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Author Topic: The AoD combat demo survival guide  (Read 29322 times)
Vince
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« on: December 22, 2009, 12:22:16 PM »


THE AGE OF DECADENCE COMBAT BETA

Welcome to the Age of Decadence combat beta! It's set in the arena district of Maadoran from the full game. You'll get to pit your character's fighting skills against various opponents with the ultimate aim of being crowned the arena champion. Becoming the arena champion will not be easy, or even very likely (just try getting life insurance as a professional gladiator), but we hope you have fun trying. The main purpose of this beta is to test the combat system from the full game and tweak it if necessary based on player feedback, as well as detect any performance or stability issues. Some story elements have been added for your amusement, but they don't represent the scope of options that will be available in the complete game. Bear in mind that everything you'll see is a work in progress (the animations are being improved as I write this). The beta allows you to change the screen resolution, shadows and other settings from within the game (either from main menu, or by pressing ctrl-o at any time), but unfortunately anti-aliasing cannot be turned on from the game. This is a restriction of the game engine being used, and can be easily worked around by simply switching on anti-aliasing in your graphics card settings before starting AoD.

A regular demo featuring the entire first location and the full range of gameplay options (factions, multiple quest solutions, large variety of dialogue options, alchemy, crafting, sneaking, thievery, persuasion, diplomacy, lore, trickery, disguise, forgery, and more) will be available upon the game's release.


The following guide gives you a quick overview of the most important concepts of the Age of Decadence combat system.


1. INTRODUCTION TO COMBAT


The combat in Age of Decadence is turn based, which means that each participant takes a turn and has a certain number of action points to use performing actions during each round. When you start the demo, you'll be presented with the character creation screen where you name your character, select a gender, choose a weapon speciality, allocate stat & skill points, and (if you wish) tailor your characters appearance. Statistics and skills that are not relevant to combat are disabled in this beta, but you can still see them to get a taste for the final game. Once you've created your character, you'll find yourself standing in front of the arena master (he's the one with robes and no axe). To the right there's a stall with a trader who you can buy or sell weapons and armour as you progress as a gladiator.

Right click on the ground to walk around and do a bit of sightseeing if you wish. To get a better view of any interesting architecture, the camera can be rotated by holding down the scroll wheel and zoomed by spinning the scroll wheel - after all it may be the last chance you have! When you're ready, equip your starting weapon using the inventory screen (key: i) and left click on the arena master to discuss the next fight. He'll give you some background on your potential nemesis - pay attention, he's too lazy and aloof to repeat himself to the likes of you. You may either choose to enter the arena to fight immediately, or take some more time to prepare first. For instance if he tells you that you're going up against a crossbowman, you may want to consider buying or equipping a shield before the fight. During combat accessing the inventory screen will cost 4 action points, so it pays to be prepared beforehand.

Once you enter the arena you'll start opposite your opponent and, after a little taunting to start the proceedings, the fastest combatant will get to act first. When it's your turn, you will see a grid of squares surrounding your character. Take note of your hit points on the left and your action points on the right of your two weapon slots. On the far left is an information window that gives you more details about exactly what's going on during battle. Blue coloured squares are ones where you've enough action points to move during this turn, and if you hover the mouse over one the action point cost of moving to that square will pop up. Green coloured squares are those you can attack with your currently selected weapon (slot highlighted in yellow) and this is dependent on weapon reach and remaining action points. Move the mouse over a potential target on a green square and the name of the target, their rough state of health, and the likelihood of hitting them will pop up. Dark green means you can move or attack that square, and red means that you can do neither.

Combat can be initiated at any time by clicking the crossed swords icon on the interface, or by pressing Space. Clicking on the crossed swords icon again, or pressing Space, will end your turn (or combat entirely if there are no living enemies within range). Additionally, in certain circumstances, the option to initiate combat will be available via dialogue. Your character's dexterity determines how many action points are available during each turn. Each action performed - swinging a sword, accessing your inventory, throwing a net, moving away, etc - has an associated AP cost. For example, a normal attack with a dagger (a fast weapon) takes 3AP, while a normal attack with a two handed hammer (a slow weapon) takes 6AP. Accessing your inventory during combat takes 4AP. There are two weapon slots, so either two one-handed weapons or a single two-handed weapon can be equipped at a time. The weapon's damage, range, and AP cost (modified by your stats, attack type, and ammo type) are displayed in the weapon slot. Right-click on the weapon slot to open a menu with the available attack options.

