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What if we could run on the ceiling?


Steel_Rook
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Silly title, I know - let me explain. Has anyone played the old 2008 Prince of Persia? One of the Parkour manoeuvres the prince could do there was a short, assisted run on the actual ceiling. It's an old game so videos are hard to come by, but here's a pretty good example of it. Now, yes, that sort of run defies gravity and would be completely impossible in the real world, but... Well, this is Warframe. We routinely pull off impossible feats of parkour. My Warframe is able to literally run up sheer walls, cling onto nothing and levitate a super-jump off of nothing whatsoever while sliding through the air. It made me wonder... Why not that?

 

Ceiling Run Implementation:

Triggering a "Ceiling Run" would be similar to triggering a Wall Run - get near a ceiling, aim your camera along it and a direction + your Jump key. If you're close enough, your Warframe will begin to hop along the ceiling in the direction you're holding. I'm not sure what kind of animation might be used, but there are options. Worse come to worst, we can just reuse the animation for running up a wall, just rotated to match the slope of the ceiling. Alternately, a similar animation like Prince of Persia could be use - your Warframe would initially grab the ceiling with their hands, swing their legs into it, pivot around, grab the ceiling again and loop through those actions. You can see from the video that this CAN look somewhat believable if animated smoothly enough.

Because one would often need to Wall Run to even reach the ceiling, transitions need to be accounted for. The challenge here is that a vertical wall run requires the camera facing towards the wall and slanted up, while a ceiling run would require the camera facing away from the wall though probably still slanted up. While I believe an automatic transition with an automatic camera pan is possible, that's likely to be highly problematic due to the game's current tilesets featuring too much "clutter" on the walls which can interrupt a wall-run and trigger a ceiling transition. In this case, I believe it's simpler to give this control manually to the player, allowing us to jump off a wall ourselves and re-initiate a Ceiling Run. Considering Wall Runs and Wall Clings reset our double jump and that we can bullet jump out of the air, that shouldn't be too much of an issue, though it may be a bit fiddly.

For the sake of completeness, however, I would recommend a new Wall Run ability - running "down" walls. While that's normally unnecessary since gravity will take us "down" a wall if we simply let go, there's merit for a slower, more controlled descent. Again I refer to Prince of Persia 2008, where the Prince is able to essentially jab the fingers of his metal glove in a wall and slowly grind his way down. This should give players greater freedom to move on walls without having to grab and let go continuously to move down. And on the subject of extra control, it would be nice to allow all existing Wall Run animations to "drift" a bit more from their cardinal directions in response to camera orientation. That is to say, let the vertical Wall Run drift a bit to the side if I'm not aiming straight AT the wall and let the horizontal run climb and descent a bit more consistently.

 

New Cling implementation:

Right now, Wall Cling is implemented as part of Aim. That is to say, you cling to a wall by holding your Aim key and you always aim while clinging. I propose that we reimplement Cling as the core of the Wall/Ceiling running system, rather than as an action separate from it - in other words, I propose we disconnect it from Aim. We'll discuss keybinds later. For now, the central proposition is this - the player can press or hold a button to cling to a surface other than the floor. From that state, movement controls would cause the player to "climb" along that surface relative to the camera's orientation. If the player stops inputting movement controls, their Warframe would proceed to stop moving and cling. If the player then inputs further movement controls, the Warframe would resume climbing in the appropriate direction. Note that no pause is required when first initiating a Climb - the player doesn't need to manually cling and stop temporarily before climbing. The Cling animation would entirely interruptible, so a player clinging WHILE inputting movement controls would simply transition directly to Climbing.

An option would exist for to set Cling (and Cling alone, independent of other settings) to either Toggle or Hold. That is to say, a player could choose to only stick to walls when holding a button and fall off of them on button release, or to toggle that option once, then stay glued to walls until either jumping off of them or hitting that button again. I don't believe that Cling should be a "sticky" option, in the sense of retaining its state when not stuck to a wall. A player, therefore, would always need to input a key press to Cling to a wall initially. Jumping or falling off that wall would reset the Cling status and require another application of the button press.

As to keybinds - my initial proposal above assumed the Jump key, as I feel this is the most logical one to use. We use Jump for Wall Run already. We get near a wall, then hold Jump + a direction to Wall Run. Intuitively, then, it makes sense that holding Jump with no directional input would produce a Wall Cling. Again intuitively, it makes sense that inputting movement controls while Clinging would smoothly transition to a Wall Run and ceasing the movement controls during a Wall Run would smoothly transition into a Cling. I say "intuitively," because I treat both Cling and Wall/Ceiling Run as two sides of the same action, similar to how you use the same control scheme to run and stand still on the ground.

