Hey, thanks for the comments! Input is very appreciated.
zick wrote:i like jetryl's #2 approach, but i've got some things you should keep in mind:
1) each battle will probably have to be hard coded to the map, now whether or not you participate in the battle is based on various triggers, like did you step on the appropriate tile to trigger the battle ... it'd be neat if a battle took place in a certain area of the map but had several tile triggers like one where you're walking away from the battle, so the enemies will attack from behind (pre-emptive for the enemies)
We will actually want certain encounters to be predefined to always happen a certain way (guard monsters, dialogue scenes, etc), but we'll also want some to work procedurally. Some of "how to do this" could well hinge on map design, and restricting monsters from entering certain areas; if we don't want battles to occur in the "small, single-file tunnel", then we simply disallow monsters from going in there. This certainly won't account for everything, but then, I haven't really sat down and designed this yet. Still a lot of prognosticating to do.
zick wrote:2) i was just playing ct a month or so ago ... one problem i noticed with the battle is enemies could move anywhere and sometimes would move under the hud and you couldn't see that you were actually attacking them. so i think restricting enemy movements to specific ranges is essential.
One major theme with the development of this game is the fact that we're not limited by our hardware in the ways that SNESs were. This is probably one area where we have little to worry about, since we can convey the same or greater amount of information in much smaller (as a percentage of screen space) GUI components (in fact we already do). In chrono trigger, they had to spill the GUI components down onto the battle screen, because they only had so many pixels to work with, and there's a lower limit under which text becomes illegible - a limit they were butting up against. This is also a huge part of why they had the (very irritating, very artificial) 3-character party limit; they couldn't easily fit more characters on the screen (there were other extremely significant reasons, like party balance, but that was a big one). I think, if we simply make sure nothing drops below the top of the bottom info bar, we'll be good to go.
CT also had certain moves where characters would leap into the air, and do a downward strike (or vice-versa).
In fact, you just gave me a totally righteous
idea; one major way we could improve over CT or FF's model; there is no reason we can't have the camera follow
major characters as they jump into the air. That
would look totally friggin awesome.
zick wrote:3) i'd like to see enemies show some damage though and look like they're being beat up.
Yeah. As much as I dislike the loss of the "gradual blend" between damage states, I think that it incurred a major problem: creatures could not change pose as they got damaged. In some games, especially with human characters (for which nintendo restricted itself from showing blood and wounds), pose was the only
indicator of something's physical condition. I think pose is a very important indication of something's physical state. I think we can use pose to do exactly that, though - tentatively, I think we can have more than one, but should have only have a few different "standing animations" for each monster type.
Generally, as a monster gets increasingly wounded, they'll be less animated (by rote of being significantly less lively) - the "last 10-15%" animation might be a still frame. The "15-50%" animation might be two frames of slouching and labored breathing. The normal standing animation will probably be 3 frames, however, for quite a number of smaller monsters, we can do what CT (et al) did, and just use a walking animation as the "standing" animation. Related to this, I think it would be an interesting idea to have behaviour of the monsters change relative to their health. This would probably be fixed according to creature type, which conveniently means we could pair a very intuitive animation with this state to make it known. Some monsters might modestly change their behaviour - some might just limp out and become, all-around, easier to fight. Some (think turtle-like) might cease attacking altogether, but massively raise their defense (and perhaps regenerate?). Others might go berzerk - if we took this to extremes, they might even attack their friends (like the Myrkridia in Myth II:Soulblighter).Some principles:
- because they occupy so much screentime, what we convey with a standing animation comes off as the "current condition" of a unit. They're probably the most effective place to do this kind of stuff.
- because all other animations move across the screen, they don't have to look damaged during their execution (especially if the wounded standing animation looks colorwise similar to "all the other animations" - not covered in blood, in other words). This is an old principle of animation, which wesnoth really hammered home for me - it's quite hard for our eyes to notice detail on quickly moving images. This can save an enormous amount of work, and still give us the best of both worlds.
