Combat in this game is very complex requiring skill and understanding of the game to be the most successful. Combat occurs in real time from the 3rd person. If you aren't interested in the specifics of combat, you most likely will be interested in the bottom section: Combat Roles. In this section I get at the common tropes and consequential failings of many (and in particular online) RPGs, and how I believe this game (might) combat (no pun intended) those faults.
Sight, Targeting, and Actions Edit
Sight in this game is the distance at which your character can see clearly. It is determined by a circle, the radius of which is influenced by skill and focus. Anything within normal sight range is clearly visible, but objects and targets outside of that sight range become progressively dimmer, blurrier, and foggy. You may only ever target something within your sight range.
At the bottom of the play screen there are three main categories of skills (each with a hotkey): use weapon, channel, and maneuver.
Use weapon Edit
If you press 'use weapon', five combat skills (max) that are hotkeyed and the 'basic attack' skill will appear to choose from. If you press a skills hot key, above it a window will appear that has the skills 'use time' (the time required to use the skill--like a cast time), MP cost, and effects. If you press the hotkey again you will use the skill.
If you press 'channel', five hotkeyed spells and the search spells button will appear. Using the search spells button will summon a small list of the five most recently (and not hotkeyed) spells that will have the same hot keys as the other spells. This new list must be loaded and the load time is a negative function of focus and intelligence. During this time you lose AP. Each of the new loaded spells can be cast at an increased cost that is mitigated by focus and intelligence. You may continue to go "down" the list and load more and more spells. This list may be constructed before battle, but the most recently used spells will always be at the top. So you may construct a list to inlcude Spells A, B, C, D, and E at the top, but if you scroll down and use Spell J, then the new list will include Spells J, A, B, C, and D as the top five, move the other spells that came before Spell J (including Spell E in this case) down the list. When you press a spell, above it will appear a small box containing the spell's channeling time, AP cost, and effects. Press the hotkey for that spell again and you will channel it.
If you press 'maneuver', sprint, dodge, and eight other combat maneuvers will show up and be hotkeyed. Same as the others, when you press a maneuver it will show the use time, the MP cost, and its effects. Press the hotkey again and you will use the skill.
When you have chosen a skill to use, all players within range will have a targeting cursor placed on them (a small gray circle). Another cursor (a small red arrow) will target by default on to the nearest target in range. You may then cycle through all the targets and/or move about to get in range of other targets before choosing a target. When you have your cursor (red arrow) hovering over a target, their circle will change colors to either red (denoting enemy) or blue (denoting ally). Above the target a small box will appear showing the accuracy of your attack, the critical chance, the damage the target will receive (if any), and the effects that the character will take one (if any). This data will change based on your position relative to the target. Once a target or targets are chosen, the action sequence then takes place.
When fighting close range, after a target has been chosen, a line is drawn between you and the target. One the line connects with the (or a) target, the attack is carried out. while the line is connecting, and right as the target connects, you can cancel the attack. But if the line has already connected you still lose the MP, even if you did not follow through with the attack. The time it takes to connect to the target, and the time allowed to cancel an attack is determined by both the character's speed and skill stats, but also the weapon's own attack speed. For instance, a heavily armored character using a great sword takes significantly longer to use their weapon in comparison to a lightly armored and very fast character using only their fists. Further more, the slow character, because they are so slow requires a much longer amount of time to cancel an attack (due to momentum), so if an ally gets in the way of this character while attacking, and the line connects to the ally rather than the target, then that ally will most likely get hit. The fast character however can attack, cancel, and change direction of attack very quickly.
Ranged attacks follow a similar mechanism. After you have selected a target, a line is drawn between you and your target, usually very quickly, and once the line connects the attack is carried out. You cannot cancel this attack once the target is picked. Moving (unless mounted) while targeting decreases the accuracy of a ranged attack. Ranged attacks have very high critical chance and ignore the effects of most armors when calculating defense.
Channeling Aethyr also has a similar mechanic, but with a differing order. All spells require a certain amount of time to focus and connect to the intrinsic and extrinsic Aethyr (cast time), which is usually mitigated by focus, intelligence, or both. Once a spell is cast, AP is deducted and, the character enters the targeting phase, where they can chose a target or targets. There are three types of spells: point spells, melee spells, ranged spells, and blast spells.
