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ACE_JackalBark

ACE Q&A for February - Official Discussion Thread

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p.s. and the other projectile that no one uses now - confessor meteor - was also demolished by increasing the cooldown from old 10 to current 45s...

no one even used it when it was 10s still after mobility changes and discs came [and it lost its old 'snipe range']

[oh and the fixed value anti healing is worthless as well and is also buggy about it even being applied too]

Edited by Tinnis

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9 hours ago, thomasblair said:

I am using the literal of impactful as applied to when one character hits another and it feels good. I think you were referring to the term impactful as a generalization applied to the entirety of combat. Mine being "it feels good to hit another character" vs yours "combat feels meaningful overall".

Thank you for the video feedback, especially sharing your own project. Most people will never understand or care how difficult game creation can be. At least you walked a few steps. The pressure and difficulty only scales up as funding and audience expectations rise.

Fighting games are great and feel great. That many colliders and hit boxes is right out of the window for any networked game of scale. As a rule we look to cut out as many detection checks like that as we can simply because the what the server says must always be right! For the server to be right all the time it needs to be asked questions nonstop, and because asking a question, thinking and processing that question, and answering that question can take anywhere from 50ms-300ms.(based on any players internet) Which means everyone is always slightly out of sync. So we fake much of it, or try and predict, or some games even (shudder) trust the client. Yes there have been MMO's who launched and they trusted the client to provide them with correct damage and health manipulation much to their woe. This happened as recently as 2 years ago.

Anyways since every other player you are looking at it always slightly ahead of where there are on the server, you don't need the precision resolution that multiple hit boxes and colliders would provide. 90% of the time you would think you hit a target on the arm on your client only to have missed on the server because that player who you though you hit on the arm was 3m to the left of where you saw him represented on your client. This is why in the MMO space you usually see 1 universal server pill that represents all races of characters. To do otherwise is adding an incredible amount of work on the server and the client for very little return. I will caveat this with "countries with 5-15ms server roundtrip times. Developers can build games differently when you have near instantaneous response from the server "ie look at the South Korean fighting MMO's.

The GW2 range example just shows a hit flash, an additive hit animation, and sync'd sound. We have all those pieces, but those are salt and pepper ingredients. (I would also put hit pause, screen shake, directional shakes/weapon trails into that salt and pepper ingredient) Salt and Pepper is important, hell you can make a great steak with just salt and pepper! But your base is a steak, and not pasta. That is the core of what I was saying before, you can add salt and pepper to anything but the core of the meal; How you Target (Tabbed, Aim, Aoe) how you move (Free Move, Root Motion) how you animate (Split Body, Locked) THOSE core portions of the meal tend to shut down possibilities. Well why not do both??!! Yes Surf and Turf is a great meal, but I have never had Surf and Turf where both the steak and the seafood were equally as good, and the price is always 3x.

Things tend to fall apart at scale. Just imagine trying to cram 100 people into your level. Not only does netcode fall apart rapidly, or the server start lagging causing people to warp, combat that was fun for 4 players falls apart, the environment no longer works because it is too tight with that many people in there, etc.

I've linked this video a few times before. It is a few years old but always a good watch. (no video is perfect, but he nails many of the mains points as to what makes action combat feel good)
 

Hey Blair, thanks for the in-depth response. That video is a good one, I actually forgot about it so thanks for sharing it. I want to dig a bit deeper though and just reflect on this a bit more. My hope is that I can help stir up some thoughts on your guys end.

With that, I believe we are talking about the same impactful. The game feel, feedback the player receives upon input and what effectively happens on screen. Like Fitt's Law and the reaction times that humans respond best to i.e. 100ms response on the servers end feels good (not great) and it takes about 240ms for most people to react to something. My biggest fear is the net code and trying to simulate action combat with too many people on the screen. Specifically that is why I brought up GW2 because it has a split down the middle of providing action combat, but faking it to an extent with single hit boxes for most skills rather than trying to have pinpoint accuracy. My gw2 video was attempting to showcase that stripping the FX away (salt and pepper) and the game has functioning combat that is responsive in large group fights.

