Author Topic: Monsters  (Read 2457 times)

Offline superking

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« on: November 30, 2011, 05:05:45 PM »
OK, firstly to put this in context: I picked up the game again, started a new game and player for approximately two hours. I am basing everything I say off what I have seen in the tutorial and ice age area- 99% time spent either underground or in a commodity tower.

The regular mobs are not satisying to fight. They are annoying, simple, unpredictable and glitchy.

Case in point: the basic skelebot. It moves very quickly along the ground.
However, when it sights the player it suddenly moves at spastic speed, flying across the screen almost instantly. If it gets into range it tries to stand directly where the player is, clipping behind the player model.

There is time, when spotted by one in close cave networks, to fire once if you have good reflexes. Miss, and it will get a swing in, do minor damage- then die instantly to your next spell. In moments it will respawn, and the whole process will repeat.

this is not satisying combat. it amounts to a constant stream of hyper fast enemies that try and clip into you, but that die in one shot if hit and do very minor damage, which translates as a constant chore of twitch firing to supress them. I never feel threatened, I never feel clever or skillful- I feel annoyed.

It is very difficult to predict when you enter its line of sight, because they seem to be able to see straight up sometimes and through walls- other times not. sometimes they can jump up ledges, sometimes they cannot- and it all happens at blinding speed. If you place a platform above them and stand on it, all the skelebots will run directly under you and clip into eachother, spasming. If you stand on the other side of a wall they cannot jump, they will spasm and continue trying to run into the wall.

The sniper form is even more irritating- a projectile fires from offscreen at high speed. If you dont twitch you suffer knockback, which can be very annoying when moving via placed platforms on caves. the sniper will then attempt to move away from (at high speed) but will most often run into a cave wall and then spasm against it until its fleeing time runs out. Again, its ability to traverse ledges is very hard to predict, and again it dies almost instantly to spells and deals minimal damage, making it a simple chore to remove them.

bats are equally unhappy opponents. fighting them usually degrades into standing still and rapidly spamming click around yourself.

the bouncing ice crystal monsters are OK, but cause no knockback, which makes whether they hit you or not pretty difficult to vauge given they have the tail and particles that do not seem to damage you.

the desert tornado monsters deal trivial damage, but are frequent. the result is basically that the player bunnyhops everywhere when they are present and gives them no more thought (although when travelling above land, if you are not jumping high into the air then stormdashing across the whole level to the next chunk you are probably doing it wrong)

none of these monsters are satisying opponents, and there is no pleasure in removing them, because they are trivial but constantly respawning- attrition rather than threat. they are also extremely simple and almost unanimously difficult to hit with projectiles whilst moving at speed.

the boss that is a large glowing ball that spams out loads of splashy projectiles is unsatisying because it is unpredictable- its projectiles seem to be randomly accurate or innaccurate, but very damaging so sometimes its simple to jump away firing and sometimes it instantly removes 3/4 of your HP


With all that said, there is plenty of potential by all means.. but what it mostly comes down to is making regular monsters more satifying, powerful and flexible opponents - and stopping the constant flood of respawn. After playing again I can definately say there is no need for the respawn- there is no compulsory backtracking in this game that I can find, and nothing 'fun' about finding monsters are back in places you cleared out 2 minutes ago- infact, it makes my actions feel meaningless.

Regular skelebots for example, could be given 3-4 behaviors/attacks - a ranged projectile that does little knockback or damage but significantly slows  the player,  a tendancy to stop in place and use an elemental shield spell when on low health while they quickly regenerate health (between which they advance on the player) and a mad charge and swipe when they get close enough. much more health and damage, much lower speed unless charging and even then not as high as now.

Sniper bots imo should relentlessly attack when at long range, and flee only when the player gets closer. when they encounter an obstacle, they should just attack. when the player gets within a certain distance, they could use an area attack that causes knockback or even cast the spell that turns inanimate background objects into barriers.

bats could be slower, but flee away from the cursor- so when you try and look at or target them, they scatter away or behind you.

the floating boss could vary between spamming out huge numbers of projectiles (which causes it self damage) and being relatively passive (and healing itself), or split into numerous smaller versions of itself that spread out when on low health.

ofc these are just ideas and ideas are rarely in shortage, but I just want to illustrate my point- that monsters COULD be made interesting opponents and much less annoying very easily

Offline Ixiohm

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Re: Monsters
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2011, 06:18:57 PM »
I agree with most points lifted here, and do feel the most pressingly required change would be to buff the health of monsters and significantly lower the speed for most of them.   

