medieval combat in a game

rouncer 103 Dec 27, 2012 at 03:17

im thinking about writing a little game where your in a medieval war, and you have to take down as many enemy knights as you can before you die, then you respawn, then you get a score at the end for your best kill death ratio.

thats all well and good, but i cant think how possibly i could control the combat with keyboard and mouse? i was thinking maybe you swish the sword with the mouse and position parries, but then how do you mouse look?

mouse is definitely for mouselook not for anything else it seems, so im not sure what to do, id like to implement something like wrestling too, where you knock your opponent to the ground by hitting him so hard getting him off balance.

something interesting, anyway, the best game i can think of is mount & blade, but ive never played it so i dont know how it works.

any ideas?

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rouncer 103 Dec 27, 2012 at 03:48

i just thought of something… what if i make it so it automatically looks at the closest enemy, then you can swing and parry with the mouse fine. i think ill do that.

David_Gallagher 102 Dec 27, 2012 at 07:57

That’s actually a really good idea i think! I’ve wondered in the past how to make fps malee combat not so jarring and an auto lock just sounds so logical and freeing up the mouse for nicer interaction.

Stainless 151 Dec 27, 2012 at 08:40

Or you could go the Hogwarts way.

Gestures with the mouse equate to attacks.

Straight up, thrust at heart.
Straight down, downward hack at head.
Left then up, parry sword and thrust at heart.


You could have the same gesture trigger different attacks based on weapons carried.

Right mouse button different attack than left mouse button.

If you try the Left then up attack while the enemies sword is above his head, the parry fails and you are open to attack.

Albertone 101 Dec 27, 2012 at 11:23

It’s not clear to me whether you want to make it first-person, third-person, top-view, isometric, etc.
Anyway, some references.

- “Die by the Sword”: I bought it on for less than 10$, you should be able to find a demo on the web. It tried to accurately replicate the way knights wielded swords. Quite fun, the controls were very complex, though. Oh, by the way: the sword is your only weapon.
- “Severance - Blade of Darkness”: a sort of 3D Gauntlet - four characters (Barbarian, Knight, Amazon, Dwarf), each profitable only with a specific class of weapon (axes for the barbarian, hammers for the dwarfs, etc). Very fun, and the camera is quite good - when the combat starts you lock the closest enemy, and with TAB you switch to the others.

- “Witchaven”: an old game powered by Duke3D BUILD engine, now abandonware - you can download it at . It requires DOSBox. Well, it’s not an overwork, yet it’s fun. An interesting fact: melee weapons suffer damage.

I think that the first-person pov is the most comfortable, while not as spectacular as 3rd person for combos, special moves, etc.

Also, take a look at this article about how to wield a melee weapon:

fireside 141 Dec 27, 2012 at 13:14

I think block and parry have to be automatic for sword play to work. If you’re not doing something offensive, you immediately block or parry depending on the situation. It’s all so fast. You can kind of look for an opening and choose to strike high, middle or low, right or left, and that’s about it, if the swing is already past your body, then blocking isn’t necessary anymore and you can choose an offensive move. A lot of games have you click, but it doesn’t matter where, so I think that would add somewhat. Adding some rpg elements would also probably be necessary. You get better at blocking, etc, with practice, and get new offensive moves that are automatically added.

rouncer 103 Dec 28, 2012 at 04:42

as for the type of game, its 3d - im thinking 3rd person view for the game, alot like severance blade of darkness - thanks for those refs, i checked them all out very interestedly.

but im planning on a little more “liquid” animation for the combat (more algorythmic than keyframed), and true collision detection between the blades and shields for block detection.

Alot like what stainless said, you swish the mouse and it grants the sword a tangent to swing apon, the faster you move the mouse the more momentum gets put behind the blade (so a second attack might take a little longer for high momentum swings, cause theres more pull back). left and right mouse buttons will be for parrying and maybe some thrust or something, i dont know, but mouse buttons would help mode the kind of swing you want.

firesides idea is cool, but im actually planning on doing the collision detection properly between the weapons, if they happen to be in the same place at the same time, then a deflection happens, otherwise it doesnt, so you have to try and get your sword in the way for a parry.

this teamed up with a good mobility method, like crouching and jumping and dodging, could make for a fun sword duel. ill get back to you guys, at the moment the engine has just started, ive just got some models spawning into space. this could be a fun project. :)

Albertone 101 Dec 28, 2012 at 08:44

More food for thought.

