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Full Version: A simple tweak to make Overture's combat a bit more accessible?
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Penumbra Overture was pretty well liked upon release but it's fair to say that the combat faced strong criticism.
Now I'm sure, being on the game's official forums, some people who are going to argue that the combat was fine, and you could master it if you took the time, etc...
Let's just say then, that the majority of users had a problem with it.

I think one could summarize the combat system's issues as follows:

You have to left click, so that moving the mouse doesn't control the camera anymore, but instead controls your weapon swipes.
The problem it creates is that once you've left clicked and mouse movement is applied to the weapon, your viewpoint is "frozen" and you can't adjust your aim according to the enemy's movement.
So you'll often miss and get hit, because the enemy has moved between the moment you left click and the moment you actually slash the weapon.

Then couldn't a fairly simple modification be worked out, that could make combat more accessible to newcomers? Just a few thoughts.

First, make crosshair always enabled.

Then, if your crosshair is positioned on an inanimate objet (basically pointing at a static element of the level), it would behave like in the current game we know.

However if you'd point your crosshair at a living, moving creature, the crosshair would change color, for example turning red.

Now if you'd left click on the mouse while the crosshair is red and positioned on a moving target, instead of freezing the viewpoint entirely, it would lock the camera onto the enemy. A square/box could maybe appear around the crosshair to signal that the enemy has indeed been locked.
This way, the camera would stay centered on the enemy as he moves towards you, and the problem of missing an enemy because his position relative to to the crosshairs changed after you left clicked would be negated. The player could still move around with the camera being locked onto the enemy, and would only have to focus on the distance between himself and the beast to time his strikes.

It seems to me that such a change could be fairly easy to implement, and would significantly streamline the combat.

Personally I know that when I played Penumbra, I dropped Overture after the first enemy encounter and jumped right into Black Plague after reading that combat had been axed entirely in the sequel.
Only after playing Black Plague did I come back to Overture, but the more frequent enemy encounters were still a problem. I think if left click had allowed you to lock onto enemies, it would have made the experience quite a bit less frustrating. New players who will try Penumbra after discovering Frictional games through Amnesia could also benefit from such a tweak to ease them into the older series.

Thanks for your attention.
The combat system isn't userfriendly in the beginning, when you play the game for first time.
But after some practise, you felt very well with the combat system.
And the combyt system is intentionally hard to control, because you should not be able to kill all enemies.
The weapons in overture are in fact, no weapons, they're only more tools to break some planks or doors.

You can kill enemies, but it's not the goal of the game.

I really like the combat system, it increased atmosphere and gives the player more actions.
You might be a hardcore fan, but even after playing for several hours, it still didn't feel right to me, and message boards are full of people to whom it never felt right. So that must say something. Forcing you to temporarily freeze the camera to fend off such fast enemies is not wise.
Fact is, the developer removed combat entirely from the second game.

But to make the gameplay work without weapon in Black Plague, they also drastically reduced the number of enemy encounters. Plus they changed enemy types and attacks.

In Overture however, enemies are very frequent, their jumping attacks are not really fit for the controls, and it's harder to run away from foes altogether.
So Overture might not be designed for all out combat, but it doesn't feel balanced all that well for pure stealth either, especially since it's pretty hard to avoid the first encounter with the dog and several spider attacks.

That's why, as a lesser evil, I'm intrigued to imagine how a slight tweak to the combat system like the one in my original message might affect the playing experience in Overture.
I was happy with Overture. I've just got onto playing Black Plague and it seems a lot more stealth based. Combat isn't the main objective with any of FG's work. Overture requires the player to be stealthy, only with the dogs. You can easily get around them if you have the patience. The spiders is just being quick and getting around the maze (and a bit of luck)

The tools can be used as weapons, but are not the main purpose. I managed to kill 1 dog, took me long enough. I then attempted a second, he ran away and called for back up haha. So I would't recommend it Tongue
You understand something wrong with the combat system.
The game never should be for fighting. It never was the goal of the game.
The problem is, that people don't understand this and have a wrong opinion inspired by other games where you have to fight back your enemies.
But Penumbra isn't a fun game.
You should not kill the enemies, you don't have to think, why it is so hard to kill the spiders.
The fact is, why are you trying to kill them?
Don't try to kill enemies, when the combat system is too hard. Run away or hide!
The weapons are only tools to break down objects, not for fighting. You can fight, of course, but it's not the goal of the game and thereby the combat system isn't userfriendly to make fights not easy.
You shouldn't think it is meant for fighting. It only gives you the option to fight.
They never removed the combat system in Black Plague, they only remove the weapons and that is because of the story.

It's a very good idea to feel the player even more helpless. You are more helpless when you lose your weapons, rather than to have never had them.
(01-23-2012, 04:54 PM)Googolplex Wrote: [ -> ]@masa2009
They never removed the combat system in Black Plague, they only remove the weapons and that is because of the story.

That is simply not true. Developers acknowledged in several interviews that they removed weapons for gameplay reasons.

Disliking the weapon controls has nothing to do with understanding the game or not. Anyway you look at it, freezing the camera while you wield an object towards the enemy is not a valuable way to convey a preferred style of gameplay.

Whether the developers wanted you do be stealthy or at least be able to defend yourself, this is not valuable feedback to the player.

It is a matter of balanced gameplay. If it worked so well as a stealth game, why did they reduce the encounter rate in the second game? Why did they change enemies?

Even the devs are not making excuses for that design choice, so why are you trying to prove it was right?

All I'm saying is that, while most people hated it, that combat system might just be a quick fix away from actually being fun.

(01-23-2012, 07:15 PM)masa2009 Wrote: [ -> ]All I'm saying is that, while most people hated it, that combat system might just be a quick fix away from actually being fun.
Penumbra isn't a fun game.

And it's good to have a combat system that isn't easy to accessible.
When it would be easy, everyone decided to kill enemies and that is not what the game wants.
The real problem is, that the players aren't informed what Penumbra is.
When you pick up a hammer means not that you should fight.
Only the people thought that and they automatically means to fight, but if you see, they can't fight really accessible with the weapons and this is good.
Of course, the combat system becomes really user-friendly after a while.
But you have to accept, that Penumbra isn't a fight game only when you can swing a rusty hammer.

They don't change enemies, they only let's the infected came to.
And this is even because of the story.

But when you have an other opinion, don't play Overture, the best of Frictionals masterpieces!
Accessible isn't just about being easy, it's about making sense. Yes, it would probably make the game easier because the tweak I'm describing would be mere a fix tacked onto an existing game. But that's not the goal. The goal is to avoid difficulty that's artifical, where the challenge is the product of a clearly videogamey, mechanical limitation that has nothing to do with what happens in the gameworld.

I still fail to see how freezing the camera is a pertinent way of encouraging players not to tackle enemies head on? It is not even a constraint that has any rooting in reality. So why would I accept such a bizarre restriction, not as a gameplay oversight, but as a subtle way of discouraging the player to use weapons against living creatures?

It's obvious the enemies were changed to justify the new gameplay. You think that the absence of dogs and spiders is only because the story called for it?

Finally, I'm not chosing to play a game based on my opinion of it. I play the game, and only then can I forge an opinion.
If we were to tweak something in Penumbra, could we make the infected faster and more persistent? That way I could take them seriously.
(01-24-2012, 01:27 AM)GetAgrippa Wrote: [ -> ]If we were to tweak something in Penumbra, could we make the infected faster and more persistent? That way I could take them seriously.

I think, I can do that.

I've done already a mod that you can kill the infected with dynamite or boxes.
But I can't recommend that, because may it caused issues in special events.

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