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Old 12-04-2003, 12:51 AM   #1
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Why does sabre combat feel so...random?

So, I decided to reinstall the game and play around with the bots some. I think I've pinned down why I STILL haven't gotten into MP in this game. Sabre combat just seems, well, random. I'm sure there's some skill involved, but it really doesn't seem that hard to just mash buttons and spin around and such, but at the same time I just don't really feel like I'm ever REALLY in control. I figure, "Well,I'll try moving and attacking this way, but god only knows what that's gonna make me do." The basic attacks are pretty consistent, but it still seems like you're just spinning around and such and there's no real guarantee that you'll actually hit anything. There have been times where I thought I should've gotten a clean hit on my target (a bot -- so no lag here), and it looks like my sabre passed through the model. Other times, I'll make some move and end up dead and think "What the heck happened there? How'd I die? How'd he hit me? DID he hit me??"

So I started thinking what is it about this game (and JO, for that matter) that just makes MP combat seem so scattershot? There are a couple of things that I THINK may be going on.

1.) Blocking. It doesn't seem consistent. This was true with JO's MP as well. Maybe it's the speed of the game and the fact that you only THINK you saw your sabre pass through the other guy's sabre. Maybe it's the hit detection code itself. Maybe it's the autoblocking which isn't ever really consistent. But for some reason, it just feels like you never REALLY know whether you're going to block that next swing or not. Maybe the game really does need a block button, but even if it had one, I'm not sure the code would consistently detect that you blocked. As a result, being hit and hitting the enemy seems a random affair. I say seems because I don't know for certain what actually goes IN to blocking a swing or blastershot. If I knew the criteria of what would make me block in this situation but not in another, I might think it's less random.

2.) The attacks and combinations thereof. I think that, again (as in JO as well), in an effort to make the attacks look flashy and "cool" and acrobatic and such, the attacks themselves seem random. Maybe I just haven't played enough to be able to figure out all the various combos, but it just feels like when I hold the buttons while moving this way, SOMETHING will happen, but I'm not 100% sure what. I know I'll attack from this general direction, but I'm not sure what I'll do after that. I also know I'll end UP in this particular spot, but I'm not sure what'll happen in between. Yes, the game looks VERY cool, but I think that this can detract from a sense of real control of your moves. then again, maybe I just suck.

3.) The stances. The basic three standard sabre stances seem somewhat predictable (moreso than the dual/double sabres), but they also seem kind of boring as a result. Personally, I love the LOOK of your idle stance in red stance, but I've always hated red stance itself. Its swings are ridiculously slow, they leave you woefully open to counter-attack, and they are telegraphed a mile away. Why anyone uses this stance is beyond me, unless they want a guarantee that they'll knock through the enemy's defenses. Even then, you can only chain two or three moves together, and then you're done. Plus, whenever I seem to try this, I always end up knocking the other guy's sabre away, but mine gets knocked away too, so we both go back to idle. So much for breaking through defenses. Likewise, blue stance is fast, but weak, and yet also is unsatisfying. Whereas some of the attacks seem strangely complicated, blue stance always seems to result in spinning like a top. Yellow stance is reliable, but doesn't seem to have all that much by way of advantages. Then when you compare these moves to dual/double sabres, they seem completely reliable, predictable, etc. The extra two stances always seem to leave me saying "How the hell did I do THAT?" Or, conversely "Why won't it do THIS??"

4.) The katas. Neat idea. Poor execution. Katas are only useful if you're in very close and you KNOW you're going to hit. The rest of the time, they're pretty much useless because you telegraph that you're going to do them, you're locked into position or into a particular path, and all the enemy has to do is wait outside of range, then hit you as you're SLOWLY finishing the move (what I call the "wind-down" period). Far as I'm concerned, leave 'em in SP, take ALL special moves out of MP. They just aren't that useful when balanced properly. Ever notice that the only time people ever used the various special moves was when they gave a ridiculous advantage to the user (back in JO, I mean)? The red DFA was spammed all the time because people could use it to kill hordes of players at once, due to bugs. When it was balanced, it became useless -- too slow and too easily avoided to be of any use. Hell, even if the guy's on his back, you won't hit him. The backstab was the same way. Spammed ridiculously until people either turned off the move or it was balanced in terms of damage. I just think special moves have always been an achilles heel of these games. Even the secondary attack in JK1 was like this.

