Presentation on theme: "Creating Satisfying Combat Experiences AtGames The Designers Dream drop in and play enemy behavior Less scripting and environment authoring Less predictability,"— Presentation transcript:
Creating Satisfying Combat Experiences AtGames
The Designers Dream drop in and play enemy behavior Less scripting and environment authoring Less predictability, more procedural surprise moments for the player
The Reality Sadly, drop in and play is: Chaotic Incomprehensible Frustrating
Solutions Establish a Front Create Layered Setups Understand Combat Focus Functional Cover Placement Attack in Waves Good Flanking Practices Know When to Re-Direct the Front Use High Priority Targets Good Ally Usage
How did Insomniac Games arrive at these concepts?
RCF: TOD and Resistance 2 Tightly directed by Insomniac veterans Design staff experienced in the franchises R2 had very linear spaces
RCF: A Crack In Time Departures and promotions Design staff noobs to the franchise Less linear spaces
Back to the basics …
RCF: ACIT and Resistance 3 Immediate and dramatic improvements Solid core combat means fewer changes More effort can be put into dramatics
Hill 609 by Fletcher Martin
Establishing a Front Establish two distinct fronts Use the architecture to help define fronts Use cover placement to define fronts Front lines determine flanking opportunities
Example of a poorly established front Player front? Enemy front? No Mans Land?
A well-established front
Layered Setups = 2 distinct setups both requiring enemies to be present at the start Keep layers clearly separated (combat distance) Use vertical space
Layered Setups Player only truly engages the first layer – second layer is spectacle On the last 1-2 foreground enemies, pull them back, move allies up, then allow second layer to engage Player rushes the second combat-area = engage
Needs Layering Tons of enemies No separation All on same level
Combat Focus = where the players attention is – the anchor of the setup Its narrower than you think Keep distinct – associate with geometry Can have 2 – keep distinct – separate geographically
Combat Focus Keep cover positions pretty tight Intro enemies into a tight home and keep them there Intros route new enemies behind the combat focus Player exit/goal behind the combat focus
Poor Combat Focus Enemies too spread out Intros from too far Players FOV Exit off screen
Better Combat Focus
Cover Placement Defining each setup should BEGIN with your cover placement Use cover to define the front lines and combat focus Be conscious of facing and shape of cover Use cover to lure the player into their initial combat position Use multiple cover positions to create player choice
Cover Placement Resist the urge to randomly scatter cover for realism Ideal Combat Distance between player and enemy cover Flanking cover = 1-2 pieces of good cover (rarely more) 2+ cover positions for each shooter
Poor cover placement Front lines? Combat focus? Initial combat pos? Player choice?
Better cover placement
Waves - Composition Enemies over time is key – waves are the way to do this First wave is the gimmee – its the second and subsequent waves that are the real combat Each wave is *about* a single – and different – class of enemy
Waves - Composition Filler enemies OK – but NOT a homogenous mixture Keep melee enemies and projectile enemies in separate waves Pacing across waves – build up to a crescendo
Waves - Intros On last 1-2 enemies in current wave Or on <40% health of single tougher enemy Intro new waves through the current combat focus – then fan out
Waves - Intros Long intro paths, perpendicular to LOS Stagger enemy spawns – temporally and spatially Dropships – intro through combat focus and loop around battlefield
Waves – pausing between ONLY when there is a story reason to do so Exposition should happen here As well as your allies repositioning themselves This is usually a rare moment, that precedes a new enemy intro or significant story event
Poorly done waves Toughest enemy first? Waves from afar? Grunts in every wave?
Flanking A solid combat focus and front lines allow for a flank 1-2 good pieces of cover and a single path define a flank (more = messy) Let the player get anchored before flanking (8s delay)
Flanking Must flank through the combat focus Must call out the flanking maneuver really well Dialog/foley First shot miss behavior Additional wave makes a good flank, BUT this is really Redirecting The Front
Bad Flanking Front lines? Flank from afar? Clear flanking pos?
Re-directing a front You must establish a new front and combat focus Do on new wave entry Retreat remaining enemies to their new front
Re-directing a front Move allies up into their new front Call out with dialog or significant event Use the new combat focus to attract player to setup exit
Needs redirecting Now what?
High Priority Targets Usually tougher enemies Take prominent positions Use the geography to highlight them Separate physical space from filler enemies Wave is about this high priority target
Muddled priority Just another in the mix
Tight environments Hand script each enemy Enemies generally take a single position and stick to it Sometimes fine to just let the enemies run wild example: coming upon two easy enemies in a room with no cover these are usually quick surprise moments
Poor tight environment work Can wander off Can clump up Looks dumb
Good tight environment work
Allies hand scripted go to specific cover points every time in small encounters, stick to that cover point indefinitely in larger encounters, can have a small home area
Allies keep allies and enemies separated allies will define the front line and the players initial position allies should run ahead of the player to the front line
Poor ally usage Allies muddying the front Player ahead of allies Action off-screen
Better ally usage
How it all comes together …
Finally… no surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader Do something unexpected Surprise yourself Surprise your leads Surprise the player