combat action

FightWrite: Your Killers Need to Kill

Killers need to kill. It’s surprising how many writers ignore this very specific and important piece of the ones they claim are killers, heartless or not. Sometimes, there’s a difference between the character we describe in the text and the actions the character takes. An author can tell me over and over that a character is a deadly and dangerous person who strikes ruthlessly without mercy, but if they don’t behave that way in the actual story then I’m not going to buy it.

Show versus tell: the difference between who the author says the character is and the actions the character takes in the story. Especially if the actions counteract the description. Now, you do have characters who lie, characters who misrepresent themselves, characters who say one thing and do another, but these are not the characters we’re talking about. This is about ensuring that you, the author, know the character you are writing. Unless you’re hiding their habits, let us glimpse the worst they’re capable of.

Monster. I could tell Jackson I was a monster, but he wouldn’t believe me. He saw a strawberry blonde, five feet eleven inches. A waitress, a Pilates nut, not a murderer. The nasty scar across my slim waist that I’d earned when I was ten? He thought I’d gotten it from a mugging at twenty one. Just as a natural layer of womanly fat hid away years of physical conditioning, I hid myself behind long hair, perky makeup, and a closet full of costumes bought from Macy’s and Forever 21. To him, I was Grace Johnson. The woman who cuddled beside him in bed, the woman who hogged the sheets, who screamed during horror movie jump scares, the woman who forgot to change the toilet paper, who baked cookies every Saturday morning, the woman who sometimes wore the same underwear three days in a row. The woman he loved.

No, I thought as I studied his eyes. Even with a useless arm hanging at my side, elbow crushed; my nose smashed, blood coursing down from the open gash in my forehead, a bullet wound in my shoulder, Sixteen’s gun in my hand, the dining room table shattered, and his grandmother’s China scattered across the floor. He’d never believe Grace Johnson was a lie. Not until I showed him, possibly not even then. Not for many more years to come. Probably, I caught my mental shrug, if he lives.

“Grace,” Jackson said. “Please…” The phone clattered the floor, his blue eyes wide, color draining from his lips. “This isn’t you.”

Gaze locking his, I levered Sixteen’s pistol at her knee.

“Don’t,” she whispered. “Morrison will take you in, he’ll fix this.” Her voice cracked, almost a sob. For us, a destroyed limb was a death sentence. Once, we swore we’d die together. Now, she can mean it. “Thirteen, if you run then there’s no going back.”

My upper lip curled. “You don’t know me.” I had no idea which one I was talking to. “You never did.”

My finger squeezed the trigger.

Sixteen grunted, blood slipping down her lip. In the doorway, Jackson screamed.

Do it and mean it. Let it be part of their character development, regardless of if which way you intend to go. In the above example, there’s a dichotomy present between the character of Thirteen and her cover Grace Johnson. There’s some question, even for the character, about which of them they are. It sets up a beginning of growth for the character as she runs, but it also fails to answer what will be the central question in the story: who am I? Which way will I jump?

If Thirteen doesn’t kill Sixteen, if the scene answers the question at the beginning then why would you need to read the story?

Below the cut, we’ll talk about some ways to show their struggles.


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Hey everyone! 
Sorry for not posting anything for a while. I was abroad on a small break, went on a short trip to Amsterdam, which was great, but now I’m back to work!

Today I started tweaking combat and enemy attacks to make it all feel better. It’s going to be a very long process but if the combat doesn’t feel just right then the entire game wouldn’t be fun. As a first step I added a white flash on enemies when their hit to help with hit detection. This already adds a lot more impact to attacks and also makes it easier to understand what’s happening.

Another thing is that I added a windup stage and a recovery stage to the enemies attacks as well as make them move slightly in the direction of the attack when swinging. This makes it easier to tell when an enemy is going to attack, giving you time to dodge or attack to stagger.

That’s all for now!

My 2D fundamentals final!

I spent a crazy amount of time making sure that all of the movement and combat is smooth and nice. Granted, some things are unfinished…


I’m still super happy with this.

The music is YW-Blackbird Blackbird (he makes amazing music, btw)

No one ever expects a lefty 😜.

I’m a mediocre swordswoman (would prefer a poleaxe, really) but the left handedness almost always catches people off guard. Taken this week at Swordcraft LARP in Melbourne, Australia by @theprohobby.


By starting the game with a bullet-hell style space shooter section, Nier: Automata is able to jump immediately into the action, with a set of controls that even inexperienced players can pick up in a short period. This eases players into the action combat of the game as a whole, as well as introduces them to the concept of dodging and blocking strings of red orbs (or bullets) that often fill the screen. This is all done in the opening section, and allows the game to start off explosively.


Chesterwick’s archer squad at your service - as you can tell, they’re absolute professionals, the Prince’s finest hunters… well, except for Cecil over there, she can barely hit a dead rabbit. Come to think of it, Gavin has no idea what he’s doing either. It’s basically the blind leading the blind out there. At least they look good.

Swordcraft LARP - Melbourne, Australia. 

