Friday, June 21, 2013

Grandia's initiative bar

The inspiration

For a game idea I had in mind for a very long time, I wanted to use the battle system of the Grandia series.
In the picture above you can see in the bottom right, what is called the IP Bar. Basically, there are 3 phases : WAIT, COM, ACT. Each character (player or computer):

  • enters the wait phase
  • selects a command from combo / critical / special move or magic / defend / evade / flee
  • performs the selected action
What is really beautiful about this system is that it's the best compromise between real-time anc turn-based game mechanics. All actions are performed live, but there is a stop to enter your command. This means you have time to plan your actions. But for what purpose ? Here are the cool things you can do:
  • Normal attacks (combo) results in a small knockback. Initiative is frozen until the character recovers from the hit. This also means that if attacked by many characters at once, not only the damage can add up, but the target is momentarily disabled.
  • Cancel an enemy's command by performing a critical attack during the buildup of its action phase.
  • Counter, if your critical lands as the target is in execution (end of action phase). Counters often results in knockdowns, which put the target on the ground. Nothing they can do until they get up!
Overall, I think the amount of control you have during the fight (if you play it smart), makes any battle really fun. The developers also did something for lazy dudes: you can define a combat strategy for the team, and just watch the AI do the job (handy versus weak enemies).

Additional information: Grandia II on IGN

The implementation

Using C# and WPF, i developed an animated initiative bar control.