It dawned on me that one of the key areas I did not really talk about (and I should have) was combat. I will speak of creature generation for Wednesday in order to touch upon this mildly important topic.
How do weapons work?
Combat in most RPGs and games is based around the assumption that a weapon made from bronze/copper is less lethal than a weapon made out of iron or steel. That is a long stretch, since there are numerous variables that influence the effectiveness of certain weapons. For example, a bronze sword could be better than one made of steel, under the right circumstances. I would like to cover a few points, regarding weapons.
Whether a weapon is made of bronze or steel makes no difference to flesh. If you get stabbed, you get stabbed properly. You will bleed all the same, and you will die all the same. Based on that, there will be a number of things to hold in mind about weapons:
- All of them will be, more or less, equally lethal. However other things will change about them. For example, a steel sword compared to a bronze sword will be more durable, sharper, and lighter. All in all, even though a sharp sword made out of any weapon is equally dangerous, certain materials and alloys will be better suited for certain weapons because they might be more durable, easier to make, etc.
- So, swords will be equal to guns? The short answer is yes, but then you forget about the bigger picture. If a guy with a sword gets a drop on you, you are dead. It is likely that if you had a musket man from the Napoleonic era, facing a savage with a spear, and the musket man missed his shot, he might get quickly impaled and killed. A sword is just as lethal as a rifle, but the rifle has the advantage of range and it can pierce armor. A sword could be stopped by heavy armor, while a bullet from a rifle much less likely so. A seemingly worse off culture, using bows and spears, could still defeat a technologically superior culture because the invaders might have incredible shields to stop lasers, but not arrows.
- This means that seemingly outdated weapons could still find certain uses. It might simply be cheaper to use swords than rifles. You could use exotic metals to improve a sword to such an extent that it could slash through any suit of modern armor.
What about armor?
In our game, your body armor would provide protection to your chest and arms. Leggings would protect your legs, and a helmet would protect your head. Any damage done to any of these body parts will reduce the amount of damage suffered, which could also mean that sufficiently powerful armor could stop an attack outright. It would make sense that power armor does not get hurt at all by a bow and arrow because its thick plating just won't budge.
But this could cause serious imbalances, very early into the game. One such example is full plate, which was very difficult to penetrate. However, stamina still plays a role, so a knight in heavy armor would get tired far quicker than a lightly armored and armed soldier, thus letting the soldier take advantage of the sluggish knight.
This would still call for an AI that can take advantage of its weapons and armor when facing a superior enemy. While a general might be able to use his units accordingly, it would take a bit of work to get each individual soldier to fight properly.
All of this will have to be carefully balanced, so that in the final game you cannot become an untouchable behemoth when facing another technologically equal opponent.
Weapons and armor will deteriorate with time, but it will be possible to repair them. This will be done through a simplified system where a certain amount of a material is needed, with the right tool/workstation in order to restore a weapon or armor’s state. Bringing a weapon to a smithy/leather worker/tailor will mean that your equipment can be repaired for a fee (if you lack the skills) but if there is a shortage of resources in the town then repairs might still be impossible.
What will have to be looked over in more detail is status effects. Bleeding is one thing I am not looking forward to implementing, because in an hp-based system you could take advantage of bleeding and force very powerful enemies to bleed out, by using barbed arrows for example, from afar. Other status effects however, such as being lit on fire, wet, walking through mud, or being stunned, will be present. These will have a visual representation as well as a stats influence. For example, if you sneaked up on an enemy soldier and whacked them over the head with a sufficiently powerful blunt object, and you were skilled in using it, you might just knock them out, or even kill them, if their head is unprotected. In turn, trying to charge at an enemy through mud could make you a very easy target, since you will be moving slowly, and your stamina will drain faster during combat.
I would like to go more in a direction where combat is not restricted to just smashing at an enemy with a weapon, but where you can achieve an advantage, by disarming them, or breaking their leg. Modular damage, in other words, may also be present, but a lot depends on how will we deal with healing wounds. The last thing I would want is for people to feel constantly obliged to carry a first aid kit with them, just in case the ledge they hop off is just a tiny bit too high and they will have to crawl all the way back home, with both of their legs broken.
On Wednesday I will speak more of creatures: how they spawn, spread, and how they may interact with cultures.
- The Imagine Nations Team