Exanima's combat: Strangely suitable for VR?


OK, this may sound crazy, but bear with me here:
Exanima's physics based combat system might be ideal for roomscale VR.

Picture this: You're in VR with motion controllers, first person view. Your controllers control your hands/weapons as expected, but sort of indirectly. Your real life controller position is visible as a sort of ghostly manifestation, while the position and motion of your character's weapon is still bound to the physics and body mechanics of the game. Your character is merely following your lead so to speak.
This means that you cannot flail around wildly with a war hammer and expect the game to cooperate. You have to move your arms as if you're really carrying that weapon, then in theory the physics engine should have no issues keeping everything 1 to 1. The handling characteristics of a particular weapon would therefore have major gameplay implications.

The moment weapons clash, your real life arms will probably keep going while your ingame weapon meets lots of resistance. Your character would then try to push against the opponents weapon in an attempt to get to where you're directing the weapon to. So that way you have a simulation of binds and even wrestling to some extent without magical haptic feedback.

Overall this could result in an incredibly compelling combat system where leverage and smooth movements would be key. I think Exanima provides the perfect basis for a far superior melee system compared to any other VR title out there right now.

What do you guys think?


I think it's just the opposite, they are mutually exclusive.
It'd be similar to playing a platform game with 2 players controlling directly the same character. Think about how messy it would be.


I thought I'd give this a bump after some more research and deliberation.

My view that Exanima could suit VR very well is still unchanged. The simple fact that I often have over 200fps in Exanima is already a fantastic indicator that it would run fantastically even with VR, but after looking up what people have done with weighted objects in VR, I think that a much simpler control scheme would be possible.

Basically, people toying around with Unity had pretty good results by semi-binding objects to the controllers. This means that while objects are connected to your controller position, they are still subject to physics, so they get stopped by collisions and lag behind your controller when you move too much. I suck at explaining things, so here's an example of how a guy made a (two handed!) sledgehammer with such a system:
I think his simulation is perhaps on the overly sluggish side, but I think a system like this would function really well in simulating the different behaviors of the various weapons.
Combined with inverse kinematics and trackpad based movement as seen here in Onward:
I think you'd have a really robust system for VR Exanima, and possibly even a killer app for VR. I think the game as it is already includes the vast majority of features to make this work.


As amazing as this VR tech looks, Exanima, and by proxy Sui Generis, is built around the idea that both the player and the AI are affected by the same rules. Simply put, both the player and the AI act the same when swinging a weapon or getting hit. If Exanima were to be adapted into VR, it would be hard to maintain this principle.
How would one simulate getting hit in VR? Also how would the set compensate for your character's hamds moving around, but your physical ones not?


OK, I now actually own a Vive and have played around with various melee combat games with it.

I STILL think Exanima/Sui Generis would be absolutely fantastic in VR, especially after seeing some very disappointing fantasy games *cough* Vanishing realms *cough*.

I do however write this knowing that adapting the game/engine for VR at this present time would be a bad idea. There aren't enough folks with headsets to even slightly justify it. If Bare Mettle ever decided to go through with this, it wouldn't make any sense to do it any time soon.

So what I have now is a very solid idea regarding how an Exanima VR would look and how it would play. It would, I'm afraid to say, break some of the core "rules" of the game (more on this later), but I think it would in many ways be unbeatable in the realm of fantasy games.

So what I'm writing here is essentially a miniature design document of sorts, I guess. Some of the stuff is a repeat of what I wrote earlier on.

Advantages over conventional gaming:

The big plus points of being a VR title can be summarized with two simple points:
1. More direct control over the player's avatar
2. Far improved immersion. You'd be playing from your character's perspective, of course, not to mention in VR. Every character and object could be interacted with far more naturally than is now possible.

Core Mechanics:
The very core of the game would be designed around what I call a puppeteering system - as of now, the standard for VR is two controllers and a headset, all of which are tracked pretty damn well. Your character would try to match the position of their hands and head to the position of the corresponding devices at all times. If you swing your swordarm, your character will try to imitate your move as well as the game's physics allow it to. This should mean that if you move in a way that mimics the fact that you are carrying/wearing equipment of noticeable weight, your character will be more responsive than if you were to do the typical mindless flailing that many VR games let you get away with.
In order to avoid weird uncanny valley feelings, a small translucent sphere or so displaying the real-world location of your controllers would need to be rendered.
The drawbacks of such a system in regards to restrictions in game design are pretty obvious I think. If you swing your weapon by swinging your controller, it means that certain character skills immediately stop working. All those skills such as Remise and Feint basically get transferred from the character to the player, the question is no longer if your character can do something, but if you can. Not necessarily a downside in my opinion, but definitely something to consider in terms of things like balance.

The absolute biggest departure from the normal game would have to be in the movement department. The problem is that nausea is a massive issue in VR, and you generally have to be pretty damn careful when it comes to locomotion. Hence the combat movement of Exanima would be pretty problematic as you'd probably get sick from it.
The safest way to play it is with teleportation mechanics, which are obviously a bigass no-go for a game like this. The sensible alternative is stick/touchpad locomotion, the most successful version of which broadly works like so:
You move relative to where your thumb's sitting on the touchpad, this direction is relative to where the controller is facing, not the goggles.
That's fine and dandy for regular walking and running, but obviously not that well suited to the combat footwork we see in game. Here's my solution:

When you press the touchpad in a certain direction, a step is initiated as we know it, but executed a bit differently. Your character would have to try to move to a set location (determined by how far out on the touchpad you press and how long you press), with your view moving there at a smooth, constant pace. The character's head might have to be "glued" to the camera to make this work more smoothly.
For very precise movements, you of course have your real legs to do the job.
An important thing of course is that any bouncing about of the view needs to be removed, keeping it nice and smooth. Else you'll get sick.

What would happen if I fall over or get flung across a room?
Falling over/ragdolling in VR is generally handled by disconnecting the view from the character. The same would have to go for Exanima. Your character would stand up just as normal and move so that the head once again "syncs up" to the player's view. If you go flying from an ogre's club or so, the best way would be to have your view stay in place until your character begins standing up again, at which point your view would be teleported over the character (with a smooth transition).

These could be especially neat. The way two-handed items are generally treated in VR is that the direction the item is facing is based on the location of the two controllers. Often the hand further up the weapon is also given the ability to slide freely, especially useful for spears and such.
Extremely precise control of polearms such as halberds would allow for all sorts of cool tricks such as hooking and tripping enemies.

Helmets could be a much deeper subject in VR as you can actually have them block the player's view accurately without being anywhere near as annoying as on a regular monitor. The real-life dilemma of full-face protection versus visibility could therefore be represented ingame, which would be really neat.

So yeah. I post this of course with the knowledge that Bare Mettle probably won't be entering the VR realm, at least not anytime soon. Still, a man can dream.
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