Join Date: Sep 2001
A New Concept For Sabre Duels...
I would like to suggest a new way of looking at saber battling. It is broken down into Three Elements of Failure and One Of Solution.
First, because only Jedi appear to do sabre work well and Jedi are Force Users, I think it's fair to say that The Force is the basis of that ability and so should be broken down on a less-than-legend, basis of at least 'attempted' (pseudo) science.
From Ep1 we now know that The Force is not some ephimeral 'magic' that exists only as a field of energy outside the norms of EM spectrum detection. We know that it is in fact a cellular anomaly brought on by susceptibility of certain, very rare, hosts to infection by a form of symbiotic microorganic material.
This material in turn generates a field effect throughout the USER body which allows him to influence galactic constants of gravimetric and mass-inertial law.
When Yoda talks about the force and R2D2 'looks around for it', unsuccessfully, using astronav sensors which presumeably can scan much farther into the spectrum than we know today, he doesn't detect the effect of the Force because he is looking for freespace energy rather than the constant (local) cellular flux effect of same.
If the physics connection occurs, throughout all things and it is the LIVING 'sympathy' that allows one-to-feel-as-another then it is not as if you are using The Force like a lever to lift an X-Wing out of a swamp but rather 'attempting a dialup connection' to the physics of the metal and water and microbes in or along same to excite THEIR property differentials within the G-Constants.
Where this is like a quantum tunnel effect of one existence without 'space' (=time) inbetween, it also explains how Jedi are able to see the future and perhaps WHY they are selflimiting in their use of the Force lest they become blinded in a self-induced feedback loop of causality (the poltergeist effect, mentally, would lead to madness of did-I-do-that-or-will-I-in-Future=Past?).
Perhaps as a function of the above, we also know that while The Dark Side is 'quicker, easier' to access on the order of an adrenaline junkie always looking for a new high; it is _not_ ultimately as strategically aware or consciousness enhancing as the Light Side which provides the user the ability to manipulate time and space from a detached standpoint.
((As an aside: It appears that BOTH sides are equally vulnerable to 'strength' issues whereby, to summon sufficient harmonic to direct motion, adjust mass or 'collide the two' with special effects like chain lighting as a channellable result, it takes full concentration and even subconscious tactile/kinesthetic motor 'projection' (through body motion) to achieve. And so, in generating a short range capability with long duration consequences, makes the user almost totally vulnerable to even the most basic of hand to hand attacks let alone DE fire.))
But contrary to most 'good vs. evil' plots and more in line with explanations of why say the Emperor is able to basically whack any 'normal' Jedi he pleases, the meeting of darkness and light is not necessarily one of confrontational 'victory' or even self consumptive 'cancellation' but rather a TOTAL level of awareness-to-action empowerment.
Though to an extent using physical mechanization of effort, Light Sabre combat seems to me to be the epitemy of this capability vs. conscience vs. executional blending because you must be both instantly physically reactive in your wish=motion delivery of blows AND able to see into past them into the future of your opponents actions such that blinding flashes of firey glow are connected/dodged/turned back not on contact (which would surely lead to eye damage the same as looking at an arcwelders torch) but rather in a 'little past sensory awareness, but still not given away to the other guys precognition' basis of blade mesh.
IOW: You have to be young and lively to channel the force into your neuromusculature 'fast' enough to make your blows COUNT against an enemy that will see them coming in the future of his brains cellular micro-tunneling of your brains 'tactical wish fullfillment'.
More on this in a bit.
THE SABRE DUEL, MECHANICS OF MOTION.
What do you think is 'the key' to sabre combat?
Let me tell you mine: Spacing vs. Face.
In many traditional Martial Arts and indeed especially in the Kenjutsu/Kendo/Iado based ones, the 'players' (Kendoka) are forced to wear skirts. WHY?
Because predicting the total body mass-to-motion loop is much more simplistic than guessing at the individual blade angles and body crossing patterns of the arms that nearly ALWAYS COME AFTER body-instinctive foot and knee and hip muscle precursors.
Put simply: your arm swings based on where your leg puts weight in the strike=stride and from strike=side direction that equates to the right/left footfall and supportative leverage.
If you can mask this, you can force your enemy to react to actual blade movements 'on the fly' and this in turn compresses his decision loop and accuracy of guess to a VERY much narrower margin.
Why is this important? Two Reasons: Tactics and Gameplay Immersion.
Tactics. Because the easiest way to keep yourself alive and exploit your strengths while minimizing your weakness' against the superiorities of any given opponent (and there will nearly -always- be some element of speed, reach, strength or directedness where you are _not_ the equal of your foe) is to control the spacing.
If you are slow and weak you want to stand at the edges or 'tip' of his blade radius and make him extend to swing across the largest arc possible to connect with higher expenditure of his own energy and longer period of travel.
If you are willing to 'take his measure' then you want a middle ground where you can both swing hard and fast but are not limited (blocked) by the distance of your bodies vs. blades.
