It's felt like forever, but I opened up the IDE and actually did some coding. All that I was able to put together was the timer kicking off (as if both players had locked in their moves), and then allow for keyboard input (action button). If you press it too early, it'll say as such. If you wait for the right moment (when it says ACTION), then it will measure your timing.
As I continue to write down on paper the different ways the wrestling game will work, I realized that the exercise of mapping out the flow would be useful. At the end of the day, the pace of which the game moves incredibly important and something I want to nail down.
The wrestlers stand face to face, probably in Squigglevision, which is where players choose which move to use (grapple, strike, or block). Then the "charging at each other" animation starts. Somewhere between 1.0 seconds to 2.0 seconds (probably?) the "ACTION" prompt appears, which is where the players press their action button as quickly as possible. Once the buttons are locked, the game then shows a few panels in order to showcase the outcome.
How it showcases the outcome is important and something that will probably only be solidified with actual motioned mockups. Does each panel come in one at a time, using the third on the right to see if the move was successful and for which wrestler? Does the game instead show a close up on the left, then the right, and then have an animated center panel showcasing the move? If so, how does a Create-A-Wrestler get animated? I can't possibly animated every single combination for every single move.
I think this is a good place to start though for the actual demo of the game.
I talked about the RPS mechanic a little bit before, but I've ironed out a few more details. Specifically, how a move with advantage (i.e. block > strike or grapple > block) will always win unless the weaker move beats the move with an advantage through the skill game. This way it's not simply "guessing what the other player will choose", also known as a game mechanic based strictly on luck, but another level based on skill.
In addition to this will be the momentum bar! This adds a third level to the RPS mechanic. The momentum bar is like a mulligan. However, instead of a free stroke it reduces the reaction time on the skill game. For example, if you have 0.3 seconds built up in the momentum bar, whatever your reaction time is, it is reduced by up to 0.3 seconds until it's 0.0 seconds.
What this does, I hope, is that you may just choose to play "Block" the entire match because you're just that much better at the skill game than your opponent. But if you keep playing the same move, your momentum bar never grows and may actually decrease. Your opponent's will also grow, making it easier for them to land a successful attack even if, physically, you were able to beat them on the skill game.
Had a really long day today taking the kids out to the Chinese New Year parade in the city, but hey, I still need to do some kind of creative work. Why not continue to work out the design for my wrestling game?
I spent some time working out the RPS (rock-paper-scissors) mechanic of the game where you have grapples, strikes, and blocks. The RPS mechanic in games is pretty common, but not aways expressed literally as rocks, paper, or scissors. You'll probably have seen it like archers defeat swords, swords defeat pikemen, pikemen defeat archers, or something like that. In the wrestling game it's grapples > blocks > strikes.
In the case of the skill game mechanic, you don't have to "win the skill game" if you're executing a block against a strike. However, if you do, then you get a bonus, which in this case is a "reversal". It plays the highest level available to you for free. Blocks can never beat a grapple unless the skill game is won.
In the case of the strike versus the grapple, you don't have to "win the skill game" for the strike to beat the grapple. What happens is that the mana that you're fighting for gets reset and each player receives 1 (or something similar). However, if you do win the skill game, the strike is able to win all of the mana minus the 1 that is always given to the loser.
I've also decided that the pin fall gets executed when the momentum of a specific wrestler is shifted completely to the other side. I'm borrowing the tug-o-war mechanic from WWE Champions on iOS. And the pin fall skill based game is much like the one seen in WWE 2K15, but a horizontal bar instead of a donut. There will be a sliver in which the pinned wrestler will have to press the action button while a slider moves across on top. The sliver gets smaller as the wrestler is more damaged. The slider also moves faster if the wrestler is more damaged. If the slider reaches the end, that's a count. An extremely damaged wrestler won't even have a sliver for the 1-count, again just like WWE 2K15.
I didn't want to create a game where you're button mashing. The really old wrestling games of yore, like Saturday Night Slam Masters or WWF Wrestlefest in the arcades, were all about mashing those buttons. While I'm not approaching it from a simulation game, like the 2K series, it is still more skill and timing based.
The ideas of what sets one wrestler apart from another, however, is a different story. I haven't figured that out yet. The individual move sets themselves are probably more fluff than anything else. The critical parts are the stats, namely the strength for the moves and how quickly the "super bar" fills up. So maybe for a very popular wrestler, it only takes 3 fans to fill up the super bar one level (thus able to execute a level 1 grapple), while a jobber requires 6 fans to fill up their super bar one level.
I also started thinking about how the computer AI would even be coded, but I sort of dropped that for later. I have the sense of a computer has better and better reaction time buffers as they get harder, but I'm at a loss of how to have the computer "make an educated guess of what move to execute" without it literally cheating and first evaluating what the player selects and then making an appropriate decision on its own in the background.
Decided to flip the game design to a horizontal orientation. At first I was thinking of approaching it from a mobile standpoint (vertical), but realized the inputs I need in the game are better suited for a controller or keyboard.
So I've settled on the type of mechanic: it will be a mix of Fire Pro Wrestling + Yu Yu Hakusho. The character's actions are determined by which direction you hold and which button you press. Each direction will allow you to access one of four different actions, each costing different amounts of "mana" to execute.
The different types of attacks are: agility, block, strike, and grapple. Blocks and Strikes are all free and standard across all wrestlers. Agility moves are also all standard across wrestlers, but players will need to learn what each one does. I'm thinking Irish Whip, Climb the Turnbuckle, Taunt, and Roll Out/Into the Ring.
