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bahamutkaiser

Concerns About Telegraphs, Readability And Controls.

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Well, the day is almost here when ArtCraft unloads... well a lot about Crowfall, who knows how much, and so far, I'm thrilled with every aspect they've introduced so far. But I'm still anxious about one more big subject, and that's how the gameplay controls and character motions are going to be performed.

 

First, I'll lead with a rumor I heard about there being ground telegraphs in this game, and on more than one occasion I noticed that lunging is mentioned as a way to avoid damage. These two things together paint a small picture, a very incomplete one, and it's even more incomplete because I saw a designer mention that they haven't determined how blocking will operate yet. It's very little information to go on, so my concerns are very weak at this point, but I really hope they avoid certain gameplay behaviors, because they fail to perform under various circumstances.

 

468px-Player_Telegraph.png

 

The first one is the ground telegraphs, this could apply to anything... but if it applies to a lot of things, it can create a lot of information overload in large battles... small or large, ground telegraphs light up the battlefield with colors, creating a kaleidoscope of colors, and enough of them just end up meaning nothing because you can't really read any of them anyway. I'd really like for telegraphs to be visible on the character using them, it may take players more time to read character behaviors and how they look when their attacking, but at least in a large battle, they won't weave together to make an unrecognizable pattern.

 

WvsMe3.jpg

 

The only real exception to this is indirect spells which hit a location and deal sudden damage, at a range, you may not be able to see the source, and without a projectile, there's no way to see it coming unless there is a ground telegraph. or a locational telegraph.

 

And that brings me to my next point, ground telegraphs in three dimensions. I don't know if they will have flying in the game, but they confirmed burrowing or tunneling, so foes may be fighting on different plains. This makes it even harder for ground telegraphs to describe where they are landing, if there is an indirect spell or attack, it would need a locational telegraph which can signify something in a 3D space.

 

So what would work as a good telegraph?, well it depends on what their doing, and we don't even know how the controls will operate, but I have a suggestion for both controls and telegraphs, perhaps it's useful...

 

I'd like the attack controls to operate with a combination of directional input and both mouse buttons, primarily. The first main reason for this is control comfort, instead of having to reach all around the keyboard and ultimately have access to fewer selectable actions with more keys, using the WASD movement of the character in combination with the 2 mouse buttons would allow a player to sequence their mouse clicks and directional movement to execute different skills and attacks.

 

nina_williams___grapple_move_list__versi

 

Combinations can include clicking... LOL, holding a mouse button, rapid clicking, holding any of the 4 directions while performing all 3 of the clicking methods, and the use of the space bar to functionally jump and multiply all those options again. With both mouse buttons representing attacks with the left click and a mix of defense and attack skills with the right click, you can perform dozens of abilities and attacks without roaming the keyboard for skills. An added benefit of being able to map control to a controller with no more than 3 buttons and 4 way directional movement is also useful, but there would of course be several other buttons to press which would allow players to maybe switch between active weapons, greatly altering their attack options, or switch modes and such with mage like characters, the main thing is it's easy to operate without reaching away from the movement keys to do anything. Your hands are always gonna be operating the movement keys anyway, why not lace the attack operation to the movement keys instead of cluttering up the keyboard with actions.

 

Aside from a variety of gameplay implications that kind of control scheme brings, it brings one main thing, going back to the primary subject, Telegraphs. If most of your attacks are woven into your movement keys, all of your attacks are telegraphed by the direction your moving. In martial arts, it is well know that most strikes come from the body, and using the momentum of your body as you step forward is one of the essential power enhancers. It is also the primary telegraph, the movement of the foot, and the simple fact that your closing into striking distance. Striking distance is the significant medium of deadly combat. Deciding when to close distance when you want to attack, and maintaining distance when you want to defend. It makes a ton of sense to develop a telegraph system around movement. Weaker attacks can be programmed to quick actions which are not a combination of movement and mouse clicks, stronger ones can be programmed to direction combinations, jump combinations, and of course, hold and release clicks.

 

Bruce-Lee-Footwork.jpg

 

The characters can not only telegraph their attacks by moving in various directions, the movement animations can include a variety of posture changes as you strafe side to side, step backward and forward. If your standing still you may deal a variety of over head blows, if your moving forward you may do thrusts lowering your weapons point, if your moving right you may bring your weapon left signifying your about to swing left to right, or vice versa. It can be somewhat different for every weapon, and work in more complex ways with certain behaviors.