Point Spells Edit
Point spells affect only one target. Holding them drains AP over time, mitigated by focus. Only targets within a certain range may be chosen and the closer to max range the character gets, the more AP required to finish casting the spell. Hovering over a target will show all of the normal stats, except for critical chance is removed and AP cost is added. This goes for all spells, not just point spells, as spells cannot land critical hits and AP cost changes based on the chosen target. Once the target is chosen, AP is deducted and a line is drawn between the caster and the target. This line cannot be interrupted by other players like ranged and melee attacks can, but if players are occupying space that is in the space of the connecting line, then the speed of the connecting line is slowed down proportionate to the number of interfering characters. The spell may be canceled just as melee may be canceled and the speed of the connecting line and the time needed to cancel a spell is mitigated by a function of focus and intelligence (the ratio of intelligence to focus is different for each spell). Once the line connects, the spell finishes casting and the effects take place.
Melee Spells Edit
Once these spells are cast, all that is needed is melee contact (see melee targeting rules) in order for the spell to finish casting and to take effect. Holding the spell will deduct AP at a rate determined by the spell and the casters focus and intelligence. Some melee spells have multiple uses. Melee spells can be canceled before they are used up at any point. Most melee spells must be channeled through the hands (unarmed), but if special weapons infused with Aethyrite are equipped they may channel some melee spells.
Ranged Spells Edit
Ranged spells follow all of the same rules of ranged attacks, including that any that are caught in the path of the spell are hit. Some spells may hit multiple targets if they are caught in the line of the attack. Holding the spell and finishing the spell will deduct AP based on the time held and the distance of the target.
Blast Spells Edit
After a blast spell is cast, they go into a holding/targeting phase just like the other spell types. There are two types of targets associated with blast spells: self and ranged. Self targeted blast spells affect a certain area in front of or around the caster when cast and any all targets within range will be affected by the spell. Ranged targeted blast spells will affect a certain area that can be placed anywhere within a range. Any and all targets within the area of effect once the spell is finished will be affected by the spell. When holding/targeting the spell, AP is deducted over time and boxes appear over all potential targets detailing the usual information. Once the target is chosen, the spell will either take effect immediately if it is a self targeted, or draw a line between the targeted space and the caster (see point spell. This line is not slowed by interfering characters like point spells are. Also usually a very fast connecting line). The greatest effects of a spell will take place near the center of the target, and they will diminish as you go nearer to the end of the area of effect.
While the connecting line is making contact with the target, the target may move about. The targeting line will move as the character moves (because the character who is taking the action will move in the direction of the target) unless the attack is a ranged attack. The only way to avoid an attack is to use the dodge skill ( or another related skill--see skills page) right as the connecting line makes contact. When dodging (or using any maneuver skill) you must first pick the skill using its hotkey, then chose a direction to dodge. An 'area of effect' will show the unoccupied space required to carry out the skill, and the end point of the maneuver will be highlighted. The area of effect will be highlighted blue if the space is enough to complete the skill, and will be red if it is not. You cannot dodge (or use any maneuver) if you do not have enough space to do so. The space required to dodge is mitigated by movement speed and the dodge skills own modifier.
Blocking can be found in the maneuvers hotkey (see skills page). When you select a block skill a box will appear over your head detailing, the MP (or AP) cost per HP of damage normally taken that the blocker receives. You can move while blocking, but regular movement costs MP determined by your character's skill, focus, and the block skill's cost modifier. Blocking is most effective when you can interrupt the connecting line between an attack and the target (the one you are guarding). There are skills that allow you to roll in front of a character even after the line has been connected, and absorb all or choice Aethyr effects and spells being cast.
Movement, Maneuvers, and Mount Riding Edit
Combat Roles Edit
This where the individual player becomes important. In many RPG style games, speciliazed characters who fit specific roles are required to have a well functioning team. In most games, there are fun roles and necessary roles. Front-line melee and sneaky assassin type characters are great examples of 'fun' roles to play. They require skill and are very rewarding. A good example of a necessary role is the healer. These characters are needed to keep the fighting characters healthy and fighting, but it doesn't require skill, just the ability to spam a healing spell and a "strength+" buff at the right time. In this game, I wanted to create a game that would require a diversity of play styles in order for a team/party to be successful and make it so that in order to have an excellent party, each player must be equally skilled.
My hope is that in this game, combat roles are developed by the players, much like with the metagame of League of Legends. I believe this is vital to any good RPG as it allows the players to add their own flavor to the game. However, below I have defined five roles (one per teammate in a normal PvP combat or the max number of members for one party in a PvE) that I think would make a familiar but also enjoyable experience for all players/roles.
