The Combat of Raji: Part 1 Inspirations and Intentions
We've been revealing snippets of combat since a while now. From what you can see above, our main character(on the left) is executing an attack combo, while the big boy "Gadasura"..a mace demon is swinging and smashing his big ol' mace.
This might only give an little idea of what the combat of Raji is like, but is enough for us start talking about the inspirations and the design direction.
Let's get started with listing down what games do we talk about at our studio, whenever the combat of Raji is the topic.
God of War
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Devil May Cry 3 and 4
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Hyper Light Drifter
Brothers: A tale of two sons
Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, Warrior Within
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
The Legend of Zelda
Yep, that's all of it. Now, as you can notice, we can classify some of these games as brawlers, hack n slash and say "weight based" like Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Why are these specific games the inspirations behind the combat and not others? We can say we've loved playing through the games listed above and want to take inspirations from certain aspects, give it our spin and have something refreshing in our own game.
The combat of of Raji can be best defined as "Gritty and Fluid Combat". Fluidity of "attacks" and 'movement" of Bastion/Hyper Light Drifter/DMC meets the "weight" and the "difficulty" of Dark souls/Bloodborne. And where did we draw this from, is the context below.
Our protagonist "Raji" is a young girl who was chosen by gods and gifted with godlike powers to fight against demons who yield dominant power or mystical abilities that humans cannot match to.
Before the demonic invasion, Raji earned her living as an acrobat, she would masterfully be able to walk over a thin rope, or perform several acrobatic moves with ease. This sets us for the "Fluidity". Raji is able to move freely in the game, while performing certain actions only an agile warrior could do.
Is Raji a born warrior, somewhat yes. A particular justification later in the story indicates that such abilities reside in Raji, and were only to be discovered for a greater purpose.
Apart from the motive of "Fluidity" we wanted the game to be challenging and not just a game where you can spam attack through every enemy, without even bothering with other abilities or moves.
Hence this is where our context puts Raji in a serious situation, where demons with great strength and mystical powers threaten Raji and the rest of humanity. Listed above are the games Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Known for merciless combat of theirs, they served as a line we would not want to cross. Though Darksouls is a great game and has inspired several games which fall into a "souls" category, we did not intend our game to become another souls like game, hence we do not have stamina system or the combat like Darksouls or Bloodborne.
We wanted the combat of Raji to give the player enough freedom to move and attack freely, keeping in mind the anticipation and abilities of the demons to face against, the player would not be able to button smash through the game, like a typical brawler. Each combat arena of the game is intended to be a puzzle due to the various combinations of the distinctive enemies, these enemies have their own distinctive behavior and abilities which asks the player to adapt to a certain situation. The arenas make the spine of the combat, this is where you fight. Once you enter the arena and see various enemies spawn, we want the players to think
- Which enemy should be my priority?
- Fast approaching melee enemies
- Long ranged enemies
- Slow yet powerful melee enemies
- Mini Bosses and Subtypes
- Which of my weapons are best suited for this situation?
- Have I selected the right god with the right abilities?
- Is my play style the best for the scenario?
- Melee only
- Melee and Ranged
- Choice of abilities
- Choice of Weapons
- Is there an reward to complete this arena in a sequential manner?
If we are able to make the player make certain choices which are reinforced by the game's design, we would have an interesting scenario, basically the game throws new challenges to the player, yet has provided the tools to overcome these challenges. Doing so asks the player to use the tools in whatever way they find best, either it's their gameplay style or certain tools fit to overcome the challenge. Hence the outcome of "fun" and staying in the "flow".
Same could be said once the player has been defeated by the challenge, you want them to ask the below
- Was my approach the best?
- Should have killed the melee tank first
- Should have ignored the melee tank and cleared the arena of the weaker enemies
- Using a ranged weapon along with a melee weapon would be a better combo
One of the best examples is Doom, we recommend "What can we learn from Doom" by Mark Brown, where once can see how level design and what AI is the player against reinforces the player to "dance" with the game. This is something we intend for our game as well, and so far it has been working like a charm.
We hope this small insight was helpful to show where we are going with the combat of the game.
This topic requires a full length article, which we shall write as soon as we get other parts of the combat intact in our demo and to a presentable quality.
Now, we shall break down what's happening in the GIFs below
The attack combo seen above, is one of the fluid attacks in the game. It enables the player to perform a series of three attacks which ends with an "Area of Effect" ability. This attack is great for crowd control, if surrounded by multiple enemies, the player can time the third attack dealing damage to multiple enemies. To add something that's not visible in the GIF, Raji can turn at the end of the "anticipation time" of any of these attacks to break away from the direction. This again enables fluidity and it was also one of the turning points during the development of the game.
The above GIF is a perfect example of iteration, not just art but design as well. If you notice the attack on the right, one can say it's a bit sloppy and not really tight. The GIF on the right is from the time we still had placeholder enemies which had placeholder combat animations. Because we've been posting content every Wednesday and Saturday, we got valuable feedback from the community regarding the attack. One can notice the weapon clipping as well. The feedback and design intentions helped shaped us the attack to a more tighter and responsive animation. We could feel the difference straight away
Just movement from the game, we did not iterate this much as it seemed to fit well. The intentions behind the pose were to have Raji access to the weapon quickly and get on with the attack, the pose does influence every other animation of the player character, when Raji has equipped this weapon.
The above demon is responsible for the fine tuning of the combat. Our approach to tweak the combat was straightforward, we make one demon who would engage Raji long enough to ask the player to make strategical choices. "High health, High Damage" was the mantra behind this. The swing you see in the GIF above is one of the attacks from the big fellow, more to be revealed very soon!
(Pardon us if the GIF is not looping, view it here)The above smash attack has an area of effect. This attack "asks" the player to keep a distance. If the player is sticking too close to the demon and unleashing his attack combos, this would make the big fellow use his smash attack. Due to the area of effect, the player will now have to dodge away or take good amount of damage.
We hope you enjoyed the first Devblog in regards to our combat. Very soon you will see all of this in a video, and we shall continue with the next part. Thanks!