Skazka – Mounted strikes

The mount feature is a key part of the cooperative aspect of Skazka.  It provides straight up advantages to both players — Volk runs faster, Katya hit harder, and both characters take less damage — and it functions much like a vehicle segment in other games (driver/shooter combo with Volk’s player at the wheel and Katya’s player at the turret).

Although the Skazka prototype still has unanimated, programmer sprite art as placeholders, animations and art should be closely linked to the design of the mechanics.  The length of an animation and how the sprite is positioned affect how players perceive the action they’re performing.  And even without a full animation in place, sketches of animation keyframes can help tremendously in this process.  Below are some of the test poses of Katya during mount, which can easily be placed in the Skazka prototype.

Potential posing of Katya while mounted.
Potential posing of Katya while mounted.

While not unexpected, early tests show that due to the change in avatar speed and Katya’s position on Volk, Katya’s strike is not effective while in mount.  As you can see from this early hit box placement of Katya’s swings, her range is fairly limited.  This strike range becomes pretty much obsolete as soon as she’s on Volk, especially since in mounted scenarios, she needs to hit objects much farther ahead if Volk is to maintain his full run speed.

Katya's light and heavy strike hit boxes

Maintaining a fast run speed isn’t necessary at all times (especially during the puzzle-solving segments), but during some of the running battle scenarios as well as in the more open, exploratory areas, a large part of the fun ties into the sense of freedom from running.

This means Katya’s strike hit boxes while in mount need to extend much farther than when moving on her own.  While this is easy enough to do in terms of hit box placement and usage, it raises a kind of interesting question in terms of animation.  What sort of animation can match the hit box placement (current concepts we’re considering are shown below), and why does her animation change when mounted?

Answering that second question in particular could have relatively big implications for the game.  For example, if Katya uses her earth magic to extend her sword into a vine whip, why doesn’t she do that when not mounted?  Does that mean we should change the swing mechanic from using existing vines to using her vine whip?  Can she then use it on enemies to bind them?  Or can she only access this stronger magic while in sync with Volk?

Concepts for Katya's mounted strikes.
Concepts for Katya’s mounted strikes.

I personally love thinking about these kinds of questions, and I hope it’s interesting to you!  Feel free to contact us at talktous@akula-games.com or comment here if you have a preference on Katya’s strike animation.  We’d love the thoughts and feedback!