My main point is that the meal we are making could be broken down into actor movement, actor animations, actor hit boxes. Our base actor has a single pill collider. We give him the animation of heavily swinging a weapon and slamming it on the ground (similar to the Elin example in the video). With just the animation nothing happens when the player hits 1. Next you add in movement. Pressing 1 moving the actor forward slightly, then reduces movement (maybe even rotation) by some percent value .05 (arbitrary) to effectively simulate slowing down for the heavy swing (but not completely stopping). Now when the player presses 1 they have movement and an animation. Next we place a square hitbox at the moment we want damage to start. This could be just before the hammer hits the ground to give us some leway or right when it hits the ground. In essence at a certain point in the animation the hit box activates or is created. After the attack lands we remove the hit box (just depends on how you guys are handling it).

The Main Course

  • Actor Pill Collider
  • Actor Animation
  • Actor Movement

The Salt & Pepper

  • Rumble
  • Skill Effects
  • Ground Effects
  • Line Effects

The Dessert 

  • Evil Net Code Cake

As long as your programmers or TDs can effectively setup the ability to tweak the speeds of animations, movement, etc for the skills you an go in and hand tweak them. Is this difficult, yes very but on the part of the individual that has to go in tweak, test, repeat, until it Feels just right. Tera, tmk, has invulnerable frames. When the Elin warrior does a forward jump attack the character model is moving in the air as if they jumped, but in essence the pill collider is right on the ground where the Elin started and will end the animation. During this time there are moments of invulnerable frames (same for Souls games) that make the player feel like they are dodging. It's the same as giving the player invuln for that moment but we flavor it to say "Miss" when someone attacks them on dodge because we want players to associate that dodging means "I'm literally dodging."

If you can get that down, then its about stress testing with the intended amount of players on screen (if possible). So I'm with you, keep the actual system simple, use few hitboxes and only when necessary. Smoke and mirror so that combat feels impactful, but also plays well from a competitive standpoint.

Note: Outside of the recent lag when I have fought I felt like the system handled itself well. I believe the confusion comes from the fact that one classes ranged attack has a tiny hit box while another classes ranged attack has a massive hit box. Another I see is just that the current Salt and Pepper is not smoothly showcasing the hits. Big thing with this game is make sure there are telegraphs and clear FX that are just enough but not too much.There are a lot of inconsistencies with the system, not that it is bad or not heading in the right direction.

Edited by KanashiGD
added note

Game Designer | KanashiGD.com | @KanashiGD

Elf of Hy'shen Avari

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We understand there's got to be sacrifices, I mean we're all hoping for a Fantasy Throne War MMO that delivers PvP on mass scale rarely seen outside of the likes of GW2, EVE and other KMMO's (Aion for example), combined with player driven economies and siege equipment etc.  

I think visibility is definitely something of a problem that ties into what we're discussing, some AOE's have telegraphs, yet my melee strikes don't, outside of experience, a player doesn't know if something is in range, if their target was actually in range of their 5m two handed strike or not, I'm not advocating Crowfall should have telegraphs, but I think there's definitely something to be said for target holograms similar to something more MoBA style, wherein the user can see where their attack will go and what shape it takes, but only before casting:

lol-no-quick-cast.gif
 

Another thing with visibility is definitely with regards to incoming damage and being able to identify where it came from: 

This video timestamp highlights a facet of what I'm getting at, the recording player casts shockwave, gets a nice spell effect (not that spell effects can't get more love ;P ), and the player in front of them is knocked down.  That being said, not a few seconds later there's a little red - number showing they got hit, then the game states the player was knocked down.  As testers and fans of the game, we know it was probably a ranger ability or something coming from the enemy team backline, but ultimately it's incredibly hard to tell for the player being affected, and it just doesn't look good, so it doesn't feel good.  If there was a big fireball, or an arrow with a huge rock, maybe with some impact explosion on the inverse vector to the attack, then not only would it look so much better, but it would inform the player of the threat's direction.  I think there's currently a lot of effects like this, which when coupled with the currently movement syncing issues, can really detract from gameplay. 

