Let's talk about combat!

Discussion in 'Community Announcement Archive' started by Chris, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. Chris

    Chris Tech Director

    Message Count:
    236
    Likes Received:
    1,966
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Let’s talk about combat in Shroud of the Avatar! Before jumping into the deck mechanics of combat (what some may call the really interesting part) I’ll clear up two items people seemed to be confused about.

    First, players will still have an “auto” attack that just uses their equipped weapon. That equipped weapon can be a sword, axe, shield, wand, etc. For simple encounters, this will be sufficient for most people to achieve victory.

    Second, when out of combat no bar will be present but the player can press the alt-key at any time and their non-combat toolbar will slide up. We’ll make it an option to leave this up at all times out of combat for those less concerned with immersion. The non-combat toolbar will work just like any other game where you can assign skills to it to use when not engaged in combat.

    When a player enters into combat is where things get interesting… before diving into specifics, I’m going to define a few items so we’re all on the same page in terms of language:

    Skill - For simplicity, we’re calling any element that can show up on your toolbar in combat a skill. This can include combat skills, spells, consumables, items, and abilities but we’re going to call them all skills.

    Deck - This is a set of skills that the player has created or the game has created for the player. There is a minimum number of skills that can go into a deck based on the player’s level. It will start at around 10 skills at level one and rise to around 30 skills at level 20. Players can have multiple decks configured and swap them in and out when not in combat. Players will be able to switch during combat but it will take several seconds of doing nothing.

    Slug - A slug is a skill that does nothing but takes up a spot in the deck. These can show up in a number of situations for balance, missing skill requirements, or to fill out a deck that is below the minimum size. For instance if you have skills relating to slashing weapons in your deck but have a mace equipped, some of the skills in your deck may become greyed out slugs.

    Combo - Some skills can be combined with other skills on the fly. This result is a new, likely more powerful skill which can then be used.

    Noble Skill - A noble skill is a skill which cannot be combined with any other skill. Some skills are always noble but some become noble for various reasons such as a skill being used on you or because the skill is in a locked slot. Noble skills will almost always have a higher cost of some kind. Example costs could be cooldown, reagent use, focus cost, etc.

    Focus Skills - These are the skills that generally modify deck mechanics.

    Locked Slot - By default skills are dealt out to the slots periodically, but by training in focus skills some slots can be locked and always contain a specific skill. Skills in locked slots are always noble and cannot be combined with other skills.


    Now that we have the big combat terms defined, lets jump into how we put it together.

    Upon entering combat, the combat bar slides up. This has between 6 and 12 buttons on it, depending on player skill selection and level. Skills appear on the buttons at a fairly slow and steady pace and then fade out after a decent amount of time (think 10 - 30 seconds). They can be used by clicking on them and dragging them to a specific target or by pressing the matching hotkey (1-10 key,-,+) and tapping space(by default) to execute. Combos can be created by either dragging one skill onto another one or by pressing the matching hotkey followed by the other skills hotkey. Creating a combo skill makes it behave as if it was a freshly dealt skill, meaning its fade out timer is reset. Skills can be discarded to free up a slot by dragging them off screen if the player has a faster deal speed than fade speed for skills.

    The speed at which skills appear can be sped up through a learned focus skill and the duration they stay up can also be increased through a different focus skill. If there are no open slots at a given time, then new skills will not deal out until a slot opens up. So players with a slower dealing rate might have to use or discard skill elements just to free up spots for new skills to be dealt out. Each of those two elements has advantages to them, the idea is that players can adjust their deck dealing behavior to match their play style and these values can be tuned on a per deck basis.

    Through the focus skill tree and leveling, players can gain the option to have 1 or more locked slots. These are slots that aren’t dynamically dealt out but become noble and can’t be combined with any other skills. The recycle time on this slot will vary depending on the skill used in it.




    Focus skill tree:

    Instinct - Each level allows for one locked skill slot. How many locked skill slots are used can be configured per deck. Max locked slots is 1/3rd the total available skill slots. Locked skill slots replace a slot and reduces the number of dynamic slots.

    Epiphany - Each level increases the number of skills that are available at the start of combat by 2. Without this skill players start with zero skills out other than locked slots.

    Versatility - Each level increases the number of available skill slots by 1. Players start with 6 skills slots available. Players gain 1 additional skill slot at level 10 and another at 20 for free but 4 more can be acquired through skills to bring the total to 12 skill slots.

