Today I wanted to talk a little about the new direction that I am looking into heading with regards to combat.
So far the combat in the prototype has not been met with much praise, in fact often people have been confused as to how it works as no other game features a combat mechanic like it and I've personally not been 100% happy with how it plays. I now feel like I know the correct direction to go in which will improve the game a lot and help cut down development time leading to a higher degree of polish and quality.
Out With The Old
Originally when I first developed the prototype the aim with the combat was to develop a system which would work well on mobile formats as well as desktops so I had the idea of using something along the lines of Pokémon style fight screens. It seemed like a sound concept and the player was taken to a different screen with the intention to help cut down art time and be a little more straight forward to develop in terms of AI logic.
The combat system was never truly locked down, it was still an early test of an idea but I needed to take that path in order to see if it was correct or not. I always had thoughts about changing it to a turn based system but wasn't sure how it would work, if it would work and how much extra time would be involved with that process.
As usually happens with the development process eventually you have an epiphany and everything becomes clear on what direction you should take.
In With The New
The idea behind the new combat system is to scrap the idea of a separate combat screen and to tackle the combat in the world itself. This makes it work along the same lines as games such as Shadowrun Returns and X-Com.
The game will be real-time as before while moving around then should you alert a nearby enemy or choose to attack an enemy the game will go into a turn based combat scenario.
My thinking so far is that during each turn the player and the enemy (or enemies) choose an action to perform. There will be a time limit to remain in-keeping with the real-time nature of the game but it will be sufficient enough so that you can decide what to do and act upon that. Once decided the outcome will be played out and then it's back to deciding what to do again. Rinse and repeat until either party is dead or the player manages to escape the combat area safely.
This image shows a brief glimpse at how a combat encounter may play out:
Scrapping a portion of the game and starting a fresh isn't a decision that I've taken lightly. I've made sure that if this is to happen it's certainly going to benefit the game-play but also that it will benefit the development process too. Thinking about it at great length I have come to the conclusion that it's the best direction to go for many reasons.
- Reduced Art Time - There is no loner a requirement to create art for two different screens meaning the world artwork benefits from better polish.
- Reduced Memory Foot Print - The previous fight screens required quite a significant amount of texture memory due to their size and supporting high definition resolutions would increase that even more. Now there will be no need for such costly art assets.
- Reduced Code Time - As this will all happen in the world area now I can re-use portions of AI code for moving enemies etc.
- Chance To Fight More Than One Enemy - This was always something that I wanted to do but was unsure of how to achieve in the previous combat version. Having the chance for aliens to gang up on you leads to far more deadly combat scenarios.
- Stealth - I wanted to include the ability to go stealthy before but was unsure again how to achieve this. With the new system this will be even easier to implement and will be far easier for the player to understand.
- Possible Clothing Changes - Changing clothes has been on the wish list for a while especially if I am to factor climate into the survival aspects of the game. By focusing on the world environment and not having the expensive combat screen art to worry about it's far easier to contemplate the feature of choosing clothes for Will later down the line.
- Taking Other Survivors With You - This is another aspect that has been on the wish list for a while. With this new system it is easy to envision the ability to travel and fight alongside other NPC survivors.
Onwards And Upwards!
Hopefully that makes sense and sounds good to you all. I'm certainly quite excited to get started on the new system.