Designing the Combat System for The Repopulation was one of our more difficult tasks. We wanted to create fast paced combat, while at the same time adding to the strategic elements. Recent metrics also suggested that many players were growing tired of your run of the mill MMORPG combat, while the other half viewed action bar oriented combat as positive. We wanted to encourage teamwork by rewarding players for coordinating their attacks. We also had the issue of some players preferring melee combat, and the need to make it viable in a Science Fiction setting.
Skills Oriented Combat
While we allow players to master many combat lines, they will only be able to take full advantage of one combat tree at a time. This is because most combat abilities are tied in to a certain weapon type. There are exceptions, but for the most part your weapon of choice will determine the combat role you are playing. Mastering multiple trees will give you the option of playing additional roles effectively, but not all at the same time. Switching weapons during combat will come with a penalty, to encourage players to act in defined roles.
Each skill type serves a particular purpose. Here is a basic overview:
- Assassination is a stealth and positional related tree that emphasizes massive initial damage if correctly prepared, but which leaves players vulnerable when they do not have the element of surprise. This is your traditional Rogue damage type.
- Aerosol weapons or Flame Throwers are used for low-medium range cone of fire effects. They typically do most of their damage over time, rather than in initial damage, and can also be used to deliver nerve or other gas types.
- Automatic Rifles are short range weapons with a fast firing rate.They are useful for crowd control (Suppressing Fire), feature some wide area damage options, and are best against lightly armored enemies.
- Axes specialize in melee range Area of Effect attacks and are the most effective weapon against medium armor.
- Grenades are medium range Area of Effect weapons.They can be equipped for a variety of different effects such as Stun, Smoke, Incendiary or Fragmentation.
- Launchers are siege weapons that have a very long range and a low rate of fire. They can also be used for Area of Effect damage, but their slow firing rates make them primarily a weapon to be used against Vehicles or Structures.
- Blunt weapons are brute force melee weapons that specialize in overpowering attacks that can break through opponent’s defenses or stun them. Blunt weapons are the best melee weapons against heavy armor.
- Martial attacks are hand to hand combat types and some of them can be performed with other melee weapons at short range. One of the main benefits of martial abilities is that they can accomplish many different types of special effects and create openings.
- Handguns are medium ranged weapons with a moderate rate of fire. They are the only ranged weapon which can be dual wielded. Handguns provide decent penetration against light and medium armor.
- Rifles are long ranged weapons with a moderate rate of fire. They are more accurate than handguns and are the weapon of choice against heavy armor when using a firearm.
- Shotguns are ranged weapons that work in a short range but can damage multiple targets. Shotguns are very good for dealing area of effect damage, but are not as effective against a single enemy.
- Bladed weapons are melee weapons which provide a good balance between offense and defense. They are a general all-purpose melee weapon.
We have 2 distinct combat modes in The Repopulation, RPG Mode and Action Mode.
RPG Mode is similar to what you seen in traditional MMOs. You select abilities to use on your current target by clicking on ability buttons from your action bar.
Action mode allows you to play in a style more similar to a First Person Shooter. You aim and shoot rather than selecting abilities from an action bar. Action Mode also allows for command stacking abilities where you can map mouse/button clicks to perform certain abilities and move on to the next one, if the first one is unavailable. Action mode is typically done in first person, but can be done in 3rd person as well.
Both modes work fairly similar behind the scenes and do not provide much of an advantage in that area. Increased mobility and targeting might be advantageous for PvPers trying to flank someone, but it is not a true FPS like system where projectile collisions are being processed by the server. Targeting is done client side and if a target is found during action mode it is sent off and processed, if not, then the action is ignored or an alternative action is decided that makes sense. The goal is to provide alternative play styles for those who want something a little different out of their approach to combat while trying to avoid giving an extreme advantage to one system over the other.
Health and Armor Penetration
In most MMORPGs players start with a base level of health, and that number increases each time they gain a level. It is also weighted by a stat, such as Constitution. One of the problems you run into with this system though is that a level 1 character only has 50 hit points, where a level 50 might have 5000. This in addition to more abilities, better armor and more favorite combat tables. The gap between a new player and a veteran is huge.
We handle things much differently in The Repopulation. Health is a fairly stationary number starting at 1000. While it can be increased by equipment, most players will have a similar amount of health. What differentiates them is the level of protection, damage and armor penetration provided by their equipment.