- “Enclave” by Starbreeze (yes, the Riddick’s worshippers): after this, Starbreeze worked on two “Knight of the Temple”, or something, games.
- “Into the Shadows”: just a video on YouTube, yet it’s very inspiring - it was made in 1995 by the swedish Triton demo group, before they founded Starbreeze - at the time it was a miracle, some people even thought Magnus Hogdal was better than Carmack!
- “Blood Omen 2” - far from being an overwork, I think it had, hovewer, a very competent combat system. Weapons get ruined - the problem is that you can carry only one weapon, so it’s very frustrating when, in the middle of hard encounter, you find yourself back to your basic claws!

I was thinking that maybe you should take a turn-based approach - when players are fighting restless, they tend to pay very little attention to even the most accurate fighting system: they basically push buttons like in cabinets. This, in my opinion, is a weakness of Severance: the combos were good and all, but I have to say that I used them more against “those-candles-on-that-table” (just to see the then amazing lighting effects) than in the real encounters. What ruins even the best combos&moves system, IMHO, are shortcuts: if players can choose between massive button pushing and the “educated” way… well, being (usually) lazy, they’ll end up pushing buttons all the time. On the other hand, making the mastering of the moves mandatory will probably frustrate average players, cutting your user base.

Stainless 151 Dec 28, 2012 at 09:47

The trouble with trying to model sword combat in this way is that you are missing the fact that sword combat is not like you see it in the movies.

A fight seldom lasts more than a second or two.

Have a look at combat in various era’s.

Shield wall is the key element. Attackers charge against a mass of men in close formation. Bounce off. Get stabbed.

Shield wall again, this time with the biggest baddest men having long handled axes which they keep moving at all times

Dark ages
Armour means that weapons have to change. Hammers etc used to bring down the knights, then they are mobbed and battered to death.

So the sort of sword combat you are thinking about didn’t exist in the real world, except in certain circumstances.

Gladiators, duels, etc.

Now using this kind of control system for gladiators …….. hmmm

rouncer 103 Dec 28, 2012 at 16:12

i had this link to the most curious little medieval game,(i couldnt find it sorry) it had rag dolls in the actual combat, so you could run into the opponent to knock him over… this would be a way to break out of the just “stand and swing” boredom.

heres the current bone design (im just hardcoding it in right now)


here it is just the legs, body,hair and weapon bones done, yet to add scabbards/wings.
notice there is tendon bones, i think i use these to make him stand up and restrict elbow/knee movement.

im leaving bones for ball on chains and whips :) those two green connections that connect the legs and the head are the “balance” keeping tendons, they help push him straight when hes standing. im thinking about putting in foot marks where he places his feet and keep it all alogythmic, ever heard of someone doing it like that before?

i reckon the nunchuckers would be the best weapon like this.

rouncer 103 Dec 28, 2012 at 21:27

edit, that last way to animate didnt work, but i managed to get a diamond to drop and roll along the floor, (new ideas) so i think ill make the actor out of a box cage.

rouncer 103 Dec 29, 2012 at 12:57

this guy has gravity acting on him, and hes still upright, im using a soft body shell.
you can grab points and almost make him walk.

Vilem_Otte 117 Dec 29, 2012 at 13:35

#Stainless - not entirely true for dark ages. Armor was quite expensive back then, also for fights it was quite thin (because you had to carry it), even though 15 kilograms of armor on yourself is quite a weight.

For more information about fighting in medieval age see some videos from Gladiatores for example:….h?v=Kj4Ng6DBfrg

Basically sword was most widely used weapon, because you can either cut, stab or punch (with its head - dunno how its called in english, in my language it’s “hlavice”, “jablko” or “ohryzek” :D)

I will elaborate further, though I got to invite my girlfriend to pizza right now, we’ve been together for 3 years. :ph34r:

I’ll also try to get some videos (one or two) online from our group and post them here, gimme few hours or so. :)

EDIT: Found some lower quality video of our group at our pages -, also don’t forget to visit gallery for some inspiration. Also for some photo reference (larger versions on click), feel free to look through pages for example at - they’re whole just in our language (so I rather put directly link here, because navigation can be a bit harder if you don’t know the language).

I can also try to dig some materials from our game and its development. We had some pretty nice references for swordfighting and few concepts for combat system. Basically now we simplified it a bit so it’s actually a lot more intuitive to control and a lot more action. First concept was boring even in concept. And we expect also more major changes after we put together some version that could testers play through.

Stainless 151 Dec 30, 2012 at 09:33

Nice footage.

Though my point is still valid, all of those clips show that start of combat->death is less than two seconds.

