This month's Dev Log is going to be a pretty special one. While we still have tons of work left to do, we wanted to share with you an early look at how Samurai Zero's combat is shaping up. Before we go ahead, I want to lay out some expectations of what you will see.
First as you know everything you can see is all a work in progress. Everything from gameplay systems to animations are still in a very liquid state as we continue to refine our combat loop. While a lot of developers would choose to not show their games in this state, we feel we are at a point where we can showcase some of our mechanics and help share with you guys the game we really are striving towards. Thanks so much for understanding and without further ado, welcome to the birth of combat.
First before we begin this deep dive, some additional house keeping. To tie up some loose ends from lasts month's Dev Log, we were successful at fully implementing our networking system. After a lot of hard work and testing, we have successfully gotten all of the game's movement systems replicated in a multiplayer match. That means any type of movement your opponent does, you are gonna see it with great accuracy.
On top of that we did some animation work on Ryder. First, we updated his idle to a brand new one. The old one we felt didn't really hit upon the feeling of Ryder being alert in combat and felt it was a bit too passive for our taste, so we made one that we feel makes Ryder look more alert. This is one of our newest additions so, we still have to go through a couple of our transition blend animations and correct them so other animations will look nice with the idle. For right now it gets the job done and allows us to test. Oh on top of that, one person in the comments of our feedback video really wanted backflipping and, today I can give you Shizzy the good news. Yes...Samurai Zero has backflips.
Not only that, but you may have noticed something else as well. We have cloth simulation now! Yes Sir! After doing some research and development, we were able to get the tech to run pretty well and we are really blown away by the results. Previously, Ryder's cape and parts of his clothing were all moving thanks to keyframe animation. Now with cloth simulation, hanging parts of his cloth are all simulated which means it all moves dynamically without the animator needing to do it themselves. On top of that, it really just adds an additional layer of detail and realism to Ryder. It even reacts to wind in the environment! This is a big win for the team and we have already started to look at other characters and see if this same tech can be used for their clothing as well.
In order to help visualize the game we are striving towards, I feel we should share what inspired it. So today, as we explain mechanics, I want to also share with you some games that I would say have been the biggest influence on the design for this project.
From the start, one of hardest things for Samurai Zero was really trying to create a combat system that fit our design goal. We said we wanted Samurai Zero to be a fast paced 3rd person multiplayer action rpg. There are a lot of amazing action rpgs that have come out over the years, but really thinking about it, there was one game that I grew up with that hit exactly the design goal I had in mind....
That game was Star Wars Jedi Knight - Jedi Academy.
It honestly was one of those eureka moments that just hit me one day. A couple months back I saw the game in my steam library and booted it back up just for some nice nostalgia. As I played, I began to ask myself...why the hell has this game's combat never been modernized? Seems like a lot of people on the internet felt the same way.
Ultimately, that realization gave me the inspiration to say...maybe Samurai Zero can become what I always wanted growing up. So I think its fair to say that in some ways, Samurai Zero is a sort of spiritual successor to Jedi Academy. I'm pretty sure that's what marketing is gonna want me to say. :D
But beyond that, I think its important that I point out while Jedi Academy is the inspiration for Samurai Zero, that doesn't mean that Samurai Zero's gameplay is going to follow it to a Tee. Far from it. What i hope you will find is the soul of Jedi Academy within Samurai Zero, but also to see that it is its own type of game.
Samurai Zero does share some nice similarities to Jedi Academy's combat. We adopted three design goals as pillars combat must stand upon.
The player should feel free to experiment with their character's moveset and abilities and not feel their combat creativity restricted. Create Tools not Barriers.
The player should also always feel in control of their character. Avoid creating mechanics that remove control from the player and instead expand upon them.
The player visuals should be fluid. We want a game that is visually easy to grasp what is happening moment to moment especially when it comes to animations and performance always aiming for a smooth 60 fps minimum.
With these pillars in mind we begin at the base form of combat in Samurai zero we call "Combat Arts". Think of combat arts like basic attacks in a game. Taking inspiration from Jedi Academy we have developed a omni-directional combat system that uses precise directional swings based off of player input.
