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Skyglazer

Current Melee Combat Balancing Or: How I Learned To Love Aggressive Grabs

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Hi, this is a post about combat, but you'll notice that I'm not mentioning a whole lot about brainmed! How is that, you wonder? Well, see, there's this little thing that's been confusing me lately, and I haven't been sure as to what. I'm not the most robust in Aurora/Bay-styled combat. A long time ago, I used to be real good in /tg/-combat, so I consider myself a fairly robust dude. I'm good at clicking on people, I can manipulate my inventory quickly, I know what most items do and how to get 'em, all sorts of stuff. In recent times, I've mostly abandoned the whole "be really robust in combat" mentality because it's not very conductive to a high-roleplay environment. In most cases, I find myself playing characters that would rather surrender instead of going toe-to-toe with dangerous antagonists, however, recently I've been playing in some antagonistic and special roles. Namely: Ninja, Mercenary, Traitor, and ERTs.

 

Now, a lot of the RP goes well, I find that I'm pretty good at roleplaying an intimidating presence, I give realistic threats, I escalate situations well... but something has been skeeving me out about these combat roles. I often find my ass getting kicked by unarmed people-- well, that should be happening, right? This isn't /tg/ or something- you can't just disarm spam! Well, no, you can't. But you can do something way better, way more consistent, and way easier to spam: Grabs. Specifically aggressive grabs.

 

If you don't want to read the rest of my preamble, just skip to here: Grabs in their current state are ridiculously spammable for how effective they are. They are VERY slow to register that someone has actually left the effective grabbing range when you upgrade from passive grab to aggressive grab, which can be disastrous when combined with the fact that upgrading to an aggressive grab- or simply being the target of an aggressive grab-- which requires no effort from the aggressor except clicking on you with an empty hand, will cause you to drop your items. Unlike disarm, which is an RNG chance, grabs are highly likely to be at least passive. This has led to some very gamey encounters where, I'll be a highly armed antagonist with a means of defending themselves: mercenary with an energy shield. Kataphract with a barrier. Ninja with their sword. But then, someone just runs up and lands a grab on me. Then, the game doesn't register that I am moving or trying to resist out of the grab-- or, if I do, there is a cooldown before I can resist again, while the grabber can simply grab again. The only thing they have to do to upgrade it and disarm me of my item is spam the "use item" hotkey. Once they get the aggressive grab, I drop my item and they use it against me, kicking my ass?

 

Now, am I unrobust for having this happen to me? Absolutely. Should this really be happening on a high-RP server, though? Probably not. I recommend someone with way more coding knowledge than myself look into this, because it's very frustrating and video-gamey to have a Visitor run up to you and grab you, take your shield off the ground, throw you, grab you again, take your weapon, and then kick your ass with it. It's hilarious and an absolutely deserved death, from a pure skill perspective, but it is unsatisfying and immersion-breaking otherwise. It's a sharp downgrade to what should be legitimate threats. Why would you be really scared of an antagonist if you could have their gun in a second if you sprint up to them? And the reverse: You don't really feel like you're threatening someone by pointing a gun at them. If anything, you're putting yourself at risk by even holding it in your hand.

 

Do you guys agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts on grabs, disarms, and the non-ranged-weaponry of the current combat and medical systems?

I, for one, think grabs should either more effectively keep someone in range for them to work, or more accurately detect whether or not someone should be ABLE to be grabbed-- i.e., shields/barriers should block grabs. Also, the grabs should check if the person is still in range before allowing the upgrade to a higher grab. I've seen some particularly atrocious examples where someone will get passive grabbed, run away, then the grabber not only will upgrade the grab from a passive grab to an aggressive grab, but also use the aggressive grab to throw the person back into range to be grabbed again. It's a all a bit silly in my opinion.

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I don't have much to add other than agreeing. Being able to block and parry grabs would be alright I'd think. Trying to wrench someones shield away should really just result in being bashed by it, for example. Having grabs be more punishing on the grabber would make it more of a measured action.

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In regards to shields and grabs, shields should definitely block grabs like they do other attacks. When grabbing someone with weapons there should be a high chance of the weapon going off or them getting hit with the melee weapon. I think something like this already exists for grabbing guns.

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Grabs are fun, but I think these tweaks would probably be needed:

 

*Only Redgrabs and pinning force you to drop items. (Pinning is bluegrab + disarm)

*Better grabmods for different species

*Certain grab-maneuvers take stamina.

 

For the second part, unathi are actually the easiest species to grab and this was because of their horns- but since then, hair/horn-tugging has been added and it hurts unathi. Should not be so easy to grab em.

 

For the third part, I feel it'd be a lot less spammy and more strategic for certain grab-maneuvers to be based on stamina. Suddenly- grab-based fist fights can let you gauge how much your opponent has left in them stamina-wise. If they throw you across the room and start running, you know they won't be able to do it again and that you'll be able to catch back up. Full melee could become less about doing flat damage or getting a stun and more about stamina-management and trying to force your opponent to wasting theirs.

 

To go more in-depth, I believe throwing people should take about half your stamina. Headbutts could take 1/4 (it exerts a lot of energy to continually smash your face into someone else) and table or window-slamming should take 1/6 (same as a single disarm, because it's kind of like a stronger disarm- you could also do 1/5). IPCs, of course- would take different amounts due to them not naturally regenerating their charge.

 

Let this lead to the rise of stamina-based melee combat.

Edited by GreenBoi
Added entire section about grab-maneuvers taking stamina.

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Grab meta has always been a fairly cancerous and completely uninteractive meta, I'm sad to see it's returned. 

My only opinion: It should be very, very hard to grab someone fighting back; As in, near-impossibly hard. They should need to be unconscious or disabled.