Root effects are a massive culprit of this, I've lost count of the amount of times I just get "Rooted" show up on the side of my character, normally alongside a tonne of debuffs as a druid unleashes a flurry of attacks at me, and I have no idea what's rooting me or how long it will last.  Now if I could pause the game, I'm sure I'd be able to find the debuff and a timer next to it, but in a fast paced action game, that information needs to be clear and it needs to be non-textual, for example WoW UI's have the ability to have the timer play as an overlay over the skill icon (either numerical or via a transparent overlay), but also they have clear cut spell effects for these types of CC, if a frost mage freezes you, you get a circle of ice around your feet, if a druid roots you, you get roots come out of the ground and hold you in place, this allows the afflicted player to respond in a fraction of the time, or know how long to be defensive for whilst waiting for the CC to time out.  This problem is especially apparent when you have multiple types of CC applied to you at once, getting rooted whilst being blinded is a case of this.  I really believe Crowfall needs to be more obvious in this department as one of the criteria of making combat more fun. 

When it comes to hitreg, of course there's going to be ms tolerance, anyone who's PvP'd in any MMO should understand that it's part of the experience ultimately.  This isn't some tightly tuned system for 10 players max and 10 players only, so I really don't have complaints of "I CLEARLY DODGED THAT ATTACK" and actually think that CF currently handles this quite well, underlying movement issues and syncing being the detractor from this, say when you roll then get lagged back into position, or when you get knocked down and do that little jiggle dance as the server pulls you back to the Position you were in when it registered the hit vs where your client had rendered you.

I don't presume to understand the full depth of the complexities of both the causes and solutions of these problems, I bowed out of gamedev and went the easy life of business line programming.  I can only give feedback on what's currently detracting from engagement in Crowfall gameplay, and what I believe the end result needs to more closely resemble in order to make the game more enjoyable. 

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It was a nice Q&A.

But what i indeed recognized first and liked most about it was how relaxed and at ease Todd looked like. That was, at least for me, more reassuring and relieving than anything else ... first time within several years now, really. ;) 

Edited by Kraahk

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1 hour ago, Aullus said:

Speaking of such bugs (I haven't played for a few months) did the rend bugs ever get fixed?

Actually I tested that last night with a champion in an EK and it appears the root motion was removed from rend and now it’s working reliably. Imagine that.

Same thing goes for projectiles vs. ray casts. The few remaining projectile abilities (Druid bear) are the broken abilities. Hurlbat was a great example of an ability that went from broken to working when it was made a ray instead of projectile.

Root motion and projectiles certainly can make combat feel more impactful but they’ve never worked reliably in Crowfall.

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2 minutes ago, blazzen said:

In ACEs defense comparing their attempt at root motion combat to Tera isn’t fair. Tera had a lot more money and larger team.

http://news.mmosite.com/content/2010-05-19/tera_will_become_the_most_expensive_mmo_in_the_world.shtml

The most expensive part to their combat would have been animations and tech art. The network programmers could have also been a large portion, but animations and FX would have been high up there. If they had a dev per class (for balancing) then that could have been expensive a well. The game had a lot of art so I wouldn't say the combat system was the front of all that money. BUT I will not argue that having the extra team and funding can make a big difference, especially in the indie scene.


Game Designer | KanashiGD.com | @KanashiGD

Elf of Hy'shen Avari

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10 hours ago, thomasblair said:

Anyways since every other player you are looking at it always slightly ahead of where there are on the server

Interesting little tidbit. Does that mean you're extrapolating rather than buffering and interpolating on the client? That would explain the rubber-banding.

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4 hours ago, blazzen said:

See Colossus Smash Bug Report below (which btw is still in game as of last night).

I don't think this is actually a bug.  I think it is missing a new animation.  The same issue happened with Rend on Champion.  They changed the power itself from a "lunging attack" to a "hit someone right in front of you".  However, they changed that before they added a new animation.  The result looks like a bug, but it is just an animation issue.

