Active combat system?
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Lared



Joined: 07 Oct 2005
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 7:04 pm    Post subject: Active combat system? Reply with quote

I've been playing around with some codebases as of late, [s]stealing ideas[/s] gaining inspiration for my new codebase design that I'm working on.

I have come to the conclusion that most MUD combat systems are horribly, horribly lame.

Code:

k raid
Your pathetic chop misses a goblin raider's body.

[corrupt8942|100%|100%|89%]
Your adequate chop lacerates a goblin raider's body.
A goblin raider's pathetic scratch doesn't hurt your arm.
A goblin raider has some big nasty wounds and scratches.

[corrupt8942|100%|100%|88%]
Your adequate chop lacerates a goblin raider's leg.
A goblin raider is DEAD!!
You receive 92 experience points.
You hear a goblin raider's death cry.
You get a goblin's spear from the corpse of a goblin raider.
You get a pile of silver coins from the corpse of a goblin raider.
You sacrifice the corpse of a goblin raider to the Gods.
The Gods award you 9 silver for your sacrifices.


No input whatsoever from a player. Now, that MUD (Lensmoor, in case you're wondering) is a great game, with lots of interesting players and RP. And combat truly isn't that bad; there are skills and spells used in addition to the main melee round that make it a bit interesting. But it's still primarily passive. The game does most of it for you.

I was also wasting much of my time that I should have been using to study on the Fallout series of CRPGs. The combat system there is turn-based, using Action Points to govern your movement/attacks. My idea is a bit of a hybrid of both approaches.

Every player, based on whatever math you care to use, gets a number of Action Points. This total is refreshed every six seconds (maybe more, maybe less?). During this period, there are many maneuvers and attacks you can make--SHOOT a gun, SLASH or THRUST with a knife, PUNCH, KICK, CAST a spell, whatever. Each takes a certain amount of AP. When you run out, you can't do anything for the rest of that round.

The reason I like this idea is that it requires constant player involvement. Two players can't group and have one steer, the other just go read a book or whatever. To act, you must do it--not the game. To discourage triggering and add a bit of depth I'd probably also have a wait-state on every command (even if you've got the AP, which I would consider to be both reflexes and speed, to stab a knife six times in a round, there's a physical limit to how effectively you could), as well as a distance system for melee and ranged combat.

Any feedback, observations, or enhancements upon this would be great.

~Ed
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use a very similar approach to what you've describe - a number of action points are earned each second, and they can be spent to perform various moves, each of which also has a delay. The only difference is that I don't bother with the concept of 'rounds' - you can perform an attack as soon as you've earned enough action points, or save up until you've got enough to perform several attacks at once.

There are other ways to handle non-automated combat as well, though. Most commercial muds use a 'balance' system - you perform an attack, and then can't do anything for X seconds until you've recovered your balance. The drawback with this is that scripts outperform humans, resulting in just another type of automated combat (the players write scripts to do the fighting for them).

There's also the idea of turn-based combat, whereby each player has a reasonable length of time (say 30 seconds or so) to decide their actions for the turn. This can allow for some decent tactical thinking, but IMO it also makes the fight feel too slow.
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Gromble



Joined: 08 Oct 2005
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An approach I'm playing with uses what I call melee points. Your character has some max amount of these based on some physical attributes, and they regenerate over time at a rate that is also dependent on some physical attributes and/or spell affects.

Where things are a bit different is that during combat, every character is on their own tick based roughly on the ratio of remaining to maximum melee points. So when the character is "fully charged" they fight faster, but slow down as the fight drags on. It's similar to a pair of boxers come out of their corners fresh and then giving in to exhaustion as the round winds down.

At the start of a fight a character can execute several skills close together, but risks having not much left if he can't finish off his opponent quickly. Of course, some kind of "refresh" spell can be very helpful in this situation.

I'm just experimenting with this for now and am not sure I'll keep it in the end, but it does have a more realistic feel (though that's not always a good thing).

