On the “the shaft can hurt” issue: sure, this is definitely true. But at the same time, I somehow doubt that hitting someone with the shaft is going to do the max potential damage of the weapon. Especially when you were probably swinging the weapon THINKING you were going to hit with the head and not the shaft, but ended up hitting with the shaft anyway. That’s not going to be an efficient hit simply because its not what you were trying to do.
On the other hand: I’ve played War of The Roses. I can’t for the life of me seem to figure out how to get at just the right range to actually land hits properly in that game, when using some kind of shafted weapon. I’ll swing and it’ll look like the head is landing, but then it’ll just make a harmless “thock” and bounce off because the game decided I hit with the shaft. (they clearly didn’t block it) Frustrating! That just might be a bad hitbox design, though. Certainly the concept can be implemented more intelligently.
On the OTHER other hand: in this game, you can adjust your aim as you swing, by controlling your feet (movement) or your torso rotation and angle (mouse). But one thing you can’t control is extending or pulling back your arms midswing. So, I always kinda assumed that the GAME assumes that your guy is smart and is making some minute adjustments to his arm position as he swings in order to better land a hit. As a matter of fact, that’s something that kinda drives me nuts in WotR, when I get the attack range wrong and I think “isn’t my guy smart enough to pull his swing in closer to his body when he’s closer to people? Come on!” Obviously (realistically) with a really long polearm there’s only so much adjustment the arms can make before somebody gets inside your effective attack zone, but it still suggests that some greater forgiveness and leeway should be considered when dealing with attack hitboxes.
So I guess the result of all this is as follows:
-Differentiate between head strikes and shaft strikes with different hitboxes, BUT make them pretty forgiving, favoring the head strikes. So, you’d do things like make the head hitbox bigger than the actual head, and also have the game always favor the head hitbox over the shaft hitbox (so if both hitboxes hit the opponent, its always considered landing a head hit). That way you’re not getting shaft strikes when it seems like you should be getting head strikes.
-Make shaft strikes do less damage than head strikes, of course. Like, quarterstaff damage or something.
-Oh yeah, like somebody else pointed out, you should be able to block a polearm attack if you at least have a good chunk of the shaft in your viewport, even if you don’t see the head. Certainly one could just block the shaft.