The past month or two or three or however long (i'm not all that sure tbh) has been spent solely on the enhancement of what was previously the pretty lackluster combat system in Skygrave. i think there may still be some tweaks and additions to be done, but overall this video represents the core mechanics of what combat will look like on release.
In the first early gameplay video combat was just in a testing phase and very rudimentary. The cudgel was the singular melee weapon, and it was just a flat 2D sprite which could only attack in a single direction, and all combat involved was a single mouse click to perform very simplistic attacks. Things have been drastically overhauled since then, and here will be an explanation of all the additions and changes which have been made thus far.
- The player can now strategically swing the cudgel in 4 directions to either block an attack or perform an attack themselves. There are two ways of changing the cudgel's position: By scrolling the mouse up which will swing the weapon clockwise, or down which will swing counterclockwise; or by moving the player in the direction which you wish to swing the weapon (So if you hold down A the cudgel will swing left, if you hold down D it will swing right, W will swing up, S will swing down);
- Every single swing of the cudgel is now under the player's control. What this means is that merely pressing the mouse button once won't play an entire attack animation, but instead the player needs to be involved at every step of the process. Essentially, to perform a complete attack will now involve 3 inputs by the player:
- A First click (of either the left mouse for a Light or right mouse for a Strong) that will swing the weapon back into an attack position. If performing a Light Attack, a player will be able to slowly move around in this attack position, but with a Strong Attack the player will be completely motionless.
- Then a Second click to actually perform the attack, swinging the weapon forwards.
- But now the cudgel will be either on the ground or in the flesh of the enemy which you have cleaved, and so a Third click must be done to pull the weapon back into its original position. While the weapon is down, the player will be unable to move, leaving them exposed to an attack.
- Blocking has been added. Originally you were completely at the mercy of enemies (and this is still somewhat true depending on the enemy type) but most enemy Weak attacks can be blocked. This is done by positioning the weapon in the direction they are attacking, and then holding down the middle mouse button (releasing the button will also stop the block stance). There is also a quicker way to instantly block with hotkeys in situations were moving the cudgel might take too long: 1 will block left, 2 will block up, 3 will block right and 4 blocks down;
- Blocking will often be one of the most important methods of getting a hit in on enemies, especially those who are also armed like the Vespertilio seen in this video. A successful block will stagger an enemy (weaker enemies for a longer ammount of time than stronger ones) and allow you to then attack them in this momment of pause;
- Pressing C will enter the Battle Stance where the combat controls become enabled. However even outside of the Battle Stance combat can be imediately initiated by mouse input to instantly make an upwards Light or Strong attack. This is a way to engage in combat by quicker means, and even surprise the enemy;
- In the Battle Stance the player is unable to run, and running will actually end the Stance. However outside of the Battle Stance you are able to perform a running attack. If the player runs for a certain distance and then attacks, they can either do a Light or Strong Run Attack which does an extra amount of damage. It is hard to master this attack however, especially with certain enemy types who might just easily cancel the Run Attack;
- Cudgel is no longer a 2D sprite but is now a 3D model. This added a lot of weight to combat and just visually looks a lot better;
- And animations are just absolutely better in every way . Not only does the new model enhance the feel of combat, but after rigorous testing with many many different animations, i finally found strong and violent animations that really make the cudgel feel like it has a lot of weight. These animations are two working parts involving the weapon and camera movement, which both serve together to make a much move intense and threatening combat experience;
- Another thing which helps for this new combat are the new enhanced sound effects, also adding weight and threat into the combat.
Another thing which you might notice from the video are the green numbers which show up at the top of the screen every time an attack is made. This is the new Stamina system which will affect combat. Unlike most games stamina has absolutely no affect whatsoever on running. You can infinitely run even with 0 stamina, and running or walking does not deplete stamina. All that stamina affects is your ability to attack or block with the cudgel, and the speed at which the Slayer Hammer can be swung.