When you've killed your opponent, you should loot their stuff as your reward for victory by clicking on the square they were standing on when they died, and then exit the arena by clicking on either of the two barred gates on one side of the arena. Rotate the camera if you can't see them. Each vanquished foe will immediately reward your character with skill points which you can then allocate at any point to the skills of your choice on the character screen (key: c). You probably want to focus on only one or two skills with any single character if you plan on being champion. Repeat this process until your character takes a dirt nap or becomes the arena champion (trumpets and a fan club not guaranteed).


2. CHARACTER SYSTEM

Primary statistics:

There are six primary statistics defining a character's innate physical and mental abilities. Between them they determine the starting values of skills, bonus Skill Points awarded, derived stats (HP & AP), as well as modifiers for range, reaction, and accuracy. In the full game, they are also regularly checked in dialogue and interactive text segments to allow access to ability specific gameplay options. In this combat beta, both INT and CHA are fixed at 4, since the focus of this combat beta is to demonstrate and test the combat and combat related abilities.

Strength (STR) - determines a character's damage modifiers and maximum carry weight.
Dexterity (DEX) - determines a character's Action Points and combat sequence.
Constitution (CON) - determines a character's Hit Points and poison resistance.
Perception (PER) - determines a character's range and accuracy modifiers.
Intelligence (INT) - determines a character's bonus Skill Points, received per 10 SP earned.
Charisma (CHA) - determines a character's reaction modifiers.

Derived statistics:

Hit Points (HP) - determines how much damage a character can soak up before dying, you're dead if it reaches 0 or less. (HP = CON x 5 + 5)
Action Points (AP) - determines how many actions a character can make during a combat turn. Different actions have varying action cost. (AP = DEX + 2)

Please note that once determined during the character creation phase, your character's HP will not be increased - unlike many other RPGs, there are no character progression levels and the HP value is static throughout the game. Consider your decisions carefully.


3. ATTACK TYPES

All weapons (except for crossbows) have fast, normal, and power attack options.

Normal attacks (key: n) - standard attacks that have no modifiers.
Fast attacks (key: f) - cause less damage, costs one AP less, but are more difficult to avoid. Generally most effective against fast, lightly armored opponents.
Power attacks (key: p) - cause a lot more damage, costs an extra AP, but are easier to avoid. Generally most effective against slow, heavy armored opponents.

Aimed attacks - aimed attacks all cost two extra AP's and have different to-hit penalties:

Torso – normal damage range, no penalty, chance to find a weak spot in the armor. (DR halved)
Arms – fast damage range, -10% to hit, disarms on a successful hit.
Legs – fast damage range, -20% to hit, cripples (movement cost doubled) on a successful hit.
Head – power damage range, -30% to hit, but a chance of knocking the opponent out.

Special attacks: whirlwind (melee weapons), impale (spears only), flurry (daggers only), multishot (bows only), burst (repeater crossbow only). Due to time constraints, not all special attacks are available in this beta.

The versatility of crossbows comes from the different designs available: one-handed, double-shot, scoped, repeating with a magazine, etc. Unlike bows, crossbows have to be manually reloaded. You can right-click on a weapon to see the options available.

Certain weapons are more suited for either fast or power attacks and thus provide an increased damage range when used with these attacks. For example, a simple dagger does 1-6 damage for a normal strike, 1-3 damage for a fast strike, and 2-8 damage for a power attack. However, a curved dagger is better suited for fast, slashing attacks and less suited for powerful thrusts, so its damage ranges are 1-6 normal, 1-4 fast, and 2-7 for power attacks. However, a wide-bladed dagger is the opposite, so its damage ranges are 1-6 normal, 1-2 fast, and 2-9 for power attacks.


4. CRITICAL STRIKES

The likelyhood of critical strikes is governed by the attackers critical strike skill compared with the defenders vs critical score, which is the higher of armour vsCritical, shield vsCritical, or 0.6 x CS-skill. Strikes to the head are compared to the higher of the helmet vsCritical or 0.6 x CS-skill. It's very important once your character is pitted against more skillful and experienced opponents that they have some defense against critical strikes, as many fights are all but decided by well placed or lucky blows. Even if you're build like a tank, getting stabbed in the liver puts a crimp in anyone's style and longevity!


5. WEAPONS


All weapons have 3 important statistics: damage range, attack speed in action points, and reach. Additionally, crossbows have fire/reload speed and, in some cases, multi shot capacity. Some weapons have special abilities like ignoring shields or cutting into the enemy's armor more effectively.

The game offers eight different types of weapon. Each type has its own passive trait that increases along with your skill with the weapon. The higher the skill, the higher the chance to score the special effect associated with your weapon.

Daggers - bypass armor.
Swords - increased chance of a Critical Strike.
Axes - split shields.
Hammers - knock your opponent to the ground.
Spears - interrupt attempts to close in.
Bows - increased chance of Critical Strike.
Crossbows - knock your opponent down.
Throwing - bypass armor.