-Gromble
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gromble wrote:
An approach I'm playing with uses what I call melee points.


Any particular meaning behind calling them "melee points"? Do you differentiate for, say, ranged or magical combat? Or do they use a completely different system?

Gromble wrote:
Where things are a bit different is that during combat, every character is on their own tick based roughly on the ratio of remaining to maximum melee points. So when the character is "fully charged" they fight faster, but slow down as the fight drags on. It's similar to a pair of boxers come out of their corners fresh and then giving in to exhaustion as the round winds down.


You get the same sort of affect from the action points approach. Say a basic sword thrust requires 3 seconds to execute and costs 100 action points, and you're earning 20 action points per second - that means you can perform one thrust every 3 seconds to start with, but once you run out of action points you'll only be able to thrust once every 5 seconds (and that assumes you're not performing any other actions).
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Gromble



Joined: 08 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
You get the same sort of affect from the action points approach. Say a basic sword thrust requires 3 seconds to execute and costs 100 action points, and you're earning 20 action points per second - that means you can perform one thrust every 3 seconds to start with, but once you run out of action points you'll only be able to thrust once every 5 seconds (and that assumes you're not performing any other actions).


Yes. In re-reading the thread, I think we're talking about pretty much the same thing.

Where the difference may be is that I'm still tick based, where the next action (spell/skill/auto-attack) executes on the tick. It's just that the tick is not fixed, but re-computed after each action based on remaining points. An interactive attack (spell/skill) consumes more points than an auto-attack, but then it will typically do more damage as well. The fight is fast paced at the outset, but slows down if it drags on. And there's no resting up during the fight in order to execute another set of interactive attacks, you'll need a refresh to do that.

Like I said before, I'm not sure I'll keep it - I'm still playing with the approach for now.

-Gromble
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Lindahl



Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Using more visual concepts, I use a combination of balance, fatigue, and focus in a similar fashion to action points. Balance represents skill ability. Fatigue represents physical ability. Focus represents mental ability. Wounds indirectly affect combat by acting as multipliers in the manipulation of fatigue, balance and focus - as well as other obvious affects (i.e. inability to actually hold your weapon). Each action (active or passive) results in an increase in fatigue and a loss of balance, with different weighting for each. For example, a strong opponent will likely try to throw the other off balance with a massive assault. An enduring opponent will likely try to fatigue the other by staying defensive. A skillful opponent will likely try to throw the other off balance by feinting. Focus (mental ability) helps one maintain balance against a feint, reduces the effects of fatigue, and plays a large role in multi-opponent combat. Unlike the other two facets of combat, you can't really defeat your opponent with focus alone.

IMO, you could trace the similarities of action points to hit points and balance/fatigue/focus to a wound system.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2006 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure you can really draw any parallels between action points and hit points.

The basic premise behind a hit point system is simple: Reduce your opponent's hit points to 0 before they can do the same to you. But with an action point system, each player is reducing their own action points in order to perform attacks and thus win the fight.

For a very simple implementation you might consider action points as being similar to reversed hit points (the lower your action points, the more attacks you've performed, and thus the more damage your opponent has likely taken). But when you start adding tactical complexity, allowing action points to be used for things other than direct attacks, such comparisons soon start to lose meaning.
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JWideman



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hit points were never meant to directly represent health in the original D&D rules. They were rather a representation of what makes one man survive what you'd expect to be fatal: luck, training, and orneriness. You didn't die from an accumulation of damage. Rather, you died because you can only cheat death so long.
Somewhere along the way, this concept was dropped and hit points became a measure of the damage you could sustain. Now battles are a war of attrition, and take longer and longer at higher levels.
This is backwards. Experienced combatants are not healthier. Rather, they are more efficient killers. When two face each other, they don't beat each other to death - if one makes a mistake, he gets killed.
I think the successful combat system of the future will reflect this.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Munich

PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JWideman wrote:
Hit points were never meant to directly represent health in the original D&D rules. They were rather a representation of what makes one man survive what you'd expect to be fatal: luck, training, and orneriness. You didn't die from an accumulation of damage. Rather, you died because you can only cheat death so long.


