A Character’s Weapon Proficiency

So, if it’s not incredibly obvious by now, Arashi’s main focus is entirely on the sword as a weapon – this is even one of the central themes of her story. Given that she, unlike other realtime RPG heroes, actually has a party to support her I’m not so worried about her weapon variety as other action RPGs are.  In solo character action RPGs, I can understand the main character being able to use different weapons for different situations because it’s part of the strategy and puzzle solving, but the problem there is how can someone be able to use every weapon they pick up with perfect proficiency, limited only by the player’s ability to use the controls?

I have been toying with letting Arashi use generic weapons in the Item Wheel, which is effectively dual-wielding her sword and say… a spear or gun.  But the problem is that she is just not meant to be skilled with any weapons other than her main, so using a gun for example would be inefficient and woefully inaccurate.  I’ve been trying to determine if I should bother with this implementation or not, because I don’t want to completely lampshade the fact there may be a beginner-level use for the long reach of a spear or ranged attack of a gun, but I also don’t want the players to rely heavily on a weapon that detracts from Arashi’s main training as a blademaster.

So, the main options I have here:

  • Arashi is only able to use her swords, and no other weapon (except regular tools and spells)
  • Arashi can use weapons but with very low accuracy and attack speed – for example, firing a gun would take her time to aim before firing one shot, and even then it wouldn’t necessarily hit even if the enemy is lined up. Not to say that a stray bullet wouldn’t hit something nearby…
  • Arashi can use weapons with normal, player-controlled proficiency, but they are balanced to be weaker and possibly slower recovery times to counter their other advantages.  Long reload times for ammunition-based weaponry.
  • Have a set number of secondary weapons she can use in the Item Wheel in tandem with the sword, but their effectiveness is directly influenced by the training Disciplines in her main weapon.  This makes the most sense fitting with the theme of the game, but also changes the nature of combat drastically.  This would also be the hardest to implement and take even more time to do…

What would you find most fun?

About Nightfox

A long-time independent game developer that was lucky(?) enough to have grown up with the gaming industry. I am a programmer, a game designer, a concept and pixel artist, a music composer, and a novelist. This has been my dream for as long as I can remember, and I am determined to take advantage of every talent I hope I have to make it happen!

12 thoughts on “A Character’s Weapon Proficiency

  1. I would say either the first or third option myself, mostly depending on how you envision combat to be at the end. While you say that the last option fits with the theme the best, it doesn’t seem like that was exactly what you had envisioned originally, else it would be easier to implement and use, or the question wouldn’t be an issue at all.
    As an RPG, however, I doubt that you have any plans for multiplayer in the game, which, to me, would be the main reason for giving the player the option for a character to use an out of the ordinary weapon, or am I looking at this wrong?

  2. you’re absolutely correct, this wasn’t something I had planned from the beginning of the design. This is more of a result of discussions with other people offline, and the reason I posed the question to begin with – is this really an important issue or not? I personally don’t think it is, but thought I’d write this blog discussing it; the player and story is framed on Arashi’s mastery of this unique sword style, and alternate weapons would just take away from that.
    As for multiplayer, it WAS something I had originally envisioned in the first draft of the design document, but more in the vein of Secret of Mana since this game isn’t really personal-avatar based where you could invite friends to play as the other party members. I since dropped it to focus on the main game… if it finds a way to work later on, I can always patch it in 🙂

  3. One thing I rather liked about how Alpha Protocol did weapon accuracy is if you’re skilled with a weapon you’re able to line up your sights quicker when focusing on a target. (Assassins Creed had a similar delayed aiming system for the guns, though not stat based obviously.) I think 2 would be appropriate for ranged combat, but I don’t know that you need to leave 1 either. As I don’t usually go for melee weapons when given a choice, there’s not much else I can add. 🙂

  4. Deus Ex actually had that same system in place, surprised you didn’t mention it 😉 And now that you bring it up… well I’ll think about it. The game design is complete enough as is, this was just an idea I mulled over as a potential incentive to spec Arashi out the way the player is more comfortable with. Her weapon skills are mainly where her ranged attacks are.

  5. Yeah it’s a pretty common aiming system in FPRPGs. It’s only obnoxious in the original Mass Effect where you were a battle hardened soldier who couldn’t hit the side of a barn at first. Heh.

  6. I’d say option One or Four.

    One seems in line with your vision. Four seems like it wouldn’t stray too far away from it.

    On the other hand, Four has the same problem as Two and Three – you didn’t design your gameplay around them to begin with, so shoehorning them in could potentially be a massive undertaking to do it right (at least a complete rebalance of difficulty) or simply never mesh with the game well. If you limit the secondary weapon usefulness, they’ll probably feel tacked on and lackluster to use. A Situational gimmick that doesn’t really add much. Four and Three avoids that to one degree or another, but Three detracts from your vision of the character.

    Which leaves option Four or a redesign of the character.

  7. @Rythe: Yeah, I was really thinking about it and this comment sealed the deal. I think it’s too deep into the game as-is now to change something so drastically, even if it fits neatly into the character progression system I have in place. Not to mention my main point that it really doesn’t fit the story, which is supposed to be a framework for the gameplay in almost any game. If there’s a disconnect that drastic it won’t have the impact I’m going for.

  8. You’re overthinking the problem dude, you already have your solution, GUNBLADE! lol, but seriously, Magic should be enough of a support for those who want projectile attacks. As for a longer reach, how about a longer sword why not? An obscenely long Sephirothian Katana for instance with a longer swing time but better reach. Maybe a sword that uses a bit if MP to do a bit of a Zelda-esque sword beam attack for those who want projectiles. The swords in your universe only have the limitations that you place on them. Being a Blademaster could just as easily mean that she is adept at the use of many types of blades.

    Of course that could have the side-effect of creating too powerful a character, but it makes more sense than giving her weapons she’s not used to. And could add some skill in knowing when to implement the right sword for the right job. You could evne make some of the custom swords a challenge to find.

  9. @Keith I think you may be on to something with the longer reach swords, there are nodachi at least I can take advantage of. I’m not worried about it being too powerful, I’m sure there’s some kind of offset I could come up with.

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