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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mushroom Men – The Spore Wars video game update

mushroom men video gameAn ichorous green meteor plummets through Earth's atmosphere, fracturing and showering the earth with glowing green space dust that affects all forms of life nearby. Some plant life - like mushrooms and cacti -acquire sentience. At the same time, the green glow twists and mutates other life forms like spiders and roaches, transforming them into semi-intelligent, warlike communities.

WII COMBAT Prt 1: Melee System
Written by Kain Shin, Lead Programmer/Combat Designer

Melee System:
Melee combat in Mushroom Men is essentially the bread and butter of the combat system, and so it was very important that it felt fun for the user to do, without becoming frustrating or repetitive. The most basic means of achieving this would be the three-hit-combo. I actually fought against the idea of a combo at the beginning of development, but others on the team really expected to have this. I eventually realized that the combo allows for less emphasis on precision during combat, which is good because it makes combat less frustrating for novice players. To reward those who can be precise enough to make contact with all three hits of their combos, there is actually a graduation in damage for the three hit combo (50%, 75%, 100%) such that each hit of the combo becomes more powerful than the one before.

In order to keep melee combat strategic, we've limited the number of hits in a combo to three in order to allow the situation to "reset" after the third hit. More than three hits in a combo might lead to a feeling of repetition, and we wanted to mix the feel of close range combat up with things such as blocks, rolls, jumps, jump-attacks, and spore powers. So after the three hits of the combo are over, the player has a chance to try something different. This mix of vastly different physical combat actions allows players to use their own unique style throughout the game.

Some players will notice relationships between different combat actions (melee, block, roll) that feed into the combat design's intention of being flexible while rewarding strategic players with specific advantages.

Mushroom Men uses partial attack-cancels with the buffered method for blocks and instant method for rolls. We also made it so that you can cancel any injury animation into roll... similar to the way that Soul Calibur's allows you to perform "ukemi" by landing on your feet after being knocked down in certain ways if you press block at the right moment.

A lot of work went into the timing aspects of the animations as mapped to user input. If players attack during an attack animation before the next combo is possible, it will buffer that input and remember that the player intended to chain the attack, if they delay their attack input until after the previous attack is over, then there is a window of opportunity upon which their attack input results in an instant transition to the next attack animation. This ability to delay attack chains allows players to control the rhythm of the combo however they please.

The core aim of the combat system is to avoid making players feel like they are fighting the controller. I believe that sometimes, it is okay to give up damage-per-second consistency and fairness in a single player game if that means empowering the player to feel fast and flexible in a game that fully supports combat intentions. After all is said and done, Mushroom Men is in no way intended to be a hardcore fighting game... it simply incorporates some elements of fighting games in order to lend freedom to the player in plausible situations.

If you want to know more about some of the terminology I used, this is an excellent article on attack-cancel mechanics:

And here are some terms explained:

A “Partial Cancel” allows an animation to be cancelled at specific windows during the animation. The two most common conditions for a “Partial Cancel” are Pre-hit frame (the animation can be cancelled any time before the first frame of the hit) and post-hit frame (the animation can be cancelled any time after the last frame of the hit).

A “Complete Cancel” allows an animation to be cancelled at any time during the animation. I'm generalizing, and there are special nuances that exist in certain games, but for the most part, these conditions are used 99 percent of the time.

The "Buffer" method stores and executes the user’s command when the cancel window is valid. The "Buffer" method, in a well-designed game, can be cancelled itself with other commands before the cancel window is valid, to ensure the highest quality of responsiveness.

The "Instant" method accepts and executes the user’s command on the frame of input when the cancel window is valid. The "Instant" method allows the player to delay the timing, which adds to the overall responsiveness of the game.

Mushroom Men – The Spore Wars and Mushroom Men – Rise of the Fungi will be available across Europe in March, 2009.

TITLE: Mushroom Men – The Spore Wars
TITLE: Mushroom Men – Rise of the Fungi
DEVELOPER: Red Fly Studio
GENRE: Action Adventure
RELEASE DATE: March, 2009