I think ultimately for me,t hough, the issue is control and predictability. Maybe I'm old and slow, maybe I suck at the game,maybe I just don't play it often enough, but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of consistency in the attacks, blocks, etc. Some of the stances seem to be so flashy and fast that I can't tell what the hell I'm doing, others seem so slow that I don't want to bother using 'em. Maybe the problem's the input mechanisms we use. Maybe melee fighting just doesn't really fit in FPS games and never did, at least not in MP when you fight an opponent on equal footing. None of these games in that respect ever really lived up to my expectations. I dunno. I'm just kind of rambling here at this point. Anyone else have any thoughts?

And please, if you're tempted to flame, just don't, ok? Save us ALL the trouble. No one wants to hear it, ok?
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Old 12-04-2003, 07:44 AM   #2
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As far as I can tell, it's the result of current saber bounce move code and random number generator blocking system.

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Old 12-04-2003, 11:42 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by razorace
As far as I can tell, it's the result of current saber bounce move code and random number generator blocking system.

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Those people are very close to us...


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Old 12-04-2003, 12:34 PM   #4
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well, i noticed in jk2, if you had a "frozen" NPC with a saber, and you swing your saber at them, they would block it very nicely. i mean, its just cause the NPC is just standing there he blocks better i guess.
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Old 12-04-2003, 04:13 PM   #5
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For me I think the biggest problem is hit detection. In SP I absolutely love saber fighting, spawning in a load of Reborn and letting rip with some carefully executed attacks. In MP it seems like the hit detection is at best rather inaccurate, at worst practically random. Throw in the elements on lag as well, and it can seem like luck is a major factor in determining the winner. Don't get me wrong, there is still a lot of skill involved, and a really good saberist would still beat me 99 times out of 100 probabaly, but then they would have learned to adapt to the weird detection better.

Kal El set up a cool co-op game in SP hoth, as like an FFA server. Was a load of fun but the thing that really hit me was how you could slice right through stormies sometimes and it wouldn't even do any apparent damage.

This is why I'm still fairly turned off about MP in JA as in JO, I just don't think the Q3 engine and modern connections etc are capable of conducting quite the kind of precise saber combat I myself would like in MP. I think this is partly why ladder levels in SP are so popular - saber combat galore with the far better SP sabering engine.

Personally, I don't think you can level any blame whatsoever at Raven, they did the best job possible with the technology they had. Still, if there was like a full JK3 with a coupla years full development, with a purpose built engine with sabering (in SP and MP) very much in mind, I think this would make the extra precision and enjoyment of MP sabering possible. I still enjoy the guns in MP quite a bit, and Siege I tend to like wandering about gunning as many people as possible.


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Old 12-04-2003, 04:45 PM   #6
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I'm not trying to knock the Q3 engine, but it doesn't really seem ideal for saber systems anyway. This game would be much better if it was ported on to one of the new engines with physics built in, and the more accurate the hit detection the better.
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Old 12-04-2003, 05:12 PM   #7
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We can only dream Babywax. Maybe one day



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Old 12-04-2003, 06:11 PM   #8
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Maybe it's also that I'm never 100% sure if what I'm doing is really a move or just a flashier version of a move. IE: some combos seem to have extra flourish put into 'em, but it still seems like you might be doing the same moves you normally do. I dunno.

I think the engine has a lot to do with it. The Q3 engine always seemed a bit...I dunno..twitchy to me. I found Q2 to be much smoother and more consistent, actually. It's like they sped the game up ridiculously when they went to Q3, but maybe that's just me being an old fart.

I do think hit detection and collision detection have a LOT to do with it, though. Sometimes you'll see what looks like you slicing clean through someone and you won't hit, whereas other times you'll swing, think you didn't hit, but you do. It's liek the game says "Close enough!"

I do enjoy SP sabre combat, too, and I think it's largely because of the pace of it as well as the precision and predictability of things. MP just seems, well, random.

I wouldn't be surprised if they make some other jedi FPS game eventually, probably set during the clone wars, and built a dedicated engine around MP sabre fighting. God knows they SHOULD do something like that.

I give Raven credit for putting up with a lot of crap from the community (some of it deserved, much of it not), but I think at this point they've squeezed about every drop of lifeblood out of the Q3 engine that they can.