- standing animations are an easy place to do all this stuff, since they're some of the easiest animations to draw.
zick wrote:i also like the ff style side view but the one thing that i've always hated was the fact that enemies were not animated in any way. i think lunar on ps1 took care of this problem best. if your not animating enemies, you're just wasting your time repeating old-school cliches. if you allow animation of enemies i have no problems with root's proposals. i think some proposed animations should be waiting for a command, waiting for turn to attack, attack (have a couple different attacks like a tentacle monster might bite or hit you with a tentacle), and a death sequence. each of these sets should also allow damage to be shown as the enemy breaks down.
To offer the flip-side of things, there were a number of things I didn't like about chrono-trigger's battles. The graphical department was fairly good, but I had a few complaints there:
1] chrono's spin-techniques didn't use enough motion-blur. Especially on chrono's sword-spin techniques, it looked like four obviously separate frames playing in sequence. Curiously, Marathon Rubicon managed to do an excellent job of animating "fan blades spinning" with just four frames; I think it's a trick of where transparency is applied, rather than a simple need for more frames. I think a great deal of inspiration could be taken from the "tornado/twister ability" animation seen in Kirby's Dreamland for the NES, if we are to have spinning animations. This same thing was very true about Robo's techniques as well.
2] the aformentioned business about GUI guzzling up screen space
3] bosses didn't have a lot of animation of their parts
4] animations of electricity were static images being displayed, rather than procedural animations. Procedural lighting just looks so friggin cool.
5] A number of major attacks (Fire 2, Lightning 2, laser spin) were just cheap "static images" being cycled onscreen, rather than actual procedural animations.
6] many fire and water based animations didn't quite look the part. They could have used a lot more particle effects.
In the battle mechanics area, there was a good deal more:
1] no difference between physical damages; all PCs dealt the same damage type, and monsters responded to it in the same way. The classic difference between slash, smash, and pierce was lost, and could have added a lot of flavor. It especially bugged me when lucca got what were basically fire-based guns (plasma), and didn't do fire-based damage. Our elemental system should neatly handle this.
2] not much variation in damage per strike; characters either hit, or didn't hit; there were no parries, no grazing strikes, etc.
3] for bosses, there was something similar to our MAPS, but it would have been awesome to have at least 2 attack points for lesser monsters - especially those that were really 2 creatures, like the "imp riding a roly". MAPS to the rescue.
4] few defensive options - outside of a few high-level shielding spells/items, it was basically a game of "kill them before they kill you".
5] No variability in time consumption for techniques. Simple sword slashes took the same amount of time to recover from as ridiculous hack-everything-techniques.
6] too few PCs and Monsters on the screen at once. Huge brawls are fun, and the lack of them really hurts certain in-game scenes.
7] too many wacky and silly attacks, like frog's "frog stomp", or robo+ayla's "boogie". These are supposed to be easter eggs, not basic attacks accessible in the normal game. Like the "Poyozo Dance", silly attacks should have been very difficult to get.
8] ayla's charm spell really broke the flow of the game, because you needed
to use charm against nearly any boss, since tabs (especially the speed variety) are basically priceless. This meant Ayla was tagging along for practically every boss battle after you got her, which really dampened the variety. Not to mention that the attack didn't make any sense - it created items that were not present on the monster's death, it worked on extremely
non-male, non-humanoid creatures, and even when it would have made sense, it was just out of character for the enemy to do that. It would have been a lot cooler to have this "plot/character element" as something in the actual plot/events of the game, rather than as a random attack. (E.g. a jailbreak scene, a "weapon of mass distraction" scene, an infiltration scene, etc.)
There are probably other things, I just can't think of them at the moment. I just wanted to give this as a quick example of how, although there were some key things about CT that I did like, there were some equally key things I really didn't like - I most definitely do not want to just "clone" their battle system.