Crushing Close. At these distances you are literally nose to nose or side to side with your foe and less blocking his blades than using brute strength to keep from having them pressed into you.
Speed is compressed here because of the harsh body angles and need to be able to 'push off' back to a more normal fighting stance.
You cannot expose your arms to amputation from full extension and so you cannot swing as normally. Still, things can change VERY quickly by twisting the angle of blade path and using sliding-strokes along their edges to send points and edges cutting into little expected places.
((With the incendiary-sharp penetration factor and no-mass strength capabilities of the Saber, I'm surprised that there is not more knife-length sabre weapons or even dual blade systems. Musashi himself was badly beaten once by a man using a twin-tonfa type ministaff system to capture blade and beat senseless independently.)).
Of course with exceptions for end motion and reach for total-target counter exposure ALL of this must done more or less _FACING_ your opponent and this is an area where the current JK system is particularly weak because your facing direction is modified by mouse while all movements are relative only to a compass point directionality of travel.
Leaving only a single button to dictate hack-and-whack attack forms and 'automatic' defense.
There is no swing-step-thru-stand-back multiplication of motion and using the most common 'strafe' system of novitiates especially, you can easily end up facing anywhere from 90 to 180 degrees *OPPOSITE* a foe who, in real life, would simply move out of your FOV expectation of recaptured sight and as you blundered around 'looking' (stupid) gore you from an unexpected angle.
Immersion. With NO ability to control Spacing Or Facing, we are **crippled** in our control of sabre combat as anything more than a keystone cops emulation of the lethal grace and sheer power shown (at least occasionally) in the films.
BOOOOOOOO! HISSSSSSSSSS!:-) More In A Minute.
THE KATA, STRATEGIES OF PENETRATION THROUGH PREDICTION
While it's true that most 'real' blade combats are not nearly as rich in dance movement as they are short, sharp, terminations of same, the use of Katas or other fixed patterns of blade work in elegant patterns of harmony are taught to help 'unlearn' the body of habitual limitations as well as teach new muscle-memories of what to do from any given part-of-pattern position with sufficient 'simillarities' as to cue the learned instinct.
There are all kinds and forms of these patterns in both Western and Eastern blade work and I personally believe in the Spanish and Latin derived 'wrist to ankle' linked counters more than the whole body 'centered' movements of the Orient.
But the basics are all the same: combinations of offensive movements to break past the joint/muscle flex positions of defense.
Even as the Defender learns means to judge and deflect inbound attacks almost equally subconsciously.
I would _definitely_ like to see several 'schools' of teaching emulated in a good Sabre based dueling game, if only because it would cue the fighter to what methods are most likely to be used against him, most often. Lunging, cross blading, dual blading, fullbody(hand and feet)+blading, gun+blading, circular foot patterns etc.
More importantly, however; I believe that a fully developed system of 'tap tap LUNGE block back block' type warfare would help, ENORMOUSLY in the 'entertainment value' of immersion.
Especially if you could 'tape it' for personal replay and preset attack strategy.
SABRE BATTLES: A TOTAL WARFARE CONCEPT
Okay so I've outlined the basics of how I see battles being fought 'In Real Life' and how they come up short in JK1.
Let's bring them all together.
The player should NOT be 'light or dark', ESPECIALLY in sabre dueling but rather able to selectively 'spike' two vertical graphlines of EITHER 'Blue' OR 'Red' energies. And eventually both together.
BLUE: Is foresight for defense. Depending on your relative expertise, for a given number of microseconds you should 'see' a glow of red-directional intent that highlights your enemies coming attack. It also increases the speed and number of counterstrokes you have to defend against that attack.
RED: Makes you hit quicker and with more force accelerated power (remember, light or even plasma weighs comparitively nothing so where there is no inertia, ALL 'force' of impacted blows are generated solely by _you_).
Inbetween should be an X:Y graph of how many strikes you can block vs. how many you can hit and from the number of /used/ blows remaining after each exchange you should be able to guess your relative superiorities vs. your enemy.
Allowing you to adjust 'concentration modes' to better survive or better press home an offense.
Hit the BLUE key once and your at max defense (the graphline itself will grow as you get better to reflect increased abilities), hit it twice and you're back at medium. Double hit it, twice-fast, and you've given everything to RED (which should literally 'glow brighter') for a few instances of surged ability.
And vice versa.
When a Jedi gets into trouble, does he die, badly, because he's hurt or running out of maneuvering room or simply 'outgunned' in terms of blaster-bolts-vs.-sabre-strokes?
He does a magical Deux Ex Machina leap-out or skip-back to _Get The Hell Out Of There_.
Such that whatever is about to kill or eat him ends up shooting or biting completely out of fight plane with his new location.
I would like a similar keypress ability which, regardless of relative range to a sanctuary would, _when there was a sanctuary available_, 'get me there'.
This could be as little as a high somersault over a bad man about to push me off a bridge or a long step back in a very big room.
