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The Secrets of Brutality: God of War's Combat Design
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The Secrets of Brutality: God of War's Combat Design


June 11, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next
 

When you are designing combat for the series, it means you have a balance between making technical, deep gameplay that people play and uncover and strategize, and gameplay for people who just want to wail on something with a big fucking chain.

JM: It's always a tough point that we think about every game, because God of War is very popular. I'm not going to lie; we do get knocked occasionally for being a little too accessible, a little too easy and straightforward. We want to make sure that most of the fans get the experience, no matter what. Our game is not designed to be one that is going to make you cry, beat you over the head, and be like "You die. Back to the start."

It's like we want it to feel good throughout. So we've got to make sure that things aren't too painful or too hard, but there's enough there with your different abilities, different items, different things that you can use for yourself, different moves, and different specials.

With Kratos in particular, in the past, a lot of his moves got the job done even if you didn't explore the depth of his move set. The multiplayer is going to be a little bit different than that, because multiplayer, you're going to have to pretty much know your character a little bit better in order to know how to counter, when to counter, and what to counter with.

Do you give thought into doing alternate weapon sets? Obviously with God of War, you're typically constrained to one weapon.

JM: I know what you're saying, yeah, yeah. It's always that line, where it's like, you want to make things advanced -- and with the Cestus last game, we did experiment [prior to release] with a few things that are a little bit more technical, and stuff like that. But once we simplified it back down, suddenly everyone was raving within the studio. We were like, "Okay." People just want to get it done, sometimes.

And when we released the game, it seemed like people agreed where it was like, "Ah, Cestus feels strong. Cestus feels good." So, the single player component of the game is always one where it's a mix of wanting to learn as much as you can about your character, and stuff like that, but not forcing you to do that. Because most of the fan base is not going to learn everything. You've got to make it work for, I guess, all players.

And then the multiplayer, we're also trying to attempt the same thing in that, even though I mentioned earlier that there's more importance here, in knowing your move set -- because obviously you need to know how to counter and know what to counter with. But there's also things in the level that help balance it out for the guy who isn't going to learn that.

So like in this demo we showed today, we showed a guy pick up a club, which is very strong, and can boot the guys like miles away, out of the arena. We showed traps that they can use to impale guys, and things like that, where it's like if you're not a master of learning the combat system, you can pretty much wrap your head around a giant club that knocks everybody out of the arena.

When it comes to something like environmental traps, or something like that, is that something where you interface with the level designers?

JM: Yes, yes.

It's kind of a cross point between combat and level design, right?

JM: It is a cross. I mean, a lot of our traps that are in there right now were constructed by level design, because they really liked the idea of it. Obviously, they love the mechanic. But we like it too, because it does, again, provide that element where you don't have to know much about your own character to know how to use a trap. You could literally have no moves, no attacks at all, and still be able to operate this trap and get people to tall into it.

So yeah, it's something that is a link between combat and level design, but in all honesty, in multiplayer, almost everything is a link, because depending on their placement, height differences, navigation, climb points, and stuff like that, there's a lot of things that we have to make sure work. Not to mention the camera and everything else involved.

You're talking about accessibility, and sort of being on that line of accessible and deep. Do you have a rule of thumb about how many moves, how differentiated you want the moves, that kind of thing? Some of those other games that we've talked about can have really crazy long move sets.

JM: I guess what we find is that we don't want you to have to memorize. That's a fine line, because, like I said, you do have to remember some things. What I mean by memorize is remembering things like, "Okay, to do this combo, I gotta go Square Square Square Triangle Square Triangle Square" or something like that, where it's like, how are you going to remember this? Who is going to remember this? The only people that are going to remember this are people that are staring at that book, or people who are really hardcore and into it.

So we try to lean against kind of the design that follows that mold. With Kratos, for example, whenever you use Triangle, whenever you do those things, you kind of can anticipate what he's going to do before he does it, even if it's not exactly the same as what you expect. You kind of can anticipate it, just based upon the rulebook that we provide on each of the buttons. So, I think we do a pretty good job of that right now.

Some of the more hardcore things -- which is funny, it may not seem hardcore to a gamer -- but just launching someone is hardcore in God of War, because it's kind of a hidden mechanic. It's like, hold Triangle. Most people don't hold Triangle, so most people don't launch. But the person that's actually looking for a few things like that may find them. We always try to intersperse a little bit of that in the game.


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