 

Some special combinations can be done with mouse holding, by holding left mouse down you can enter 2 or 3 directional inputs creating a special behavior or ability.

 

The other big thing is defense, with the right mouse click, a variety of actions can be perform for defense and attacks. You could hold the right mouse button to defend yourself from weaker attacks, you could click with a directional press to do a timed block, you could mix other directions and left right mouse clicks to perform additional combos, and even if your using a shield (which is a weapon...) a variety of attacks can be mapped specifically for the shield on the right click, while offering better defensive actions. Two handed weapons and dual wielding weapons would still have defensive actions with their right click, but they could be weaker, while the attacks produced with the right click or in general could be more powerful.

 

325px-Shield_Block_(art).jpg?version=584

 

The next thing which would help improve telegraphs and reduce skating around the battlefield like a weightless hover board is momentum tied attacks. This isn't to say that no attacks would have free movement or locked movement, but not all attacks should be performed while strafing around like a figure skater. Different attacks could have different directional movement, some could lock you in place, others could move forward and sideways or even backward. Depending on Archetype, this could vary greatly allowing different attack behaviors and methods to further distinguish characters ability to fight as well as strengths and weaknesses.

 

A light and nimble Archetype might be able to strafe round during certain attacks, circle foes, do acrobatics like Link, while another might be rooted in place, a running lunge attacks may produce a sliding thrust or a ram. Centaurs or other Archetypes with special mobility may be able to attack opponents while continuously galloping forward, maybe with slight turning capability, they could charge and bust through foes in front of them, swing back and forth dealing damage to foes as they pass, or even shoot while kiting. Point is, mobility and attack behaviors both offer a significant method for Archetypes to expound their differences well beyond the bounds of damage and defense.

 

tumblr_lk47gwiY9f1qgyeipo1_500.jpg

 

The perfect example would be the Fae Assassin, it could right have low damage per hit even though it is an assassin, some of it's attacks could be devastating, but maybe their not as accessible as something like a Tank swinging a huge weapon. Even if a Tank has higher offense and defense than an assassin, the assassin can deploy special mobility to attack and move in a way that makes it hard to impossible for the knight to win, she could attack while strafing around her opponent causing them to miss over and over while she slices them up. Not suggesting that's what a Fae Assassin needs to do, but it's an example of how the way characters move and attack, and telegraph, could distinguish Archetypes and gameplay in deeper ways than the typical MMO.

 

Now, at the risk of running over long, I'll discuss one more subject.projectile behavior and targeting. This game brings up a slew of new obstacles with it's vision for combat. Strategic, Friendly Fire, Large Battles, melee allies that don't want to get hit in the back, readability and telegraphs... All of these play into how projectile fire should behave and how targeting should work.

 

91527-004-AB36E410.jpg

 

With melee attacks, it's easy to write out specific hit box lengths and widths and visual telegraphs on the actual attacker... with projectile fire, even if you write telegraphs all over the attacker, it may not be visible to the one receiving the attack. This creates an expectation for projectiles to have a visible movement speed, but that immediately brings up a huge problem, how do you hit an opponent with a projectile if it doesn't move like a bullet the way shooting game projectiles behave? In shooting games, explosive weapons and close range lobbers might have a practical offset to compensate for lower projectile speed and targeting difficulty, but in a fantasy game with archers, unless every arrow is going to explode in flames, they would have a hard time making an impact with slow projectiles they have to target with free aim.

 

Commando-Matrix-Firing_Rocket_Launcher.p

 

This problem only multiplies as the use of projectiles in a medieval war game that has melee units engaging in front of you and friendly fire make it even harder for you to hit what you want to hit and not hit what your not suppose to hit. Firing in an arch would allow you to fire over allies and into enemies, but at this point, an arch, plus a slow projectile, and normal arrow strike power is going to be almost useless. Because this is a strategy game, I sincerely hope that they will allow archers the ability to fire meaningful distances, this helps them pick safer locations and offend with a more unique method, but adding distance to your attack will do even more harm to your accuracy. and while a battlefield may present an area rich with targets so a large group of archers could randomly lay out arrows toward them, that isn't a role players are likely to enjoy.

 

3606069467_aa1159cec9.jpg

 

I like that tab targeting isn't an option in Crowfall, and I feel it should remain that way for virtually every attack, but some sort of target tracking and projectile assistance would allow players to hit opponents within a reasonable aiming difficulty, without tracking and predicting target behavior in order to hit anything. A form of target assistance would also allow the developers to make a wealth of behaviors for projectile skills beyond just what the projectile does when it lands and reach. Projectiles fired close up could be easy to aim, projectiles far in the distance can be harder, explosive or AoE projectiles could have lower or no target assistance, while small single target shots could have great movement prediction or even seek their target.

