new npc avcom stuff from the potbs forum May 29, 2010 11:50:50 GMT -5
Post by Redneck Jack on May 29, 2010 11:50:50 GMT -5
The Inner Workings of AvCom NPCs Wax Seal Decoration
05/28/2010 | Devlog | Burlap | Discuss
Power and Prestige includes many exciting changes we’d like to share with you. In this devlog I am going to focus on NPCs in avatar combat, including your boarding crews. It occurs to me that we have never elaborated on how we build combat NPCs in the first place, so if you’ll bear with me I will explain how things currently are, then move on to what we’ve added in Power and Prestige.
The way each of our combat NPCs behaves is influenced by three things: the NPC’s archetype, their sub-archetype and their faction. The broadest definition is the archetype, which defines what weapon type the NPC will wield and what their role will be in combat. We focus them a bit more with the sub-archetype, a set of skills and passive buffs tailored to the role defined by the archetype. Finally, we give them some faction flavor: a unique appearance, a small stat tradeoff to suit the faction’s style and, in the case of many sub-archetypes, faction-tailored skills.
As the only true cutlass archetype, Brutes forego a small amount of parry in exchange for a buff to their health. Because their role in combat is to absorb damage and dish it out, they are the most well rounded archetype. The three Brute sub-archetypes are:
Favoring huge overhanded attacks, Heavy Hitting Brutes lack additional defenses but gain a powerful, stunning strike. In order to use this strike, they must switch to a “wind-up” stance until their next attack. They are vulnerable to attacks in this stance, and if hit, the stance will end and they will not be able to use their power strike.
Tough to the last, Leatherskin Brutes benefit from a damage resistance buff and are able to shrug off certain debuffs. Much like player recovery skills, Leatherskin Brutes gain a sizeable buff when they remove a debuff in this way. When fighting against a Leatherskin, it is best to pay attention to which of your debuffs they are able to remove, and avoid applying them.
Tough ‘n’ Nasty
Tough ‘n’ Nasty Brutes have a damage resistance buff, like the Leatherskin. When reduced to low health however, Tough n’ Nasty Brutes lose their cool in a spectacular fashion, trading their damage resistance for a large damage and offense bonus. Once you get a Tough ‘n’ Nasty brute close to dead, be sure to finish the job, lest they finish you first!
This Florentine archetype has a straightforward role to play in combat; specifically, they stab people. All Damagers benefit from a small increase to their offense and damage, but suffer a penalty to parry, and a small penalty to dodge. The three Damager sub-archetypes are:
The Tactical sub-archetype is at its best when attacking debuffed enemies. Tactical Damagers use finishing moves that are gated on debuffs that either they or their allies will apply. To avoid powerful finishing moves when fighting a Tactical Damager, use recovery skills to remove the debuffs they apply.
Specializing in big hits with long cooldowns, Opportunistic Damagers have a tendency to frontload their powerful attacks. When engaging them, use defensive skills to weather their one powerful attack (often the first skill they use). After that, kill them quickly before they can try again.
Fitting counterpoints to the Opportunistic Damager, Flurry Damagers specialize in consistent damage. Though they are dangerous enough, their defenses are still weak, so the best tactic for dealing with a Flurry Damager is to kill them before they kill you.
The second Florentine archetype has a more subtle role in combat. Defenders specialize in debilitating their enemies and protecting their allies. They make extensive use of the parry stat and receive a large bonus to it; in exchange, they lose some dodge. The three Defender sub-archetypes are:
Preferring to debuff their target and stay alive, the Defender Distracting is a very group centric sub-archetype. They apply the “impaired” debuff, reducing guard recovery and movement speed. While this can be a nuisance, a Distracting Defender should certainly not be your first target in a group of enemies.
Possibly the most meddlesome of the Defender sub-archetypes, Interrupting Defenders use a special attack that reduces its victim’s initiative. Depending on how initiative hungry your fighting style is, you may consider giving Interrupting Defenders special attention, but do remember that you will have to bypass a large amount of parry to get through to them.