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Ehhh...if you have a gun or overly strong melee weapon, getting grabbed feels like it's more on you than them.

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6 hours ago, Carver said:

Grab meta has always been a fairly cancerous and completely uninteractive meta, I'm sad to see it's returned. 

My only opinion: It should be very, very hard to grab someone fighting back; As in, near-impossibly hard. They should need to be unconscious or disabled.

Well, I think grabs are great in unarmed combat, it's specifically the bit about blue grabs forcing you to drop your items and the ease of landing said blue grab being the main problems. You should be able to wrestle people-- and hell, it can even possibly be somewhat viable, maybe a neck grab forcing people to drop their items might be something reasonable to go for if you have someone trapped in a corner.

Here's an idea I had while writing: perhaps aggressive grabs can prevent you from using an item in your hand-- or if you try to shoot a gun, it shoots off in a random direction- stuff like that. Like, if you're holding someone back, they probably can't get a full swing of their toolbox on you, but they also don't immediately drop them. This way, if people don't want to drop their items and realize they're getting grabbed, they can put/throw them away before it gets upgraded to a red grab, but will still make aggressive grabs good to go for, as they'll prevent people from smacking you full-force with that sword or whatever. Maybe such a change would encourage people to use smaller weapons, like knives, which could potentially still hurt someone who's got you in a grab, because it doesn't require a full swing.

I realize that these are all lofty dreams without a coder backing them, but... well, someone coded the way things are now, I hope someone can eventually code a way things could be made better. Just throwing things at a wall and hoping they stick: as was my whole hope in making this thread, basically.

 

2 hours ago, Lemei said:

Ehhh...if you have a gun or overly strong melee weapon, getting grabbed feels like it's more on you than them.

With Brainmed and adrenaline, people have plenty of leeway to get a grab off even if you're actively hitting them. With the time it takes to get an aggressive grab (like a second), it's pretty unlikely you'll have already gotten a knockdown by then. Again, it all varies.

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19 hours ago, Skyglazer said:

Here's an idea I had while writing: perhaps aggressive grabs can prevent you from using an item in your hand-- or if you try to shoot a gun, it shoots off in a random direction- stuff like that.

This happens if you try to disarm someone with a gun under certain conditions, if I remember right.

Grabs being strong only serves to discourage melee weapons being particularly viable without stuns. Stuns, of course, aren't the most fun mechanic. Inevitably you get a circle of things getting buffed until something is nerfed.

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Yus.

My two cents:

Grabbing someone with a spear? Bad idea. Having to struggle them to make them drop it? Good idea.

Maybe make it a disarm, click on them, which locks them in for a stamina based struggle, which can be broken up by anyone else deciding to go in.

Grabbing someone with an esword from the front should auto cut off a hand tbh. Disarm a ninja is currently the best meme around, since tajara and unathi have a solid shove that just wrecks their entire strategy if used correctly.

Which brings me to the next issue with grabs and disarms, IPCs. No clue how to implement stamina into them. They seem to drain energy on disarm spam currently, maybe that could be used to show how hard melee combat is for a shell for example.

The simplest solution to the issue would be another grab step, or a longer windup until grabs are reinforced. But that would be the famous duct tape over the entire grab spam issue I think. Maybe making grabs fail if the other party is also on grab, or disarm intend.

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SS13 combat has always been shit. Like if you just take a step back from all the noise and then break down every way to kill someone and how easy it is to kill someone with it, then you'd realise that SS13 combat is the most terribly balanced thing in general. Aurora is honestly worst than some of the MRP servers because it's HRP and combat is rarely "tested."

Aurora is HRP but a different kind of HRP where combat rarely happens and people like to focus on realism rather than balance. In my years contributing here, trying to get some balance PRs in, the number one criticism to them was "It's not realistic." rather than the actual balance of it. However, that argument is always a euphemism for "I DON'T LIKE IT." rather than an actual concern for realism. I know this because if you just spend 2 seconds thinking about how damage and medical works, you'd come to the conclusion that it's just as far away from realism as "if you take 200 damage, then you die."

Like there are so many metas with combat. There are genuinely so many tryhard antag mains who play Aurora just to robust people with metas and then unironically brag in OOC and IC channels about it. They're the same people who bitch and moan about a contributor or developer then patching it out because of concerns of realism. Like, whenever I see an antagonist or a validhunter exploit metas I fucking laugh my ass off for 30 minutes and then cry myself to sleep later that night over the state of combat and the state of server rules that allow that behavior.

You probably think I'm over exaggerating. I remember the metas over the years. Some have died. Some have gotten worse. Here are some metas to kickstart your memory to tell you that I'm not talking out of my ass.

  • Stealing achem dispenser at round start as merc/raider before you do literally anything else for healing/explosive chems.
  • Stealing the Captain's spare at round start using window rotation manipulation as merc before you do literally anything else because of agent IDs.
  • Purchasing a .357 revolver every round and aiming at the feet exclusively because there was no foot armor and it would always gib on the first hit.
  • Purchasing EMP grenades and throwing literally all of them whenever you want to kill a synthetic.
  • Emitter + AI Core. (Somewhat justified because the AI core is ass to fucking raid. and malf is a shitty gamemode.
  • Using the ninja sword and aiming at feet to disable officers and for easy decap.
  • Raiding the Armory first thing as ninja and stealing/spacing the Ion rifle.
  • Of course, grab spam and limb dislocation as mentioned in the OP.

I have a memory disorder. These are all that I can remember talking about. Aurora combat is trash which is part of the reason I refuse to play certain antags or sec, other than warden.

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You missed the hidden pre-'16 Bay merge meta of 'aim for the hands with the Detective's revolver for guaranteed hand-breaks in about a shot each', a personal favourite of mine (tho generally too cheesy for my taste, unless it was against a wizard or something else terrible).

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