Combat Spark

Last week, I squealed over the presence of a quality that I called that (as in, “My game needs more of that”) in Kung Fu Panda 2. As promised, I’m going to look into what it constitutes—including coming up with something else to call it. I’ve gone through several possible names (je ne sais combat being one of my favorite runners-up), but “combat spark” seems to be the best of them.

So, a quick overview.

First, what is combat spark? It’s hard to give an exact definition to—when it first came up, we spent about an hour trying to figure out what it was. What it boils down to is the thing that takes a fight beyond the mere (if one could call them such) elements of life or death struggle and into something that could reasonably light up the big screen. One could, I suppose, call it a sort of elemental awesomeness: a combination of the qualities that makes battle maneuvers nifty. It’s audacious maneuvers and clever improvisation, impressive actions on impressive scenery—it’s things that are so memorable they set that fight apart from all the others.

Why is combat spark important? Technically, it’s optional—and in particularly gritty (or at least realistic) stories or settings, it might be downright counterproductive. But when what you’re going for is big, shiny and epic, it certainly can’t hurt. You don’t always need it to be constant, though there are things—mostly TV series—that strive to do that; some moods are better suited to only letting there be spark here and there, while others benefit from a steady stream of it. It can, however, make the difference for people like me who otherwise take little enjoyment from combat; while everyone else is having fun with the various risks involved, we can go for the shiny.

What are some features of combat spark? While it’s impossible to describe precisely, and pretty subjective, there are some elements that usually bring the spark into a combat. The big one is that it shapes itself to its environment and participants, not just its weapons; you know for sure that a fight in A location with X opponent isn’t going to look the same as a fight in B location with Y opponent, and both of them would change if noncombatants of different stripes were added or if it started raining. It’s flashy, but it isn’t all show; things get done, or at least they would get done if the opponent wasn’t preventing them with equal flair and skill. It’s dynamic, in constant motion and prone to rapid reversals and point-counterpoint. I’ll be going into more detail on what this means, and how to get it, soon.

Completely explaining how to get combat spark is going to take far more than one post, but we’ve got time, right? Stay tuned.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Ingredients of Combat Spark | Exchange of Realities
  2. Assembling a Sparky Action | Exchange of Realities
  3. Combat Spark Through Imagery | Exchange of Realities
  4. Impractical Applications (How Not to Spark) | Exchange of Realities
  5. Kindling the Combat Spark | Exchange of Realities

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