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|Blog written by Mod Chris L on 12th August 2010|
|Mod Chris L has taken a look at the combat system to see how we can improve the information that is delivered with hit marks.|
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Please note that this project, in particular the visual design, is work in progress. The final version may be subject to change.
Part of the development of Dungeoneering was to create the chaotic equipment. Due to this new equipment being able to hit harder, we also had to introduce a countermeasure to allow people to defend against this higher damage potential - the level 80 shields.
It was at this time it was raised that although these shields did a fair bit to reduce incoming damage, there was no real way of feeding back what was going on to the person wielding it, other than a "Your shield helps reduce the damage you take." message in the chatbox. You don't know how much it has reduced damage by and may even question whether or not it even worked at all! While we had to release the equipment with this simplistic feedback, we didn't want this to be the final product.
So, after Dungeoneering was released, we worked on adding support to make the hit marks system far more flexible, with new things like icons, background scaling, animation, fading effects, and even multiple marks in one. This was originally done to allow the support we needed to show damage soaking on screen For example, if you got hit for 600, but your shield soaked 200 of that damage, you'd see a red hit mark for 400, followed by a blue soak mark for 200 - so you'd immediately be able to see the effect your shield had on that hit!
With all of this new functionality, we thought it was a shame to think we'd only use the two hit marks on one line, so I spent some time investigating if I could incorporate some of RuneScape's other features to improve the combat experience and feedback it provides. The first thing I looked at was damage types (you may have seen some of these new hit marks in a recent Developers' Blog video). When I first played Dungeoneering (and I've seen it plenty since!), people had trouble identifying what they were being attacked with when, say, a mysterious shade hit them. Some people thought they only used magic attacks, so got confused when they were still taking damage while using a magic protection prayer. This new system outputs a neat little icon when damage is applied, so you know if prayer might help reduce or block the damage. The picture here only shows hit marks for magic, ranged and melee damage, but it doesn't have to be limited to just those three types. The last image in this blog shows an example of damage caused with a dwarf multicannon and a deflect curse.
Another thing I was aware of from my in-game experience and from seeing various mentions on the forums was those times where two (or more) people hit an NPC at the same time. One person would hit a really high number and everyone would claim it was theirs! Given some further support, I've incorporated what I've come to call 'fade splats'. Basically, if you see a vibrant colour with the damage amount in it, it means it is something to do with you (either damage you are taking, or damage dealt by you or your familiar). If it is a faded colour, it means you were involved in whatever combat you are looking at, thus you know what hits are related to you.
For example, if you were watching NPCs fight in the God Wars Dungeon, the damage splats would be a much darker, saturated red, but if you hit one of them yourself, you'll see a bright red one, as it was something to do with you.
Something else you might notice is that the hit marks expand if the number is bigger, so if you hit a 1, the hit marks will not be as wide as if you hit 100.
Who likes hitting 0s? We certainly don't, so this was one thing I was really keen on looking into, given this project would involve a lot of work within the core combat system anyway. We are still finalising what we want this to be - it could be the word "Miss", an icon or perhaps even an animation (something to prevent words appearing all over the screen in busy areas).
With the current hit marks system, a 0 can depict one of two things - either you missing your opponent, or hitting them but causing 0 damage (save for magic, which has a different 'squib' animation for a miss). In these cases, I went through many, many files to update them so that with the new hit marks system, you will either 'miss' your opponent or cause a minimum of 1 damage. While this isn't groundbreaking, it means the system shouldn't 'lie' anymore, it's more informative. A hit will always mean damage is inflicted and a miss is you missing the chance in the first place.
Oh, yes, and there's something I've not mentioned, another unique feature that is also being implemented, and which hasn't been shown in the pictures here...and which has turned out to be a big hit with people here. But you'll have to wait until the new hit mark system arrives before finding that one out...