That was the thematic excuse, but it's never meshed with the actual D&D mechanics (natural healing, healing spells, poison damage, disease damage, etc).
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jmurph



Joined: 19 Oct 2006
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Location: Texas

PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting twist on that more broad based HP idea- perhaps you must spend HP as action points , reflecting greater levels of fatigue and vulnerability. Shocked

So, more skilled combatants can make big maneuvers without worrying that the next enemy swing will knock their head off, but less adept combatants risk alot unless they act more conservatively.

Idea
This could also play into the automated system- automated combat doesn't require HP expenditure, but also isn't a terribly efficient way to deal with all foes as it represents the most reserved fighting. When you start feinting, making massive swings and trying fancy stuff, you start burning HP. Which also means you could make a fantastic flurry of maneuvers by blowing your HP on powerful moves, but that better take them down or you're in trouble!
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Somatic Apoptosis



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have not PLAYED the game, but I seem to remember something about one of the Star Ocean games having a system where MP (magic points) was just as important as HP. You died if EITHER hit 0. In that you expend the very thing which is vital to your survival to kill your opponent, this seems like a similar concept.

I could be horribly misremembering, also.

I agree that DnD's actual mechanics have always supported the position that you really are just getting super tough as you gain levels, but the concept is a bit absurd. Real battles between high-end practitioners of the martial arts are often extremely short (on the order of seconds), from my understanding.

I have been pondering this same concept, as I am now in charge of MUD balance and thematic details on a custom cooperative project. This MUD uses an active attack system. I want a realistic feel, without it being cumbersome. So I will probably work with the following:

Attacks hit, unless some means is used to prevent it. (debuff on attacker, buff on defender - note, armor mitigates damage, not avoids hits)

You can use a fighting style as a generic, passive buff. They do generic things like increase move speed, increase attack rate, increase dodge rate, etc but can also benefit casters.

Each action has a precast, cast, and aftercast phase. Imagine a skill which quickly engages a foe by running up to them as fast as you can, and hitting them with your weapon. The charge itself would be the precast, the attacking would be the cast phase, while aftercast is introduced by regaining your footing.

These steps also introduce their own modifiers - for example, you might be particularly vulnerable to snares while in the precast phase of a charge. Thier effects work in conjunction with your stance.

These steps are different for every action, be it casting a spell, throwing a rock, or equipping your shield.

The duration of each activation phase is primarily dependent upon your fatigue (which is specific to body part), and your proficiency in the relevant skills.

Also there is your equilibrium, which is how well you are in control of your position. There is mental equilibrium, upper body equilibrium, and lower body equilibrium. Taking hits reduces your equilibrium and thus your ability to respond to the situation as it progresses. Dodging does this to a lesser extent, by requiring you to make quick decisions (thus, if you can dodge 90% of one attacker's pole thrusts, you might be able to dodge 30% of two attackers' pole thrusts).

Ideas are still going through my head, and the final word is far from said.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Somatic Apoptosis wrote:
Attacks hit, unless some means is used to prevent it. (debuff on attacker, buff on defender - note, armor mitigates damage, not avoids hits)


How do you factor in the defences, such as parry, dodge, block, etc?

Example: I'm armed with sword and shield. You swing at my head with an axe. Can I parry your attack with my sword? Block it with my shield? Duck under the attack with a dodge? If the answer is 'yes' to all three, what's the benefit of having all three options available?
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Polatrite



Joined: 11 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's important to note that I am currently working with an existing ROM 2.4b6 distro on a long-established MUD (getting up to 11 year anniversary?).

We're currently redesigning the default combat system for something that is considerably more dynamic than round-based actions with similar command lag of 1 round, 2 rounds, 3 rounds, etc.