Okay now for some constructive ideas:

I have previously thought about proposing the idea of amoebas that can spit and merge as well (maybe only amoeba bosses should be able to do this). This could also be coupled to different stages of a boss fight. Think of a giant amoeba that fires at you from distance but when it gets hurt it divides to send out two smaller amoebas that move into melee range to drain the water from your body, if they succeed they then move back an merges with the large amoeba again to heal it.   

Regarding espers, they could fire from range but - say gated at civ. lvl 5 - get the ability to when low on health move closer to the character and suicide in an area of effect attack. They could also at higher levels have element specific counters, for example water espers could have a chance of countering fire spells cast at it (but if hit they take more damage) and reflect water spells cast at it back at the caster. 

Offline x4000

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Re: Monsters
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2011, 07:00:20 PM »
Out of curiosity, what screen resolutions are each of you playing at?

In terms of the skelebots "clipping into you," they're doing no such thing.  But monsters in general are able to pass each other and you, same as you can pass monsters and other characters and so on.  Regarding their spasming, that's something I noticed lately but haven't had a chance to fix yet.  I hadn't noticed it much because frankly they don't spend much time hitting me most of the time.

In terms of monster health and damage amounts, that's been something difficult to balance because of the current way that's calculated.  I've been planning a complete revamp of that since last week, though I don't know that I've mentioned it.

It's been mentioned elsewhere that single-hit monsters that die too easily and which don't do enough damage to you are annoying, and I am pretty sure I've written agreeing.  That's on my list to do, too.

In terms of the monster respawning mechanics, that's being discussed in at least one other thread as well and I agree it needs some particular looking at.

Thanks to some of the recent multiplayer changes, I can actually do some things like use the mouse cursor position or even what is onscreen at the time, in determining AI logic.  Until a couple of weeks ago I would have said that wasn't possible.

Anyway, one thing at a time.  I hear what you're saying, and agree with much of it, but as a twitch gamer myself I have trouble finding the speeds all that blinding.  Moving this to the brainstorming side so that I don't forget about it, although much of it was already on my todo list anyhow.
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Offline Bluddy

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Re: Monsters
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2011, 01:23:58 AM »
I agree with the OP, though I don't think it's quite as bad as he describes it.

I think, repeating some of what the OP said, monsters in side-scrollers need to be predictable, relatively slow, slow to react, have a limited view of their surroundings, and usually have range no bigger than a screen length.

None of these things are true for an FPS. In an FPS, your view of the 3d space gives you a line of sight all the way to your enemy, so range is not a factor. The basic gameplay in an FPS consists of locating your enemy, shooting them before they shoot you (or shooting them with bigger guns) and taking cover to prevent line of sight.

In 2D platformers, none of those rules apply. Cover is almost non-existant since you're usually on a plane with your attackers. Shooting fastest with a weapon is fairly boring since once again it all happens on one plane. To make fights interesting in 2d, it's important to allow maximum use of the 2d space for fighting. And this is where the general principles above come into play.

Speed: if a foe runs at you so fast that you can't jump out of the way efficiently, the ability to use the 2d space is hampered. Many of the enemies in the game are guilty of this to some extent. The issue here as I see it is that given storm dash, no enemies can keep up with you unless they're really fast. Storm dash is really cool, but it's taken from Sonic, where the main impediment to your progress was an occasional sharp object causing you to lose all your rings. It's not really built for fighting because it trivializes most fights.

Another reason enemies need to be fast is to make it hard to hit them. Given your ability to fire at any angle and at vast distances, the only way enemies have a chance is by being very fast. But this does not make for interesting 2d gameplay.

Reaction time. The skelebot isn't inherently that fast, but he runs past you, attacks you, and then turns around on a dime, repeating the attack. It feels to me like this is a no-no from a side-scroller perspective. There should be a delay as the skelebot reconfigures, then turns around and chases you. The same applies to other enemies who react too fast to your new position. This point is actually also related to part of the basic magic system in the game, which allows you and monsters to fire a spell in any direction as opposed to set angles as in most side-scrollers. The result is that your ability to dodge attacks is severely hampered. The live bits of slow moving fire that some enemies shoot is a way to ameliorate the situation, since they're so slow that they do allow you to dodge. Still, it's a problem. If you've played the excellent arcade 2d scroller Metal Slug, imagine if every enemy locked onto you and fired at your position rather than firing in their set patterns. The game would lose almost all of its excitement, much of which comes from jumping around and dodging flying projectiles all while dishing out your own 45-degree oriented firepower.

