Hi, everyone! Tohm development is slowly (but surely!) progressing. :) Here's the latest video:
The next major pre-alpha work will be adding lots more interesting creatures and groups of creatures to challenge players in battle. I think it would be great to include ideas from players in the alpha. Does anyone have any ideas around monster concepts, especially monster abilities and tactics? Here are some Tohm combat basics to inspire your creativity:
1. Combat is turn-based, where everyone decides his/her next move simultaneously, then all moves are played out in order of initiative.
2. Combat maneuvers (attacks, defenses, moving up the field, moving down the field) must take at least one full turn. For example, punching a monster takes a turn. Some "big" moves may take more than one turn, but combos are preferable (see #3).
3. Combos are a big part of Tohm. Both monsters and players may string-together average maneuvers to create powerful results, like advance + kick = jump kick, or punch x 3 = uppercut. Taking significant damage or being stunned/knocked down interrupts a combo in progress. Even magic can be modeled using combos, for example: channel earth + channel fire + punch = fireball.
4. Creatures can be scheduled to arrive late - for example, you might start with two zombies at round 1, then add two more at round 5, assuming the battle hasn't already ended by then.
5. It's OK for a battle to be too difficult to reasonably win, but at least escape should be doable. Escaping a bad situation (like being surrounded by powerful foes) is a challenge in itself, and will be part of the Tohm experience. Players flee the battle by advancing or retreating to either end of the battlefield, and are unable to move away from an opponent which damaged them with a melee attack in the previous round ("melee engagement" concept).
It's fine to borrow concepts from other games you've played and enjoyed - creepers from Minecraft, burrowers from Terraria, zombies from Left 4 Dead, hunter/pet combos from World of Warcraft, Zoras from Zelda? Absolutely all suggestions are appreciated! :)
I like dragons, and I imagine that they'd behave in particular ways in combat. That is, I'd expect them to use their claws, tail, and wings and avoid using, say, breath weapons unless you or the target are too far away for a melee attack or are in a position where you could not avoid being hit. Although I suppose they might avoid getting too close or being stuck on the ground. Also taking an actual blow to the body rather than scraped by the claws seems like it might knock you over or crush your armor as opposed to merely causing minor to serious injuries. Thus I imagine that being knocked over, pinned down, tripped by a tail swipe or perhaps rendered unconscious are all legitimate possibilities. For the sake of simplification, it might be wise to assume that a creature would either take advantage of you being down to off you or they wouldn't. If they didn't they might retreat a bit to keep from being party to a surprise attack from you having recovered.
The creepers from Minecraft seem like an okay example for an enemy with stealth tactics. They'd try to sneak up on you and score a blow. If they thought they could take you they'd attempt to finish you off, otherwise they should back off to engage in open melee or simply find a new place to hide.
Thanks, Nathan! That's exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for. I can see a smart dragon single-opponent combat scenario as a boss or miniboss to defeat during a quest. We'll certainly be working on implementing complex decision making like what you're describing - assessing the battlefield situation and weighing attack over defense, position management, and target prioritization. We even hope to have creatures coordinate attacks, flee when injured, and protect one another.
Once you figure that out, apply it to NPC combat in general. There are some NPC's where it makes sense to have the traditional mindless rush-up-and-chew-on-your-leg attack style, but for the most part it's just laziness and lack of CPU power in 1990 that causes that to persist, even in modern AAA-rated MMO's today. Our old DikuMUD from 1992 had "special routines" for particular NPC types, but even the general cases were split up so that humanoids behaved more like you'd expect (calling for help, using equipment they'd found, and in some cases recognizing healers or mages and targeting them first).
Just put yourself in the NPC's position and imagine you're in a fight… with just one character or with a group of players. Think about your abilities, and about your personality. What would YOU do? Now, think about what other kinds of NPC's would react the same way, and you have an AI routine for a particular subclass of creatures. Keep doing that, and eventually you'll find all your NPC's act and behave in more interesting ways. No need to do it all at once, but the more you can replace the "normal" combat routines, the more interesting the game will be.