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Age of Empires II
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JACVBHINDS // 寒心420? said:
I've completed the practice mode several times over and I was doing well on both story mode and the arena mode until they bugged out. I use feints pretty often and I can generally predict how the AI is going to behave. I'm not a "bad player" by any means, unless you count "not playing the exact way the developers intend" as bad play. I've got enough hours in Exanima that the things that frustrate me can't just be chalked up to "git gud lmao". The combat in this game definitely has a lot of problems to overcome before I can take the adjectives "deep" and "challenging" seriously.
Sounds like you need to get better at the game.
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Scully said:
there's nothing you can do to break the stalemate.
^ This however does seem to suggest you still have a lot to learn.
I should clarify that I meant this hypothetically. Let's say the AI does nothing but rotate to face you. There is only one block stance and it's fully automatic. You can't strafe around the enemy faster than they can just turn to face you. You can't even barge the enemy to the ground unless you hook your weapon around their body in a very specific way, and I've only seen it happen a handful of times despite trying to make it happen reliably.

This situation rarely happens of course since the AI is programmed not to stand still, but it emphasises reacting rather than acting. On the flipside I can just sit still and only pivot the face the enemy, and I'll never get hit. In mount and blade or even bloody Skyrim if I just blocked in the same direction the AI would eat my ass.


Still Not Worthy
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I get the feeling you're using one-handed weapons. I don't have any trouble breaking through defenses in Exanima with any two-handed weapon, as solid hits will break blocks with weapons and with a little skill & crouching you can swing around shields, but one-handed weapons usually can't bash through a block reliably. Really, the only advantage I've found to using one-handed weapons is to facehug two-handers so they can't get a proper wind-up. I also admit I am garbage with one-handers, but in a game that is almost always one-on-one the two-handers really stand out.
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I use twohanders and polearms exclusively.

Orion said:
as solid hits will break blocks with weapons
This doesn't happen unless the AI is about to initiate an attack. The autoblocking turns off the moment an attack starts, meaning it sometimes looks like you're smashing through a block when the AI technically isn't blocking.

Try it yourself. Stand still and don't initiate any attacks. The enemy will flail around and bump into you but won't be able to score any hits.


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Arena -> Practise -> Novice AI -> First Fight. Starting Shield, Cloth, Weapon. Standing Still, Cursor on enemy (i.e. turning if he circles). No attack click.

Fight took about a minute (2 at best). Yes he hit the shield a number of times. Possibly more than me. Still killed me easy.


Still Not Worthy
Global Moderator
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JACVBHINDS // 寒心420? said:
This doesn't happen unless the AI is about to initiate an attack. The autoblocking turns off the moment an attack starts, meaning it sometimes looks like you're smashing through a block when the AI technically isn't blocking.
I don't know about that. Seems to me like I've crushed through a ****load of blocks with mauls, and audio feedback supports what I've seen (i.e. I can hear my weapon impacting theirs, and I can see their attempt to block). In fact, that's why my favorite early-game two-handed weapon in the arena mode is the maul. The AI's flailing at lower levels is futile if you can hulksmash them, and it plows through increasing amounts of armor for a long time.

I decided to refresh my memory, and I think my idea of block-crushing attacks has more to do with blocking being unreliable than anything else. I can also testify to Duh's personal account of the AI killing you while you just stand still & defend, mostly because of the unreliable, passive auto-defense. The most reliable defense I've found is to dry hump your opponent so they can't swing. If you get lucky you can even trip them and hit them while they're knocked down. :lol:

Harkon Haakonson

I am woman, hear me roar!
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That was an hilarious thing to do in the old arena. Take the hook-type polearm, hit it at the right angle and it would grab the person by the neck and then you could aggressively drag them around, throwing them to the floor and against walls. Then you poked them to death (comically so, because the damage of the weapon was so bad that it took several hits), and if they managed to get up , crouch and grab their leg instead!

Honestly I'm not sure why people call this game ****ty, or say that it has drunken, bad combat. Seems to me it's rather a problem of being bad at the game. I used to think the same when I was new, but when you get a hold of it, while it's not necessarily as fluid as in reality, it works well and feels right, and it certainly captures the feeling that dueling was always more about scoring a solid hit when the opponent was vulnerable somehow, and fights could actually end quite abruptly. Plus it makes sense that it's a much smarter idea to try to dodge attacks than rely on parrying, it not being reliable is perfectly plausible. It IS hard as **** to parry and still end up in a favourable position, contrary to hollywoodesque fights.


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Harkon Haakonson said:
Honestly I'm not sure why people call this game ****ty, or say that it has drunken, bad combat.
With regards to the drunken combat, I feel like the game has significantly tightened up combat and footwork animations throughout development, so I'm wondering if these are impressions from older versions (or alternatively, if my impression of the combat now is more charitable because it used to be a lot drunker).


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Mahud is streaming some more.