No swinging from chandeliers, no dancing with hat stands, just attack counter die

Vilem_Otte 117 Dec 30, 2012 at 12:07

Basically yes, this counts for normal fight (e.g. real fight). Theatrical fight for audience is something different, you do funny figures in it (like kicking to ass), and some action-movie figures (like spinning), the fight there takes even minutes - so it’s a bit more close to actual every game swordfighting footage.

In real fight you actually have counter for every action, but it’s just a matter of seconds until first or second actor makes a mistake and loses (mostly dies, or is mortally wounded). Basically there is no spinning, no “kicking to ass” or such. It’s not said that fight can’t take half minute or so, but only in 1-to-1 man combat (because in real battle you mostly recieve “mace-over-back” from totally different person than you think you’re fighting with), but even this is uncommon (both fighters would have to be very skilled) - because strikes are trying to create mortal wound or cause death (thats why you always aim for either head, neck, or heart during attack).

I’ll post some basic guards + information for fight later, and if I’ll find some camera I might pick you some reference too. First of all I need to get some food though. :D

rouncer 103 Dec 30, 2012 at 15:41

wow thats really cool! the fight scenes were really awesome. did i overhear that you vilem otte have a game combat system also?

Ive still got no more work to show, Ive gotten stumped on walking (let alone fighting) but its getting there. First attempts he looked like a zombie, any one have any hints for algorythmic walking?

Im using a softbody cage for the character, when it spins it looks really good cause it looks like the arms and legs weigh a bit and lag behind.

Vilem_Otte 117 Dec 31, 2012 at 14:44

Yup, we have combat system on our own.

To the basic stances (photos aren’t mine in the end, i searched them through google and credits go to, basically you have 4 classic stances in german school. Note that in every stance your sword’s tip or apple is aiming to opponents head (with exception of often more defensive lower guards). Note that these guards are count for fighting with medieval sword, not light rapiers or cords - they have a bit different style of combat.

Vom tag:
This is standard offensive stance (left is over vom tag over shoulder, right is vom tag over head), it gives you advantage in strength, because you can perform any oberhau - attack from above, basically mostly you try to perform successful zornhau - targeting opponents head. As for defence, this stance is still good, because you’re able to defend against any oberhau, mittlehau (with slight move or dodge), and unterhau with dodge (same goes for stabbing and slicing off).

Low stance, defensive, performing unterhau for attack (strike from below), or its immitation followed by deadly strike. This stance is quick responsive stance and probably one of the best defensive stances.

High offensive position, used for stabbing followed by deadly strike, or oberhau, mittlehau. You can also try to immitate unterhau followed by deadly strike, although thats not so common.

One of the most basic stances - gives good balance between defense (you’re holding opponent back, because he could get stabbed), and offense - you can stab, or perform any hau - oberhau, mittlehau or unterhau.

These are 4 basic stances for german school, there are others - zornhut, wechsel, nebenhut, eisenport, schlussel, einhorn uns schrankhut, and transitional stances that are rarely used as guard (e.g. unless you know what you’re doing, don’t do them) hengetort, kron, langort. You can find photos of them over the google again - but all these are *advanced*, basic 4 are in my opinion core for your fighting system.

Now how to defend. Basically the best way to defence is (apart of offence which i’ll describe lower) to avoid - e.g. perform a dodge. Move left, right, back … NEVER jump, jumping makes your stance less stable and it’s NEVER used. Your stance must be very stable and it’s basically 1st thing to learn (and it can take months to move and stand correctly). Basically this goes for any martial art (the most close is probably judo in case of stance).

If you move for defense it’s quite common to perform offense, by avoiding enemy weapon, he gives you an opening, a chance to strike and win. You always strike in such way, that he either has to defend (e.g. won’t be able to stab you before you hit him), or has to move. E.g. so he won’t be able to perform counterattack.

Then you have shielding. You always use shielding for counterattack, otherwise it’s pointless (this counts for whole swordfighting - you don’t do anything unless you can gain something from it). Basically when you shield yourself with sword, you try to disable your opponents sword and try to hit him. Like in the videos i posted, after shielding, there is ALWAYS an offensive reaction mostly winning the match (he won’t be able to react in such little amount of time).

So basically 99% of games have combat done wrong.

touch_the_sky 103 Jan 04, 2013 at 13:21

If I may add to the mix, I think another game worth checking out is Rune. I believe it was made with the very first Unreal Engine, not a super sophisticated game by today’s standards, but it was fun at the time (especially multiplayer, cutting off limbs and stuff:)