Battle timer bar

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Winter Knight
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Battle timer bar

Postby Winter Knight » Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:17 pm

For as long as I've been here, we have had a 3 color battle timer bar on the left of the screen in battle mode. The character "avatars" used to run through all 3 colors, but for about a couple years now we haven't been using the the red color. Is there a reason for this?

If I were to fix this, should I remove the red color, or have the battle bar go through all 3 colors. Should there be a difference between the red and orange, in how the avatar behaves (faster or slower)?
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Roots
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Re: Battle timer bar

Postby Roots » Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:03 pm

I was thinking about the same thing the other day. Let me explain why there's a red portion on the bar and why it never seems to get used.


In the design of our battle system we proposed that an actor (character or enemy) should be in one of four states if it is not dead. Those states are: cool-down, idle, warm-up, and action. Right now we are only using the idle and action states. The warm-up state is meant to be a period where the skill has been selected (by either the player or the AI) and the actor is "charging up" and preparing to execute the action. Generally the more powerful the skill to be executed, the longer the warm-up time will be. So a standard sword swing might only take a quarter of a second of warmup time, while casting a powerful meteor spell may require several seconds before the cast is done. The cool-down time is meant to be a period of exhaustion where the actor is recovering from the action previously executed. While in the cool-down state, their icon is at the bottom of the timer bar and doesn't begin to move upward until after the cool-down period is complete. I think we also had said that an actor in the warm-up/cool-down states would be momentarily more vulnerable.


We had intended to assign warm-up and cool-down times with all the actions in the game but right now we don't have these times assigned AFAIK. I *think* the red portion of the bar was meant to be for the cool-down state, but I can't remember (and I was even the one that designed the timer bar :heh: ). I think it makes more sense to just have two colors for the bar: one for the idle state and one for the warm-up state. I can modify the artwork since I still have the original. In fact, I think I can make it better by having more of a gradient rather than a solid color separating the two states. But I don't want to make this change unless we have a general consensus that we should, in fact, move to two states.


So, is anyone -not- in favor of reducing the number of colors on the battle timer bar from 3 to 2?
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Re: Battle timer bar

Postby gorzuate » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:06 pm

More colors == more pretty :D

If you want to reduce the amount of colors, go ahead, but I kind of like knowing what my characters are doing. Otherwise, their icon will be sitting at the bottom not moving, and I'll be like, "Ack! What are you doing? Why are you taking so long down there not moving?" In this case I prefer more details the better. But, like I said, if you want to reduce, go ahead.
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Re: Battle timer bar

Postby Roots » Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:50 pm

gorzuate wrote:If you want to reduce the amount of colors, go ahead, but I kind of like knowing what my characters are doing. Otherwise, their icon will be sitting at the bottom not moving, and I'll be like, "Ack! What are you doing? Why are you taking so long down there not moving?" In this case I prefer more details the better. But, like I said, if you want to reduce, go ahead.


I agree with you. But I think if we have an animation that shows the character in a "recovery" sort of state (kneeling, heavy breathing), then that would be enough to convey that the sprite is in the cool-down stage. I think it might be a little strange to have a cool-down area of the bar if we have skills that don't use it. But maybe you're right and we should have that part of the bar anyway. If we do, then I think it would be best to put that at the bottom of the bar instead of the top. So the bar, from bottom to top, would be:

cool-down
--- transition: begin idle ---
idle
--- transition: select action ---
warm-up
--- transition: execute action ---

Actions get executed when the top of the bar is reached, which makes sense. And if the skill doesn't have a cool-down period, then the icon is moved to the bottom of the idle phase instead of the bottom of the cool-down phase. I think that would make a lot more sense. I'm also thinking that the colors should be blue for cool-down, yellow or green for idle, and red for warm-up. I'm also wondering if we should adjust the proportions of the bar for each phase. Right now we have yellow at 60%, orange at 20%, and red at 20% of the bar consumption. Should we decrease the orange/red (warm-up/cool-down) portions of the bar? Say to 15% or 10% each?

I can create some mock-ups if we want to compare different proportions and colors. Just let me know what you guys would like to see.
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Re: Battle timer bar

Postby marcavis » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:09 pm

Roots wrote:And if the skill doesn't have a cool-down period, then the icon is moved to the bottom of the idle phase instead of the bottom of the cool-down phase.


A tiny detail, but maybe for added polish or smoothness, you could make it so it still goes through the cool-down section of the bar, albeit for a very short duration. Just a tiny implementation idea instead of just saying I'm in full support of the idea :heh:
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Re: Battle timer bar

Postby Roots » Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:01 pm

While I was on my bike ride this morning I had a great idea related to this topic. Well, more like I remembered a great idea from another game. Grandia II also has a battle timer bar. When an actor in the battle got hit, their position would jump backwards a little and they'd be stunned for about a second, then their stamina would start building again. They also had a warm-up section of their bar in addition to the idle section, and you could not change what section they were in (ie if you hit them during warm-up, the worst you could do was return them to the bottom of the warm-up section of the bar). You could even execute some skills which would actually cancel their warm-up period altogether and return them to the start of the idle timer.