 

sidewinder-8.jpg

 

It might be hard to understand because I haven't seen many games deploy this kind of targeting, I'm mostly familiar with it from Armored Core. In Armored Core you track foes within a large targeting reticle, or a window, and within that reticle or window your targets are automatically tracked and can be fired on. Different weapons and targeting set ups can vary how well your shots track, how wide the reticle is, and how far away the attacks will track targets. Typically, long ranged weapons are powerful but have a very small targeting reticle, close range weapons have huge targeting windows but less power and won't track foes unless you get close enough, and some weapons may have special aiming demands, like free aim with no assistance for super powerful rockets, and other stuff.

 

Armored-Core-Verdict-Day-0.jpg

 

The main thing is, this system of targeting allows players to enjoy great reach, arch fire, projectile readability, as well as skill function diversity, by using a system which assist players target selection. It doesn't have to be done, but it only opens up options for dozens of additional projectile behaviors and modifiers for different Archetypes using different projectiles different ways if it is used. A system like this can also include free aim shots for certain attacks, so it's impossible to lose anything by including it to some extent or another. I feel most other options cripple the variety of behaviors and attacks projectile fire can have in the game.

 

http://youtu.be/DZwPa5C_LKM?t=1m10s

 

Anyway, I'm sure that's a beastly read, sorry I couldn't communicate it any clearer, I'm kinda rushing this out before bed and before Tuesdays announcement, I'll come back to the subject if it's worth anyones interest, Hopefully this offers something to the game, or better yet, hopefully they already intended to do much of this :)

Edited by BahamutKaiser

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You bring up some great points and I too also wish more mmo's would look less toward the old "hotbar, number key" style of controls and toward more robust fighting game style of controls.

 

I'm not sure if you are aware of it but there was a great action-adventure game released on the pc back circa 2001'ish called Severance: Blade of Darkness. It actually did a lot of this (With the combo's and things) also it pretty much virtually got rid of the terrible "ice skating" effect like you have in some action games (IE Jedi Knight).

 

Here's an example of the move list and combo's you could do for each character, some moves also were tied to specific weapons (IE a sword could do certain unique moves that an axe couldn't).

 

http://blade-of-darkness.bigtruck-canada.ca/play_online/memo_combos.htm

 

Here's a video of the melee combat in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Egad_InYl6I

 

As far as ranged combat goes, for me personally while I agree with you strongly on allowing archers to actually have "range" (IE 100+ yards) I think it'd be more fun to have complete free aim and allow physics to control where the arrow goes. Let archers aim high to "volley" fire if they are in a large group and want to pepper a large area, or aim lower to get better accuracy but reduced range.

 

Mount and Blade handles ranged quite well imo. You pull an arrow and the aiming reticle slowly gets "larger" and larger (simulating the affect of holding the string), this can be tied into your characters strength and such for rpg elements.

 

As far as aiming assistance goes, I think without it this would allow them to (rightfully) make the area hit more important and allow archers to deal more dmg. So scoring a headshot on someone would be devastating vs hitting them in the foot with ian arrow. That is why I like free aim over the aiming assistance, if youhave target locking like you suggets then they have to balance the damage around the fact the archers "will" hit the target vs allowing it to be high dmg because the player will actually have to have decent aim.

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Telegraphs have no place in large scale PvP... I foresee a minimum of 100 vs 100 people battles at any given moment..

Unless Crowfall is looking to implement scripted fights where everything is turn based and simple (disgusting) they really need to drop Telegraphs.

 

wtf do you dodge in a situation like this:

Saeara.140711.184749.png

Edited by thenebrosity

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Actually, telegraphs can work.

 

All ally damage telegraphs can be grouped together. All enemy damage telegraphs can be grouped together.  No need to see 10+ damage telegraphs on the screen when they are all in the same relative area (or attacking the same person).


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Actually, telegraphs can work.

 

All ally damage telegraphs can be grouped together. All enemy damage telegraphs can be grouped together.  No need to see 10+ damage telegraphs on the screen when they are all in the same relative area (or attacking the same person).

lol... this solution wont work. Guilds will be running spec groups with character that have very specific roles... buffing, healing, debuffing, DoTing, Rooting, Snaring, etc. A blanket telegraph will not be able to cover all this..