In this game, it is all about landing hits and doing HP damage to the opposing teams characters. This is one of the two close range players, and is frequently the target of many attacks. They tend to be very skilled, strong, and quick characters specializing in weapons and lighter armor that will not slow them down significantly. Their high speed allows for very fast regeneration of MP, so they do not require a high endurance (a stat that is gained from learning slow and heavy weapons and the blocking technique). This allows them to focus on fast and powerful combat maneuvers and weapon skills. Their vulnerability then is their one weakness. Their speed and skill however, lends them to be very agile, and with proper space and player skill, Bruisers can dodge most attacks. Because of a Bruisers high damage dealing potential, it is important that they be taken out. Once they are, a teams' fire power is significantly diminished. Thus a Bruiser must not only be good at maximizing damage output, but also in avoiding attacks.
The Tank has two jobs: protect the other players, particularly the Bruiser, and assist the Bruiser in cornering and crippling the opposing team's bruiser. They are usually heavily armored in order to absorb damage, which makes them slow. Though they have devastating strikes with their heavy (endurance encouraging/focused) weapons, connecting their strikes is challenging, but very rewarding. Another added challenge is in predicting the moves of the opposing team in order to be in the right place at the right time so the Tank can absorb, counter, and redirect the attacks of the opposing team. The blocking skill tree allows for a multitude of complex maneuverings to make the Tank strategy complex and interesting. Because a Tanks main use is in disrupting attacks, a Tank must have help in blocking simultaneous attacks and in fortifying their endurance. Without help, the load of blocking is sure to cause them to break and fail eventually. A Tanks only real weakness (besides their lack of speed), is the finite amount of defending power that they have.
Support is one of the two mid range characters. They generally stay at a decent distance away from the main combat, sometimes coming in to closer range to deliver a melee spell, but due to their low armor, they must keep out of melee combat or else will draw offensive attention to themselves. Support characters, like all caster-types, must have very light armor or their focus will be hampered (see Aethyr page). In this game, there are many many status effects, all of which if used correctly can totally change how a battle is played out. The support character focuses on their allies by healing, buffing, and summoning for their team. The support character must know the strengths and weaknesses of their fellow teammates and their opponents and use this knowledge to support their own team. Because focus is the main stat for most Regenerative spells (see Aethyr page), Supports have a high degree of focus and subsequent AP/AP regeneration. Due to this, Supports cast many many spells. Spells in the Sabotage (debuffs; see Aethyr page) class tend to require a great degree of intelligence. Due to this, the Support must focus on Regeneration and Synergy (buffs) class spells.
The Controller's job is to balance the support and to counter the opposing team's support with debuffs. Furthermore, they are responsible for exploiting weaknesses to different Aethyrs. When they are not casting Sabotage class spells, they are casting Devastation class spells to augment the Bruiser's damage output. They are known to cause sudden turns of the tide of battle and devastate an opposing party's Bruiser or Tank (the low Resistance characters--see Stats and Attributes page). Because of this, the Controller must always be kept an eye on and preoccupied otherwise they will land a terrible blow to the party's most important characters. Thankfully, an effective Controller must devote all of their SP and EXP into maxing their intelligence and focus and so are very vulnerable to attack. This forces them to stay out of melee range, and to be diligent. If they time their moves correctly, they can land amazing blows.
The Scout is both the party leader and also the great equalizing force of the battle field. Scouts are very much like the Seekers of the party (Harry Potter anyone?). Their job is to see and understand the battlefield and relay tactics to their fellow teammates in combat. They have high skill and focus and can see amazing distances either due to innate seeing abilities or enhancements from Aethyr. They tend to stay at a distance and aerial, which allows them to see more of the battlefield at one time. A scouts job is to let their teammates know what the opposing team is doing so that their allies can better respond to the changing battlefield, as well as blind the opposing teams scout. By staying at a range, the scout avoids being targeted by foes on the ground at a distance. Their only weaknesses are other ranged characters, or controllers that come within range. Charging a scout however, is never a good idea. A controller charging a scout is surely to take critical damage from a scouts ranged attacks, and likely fall. This is also what makes the scout useful. Though throwing or shooting a bow into combat is very risky and difficult, with the right set up, a scout can also land critical blows that can even take a tank down. This is where it is vital for the Scout of the opposing team to constantly be talking with their allies so as to prevent this kind of situation from being set up.
So as you can see, this game is all about using your skills and your teammates' strengths to set up situations in which those strengths are amplified and devastating moves are made. This requires careful planning ahead of time and quick and critical thinking in-combat. This to me sounds like the best set up possible, but as you read this, if you begin to think otherwise I would love to hear your comments! It is through collaboration that this game will get better, so do not be afraid to share!