God of War enemies must keep the player ENGAGED over 20+ hours. The first enemy, Draugr, serves an important ROLE (punching bag). Subsequent enemies need to VARY their roles and STRESS TEST the player’s toolkit. Let’s look at some “mid-game” enemies. #gamedesign #combatdesign 🧵
HARD LOCKS - This enemy category ELIMINATES at least one of the player’s tools. The player is FORCED to ENGAGE with another player mechanic. In this video, the Hel-Reaver causes basic axe attacks to bounce off. The player must switch to Barehanded stance to inflict damage. 1/4
While the Hel-Reaver puts the player in a vulnerable reaction when hit, the Revenant EVADES away when the player attempts any Axe attack including Axe throw. The player is forced to use Atreus's arrows to stun her and allow Kratos to land a few hits before she resets. 2/4
The Stone Ancient FORCES the player to use Axe Throw ONLY during "Windows of Opportunity." Otherwise, axe attacks will simply bounce off. This is a DIRECT SKILL TEST where the Axe Throw must be used twice to inflict optimal damage per sequence. 3/4
These 3 examples of HARD LOCKS force the player to engage in three different mechanics (Stance switching, Atreus and Axe Throw). These enemies are effective because of the readable feedback when the discouraged tools aren't having an effect. 4/4
SOFT LOCKS - This enemy category DISCOURAGES at least one player tool and HIGHLY ENCOURAGES another one. These fodder enemies die fast, but axe attacks put the player too close to avoid the death explosion. The player is encouraged to Axe Throw (from far) or use Atreus.
DEFENSE - The initial enemy, Draugr, didn’t have ANY method to avoid being stun locked. Later enemies like Dark Elves, ESCAPE being stun locked and RESET the interaction. In the video, the Dark Elf doesn't follow up with a counter attack, so the player can still be aggressive.
ATTACK PROPERTIES - Parryable (yellow circle) and Unblockable (red circle) are 2 properties later enemies have that FORCE a particular PLAYSTYLE. Yellow MUST be parried (cannot be blocked) and Red MUST be evaded (cannot be blocked OR parried).
LAYERING - The Dark Elf boss is an extension of the previous Dark Elf enemies. Behaviors/responses are LAYERED onto familiar Dark Elf behavior. In the video, when the boss ESCAPES, he leaves a land mine behind as an extra LAYER of danger. 1/2
The Dark Elf boss SHARES the spin attack from basic Dark Elf, but adds unique attacks like an Unblockable thrust among other behaviors/stats. Also, the spin attack on the Dark Elf boss has slower anticipation, which throws the player's timing off compared to normal elf. 2/2

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More from @jasondeheras

18 Feb
What makes a combo feel POWERFUL? Most melee action games have a series of related attacks the player can STRING together. Combos usually have a FINITE number of moves until they END. Let’s look at Kratos’s barehanded combo in God of War #gamedesign #combatdesign 🧵
CADENCE - Combos are a TOOL the player uses to make PROGRESS on an enemy. The cadence/tempo of a combo gives the player a sense of progression and anticipation towards a satisfying climax or FINISHER. "Even" or linear feeling combos tend to be less exciting. 1/2
Notice in this diagram that the TIME in between each hit grows progressively smaller, EXCEPT right before the final hit where the amount of ANTICIPATION frames is the LONGEST. 2/2
Read 12 tweets
14 Feb
Enemies exist to encourage/discourage various strategies (and to make the player feel smart among other reasons). Sekiro is largely built around parrying (and stealth). Let’s examine the EARLY GAME enemies and what they try to INVOKE from the player. #gamedesign #combatdesign
GRUNT - This enemy is helpless once he starts blocking Wolf’s attacks and will be Posture broken in a few hits. His only STRENGTH is taking advantage of a PASSIVE player. Once you block his opener, he’s hyper aggressive forcing the player to evade to mitigate Posture break. 1/2
He has a VARIED mix of opener attacks (different anticipation poses, slower/faster hit frames) whose sole PURPOSE is to trick you into parrying early so he can force you into block stun. If there are nearby enemies, a passive strategy will be less effective and dangerous. 2/2
Read 12 tweets
13 Feb
What’s the purpose of a boss? Depends on the game, but usually bosses serve as a skill test, provide a sense of mastery, a set piece or a genuinely hard challenge. But, secretly, some are the ILLUSION of challenge. Let’s look at God of War’s first boss. #gamedesign #combatdesign Image
BLOCKABLE ATTACKS - Every attack from an enemy this large should be unblockable, right? Ironically, having attacks with different properties (blockable vs unblockable), regardless of enemy size, allows the player to engage with their entire toolset. 1/3
This initial attack doesn’t do damage if blocked. Furthermore, the follow up attack CONVENIENTLY misses the player by a hair if blocked. There’s a few hit frames on the column as it lays on the ground to discourage the player from rushing in, but presents no real threat. 2/3
Read 10 tweets
11 Feb
How do you make a player character feel powerful in a 3rd person melee combat game? Many factors determine this such as enemy design and progression. But it all starts with the player’s basic toolkit. Let’s look at some of Kratos’ moves and the invisible aspects. #combatdesign 🧵
EXAGGERATED HIT COLLISION - All of Kratos’ attacks feel EXTREMELY powerful in their own way. The Heavy Attack has the ability to hit multiple targets even if the actual Axe doesn’t make contact. The player receives a "bonus" for successfully hitting a single target. 1/3
The image below is my best guess on Kratos' weapon hit box (green) vs the axe model (red). If there’s a nearby clustering of enemies, this forgiving hit collision doesn’t require the player to make a choice but instead just hit one target to affect nearby enemies. 2/3
Read 15 tweets
8 Feb
Melee combat design is the art of creating rules that determine when/how a player or enemy are allowed to hit each other. The inclusion of key rules determines the player’s technical burden. Let’s compare God of War/ Sekiro who have similar mechanics. #gamedesign #combatdesign 🧵
ATTACK TARGETING - Generally, the player has to control 2 axes (player facing and camera facing) during intense reaction-based gameplay. Eliminating the need to use the Left Stick to aim towards a target greatly reduces the chances of an attack missing. 1/4
In God of War, the attack targeting (or “soft targeting”) is EXTREMELY forgiving. Without touching the Left Stick (aka “Neutral” stick test), Kratos automatically turns to his target on the initial frame the attack input is registered. 2/4
Read 19 tweets
1 Feb
What makes an easy (or hard) melee enemy? It depends on the combat game, but there are common enemy characteristics found in most melee games. Reverse engineering games is an exercise every game designer should do. Let’s look at the FIRST enemy in God of War. #gamedesign 🧵
The Draugr is the first enemy you fight and, unsurprisingly, it’s not much of a threat on its own. Its ROLE is to be a “punching bag.” On a side note, another fun game design exercise is to read up on your favorite game wiki and design additional content on paper. ImageImageImageImage
AGGRESSION - Enemy attack frequency is a big factor in combat difficulty. I use the “Block Test” (if the game has one) where I stand and block to observe how often they attack. The Draugr has a TONS of downtime where it just idles - which is encouraging you to hit it.
Read 22 tweets

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