This means whatever direction you are moving in when you attack, your character will also swing in that direction. Every Samurai has directional attack animations for every direction including light attacks which are low risk low reward strikes to heavy attacks which are slower but deal way more damage, high risk high reward.
This adds a huge level of depth to just the basic attack system for Samurai Zero as you can input all of these attacks while moving without huge input delay, oh and that isn't even all of it. On top of this, certain light and heavy attacks can be chained together to create unique combo attack animations. So for example if you attack using a left light attack and a left heavy attack to follow it up, that left heavy attack will instead change into a custom spin combo attack. Right now we don't have the full move set set in stone for combos as it is still being thought up and experimented with. We plan to probably give each Samurai their own combo move sets so each of them will feel a bit different from the other.
Of course, all of the attack swings in Samurai Zero are tracked using a precise collision detection system. To avoid getting too technical, this is our game's Hit detection and damage system and it functions to inform the player when they get hit by an attack. As you can see here, our system is built with precision in mind, so if a player jumps over your horizontal slash, its going to miss. There is no sort of target lock or magnetism planned to help you land your hits, it will fully rely on your skill. Oh and did I mention that is is all built to feel good using a mouse. That's right, you have full rotation control to adjust your aim even while actively swinging the blade. I have to of course give a disclaimer that while our system is pretty damn accurate, multiplayer online is always a dynamically shifting environment and its important to understand that playing with players who have 300 to 600 ping can lead to varied results....but I'm sure you all knew that.
Now i'm sure you have noticed the health bar going down when a player is hit, but you are curious about that blue bar right below it. Let's talk defense arts. In Samurai Zero, we wanted to give players not only a way to attack, but also defend and so we developed the resolve system. That's right, there is no stamina in Samurai Zero.
Inspired by Sekiro's Posture system, each Samurai has a certain amount of resolve to fight in combat. This resolve is reduced when blocking an enemy's attack. While outside of combat, resolve can be recovered overtime depending on how much health you have.
As you can see we have created a placeholder guard animation to help show you how this system works. Insuring that we follow our gameplay pillars, guarding is available at almost any time while in combat with the exception of when you are in the middle of an attacking animation or doing an evasive action. Regardless if you are on the ground or in mid air, you will be able to put up your guard.
You may have also noticed that decimal value on the HUD. While this is for testing only it will help illustrate this mechanic. So the moment you input guard, there is a small window where if anyone attacks you from the front, their attack will be deflected. Otherwise after this timed window is gone, you will just simple block the attack.
There is an important difference between these two things. When you hold your guard for too long and are hit, you will simply block the attack and take its full damage to your resolve meter. While not optimal, its better than losing health. However, if you can time the enemy's attack right, and deflect the attack, you will take a significantly reduced amount of damage to your resolve and instead, deflect a majority of that attack's damage back upon the attacker.
This system allow for two big things.
it adds another layer of depth to the core gameplay loop allowing for another way you can take down your enemy and
Since there is no stamina requirement for combat arts, someone who is good at deflecting attacks will naturally deter someone who is more prone to rushing and just spamming attacks. Nobody appreciates that, especially in a melee game.
If an enemy is foolish enough to have their attacks be deflected, eventually they will lose all of their resolve and become broken..a very lethal punishment....but that mechanic is for another Dev Log.
As you can see, we don't have our deflection animations set up yet, but best believe we will have it ready to show later this month.
And I think that's going to cover everything for now. I know that this Dev Log was massive and I hope it lived up to all of your expectations. Of course, like I always say, we still have so much more to show you and this video still has not covered all of the combat system's mechanics. Additional mechanics will be expanded on and shown as we continue to iterate and find the fun.
Thanks so much for taking the time to watch/read this Dev Log!
This video wouldn't have been possible without the support of our Patreon, you all are amazing for supporting us, especially during these times. If you would like to support the development of Samurai Zero and see even more additional content not yet shown to the public, consider backing us and joining our discord. Trust me, this month we did A LOT!
Thanks again for watching, please stay inside and remember, #AlwaysForward.