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G K Vaughn




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 12:56 am    Post subject: Neal Stephenson is making a longsword simulator game         Reply with quote

Neal Stephenson, the author of science fiction novels like Snow Crash and The System Of The World, has just announced he’s making a sword fighting game, based around dueling with the longsword. He's certainly done his research, and he's put together a team including video game makers (including Gabe Newell) and sword makers (including Angus Trim).

I'm impressed at the focus on realism they look to be going for; if nothing else, I suspect it'll garner a wider audience and appreciation for HEMA.

"The rifle is no more than the grip of the bayonet."

--Giuseppe Garibaldi
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Eric Allen




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 2:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While I appreciate his enthusiasm, I do think that there's a major flaw with his plan: Motion control.

When it comes to controlling a sword-like object in a virtual environment, motion control just falls short. There's no way to provide ample feedback--I swing my motion sensing hilt and the character swings his sword, fine. But what if the sword in the game hits something? My hilt keeps moving. I can't feel the sword in the environment.

I would say the best way to do a sword-based game is to take direct control away from the player and focus on timing, pacing, and flow. As a bad analogy, like how Guitar Hero doesn't actually simulate playing a guitar, and you play by matching the correct rhythm.
Use the ample research of sword physics and historically-accurate techniques to determine the animations and actions for the character on the screen, but have the input be something simple and intuitive for a gamer. Press particular buttons in a particular sequence and at a particular time and the character on screen will execute a particular historically-accurate action.

Does it have the same visceral feel as swinging a sword hilt? No, of course not. But, then, pulling a trigger on a gamepad or clicking a mouse button doesn't feel like pulling the trigger on a gun, either. Games need to be accessible or else they are doomed to a very small niche or total obscurity.
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 6:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At 1:30, total badarse move Big Grin

I think maybe if it had a rumble when you hit something that might help.

Still, looks like a pretty cool idea.

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 7:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing that I noticed about the end of the clip is that the motions seem really quite stiff and wooden. They need to get people who are moving around fluidly and athletically for the motions to look right. Either that, or the team who is involved in translating the moves into on-screen action needs to fix the flow and tempo of action. Right now, it looks like you win a fight based upon a mastery of the game timing, rather than real-life timing.
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 8:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The other challenge will be footwork and hip work. Hands, hips, and feet can all move independently, and different styles differ on questions like "do you lead with one hip, or keep your belly towards your partner?"
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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 1:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't see how that is possible. Perhaps a controller based game (as already mentioned) would be a better idea, motion controls are not accurate, they can only register so many movements in a given amount of time and the above sad feed back problem can mean not only that you don't realize if you hit something, but that you controller is in a different position than your on-screen sword.

If I make a zornhau that gets blocked on screen, and my controller follows through. The I could be in alber while my sword is in long point. Then the game would require you to what? But yourself into long point and continue from there?

I really do think buttons are a better idea. If you do the above said swing and it gets stuck, the game knows that, and so do you, so since your on screen sword is still in the same position you can roll with that.

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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 2:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks like they've got a long way to go. . . .

At least someone is thinking about it.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 3:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think you guys are being too quick to be critical. Neal flat out says that this is a beginning step into attempting to add more depth into the gaming experience. This is a project that is meant to be a spring board to be improved on, not a project that is meant to be the end-all-be-all of gaming.

Also, let's face it: It's not going to be the same as real life fighting. It's a video game. Happy

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 5:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Neal Stephenson is certainly one of my favorite contemporary writers, and the fact that he's also into WMA just gives me a warm, nerdly happiness. I have to admit that motion control (at least on the Wii) has broken my heart as it relates to swordsmanship, so my first reactiction is skepticism, but I'm optimistic that the capability is in its infancy and will grow with time. My experience with Kinnect is rather more limited, but if this were released on consoles, would it not address people's legitimate footwork concerns?
Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Raman A




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 6:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I'm really excited that someone in the gaming community knows and cares about real historical western martial arts. On the other hand, I feel like this is trying too hard to be a virtual reality thing and focusing too hard on the details that it might miss the big picture and make the actual fighting feel flat. I really don't like motion controls. They're not responsive enough and just aren't technologically there yet. Popular fighting games with large competitive scenes focus on getting the "feel" of an actual fight right: timing, distance, and prediction. They could care less about how realistic the actual moves are. Take Street Fighter for example. Completely unrealistic game in terms of an actual fight (hell, you're stuck moving on a 2D plane) but its got the feeling of an actual fight because its all about timing your moves and predicting your opponent's moves so you can counter them, with a healthy dose of distance management and reflexes. You'd never learn how to actually box or wrestle playing it but when played a high level (ie not just button mashing with your friends) its got the feel of a fight down.

Eric Allen wrote:
While I appreciate his enthusiasm, I do think that there's a major flaw with his plan: Motion control.

I would say the best way to do a sword-based game is to take direct control away from the player and focus on timing, pacing, and flow.

