Friday, September 11, 2015

If Only Things Could be so Convenient with these MMD Animations. Also Pt.2 on RPG Musings.

Just conducted a quick test on interchanging the animation controller between MMD models in the H demo. Unfortunately, I can't just plop the controller for one model in the components of another model. This means I'm going to have to create individual animation controllers for each character, in both H and Non-H variants. This wasn't a problem with just the 3 Miku models I've been using for personal use since I'd already compiled 1 of them previously and hadn't thought to simply interchange them up till recently. Kind of sucks since this means I'm going to have to deal with a monumental pain in the rear in setting this up for each of the models I have in mind. There is NO WAY I'm going to bother doing this for hundreds of models, so I'll probably reduce the list of models I'm going to include down to 10 or so and be done with this before the month's end. I want to spend the rest of the year on the RPG and Giant Robot Demos so spending that valuable time on this kind of a tedious process seems like a waste.

On that note, I suppose I'll flesh out the RPG combat system I mentioned yesterday. As was outlined in the previous post on locomotion, I've divided the gamepad's inputs by the center, creating a left and right half system divide between locomotion and interaction. The locomotion system, after testing, works somewhat well, though I've got some improvements in mind that will make it more versatile, whilst still being intuitive for beginners. The bigger progress has come in the form of the interactive side's sword play mechanism. From the start, the idea has been for the right shoulder joint to be placed under the control of the right analogue stick in a night 1:1 fashion. Moving the right stick up makes the arm stretch outward as far up as a flexion will allow, likewise moving all the way left would create a transverse adduction. This would make it so that you could swing around the control stick as though it were your own arm. The Right Trigger would act in this case as the control for the elbow joint (closes when you press the trigger, releases when you release). In a way, it's kind of like a charge button, except that the analogue stick on it's own does that too. So what'll it's worth be for? Guarding and special skills.

If you look at the analogue stick's functionality in the system alone, it's almost versatile enough to not need ancilliary inputs. But, one of the things you can't do with it is guard reliably. If the sword is angled for attacks in this system, it'll be great for that function, but will have no reliable way of defending. By holding down the trigger before you make an attack motion or while cancelling one, you will rotate your in game wrist, and thusly, the sword, up to 180 degrees, giving you a wider range  in any general blocking direction to either guard or parry.

To more directly visualize it, outstretch your arms before you and make a thumbs up. In my system. The direction the sword will point will be analogous to the direction of the control stick, or in this example, your finger. Now, point the thumb along the direction of your outstretched arm, and you'll get a general sense of the direction of the blade. You'll find that the direction of the blade in this kind of arrangement would be rather optimal if you wanted to attack. Swipe up then down and the blade will have a nice arc to it. This is perfect if you're going to attack, but now try to imagine defending with these motions. If you're lucky, you may be able to block an attack in the transition between one position to the other, but that's more like you're attacking to defend rather than properly defending. This is where the wrist tilt comes into play.

Outstretch your hands again, but this time, make your thumb align horizontally instead of in the direction of the arm. This is akin to being 90 degrees off from the right axis. Under these conditions, hold your arm up, then down keeping the same angle, and you'll find you've greatly expanded the area you're blocking. When doing from right and left, it's a bit trickier, but keep the thumb 90 degrees off the axis you're point your arm and you should always find you've have more range. It's more like you have a line of defense rather than a point of defense. The latter is like trying to wipe a chalk board with a single finger. It's theoretically doable, but it's just a very bad way of going about it. By comparison, this method is like grabbing a nice wide eraser and using that to wipe a way large masses at once. This is all the difference of just tilting the wrist a bit. Quite frankly, it's got me contemplating looking into the Thalmic Labs MYO again since it's got a gyro that could emulate the same function, but I've sworn off these half measures from a financial standpoint so I can't quite say I'll be able to act on these urges (but in a moment of weakness, who knows...)

The fun part now comes when you're charging an attack with both the analogue stick and the trigger now. In this case, I want to display a much greater degree of force, so I thought, "What'd be a cool way to differentiate the actions that occur with this double charge vs a regular one?" The answer, just make it a special a move. The particular idea I have in mind borrows elements from both Sword Art Online's portrayal, the leveled moves of Tales of Symphonia, the stamina systems of Monster Hunter Tri and Final Fantasy 13, and a bit of Mario RPG timing in there for good measure.

 Let's say I hold the right stick to the left and hold down the trigger, that will activate a set LV1 art that has been pre-placed prior to battle in menus, upon releasing the move. However, after successfully using the art, let's say you still have a bit of extra stamina. The enemy still staggered by the first move, you follow through within a set time frame, and activate your LV2 art. The art selection for the LV2 Arts, however, is a bit trickier as all level two arts, are composed of two moves, so your action must follow through with two trajectories. You'll want to pick what trajectory you want in this case since it can place you into a strategic location to place a LV3 art or to reposition your self in the battlefield. If you for level 3, 4, 5, and so on higher level arts, you're going to have to take into consideration how much stamina you have to dish out as well as the ever diminishing time window for higher level arts. After a point, you'll just have to stop since the timing will get so fast you can't humanly be able to accomplish it;though a certain trait of the speed stat I have in mind may be able to extend one's reach beyond what would normally be defined as "human" from a virtual perspective ;)  All in all, I wouldn't be surprised to see player pulling off arts with dozens, if not hundreds of hits in the future with some of the tricks I have in mind. This all with consideration as well for the fact that it's a balance of risk in reward between continuing a art chain and getting out. If an art is parried, or dodged, the player will suffer a stamina penalty and may be stunned. The higher level the art, the worse the downfall for failing. But, if you succeed, you'll have not movement penalty and may actually get a boost depending in movement ability depending on the art level and features.

I don't know about you, but I think this is pretty engaging from a gameplay perspective, and honestly, I wouldn't mind carrying something like this over directly into full VR as really, the control stick and triggers in this case are acting only as substitutes for what would be the player's body themselves in these situations. I didn't go into the dynamics of guarding too much from a gameplay standpoint in this post and didn't even bring up magic, so expect interesting things on that end in the future. For now though, this will be all for today as I honestly need to get some rest. I only slept about 3 hours yesterday and had to go to my labor intensive job with a bad ankle and with rain on both the drive to and from it. It's mostly a trial of my own design but it's a trial none the less.

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