- Light Attacks spend 5 points of stamina and Strong Attacks spend 10 points of stamina;
- If a successful block is performed, a certain amount of stamina will be lost depending on the power level of the enemy you are fighting (the Vespertilio enemy in this video consumes 10 points of stamina from a block for example);
- Once stamina reaches below 10 an intense heartbeat sound will be heard indicating that you have low stamina. At this point the Slayer Hammer will swing a lot slower, and it is recommended to back off from a fight if possible, or else risk loosing all stamina which will leave you in the exhausted state. In the exhausted state stamina regeneration will be blocked for a significant ammount of time, your eyesight gets very blurry and no attack or block can be performed with the cudgel, leaving you to fend yourself with the weak and dangerous Slayer Hammer;
- Stamina regenerates pretty quickly if you avoid combat. Staying completely still while crouching is the absolute fastest way to regenerate stamina, however this is of course an extremely risky thing to attempt as you must be completely still to get the regeneration bonus. In the exhausted state crouching will only slightly decrease the time until stamina regeneration returns, but overall it is not a very useful tactic. The best option in the exhausted state, most of the time, is to simply run away from the enemy.
However combat does not only involve a player's input, but of course also relies on the Enemy's actions and reactions. This has also been an aspect which has been immensely overhauled.
- Enemies can also attack from 4 directions. Simpler enemies may only attack from a single direction or only a few directions, but more complex enemies like the Vespertilio seen in this video are armed with weapons and will be just as agile as the player;
- What this means is that 4 directional enemies may also feint their attacks to trick the player. This is a very important thing to watch out for, and the more difficult enemies will be increasingly trickier and faster with their moves;
- Some enemies now have two different attack types: the Weak Attack and the Ultra Attack. Ultra Attacks will be warned through a loud and ominous sound (which can be heard in the video at 1:27) and a slower and weightier attack. Ultra Attacks are unblockable, they will do extra damage and knock the player down to the ground and even deplete stamina. They are however easy to dodge, as they are much slower than usual attacks;
- Enemies are relentless with their attacks, but a succesful block (and a few other methods) may stagger them long enough so that hits can be landed on the opponent;
- Enemy animations are drastically improved. They actually telegraph attacks before commiting them, allowing the player to properly tell when and what is being done by the enemy. Enemies will still try to fool you however, and each enemies tricks will have to be learned by the player over time;
- Enemy staggering is more noticeable now and lasts longer. Enemies are still tough and menacing, but they can still at least be staggered to stop them from being impenetrable;
- Blood spray and animation is improved and bursts from the point of attack by the weapon;
- Some enemies like the Vespertilio will chase/fly after you when you get too far, and will flee from combat to make surprise attacks;
- And just in general all enemy variety is huge now. i don't want to show many of the enemies until release because i would like the monster designs to be more of a surprise, but all i'll say is that all enemies will have unique methods of approach, and will have many different ways of crushing and harrassing you in this dark journey.
Another addition which can be seen near the end of the footage is a whole new weapon, the Slayer Hammer. But i'm going to make a whole separate devlog just devoted to it later.
With these changes the combat is now an intense, violent, and chaotic mess of fear. The player feels much more involved, with many new strategies now being possible. You have to juggle the directional attacks and blocking, the notion of stamina depletion, and the trickery and horror of the creatures you encounter. And this video barely scratches the surface of the more terrifying enemies which will be later implemented... The combat system is pretty much complete, but i think aditional testing and maybe a few new features will be added if necessary. Right now what i'm thinking should be done could be:
- Weapons clashing with each other. If the weapons hit each other a clash noise will be heard and both attacks are cancelled;
- More enemy taunting and sound effects;
But highest on the list, and something i will definitely be implementing, is the fear of light mechanic which i still haven't made.
i'm fairly tired from working on the combat right now, and my next step is going to make final adjustments and furnishing of the locations in the demo, and implementing enemy encounters.