First of all, sorry for the lack of updates. Hopefully that will change now that I’m on a new schedule, though I’m running on 4 hours of sleep, so don’t count on it. Today I wanted to talk more about the battle system I’d like to have for Gun Sage. Previously I talked about how I wanted to incorporate many elements into one allowing for a true action RPG experience that sacrificed on neither front while also allowing for incredible gunplay and martial arts, emphasizing a need for both.
So how exactly is that going to work, battle-wise? Initially I thought I would just have a complicated system that wouldn’t let you use your guns, but instead I thought it might be better to give you the option, but strongly encourage you to use martial arts when closer instead. How will that work?
Well first off, you can’t just keep your guns out. In the current society (22 century), guns are banned for private use in order to keep the people in check. As a result, while the NWG army may want to act on you in the first place, they’ll have even more cause to do so if you simply walk around with your weapons out…and various citizens will fear you as well on sight alone.
Furthermore, anytime you have a weapon out, your max AP is lowered to compensate. Why? Because it’s a constant drain on your psionics to keep the gun forged with your mind. Even if you’re an expert at the type of gun being used and as a result it barely uses any AP at all to operate, your max AP is lowered all the same, which will be relevant later as I begin to discuss in further detail exactly what AP is used for.
It’s also possible to have multiple guns out at a given time, but again, each one is a drain on max AP until it’s disassembled voluntarily or otherwise. When the guns are drawn (I’m thinking I’ll have one of the bumpers allow for drawing/holstering guns), trigger commands affect how the guns work, but it’s still possible to do martial arts as well.
However, while guns are drawn, it is NOT possible to charge martial arts techniques or access all of the martial arts techniques you normally would, which makes sense because you’re holding gun(s). There will also need to be button mapping for deliberate disassembly of weapons, which I’m thinking holding down multiple buttons for a few seconds might suffice as it’s not something you want to accidentally do in the middle of combat.
So what of this “gunplay” I keep talking about, then? Well, in many games such as the Max Payne series, you have things like bullet time and taking slo-mo dives in order to dispatch enemies. I want this to be possible as well, but in literally every mode, not just when you have your guns out. However, as it’s a rather powerful ability, it will be a serious, quick drain on your AP.
AP, if you haven’t guessed, is a gauge of your overall stamina and special moves and is short for “action points,” because without it, you’re seriously limited on what you can actually do. Losing all of your AP causes you to become exhausted for a short time and vulnerable to attack. AP does recover fairly rapidly, however, especially if you’re effectively taking cover or backing off in combat regularly to recover.
Furthermore, you’re not discouraged from being aggressive. If you’re playing well and taking out people left and right, you get AP bonuses constantly. It’s only when you begin button mashing and taking stupid pot shots that you start to not get bonuses and as a result have to recover more often.
This is all done in real-time too, so you have to be especially careful in some fights. Getting knocked down when you have no AP left could also mean getting KO’ed, so it’s especially important to mind the AP gauge. Getting KO’ed is way better than getting killed (losing all HP), but it’s still not a good scene.
Anyway, back to the gunplay. Sure, there’s bullet time, but there are also charged shots, ricochet shots, bullet bending, homing shots, spread shots, barrage attacks, bullet hail, different types of elemental strikes, bullet counters, wall drill shots, and plenty of different crazy types of attacks that can be called out depending on the weapon in use, what has been learned as far as skills, and what has been mapped to different hotkey combinations.
That’s just the gunplay, however. And you might ask yourself, okay, with all that, why even bother with the martial arts? Let’s just have epic shootouts and call it a day. Sure sure, I considered that, but I absolutely adore amazing and over the top martial arts. Plus, not all conflicts, especially in close quarter combat, are ideal for guns.
But again, why bother with martial arts? Okay, so it’s not ideal or whatever, but hey, I have a gun…who cares if they come at me with a knife or bare fisted or whatever? Well, it’s very, VERY easy to disarm you. Since the guns are being held together with little more than psionics, it’s important to keep enemies at a safe distance so they don’t shatter your weapons.
When weapons are shattered, they can be reconstructed, but that takes time, which is something you don’t have in the middle of a fight. Keeping your weapons holstered or not even constructed at all in close combat is a key strategy as a result. And again, keeping them to where they’re not even constructed allows you to maintain your max AP, which is used for more powerful attacks and to compensate for stun moves used against you, etc.
