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Well, I haven't done a damn thing in the past week or so.

Okay, not exactly true; I've been getting together with all my of old friends I haven't seen in a while since I'm home for the holidays, but developement-wise, not a damn thing.

For the past year or so, I've had an itch to make a strategy RPG a la Tactics, but have always shyd away from the idea because I think its too big a project to put together on my own while still in school. I am neither writer, nor artist/modeler, nor level designer. None of my friends are either (well, one is an artist, but shes busy enough as it is), and I really don't want to contract people to work for me as I don't have the resources to pay them or the time to manage them.

Anyway, last night I couldn't sleep so I started thinking about this project again, and I realized that, while there is no way I could develope a full game in any resonable ammount of time, a SRPG combat prototype aught be feasible. I probably will not have time to balance the whole thing, but so long as its fun I'll consider it a success.

For the engine, I'm thinking 2D worlds (maybe isometric) with 3D models. Shouldn't be too hard to throw together a 2D map system, and it will give me a chance to learn how to work with animated 3D models, something I've been wanting to do for ages. I plan to make the map editor in C#, so I can learn that a bit better, and teach myself some Windows Forms magic.

That still leaves a good bit of content to generate, which I'm a little apprehensive about. Models will have to be whatever I can find for free online, unless some kind soul out there wants to donate some. Combat and magic systems need to be designed, implemented, and tested/balanced. No small task, if you ask me. Theres also the (obviously most important) task of naming the project. Since I am creatively challenged, I'll leave this open as a contest to the readers (do I have readers? I guess I'll find out).

As far as the combat systems are concerned, I have some basic ideas, feedback on which would be appreciated. First up, the magic system:

My plan for magic in this game/prototype is to use an "element wheel" similar in concept to the color wheel. It will look something like this:

You have the four basic elements, fire, earth, wind, and water. There are three tiers for each element, each being more powerful than the last. When a player casts a spell, they select which tiers of each element they want to use. More elements/higher tiers will cost more MP. The selected elements are then combined to form the final spell. Opposite elements on the wheel will cancel each other out, so a second tier fire combined with a first tier water spell will be the same as a first tier fire spell. Neighboring elements will compliment each other, so a third tier fire spell combined with a first tier earth spell would result in a spell that did earth and fire damage, and was more powerfull than just a third tier fire spell.

I think that, while basic, this would be a pretty interesting/intuitive magic system. The only problems I can see are:
1) Lots of content to make. The different combinations of elements can result in many different spells, each possibly needing their own effects.
2) Blanacing. The system will need to be well balanced in terms of damage of combined element spells and mp cost for combining to justify all the possible combinations (like why it would be better to use 1 earth + 2 fire rather than just 3 fire).

The spell progressions would be pretty simple. For example, a first level fire spell could be a single target fireball, then a fire wall that has a straight line AOE, and lastly for third level, a fire storm that has a circular AOE, with each level of course doing more damage than its predecessor.

Anyway, thats the basic idea. I think it still needs some work, but the sooner I can get the engine up and running, the sooner I can prototype the idea.

My goals for today are to finish a window wrapper class for Win32, and a 3ds model loader (at least a basic one, I doubt animation support will be in by days end).
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You could make it a game just focused on combat, like Kingdom Elemental, but with more of a "tactics" style. Then you don't have to bother with travel or a story, and just make some kickass battles.

I'd buy it. :)

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Thats the direction I'd like to take. If I can get this prototype up and its decently fun to play, I'll expand on it a bit more and add multiple battles (maybe) strung together with some sort of weak storyline and throw in some characters and an overworld map.

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