I don't even know if working on a more preditable version of the game would help, given that the engine just seems ill-suited to this kind of combat. It's great for guns, but melee combat just doesn't seem to fit an engine that is quite so fast. I tried playing around with "g_speed" variables and discovered that they only really affect running speed, not swing speed (which is what I'd like to slow down). If anyone knows a way to globally slow the game down, I think that might help. Even so, though, I'm not entirely sure if it would or if it's just buggy hit detection that's a limitation of the game engine itself.
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Old 12-04-2003, 09:36 PM   #9
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The hit detection issues is not directly related to the engine, it's due to it not updating the saber hit detection as often as it should and due to the odd autoblocking behavior.

There's workarounds, it's just that noone ever listens when I mention them.


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Old 12-04-2003, 10:33 PM   #10
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Hmm.. i guess the only reason the NPC blocked so good was because it was in SP. Oh well. Its still a good engine, and its sad to see that JA is the last game made with it. But as time goes on, technology advances, and older engines become outdated. Anyways, im thinking they didnt make MP to block as much because the computers would have to think more your PC is trying to keep up, and slow down for other computers, so they *might* have just lowered the blocking level so it doesnt slow down as much. I dont know, its just a guess. At least Razorace is making a mod for it.
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Old 12-05-2003, 01:01 PM   #11
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I don't think it feels that random at all. It's hard to call something random IMO when there are obviously people that have gotten very good at it, as in they are consistently owning the whole rest of the server. If it was random, you would see scores more evenly balanced out. Nobody would "stand out" of the crowd, as people do now. Now, I don't think it's all skill or anything. Just like in any game really, I've got some lucky kills on the guy that was owning everone else, including me, most of the time. But I think there's more skill involved than people in this topic would care to admit.
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Old 12-05-2003, 01:07 PM   #12
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I don't really like some of the blocking, seeing as it sometimes blocks in to you(it stabs you, one hit kill)

As for the saber fighting, its takes a lot of skill to weild effectively.




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Old 12-05-2003, 01:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by babywax
This game would be much better if it was ported on to one of the new engines with physics built in
And which engine would that be?
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Old 12-05-2003, 03:00 PM   #14
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Half-Life 2 has Havok 2, Stalker has an ODE based engine that supposedly goes faster than Havok, I don't know much about doom 3's physics, and the Crytek engine also has physics. The two that appear to have more physics involved are Half-Life 2, or they're really showing it off atleast.
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Old 12-05-2003, 04:30 PM   #15
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Well imo, there is simply no reason they couldn't have worked a bit harder on the hit detection as it's pretty good in jk2 and well there's not much difference.... Before someone says about dual and staffs, 2 single sabers going at it still have the hit detection problems that jk2 never had.
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Old 12-05-2003, 04:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by babywax
Half-Life 2 has Havok 2, Stalker has an ODE based engine that supposedly goes faster than Havok, I don't know much about doom 3's physics, and the Crytek engine also has physics. The two that appear to have more physics involved are Half-Life 2, or they're really showing it off atleast.
But were any of these things available soon after the release of JO (Spring 2002)? Things like Half-Life 2 and Doom 3 aren't even released yet.

It's great to say just go to the newest thing, but that also has issues as well. If we were to wait for a new engine for JA, we may have waited until 2005.
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Old 12-05-2003, 05:16 PM   #17
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It does feel a lot more random than JO. Maybe I'm just imagining it, but I think in single player, at least at jedi master, they compensate for it by making larger saber-boxes for the cultists. You don't notice it using red single style, but I get hit and killed so many times the saber isn't near me it's crazy, esp. when some enemy tries to do the saber shield. The same good timing that lets me kill people doing that in mp means I get killed even with the sabers aren't touching me.


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Old 12-05-2003, 05:43 PM   #18
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But were any of these things available soon after the release of JO (Spring 2002)? Things like Half-Life 2 and Doom 3 aren't even released yet.

It's great to say just go to the newest thing, but that also has issues as well. If we were to wait for a new engine for JA, we may have waited until 2005.
Who said anything about releasing JA on a new engine? I just said it would have probably had better hit detection if it was based on an engine that was built more around physics.
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Old 12-05-2003, 06:08 PM   #19
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Personally, I never found sabre combat in JO to be all that compelling either. Again, it seemed random. Maybe it's that I expect too much out of sabre fighting and there just isn't a good system to implement what I'd like to see (short of actually giving us controllers that mimic our movements on screen). As I said, it may also be that I'm just not experienced enough to know how pressing the buttons THIS way makes my character move THAT way.