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lol ok.. I wonder if I'll still be able to steal directly from people's inventories.. hrmmm

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I wrote this in the twilight hours Sunday night (Monday morning) before the discussion broke out, and unfortunately I was unable to distinguish effective language to describe the difference between ground telegraphs and individual animation as two separate things, telegraphs as I'm suggesting here are meant in a fighting observation sense where the physical motion of your body and approach telegraph your actions, ground telegraph should be virtually removed, flashy slow projectiles and actual visual effects on the ground can be used for magic spells, like the ground being on fire... Because it's on fire and dealing damage over time. Other than that, all other ground telegraphs need not apply.

 

As for target tracking always hitting its target, it doesn't, it doesn't lock on target or always hit. It's unfortunate that the information disparity exists where players haven't experienced this very remote system, but the armored core system works like a real targeting system on modern vehicles works. The computer tracks a target within a small area which you still have to aim, and it helps predict the target velocity and direction as well as the projectile speed and delay, and fires where the target is expected to be. Depending on character specialization, weapon and skill efficiency, and target behavior, the system can be more or less accurate, and receiving players can block, dodge, or be really erratic with their movements in order to juke the predictions.

 

It's not a seeking missile and it shouldn't be except in rare cases where a skill is used to produce a seeking projectile.

 

This effectively allows a game to have a system where you do have to aim, but you don't have to bulls eye in order to hit foes. And while hit location damage sounds amusing for a game, that's something that is impractical for a medieval action MMO, melee are not operating targeted attacks, they are just directing attacks.

 

I think there should only be 4 hit detections. Front, Back, Left and Right. This is primarily so Shield play can be effectively added to the game and work only on the front or the side it's equip when inactive.


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I think there should only be 4 hit detections. Front, Back, Left and Right. This is primarily so Shield play can be effectively added to the game and work only on the front or the side it's equip when inactive.

 

With the new Voxel system being used you will probably be attacked from below and above you as-well.


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lol... this solution wont work. Guilds will be running spec groups with character that have very specific roles... buffing, healing, debuffing, DoTing, Rooting, Snaring, etc. A blanket telegraph will not be able to cover all this..

 

Why not. Damage could be grouped together. So could other telegraphs.  Also no healing telegraphs, well lack of healing archtype.  


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With the new Voxel system being used you will probably be attacked from below and above you as-well.

Your right, but that only really matters if their going to distinguish top and bottom attacks for damage calculations and blocking.

 

I'm going to assume it's impossible to block from underneath and you just need to move, while top attacks could be mapped to frontal as their both pretty obvious and easy to block in general. But 6 directions could be worked and top attacks could double as a form of headshot or vital attack. Thing is, most attacks in a game like this are overhead swings, so unless the Dwarf is head shotting you with every overhead hammer blow, why not just program it as frontal. My primary interest is programming the minimum necessary hit zones for shield use to be a very effective and circumstantial feature.

 

Why not. Damage could be grouped together. So could other telegraphs. Also no healing telegraphs, well lack of healing archtype.

The main reason is its ugly. Ground animation for DoTs are one thing, ground telegraphs for all sorts of attacks rob us of any observation reaction and surprise rear attacks, you shouldn't see rear attacks coming and proper animation of the attacker themself and good observation will tell you if anything perceivable is coming.

Edited by BahamutKaiser

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after reading through all of this, and sorting through it, I have a couple of thoughts.

1*) For single or small group combat, fighting game combo architecture is wonderful. In a large scale battle, it will feel clunky and too extravagant. I'm a LARPer. Every now and again, I join large LARPs that can have as many as 100 people on each side, and simulate what it would be like to have to fight in a press of bodies. I can tell you, there is no room for fancy sword play. Even formations are a mere suggestion after the first 15ish minutes. its literally people everywhere, and I cannot count the number of times I have accidentally killed or have been killed by allies, for a variety of reasons.

The fancy combat is fine in the Dregs and Shadow, but on any high population battlefield it will feel very frustrating when you have 4 swords constantly swinging at you. Add in magic and arrows, and that combat system will instantly fail. High, mid, low, and lunge strikes should all be a reasonable option. They are all necessities in combat. I could agree to soft animation locking on each swing, with a stumble mechanic if you cancel said swing, after a certain threshold into it, so immediate cancels would trigger no penalty, except for a split second when your movement speed will slow, and pick right back up.

