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Blocking vs dodging in action games

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1Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Blocking vs dodging in action games on Wed May 27, 2020 3:51 pm

Infinity_Divide

Infinity_Divide
A-Rank
I apologize if this has been discussed already, but I didn’t see anything after skimming through topics.

So I’ve been playing the Wonderful 101 Remaster, and as much as I adore the game for its creativity and how beautifully it handles resource management, one thing about it still bothers me: how it handles blocking. There are a lot of attacks in the game that can’t be blocked, which is understandable, but the problem I have with it is how these attacks are conveyed to the player.

I haven’t played the game in a while, so I don’t remember all enemy attacks or behaviors, and when I go to block some attacks I just eat damage, and it seems hard to tell what is blockable and what isn’t. There seems to be a general rule that any kind of blunt attack can be blocked, but even that is inconsistent. The tank enemy exposes a circular cannon and fires a ball that can be blocked, but the big enemies open a circular cannon that shoots out a fire, which can’t be blocked. Some attacks that enemies slam on top of you can be blocked, others can’t, etc.

In something like classic GoW, typically enemies of a certain size were just unblockable(cyclops)with the occasional regular enemy having a heavily telegraphed unblockable(Minotaur), which to me always made sense. The dodge didn’t take any kind of resource but gave you great distance, which pairs nicely with the block.

And obviously you have something like DMC3, where every attack is nicely telegraphed and is fair game to blocks and dodges. I like to see a bit of variance with enemy immunities/weaknesses, but I think DMC3-5 have a very clear, logical system in place.

MGR simply color coded attacks into what can be parried and what can’t, which seems cheap, but it goes a long way in ensuring you always have an understanding of what’s going on and can always be on the offensive.

On the other end, we have something like God Hand, which lacks a block function entirely, but there’s separate dodges and, in my opinion, enemy attacks and animations blend with your dodges incredibly well, and the dodging feels very intuitive. In this instance I think it was a fantastic idea to omit blocking in order to put all of the effort into making every enemy attack have dodging in mind completely.

I think anyone on here who knows me by now knows that in terms of action games I tend to lean more into shooters(RE4/Evil Within/Vanquish/ZoE2 if you want to call it a shooter), and I think part of it is because this guesswork is almost entirely gone. In RE4, you can simply walk backwards to avoid grabs, this isn’t something that works sometimes, this is the way the game was built. If you see an enemy projectile coming your way, you know it can be shot, etc. In something like Vanquish, you have regenerating health to lean into if you make a mistake, and the boost/slomo are workarounds to hitscan weapons. Like God Hand, I feel this just comes naturally, and is intuitive.

But I think the biggest thing here is with ZoE2, since it does have unblockable attacks, but these tend to have a certain visual style to them(usually yellow/orange) and have a slow travel time, while all projectiles that can be blocked are a bit faster. Enemy melee attacks also always come out in the order of blockable->unblockable, so you always have a fair shot when you’re cornered. The dodge maybe isn’t as good as some other titles, but the block was handled in a way that it doesn’t need to be any better imo.

Sorry for the weird ramble, what do you all think? Do I just suck more at melee-based action games than everyone else here? Any games that you think handle this really well?

2Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Wed May 27, 2020 11:14 pm

Birdman


Moderator
I hate the traffic light system.

There's just no need for it. It's not like your save gets deleted or your game explodes if you get hit and haven't learned how to deal with attacks.

I learned every attack in the Onimusha series. It has tons of attacks that can't be blocked, put you in heavy block stun, can't be side stepped due to being full spinning, can't be Issened. All you have are the animations and you don't know until you get put in a state or get hit. Then you know.

3Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Wed May 27, 2020 11:28 pm

Phoenix Wright

Phoenix Wright
C-Rank
I've only played the KH games, and as far as I remember, unblockable stuff in 1 and 2 made sense. I don't think I've ever died in those games due to attempting to block something that couldn't be blocked/parried.

4Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Thu May 28, 2020 3:17 am

Infinity_Divide

Infinity_Divide
A-Rank
>traffic light system

I’m not the biggest fan either, it’s one of those systems that’s lazy but it works. I prefer when games organically telegraph things for the player.

>game doesn’t explode if you get hit

You’re not playing the right games then! I think it frustrates me in this particular case because of just how much things vary, it’s almost every enemy that I have to guess. Couple that with the fact that I literally just can’t see what’s hitting me most of the time because there’s so much stuff on the screen, and it can become kind of frustrating.