Ranged weapons have an accuracy base, along with a base range. Automatics are less accurate and ranges differ based on the type. Shotguns have a short range and are somewhat accurate, Rifles are pretty solid at range and accuracy, and Handguns feature a relatively low range but decent accuracy. You will be most accurate when you are within half your weapon’s maximum range. As range increases beyond that point you will lose accuracy. Movement will also decrease your accuracy. You get an estimate of your accuracy from the target HUD as it changes from full red (near 100% accurate) to full grey (0% accurate) when the mouse is hovering over a valid target.
Abilities can be aimed at certain limbs. The target location is determined by the ability being used.
- The majority of attack types are aimed at the Body which provides the best accuracy and moderate damage.
- Head shots are the least accurate but are generally high damaging or disorienting.
- Leg shots can injure a leg causing slower movement. Multiple leg shots can break a leg, which prevents movement entirely.
- Arm shots can reduce accuracy or make a player completely ineffective if you manage to disable both arms.
When a player is suffering arm or leg injuries they are also more vulnerable to other types of attacks.
Chains and Openings
One of our goals was to provide incentives and rewards for coordinated attacks. We accomplish this through our Openings system. There are currently over 80 different types of openings which can occur in combat. These are similar to debuffs in other games, except not all of them have a negative on their own. They instead make you more vulnerable to a chain or another type of effect.
For example many abilities have a chance to knock a player Off Balance. While Off Balance you are vulnerable to be Knocked Backwards or Knocked Down by abilities that may not be able to do so otherwise. There are also counters to some of these openings, such as the Regain Balance ability, which allows you to regain your balance and close the vulnerability. Some other abilities target open wounds, causing severe bleeding. By coordinating their attacks, player can increase their effectiveness.
Armor and Combat
We provide three types of armor for a player to choose from:
All 3 armor types provide some protection, but Heavy armor is generally the most effective. Certain weapons have different effective rates against all 3 armor types. Quicker weapons such as combat knives, automatics, and handguns are very effective against light armor, but not so much against heavy armor. Slower weapons such as Sniper rifles, broadswords, and poleaxes are most effective against heavy armor. Medium armor is a good middle ground and provides decent protection from everything but axes.
Heavier armors will also consume more energy than their lighter counterparts.
Energy Shields provide an effective shield against ranged attacks. These shields must be powered with an Energy Tank, however. Energy shields will absorb some or all incoming damage. But each time it absorbs damage its will lose energy reserves. Once it is empty no protection is provided.
There are also energy based weapons, which share the same energy reserves with energy shields.
There are three postures in The Repopulation and each has its own benefits and penalties.
- Standing is the base posture and is what you will be using at most times.
- Crouching drastically reduces movement and melee effectiveness but improves ranged accuracy and ranged defense. It makes you more vulnerable to melee damage though.
- Lying prone provides the same bonuses and penalties as crouching, but to a larger extent.
Cover areas are scattered throughout the world and provide players with defensive bonuses when they are used. Simply moving into a cover area will automatically give you a defensive bonus. If you adjust your position to crouch behind cover you will receive an additional bonus.
Fittings are an important aspect of our equipment system. Weapons and Armor should be considered shells. They provide the visual appearance and the basic type for that piece of equipment. Fittings allow you to customize those shells, and are used extensively. They allow for a player to customize a weapon for a certain situation (say versus a robot or an enemy with heavy armor), add special effects, or just create a standard issue jack of all trades weapon. Through these combinations a weapon can have thousands of different possibilities. Most fittings can be removed and sold on auction. Some will be destroyed on removal though, and others will be consumed after a certain amount of use.
Most weapons and armor have 5 Fittings slots. Each fitting slot has a selectable socket type, which can be customized by the player. There is a checks and balances system in place to prevent players from stacking too many of the same types of fittings, and unbalancing the system. Each fitting is tied into a certain armor or weapon skill, and will require a certain level of skill to be used.
Fittings will also decay through usage and eventually drop in grade. For more information about Fittings please check out the Fittings section of the website.
As players have success or perform positive actions they slowly build Momentum. That Momentum can also be lost when negative things happen to them, or when they become discouraged by rival players. Players can expend all or a portion of their Momentum by performing heroic actions that can often turn the tide of a battle. These are special, high performance abilities which are only available with sufficient Momentum. The more powerful the ability, the more Momentum it will consume or require.