(unless I am missing something deeper than that)

I think they just have a really hard time getting powers with root motion to work and reliably hit, so they changed a lot of them.  Perhaps a better solution (specifically for Colossus Smash), would be a ground target reticle.  Would like to see that on Champion leap as well (although the double activation would not really work with that design).  Having said that, ground target in a mouse locked combat model are a bit....clunky.

I hate to re-think (again) the basic combat model we have, but if we can't have root motion attacks that work and we can't have ground target that feels good to use, then what are we left with?  We just eliminated a good chunk of what could have been fun and unique skills.  Now everything is just a raycast?  Is that what we want?  It seems like every single update we lose more and more identity within combat.  Every skill just starts to feel like it makes different numbers appear above the enemies head but doesn't actually do anything different.  The only depth we have left is the combo system.  Will that be enough?

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1 hour ago, Kirchhoff said:

The only depth we have left is the combo system.  Will that be enough?

A combo system that allows you to execute the next step of the combo without actually landing the prior steps, which feels really wierd.

Identifying when to block or dodge in order to shut down someone's combo and force them to reset it would be a really nice addition. Then you can choose to deny the combo (short term gain, they're going to try again once the starter is off CD), or try and block / dodge the finisher forcing them to burn the higher cd finisher with extra damage or cc effect (longer term gain as they will be without the finisher for 15-20seconds, but you risk failing your dodge and soaking the effect).

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1 hour ago, Kirchhoff said:

Perhaps a better solution (specifically for Colossus Smash), would be a ground target reticle.  Would like to see that on Champion leap as well (although the double activation would not really work with that design). 

Colossus Smash is also a 2 part combo, the second part being the ground slam stun. Probably wouldn't work for the same reasons as leap. 

I imagine colossus smash will get the same treatment rend did pretty soon. 

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17 minutes ago, AyeCo said:

A combo system that allows you to execute the next step of the combo without actually landing the prior steps, which feels really wierd.

Identifying when to block or dodge in order to shut down someone's combo and force them to reset it would be a really nice addition. Then you can choose to deny the combo (short term gain, they're going to try again once the starter is off CD), or try and block / dodge the finisher forcing them to burn the higher cd finisher with extra damage or cc effect (longer term gain as they will be without the finisher for 15-20seconds, but you risk failing your dodge and soaking the effect).

One of the major influences (or was) for the combat system is a game called TERA, whose combos function similarly. Noticing when someone is "whiffing" their preliminary combo steps in anticipation of landing the one that counts (usually the end) or when someone is using a seemingly weak ability for a side effect became a big part of my enjoyment of that system.

If one learns the combo chains of class powers you can do exactly what you propose here (a good example are the Confessor CC chains). This was particularly effective when the entire cost of a chain was front loaded onto the initial chain power.


Hi, I'm moneda.

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46 minutes ago, moneda said:

One of the major influences (or was) for the combat system is a game called TERA, whose combos function similarly. Noticing when someone is "whiffing" their preliminary combo steps in anticipation of landing the one that counts (usually the end) or when someone is using a seemingly weak ability for a side effect became a big part of my enjoyment of that system.

If one learns the combo chains of class powers you can do exactly what you propose here (a good example are the Confessor CC chains). This was particularly effective when the entire cost of a chain was front loaded onto the initial chain power.

Even Tera had its clunkyness with combos. As long as the combos themselves don't break the flow of combat I think they will be successful and feel right.


Game Designer | KanashiGD.com | @KanashiGD

Elf of Hy'shen Avari

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3 hours ago, Kirchhoff said:

Now everything is just a raycast?  Is that what we want? 

If they can't get projectiles, physics, and general tighter aiming to work right, might as well just go full in on raycast/cone/aoe with little worry about aiming beyond general direction of a target. No sense in having particular powers require more effort just because. Is a bit messy with lack of camera options. If I could zoom out a bit more, would likely look/feel better.

"Combos" are what they are, just hope we can change the UI so they aren't so intrusive.

While I'd like a middle road between root and full chicken head cut off action combat, even a bit more wind up or cast time for most things probably wouldn't destroy things. So much is instant and fire and forget that makes player placement less important.

Edited by APE

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