Simple Actions with a lot of Depth

What are some simple actions in games that actually have lots of deph? I’d say Mario’s jump is a good example due to the level of control you have over it. Got any others?

Double Jumping
My goto example a lot of the time. You can jump at many different points during your first jump to get a variety of combined effects, meaning that between both your jumps there is a lot of depth.

Weaving through projectiles (shmups)

Wavedashing (smash)
Different angles give you different lengths, you can jump up through platforms and do it, and as you land. Can also get you off platforms and be done out of shield and other actions.

Edge canceling (smash)
Can be done at any point in a move and off of many moves for varied effect

Strafejumping (Quake and derivatives)
Lots of variance possible on each frame, lots of variance possible in the overall arc and trajectory.

Kick Glitching (Mirror’s Edge)
Is modulated based on input speed, look angle into the wall, and time you kick off the wall. Allows different followups too

Side Boosting (ME)
You get different amounts of speed off it based on how cleanly you do the motion, both turning to set it up, and turning when exiting the boost.

Pointing and shooting while moving (especially rockets)
Pretty obvious, you can aim in a lot of directions, move in a lot of directions. Rockets and other projectiles you need to lead are really interesting too. Aiming is fundamentally tricky and has a lot of possible places your cursor can pass through and become active on.

Skiing (Tribes)
Activating the jetpack and going up and down the right hills to gain speed requires good timing and reading of the environment.

Depending on the game this requires good prediction ability for where to start drifting and how long to drift, as well as what direction to hold during it, such as to get the right angle.

A lot of Micro stuff in Starcraft Brood War
Moving units around and having varied results for different formations is fundamentally deep. Like pulling weakened units off the front line and having them assist from the back, or using tighter or wider or shaped formations versus certain other enemy types.

Directional Influence (smash)
I’m kinda cheating with this one, DI is deep because of a lot of assisting mechanics too. Actually trying to control your trajectory in the moment is kind of simple, just point the stick perpendicularly to the angle of knockback.

Tossing objects with gravity.
Getting parabolas right is tricky. Humans have natural physics simulating mechanisms that assist us with this.

Attacking in Chivalry
The sword moves and you can look to control it as it moves. Control over these two simultaneous elements means there’s a lot of different trajectories you can send your sword in. You can delay your swing in place by rotating your view the opposite direction, or spin wildly to slash everywhere and potentially around blocks.

Rebounding off a corner or incline
Judging angles of reflection is tricky, and can go a lot of different ways. Can quickly become too chaotic for humans to easily judge though.

Shooting an object that bounces off surfaces
Same as the above, but an object instead of you.

Staying atop an object moving under you.
Not quite the same as balancing below, this is more about

Walking the Slack Line taught me that there’s a lot involved with balancing properly. Even in the Tony Hawk games, trying to balance on a fine line has a fair amount of complexity, even if it’s a simple action overall, and being good at it can be tricky.

Trying to get maximum coverage of many objects with a limited area or set of areas.
This is a pure math thing. It’s the knapsack problem basically. A lot of math problems like this are inherently deep, like the traveling salesman problem. They require the use of heuristics to properly analyze. Actions like placing sentries, towers, or AOEs typically fall under this category.

Getting an object that is attracted to you gravitationally to orbit you, or redirecting it in general.
Lots of variables operate in synchronicity in these cases and you can get a lot of different results out of them with careful movement.

Bashgliding (Ori)
This one is cool primarily because you kind of need to balance the direction you bash with how much velocity you want to get off of it. Also the input is cool, you literally release the stick at the moment you bash. Then you can glide and double jump, and as long as you don’t press the stick, you’ll keep all the bash momentum. It’s possible before you gain the ability to glide to do this, but it’s obviously not as effective, and you definitely need double and triple jumps to really make it useful.

Divekicking (divekick)
All the divekicks and different styles of divekick in that game are so expressive. Like The Baz deserves a special shoutout for both versions of his divekick, the original one where he could jump straight up and then press and hold kick to choose an angle to fire, and he had to draw a line behind him that would be what actually hurt people, as well as the new one where he presses and holds in the air to extend a rope further or shorter, to determine the radius of the arc he will swing in, then he can do this again off the first swing. The fact this works SO WELL with the existing divekick characters is fucking incredible. It has a totally different type of counterplay where you need to basically kick him in the crotch, into his body, rather than at him the same way as the other characters, yet every character counterplays against this great.

Shielding (smash)
It has variable density, depending on how hard you hold down the trigger, which can have variably more pushback/shieldstun/damage taken when you hold it lighter, and it can even be tilted to cover different parts of the body. So truly effective use of the shield can be really nuanced.

Palmbombing (psychonauts)
It’s like the reflection examples and tribes skiing above, you can use the palm bomb to reflect off a surface, then redirect this velocity elsewhere. Helped by the fact that bunnyhopping conserves momentum in psychonauts.

Damage boosting
This one goes back to Quake, but involves a lot of games. There’s many forms of this, from rocket jumping, to grenade jumping, to getting hit by enemies to abuse mercy invincibility, to getting hit by enemies to get boosted forwards faster, to many other things. It can vary by position, by angle, by when you jump, many factors. Usually has incredible depth.

Canceling an animation with variable velocity over the course of the animation to keep the velocity.
There’s a lot of examples of this in different games, but one of my favorites is the DACUS in Smash bros. You can cancel dash attack into grab or up smash and keep the momentum of the dash attack (which for most characters boosts them forward rather quickly).

Dash cancel to keep invincibility (Slayer in Guilty Gear)
You can do this to add iframes to moves like bloodsucking universe to make them function like pseudo DPs. You can combine this with all of your specials and to jump forward invincibly whenever you want.

Divekick canceling (faust in guilty gear)
You can divekick (like dhalsim’s yoga spear) with Faust, then cancel with faultless defense, then do another aerial at any point in your jump to change your jumping trajectory and do aerials lower to the ground. It’s amazing to see in action and gives Faust amazing air to air and air to ground abilities.

Roman Canceling (guilty gear)
You can do this at any point in a move (after it hits) to instantly cancel the move. The Xrd implementation is even more deep because it can be before or after the move hits, vastly opening up the range of options. You can whiff cancel fireballs to act simultaneously to them, you can extend blockstrings at the cost of meter (I love Kusoru at Final Round XV roman canceling two sweeps in a row to set up a tick wild throw, that’s fucking retardedly cool). You can also YRC moves that put you in the air to do quick aerials, like YRC Bandit Bringer, or Millia’s 6K.

Movement on Ice
It’s tricky, you have a few variables going at once, and you need to judge how much movement will be enough to get you to a place, and how much is overboard. Sometimes you need to move fast, sometimes you can afford to move slow. You need to think into the future about the effect of friction to approximate where you will end up. The range of different speeds and attempts to affect your speed more or less create depth.

Tried to keep this limited to single mechanics, but couldn’t in all cases. Left off a lot of things that were obviously combinations of a lot of mechanics working together, or being decided between.


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