Penitent Engines are horrific machines utilized by armies of the Ecclesiarchy. Piloted by heretics guilty of a terrible crime, they have been given one of the worst imaginable punishments available to the Imperium. A multitude of wires and chemical injectors are implanted into the heretics spine, which are then attached to a mechanical suit of destruction. When not engaged in combat, their chemical implants inject feelings of guilt and pain directly into their brains, reminding them of their sins. Driven by their pilot’s frantic need for forgiveness, Penitent Engines charge towards enemy forces heedless for danger, knowing that only in death can forgiveness can be earned.
Those condemned to pilot a Penitent engines are often individuals who were once seen as pious by the Ecclesiarchy, such as Priests or Battle Sisters. As a result, the Sisters of Battle consider it a sacred duty to witness these great machines in combat, observing the actions of their fallen brethren as they atone for their sins.


SOLDIER STORIES: An officer and a gentleman, of the highest order.

[L] Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green congratulates Maj. Robb McDonald after the ceremony honoring McDonald for his actions while deployed to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

[R] Maj. McDonald is congratulated by his wife Jennifer after the ceremony.

[Bottom] McDonald received the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest combat valor award, for his role in repelling an enemy attack inside Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. McDonald was serving as the executive officer of Marine Attack Squadron 211, III Marine Aircraft Wing. According to the award citation, on Sept. 14, 2012, 15 insurgents infiltrated Camp Bastion and attacked the coalition forces stationed there. McDonald took charge after the commanding officer, Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, was mortally wounded. He risked his life to lead Marines away from a building that could have become a death trap had the troops remained inside. He later shot and killed one attacker and directed two helicopter attacks that killed several other insurgents.

(Photos by Corporal Orrin Farmer, article by Corporal Scott Reel, 9 DEC 2013.)

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Maj. Robb McDonald, air officer with the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, received the Silver Star aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 9, for taking immediate action against the enemy while deployed to Afghanistan. Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, pinned the nation’s third highest award on McDonald who in 2012, was the executive officer of Marine Attack Squadron 211, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Forward.

“Murphy’s Law is alive and well wherever you go,” Toolan said. “That’s the great thing about being a United States Marine, is you adjust and overcome.” 

After the enemy fatally wounded McDonald’s commanding officer on the night of Sept. 14, 2012 aboard Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, he took control of Marines immediately. “There was a lot more going on than what was read in that citation,” McDonald said. “It was a collaborative effort of everybody that was out there, and I’m being awarded for that effort.”

While under attack, McDonald borrowed a rifle, engaged the enemy, and coordinated two helicopter strikes that ended the attack. “For those of you that aren’t aware of the fact that every Marine is a basic rifleman, those guys proved it in spades on that particular day,” Toolan said. 

After mentioning the men he fought alongside during the attack, McDonald addressed his wife and the battle she dealt with simultaneously. While fighting opposing forces, McDonald’s son was undergoing a major surgery as an infant. Jennifer McDonald, four months pregnant at the time, received news of the attack and had to pray for both her son and her husband. 

“After sixteen hours, and after everyone in the squadron called, I called and let her know I was alive,” McDonald said. “I just want to recognize my wife, because I love her, and I’m really proud of her for that.”

Two Marines were killed during the attack, but many Marines were saved due to the efforts of McDonald and the Marines he commanded.

anonymous asked:

Tips on how to make levels architecturally simple, to give the feeling of "Yes, the in-universe people built this with the intent of comfortably living/working here", instead of a complex maze, *BUT* still making it challenging for the player? I mean, how to do proper barrier and enemy placement (and other possible factors I didn't mention)?

In my experience, the best way to handle situations like this is to keep the enemies and the civilians separated spatially so that there aren’t as many difficult gameplay edge cases where fighting gets too close to the civilians. Then you can place the civilian NPCs in nearby spaces to convince the player to associate the idea of the area being populated mentally. You can do this by putting an area without action but with bystanders immediately before or near the action/combat scene to provide a sense of continuity, or you can include bystanders in the scene but in a location that is visible but unreachable by the player. Then the player’s mental continuity won’t be broken. Enemy and barrier placement principles don’t really need to change for this. Changing the way the environment looks is enough to make it work. Here, let’s look at some examples.

In Uncharted 4 after exiting the clock tower in Madagascar, Nathan Drake briefly navigates through a crowded marketplace. There’s no combat, there’s no bad guys, it is just an establishing environment where you see a lot of NPCs standing and walking around to provide ambiance. There’s a small cinematic to push the player to move forward towards another part of the city, and Drake moves in that direction. After crossing a certain point, however, an event triggers and enemies with guns show up, causing all of the NPCs to run away and leaving the streets empty for all but Drake, his ally Sully, and the enemies.

There are no longer any NPCs in the area, but the mental continuity with the previous scene is there and the player’s mindset is primed to believe that this area is lived-in and real. This whole area doesn’t actually have to be an open air marketplace, it just has to look sort of like one and the player’s brain will make that connection. The level designers can build the maze and barriers out of large and small objects normally found in a marketplace. This doesn’t really differ mechanically from other gunfight encounters in the game, but it looks sufficiently different visually that it feels like a different place. The feelings that the player experienced while going through the previous area transfer to the gunfight area because of all the other aspects that maintain that continuity. The player’s brain will accept it subconsciously.

