I realized I never talked about the combo system, so I’ll do that real quick. This system adds some simple strategy (and IMO some much-needed fun) to unarmed combat. (And eventually it’ll work for sword combat also, but with different flavor.)
The thing about combos in most games is that they’re static. You learn the one optimal combo and then it just becomes “1,2,3″ over and over. Well, in an MMO, players end up pressing 1,2,3 anyway, making their own combos based on skill rotation times. If an MMO has a special Combo system, it needs to be dynamic somehow.
So my first thought was to make the combos reactive to what the monster does: “he used his rage attack, start the Rage Reaction Combo now!” But that made the combos feel too specialized. I want you to use lots of combos — several each fight. Otherwise unarmed combat is too boring.
So to get some variation in, what I’ve got now is “daily combos”. Each day, you have three different combo patterns available to you (such as Punch+Punch+Kick, or Barrage+Punch+Punch+Cobra Strike). One of these three is randomly chosen each day. You get to pick the other two.
Now you could just pick your two favorite combos every day, but combos work best if you chain them into each other. If one combo is Punch+Punch+Barrage, and another is Barrage+Punch+Kick, that’s good: you only need to do one Barrage to finish the first combo and start the second. So if you want to min-max unarmed combat, you’ll need to choose optimal combos each day to synergize with the randomly-chosen one.
I think that’s fun, as far as it goes. It will need a bit more complexity down the road, so I’m going to add some special abilities to liven it up. The Jab ability is like Punch, except it doesn’t cancel a combo if the next step isn’t Punch. That way you can Jab repeatedly without breaking your combo — very handy if you need to fill a few seconds while the next ability’s timer isn’t up yet. And Knee Kick can advance a combo for either Kick or Cobra Strike, so it’s a wild-card, making it easier to fit into combos.
One part I’m still a little up in the air about is how you “pick” your two combos. Right now, you pick one of them from a list, and the other one is based on where you meditate. There are Meditation Pillars throughout the world, and each one has a specific combo attached to it. So in order to get the perfect combo for the day, you may need to run somewhere to meditate at a distant pillar.
I kind of like that — assuming it’s not too painful to travel, and assuming there are lots of “not quite perfect” combo choices you can make instead. Yeah, if you really care, you can travel all the way to a distant mountain to meditate and get the perfect combo, or you can go down the road and get a pretty good one.
But I’ll see how it goes when there’s more content. It’s hard to tell right now if it’ll hold up this way.
In the above screenshot, you can see I’ve got Punchmaster (Punch+Punch+Punch) and Stripdown (Barrage+Punch+Hip Throw+Punch) combos underway. But the next step of each combo is different, so no matter which I execute, the other combo will be “broken” and fade away.
I’ll probably execute Hip Throw next, then Punch, which will complete Stripdown and start Punchmaster up again, chaining the combos together. (I think this is a lot more intuitive while you’re playing, so if this is gibberish, don’t worry about it!)
One little tweak I made during playtesting is that not all the steps have to be done to the same enemy. If you have a Punch+Punch+Punch combo, you can punch one guy twice and then switch targets and punch another guy to finish the combo. This is very useful for some crowd control combos (such as Kick+Kick+Kick, since kick knocks the opponent away from you — that’d be tedious to do to one opponent). It’s also nice for when an enemy dies in the middle of a combo, so you don’t waste the effort.
Sword Combos will use the same basic system, but you’ll get your combos a different way. More on that later!