>KH

Those games are almost the opposite for me as W101, I would mostly dodge attacks since the dodge is so good, and I would slowly incorporate the block and would be surprised by how many attacks are blockable.

Just to make things clear, I didn’t make this thread to complain about W101, I think it’s a spectacular game with incredibly creative mechanics. But the way some things are handled made me think about how it’s typically done in other games, and what usually works well.

5Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Thu May 28, 2020 3:51 am

Birdman


Moderator
>it’s almost every enemy that I have to guess.

Yeah but it only takes a few 'mistakes' to figure it out. If I'm playing a game and I block something successfully first try, I'm still going to sit there and find out if everything else that enemy can do is blockable or not. Did this with CL counter hits.

I think it's fine that you just find out by playing and know for next time. Like I said, nothing bad happens when you mess up. You have unlimited tries.

You give the perfect example of how I learn.

The tank enemy exposes a circular cannon and fires a ball that can be blocked, but the big enemies open a circular cannon that shoots out a fire, which can’t be blocked.

Now you know. Now that unblockable fire can't get you anymore. You just had to get hit to see it.

6Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Sat May 30, 2020 6:59 am

vert1

vert1
D-Rank
Sometimes uncertainty makes the combat better. Ninja Gaiden 2's skeleton boss has an attack where it kicks debris at Ryu, which will vanquish Ryu. I never figured out exactly how this move can be stopped. That made it scarier and the boss more intimidating.

@Infinity_Divide wrote:The tank enemy exposes a circular cannon and fires a ball that can be blocked, but the big enemies open a circular cannon that shoots out a fire, which can’t be blocked.
Seems reasonable in this instance that an elemental attack inflicts additional pain breaking the heroes standard defense (e.g., Zelda games where blocking a fire attack would burn through your defense [i.e. deku shield]).

I think anyone on here who knows me by now knows that in terms of action games I tend to lean more into shooters(RE4/Evil Within/Vanquish/ZoE2 if you want to call it a shooter), and I think part of it is because this guesswork is almost entirely gone.
Although I haven't gotten around to playing Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, I have read and looked at pictures from a Japanese Videogame Artbook Interview to understand the effort put into distinguishing explosions; it really is visually clear and well-thought out as you wrote. I do want to mention a similar title known as Senko no Ronde, a head-to-head STG, where you are dodging tons of shots and are able to block to reduce damage taken. It gets interesting when it comes to destroying the opponent's Rondo: when knocked to 0 HP, Rondos get 'wakeup invincibility' that cancels all attacks on-screen. They then will resume movement and will be destroyable by any hit. There is a special activation mode available in this state.

In Metroid: Other M, Samus cannot block attacks. Any incoming attack will activate a warning color display, which is done in a visually natural/tasteful way. Just like in Senko no Ronde, you cannot be flat out destroyed*: Samus enters Concentration (a stationary health recovery move) at 0 HP. In a certain sense she 'blocks' OHKO moves, although cutscenes bypass this game rule. What I really thought was surprising in this dodge-oriented game was discovering that certain attacks absolutely cannot be dodged, and this led me to a particular situation where I expected to dodge an enemy's attack it was charging only for it to fire out an undodgeable laser leaving Samus in critical health. With a non-reactive (or manual) dodge input this situation would unlikely occur being most likely replaced by the player's skill in actively utilizing i. frames timed in an incredibly tight dodge window.

All of this is to say that there is an underlying interest in design around taking a hit with these two games; one game centers around VS mode, the other an isolated world against non-humans. Sometimes I think the combat system is made more sensible in translating it around a VS mode, but sometimes it really is better suited for 1 player adventure.


One thing you mention is how an ordinary projectile, a physical cannon ball, can be stopped. But how does that work if the cannon ball is now spiked? The level of interaction sure has changed on what constitutes bump damage (a lot of games now let you jump on top of enemies where before you'd bounce off).

In RE4, you can simply walk backwards to avoid grabs, this isn’t something that works sometimes, this is the way the game was built. If you see an enemy projectile coming your way, you know it can be shot, etc. In something like Vanquish, you have regenerating health to lean into if you make a mistake, and the boost/slomo are workarounds to hitscan weapons. Like God Hand, I feel this just comes naturally, and is intuitive.
Resident Evil 4 definitely does have the fear of taking any hits and the ensuing situation down pat. I think you already mentioned this for another game, but yeah, if the enemy is non-regular (or scary looking), it can probably kill with one attack. When done right like in RE4 you've got OHKO attacking enemies interspersed with enemies who only do regular attacks, and it feels exciting rather than trivial or irritable. Any idea if you were taking unintended damage in duels or group battles in TW101? While this only happened once (and what an impression it made), I remember getting comboed to death by Novistadors from full health (flying Novistador kick -> Novistador immediately slashes Leon after kippup -> Novistaor kicks Leon down for good).