Use the ample research of sword physics and historically-accurate techniques to determine the animations and actions for the character on the screen, but have the input be something simple and intuitive for a gamer. Press particular buttons in a particular sequence and at a particular time and the character on screen will execute a particular historically-accurate action



This is exactly how I feel so I'll refrain from writing too much more. The way you've described the fighting system is exactly how I'd imagine a good historical fighting game to play out and its how all good existing fighting games work. Basically I think it'd be better to scrap the motion controls and just make a more traditional fighting game with an emphasis on historical, realistic movements. Give it a physics simulation instead of hitpoints to realistically model damage with some choices of weapons and armor and you've got a winner.



Still, no video game can really match combat sports. I'll be sticking with kendo but I'm interested in how this turns out.
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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 10:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Or perhaps the combat could be based on bushido blade 2, which is fantastic, albeit old.
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William P




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2012 4:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

demons souls is a game with a good feel for timing distance obsructions

to give you an idea each weapon can be hed one or 2 handed by pressing a button, with each grip style, pressing the attack button makes you strike with a series of hits,
another button is the 'power strike' its a powerful strike with greater time taken and greater chance for exposure. to a limited extent, depending on he weapon

and the game registers the effect of walls etc,

this is best demonsrated by the tactical considerations of the halbed, held one handed you can use a shield and thus block projectiles, but it cant be used in narow coridors since the set of srikes you use are horizontal strikes these hit the walls jarring your attack,

actually wha am i saying, we HAVE a game based off swordsmanship and weapons with combos, emphasis on timing disance with differen weapons haviing different srengths

its called the soul calibur series.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LWHGbnf2Hg&am...F475731AFE this is soul calibur 2
all that remains is to create a version of it with less magic and more realistic combinaions of parrys and strikes.
(fo example the 'zweihanders' of siegfried look like yhey literally weigh a ton,

the more semi realistic movesets/ weapon styles ive seen are usually xianghua (chinese jian) raphael (rapier, which ill note has ALOT of slashing) mitsurugi (katana) kilik ( uses chinese staff style, most recent game has another guy with same style) and similar look )
but generally the things of range and effective radii of weapons really comes forward in soul calibur since its not like the 2D movemen of sreetfighter, you can also love to the left or right and the diffrences in range are also alot more varied than in fist and feet basd fighting games. since we have things like bladed tonfa nunchaku ec facing against rapiers, 6 foot quarterstaves, 6 foot polearms and swords etc,
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2012 10:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i just looked at the page finally, i feel suitibly embarrassed for bringing up soul calibur

this project looks awsome, and looks like it has alot of potential.
and very mch reminds me of the recent star wars kinect game. but d definately buy this, for a very long time ive wanted to see a game like this. the closest ive seen is the recent games with the wii.
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Eric Meulemans
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PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2012 2:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Reading some of the responses here I get the sense that it would be far more productive if persons bothered to actually watch the videos and view the myriad other materials/Q&A's/etc. which have been presented on the Kickstarter site. Anyone who has done so should see that they've thought this out quite a bit and are pushing forward a development project which will utilize existing technologies and be a springboard for new interfaces and gaming paradigms. I believe that their expression of vision and dedicated pursuit of a detailed and novel approach to fill an obvious void in gameplay is admirable and due much more than some ill-conceived rebuttals to their concepts which supposedly "won't work."

I am admittedly not a "gamer" in that I've little interest in expending the amount of time required by so many of today's games on them, so I may not be intimately familiar with the particulars of various controls and consoles, but I tend to think that game designers who have already invested so much effort into research and development merely to get to the point of a funding proposal do and have taken this into consideration. I also believe in supporting the developmental free spirit which seizes upon ideas -be they new or old - and takes them to their furthest possible potential. Arbitrarily shooting down grand schemes because you are unwilling to visualize their potential or would rather remain rooted in the world of button-mashing are unfortunate conditions and completely counter-productive should you ever wish a functioning holo-deck to be realized.

Looking at the videos, and seeing some of the faces and names involved, it is clear that they are truthful in their assertion that they've done their homework. It is in many ways a revolutionary position to take that swordsmanship in a game should be given the degree of complexity, realism, and respect that are afforded to firearms. Moving this sort of information into an arena dominated by players who readily soak up stats on guns they'll likely never hold for real means they'll certainly at least be made aware of the long lineage, variety, and intricacies of the Western sword and the Arts founded on its use. There will always be naysayers, but to them I say go and design your own damn game.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2012 3:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric sums up exactly how I feel about it.

I remember when Guitar Hero was first coming out. (Ironically, my first exposure to it was when I first visited Nathan Robinson in San Fran, as there was a store showing a demo). I thought it was stupid. I thought, "You can't do real guitar stuff, so what's the point? That's going to fail miserably." And look how wrong I was. Happy Even moreso, Guitar Hero (and Rock Band) have been a major influence behind young people getting more involved in music creation, as it forces the user to actually pay attention to how the various instruments interact with each other to make harmonies. More and more kids these days are involved in music (and not just with guitars) because of those games.

