Aztez – A Game of Conquest and Brutality
6Jan/147

Anatomy Of A Successful Attack

This is an interactive demo I built a LONG TIME AGO to showcase the proper elements of a successful looking/sounding/feeling attack. It got eaten in a server snafu sometime back. Haha! But I so frequently reference these elements when providing other developers with feedback on their games that it made sense to dig up the unity content and reproduced the post. It's pretty old and outdated, but it's still communicates the important ideas.

Push Z to see the attack, and push 1 through 0 to fire individual effects. 

If you're having trouble getting the unity content to load, just go here to load an independent web page with the content. Appears to be a wordpress issue. Sorry!

Here is a production break down of the individual effects. The bold effects are Absolutely Always Necessary™:

  1. Attack Animation. A good attack animation has some anticipation for build up and some follow through for weight. Make the character load up their weapon and then swing it hard.
  2. Struck Animation. A good struck animation should be fast and over the top to really sell the pain at  distance. It helps to flash the struck character a distinctive color.
  3. Weapon Swing Effect.  The weapon swing should be big and flashy, fire fast, and follow a smooth line.
  4. Weapon Dust Effect. I've since just integrated this into the weapon swing effect, but it's ultimately just secondary animation for the weapon swing effect. Not at all necessary.
  5. Hit Effect. Most of this is obvious, but make sure a hit effect is big, flashy, and fires very quickly. I like having my hit effects spew out some particles to make them more interesting, but this is by no means neccessary. ANY HIT EFFECT IS BETTER THAN NO HIT EFFECT.
  6. Weapon Impact Effect. This effect has traditionally been limited to fighting games and beat 'em ups, but it helps ALL hit effects unless you have an absurd weapon which doesn't need one. They just help sell the pain and make the entire effect more interesting.
  7. Blood. Blood is often times the last thing a player sees in a successful impact! I like to make it as beautiful as possible so the player is left with a sweet taste in their mouth when the attack is over. Obviously this isn't always appropriate, but when it is it should be utilized.
  8. Blood On The Ground. Unnecessary detail. It's just for fun.
  9. Attacker Ground Dust. Helps to sell the weight the attacker threw into the attack. If this look weird it's because the attack animation is too lightweight!
  10. Screen Shake. Self-explanatory. Easy easy easy way to sell the impact. When it's not overdone it should look and feel awesome.
  11. Awesome Sound Effect. This only fires when you push Z to look at the completed effect. Also self-explanatory. This one is super important because not having a sound effect looks and feels incomplete (which hurts the entire game experience) and having a bad one hurts the rest of the effect. So make sure you stick something solid in here!

Quick Freeze. This isn't actually implemented in this piece of content (but implemented in the game now); when the hit connects, freeze the animations of the attacking and defending character for a few frames. This is incredibly subtle but contributes to the impact in a very real way.

  • michaelheald

    Hey Ben,

    Not having any joy seeing the Unity player. I’ve tried refreshing and in different browsers, but no joy. Sounds like an interesting post too!

    • Travis Lynn

      ^ Same ^

      I love the write up though, I love combat mechanics and animation and this is one thing I see a lot of games get wrong or have done it sloppy. I’m glad to see someone else shares similar interests.

    • Deab

      yup tried everything I can think of, no Unity demo :(

    • http://www.benruiz.net/ Ben Ruiz

      Sorry, guys! I put a link to the content on my own space in the article so you all can check it out. It’s a wordpress issue I can’t figure out. :/ But the link appears to work!

    • Matthew Wegner

      Unity content should be fixed! I updated to a more recent WordPress plugin.

    • Matthew Wegner

      Should be fixed now!

  • DMac

    Looks awesome and I love the breakdown of the individual FX. One minor criticism, the weapon impact effect seems to be delayed. When I watch it it doesn’t seem to be rolling off the blade at the point of impact but rather happening after the blade has already passed though the target. Other than that I think it’s perfect :)