Ride The Lightning doesn't help in this regard, since it allows you to easily exit the domain of most enemies, trivializing all but boss battles and fights in small, confined spaces. In order to counter RtL, enemies need spell locking even more to have any hope of hitting you, and then you get trapped in a causal circle since locked spells take away the room you have to maneuver.

Predictability: 2d fights consist of learning the patterns of the enemy and learning to avoid them. The movement patterns need to be consistent. A super enemy might have a really fast, complicated attack pattern that's used once in a while, but it needs to be clearly telegraphed. I can't think of examples here and I know that telegraphed moves were added to enemies recently. I think the main problem is that the movement patterns, rather than the attack patterns of enemies aren't predictable.

Related to this last point is the behavior with respect to higher/lower planes and knowing how enemies will react to them. Many 2d games deliberately make enemies oblivious of things happening in a plane above or below them. This allows you to 'spy' on the enemies and to take cover in a way that's somewhat similar to what you can do in 3d combat. Often, hiding in another plane only works on mobs, while bosses still see you even when you're higher or lower than them. Whether or not that's done in AVWW, a consistent scheme needs to be worked out, because there are some definite limits to what should be visible to monsters, and when players find that monsters can notice them in the next room over, that greatly reduces immersion as well as strategic options.

Enemies sniping from a range that's bigger than the screen is also one of those things that's not desirable in a 2d shooter. It gives you almost no opportunity to dodge. It's one of those things that bosses should be able to do since you're aware of their existence and general location, but it shouldn't be done with mobs where you don't necessarily know they are present off screen.

I think that sums up for now the problems I see in the 2d fighting. I don't think enemy health is inherently a big concern: you can have fewer enemies with more health or more enemies with less health. Being able to target enemies at any angle does make it a concern though, since hits become fairly easy to land on all but the fastest of enemies, and yet enemy speed causes other problems. It's also important that enemies hit you for enough damage to make them at least slightly dangerous.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 01:28:10 AM by Bluddy »

Offline zebramatt

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Re: Monsters
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2011, 03:39:15 AM »
What about Metal Slug?  :)

Offline superking

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Re: Monsters
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2011, 05:51:56 AM »
to clarify, I was playing on a 15" laptop screen so resolution is only 1280x800... but I dont see why that should be a problem. I was putting this marathon in during a long train journey. I didn't mean to sound harsh, if anything I just wanted to be helpful.

Also, I am a twitch gamer in the sense I have completed I wanna be the guy and play CS Source, Starseige Tribes, Starcraft, TA Spring and many other reflex driven games- I have no previous experience of platforming with mouse aimed attacks though, so my skill might not be as high as it could be.

Offline tigersfan

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Re: Monsters
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2011, 08:55:49 AM »
to clarify, I was playing on a 15" laptop screen so resolution is only 1280x800... but I dont see why that should be a problem. I was putting this marathon in during a long train journey. I didn't mean to sound harsh, if anything I just wanted to be helpful.

Also, I am a twitch gamer in the sense I have completed I wanna be the guy and play CS Source, Starseige Tribes, Starcraft, TA Spring and many other reflex driven games- I have no previous experience of platforming with mouse aimed attacks though, so my skill might not be as high as it could be.

You completed I wanna be the guy? Nice! Keith and I were actually discussing that game recently while testing. I won't play it, watching an LP on it was enough to know it's not for me. But, nice job beating it.

That said, I won't speak for Chris, but, I didn't take what you said as harsh, just as you might have been a bit frustrated with the game. If players are frustrated by the game, we want to know.

As for the resolution question, Chris I think plays at 1920x1080, so wanting to know your resolution gives us an idea in terms of scales for things like the sniper shots coming from off screen.

Offline Hearteater

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Re: Monsters
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2011, 09:48:55 AM »
I play on 1920x1080 and sniper shots nearly always come from off screen.  The first time I encountered them I had no idea what was happening.  They are also so fast that the only way to dodge them is to do so before they fire.  You cannot wait until you visually see them and still avoid them.