The basics of the combat system in games

Original author: Sébastien Lambottin
  • Transfer
Dear readers, I have come up with an interesting hobby that will bring tangible benefits not only to me, but also to you. Since now I am actively engaged in pumping my skill in creating games, I have to study tons of various information on this topic, and a lot of useful information can be found exclusively in the bourgeois. I myself do not really like to read information in a language that is not native to me, so I decided to immediately kill a whole flock of hares: improve my language by translating articles, improve my skills as a game designer, benefit others by sharing interesting material. Chased.

Many game designers periodically practice in developing a combat system. I got into a difficult time when I had to do this for the first time. My experience at that time left much to be desired, and it was almost impossible to find useful information from experienced game designers.

As a result, thanks to the experience gained, it was possible to write a set of rules. Compliance with the rules will help you implement powerful combat mechanics in your games.

The main thing that you always need to remember is that the player must perform the right actions and use the right skills at the right time. The player must anticipate upcoming events and build his battle tactics.

Among the variety of options for achieving our goals, I highlight two key characteristics:

  • Each skill has its own unique function: to stun an opponent, click here.
  • Balance of skills in terms of risk-benefit.

Let's dive deeper into these characteristics using the Call of Duty game as an example.

1. Each skill has its own unique function.
If you try to say otherwise, then each skill is a kind of tool for the player. In the following diagram, you can see a set of abilities and their range of influence.

  • Close combat. Covers the area in front of the player at close range. Can only be used point blank, but kills with one hit.
  • Normal shot. The main skill of a player, often used at any given time. Optimum use at medium range.
  • Shooting with an eye. Ideal for accurate headshots over long distances. It is dangerous to use due to the loss of peripheral vision benefits.
  • Grenade. An ideal weapon for mutilating enemies who hide behind obstacles. Kills with one blow, but in view of the small number you need to try to choose the most suitable moment for the throw.

Imagine the variety of options “press the right button at the right time” arises for the player, taking into account the use of any of these abilities at any time.

But these are only flowers. Our main goal is to make the player need to come up with his own tactics during the battle. See how much you can do, but carefully evaluate the current situation, buddy and choose the best option.

2. Risk VS reward. A compromise for each skill.
In addition to individual characteristics, each skill has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let's explore this with the example of a Street Fighter II fighting game .

There are so many benefits and trade-offs that a game designer can put into a particular skill.
Here is an example of the action games that are often used in games:

Advantages: damage, stun, push, lingering damage, blinding, and regeneration.
Trade-offs: consumable units, cooldown, activation time, recovery time.

Even if each ability is perfectly balanced by the game designer, it will be mega cool if the player can decide for himself how much he wants to take risks to get the maximum benefit. Some attacks can do low damage without much risk, because they are fast. Super hits can cause heavy damage, but there is a risk of miss due to speed.

Some skills allow you not only to attack an opponent, but also to make counterattacks. Therefore, using the skill at the wrong time leads to misses or even worse to HP losses. A counterattack is also a certain risk that a player takes upon himself.

Three tasks.

In modern action games, the action takes place in real time, so the player must constantly evaluate various parameters of the current situation and make decisions regarding the abilities that need to be used.

Distance estimate
  • It is necessary to estimate the distance to the target in order to determine the ability.
  • It is necessary to predict the location of the character after using the ability.

Time evaluation
  • The time required to complete the ability.
  • Anticipate the duration of an ability.

Acumen and foreboding
  • It is necessary to foresee the sequence of actions in various situations.
  • Know what abilities to use to repel an opponent’s attack.

One of the main goals of the presence of enemies in the game is the gradual training of the player in the mechanics of the game each time creating interesting tasks.

Opponent is a task for the player.

If you create artificial intelligence in the game, try to bring its behavior closer to a living person. For example, for a player to get a truly unforgettable experience, you must give him enemies who behave as a team and perform reasonable actions.

Do not forget that most of all the gaming experience is affected not by the clever behavior of the opponent, but by the task created by him for the player. First of all, you must build on the right task and after that endow the opponent with the appropriate properties.

Define the exact task for each opponent. The main function of the opponent is to attack the player, and since the player destroys enemies most of the playing time, I ask myself two key questions when designing their behavior:

  • How can a player attack and destroy an enemy?
  • How can a player defend himself from enemy attacks?

When you need to think through a whole bunch of different opponents, we try to create different ways to defeat each of them. Here are a couple of examples from the Spider-man game :

As you can see from the examples, different opponents offer different tasks for the player when he has to defend against them:

  • The player’s best ability to defend against a ninja is to dodge. The main task for the player is to use timings correctly.
  • The player’s best ability to defend against kamikaze is to shoot the web. The main task for the player is to correctly assess the distance.

Opportunities for player skills

In addition to thinking out different tasks for each opponent, it is very interesting to think about the weaknesses of enemies against a particular weapon. It is necessary to think over the functions of each weapon in order to be more or less effective against different opponents. Here's why all this is needed:

  • Pushes the player to use all the opportunities that he has.
  • Helps the player learn the features of each weapon.
  • Pushes the player to form their own tactics when using abilities.

An example from the Halo game illustrates this:

Due to various properties, during the fight against various types of enemies, a player can switch from one ability to another in order to be more effective in battle.

The main archetypes of enemies in games of the genre of action

Since everyone wants to have enemies that match the abilities of the player, we often see the same types of rivals in different games. However, there are many advantages to using common archetypes:

  • They propose to solve a problem that is easy to understand.
  • They are easily recognizable.
  • The player understands without additional instructions how to overcome them.

Here is a list of the most common archetypes in action games:
  • Enemy with a shield: a task for your accuracy.
  • Tank: need a powerful attack or weapon to destroy.
  • Sniper: attack from a distance to hit.
  • Demoman: Melee with a time limit.

Subclasses and variations of archetypes.

In addition to our desire to classify enemies, we also want to add more variety to add interesting tasks throughout the game.

The main task of the subclasses is to push the player to limit the battle system. Playing by the rules familiar to him, add new abilities to enemies that force the player to pump other skills. Before that, the main thing was to react quickly, but now you also need to be precise.

It’s good if, when creating rivals, we analyze the beneficial properties and complicating features of each opponent.

Advantageous properties of the enemy will allow the player to use them to cause damage to other opponents.
Complicating features of the enemy will complicate the task of killing him.

Let's see how it works on the example of Mario:

Here is the usual enemy archetype

  • He simply patrols the route and moves towards the player.
  • You need to jump on him to overcome.
  • As a result, its shell can be used to kill other enemies.

And here is a subclass of the enemy archetype

  • He simply patrols the route and moves towards the player.
  • It can move through the air (complicating feature).
  • As a result, its shell can be used to kill other enemies.

Subclassing is a very good way to increase or decrease the complexity of a class without violating the general rules for identifying it.

An example of risk and benefit management:

For a variety of combat strategies, we can add subclasses and benefits and complications to a specific enemy.
For example, there is an enemy with a shield and a weak zone on his back. If a player hits it several times, the opponent will explode.

Thanks to the shield of the enemy, it is more difficult to kill, because the player must shoot in a circle. But we added a weak spot on the back to give the player new tactical opportunities. Usually, the player will try to kill the weakest enemy in the first place, in order to reduce the number of living enemies as quickly as possible, but in this case ...

An additional risk for the player is to try to kill the reinforced opponent while the rest are alive. At the same time, the player can take advantage of the weak zone and kill the entire group faster. Now, risk and reward management depends solely on him, depending on what he wants to achieve.

Also popular now: