Friday, April 16, 2010

The Controls/Movement: Initial Concept

Yeah yeah, I've got plot, characters, all that jazz to get to, but I felt that it would first be a better idea to present the control and the movement system, especially considering the last post referenced the various modes. So here we're going to get the first explanation of how the player will control the game. The system that Sonic and the Legend of Atlantis will be using is very different from conventional games, so I will also need to explain how the controls relate to the player characters actions.

Controller Setup:

SatLoA will require use of both the Wiimote and the Nunchuck. The motionplus attachment will not be needed. The player will not be required to do anything out of the ordinary with the controllers, they will be used in their default configeration.

A learning curve that the player will experience with the controls is the shift in how the game is controlled via button layout between the different types of player character movement. The separate camera types are used to improve the players sense of placement during the various movement types (Slow, High-Speed, Combat and underwater varients) and are directly tied to the actions the player takes. So what the player is currently doing affects the control layout for the game. There are four layouts: one each for Slow, High-Speed, Combat and Swimming movement. Each is very similar, but slightly different.

Basic Controls: Regardless of the movement state the player is in, overall functions will stay the same. The nunchuck's thumbstick will always be used to control player movement, buttons will largely retain the same functions (such as A being the jump button), the action will simply be modified to suite the current movement set.

Note: Each section below is labeled with the attached camera setup name for simplicity.

Slow speed is the default state that the player will be in when starting from a stop. This is the control/movement set best suited for platforming, jumping, etc. The player will control their character as one would expect: The joystick will move the player character, A will cause them to jump, B, Z and C will execute special actions (such as Spindash) in addition to the down arrow. In this mode, the player character will move as one would expect for a platform game (although quicker, think of Mario Galaxy but a bit faster). However, if the player picks up enough speed over time (or double taps in a direction), their character will switch into High-Speed (which would be signified by a visual character cue, Sonic for example would assume a fast running stance with arms back).

High Speed must be entered by reaching a certain speed or by double-tapping the thumbstick in a direction and holding that direction (which simply accelerates quicker, it will not be instant). High speed is the classic Sonic speed, where the player runs forward at high speeds and rounds loop the loops and mobius strips. In this mode, the players control of their character becomes more like a racing game. They are only able to turn at certain rates (character based), the faster they go, the harder it is to turn. The controls are tweaked slightly to reflect this: They no longer turn on a dime, cannot reverse direction (without a long rubbery stop, classic style) and actions change (spindash simply sends Sonic into a roll. If the player slows enough/stops, they will re-enter Slow mode. High-Speed also adds a new function: whipping the Wiimote to the right or left will cause the player character to make a short diagonal movement in that direction (functions as a light attack). The player will have an additional "drift"-like ability that will enable them to make sharp angles without losing vast amounts of speed.

Combat mode is entered by initiating an attack on an enemy. At any point in the game, if an enemy is nearby and the player slashes the controller while pressing the thumbstick in that direction, their character will launch themselves at the enemy in a dash attack. This will cause combat to be entered (changing the camera and controls). Slashing the Wiimote in conjunction with holding a direction on the thumbstick will launch the player character at an enemy in that direction, but using different button combination's will ensure different attacks and abilities. The player cannot block, but is able to combo quickly. Players will combine the dash attack with various buttons to achieve different attack moves and chain large combos as they bounce from enemy to enemy. Since a single enemy may take multiple hits and the dash (outside of a finishing move) will do the most damage, the combat will resemble strategic pinball, with the player character bouncing between enemies at an extremely fast pace and using different attacks and powers to set themselves up for success.

Example: A player comes across three enemies in a triangle formation, point towards him. He dashes the first, dealing a quick three attack flurry, and then dashes to the rightmost enemy before the first counters. The rightmost blocks, so he dashes the leftmost, then the first in quick succession. Hitting the first from behind, the player uses a special ability that tosses the first into the rightmost, dashes the left with a leaping attack that knocks it into spikes (therefore defeating it) and then uses a powerful combo finish attack to destroy the last two before they can untangle themselves. Additionally, if the player ends a combo with certain moves, he may immediately regain high-speed mode by dashing in the desired direction, allowing combat to seamlessly take place without interrupting High-Speed.

At any time a player can cancel combat by dashing away from the enemies. Also, a player does not need to initiate combat, they may simply attack with traditional means. In event of drop-offs, the game will not let the player dash off of the edge (excepting an aerial dash on flying enemies).

Underwater Slow, High-Speed and Combat:
Underwater, these movement types will function identical to above ground, although a bit slower due to water pressure.

Swimming (High-Speed and Combat):
Using Sonic's underwater form (more on that later), the player may at any time enter swim mode my double-jumping. In this mode, the game will only use High-Speed and Combat cameras regardless of how slowly the player moves. When swimming, the players controls will be akin to flying: They will be able to angle up and down (even do full loop the loops) in addition to controlling their character in a method almost identical to High-Speed movement on land (save forward movement). Instead of pressing forward to move, they will press and hold A to swim (tap a for quick bursts), and can combine this with a controller slash (and directional press on the thumbstick) to suddenly change direction underwater (it is limited however, off a surface/enemy kicks are better). Combat is similar to above ground but with slight changes to accommodate the underwater three-dimensional movement. If the player dashes into a surface (floor, ceiling or wall) they will be able to kick off at an opposing angle. They may sit on that surface for a time before falling (which will switch them into standard underwater movement mode, although they may switch back to swimming as they fall). So to return to normal underwater movement, the player will dash into the floor and then press the thumbstick the direction that they wish to go.

And there you have it! the movement/controls concept for SatLoA. What do you think?


  1. That sounds so crazy, it just might work. One question though. How will the game not allow the player to dash off an edge in the event of a drop off. Like you said movement won't stop on a dime, so I take it the idea of an invisible wall is out of the question. Is there going to be a mechanism, like for instance, Sonic see the edge ahead and warns the player to slow down? Or he automatically slows down himself to avoid falling? Or am I just completely missing something?

  2. The player can still run off of a ledge in normal circumstances. In combat though, when performing a short dash, if the player character makes a dash attack in a direction where there is no enemy and there is a drop off in the player path, the dash will simply be shorter and stop before the edge. A dash attack is kind of like a lunge, so it's very conceivable that the player character could come up short when needed.

    Other then the dash, it's entirely possible for the player to send their character careening off of an edge. However, since bottomless pits are not par for frequent design, this means that they player will simply find themselves in a lower location (and may have to work their way back up).

    As far as invisible walls go, I am working on ways to keep the player fixed within level boundaries without resorting to the invisible walls, or at least make those wall plausible for the player.