    Second Guess- Each level grants a skill that can be used to push an existing skill into a random spot in the top five skills in the player’s deck.

    Spark of Brilliance - Slugs normally have no purpose other than to take up room. With Spark of Brilliance, slugs can be be combined with other skills to increase their time till they fade. Each level adds 0.2 seconds up to a max of a 1 second extra time.

    Recollection - Every level increases the fade out timer of skills by .1 seconds.

    Brainstorm - Every level decreases the time to the next skill by .1 seconds.

    Concentration - Each level grants a skill that can be combined with another skill and will temporarily extend the fade timer for a skill by 10 seconds. Unlike the permanent lock, this will not make the skill noble and can help capture more difficult combos.


    Thanks for your input; we know that a system as core to the game as combat is will arouse very strong passions, especially when we reveal some of the risks we're willing to take. We'll continue to review your feedback closely, both now and as the system is introduced!


    Combat FAQ:

    If the deck system ends up not being fun, what will you do with combat?
    If the deck system ends up not being fun because it is too chaotic or stressful, we’ll probably try out new options that are a mix of the deck system and the more traditional combat systems found in RPGs. We’ll probably also allow people to make all skills noble but fixed. If no one likes it still we can just rebalance the spells by making the combo spells more expensive to cast in terms of focus and reagents and fall back to a more traditional system. In other words, we can always just switch to the usual system without much work but we’d rather start off by trying to innovate, rather than copy.

    Will I be able to build multiple decks?
    Absolutely. That is part of the beauty of the system. We can allow you to build multiple decks to suit your current play style and switch between one tuned for soloing to one that lets you take on more traditional tank/healer/dps/crowd control roles to one suited for PvP situations.

    Can I switch decks during combat?
    Yes but there will be a cost. The most likely option is it will drain a significant chunk of your focus and take a second or two to switch. We have discussed adding a skill to make switching in combat less painful and faster for those who want to set up multiple, very focused decks.

    When can I try it?!?
    Release 4, currently planned for release around March should be the first opportunity to try out combat for most people. We have all the framework in place and a fair number of the skills but need lots of visual polish, to flesh out more skills/combos,more interesting opponents, and also a large amount of work left for the UI for deck building and skill advancement. Combat against opponents that aren’t compelling will never be fun and having an easy to use UI for building and skill advancement is also a big part of the equation. We expect to have all of the elements to an Alpha state by release 4.

    I worry the UI will draw my attention away from combat, what is the plan for that?
    This is actually our largest concern and we’re working on improving on this. The icons shown in past demos aren’t easily recognizable with peripheral vision and need more work. We’ll be working on making things color coded and easy to recognize. We are also currently experimenting with several on screen options but so far they all feel too immersion breaking and disorienting.

    Why do some things make skills “Noble” so they can’t be used in combos?
    This is a balance thing. Having locked skills be usable in combos would make the difficulty in achieving combos trivial. We are intentionally making them tougher to make them more of a skill element. We want combos to be rewarding and something players can pat themselves on the back about when they pull it off!

    Combos sound cool, is it always just 2 skills or do they go deeper?
    Combos can go much deeper than 2 skills in practice though usually combos just result in 2 skills turning into 1 skill. This can actually result in much deeper combos though because the result of that combo is actually a new skill and that skill can combine with other skills to make the combo go beyond just a 2 skill combo. So for a fake example, 2 fireballs might combine to create a fire storm. Then a fire storm plus a fireball might create a fire vortex!

    Can skills be used out of combat?
    Most skills can be used out of combat. There are a few, like the "Control demon" spell that you cast to try and take control of the demon summoned by the "Summon Demon" spell that is combat only. Of course it is combat only because as soon as you summon the demon, you are in combat and it is trying to kill you. There are some situational combo spells that are combat only as well.