I was messing around with MP against the bots again last night and I started thinking some more. There may be a couple of things going on for me.

On the one hand, I find that many of the stances will repeat CERTAIN moves without chains. Other moves, however, will be chained to result in different moves (visually, at least). The trick for me is figuring out which moves can be chained, how many different combinations there are, and how to execute them. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a guide to this anywhere. Oh well.

The hit detection really does seem to be the other issue. Razor, how does one go about making hit detection more consistent? And for that matter, how does one go about making blocking more consistent? I'm all ears if there are cvars that can be used to do this.
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Old 12-05-2003, 07:12 PM   #20
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Well without code changes the best way to improve the hit detection is to turn up the sv_fps and rates cvars. There's a thread about it.


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Old 12-05-2003, 11:08 PM   #21
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Right, but the code changes are more effective, and the dirty hack mentioned over their has its issues. I'm looking forward to OJP for that very reason.

AS far as the randomness goes - Solo, you're right about the hits. But the combos just take a little practice to get down; I've got them pretty much down so I can do whatever combo I want whenever I want, and I don't play it that much. The biggest problem I have is that the game's different in MP and SP as far as all this goes. Even timing and stuff is different for the combos, which is a pain in the butt to get around.

Speaking of which, Razor - is OJP Enhanced going to deal with the SP coding as well at any point, or just MP - cause the latter's all I've seen (except for obvious stuff like RGB colors and whatnot).


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Old 12-06-2003, 02:20 AM   #22
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Since the SP SDK isn't out (and is %99.9 sure not to be), we're restricted to MP code changes and some non-code changes to SP.


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Old 12-06-2003, 12:36 PM   #23
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Dammit...I've been fighting more in SP with sabres against talented opponents (just fought the twilek chick for the first time). THAT's how fighting should be! It's both cinematic, controllable, and predictable. AND you block, parry, counterattack, etc. You just don't see that in MP. It may honestly just be the hit detection then.
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Old 12-06-2003, 03:18 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by babywax
Who said anything about releasing JA on a new engine? I just said it would have probably had better hit detection if it was based on an engine that was built more around physics.
I see However, I suspect that if real accuracy was Raven's goal, they could do it with this engine...
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Old 12-06-2003, 03:33 PM   #25
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Dammit...I've been fighting more in SP with sabres against talented opponents (just fought the twilek chick for the first time). THAT's how fighting should be! It's both cinematic, controllable, and predictable. AND you block, parry, counterattack, etc. You just don't see that in MP. It may honestly just be the hit detection then.
Yeah, but it's probably not just the hit detection. In SP it's just a different feel... In single player there is almost a fake delay on moves... when you run it takes a small fraction of a second to start running, it takes a small fraction of a second to start a slash, but not too long. It kind of gives the game a feel in single player. In multiplayer everything just kind of 'happens' right away, except for the REAL lag between you and the server.
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Old 12-06-2003, 04:14 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by Solo4114
Dammit...I've been fighting more in SP with sabres against talented opponents (just fought the twilek chick for the first time). THAT's how fighting should be! It's both cinematic, controllable, and predictable. AND you block, parry, counterattack, etc. You just don't see that in MP. It may honestly just be the hit detection then.
Yeah in single player saber combat is unpredictable! But in multiplayer its drab.

I've lost many duels because of bad hit detection which really annoys me, I wish there would be more servers with the commands razorace tells us to improve it.
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Old 12-06-2003, 05:50 PM   #27
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Yeah, MP combat is pretty drab. And it may be the instant-move thing that makes it feel too quick to me. I dunno. I just don't like MP combat.
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Old 12-07-2003, 08:22 AM   #28
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I dunno whether this helps anyone, but I have found that lowering the g_speed cvar value , actually improves MP gameplay ,especially against bots.
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Old 12-07-2003, 11:02 AM   #29
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Play the old Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight once nowadays and you'll just love JA's saber combat.
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Old 12-07-2003, 02:23 PM   #30
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Nah, not really. It's quite a step forward, no question, but I just wonder if FPS games are really capable of providing a good melee combat experience. Shooting is so much easier to replicate in these games than swinging a sword (which gives you an appreciation for the subtleties of swordfighting). Oh well. Maybe the next generation of game engines can do it better...

Honestly, the best sword fighting game I ever played was Bushido Blade 2 for the PSX. But that wasn't an FPS.