Another method of doing this is by having specific areas designated for action near areas with NPCs. Final Fantasy XV does a pretty good job of this, especially in the city of Altissia. While exploring Altissia, the player sees people sprinkled all over the place. Night or day, you can see that they’re all busy doing things. However, there’s also the occasional monster that appears during a monster hunt. These monsters appear around the corners in the deserted back alleys and empty nooks and crannies of the city.

If you can keep the monsters in those areas away from the NPCs (possibly by just leashing them to the battle area), you can maintain the sense that the overall place feels lived-in and populated with secret battles like this happening in the shadows. The fact that there is a reasonable proximity to the NPCs minding their business while the architecture and visual design remains similar is enough to build the mental continuity necessary to associate the fights with a lived-in space. This kind of design lends itself to short, brutal battles in enclosed spaces.

A third example is using a different kind of proximity to build the idea of a lived-in space. This actually uses principles from Brutalist architecture - instead of letting the player move through areas that are populated by NPCs who live in the world, the designer places NPCs in areas that are inaccessible but visible to the player. The player sees the people going about their everyday lives and feels reassured that this area is not empty or lifeless, even if they are not observable from up close.

This way you don’t have to worry about bad interactions during fights because the player can never reach those places. In cases like these, invisible walls and seemingly-wide open architecture are your friends. You can still build your level as a functional maze, but instead of narrow corridors with solid walls, you use bridges, cliffs, railings, and other invisible walls to keep the player from reaching those other areas. I used example screenshots from Quantum of Solace: The Game for this principle, but I’m sure you can think of other games where the principle applies as well.

These are just a few ways to go about it. If you strip off all of the textures and materials from the levels until they’re basically just grey boxes, they’re still maze-like battlegrounds for the player to engage in combat. There’s always practically zero interaction between the civilian NPCs and combatants in all of these examples. However, you should note that the mental associations here are all built up by a sense of proximity. By placing civilian NPCs near the combatants and maintaining the same art style used for the environment, you create a sense of place in the player’s mind that has the mental association of the civilian living in the place. Human brains are primed to accept things they expect to see, so a good designer will harness that and ride it for all it’s worth.

Got a burning question you want answered?


The Cuban Navy and the sinking of the U-176, World War II

During World War II the Cuban Navy did not have a large role within the Allied Forces.  Mainly the Cuban Navy performed patrols of the Caribbean for U-Boats, conducted rescue missions, and escorted merchant ships.  However, during the war Cuba would take part in one notable combat action which would result in the sinking of the German U-Boat, the only kill claimed by the Cuban military during the war.

On the 15th of May, 1943 a Cuban and Honduran merchant vessel set sail from the Cuban port of Sagua Grande while escorted by three submarine chasers.  The submarine chasers were large speedboats donated to the Cuban Navy by the United States.  While small and lightly armed, the boats were perfect for anti-submarine actions as they were very fast, so fast that they could easily chase down a submerged submarine and drop it’s cargo of depth charges on a U-Boat

Unbeknownst to the small convoy, the German submarine U-176 shadowed the fleet.  Commanded by Korvettencapitan Reiner Dierksen, the U-176 claimed 10 ships sunk throughout it’s career.  Among the victims were the Cuban merchant ships Mambi and Nickeliner, resulting in the deaths of 23 Cuban sailors.  Capt. Dierksen intended to add two more notches on his periscope and continued stalking the Allied merchant ships.

As the U-176 stalked its prey in the Caribbean, the Cuban Navy brought into play the ace up its sleeve, an American Kingfisher floatplane, a special amphibious patrol plane that could takeoff and land in water.  From water level a German U-boat could easily hide below the waves, but when viewed from a thousand feet in the air the submarine was a sitting duck.

The kingfisher patrol plane spotted the U-176 and dropped a smoke buoy on its position.  The submarine chaser CS-13, under the command of Ensign Mario Ramirez Delgado peeled off from the convoy to investigate the area.  After making hydro acoustic contact with the U-boat, which was diving to escape attack, Delgado ordered depth charges to be released.  The first two charges detonated normally, throwing up columns of white foam and spray.  The third charge struck near U-176 with an audible clang at 250 feet.  Delgado ordered a fourth depth charge fired immediately.  The fourth charge struck directly on U-176’s torpedo room, causing a massive explosion that lifted the submarine chaser’s stern into the air.  After the fatal blow the remains of the U-176 sank to the bottom of the Caribbean at a depth of 500 feet, taking all crew with her.  A large oil slick confirmed the destruction of U-176, which was conclusively verified after German naval records were captured at the end of the war.

For his part in the command of sub chaser CS-13 Ensign Delgado  received the Medal of Naval Merit with Distinctive Red (Cuba), the Medal of Congress (United States), and a promotion to the rank of Lieutenant.  During the war he charted over 15,000 miles while escorting Allied convoys through the Caribbean.

The sinking of the U-176 would be the only combat action Cuba would participate in during World War II.