts just to keep progression ;p

By the way, A shmup bomb *would* be a viable alternative, as absurd as it sounds.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 17, 2012, 05:02:59 PM
Quote
SHMUP Bomb
Sounds like a Guardian Power Idea if I ever heard one! :)
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: tigersfan on April 17, 2012, 05:08:37 PM
Quote
SHMUP Bomb
Sounds like a Guardian Power Idea if I ever heard one! :)

Agreed! :)
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: Terraziel on April 17, 2012, 05:14:23 PM

1) I have to actually pause to game and look at an enemy to know what element he casts (not a bad thing as such)
2) Only then could I potentially equip a shield that even negates damage properly and only for that enemy...
3) Which I would then a) actually need to have and b) need to put on my shield button slot.. every single time an elemental attack is not what I am shielding against right now.


Except that is based on the entirely flawed premise that you need to match shield elements to enemy elements. I only ever upgrade one shield and it does just fine, all matching the element does is give you an extra 25%, which you should never be using anyway.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on April 17, 2012, 05:36:39 PM
Quote
SHMUP Bomb
Sounds like a Guardian Power Idea if I ever heard one! :)

Agreed! :)

I put it into Mantis:
http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view.php?id=7132

This could work as a Guardian Power, though it would need to be instantly available for when the player needs it in order to be useful, so some kind of key-bind would be necessary. (On the other hand, judging from what I've seen in other threads Guardian Power's might need an easier way to access them anyway.)
It also would have to be made available enough so that it's use would be dictated a bit more by short term tactical choice rather than by long term availability of settlement resources.

Still, I put it under Guardian Powers since that seems to be closest to where it would fit right now.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: TechSY730 on April 17, 2012, 06:22:15 PM
I would be happy with:
* If the defensive spells could also be considered candidates for specific key binding, in addition to logistics and movement actions/spells (see http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,10260.0.html for some discussion about quick access to certain spells/abilities regardless of what inventory row they are on)
* Their mana costs could be rebalanced (aka, make it expensive enough to discourage spamming, but still cheap enough that I would like to use them)
* Possibly a variation on how they are activated (like, if I continuously cast it, it could stay active while still draining MP, sort of like how storm dash works. It would still have the "stay on" for a certain amount of time behaviour, so single tapping it would still work the same. One way I can think of doing this is by setting sheild duration time the same (or possibly slightly less) than the recharge time of that spell)

This seems to be a good compromise, allowing for advantages of the current shield system (not making it brain dead easy, discourage spamming, and having variety), have one of the advantages of the "block button" system (easy access), and not introduce any new major mechanics.

Just one idea.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: eRe4s3r on April 17, 2012, 11:40:20 PM
By the way,

1) I have to actually pause to game and look at an enemy to know what element he casts (not a bad thing as such)
2) Only then could I potentially equip a shield that even negates damage properly and only for that enemy...
3) Which I would then a) actually need to have and b) need to put on my shield button slot.. every single time an elemental attack is not what I am shielding against right now.


Except that is based on the entirely flawed premise that you need to match shield elements to enemy elements. I only ever upgrade one shield and it does just fine, all matching the element does is give you an extra 25%, which you should never be using anyway.

But that is silly. Why even HAVE additional shield spells if we think like that what if we have more than elemental shields!?

Well, I wouldn't be me if I wouldn't spice this up with a "better idea" TM

Here an IDEA how to improve the GUI to make shield spells (as in all of them) not fiddly, dedicated 1, at most 2 GUI elements to specific KEYS with sub-slots that spells can be assigned to and quickly mouse over -> clicked in combat. And this would INCREDIBLY extend the flow of the gui in combat, no more opening inventory, selecting stuff, closing inventory, clicking stuff. Instead, Hover over shield or attack Icon, tree branch pops up with up to 9 spells or items you assigned before.

And for the shield icon the elemental shield used tints the shield in the color that element has. (This is an additional function that's not need, but GUI polish)

It is not particularly well thought out GUI element, might be better in a different shape or alignment, but the general idea is sound.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: Martyn van Buren on April 18, 2012, 12:18:20 AM
Honestly, I think you're using the shields wrong.  Just pick one at random and click it on and off for short periods to block shots.  It is a bit silly that there are five or six different ones that are nearly the same, but that doesn't mean you have to use them.

What do you think of this Mantis idea http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view.php?id=6420 ?  It would give each a more particular character, so you'd pick the one that suits your playstyle and just upgrade it.

Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: eRe4s3r on April 18, 2012, 12:38:24 AM
Actually, my problem with shields is one of micromanagement, not one of usefulness (well, that makes them useless to me! but in general they aren't useless)

Hence why I suggest a proper GUI management for defense spells. And actually, my GUI suggestion isn't even so much JUST for defense spells, also for platforms, items, and I want 2 or 3 of these branching selections, so I can bind 2 or 3 keys to an intelligent spell selection, instead of a single spell slot.

If you bind a key to a spell-slot, micro management follows automatically. In combat, I might have different uses for shift than to block with a shield. So the real issue is more one of how to select what spell is active in a spell-slot. The inventory is workable but not in combat without pausing. And this extends beyond shield spells.

I just needed a night to think about that ;P

Ps.: The Mantis suggestion is a good one, but does not change the problem of how to micro-manage spells in combat. It is after all, one of the things I lament when I say that there is no nice flow to combat.

Yes, there might be 85% of the time, the other 15% though you want to change your spell or move platforms to a mouse slot and then the fiddling starts. For one, to remember what mouse button was which slot.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: TechSY730 on April 18, 2012, 12:52:04 AM
I still think having a few (by default) unbound keyslots bindable to specific spells, regardless of placement in the inventory, would be awesome, and would solve much of the "fiddlyness" of logistics, defense, and movement type abilities/spells.
EDIT: Basically, you could make your own "shield buttons" if you wish to use your slots for shield spells.

As mentioned in the other thread (http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,10260.0.html), this could be limited to only a subset of abilities/spells that are "direct mappable" for now to prevent having to do too much UI and keyboard work this close to the release date.
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: eRe4s3r on April 18, 2012, 12:54:38 AM
That would be workable as a quick-fix .. yes ,) (but only in the most basic sense)
Title: Re: "Blocking" and possible alternatives.
Post by: TechSY730 on April 18, 2012, 09:34:51 AM
That would be workable as a quick-fix .. yes ,) (but only in the most basic sense)

That's the idea. Quickfix now, and save the major extensions to the UI, controls, defensive spell/ability options for post 1.0. There's "bigger fish to fry" pre 1.0 as it is now. ;)