On the other end, we have something like God Hand, which lacks a block function entirely, but there’s separate dodges and, in my opinion, enemy attacks and animations blend with your dodges incredibly well, and the dodging feels very intuitive. In this instance I think it was a fantastic idea to omit blocking in order to put all of the effort into making every enemy attack have dodging in mind completely.
Agreed. But I have to add that on the flip side, I think enemies becoming block-to-parrying hit-happy in God Hand on Hard Mode stilted the flow of combat too much from my experience; it's nice having a certain amount of leniency in going to LVL 2 and then LVL 3 difficulty before finally engaging in mandatory timing counter-strats to blocking opponents as a focal point.  

Sorry for the weird ramble, what do you all think? Do I just suck more at melee-based action games than everyone else here? Any games that you think handle this really well?
Maybe it’s another issue of TW101 having so much going on: new type of combat system being meagerly explained; having to buy the Block Ability PowerUP instead of having it as a default move; the struggle of having to play the game at a level of an unhittable player (e.g., combo-ability, rank system) alongside the more noticeable powerdrop seeing heroes scattered when taking a hit; the pass/fail events..

*Normal Mode

7Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Sat May 30, 2020 10:18 pm

Royta/Raeng

Royta/Raeng
Admin
I think, at the end of the day, there's only one key difference and that's the appeal of the animation. Because what the dodge and block do is completely dependant on the frame-data tied to it and how it responds to things. I've seen blocks that are fast and push your forward and dodges that are slow and static, vice versa and all other possible variations.

Generally speaking though of the games I've played I like the dodge more since it's easier to know if it will work or not. Blocking, outside of traffic lights (which can always be made to be difficulty dependant i.e. Batman), is always unfair the first time through. You don't know if you can block all of Zeus's punches in GoW3 or if that one falling rock will break your guard or not. Then there's games that make it even more convoluted like NG:B where each weapon has different stats for blocking. There's a lot of experimentation to it, which is also the mechanic's strenght I'd say. The dodge is very binary, but the block gets really binary too if you oversimplify it like in Sekiro where everything can be blocked except Kanji attacks. There's zero experimentation then. So it's fun at first since it immediately works, but has less lasting value. MGR:R bypasses this imo by how the block has numerous versions and can be canceled into a dodge which can be canceled into Blade Mode.

With the dodge it is simple. You evade the move or your timing was off. That and it tends to feel more agressive. While a block is more defensive and still a 'failure' mentally, since they did lay a hand on you. You also tend to be a lot more static in terms of options, but granted that's game dependant. Blocks are more commonly used as cancels though compared to dodges, mostly in thanks to their quick animations.

I do think that blocking is also less popular since most blocks in games just have a lot of recovery frames. In most action games you can't really punish after a block, but you can easily punish after a dodge. That and the way the moves are designed tends to see the dodge allowing for you to stay on the offensive more.

> debris kick NGII
You actually dodge towards it of all things. Was stuck on that attack for a while too.

> W101
Doesn't that game mostly use certain themes though for its attacks. Like spiked and fire attacks cannot be blocked, since your block is basically jellow?

> God Hand
Always prefered Normal too, but more because I love its leveling system. Hard just being stuck to LVLDIE felt like a lazy decision imo.

https://stinger.actieforum.com

8Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Sat Jun 13, 2020 1:34 am

vert1

vert1
D-Rank
@Royta/Raeng wrote:I think, at the end of the day, there's only one key difference and that's the appeal of the animation. Because what the dodge and block do is completely dependant on the frame-data tied to it and how it responds to things. I've seen blocks that are fast and push your forward and dodges that are slow and static, vice versa and all other possible variations.
What 3D action game pushes your character forward when they block (no parrying)? I really dig how The Revenge of Shinobi [GEN] handles blocking where it's an acquired PowerUP that only goes into effect when moving forward (crouch walking or regular standing walking), which will last indefinitely until you take damage.