Realized I am an Insider  :facepalm: and got myself all the necessary bits for the beta. It's pretty cool to see things in motion, Madoc is actually churning out 1+ new versions per day. In terms of actual new content...
a lot of things feel a little better, though it is difficult to say why precisely. Lighting, movement and combat are simply more polished. They also addressed Jacob's concern about shields - with endurance diminishing quickly on blows blocked, leaving you sluggish and with further blocks reducing your stamina bar (yellow "dmg") - all the way to knock out. This seems linked to encumberance, which means wearing heavy armor without any skills to support that is a risky move. The AI also feels a lot more varied and immersive for the "Zeds". The passive ones are more cautious and will wreck you from behind if you instigate a fight in front of them. If you are the one being attacked by an agressive one, on the other hand, passive ones may flee, leave casuallly, watch with curiosity or get drawn into the fight on your side (if you maneuver in a way that gets the aggressor to swing at the passive zed.) Some bastards also wait until you are vulnerable or hurt before joining in. Given the various personalities and the fact that combat stance can now simply demonstrate caution rather than engagement by the AI, it is not always easy to tell the triggers for hostility (or "friendship") and you will sometimes come across an AI skirmish or its left overs. Respecting someone's personal space is definetely a big factor in all of that, though :grin:. Companion AI seems good enough and the dialog system fits the game nicely (no pause, choices on the bottom, dialog above the characters head) but is pretty limited after the introduction (as far as I can tell anywho). I got to the first redesigned level of the campaign before another patch hit and it feels like an improvement with caves/tunnels and more detailed rooms enhancing the dungeon interior. Naturally, there is still room for improvement (still hoping for a body of water) but I will have to check the other areas before final judgement.

//First impressions over.


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Finally a public update for all ya non-insider peasants :razz:

Exanima 0.7.0


Two new levels have been added to the game, featuring all new content, and also music. With these maps we've pushed for a new level of quality, detail and variety, taking advantage of new engine features and development tools. The first 3 levels of the game have also undergone extensive changes and improvements, an updated tileset and a lot of all new exclusive items.

Over 130 new items have been added across the game, including new item types like bevors and hats. We've also remastered or replaced many assets to better fit the game's current level of quality and aesthetics.


In this update you can meet your first potential long term ally. This provides a whole new dynamic and a fresh way to experience the game.

This was an important first step for the NPC interactions to come. With Exanima's inherent complexity, creating a competent companion was not simple. He is an asset to any player, and we will continue to make companions smarter and more self-sufficient until they feel almost like equals. We will expand on possible interactions, and importantly dialogue, which we can also use to better expose the story and lore.

Your companion will gain experience and learn new skills, much as you do. They will also learn to fight better, become more confident and undergo some other changes in their character.


Dialogue makes a first appearance in this update. We are still only using dialogue in a basic capacity, but it will soon become a much more prominent and important feature in the game.

Our goal with dialogue is something fully real-time and interactive. It is not a separate mode of interaction, but a part of it. You can talk while performing any action. Dialogue can have practical applications, you can point at something or someone, even while walking, and say something relevant. Tactical applications during combat can also be part of the same dialogue system. People can randomly witness the conversations of others, and perhaps join in, or simply learn something. There are countless applications, it is an implicit part of the world and how you interact with it.


You may have noticed that Exanima's world has been suspiciously flat. Our characters have not been good at moving or keeping their balance otherwise, and when characters lost balance they'd flop like a sack of potatoes.

This is no longer the case. The "balancer" is what has allowed characters make dynamic movements in combat and stay upright. This was overhauled to deal with more difficult ground, such as stairs or rocky slopes, and it is now active all the time, not just in combat. This new balancer does more than just upright movement, it functions even when tumbling or cartwheeling through the air, allowing characters to control more motions and regain their footing dynamically. Characters can now trip, slip, jump off ledges and generally deal with loss of balance without just falling over and resetting. Character can also recover quicker depending on the severity of the fall.

With this come various improvements to movement both in and out combat. In combat movement is now faster and also more responsive, allowing characters to quickly move in new directions without having to shuffle their feet as much.


Since we began our journey to make a game, our most ambitious goals have been with AI. What we're trying to do, as much as possible, is that if you imagine an approach to a situation, or a way you can modify or prevent an outctome, you probably can. For example, say you were promised a reward, but rather than complete the task, you decide to find out where the reward is stored and steal it. Something like this would not normally be possible, and so called "AI" is notoriously bad if you veer off the scripted path.

There is much more we want in terms of dynamic interactions with AI, but we've been focused on core gameplay features, and have neglected huge aspects of the game, for too long. In order to complete Exanima's story and content, we had to introduce major new features, like intelligent friendly NPCs, dialogue and mind thaumaturgy. If we tried to build these features without the proper foundations we'd ultimately get nowhere. We've now taken the time (perhaps too long!) to completely rebuild every aspect of our AI.


We want all our AI encounters to appear like living, thinking beings, not mindless drones that blindly perform a specific task. They are driven by emotions and other states of mind, they have varying personalities, they remember interactions with others and form relationships, they have social and non selfish behaviours.

You might startle someone unexpectedly and cause them to become scared or agitated, but they may calm and reassess the situation. They might defend themselves, but not wish to harm their attacker and behave accordingly. They can understand a stranger fighting in their defence, and may be grateful. They might act to defend someone they care about. They can even, potentially, form social groups among themselves. These are some simple examples of things that are not predefined game mechanics, but that occur organically as part of the simulation. Players and NPCs are treated in the same exact way, based on observable behaviour alone. There is no cheating, no making decisions based on things they shouldn't know.

