After parsing through all the information provided by the Avatar Builder and with some feedback from this thread and visuals provided by this update, I've got what I think is how the Aesthetic Decoupling might work.
Before I get into the details, I'd like to set some things up front. First, the devs are going to want to maximize the duplication of efforts so that character animations can be used for as many different powers as possible. Likewise, they will want to be able to re-use power effects for as many powers as possible. This is because with aesthetic decoupling, a player may want to use animation A with power effect B on power C, etc. The more modular this can be, the more efficient the dev visual artists' work will be.
So I figure each power can be broken down into the following parts:
- The Animation Element (the animations the player character performs when activating the power):
- The Power Effects Element (the particles, beams, shields, and all the visual elements of the power upon activation):
- The Hit Effect Element (because not every power will cause an effect or a reaction in the target when it hits):
- The Lingering Effects Element (temporary effects caused by this specific power):
- Power-Specific Persistent Effects (could also be classified as Lingering Effects):
- Generic Buffs and Debuffs (to keep power effects from overwhelming the screen. These could be buffs and debuffs from other players maybe, or buffs and debuffs that warrant no special effects of their own):
For a total power effects package that looks like this:
I've parsed the aesthetic details of the primary power sets for each archetype, but ONLY the details that affect aesthetic decoupling.
The details are:
- Target. The animation and power effects for a single target attack might be different than the animations and effects for a cone attack or a point blank area of effect ability, for instance.
- Cast Time. Some powers are slow and some are very fast. This dictates the number of frames for the animation and the power effects. Some animations might be able to be slowed down or sped up to fit into other cast times, while others might not be.
- Number of Actions.
- We saw in the update that some powers are not just one hit for one damage number, but consist of several hits for a sum of damage. For example:Nerve attack-
- Toggled Powers, or as Tannim222 calls them switched powers, might need dedicated animations and/or power effects because their duration lasts longer than the initial power activation.
- Alternate activation. Some powers have an alternate activation (usually associated with knocking a target back instead of down or up) that might require a different animation or power effect
- Charge. Some powers can be charged up before activating and this affects animations and power effects.
- We saw in the update that some powers are not just one hit for one damage number, but consist of several hits for a sum of damage. For example:
- Whether a Hit Effect occurs or not.
- Lingering Effects. It doesn't matter on whom the lingering effects occur, the character, the target or something else, the effects are the effects.
- Special Effects are denoted by brackets [ and ]. After going around and around with this effort, I've realized it would be best if every power set had its own unique special effects. These would apply above and beyond the aesthetic decoupling modular effects. Anywhere in the following tables that you see [ brackets ], that is where the special effects show. I'll explain more when I describe each Archetype's table below.
Here are the tables:
But first, some definitions of terms you will find in the tables. These are my terms and probably do not all reflect terms that will be used in the game.:
- Root = movement debuff
- Slow = movement debuff + recharge debuff
- Haste = movement buff + recharge buff
- Obscure = awareness debuff
- Barrier = a protective effect that appears as an aura, shell, swarm or force field
- GTAoE and GTSummon = Ground Targeted, typically the player selects a location using their mouse cursor and a graphical UI target pattern. This probably requires the character to perform a few frames of animation in a repeating loop while its player is selecting the target location
- TAoE = Targeted AoE, an area effect centered on a selectable target
- PBAoE = Point Blank, usually reserved for radial effect Fx around the target (usually the caster, but not always)
- PBSummon = A summon at the caster's location
- Toggle = A persistent power that is selected once to activate and must be selected again to inactivate
- All other terms are official MWM terms explained elsewhere in official updates, etc.
- Guardians. Preservation and Strategy are difficult, since most of their special powers are just buffs or debuffs. So in order to set them apart from generic buffs and debuffs, these power sets might need some dedicated lingering visual FX on the targets to show the player that their character's effects are in place. I set aside a proc effect for Vampiric Emanation for the two-part visuals (one for the attack and one for dispensing the leached benefits of that attack).
- Operators. Force Control special power effects would be some sort of interposing partial barrier, particle effect or aura.
- Enforcers. Because of their combo ability, Tactical Combat's special power effects should occur when a combo is proc'd by a different animation and special ComboFx. I think the special power effects for Super Strength powerset should occur in the Hit Effect Element of the Fx. According to Tannim222, all Massive Melee powers start with cast time=slow. So the special Fx for Massive melee might best if they somehow portray the speed increase with Fx in addition to the actual speeding up of the animation..
- Rangers. Unlike Operator's Force Control, the Ranger's Force Blast might be better served with Hit Effects akin to Enforcer's Super Strength, since it consists mostly of knockbacks.
- Stalwarts. Solid Form's effects increase while immobile, so I can picture an effect that rises from the ground and/or becomes substantial.
In conclusion, when it comes time for a player to select their power effects, I can see a multitude of modular power effects and animations to choose from. But they would only need to choose from those animations and power effects that have been curated by the devs to apply to that particular power.
- Depending upon the power, the animations will be curated for them to reflect
- The target type
- The cast time
- The number of attacks
- and I expect it will be modified to reflect charge, toggle and alternate activations as necessary
- Next they pick the Power Emanation Point (not covered by this discussion)
- And once the animation and emanation point are set, the player will get to choose what the power FX look like. According To Tannim222's post #3 below, the Hit Fx (if any) and Lingering Fx (if any) will be included in this choice. The available power Fx will also be curated based upon:
- The target Type
- Cast Time
The player chooses the hit Fx if there are any Then the Player gets to select What the lingering Fx get to look like for that power
I expect the UI would look like CoX in which the character animates the attack in a repeating loop while the player picks and chooses various options until satisfied.
In addition, (probably first actually) the player will get to pick what their special powerset Fx will look like. They only need to do this once, as it will apply to all the powerset powers as appropriate.
I fully expect that every power set will come with its own default animations and Fx so a player can just [accept] their way through without having to spend much time at all customizing it. If they do this, there will be a secondary benefit in that many of the animations and Fx created for each set will be eligible as options for the other power sets using aesthetic decoupling. These, then, would be the base animations and Fx delivered on day one. With additional aesthetic options like tentacles, music, hex magic, etc., etc, added as the devs get to them.
This was written over the course of the month of February, 2022. Any changes made to the Avatar Builder since I started may not be accurately reflected herein. Also, a number of assumptions have been made due to incomplete or misleading power descriptions.
I look forward to seeing what others think about how this will be done.
I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.