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June 13

The Forge: Hunter Movement

I’ll be honest, finding the perfect way to kick this off was a bit of a puzzle. Indeed, movement within the game is an aspect often overlooked by reviewers and commentators. Yet, it presents a unique opportunity to stand out. Unfortunately - or fortunately - the complexity, depth, and subtlety of movement can not possibly be summarized in short. Realizing the enormity of the topic, my face might have frozen, but my resolve did not waver. Brace yourself for a detailed journey.

Stay with me,

The Challenge

The year is 2024, and we're on a mission to bring colossal mechs to life, striving for a groundedness that contrasts the fantastical nature of our sci-fi concept. The essential player dream involves embodying a giant of mechanical might, a gladiator of the future, in every sense imaginable. Anything short of movement perfection, and we risk falling short of fulfilling this dream.

The Fantasy

But the dream extends beyond merely becoming a realistic Hunter. It's about capturing the essence of their individuality — understanding not just the terrain they traverse but their very being. Their weight, height, leg count, center of gravity, and even personality. How they interact with water, or the spectacle of crashing through a building. The Hunter must become an extension of the player, embodying the fantasy with movements that echo their unique characteristics.

Air & Landing:

Our first encounter with a Hunter in action is nothing short of spectacular, as they're dropped from the heavens onto the battlefield. Picture this: a titan descending with the grace of a grand piano flung from a skyscraper.

Maybe you already noticed, when you(r Hunter) falls from the Sky onto the Battlefield, your controls are very limited, the camera gives off an immense shake, a deafening crashing sound is released upon landing, and for a few moments your Hunter recomposes and ur controls remain locked. With all this, we aim emphasize the huge weight of the Hunter. Let's don the hat of a Physics professor for a moment, shall we?

When a hefty object takes a dive from the sky, it racks up kinetic energy, courtesy of gravity's unyielding pull towards terra firma. The moment of impact is a grand affair — kinetic energy transforms into a medley of heat, sound, and perhaps a bit of remodeling of the object or the landscape it greets. This momentum halts in a dramatic fashion, introducing our post-apocalyptic Earth to the newcomer. Given Earth's slightly superior mass (understatement of the century), the exchange is, on cosmic scales, a whisper. Yet, the spectacle of the impact? Absolutely seismic.

In essence, we want you, the players, to practically feel the ground shake as our Hunters make their grand entrance. This sensation is brought to life through vigorous camera shakes, the Hunter's body language, and a robust sound design that echoes their arrival. Additionally, we toy with your sense of control — or the lack thereof — by limiting movement options at this critical moment. Attempting to navigate your Hunter during this monumental drop is akin to steering a freight train with a paddle. Your only semblance of control is to angle for a directional leap before succumbing to gravity's embrace. The same goes for any Herculean jumps — directing your Hunter mid-air is a feat of futility, emphasizing the sheer mass and power at your command.

Oh, and btw...the dropship might currently be taking a break from the Game, but we hope to find a way to bring it back in the future! (Though without the possibility to control your Hunter inside of it)

But how strong would the impact of our Hunters being dropped from the skies actually be in reality? I have taken the freedom to calculate this for you, and if you have the nerve, bear with me by clicking on "Calculations".

If not, continue down below!

So, considering air resistance and assuming a terminal velocity of 30 m/s, the impact force when Razorside hits the ground would be approximately 247,500 Newtons. If we consider a very heavy car crash to be in the range of 100.000N, this means the impact of Razorside on the Ground is 2.5x as strong.

So, once our Hunters land, they should exert a bit of pressure.

Here we go, walk, run, jump, float…

We're diving deep into the inertia of movement. True to life, inertia captures the resistance felt when shifting from a standstill to motion. This calls for a bit of body roll or leaning as movements kick off or wind down.

Achieving this realism means crafting acceleration and deceleration curves that reflect movement speeds and recovery times (like after bulldozing through a structure). To keep players dialed into combat without losing sight of their targets, we have added acceleration and deceleration curves in version 0.32. Also, the camera positions dynamically change in response to the Hunter's movement to give a sense of weight and speed.

What about our AI battle partners?

Our AI companions — or "Team mates when we don't have team mates" — deserve a spotlight for their movement, which is intriguing in its own right. While pairing with AI might not quite match the dynamism of a human ally, our goal is to still deliver a top-notch gaming experience. This involves imbuing our coded Hunters with tactical acumen, from choosing the shortest paths to making split-second decisions in combat, ensuring their maneuvers during battles showcase a breadth of tactical wisdom.

Knock first, Taurus!

Remember the simplicity of 2D games? Well, in 3D, the real fun starts. We leverage camera angles and movements to breathe life into our game, letting you see the action through our lens. Whether zooming in for precision or panning out for a broader view, each choice employs cinematic techniques to draw you into the fray.

Our camera is in constant improvement, and future works from our side are being undertaken to make sure we implement every little trick from the book!

But not only do our cameras move; and not only do our Hunters move, also their components boast their own animations. From cannons to gently moving metal adornments, every part contributes to the illusion of massive, weighty behemoths. Slow-motion effects add a dramatic flair, accentuating the epic "Lone Hunter against the World" vibe. And this world is of course not made of one big conrete block: Terrain types influence movement, just as in reality. For now though We are continually working to improve motion in water on our maps, how it moves, splashes or slows your Hunter! Perhaps, in the not-so-distant future, we will introduce new ice-cool terrains which will impact how a Hunter moves, and resists to, or propel it accordingly!

And since we're talking about propelling: Encountering "smaller objects" (if you can call them that from a Hunter's perspective) won't slow you down. Instead, you'll send obstacles flying, unscathed. Even brick buildings crumble in your path, leaving a trail of destruction without affecting gameplay. Taurus doesn't knock, right?!

Our SuperSprint, enhanced with cinematic effects, vividly communicates the sheer force of your Hunter. Another feature we implemented for V0.32.

Before Charges : Future possibilities

Congratulations on reaching this far into our article — a testament to your stamina.

System management is key, allowing players to fine-tune their Hunters for optimal performance through gear and mods. Balancing this system's complexity with accessibility is our challenge, aiming to enrich combat strategies without overwhelming players.

As we refine ideas for future implementation, feedback remains crucial, guiding us to strike the perfect balance between strategy and action. The evolution of the Steel Hunters universe is mirrored in our approach to mech movement, blending player fantasy with mechanical finesse for an unparalleled gaming experience.

Final drumroll, please!

In a nutshell, diving into the world of mech movement has been a blast - hopefully for you as well, dear Hunter! From the sky-high entrances that make the ground tremble to the subtlest moves our metal giants pull off, our Team does everything possible to combine realism with Sci-Fi. So, get ready to stomp, leap, and maybe even dash a bit as you crush your foes in style. We're not just making a game here; we're crafting an epic adventure where even the biggest robots have their moments of flair. The Steel Hunters universe is about to shake things up big time!