I still hold out hope for a good Clone Wars game.
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Old 12-07-2003, 07:12 PM   #31
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It's very possible with the existing technology, someone just hasn't put the peices together yet...just like it took forever for a Battlefield 1942 type of game to show up.


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Old 12-07-2003, 08:52 PM   #32
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They should make their own engine in JK4, one suited to saber combat.
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Old 12-08-2003, 01:58 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally posted by Celladur
They should make their own engine in JK4, one suited to saber combat.
Yeah, I agree...

Quote:
Originally posted by zeimi
Play the old Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight once nowadays and you'll just love JA's saber combat.
You're DAMN right!

BTW, I don't think the saber combat is THAT random. In JA's MP I fight much less "random" that I fought in JO. (yes Kurgan I was able to play the MP), And I'm pretty good at it. (much better than I was in JO)



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Old 12-08-2003, 09:23 AM   #34
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Anyone is better than they were in JO with two sabers available.
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Old 12-08-2003, 12:02 PM   #35
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I actually find that the double-bladed sabre is easier to use than the dual sabres. The dual sabres seem to only chain moves if you strafe with them. Attacking forwards or backwards doesn't seem to do much (which strikes me as goofy). Plus, they seem to leave you more open to attack when you're doing those strafe moves.

I tend to play more defensively, so I guess that's why I like the double-bladed one better. I do pretty well with dual sabres in MP, but I'm actually worse with them in SP. Probably due to the better hit detection in SP.

I'd love to see an engine made specifically with sabre combat in mind, but I think it's time for another company to take a crack at it. Raven's done great work with the Q3:TA engine, but I don't know if they could write their own engine. I KNOW I wouldn't trust LucasArts to write their own one, though. I would say that a sabre-fighting engine with other FPS elements included should be the way to go, rather than an FPS engine with sabre elements included.
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Old 12-08-2003, 01:39 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally posted by Celladur
They should make their own engine in JK4, one suited to saber combat.
Because video game engines of that complexity cost pennies to make, and require little to no time and effort.
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Old 12-08-2003, 03:48 PM   #37
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Anyone is better than they were in JO with two sabers available.
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Old 12-08-2003, 05:53 PM   #38
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Originally posted by Prime
Because video game engines of that complexity cost pennies to make, and require little to no time and effort.
True, but hey, DICE developed the Refractor2 engine for BF1942. It was a gamble, but it paid off. Now LucasArts is thinking of making a similar game in the SW universe.

Think about the possibilities for a game that could present realistic and complex sword-fighting. Even aside from the Jedi games, you could open up first-person action games to other time periods (Medieval europe, feudal japan, ancient china, etc., etc.) But hell, all you'd really need is a kickass clone wars game that shows up right at the time as Ep. III is being released, and you'd be golden. Then after Ep. III, you could make expansion packs about the fall of the Jedi (since you KNOW Lucas won't show that to us in the films, just allude to it).
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Old 12-08-2003, 06:10 PM   #39
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I'd love to see an engine made specifically with sabre combat in mind, but I think it's time for another company to take a crack at it. Raven's done great work with the Q3:TA engine, but I don't know if they could write their own engine.
Yeh i think JA and Call of Duty were the last gasps of breath for the Q3 engine. It would be sweet to see an engine built aroung melee combat. But will it happen?
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Old 12-08-2003, 06:32 PM   #40
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Originally posted by Solo4114
True, but hey, DICE developed the Refractor2 engine for BF1942. It was a gamble, but it paid off. Now LucasArts is thinking of making a similar game in the SW universe.
That game looks pretty cool from what I have seen. Thank goodness for us old guys it is in the Original Trilogy era.

Quote:
Originally posted by Solo4114
Think about the possibilities for a game that could present realistic and complex sword-fighting. Even aside from the Jedi games, you could open up first-person action games to other time periods (Medieval europe, feudal japan, ancient china, etc., etc.) But hell, all you'd really need is a kickass clone wars game that shows up right at the time as Ep. III is being released, and you'd be golden. Then after Ep. III, you could make expansion packs about the fall of the Jedi (since you KNOW Lucas won't show that to us in the films, just allude to it).
I'm not saying that such a game wouldn't be cool. I'm just saying that few game companies write their own engine nowadays. The reason being that it is a huge undertaking, and the more money/time you put into that, the less you put into the actual game. Besides, the engine itself is not going to determine what the combat, collision detection, controls, etc. are like. Having the right engine helps, but it does not make or break a game.
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