 

Overall design goal:

This proposal seeks to create a unified movement system between floor, walls and ceilings. It seeks to give players a sense of stability, such that they don't immediately fall off and "fail" in Parkour over simple mistakes while offering intuitive controls consistent to the ground movement controls they'd be used from this game and others. In general, it seeks to render all surfaces of all orientations broadly equal. As an example, imagine a Jupiter room with no floors and only walls and ceiling. Assuming the player is fighting flying enemies who themselves need no floor, this new system aims to make THAT style of combat just as consistent and reliable as if the room HAD a floor. If a player chose to never step on the floor, this system should allow the player to do so. The floor is lava, after all.

I understand that my proposal is bound to have an impact on game balance. Sticking to walls can put players out of reach of melee enemies who can't equally climb. I also understand that there exists not that much room for such parkour manoeuvres. Arguably, opening up the ceiling would add substantially more such opportunities, but that would vary from tileset to tileset. In truth, however, my primary goal here is "the rule of cool." Warframe already offers a nearly unparalleled level of terrain navigation which puts most other games to shame, but the majority of it still consists of jumping around on the ground. I feel that creating a unified system of Wall/Ceiling running which puts Cling on the same controls as Run would help make wall running potentially easy and reliable enough that it's widely adopted by even the game's more casual playerbase. A wide enough adoption could potentially open the door to more exotic location designs, more elaborate jumping puzzles (or really, ANY kind of jumping puzzles) and generally a more diverse way to play the game. And if combat advantage is had from running on walls... Well, that just gives powergames and min/maxers reason to experiment with it too.

Ultimately, I just thought something like that would be neat 🙂

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5 hours ago, Skaleek said:

I see that the discussion of infested crawling on surfaces other than the floor got you thinking.

It did, yes 🙂 Thinking about the ability to cling to surfaces indefinitely and climb any surface freely actually reminded me of an old game by the name of Blade Kitten. Silly name, not exactly a stellar experience and also a 2.5D side-scroller, but it did get quite a bit of mileage out of its effectively infinite climbing mechanic. Prince of Persia 2008 was my other major source of inspiration, as mentioned in the OP. In that game, the player spends probably no more than 50% of their time actually standing on ground. Most of it is spent running along sheer cliffs, swinging on bars and columns and - yes - running on ceilings. It made me imagine a Warframe location which simply did not have a floor, and how interesting that may be to play if we had reliable terrain-running abilities.

 

3 hours ago, (PS4)FriendSharkey said:

I think that was brought up in the first or second year of Warframe with the Were-Wolf frame that the forums was always going on about...It was supposed to be able to run on the ceilings while in its animal form...It was a cool fan art concept that gained some traction but, eventually just faded off like...

I'd be shocked if that hasn't come up before 🙂 It's why I tried to put some mechanical implementation substance to the suggestion - an idea of how this might work from a player controls perspective. It's not perfect, though, since the I... Kind of forgot to account for a transition between a ceiling and a wall going UP. That is to say, if you're climbing an overhang and you want to transition to the wall above it. Could probably still just jump, then Bullet Jump up, but I suspect some work on preanimated/automated transitions might be required for something like that. It would also probably require new tilesets, since the existing ones are already pretty bad for Wall Running with all the random cosmetic crap on the walls. Jupiter had to implement invisible walls slightly above the visible ones that we run on, and even then there are a fair few ledges that'll knock you out of your run.

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Reminds me of the spider frame someone thought of, maybe if they implement this and make the new Warframe much better at it as their passive. Warframes can already jump on the walls for an impossible amount of time so I don't see why ceilings should be off limit, lighter Warframes could be much better at it too since tanks like Rhino and Grendel would be rather bad at hanging upside down for a conceivable amount of time. 

 

Stopping forward movement while wall running could start cling while also not messing with key bindings. 

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2 hours ago, (XB1)Red Dough Boy said:

Stopping forward movement while wall running could start cling while also not messing with key bindings. 

That's precisely what I was suggesting, yes. If you stop inputting directions while Wall/Ceiling running, you transition to a Cling. The reason I spoke about keybinds is right now you need to AIM in order to Cling. Since I want to separate the two, I'd like to be able to trigger a cling with the Jump key, rather than the Aim key.

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