So this new project is even better, because it isn't meant to be a finished project. It's a chance to inspire other people to build off of it. So I don't get why people are so quick to be so negative. I'm not even much of a gamer, but as an artist I love the creative synergy involved with getting outsiders involved to improve a fun concept, and as a martial artist I love that they want to make a game that adds more realism to what I love, and as a teacher of these arts I love the idea that maybe the next generation of kids may possibly show more and more interest in how swords were really used because they saw something realistic in a game first instead of something silly.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2012 3:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
I remember when Guitar Hero was first coming out. (Ironically, my first exposure to it was when I first visited Nathan Robinson in San Fran, as there was a store showing a demo). I thought it was stupid. I thought, "You can't do real guitar stuff, so what's the point? That's going to fail miserably." And look how wrong I was. Happy Even moreso, Guitar Hero (and Rock Band) have been a major influence behind young people getting more involved in music creation, as it forces the user to actually pay attention to how the various instruments interact with each other to make harmonies. More and more kids these days are involved in music (and not just with guitars) because of those games.

This touches on something else I was thinking about. Guitar Hero may not be a realistic guitar simulator, but Rocksmith is. It uses a real instrument with a real pickup and the game gives you tabs that translate directly into notes on the instrument you're playing. Which is real, in case I didn't mention that. So while motion control has broken my heart thus far, it's really not about what something is, but rather what it might become given time and funding and clever people dedicated to making something awesome. My skepticism gives way to buoyant optimism the more I think about it. Big Grin

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Jun, 2012 10:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Allen wrote:
While I appreciate his enthusiasm, I do think that there's a major flaw with his plan: Motion control.

When it comes to controlling a sword-like object in a virtual environment, motion control just falls short. There's no way to provide ample feedback--I swing my motion sensing hilt and the character swings his sword, fine. But what if the sword in the game hits something? My hilt keeps moving. I can't feel the sword in the environment.

I would say the best way to do a sword-based game is to take direct control away from the player and focus on timing, pacing, and flow. As a bad analogy, like how Guitar Hero doesn't actually simulate playing a guitar, and you play by matching the correct rhythm.
Use the ample research of sword physics and historically-accurate techniques to determine the animations and actions for the character on the screen, but have the input be something simple and intuitive for a gamer. Press particular buttons in a particular sequence and at a particular time and the character on screen will execute a particular historically-accurate action.

Does it have the same visceral feel as swinging a sword hilt? No, of course not. But, then, pulling a trigger on a gamepad or clicking a mouse button doesn't feel like pulling the trigger on a gun, either. Games need to be accessible or else they are doomed to a very small niche or total obscurity.


Thank you.

My reaction when I saw that video was pretty much: "Awesome, a well-made swordfighting ga - motion control!? Aw!"

As I see it, until we actually make motion control perfect, it's always going to feel sorta awkward an I personally find it to ruin immersion rather then enhance it. It was a kinda fun mechanic in, say, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, but I never felt like I was actually swordfighting rather then sitting on a sofa waving a wiimote around trying to get Link to attack from the right angle, which he often refused to do.

There's nothing wrong with playing videogames by pushing buttons. That's how all videogames were played for decades and there is no reason it can't be used to present a realistic fencing system that requires skill, strategy and quick reflexes. More to the point, if I play a game with swordfighting I want to actually feel like a master swordsman having awesome sword battles. If I want a perfectly realistic simulation of a swordfight I'll just find a group of people who are into actually hitting each other with swords.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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Jimi Edmonds




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Jun, 2012 9:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well I hope they get it off the ground, and with commuinty help it will only get better...look at Mount and Blade a simple game, but one of the coolest open sword games out there with unlimited mod possiblities. We really need a holo-deck!
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William P




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Jun, 2012 3:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

that being said, the star wars kinect game shows that it can somewhat be possible to work 2 handed weapons bu then again itdoes seem really clunky

but even if the binding and winding doesnt wok, i just like that i could be able to hold and swing the sword however the heck i want.

id be curious how on would get shield to work, particularly he dynamics of parrying and switching grip with round-shields and bucklers.
most of the time its, raise shield, block lots of things.
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Raman A




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Jun, 2012 11:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Meulemans wrote:
Reading some of the responses here I get the sense that it would be far more productive if persons bothered to actually watch the videos and view the myriad other materials/Q&A's/etc. which have been presented on the Kickstarter site. Anyone who has done so should see that they've thought this out quite a bit and are pushing forward a development project which will utilize existing technologies and be a springboard for new interfaces and gaming paradigms.


Lots of horrible things have been thought out in great detail, not sure what that line of arguing is supposed to imply. I did watch the videos and read the information so I don't appreciate that insinuation either.

Anyway I don't think anyone is saying that this is going to be a bad thing which seems to be the main point of your rebuttal. I can't speak for others but I'm excited that someone is trying to infuse more historical realism into mainstream entertainment, and this system seems like it will be great fun and I can't wait to see it implemented in a larger game. I can only see this as a sign of positive change towards peoples views of historical western martial culture and I think this will be a fun game.

My reservation, and many others that voiced their concerns, is simply that the "existing technology" that you referred to, that is, contemporary motion controls, are dodgy at best and pure garbage at worst. No game that uses motion controls has ever been taken seriously on virtually any level, they just don't have the precision of classic input methods yet. Motion controls are still in their infancy and have poor fidelity. That's all anyone was saying.
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