Mana distribution is shown by the little people standing above the wrestlers in the center of the screen, but right under the tug-o-war bar. Whoever wins the grapple will get those pieces of mana added to their wrestler. You could call that "momentum", I guess. The loser of the grapple will always get at least one of those.
A block will always block a strike, but a wrestler will still receive damage. They will also never receive the majority of the mana when blocking. How will reversals work? If the opponent is able to play a block and beat the opponent executing the grapple during the skill game mechanic. They will also have to play the "right" block. For example, if the opponent is executing a Level 3 grapple, the player will also have to attempt a Level 3 grapple. So you will always have a 25% chance of guessing the right one. The player is then able to execute their Level 3 grapple, in this example, for free.
If the player is successful in beating their opponent in the skill based game with a block vs. grapple, but they guessed the wrong button, then the grapple is canceled and the opponent loses the mana. If the player is unsuccessful in beating their opponent in the skill based game with a block vs. grapple, the grapple will do 1.5x or even 2.0x damage.
Gameplay also has to keep moving, so there will be a timer that counts down forcing players to choose an action. If they don't choose any action by the time the timer runs out, then they are locked out of the skill based game and the other player gets to execute their move for free.
Here is the thumb of what the wrestling game's screen would look like. You have the profile pictures on top with the tug-o-war bar between. Beneath each profile picture is the current "mana" count for a wrestler. Beneath that are the little "people", which represent the amount of "mana" you're fighting for in the next lockup.
Beneath that is the "sexy art" part where the motion graphics live. Beneath that are the grapples to choose from.
Once a grapple or move is selected, the skill game sequence starts. I've also decided if you lose the skill game, you're still entitled to some of the "mana". Maybe just 1. This way you always have enough to at least execute the weakest attack.
Does anyone remember the Yu Yu Hakusho games (part 1 and 3) for the Super Nintendo/Famicom? It was a fighting game with a very unique mechanic. Each of the face buttons corresponded to a level of attack, from 1 - 4 (weak to strong). To execute those attacks, however, you had to hold down a direction on the D-Pad. Down would be for a special attack, I think left was a normal strike (i.e. punch), right was for dodge/block, and up was for agility/powerup type moves (like charging or jumping into the air). The longer you held the D-Pad, the more "advantage" you were given to the attack. So if both players held down and hit the B button, the person who held it longer would actually get their attack to count.
In addition to the fighting part, each move cost some amount of energy. Energy was accrued by successfully attacking the opponent. At the start of every standoff, a random number of energy (spirit, I guess) was shown in the center of the screen. If you won the standoff, you'd get that energy to use for attacks. This meant you couldn't just spam the strongest special over and over because you wouldn't have enough energy to execute it.
The intricacies are worth looking into if you're interested, but I thought this was a perfect mechanic for the wrestling game. Each grapple can only be executed if a player has enough energy, or in this case "momentum". Momentum is gained by being the one to execute the special move (the skill based timing game for when the lockup animation happens). The amount of momentum gained is based on what is currently in the pot, which is randomly selected like in the Yu Yu Hakusho example.
You lock in your grapple before the lockup/grapple attempt happens. You also expend your momentum regardless of being the one to successfully execute. It also allows for the ups and downs since gaining a large lead in the beginning won't necessarily win you the game if the opponent has better timing than you and is able to secure the momentum for a big move.
Decided to take a stab at designing the most critical part of a wrestling game and that's the "grapple system". I decided I didn't want to take on the "move a wrestler around a ring" type of game, but instead trying my hand at a mix of card game + motion comic.
The way I see it (for now): a wrestler has a list of moves to use. Each move has power and difficulty ratings. When a grapple is initiated, it goes into a motion comic view of a general lockup. As soon as the wrestlers lock/touch, each player hits the action button. The player who hits the action button closest to when the wrestlers lock/touch gains the advantage.
You can see in the example: P1 has hit their action button 0.5 seconds after the lock/touch happens and P2 has hit their action button 0.3 seconds after the lock/touch happens. That means P2 has the advantage. In this example, P2 has an advantage of 0.2 seconds.
What does that mean? I don't know. Does 0.2 seconds convert to points? How does that relate to the difficulty rating of a move? Just because you win the lockup doesn't mean you can initiate a finisher off the bat.
Perhaps the difficulty rating equates to the number of successful grapples a wrestler has already performed, thus unlocking more grapples available to use. So after two successful grapples, a wrestler is than able to execute from a list of difficulty 0, 1, and 2 grapples. Maybe the advantage gives you room to execute a lower level grapple with room for error. Let's say the 0.2 seconds converts to 2 points, then you can be 0.2 seconds slower than your opponent, but still win the advantage if you're trying to execute a difficulty 0 grapple. This does, however, assume a lower difficulty level grapple has a higher advantage, probably due to its speed to execute?
In terms of the beats and "acts" in a wrestling match, this system doesn't encourage the ups and downs we're used to seeing. It just promotes stronger and stronger moves, an escalation without any rubber banding (i.e. a large leads stays a large lead). That makes for no comebacks and that makes for uninteresting playing. Hmm.
I printed out and tested out my kite card game this evening. The game's state is one of perfect information as no player has cards hidden from view, though the next action a player takes can have a random element to it (if you draw from the deck, you don't know what you'll get).
I don't know if the game is balanced or not. The general strategy is load up on cards in your tableau until you get close (within 3) to the target Air Current value. That's when it's more strategic in deciding whether to press your luck (draw a card and putting it in your tableau), rotating one of the cards in your tableau, or placing a card from your tableau onto the current Air Current card to change the target/goal.
I'll have to bring this to work and force my coworkers to try it.