Formation Defenders are some of the toughest enemies to kill with sword attacks. Their formation parry skill allows them, and all their nearby allies, to parry all incoming attacks for a few seconds. Fortunately, the cooldown on this skill coincides exactly with the shared black powder cooldown. Black powder skills cannot be parried, so when fighting a group of enemies supported by a Defender Formation, it is best to time your shots to land during their brief invulnerability to swords.
This sophisticated Fencing archetype is very self-centered. While their methods vary, all Duelists get very agitated when people fail to pay attention to them. Their passive buff increases their parry and to a lesser degree, their offense; they lose some health in exchange. Duelists use the Riposte skill, which allows them to retaliate against a foe they have parried, then gain a burst of guard regeneration. Duelist sub-archetypes are as follows:
Specializing in demoralizing their victims, Challenging Duelists will call out a challenge to their target which reduces the victim’s offense. By striking the Challenging Duelist, you will render the challenge hollow and they will be unable to apply their debuff for a short time. When fighting against a Challenging Duelist, it is best to keep them in your attack arc, so that they are unable to debuff you.
The most dangerous duelist to ignore, the Enraging Duelist becomes enraged in combat, constantly increasing damage done for each successive enrage skill. Striking an Enraging Duelist will break their concentration and they will lose all stacks of enrage. Use hard-to-parry attacks and kill the Enraging Duelist quickly, or make sure to strike frequently, to remove this threat.
Pressing Duelists use a special attack with an increased chance to hit any time they are dodged. They also usually gain faction specific skills and are therefore one of the more diverse sub-archetypes. A good example is the Navy Pressing Duelist, who uses an attack chain that applies Off Balance, then Broken Defence, then Stunned. Because they are so faction-specific, it is best to watch carefully for Pressing Duelists and either kill them quickly or counter their faction skill chains.
This Fencing archetype is very group dependent, as their combat role is to buff allies or debuff enemies with area of effect skills. While they may have a large impact on a group fight, when one-on-one, Supporters have no special buffs to assist them alone, and are generally weak combatants. Supporter sub-archetypes are as follows:
Commanding Supporters specialize in buffing their allies and vary greatly depending on their faction. Each faction has a unique buff that Commanding Supporters will apply, making that faction better at its strengths. If you don’t want the enemy to receive the faction-specific buff, killing the Commanding Supporter is the way to go.
The Harrying Supporter focuses on hindering opponents. Harrying Supporters use area effect abilities or special attacks to apply their faction’s favorite debuffs to as many foes as possible. This means that a Harrying Supporter may allow Damagers or other archetypes to use gated skills, but it also makes them very dependent on such allies.
This Pistol and Cutlass archetype has no sub-archetypes, as each faction’s Pistolier uses a skillset unique to that faction. Pistoliers apply debuffs with their shots that suit their particular faction’s needs. In exchange for these consistent ranged attacks, Pistoliers have reduced damage output. While they are certainly dangerous when grouped with allies, a lone Pistolier is quite easy to dispatch.
Like the Pistolier, this Musket archetype has no sub-archetypes. Musketeers are the strongest ranged attacker for their faction. They attack slowly, suffer no damage reduction, and often have faction specific buffs or skills that allow them to do additional damage. Musketeers are rare, with the exception of the Navies. Navy Musketeers use a special skill called Firing Squad to buff other nearby musketeers, and in numbers, will use an even more damaging volley shot. When engaged up close, the Musketeer has few defenses. Bring the fight to them, especially when there is more than one of them.
The Faction is the last level of customization an NPC goes through. Aside from determining the visual style of a given NPC, factions also grant specific outfitting to all of their members which increases one stat by a small amount and reduces a counterpart stat by a small amount. This, in addition to faction specific skills, gives each faction distinct strengths and weaknesses.
Once we have determined a faction’s theme we populate it with five to ten combat NPCs and select an archetype and sub-archetype for each. This means that not every faction will have a Commanding Supporter, for instance. Once we have built all of the combat NPCs and given them unique faction skills, we have a finished faction with an interesting group dynamic, all ready to give you a run for your money.