I loved this feature about that game. It made the strategy much more interesting because instead of always trying to just focus on and kill one enemy at a time, you had to factor in everyone's position on the stamina bar and occasionally try to cancel an enemy's attack, especially if you saw them preparing to execute a dangerous skill. (The enemy AI likewise would try to target a character who was in warm-up for a powerful skill). I really think we should put this feature in our battle system. Maybe not exactly the same thing as Grandia II, but something similar. It makes the battles so much more fun and you actually have to pay attention to the timer bar. What do you guys think?
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Re: Battle timer bar

Postby Winter Knight » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:17 pm

That sounds good. Thumbs up to penalizing actors for getting hit. If you punch me in the face, it will take me a second before I can retaliate.

On the subject of battle timing, the actors act to quickly when they attack. In FF I/II/III (and maybe later ones too), whenever it was somebody's turn to attack, the timers would freeze, and we could see the character do his thing, and we had the text description too. In Allacrost, when somebody attacks, it takes significantly less than a second. It is often difficult to tell what happened. So far, we have been working around this by making the battles painfully slow.

Now, I'm not saying we should do exactly what some Final Fantasys did, 5 seconds of animation is too long for watching a spell that I had cast several times already, but it would be great if the timers would freeze, and the actors would animate for about 2 seconds when they attack. A narrative would pretty cool too.
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Re: Battle timer bar

Postby Roots » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:02 pm

I'm finally getting around to working on battle mode once again and I'm going to address the features and visuals to the stamina bar. I'm working on a new draft of visuals right now which I will share here to get some opinions, but here's what I'm planning to do.

-----

First lets review. I explained the four states (besides "dead") an actor can be in battle: idle, warm-up, action, cool-down. The problem we discussed was that the stamina bar currently has 3 colors (yellow, orange, red) but currently the battle code only has the actor icons in two of those states. We discussed changing the bar to 4 colors and to 2 colors. I think we've focused too much on the bar and have neglected to think about how we can use the stamina icons. My proposal is the following.

  • Only idle and warm-up states are indicated by the stamina bar. The stamina bar is broken up into two sections for each state. Idle state area consumes 70% of the bar height, warm-up consumes 30% of the bar height.
  • The two states are separated by a distinct separator line. Lets call it the "command line" since when an actor reaches that position, they have to select a command.
  • Each state has a different fill gradient. Right now I'm thinking (from bottom to top): light blue to dark blue for idle, then yellow to red for warm-up.
  • When an actor is in the cool-down state, their icon sits at the bottom of the idle bar and their stamina portrait outline glows a blue or purple color to indicate that they are in that state.
  • When an actor is in the action state, we can either leave their icon at the top of the bar or fade it away so its no longer visible, or draw a red outline around their stamina icon to indicate that state.

Like I said, I'll come up with some images and show you guys what it would look like.

Roots wrote:Grandia II also has a battle timer bar. When an actor in the battle got hit, their position would jump backwards a little and they'd be stunned for about a second, then their stamina would start building again. They also had a warm-up section of their bar in addition to the idle section, and you could not change what section they were in (ie if you hit them during warm-up, the worst you could do was return them to the bottom of the warm-up section of the bar). You could even execute some skills which would actually cancel their warm-up period altogether and return them to the start of the idle timer.

..... I really think we should put this feature in our battle system. Maybe not exactly the same thing as Grandia II, but something similar. It makes the battles so much more fun and you actually have to pay attention to the timer bar. What do you guys think?


I just want to re-affirm my commitment to seeing this feature in the game at some point. Here's a video showing a battle from Grandia II. Their "stamina bar" is on the lower right corner of the screen. Observe how the position of the actors changes when they get hit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITF20x4QkG8

The proposals I'm making are actually quite similar to the stamina bar in Grandia II, except for changing the border on the character portraits

Winter Knight wrote:On the subject of battle timing, the actors act to quickly when they attack. In FF I/II/III (and maybe later ones too), whenever it was somebody's turn to attack, the timers would freeze, and we could see the character do his thing, and we had the text description too. In Allacrost, when somebody attacks, it takes significantly less than a second. It is often difficult to tell what happened. So far, we have been working around this by making the battles painfully slow.

Now, I'm not saying we should do exactly what some Final Fantasys did, 5 seconds of animation is too long for watching a spell that I had cast several times already, but it would be great if the timers would freeze, and the actors would animate for about 2 seconds when they attack.


I agree that actors act too quickly in battle, but there's not much we can do right now except to slow down the animation of the characters and enemies. :shrug:
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Re: Battle timer bar

Postby Roots » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:54 pm

Here are the image drafts.

Stamina Bar
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I have to say I'm already loving the new look. :approve: The only thing I think needs improvement is the command line/separator in green. I didn't do a very good job with it. At first I tried making it gold colored but that was difficult to see because there is yellow coloring in the bar above it. If anyone wants to take a stab at changing it ask me and I'll give you my draft .xcf GIMP file (or I'll send you a .psd if you use photoshop). Also perhaps instead of going light blue to dark blue it should be the other way around. :shrug:


Stamina Icons
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These I hardly spent any time on so of course they look ugly. The idea was to show how we can use different highlights/indicators on stamina icons. We already do this for the selected actor (the green border). The purple border is supposed to represent the cool-down state and the red border the action state. I think it would be nice if these three different borders could have a little animation, perhaps pulsating outward.
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Re: Battle timer bar

Postby rujasu » Fri Feb 05, 2010 10:13 pm

Looks good.
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Re: Battle timer bar

Postby gorzuate » Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:11 am

I'll take a stab at the stamina bar (GIMP please).
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Re: Battle timer bar

Postby Roots » Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:49 am

gorzuate wrote:I'll take a stab at the stamina bar (GIMP please).


Sent you an e-mail with the .xcf image.
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