2) I agree on no targeters. Without targeters though, magic and arrows become huge obstacles to melee classes. Telegraphy is a great suggested alternative though. however, all magic spells, unless customized to be stealthed, should have some sort of fairly obvious and unique animation**. This again goes back to large battles. When you have 20 spellcasters, even the most basic spell can 100-0 someone, especially if that weak spell has little-no telegraphy, depriving them of a counter/dodge opportunity. Arrows are more difficult, especially for the skillshot route. Hitting an arrow on a crowded battlefield should be rewarded, because its a pretty poor prospect to do so. However, that means that any reasonably skilled archers could have a huge impact on a field. Picking off soldiers, even at the rate of merely one a minute, can swiftly change the battle. I assume healers will make an appearance in the game at some point, and for archers they would prove to be ideal targets. my personal fix would be a spell 'Projectile Barrier' that would block a certain number of arrows, while a counter spell 'Pierce' would give the arrow a 50% chance to penetrate.

 

*I also don't want my battlefield to look like the dance of the murderous sugar plum fairies though. I feel like soft animation locking and movement penalties on swiftly cancelled strikes and stumbles on late cancelled strikes will do a lot to deal with it. Classwise, some would experience lesser or heavier penalties, with one or two classes sitting right in the middle as a 'baseline' of sorts, to help keep the more agile classes and more armored classes in perspective.

 

**Enchanted armor to lessen spell damage could also be a very viable option, but anything too significant would make DPS spellcasters worthless, while anything too small would make the enchant worthless. Thats a hard middle ground to define, especially once off casters come in, with their more limited spell damage from the start. Another sort of barrier spell could also work, but it would eventually fail, and then you're right back to the problem. Adding in more telegraphy just seems to make the most sense.

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Thanks for the appraisal, I would say that I'm not designating the specific level of movement to the actions used when moving and attacking. Because of collision, if there is a dense press, even if you press side to side, you'll jam against your allies, and the only real affect it will have is on the attack performed.

 

Furthermore, movement throttling on strafing and back pedaling should be reduced based on Archetype, so the kind of mobility and the actions performed would be less agile for archetypes that aren't suited for it, while specific archetypes that rely on it may have grander actions suiting different play styles and different strategic strengths. I feel all of this would make a lot more sense if you read my prior suggestion on Collision since it offers a little more perspective on how a battlefield can fit together well.

 

Lastly, battlefield chaos can be designed around how the developers want the game to play, even in real life, trained soldiers can hold a line in uniform rank and file if trained well and equipped properly. Spartan Phalanxes didn't lose control of their lines when they slaughtered hundreds of thousand of men at Thermopylae, and in a fantasy, the proficiency and expectation of battle formations will work the way their enabled.

 

Things like Projectile fire, especially arrows, can be difficult to predict, but also easy to obstruct if proper shield use is allowed, if projectile fire is both easy to use but easy to nullify, the use of arrows and projectiles would rely on use conditions for success rather than layers of artificial systems. Proper shield use can determine that defense is very effective in one direction, and useless in three other directions, it can also restrain the defenders into safe practices, so even if they arrows are being blocked, they perform the function of forcing the foe into defense.

 

I could go on forever but I'm not sure if your satisfied with that explanation or what subject you would like to pursue further, so I'll come back to it if you have more thoughts. 


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Part of the problem with the Wildstar thread, and to as lesser extent here, is that Telegraphs wasn't really well defined, and everyone was using it as a short hand for a narrow issue within telegraphing rather then telegraphing as a whole.

 

Telegraphing being some indication via animation or effects that warn somebody of what is about to happen.

What people have a specific problem with is seeing your enemies (and allies) UI skill reticles.  

In an MMO, where you can be expected to see anywhere up to 100 vs 100 combat, you need a little clutter and spell effects as possible.  Unnecessary information like UI reticles simply clutter the screen.

 

So when people say telegraphing, they really mean they don't want to see enemy UI elements.

 

 

However telegraphing via character animations, or skill effects that travel over time, are perfectly acceptable, as you need to be able to predict your enemies attacks. (Dark Souls, Monster Hunter, Vindictus)

Also, is it acceptable to have your own UI reticles in order to aim your skills.  (SMITE)

Edited by yoh

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That's pretty much exactly what I'm suggesting here, telegraphing or readability based on practical animation, as well as awareness of offense based directly on distance and the ability to reach your target, just like real fighting. It's the ridiculous indicators and ground painted danger zones and super early warnings with completely lacking animation outside of a huge blue or red line that make it look ugly, confusing in dense combat, and boring.


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