    How will I set “Locked Slots” and how do they relate to the number of skills in my
    deck?
    The locked slots will actually be part of your deck build and change when you change decks. Skills in locked slots count towards the number of min skills in your deck.
    Kaisa, Nuemcy, blaquerogue and 24 others like this.
  2. Devoid

    Devoid Avatar

    Message Count:
    425
    Likes Received:
    331
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    in limbo
    NO, CHRIS, DON'T GO THERE!!!
    Discussing combat will open the flood gates of Hell!
    ..Oh no! Too late!
  3. monxter

    monxter Avatar

    Message Count:
    417
    Likes Received:
    609
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Finland
    Good post. I like the ability have to have locked slots. I'm also liking the combos, as long as the UI isn't taking all the attention. It'll be an interesting thing to try to balance the ability to do combos and have the locked abilities which you can more likely count on more often.The focus skill tree is a good addition in my opinion - it'll give us plenty of strategy options. This is new to me and I'm still liking the planned system.
    danceswithstaplers, smack and Mishri like this.
  4. Baron Drocis Fondorlatos

    Baron Drocis Fondorlatos Avatar

    Message Count:
    1,199
    Likes Received:
    1,353
    Trophy Points:
    113
    How does PVP and Stealing work? When can we talk about that?
    Blazer Ta\'kier and smack like this.
  5. Mordecai

    Mordecai Avatar

    Message Count:
    941
    Likes Received:
    1,151
    Trophy Points:
    105
    Chris, no!! You were supposed to be the chosen one.. You were prophecized to be the one to balance the force, the one to finally defeat Agent Smith, the one to close shut the jaws of Oblivion! Don't you know:
    (This is entirely a joke and I appreciate that you're sharing this with the whole community)
  6. Carlin the Druid Archer

    Carlin the Druid Archer Avatar

    Message Count:
    257
    Likes Received:
    772
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    New Britannia
    Looks good, can't wait to try it out in March. I'm really liking the element of skill this is going to add to combat as opposed to 'point and click' type attacks. Very glad you guys are being innovative here... I believe this is going to be a lot of fun.
  7. smack

    smack Avatar

    Message Count:
    2,895
    Likes Received:
    3,737
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Great post, Chris! Really like the FAQ section and hopefully it gets edited and added to as questoins are asked and answered in this thread.

    So far a lot of talk has been around actual combat skills and the ability to use them due to the random deal. In the description above, "skills" is used generically and also includes spells, consumables (potions, food?), items, etc. in addition to the actual combat skills. Does that imply that those other things are also part of the deck and are randomly dealt?
    danceswithstaplers likes this.
  8. Carlin the Druid Archer

    Carlin the Druid Archer Avatar

    Message Count:
    257
    Likes Received:
    772
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    New Britannia
    I think the proof of the skill in this system will be in the following scenario:

    Take two players with characters of the exact same level, weapons, spells etc (ie clones of each other) and put them to battle.
    If a player who has practiced more (has more hands on experience) can consistently beat the player who has less hands on experience then this demonstrates the real skill level required for the combat system. (Assuming one person isn't just naturally smarter than the other person :) )

    In a normal system (with the cloned characters above) the outcome of the combat would be mostly random since it would be determined by the 'dice roll' behind the scenes.

    The other thing that is good about this system is that it isn't 'twitched based' as per first person shooters, it does involve reflexes but it is more about intuitively picking your combos and having the foresight to have some good decks put together.

    I'm guessing have a few good decks for various scenarios, then when you see a combat situation, make sure you have the right deck! Have a good deck ready for those times when you are 'surprised/ambushed' too.
  9. Browncoat Jayson

    Browncoat Jayson Avatar

    Message Count:
    489
    Likes Received:
    678
    Trophy Points:
    43
    A few questions:

    Why is discarding entirely mouse-driven? Can you assign another key to discard (perhaps the tilde or backspace), so you can use the keyboard alone for skills?

    Where is the Focus skill tree in regards to the Sigils? Is it part of one that we havn't seen yet?

    The skills are all listed, but there is not a image of the tree; are these skills always available (flat tree), or do they have prerequisites within the tree like the other combat and magic skills?
    MalakBrightpalm, smack and Mishri like this.
  10. Freeman

    Freeman Avatar

    Message Count:
    676
    Likes Received:
    853
    Trophy Points:
    105
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Superior, WI.
    I think another good test will be can you just sit there pressing 1,1,1,1,1,1,1 to random skills and do just as well as if you tried?

    The old question of "who's better at picking stocks, a broker, or a monkey?" And how much better?
  11. Carlin the Druid Archer

    Carlin the Druid Archer Avatar

    Message Count:
    257
    Likes Received:
    772
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    New Britannia

    Yes, I agree, that would be another good test.