As a potential drawback difficulty option you could make any fight 'exited' cause the enemy to regenerate some or all of his damage points in the interval before you rejoined combat and of course you would probably turn your sabre off so that you didn't cut your own legs. Overuse the ability and someone might just 'lead you anyway'.
Another key by which I could increase the likely number of swings I or an opponent could make without actually 'leaving' (sabre off) the fight.
You always have that 'OK Corral Moment' (Luke vs. Vader in the Carbonite room) where you are at maximal distance, staring each other down.
Press once and you come ot outer battle distance. Twice and you are at medium.
Thrice and you are REALLY going for it, to bring the battle up close and personal.
Changes the tactics by which you fight and compresses or extends the battle to compensate for weakness' or strengths.
I /dreamed/ of this one when I was fighting that damn little malignant dwarf in the Jedi Twins battle of JK1. Wanted to lear at him as I trapped his little body to the floor and PUSHED HARD.
This one should be automatic most of the time though the ability to shut it off would be kewl for some combo strokes.
Basically, whatever movement your enemy makes you adjust your stance and direction of facing to keep blade-on.
FACE and SPACE are -the two- elements which are most critical to keeping the fight 'going' in terms of always trading blows and never getting rammed in the back because your movement control cannot really account for body axis changes, especially if you are multi-keystroke or modem pinged out.
I for one cannot possibly 'attack' as fast as Obiwan did in the final Reactor Shaft duel in Ep.1.
Even if the sabre strokes themselves could be sped up to match this, in-game, I don't think I could react individually to create both my own movement /and/ blade angle attacks, with separate keys.
The Neat Thing about my system is that, with FACE and SPACE, _you don't have to_.
Keeping in mind that, like it or lump it, we are _stuck with_ massed-blade fighting systems as the basis of sabre work and remembering what I said that almost _every attack_ begins with a giveaway footmotion, let's make the
conventional movements into _fighting technique choices_.
Q High Left Diagonal Shoulder/Neck Cut
W Center High Torso Attack
E High Right Diagonal Shoulder/Neck Cut
A Lateral Left Attack Gut/Elbow Attack
S Thrusting or Center-Lunge Attack
D Lateral Right Attack Gut/Elbow Attack
Z Low Cut (Knee or Ankle) Left Attack
X Center (Inside Thigh or Knee) Attack
C Low Cut (Kneed or Ankle) Right Attack
Where you cut dictates which way your feet _automatically_ move after the stroke to compensate inertia and 'bring you back to center'.
Simple on it's face but also /boring/ and unfluid (hack hack whack whack!;-) repetitive in it's useage.
Let's /combine/ those moves and watch the blade /trace/ in elegant patterns through the air.
Kyle starts his attack by slicing from his high left across the body and exiting the stroke at (his view of) the enemies mid right ribs.
In a single blur of motion he then /reverses/ the stroke back through the target laterally and again draws a diagonal back up to the head before stamping his foot forward in a classic 'double tap' to the startled foes center body and turning off FACE for a single moment, spinning through to slash from behind at the joint of shoulder and upper arm, aiming for a critical trauma stroke clear down to the poor bastards heart.
Type that code into a between-levels new-kata capability (1 more per each new 'level' of mastery gained, including special swings or more swings per existing kata).
And then, during battle, _Activate_ that 1-5 numbered preset of multimotion kata-attack and now you can fight like they do in the movies because you are controlling not just where a blade stroke starts but where a /series/ of cuts swing as a function of dynamic body axis changes between you.
Of course you may want to keep it fairly simple because most people can be caught on repetiveness and if you keep blocking right and counter attacking left, because that is what your foe is doing, you should be able to dictate his doom by suddenly blocking right and attacking back _right_.
As a function of 'interaction' with the computer AI.
THIS IS STRATEGIC GAMING IN AN FPS SHOOTER ARENA!!:-))
We fight more or less like what we are. Untrained, 2D limited ('Monitor Mode'), Strictly Articulated, arcade game players.
That's fine when you're mashing a trigger but Sword Play is much more intimate, more interactive, a method of battle where you must almost dance with your opponent in order to know his rythms and break them down.
You can't do this with clumsy single-strokes and IMO, this factor of understanding is what makes the Jedi truly a challenge to play and why I wish that we were effectively untouchable (shields or no, perfect blaster blocking 'awareness' and single swing contact-kills) vs. 'normals' because then we could avoid or engage at will all technology driven opponents but those with truly overwhelming (numbers/shielded guns/explosive/chokepoint) firepower.
Or The Force and a Sabre at their side.
As the same time, the only way to achieve such 'perfection' at the remote level without making the game boring as heck is to double or treble the sophistication of combat at the other end. Mano-A-Mano. Your Blood Or Mine.
This would be possible if we increased the Sabre on Sabre encounters and the difficulty of prosecuting them successfully vs. the endless, mindless, (no AI intellect) trigger pull warfare of JK1.
[ September 30, 2001: Message edited by: Kurt ]