Claw design

Design for the Jack Claw project
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Claw design

Postby FB_Mikael » Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:32 pm

This excerpt is taken from the original Jack Claw design document.
It covers the topic of the main character's claw movements, attacks and so on.

Some of the notes are referring to parts of the original doc that haven't been published yet, but are left in for reference.

All of the community members are encouraged to take part in the design conversation.
More documents and topics will be released shortly.

Claw Design

The claw is the character's extending mechanical tentacle like arm. The claw body starts out as a extension to the characters own arm from the elbow and reaches out close to 10 meters. At the end of it is the actual claw - used for gripping.

The claw is capable to grab a hold of anything. It can grab into ground, walls, objects and enemies. The claw is able to enclose and form a fist with which the character can dish out lethal blows.

The claw is physics simulated and the controls affect the claw mostly as forces through the physics simulation. Also, as a result of the physics simulation the environment affects the claw just as the claw affects the environment, though the environment's effect on the claw can be dampened down a bit.

The empty claw has a snake like nature to it's behaviour. The claw body feels like it's full of power and it's every joint is like a muscle. It can be strained stiff to tightly control every move or be relaxed loose and swung by using it's momentum.

The claw body is retracted close to the arms natural length when it's not used, but when it is used the length varies and the claw body extends and retracts based on the situation.

Variable Size

If the claw is retracting - the size of the claw and claw body grow relatively to their distance from the base of the claw body. So the claw body is thinner at the base and gets thicker towards the claw when it's extended.

If the claw is not retracting The claw's size and shape could vary depending on the situation. On attacks for example the claw could become thicker towards the claw.


The claw body is elastic and has a bit of stretch to it, so it doesn't stop dead to the boundary of it's reach. Instead it is able to stretch out even over it's normal reach if there is enough outwards directed force affecting it.
Automatic Returning

When the claw has been idle for a moment, it will automatically start to pull back close to the character at increasing speed. The automatic returning starts at extremely slow speed, so that there is no twitch when the movement starts. If the claw is moved again during the automatic returning, the backwards pulling force stops affecting the claw immediately and the claw can be controlled normally.

Claw Moves

Claw moves are maneuvers by which the character can use the claw to move himself. In some cases these can also be used as attacks.


Kicking while moving and jumping would be better if they were done manually. Also the automation could prove out to be problematic.

Claw Aided Movement

Grabbing to the ground enables the character to move by pivoting around the claw or moving from side to side. The character can move by using the arm of the Claw to yank or thrust himself. So the player controls the character movement with the right thumb stick that is normally used to move the claw. As the claw stays put to the ground the controls - instead of the claw - affect the character indirectly. Therefore the controls' effect to the character is inverse.

If the character jumps simultaneously to moving himself with the claw he travels through the air, else he slides along the ground. If the character releases his grip while he is moving in the air, he can perform a horizontal jump that can move him further away than is possible when the Claw is grasping the ground. If the player then again maintains the claw's grip of the ground he can repeat the move as many times as he wants.


Should the character perform the move by default by jumping or sliding along the ground? In other words should the jumping be the only way to move like this, or should it be done sliding along the ground with the possibility to do it also by jumping? Probably only by jumping.

Is it really necessary to be able to move back and forth around the Claw?

The Claw's arm is 8 meters long, so when jumping even further than that, the character performs quite a long leap. If the player performs this move repeatedly in succession, the game situation can get quite ridiculous. A delay after the move could reduce this issue.

How does the move work as an attack, or does it? The character could impact enemies feet first, but how would it work in practice?

The character could push himself vertically by hitting a wall with the claw, causing him to propel backwards.

Also, by grabbing to static element – not only the ground, but also walls etc. - the character can pull himself to the Claw. Sliding along the ground the character can move faster than normally. This move can be done with the same control used to pull the claw to the character.

By pulling himself to the claw when holding to a bigger enemy the character can attack the enemy by impacting against it feet first.

Claw Jump

The character can jump higher than normally by using the Claw. By hitting the ground with the Claw while jumping he can push himself in the air, resulting in a high jump. This way the character is able to jump up to 10 meters.

The character is able to hang by the claw preventing him from falling and enabling swinging.

When hanging against a wall the character leans against the wall with his feet. The character is able to make a jump off the wall by releasing his hold and jumping simultaneously.

When flying over an edge of a roof for example the character is able to save himself from falling to death by grabbing to the edge and hanging from it.

Hanging from an edge can also be used, to take cover or hide from enemies or to lower the character to descend without getting injured from the fall.


Important in the train level, if made.

How does the character get back up when hanging from an edge? By swinging from either side, by pulling himself straight to the claw and up to the roof – retracting the claw or by jumping off the wall and lifting himself back up?

Swinging along a wall? Swinging to the right while hanging against a wall might be problematic.


If the character grabs a hold of static element above him, he can hang to it and swing himself freely in any direction. This can be used to cross clefts or just to move quickly. When swinging the character turns his facing into the direction of the swing.

Grabbing to static vertical surface - like a corner of a building or a light post - enables the character to do a horizontal sideways swing. The move requires the character to have some speed in order to fight the gravity. The move can be performed by running, grabbing a hold from the side and jumping.


This move should be considered carefully, since it draws comparisons to the Bionic Commando. Typical swinging over clefts has also been seen in many games already. It shouldn't be necessary to create situations where it's required. If we however can't avoid situations where it's reasonable to expect the character to be able to swing with the Claw or if not having this feature makes the game seem weaker, it has to be included.

Swinging sideways might be problematic. Could the move be done to the left without looking awkward and uncool?



When the character is gripping the ground with the Claw and running towards a wall, he can jump against the wall and run on the wall using the Claw to push him against the wall. This movement can be used to run around (or, over) enemies or to get around some obstacles.


The walls have to be planar so that they can be ran on, which will limit level design. On the other hand, if it's only possible to run on certain wall types, they have to be very easy to distinguish. It also has to be explained logically why it's possible to run on some wall types but not others. Does the move have enough uses? It would be a very cool move visually, and therefore it should be considered, even if it doesn't serve any big gameplay functionality.

This move can't be done to the left without looking awkward and uncool.

Lifting The Character With The Claw

A slower tempo version of basic Claw movement, where the character slowly raises himself in the air with the Claw and uses it to move around.


In this old version the main functionality is to cross obstacles. Has been made obsolete by new features – obstacles can be crossed f. ex. by jumping. Due to its slowness this move isn't very compatible with the character. The move can also seem quite unnatural. If needed, this movement can be combined with regular Claw movement so that slow movement with the Claw would be the same as this movement.

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Re: Claw design

Postby StevenT » Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:21 pm

In the suggestions thread when I mentioned a Claw Climbing System it seemed I was kinda close to your original plans mentioned in the swinging, jumping and claw aided movement parts :)

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