    I hope they do some of these kind of tests to show that real skill is involved, thus dispelling any fears that too much luck will be involved.
    smack, Mishri and Freeman like this.
  12. Rampage202

    Rampage202 Avatar

    Message Count:
    127
    Likes Received:
    79
    Trophy Points:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    The Canadian Wilderness

    Based on what has been described for the combat mechanics its clear that UI and game immersion are gonna be the most difficult things to balance for getting a majority of players to feel comfortable in combat.
    How much does combat rely on use of the mouse? (ie: what aspects of combat must be done with the mouse instead of a keyboard)
    Starr mentioned cover in an earlier interview, so how much does active movement affect the accuracy of attacks?
    MalakBrightpalm and rild like this.
  13. smack

    smack Avatar

    Message Count:
    2,895
    Likes Received:
    3,737
    Trophy Points:
    153
    They should have the NPCs fight using this combat system to "test" this system out. Generate hundreds of random NPCs of varying skills and skill levels, randomly building their decks and randomly choosing the skills dealt. Will any human player, even if they aren't skilled, be able to beat any NPC spamming nonsense? If they can't in most cases, something is amiss.
  14. BillRoy

    BillRoy Avatar

    Message Count:
    936
    Likes Received:
    730
    Trophy Points:
    105
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Arizona
    If the "UI" interfears with you being able to play properly or well, you probably will find another excuse for poor preformance when it's removed.
    Mishri likes this.
  15. PrimeRib

    PrimeRib Avatar

    Message Count:
    2,221
    Likes Received:
    1,671
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    I'm not sure what that tells you. To an NPC there's no difference from the random deck system and a more traditional cooldown / proc system. It doesn't deal with the UI. It can hit "+" while moving. It can target while skill clicking.
    Mishri and Freeman like this.
  16. marthos

    marthos Avatar

    Message Count:
    176
    Likes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Questions/comments:

    1. This system is going to be a bit overwhelming to people who are used to the traditional combat systems. Will the game provide sample decks / skills for various roles to help new players get used to the system before they go off and create their own? For example a "tank" deck that points players to get certain armor, shield, and sword skills to make a deck that can perform that role adequately.

    2. Will enemies use a similiar combat system, where their skills are not so predictable? It would be nice to have a Kobold occassionally get "lucky" cards drawn an execute an unexpected combination skill. I know they wont actually be picking cards like we do, but I'd like their combat actions to mimic the randomness of the system.

    3. I am a little concerned that the cards are going to draw too much attention away from the actual battle. In a card game like MTG that's all you focus on, but I'm hoping that the actual combat will encourage motion (like dodging that dragon's fireball) and awareness of surroundings. If we're spending too much time dragging cards around to make combos, that could interfere with observing the actual battle.
  17. mike11

    mike11 Avatar

    Message Count:
    534
    Likes Received:
    266
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    hi guys, I have some suggestions for combos you don't mind..

    example 1 - heightened combo
    - triggers after the end of a timer from starting combat, fighting with allies, fighting with more allies
    - triggers from starting being hit, triggers similar to enrage at some points

    example 2 - opportune combo
    - triggers with relation to other available abilities
    - triggers with relation to enemies status or attack like block, dodge, disprut
    - triggers in relation to enemy combat style like warrior vs mage or rouge backstab squishy
    - triggers in relation to enemy status. What mode is he in if he is building a combo or if he is switching stances etc..

    example 3 - moral combo
    - triggers as a once-per day type ability
    - available when other considerations are taken such as winning streak, allies winning, guilds winning-streak

    just to name a few
    Overt Enemy likes this.
  18. rild

    rild Avatar

    Message Count:
    811
    Likes Received:
    938
    Trophy Points:
    105
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Excellent post, Chris. Clear and concise. Thank you! The 'spark of brilliance' to add usefulness to slugs is a great idea, and I think the concept of Noble skills (great naming btw) and making locked slots Noble is a great way to provide stability to those who desire it, while turning combos into an incentive for experimentation. Looking forward to the dev team's UI solutions.
  19. Skalex

    Skalex Avatar

    Message Count:
    364
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    System sounds cool,

    I like the idea with skills and spells fading in and out with the focus logic etc.. But consumables in my opinion should always be available at my disposal. Will they be?

    Thanks.


    I like this idea.
  20. Browncoat Jayson

    Browncoat Jayson Avatar

    Message Count:
    489
    Likes Received:
    678
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Per the Magic, Combat, and Crafting Skills megapost, you can use multiple copies by adding more points to a single skill:

Share This Page