6. ARMOR

Armor doesn't increase your chance to avoid attacks. In fact, it makes hits more likely as it reduces your mobility and makes it harder to dodge incoming attacks. However, armor absorbs some of the damage from attacks when you fail to dodge or block an attack successfully. Basically, using armor trades Dodge and Action Points for Damage Resistance.

Sets of armor have different statistics, so you must consider carefully what your fighting style is, and choose your equipment accordingly. Going for the heaviest armor and the biggest weapon may not be the best choice in Age of Decadence.

Armor statistics:

Dodge penalty, Sneak penalty - self explanatory.

Damage resistance (DR) - how many points of damage from each attack this armor absorbs. For example, if DR is 6, then the first 6 points of damage per attack will be absorbed by the armor without any harm to your character. Note that damage reported in the info window is the amount of damage taken, after the amount absorbed by the armor has been subtracted, which is also reported.

Max Action Points (MaxAP) - the maximum amount of action points per turn. If Max AP is 8, then even if you have 12AP, while you're wearing this armor your effective AP each round is 8.

Versus critical (vsCritical) - protection against Critical Strikes (attacks that target weak armor spots and vital organs).


7. HELMETS

Helmets protect the head of the wearer, however they do not add to overall defense. Their statistics are only utilised when struck on the head. Not all opponents will aim attacks at the head, but leaving it unprotected will definitely be considered an open invitation by many more experienced and skilled opponents.

Helmet statistics:

Damage resistance (DR) - usually less than most armor DR, so even if you fail to score a critical hit, you'll cause more damage if you can actually hit someone's head.

Versus critical (vsCritical) - the heavier the helmet, the better it protects you against critical strikes, but the more it limits your field of vision.

To-hit penalty - a helmet's design may limit your vision, thus reducing your to-hit chance.


8. SHIELDS

Shields are used for blocking incoming strikes depending on a fighters' skill at blocking, and is an alternative to dodging attacks. Blocking is only used when holding a shield and having a block skill which is greater than dodge. All shields, except for bucklers, have a Block bonus which is offset by a to-hit penalty. Any novice can hide behind a tower shield, but the shield strapped to their arm will slow them down and they won't be able to attack as effectively as they would have without the shield. There are times when dodge characters may want to consider using a shield for the defense against critical strikes if gives them, even with the associated dodge and to-hit penalties.

Shield statistics:

Block bonus, Dodge penalty, To-Hit penalty, Sneak penalty, Versus critical (vsCritical)

Versus Ranged (vsRanged) - shields provide superior protection against all ranged attacks, but certain weapons, like pilums and dagger-like armor-piercing bolts (30% chance) can go through shields, completely ignoring them. All shields are wooden and can be split in half by axes. Once split, a shield is discarded and can't be repaired.


9. AMMUNITION

For the sake of convenience, all arrows and bolts have been combined into universal ammo. Originally, the game had arrows and bolts, but 3 different types times 5 different metals times various crafting upgrades times 2 (arrows/bolts) was too much to manage and one universal ammo was forged by the Elven council. True story.

Ammunition types:

Regular - standard ammunition.

Armor piercing - causes less damage, but penetrates through armor better. DR is divided by 3 to determine the effective value, i.e. a DR9 armor will absorb 9 points of damage if shot at by regular ammo and only 3 points (9/3) if hit by armor-piercing ammo. There is also a 30% chance that it will pass straight through a shield, making a block ineffective.

Jagged - causes more damage, but is easily stopped by armor. DR is multiplied by 3 to determine the effective value, i.e. a DR1 armor will absorb 3 points of damage, but a DR4 armor will absorb 12 points of damage.


10. METAL TYPES & CRAFTING

The Crafting system is not available in the combat beta, but some of the later opponents in the arena will be using crafted equipment which you may find useful. In the full game, armor and helmets can be crafted to increase DR, Max AP, vsCritical, or lower penalties. Similarly with weapons to increase vsDR, decrease AP cost, or increase damage. Shields cannot be crafted in AoD.

To improve your equipment in the beta, either loot people or buy items from the local trader. The trader's inventory is updated twice – upon earning the Gladiator and Executioner ranks. There are 5 metal types in the game: Bronze, Iron, Steel, Blue Steel, Meteor. The difference between metal types is hardiness (read it as higher damage and damage resistance), weight, and price.

* * *

We'd like to remind you that this demo is solely focused on the combat of Age of Decadence. In the full version of AoD combat will be just one of many different ways to progress through the game.

Thank you for playing!
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