What is to come
So now that we’ve covered the basics of how our avatar combat NPCs are made and what they do, let’s move on to what we are doing with them in Power and Prestige. Looking at the way the game is right now, two particular things were really asking to be improved; the first is less interesting archetypes whose mechanics are opaque to players. The second is that certain factions, specifically the factions that are used in Privateer and Freetrader boarding crews, were very bland and quite weak.
In order to improve on our less interesting archetypes, I’ve gone through our NPC skills and made a few modifications. As a general rule, all NPCs will now attack consistently instead of sporadically using skills with no animations and no visible effects. Several NPC attack skills that should be notable now have more notable animations. In boarding crews, this also means that you are no longer shafted when you get a Supporter in your wave; they will now use their buff and make an attack during their five second cycle rather than just use their buff.
The only sub-archetype that received a significant reinvention due to the above changes was the Flurry Damager. Because all NPCs now attack consistently, the rather boring specialty of the Flurry Damager is no longer all that special. In Power and Prestige, Flurry Damagers will instead use a special attack animation (spinning Florentine attacks) and will gain the flurry buff for each attack that lands. Flurry will let them attack 1 second faster with each stack, until they attack as fast as a player. Dodging or parrying these attacks will remove that buff, slowing them down again.
In addition, I’ve added a new archetype to coincide with the release of the Brawling fighting school. The Brawling archetype focuses on dodging attacks and striking back with attacks that cannot be parried. Brawler NPCs cannot parry attacks, so they are more vulnerable to swords but less vulnerable to guns and brawling. The Brawler sub-archetypes are as follows:
Acrobatic Brawlers gain additional offense from their passive archetype buff but dodge less than other brawlers. They use sweeping kicks to stagger and damage multiple opponents at once. When fighting against an Acrobatic Brawler, make sure to position yourself apart from your allies to minimize the Acrobat’s damage output and take advantage of their lower than average defenses.
Boxing Brawlers gain dodge and offense in exchange for their inability to parry. Boxers chain together attacks which apply bruised, a debuff that reduces damage resistance and dodge. They open with a hook, then comes the more damaging uppercut. They finish with a hammer punch that applies the blind effect. Boxers rely on their bruises, and a well-timed stun or dodge will force them to begin their attack chain all over again.
Drunken Brawlers gain additional dodge from their passive archetype buff but do not gain any offense. When damaged in combat, they use their old friend and companion, the rum bottle, to recover health and gain the drunk effect. Each stack of the drunk effect increases damage resistance but reduces offense. Killing them quickly or forcing them to drink to reduce their offense are both valid strategies.
As for boarding crews, we are making some significant tuning changes to each of the related factions. Each of them will have a particular theme and focus, and particular debuffs that they use.
* Navy Crew
Largely unchanged as a faction, the Navy crew has benefited from a few minor adjustments. The Musketeers and Supporters have benefited from the streamlining of NPC skills and now attackconsistently, and stack very well with eachother.
* Privateer Crew
The new Privateer Crew plays fast and loose, requiring little support from their allies. They rely on the weakened and shaken debuffs, and a faction specific dodge buff for defense. Their true focus is on killing the enemy before the enemy kills them.
* Freetrader Crew
Previously combat averse, most of the new Freetrader Boarding crew avoids and reduces incoming damage while their Supporters and Pistoliers apply the marked and staggered debuffs; the Damagers then build off those debuffs with powerful finishers.
* Cutthroat Crew
Cutthroat crews remains much the same, with their solid lineup of Brutes that rely on their large health pools and damage resistance for defense and their heavy handed attacks to bring the enemy down. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
* Buccaneer Crew
For starters, Smugglers are the Buccaneer career’s new boarding crew. The Smugglers rely on teamwork to throw the enemy off balance so that their offensive archetypes can use powerful finishing moves. On the defensive, they make extensive use of the shaken effect while their Interrupting Defender keeps their enemy low on initiative.
So that is what we’ve done to a few of the factions you see every day in Pirates of the Burning Sea. I hope you’ve found this informative and I look forward to hearing all of your feedback during the Power and Prestige beta.
05/28/2010 | Devlog | Burlap | Discuss
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