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Hey baby come a little closer

  • kentona
  • 04/10/2015 08:12 PM
So I had a nebulous idea of having a Ranged vs Close mode for the Battledome battles (as suggested by LockeZ a few weeks ago), where certain weapons and skills could only be used close range and the battlers would move in and out of close combat. And I really liked it, so I jotted it down.

But that nebulous idea turned out to be somewhat unfeasible and convoluted once I got to thinking seriously about it. Mostly because my original concept for this game didn't envision it (it was suggested to me - it never occurred to me at the beginning), and my implementation was a bit rudimentary in regards to the "cost" of actions. Like, every turn you get to do one action, and that action "costs" just 1 turn, meaning that less important actions like "Move to close range" cost as much as "Do uber hyperbeam attack", turn-wise

The classic RPG dilemma.

Also, with drones acting independently, the concept of "close vs ranged" becomes exponentially more complex, because suddenly you could "close ranks" with a drone, or a drone could move away, or close ranks with a different target, and also does that mean you are no longer close range with the other main battler? Or if the drone moves to another drone, are you still close range? What about your drones - do they follow you?

So suddenly instead of simply tracking 'battle is now in CLOSE RANGE MODE', I have to dynamically track the positioning of every actor in the battle relative to every other. And build the AI to account for all of that in a fair and balanced and logical way.

So I was going to do away with it.

What to do instead?

I am still enamoured by the idea of "close vs ranged" battle modes. (and in fact the weapon designs have had a flag for 'isRanged' from the start)

I am reaching back into the classic RPG toolbox and taking a strong look at a Front Row and Back Row positioning concept. Not unlike your traditional sideview battle systems.

Battlers get a free move on their turn to toggle rows, if their strategy requires it. The limitations on each row would be basic, like, Ranged weapons/abilities only from the backrow, but melee attacks you receive are half damage. Or maybe a little more complexity, with backrow generating less aggro, or attacks targeting the backrow are less accurate. Something along the lines of "BACKROW = DEFENSIVE+RANGED and FRONTROW = OFFENSIVE"

I am also toying with the idea of also having a Middle Row, to add a bit more flavour.



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Ranged combat is one of those funny things you know some games never thought about and how the balance gets fucked as a consequence. afaik One factor (of many) in Bard's Quest that made melee fighters garbage was that they had to close distance to fight evil wizards who could just shoot them with fireballs (or summon other dickbags) in the process. Or Ultima 5 where you could move one square or attack on your turn, or you could just get the magic axe that had infinite range and attack any enemy. Forget that it's tied with the second highest damage, that you didn't have to close to attack enemies in that game made it worthwhile alone!

Design wise, you could take a page from D&D 3.5e: A character's turn was broken into a free action, a move action, and a standard action. You could move and do a standard attack, using up your move and standard action (or other things like drink a potion in place of the move, etc. but I'm glossing over the unimportant bits). Alternatively you could do a full round attack action that consumed both the move and standard action which let you hit more times than a standard attack action. You could do something similar, like the Giant Fuckoff Beam Cannon means you can't move meanwhile another bot could move and attack with his Giant Robot Stabbing Dagger. Or just expand it into a more generic action points where each bot has 6 action points per turn, you need 4 to move and weaker attacks use 2 or your Deathstar Laser uses all 6. Or just in the current turn system using your Thermonuclear Blast will delay your next turn so it's more appropriate as a finisher attack or when you can afford to have the enemy take a few turns while you twiddle your thumbs.

It's different than the row mechanic you described above, I'm just throwing ideas here for now.
Your mom is a hero
The way I have it set up now, implementing Action Points wouldn't be terribly difficult. However, tracking everyone's position relative to everyone else is still a huge headache.
My quick and dirty solution is to create arenas when robots want to get into melee range and otherwise they're independent of each other. So if you have Robots 1, 2, and 3 fighting Robots 9, 8, and 7 they all start at long range and not in any melee arenas. They can take pot shots all they want with any long ranged weapon. Then Robot 1 decides to introduce Robot 9 to his brass-titanium knuckles and closes in on melee range. Robot 1 and 9 are placed into a melee arena A where they are free to do whatever horrible things you can do to other robots up close and personal.

Robots are free to move between the long range pool and any arena (presumably with some penalty if you run away from a melee arena). Robot 2 can join Arena A with Robots 1 & 9 duking it out, or Robot 9 can bail from Arena A (and since there's no more different allegiance combatants in Arena A everybody in it is dumped back to long range mode). Or Robot 3 & 8 can go fight each other in another Arena B. Robot 7 can hop into Arena B, throw a sucker punch, and later leave B and go join in Arena A.

It's an abstract system but it simplifies a lot of the ranged mechanics for a game where it's AI robots fighting.
I'm not too familiar with some of the games being mentioned, but here are a few ideas:

*Long-range weapons are powerful, but inaccurate at short ranges in case an enemy moves closer than a certain range difference(distance from Player mid-row to enemy back row, for example), creating a need to strategize ways to push opponents back. Close-range attacks would be a bit stronger and when used against an opponent in long range mode since they're sacrificing their defense for offense, but movement abilities increase (moving 2 spaces instead of 1 for short-range oriented players/enemies during a movement phase, long-range can only move 1). Consider giving a damage bonus for sticking to long-range since it's riskier, like every 3 consecutie long-range hits results in higher damage.

*Abilities that transition a character from position to position (probably a weaker attack that survives on the virtue of moving a player/enemy to an advantageous position). This could make things interesting for the player during more intense battles.

*Enemies that have some dimensional flux ability that can move the player to a random position, which would be a special category of enemy that could become a central theme to the game (random ideas)

*Players could drop their weapon, requiring them to move to a certain space to retrieve it (costs a whole turn to re-equip it) or pull out another weapon which leaves the previous one open to be used by opponent (which could be as simple as a special skill that activates when this is the case). This could be interesting because the player could choose to have a gamble move where they could potentially take out an enemy or risk being attacked with their own weapon for higher-than-normal damage.

Those are just a few, use them if they fit your game idea, I can always come up with more ideas.
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