For magic users, the system is using 'precast' and 'postcast' delays. Postcast is very similar to the standard lag-after-command you see in many MUDs today. Precast is merely the "reciting" time of the spell, or a similar charge-up, that, depending on the type of spell, could be delayed or disrupted. Furthermore, we're using two affects structures instead of the default 45 second tick-based decrementing affects.

Our new structure will utilize round-based affects as well as tick-based, therefore we can have smaller affects such as dirt kick on a 2-5 round duration, instead of the current 1-14 rounds. This will have a secondary benefit of allowing skills to have a "cooldown" in which they can not be utilized again for some duration of time. We've been using tick-based cooldowns on major buff spells for years, but in our revamp of the system to modernize the MUD and it's combat system, a better level of precision is necessary.

(You may ask why have both round and tick based affects, the reason is that certain game mechanics are highly dependant on proper timing of tick-based affects. You can use psychology to forsee and anticipate opponent's with a great deal of complexity with a 45 second seperation in affects wearing off.)

As for weapon users, we're utilizing the same two precast and postcast concepts for certain skills, but we're also having something that I haven't really seen much in any MUD or modern online game. We're having "ongoing" abilities.

In most games, you generally hit a key and the action is done, provided the requirement are met, such as not doing another action in a few seconds, standing, enough mana, or so forth. Weapon users, unlike casters, don't babble for a few seconds then release a projectile that then flies in a linear direction while the caster moves on to the next spell or whatever. Weapon users have to swing their weapons and often take some degree of time to execute moves (be it 0.2 seconds or 2.0 seconds), and this will be better reflected in the game. A whirlwind style axe attack doesn't happen in a single pulse, especially with a heavier weapon on a weaker or less dexterious user, it could take a much longer part of a second, even stretching into the 1-2 second range. This doesn't necessarily have a lot of impact on gameplay at first glance, but it makes the "instant action + lag afterwards" the past and has text coming in during multiple pulses, giving the fight a more realistic look.

This can also be used for establishing combos. Unlike most ROM MUDs, we're utilizing a command line hook that, instead of literally LAGGING commands from being parsed, it will preprocess commands input by the user, and some commands will still be usable even with an action timer/lag generated from a skill. With this, we can allow combo moves. Whirlwinding and using the momentum for a max-force disarm on the final target, for example. This keeps weaponusers far more engaged in the fight. Casters stay engaged in other ways, general more mental management reflecting cooldowns, mana consumption, spell chaining, and many other dynamic options.

All in all, I think the new system will be a vast improvement on the existing ROM structure, and lead to a considerably more interesting combat environment, I dare say modern.
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Gromble



Joined: 08 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Weapon users, unlike casters, don't babble for a few seconds then release a projectile that then flies in a linear direction while the caster moves on to the next spell or whatever."

I would argue this should not be the case for magic users either. After the precast stage, not every spell may then execute instantly (e.g., lightning strike), or execute independently for a period of time (e.g., meteor storm).

There may be some spells that require the magic user to be actively involved (e.g., flames shooting from the fingers). These are spells that basically act like a weapon for the magic user, and should be treated no differently than using a physical weapon.

Now wether your MUD supports (or wants to support) such spells is the question.

-Gromble
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gromble wrote:
"Weapon users, unlike casters, don't babble for a few seconds then release a projectile that then flies in a linear direction while the caster moves on to the next spell or whatever."

I would argue this should not be the case for magic users either. After the precast stage, not every spell may then execute instantly (e.g., lightning strike), or execute independently for a period of time (e.g., meteor storm).


I would also add that, while some spells might work much like Polatrite describes, so would some weapons - an archer, for example, aims for a few seconds then releases an arrow that then flies in a linear direction while the archer draws another arrow, moves, etc.

Quote:
There may be some spells that require the magic user to be actively involved (e.g., flames shooting from the fingers). These are spells that basically act like a weapon for the magic user, and should be treated no differently than using a physical weapon.


There may be some technical differences (and certainly some cosmetic ones), but in general I agree - striking with your sword and having it blocked by a shield is not really any different than striking with a blast of energy and having it blocked by a forcefield.
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