This allows for some strategic decision making. Do you save up for an extremely powerful ability? Or use several less powerful ones in the same amount of time? Momentum is slowly drained while not engaged in combat.
Players gain mastery levels over each species over the course of their careers. This is increased by slaying monsters of a certain species, or by dissecting their corpses. These mastery levels grant you a small bonus in combat against each species, as well as allowing you to harvest higher grade components from their corpses.
Each of our NPC species have their own sets of special abilities. Our goal is to make each NPC species feel unique and to have their own strategies. This was commonplace in pen and paper games, but in MMOs it has rarely been the case. In D&D when you fought a troll, you needed to use fire or they would regenerate forever. Jellies and molds would corrode your weapons or armor. Many types of monsters had unique abilities that you were forced to adjust to and which made fighting those species a different experience. Our goal will be to create a similar feel in our PvE environment.
Raids are a huge part of MMOs. It’s a big deal the first time you defeat a certain boss. Strategies need to be developed. It’s a rewarding accomplishment. Over time though the strategies become posted on the internet, and the encounters become unchallenging. To help prevent that we’ve gone with a generated special abilities system for our bosses. Rather than having 2 or 3 static abilities on each spawn, our bosses will choose 2 or 3 abilities from a much larger pool. These abilities will change on each spawn. This will force players to react and form their strategies on the fly.
Vehicles will play a role both in transportation as well as combat. Our plans for vehicles allows for a vehicle to be manned by multiple players with each serving a certain role where possible. Some example roles based on the type of the vehicle are as follows:
- Driver - Controls the vehicle.
- Gunner - An optional slot for vehicles with Guns that would control the guns while the driver focuses on driving the vehicle.
- Cannoneer - An optional slot for vehicles with Cannons that would control the cannon while the driver focuses on driving the vehicle.
- Passenger(s) - Passenger slots would not be in control of anything but could look around while inside.
Certain vehicles will be best for dealing with attacking players and others will have siege capabilities making them effective against city structures. Vehicles can be upgraded in a similar fashion to player equipment and will have upgrade slots as well.
We believe in having some actual kind of penalty for death. MMOs seem to be going in one of two directions, a very light death penalty that is a minor annoyance or a major penalty such as full loot or even perm death. We don't want to have a major penalty such as loss of everything you have, but we want to put a little bit of a bite in death to make it unsavory in both PvE and PvP. Death has the following consequences under the normal rule set.
- Gear is damaged and must be repaired. The damage like normal damage can lead to quality reductions.
- You suffer a learning disability which reduces your skill up chances by 10% for the next 10 minutes.
- A short "cloning sickness" is applied making your combat effectiveness reduced by 25% for 90 seconds
- You are unable to attack or be attacked for 30 seconds.
There will be no PvP looting on regular servers. At some point we plan to release what we call a "hardcore" server, which will allow for corpse looting from PvP.
As mentioned previously we plan to support two rule sets in The Repopulation. The normal rule set in the Repopulation encourages PvP but does not force it. Where the hardcore server will focus on a more Free For All style. We’ll focus most of the explanation in this section on the normal rule set.
All players will begin their adventure as an Inactive member of the OWON or FPR military. Being inactive means that they will not be able to attack or be attacked by other players in protected areas. They will be subject to attack, and able to attack opposing players when they enter into contested areas, however. Players can elect to join the Active Military at any time. Active Military can be attack or be attacked other Active Military members anywhere in the world. They can not attack Inactive Military in the protected areas, however. Guards will aid friendly players in both protected and unprotected areas.
A common question by players is what will be protected and what will not? Areas near your starting cities are fully protected. OWON and FPR civilizations are located quite far from one another. The middle areas between the two are largely unprotected, with the exception of Rogue Nation cities. You can find the full complement of tiers and difficulty levels in both protected and unprotected regions. If a player wished to completely avoid PvP they would be able to. That having been said, we want to encourage players to participate in the PvP aspects of the game. There is very little penalty for doing so, and it can be a rewarding experience.
Nations can build cities and cities can be sieged and conquered. It is an open world experience with objectives created through engagements. Players will be automatically rewarded for their participation. You gain military rank through your participation, which can open up new rewards and abilities.