This is basically our artificial brain, emotions, memory, decision making, impulsive behaviour. But what of more structured and complex tasks? If we were to now simply override it with strictly scripted behaviours, it would become irrelevant.


As soon as you tell NPCs to behave in a certain way and also give the player freedom to act as they please, things can start to go very wrong. It is a very difficult problem, and the less restrictions you place on the player, and the mechanics of the game world, the more difficult it becomes. Player and mechanical freedom are at the core of our design philosophy, we have spent years devising a solution to these problems, a solution we call the "role system".

"Roles" are basically collections of traits and behaviours. They can be specific and character defining, such as "King of Ardent" or very situational such as "person crossing bridge", they can also be relational, such as "friend" or "customer". They can be real or assumed, they can influence personalities, spread information, reputations and conflicts, and model various real world behavioural effects. Single characters have many roles assigned at once, they come and go, change and evolve.

There is a lot of complexity behind how roles function and interact, but the core concept is that we can keep building our library of roles, to expand on how characters can behave, adapt to situations, perceive and relate to eachother, and use the same tools and systems to also define more specific behaviours, without locking characters into situationally inappropriate ones.

This will be a long journey, but is essentially now a matter of content. Already now the role system is modelling all our behaviour, and we have the means and tools to keep building more.


Still falling under the AI umbrella, we felt it was time to address other things too. Combat AI as been completely rebuilt, it is more varied and much more tactical, allowing the most skilled AI to keep experienced players on their toes and not just fall into simple but effective patterns. It can be proficient with different fighting styles and weapons, and it is much more careful about accidentally hitting allies. Pathfinding has also been updated to negotiate more complex environments, avoid moving objects and more.

These are all complex systems, and all fresh from the production line. It will no doubt take us some time to iron out the kinks and especially to actually take advantage of new features. But we now have a true solid foundation, and an array of tools at our disposal to create better and more interesting AI.

Changelog for 0.7.0:

Large new late game area, the Crossroads

New optional area, the Catacombs

Over 130 new items

Reworked and improved first 3 levels of the game

First companion NPC introduced

Dialogue system

Completely rebuilt AI systems*

All new combat AI

More intelligent and tactical behaviour

Improved timing and footwork

Better proficiency with different weapons

More fluid and human-like AI inputs

More pronounced difference between AI skill levels

AI can smartly avoid friendly fire

New dynamic balancer*

Greatly improved movement on uneven ground

Increased speed and fluidity of combat movement

More accurate and responsive cursor control

Improved general animation fluidity

Improved thrust mechanics and animation

Improved feint mechanics

Improved armour damage mitigation mechanics

Added a stagger effects for blocking with a shield on low stamina

It is no longer possible to defend with depleted stamina

Improved walking and running control and animations

Improved hit reactions and death animations

Many specific animation improvements for all character types

Extensive additions to environment features and variety

More detailed and varied ground surfaces

Improved rendering quality, effects and post-processing

Improved texture asset production quality

Improved shading and global illumination

Better wear effects on armour featuring dents and more

Visual improvements to item icons

Full UI support for 1440p (4k is on the way)

Cursors that scale with resolution (customisations coming)

Improved combat experience gain mechanics

Improved lore related experience gains

Perfomance improvements

Improved loading times

Fixed weapons sometimes not sliding free colliding with environment

Fixed characters simply giving up when suspended over a high drop

Fixed issues caused by alt-tabbing during loading screens

Fixed vsync not working correctly on some systems

Fixed not being able to switch weapons while under attack

Fixed Sprint to Dash input option not working correctly

When an arena fighter ranks up, the previously highest loadout is copied

Increased weapon variety of arena master level fighters

Introduced RNG balancing for arena opponent generation

Improved random NPC generation and fashion sense

Short spears can now be used one handed

Various changes to the practice arena opponents

Many more fixes and small improvements


We're going to be rapidly adding to what these new features bring to the game, but we didn't want to keep you waiting any longer. We've got a lot more lined for upcoming updates too.


Bare MettleBare Mettle


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Been playing Exanima a bit.
Bought it after checking it out every year or so since the Kickstarter. Saw some videos and thought that I wanted to try it as well.

Build a soldier up in the arena, get oneshot in the head by a 2h warhammer, You have died. 8/10
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I was checking this recently as well. The kickstarter page has been dead for 5 years and Exanima hasn't changed much since around 2016. It's just kind of sad really.

My guess is that the team just broke up due to lack of funds / time and now it's only the lead guy doing bits and pieces between his regular job, but he doesn't want to tell anyone that the game is unlikely to ever be released. I mean at the current rate, it would take decades to get anywhere close to what the kickstarter promised.


Butthurt Bushmaster
Grandmaster Knight
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Which is a shame, because I remember reading about this game around the same time as Kenshi - both were relatively similar in scope, but I've been enormously impressed with Kenshi while this has fallen by the wayside.