Another consideration is hand-to-hand combat does more AP damage than HP, so it’s easier to knock people out. Why is that a consideration? Because you also have your reputation to consider. Killing people over and over will appeal to some people, but scare many, causing you to become unliked by a good portion of the people you’re trying to get on your side.
Furthermore, shooting people who are unarmed immediately lands you in unliked territory with many people. Early in the game, guns should be used sparingly anyway as your AP is very limited and your skill with them is basic at best. As a result, the game starts with a lot of stealth gameplay mixed with tactful martial arts.
So what kinds of stuff can you do with martial arts? Well, the basic button mapping is the bottom button (A on the Xbox controller) is used for jumping, dodging, and so on. X is used for high to mid-section strikes while B is used for low to mid-section strikes. Depending on the martial art being used and whether or not the basic combos have been modified, different strikes will automatically be called out in different situations, especially if you’re holding in different directions while attacking.
By default, you’re in brawler mode, meaning you focus on whoever is closest, but by holding down a different direction while striking, you’ll zip to the next closest person in that direction. You can lock on to an enemy, which allows for a side view and sets the mode to duel, which allows for more precision striking, but also means you could get blind-sided if you’re not careful.
Holding down a certain button (I’m thinking probably left trigger) allows you to charge up the next move. This expends AP, but also allows for guard breaks and feint attacks. Feint attacks are generated by queuing two moves in rapid succession, meaning you begin to do one move to draw out the enemy into performing a certain type of reaction, but then immediately cancel the move and use the second type of attack.
This is useful for enemies that are a little quicker and attempt to anticipate your strikes to work around you. There are also various grapples, wall strikes, aerial strikes, and so on available. But what’s especially key here is that over time as your abilities improve, you’ll also develop more super power inspired moves like chucking an enemy several feet into the air and slamming them violently into the Earth, causing a blow away effect.
Various moves like this will be available within gunplay as well. I know you’re probably wondering how the RPG elements play into this, but I’ve been told that shit gets way too complex, so instead I’d like you to focus on this: since everything you do (and even some stuff you opt not to do) in combat helps sculpt your character and I already mentioned the possibility of super power moves, consider what that means, exactly.
In a lot of RPGs, you start off weak, but already have access to things that are clearly not possible for normal humans…especially if we’re discussing games like Disgaea. And honestly, I intend to take a lot of inspiration from Disgaea…so let your mind chew on that for a while.
Another key feature is that of “reflexes.” As your character grows in strength, speed, and intelligence, sometimes things will happen such as an exclamation point popping over their head and if you hit a certain button in time, you automatically dodge something or auto-counter. And as you improve yet even further, the game will automatically do it for you, especially if you far outclass your adversaries, making combat overly simplified in some areas which should help push the more hesitant gamers to greater challenges.
I also plan on having awesome stuff occur like long distance counters. Now sure, some of these are bullet counters, where you automatically dodge and shoot the aggressor, but I was also thinking of having you zip fast enough that it mimics a teleport and you strike an enemy bare handed before he even gets the chance to draw his weapon.
Another question I constantly wrestle with is would this eventually make it to where you don’t really need to use your guns? I suppose there might be a point at which that would happen, but I don’t think it really matters once you get far enough into the game with all the super power inspired stuff going on.
Besides, with the way the character organically levels up, you have the ability to be a master gun sage with all kinds of fancy gunplay techniques or some ridiculously overpowered berserker that really only keeps different pieces of scrap (normally used for psionically crafting weapons) to use as barriers against gunfire while he ravages the front line with ridiculous Hulk-like attacks.
Theoretically you could do a combination of both, but it’s best to decide how you want your character to operate and become disciplined in it. I intend for it to take a LONG time to level up certain things to their absolute maximum, so to do so with multiple things, even before reaching the final chapter, would take almost as much time as doing multiple playthroughs.
At the end of the day, I think this will all be possible provided that I keep in mind the game is a combination of ideas, not just a brawler, just a shooter, just an RPG, or just an action game. Many games feel like certain ideas are put in as an afterthought and that’s definitely what I don’t want to have happen here.