Icewind Dale II Weapon Combos
Here's how the weapon combos work: - Instead of 4 quick weapon slots and 1 shield slot, you now have 4 pairs of weapon slots for a total of 8 weapon slots. Weapon slots behave as in previous IE games - you move a weapon from an inventory slot into a weapon slot. However, these weapon slots are paired. I like to call them weapon sets although some might call them couplets, buckets, holes, etc. Each weapon set has an activation button beside them to allow you to quickly select which set you want active. These can be mapped to hot keys. Only 1 weapon set is active at any time. If you modify a weapon slot that is active (i.e. primary or offhand slot of the currently active set), the changes take effect immediately. You can modify non-active weapon sets without affecting your currently equipped weapons. I really disliked how you had to keep removing stuff temporarily in the previous IE games (in particular with bows and two handed weapons) just to put something else on and how dropping a weapon into another weapon slot changed your currently equipped weapon.
- For each weapon set, there is a primary slot (sword background icon) and an offhand slot (shield background icon). You can place single handed (1H) weapons in either primary or offhand slots. Two handed (2H) weapons go in the primary slot as do launchers such as bows, crossbows, slings, etc. Shields go into the offhand slots.
- A 1H weapon in a primary slot with nothing in the offhand slot means you are using a single weapon for combat. Same goes for placing a 1H weapon in an offhand slot with nothing in the primary slot - no penalties.
- A shield in the offhand slot with nothing in the primary slot means you are using a Fist with a shield for combat.
- 1H weapons in both the primary and offhand slots means dual wielding, with necessary modifiers.
- Selecting a weapon set with nothing in both primary and offhand slots will make a Fist appear in the primary slot, indicating you will be using a Fist during combat. Useful for monks to keep one empty set handy.
This makes it much easier to prepare weapon sets in anticipation of different battle situations. e.g. Sword and shield combo in set 1 for general fighting, dual wield axes in set 2 for when you activate Power Attack, bow in set 3 for ranged attacks, Two handed Sword + 1000 with Fireball ability in set 3 against Frost Salamandars, etc.
Although it would be nice to have some way to sharing a single item across multiple sets, this would probably be a lot more confusing to use. For example, if you have a shield across a few sets, should removing it from one set also cause it to be removed across all other sets? What if you drop it into a ground slot to discard it? Also, it would be complicated for the player to maintain weapon sets.
You can also switch between weapon sets from the main game interface by right clicking on either weapon. This brings up the 4 weapon sets and you can click on any set to make that the active one. You shift-left click on a launcher weapon to bring up a list of usable ammo types. By the way, shields now show up in the main game interface. All this might sound kind of complicated but I believe it will be quite intuitive when you get your hands on it.
I think it is open to debate as to which slot (primary or offhand) would be swapped out by players more often. Someone brought up a good example of keeping the same shield but swapping out different primary weapons. Also, one thing that we aim for is consistency in the interface as much as possible. While right-clicking to customize is consistent with our new interface system, a player might expect right-clicking on the primary slot to also swap the primary weapon out instead of bringing up the 4 weapon sets.
With the 4 possible weapon sets (and thus, 4 primary and 4 offhand weapons), the system you are proposing would be somewhat of a rotating weapon system. This was brought up initially during design although we had it rotate sets instead of just one weapon. It made it cumbersome as you had to "search" for the correct weapon. Bringing up the sets appeared to be much faster and smoother. I guess one method would be to bring up the 4 offhand weapons when you right-click on the offhand slot.
This was in the interface design which I was handed. I believe part of the decision was to try to balance an increase in the number of weapon slots over the previous games (more weapons, ease of switching, dual wielding, etc) with maintaining an uncluttered look. While some may disagree with the latter, I think the 8 weapon slots and new row of inventory slots have proved pretty useful so far.
As for what players found annoying with the old interface, when I was given the task to implement the weapon combos, I remembered that I hated how the previous IE games would swap out my currently equipped weapon whenever I dropped a new weapon into a quick weapon slot with the intention of preparing it, not using it immediately. I asked QA and the designers what they thought about implementing a simple system to allow weapon slot changes without affecting the currently equipped weapons and everyone agreed this would be a nice feature to have. On a similar vein, a lot of the old 2nd edition rules had to go, such as Monks not being able to use two handed weapons, etc. Another annoying thing was having to temporarily remove certain items just so you can prepare something in another slot, then having to put that first item back. This seemed to happen a lot with ranged and two handed weapons. Of course, as with all programming tasks, feasiblity within time constraints is always a big consideration. More so with an aging licensed engine. The trick is finding a good balance.
While we might have solicited more suggestions from the message boards, this was a case of timing. This system was implemented a little late so we tried to implement this as best we could within a given time frame. I think most people would also agree that interface design can be quite subjective. What one person might find completely intuitive and functional might be completely convoluted for another.