May 25th, 2009
We've already given you a sampling of the kinds of melee weapons that will be included in Overgrowth but a lot of people have been asking me about ranged weapons. This is a tough design problem -- we would like to include ranged attacks, but we also want to maintain the focus on close-quarters combat. Many fighting games that include ranged weapons end up having severe balance problems, with strictly dominant strategies, like the dual pistols in Zeno Clash or the throwing knives in Assassin's Creed.
Above is an example of a strictly dominant ranged weapon.
Case study: Lugaru knife
The throwing knife is the only ranged weapon in Lugaru. It is very powerful - killing unarmored rabbits in one hit. However, it is somewhat balanced out in several ways:
Easy to dodge - Any enemy that is alerted to your presence will dodge or catch thrown knives about 90% of the time, and then they will have the knife and you will be unarmed.
Melee finisher - You can throw the knife into wolves and armored rabbits, but they won't die. To finish them off, you have to knock them over, roll over their body, and twist out the knife.
Limited range - The knife can only be thrown about twenty feet -- any farther than that and Turner won't even try to throw it.
Other balancing techniques
Here are some of the ideas we were thinking of to extend and refine ranged weapon balance in Overgrowth:
Weak attacks - We could use ranged weapons mostly for distracting and slowing opponents, rather than killing them. For example, enemies could throw rocks at you if you are on a ledge that they can't reach, or you could throw shuriken at pursuers to slow them down and force them to move more cautiously.
Sloppy attacks - Melee weapons could be thrown to inflict severe damage, but with less precision than a close-up attack. For example, if you are close to an enemy, you could perform a silent stealth kill with your knife. On the other hand, if you are far away, you could throw the knife into his back and kill him, but not before he cries out and wriggles around a bit.
Flashy attacks - Thrown attacks could be effective against weak enemies, but much less effective against stronger ones. You could throw a knife and kill a random untrained thug, but a skilled opponent could dodge it or catch it out of the air.
Above is a trailer for a whole movie about flashy ranged attacks.
Please let us know if you have any ideas for new ways to balance the ranged weapons in Overgrowth. We would also like to hear what you think about the Lugaru throwing knife -- is it a good example of balanced range weaponry?