Stages of combat system development
1. Punishing combat system.
Our very first options were the simplest and cheapest systems from the production point of view. From the option that the discovery of the character leads to a restart of the level, we immediately abandoned it, since this, firstly, contradicts one of our principles, and secondly, creates a certain narrative problem. The fact is that the main character in our game is a military man, he is a strongly built person. A situation in which he surrenders at the slightest threat would look ridiculous.
Our main concept in this case was the so-called "punishing" combat system. We assumed that direct collision of the player with other enemies should lead to his death. This does not mean that the player dies as soon as they are discovered by the enemy. The main idea was that upon detection, the enemies tried to get to the character and if they succeeded, they were guaranteed to kill him. In this case, the player has the opportunity to damage the enemies at a distance and then disappear from view. A Plague Tale: Innocence can be considered a direct analogue of this system.
These developments, although they created the basis for further systems, have shown us the inoperability of such an approach. This system, although it met our basic principles, was perceived as foreign. We wanted to give the player the option to be aggressive if they felt confident enough, but this approach made direct confrontation ineffective for the player. We felt that we were cutting off some of the gameplay possibilities. Apart from this, the narrative question did not disappear anywhere. Yes, the character did not give up immediately, but in fact he could not offer any resistance even to a single target, which looked strange, given his military background.
This prototype did not go beyond the paper presentation, but it helped us to formulate a number of postulates that we were guided by in the future.
2. The bots take up a perimeter around the character.
The idea behind this prototype was quite simple. As was mentioned before, we wanted to push the player into stealth. In order to implement this, we had to show the player that open combat is not quite the right strategy if there are too many enemies or the player does not feel the game well enough. And how can you show the player that he is doing something wrong? Somehow to punish him - to take away health. This is how the idea of a close combat system was born, in which enemies surrounded the player and outnumbered him and caused damage. At the same time, the concept took into account that it is possible to escape from this ambush and hide from enemies.
This system worked in the following way:
There are several positions around the main character. During the beginning of the battle, the enemies choose one of the free points, depending on their position. The position selection algorithm works in this way: if one position is already selected by some bot, then the other one will select the opposite position. Thus they surround the main character.