The dodge is very binary, but the block gets really binary too if you oversimplify it like in Sekiro where everything can be blocked except Kanji attacks. There's zero experimentation then. So it's fun at first since it immediately works, but has less lasting value. MGR:R bypasses this imo by how the block has numerous versions and can be canceled into a dodge which can be canceled into Blade Mode.
Didn't think of this. Good point.

I do think that blocking is also less popular since most blocks in games just have a lot of recovery frames. In most action games you can't really punish after a block, but you can easily punish after a dodge. That and the way the moves are designed tends to see the dodge allowing for you to stay on the offensive more.
You think another factor could be that it's easier programmatically and more readily (visually) accepted in a 3D space to show a dodge bypassing all angles of attack than it is for a block stopping any attack in multiple directions?

> W101
Doesn't that game mostly use certain themes though for its attacks. Like spiked and fire attacks cannot be blocked, since your block is basically jellow?
Can't remember but that's probably correct. I got too annoyed with the game design back then to get to level 3. I can tell you that I know that fighting that one tank enemy without buying blocking and dodging moves from the shop is one of the most frustrating experiences I've ever had playing a videogame.

9Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:15 am

Royta/Raeng

Royta/Raeng
Admin
> 3d action game that pushes you forward when blocking
Can't think of a single one, but it is possible as noted. That was more my take. I think stereotyping also means people have certain expectations on how the relationship between dodging and blocking is i.e. blocking is no skill while also being hard to gauge, while dodging is skillful and shows mastery. Which is why so many suck at God of War's classic games since the dodge in that game is the fallback, not the main dish.

> wonderful 101
It amazes me that default defensive maneuvers are items from a shop. They made the same mistake with Metal Gear Rising and also Bayonetta. Just don't do this. I have the same issue with movesets being arbitrarily cut off at lower level weapons like in Ninja Gaiden or Stinger not being a default attack in DMC. It serves no purpose other than to pad out progression. NG's is especially annoying since some moves are just so ... unfinished? Like the dash double slice with the Dragon Sword being only a single cut.

> directional attack
For one, absolutely that directional attacks are harder to nail in terms of programming. I can only hazard to guess that you need to do extra coding on directions on the game's axis. Same with high-low attacks. You'll also probably need to program unique animations when hit from those directions.

https://stinger.actieforum.com

10Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Sat Jun 13, 2020 11:39 pm

Birdman


Moderator
>than it is for a block stopping any attack in multiple directions?

Onimusha has a 360 block. The animation is the same. Same with Knack 2.

11Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Sun Jun 14, 2020 1:56 pm

Royta/Raeng

Royta/Raeng
Admin
That's fair. Still, I wonder if it would be more work. IIRC Samanoske still turns around in place the second he gets hit to where he got hit, which is probably a collision nightmare. That said, I'm far from an expert on this. I can ask a few developers I know though. Seems interesting.

https://stinger.actieforum.com

12Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:22 pm

Birdman


Moderator
Yeah he turns on hit. Looks weird to be honest.

13Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:17 pm

Royta/Raeng

Royta/Raeng
Admin
Yeah Kratos does that as well in GoW. Actually now that I think about it, directional blocks are a lot rare. Only one I can really think of is MGR:R. Ryu also just turns in place in Ninja Gaiden. Think that's to be expected since it can be quite finicky. Demon's Souls does it nicely though with a wide hurtbox of the shield.

https://stinger.actieforum.com

14Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty Re: Blocking vs dodging in action games on Mon Jun 15, 2020 4:49 am

Birdman


Moderator
There's probably a few games where the character does not move at all when blocking attacks from any direction.

I have a memory of a 360 block like this but can't remember where it's from. It's possible I'm confusing it with some kind of energy barrier.

15Blocking vs dodging in action games Empty mind versus does it really matter on Wed Jun 17, 2020 1:51 pm

Zenyn

Zenyn
C-Rank
Evade versus defense? I try to evade the definite answer...

Dare I say that Ninja Gaiden keeps defense and evasion linked and not opposed? Protection first and at an opening get out of the attack radius.
Maybe the neatest form that I know of.

My preferable option is Onimusha's Issen. Wait for the opponent to move in an attempt to strike. Move faster to cut first. Shinkage ryu.
Aim for the hands, too. If available.

As a measure, I need to get hit with every attack at least once. Only way I learn. No, not elegant or graceful.
Just honest. I don't hold stock in fairy tales of "talent" and "innert ability". Never met one.

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