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A Hobo's Thoughts

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A while back, Roots said something that really made an impact on me;
Quote:
"I have a golden rule. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING that gets added into a game's design should make the game more fun to play".
So, for my idea, I would like specific feedback: Not if it's a balanced, logical, or original idea... but would it be FUN. Would it be fun if ... A magic system consisted of a bank or pool of symbols. In order to make things happen, you needed to find and combine symbols in a specific order. This means that you can mess around with it and combine symbols that have never been tried before to create different and new effects. And... in order to access the symbols, you have to learn them from books and such, or trainers. The more you learn, the bigger your symbol bank... and the more varied the effects you can produce. Of course there has to be some limitations, like requirements to use the really big symbols, but I would like to know if the basic concept would be fun, or just tedious. Thanks GameDev!

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It sounds interesting. Not fun. The fun element here would be the way to implement this system and make it easy for the player to understand, craft, and use.

Actually, it really sounds like a fun idea. The ability to discover new spells by combining symbols, or to guess the correct amount and order of symbols to get a specific spell by reading its description (or something like that).

Like I said, this idea can be fun if it’s implemented properly.

Of course, this is just a Farraj’s thought :P

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You can make a system like this that is fun, but the system will not be fun automatically. A lot depends on what rules you use to determine what makes a valid spell, and on the interface. Time for a couple of examples.

In Eternal Darkness (a Cthulhuesque adventure/horror game for the Gamecube), spells are formed by combining two "effect" runes with an "element" rune. For example, Project+Monster is an attack spell (with element corresponding to the elemental rune you used), while Absorb+Self is a healing spell (restoring healthy, sanity, or (rather uselessly) spellpoints, depending on element). Thus, to a certain extent, the player can think "What would it mean to combine Summon+Self?" Clever players will be able to deduce the effects of some spells simply by the runes that go into them, thereby being able to use spells that they haven't "officially" been informed of yet (for each spell, there's a scroll somewhere in the game that tells you the name of the spell and the runes required to cast it).

The key thing to learn there is that the player can deduce rules for what makes a valid spell. Moreover, because there are only two runes in each spell, there's a limited set of possible combinations; thus, there are relatively few "dud" combinations that should do something, but don't. You don't want to have logical spell possibilities that aren't in the game; that just damages the internal ruleset the player is using to discover spells.

Second example: Valkyrie Profile 2. In VP2, every piece of equipment has a corresponding rune (e.g. head/leg/body for armor, and a myriad of other runes for accessories, like Strengthening, Fire, Training, etc.), a color (blue/red/green), and a position on a 4x4 grid. Certain combinations of adjacent runes of the same color unlock skills that the player can train in for use in combat. When you're paging through your vast lists of accessories and other equipment, the runes show up in the grid; if you've created a valid combination to unlock a skill, then the relevant runes turn white. This simplifies the discovery process by allowing the player to quickly page through the possible runes for a given slot, and, assuming the other slots are fixed, determine if he can learn any new skills. The actual runes that combine to form a skill don't always make that much sense, and there's something like 20 different runes and only 50 or so skills, so there's no real deductive process to learning skills; however, the interface allows for a straightforward trial-and-error approach.

The key thing here is that the interface doesn't get in the player's way. If you're experimenting with a system, you don't want to have to page through multiple windows or watch transitional animations repeatedly. The interface in VP2 is simple and to the point, thereby encouraging people to actually try to discover new skills.

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This will be fun for about 2 hours until someone posts the entire spell list to the internet.

(btw, a system akin to this was used in dungeon master if you want to research how that went)

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Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
This will be fun for about 2 hours until someone posts the entire spell list to the internet.
By the same token, there's no point in putting any puzzles into games, since people can simply look up the solutions to bypass them.

Now, there is one concern with discoverable spells that I didn't mention earlier - namely, the concern the player feels, that if only they spent more time researching spells, they'd have a "better" gamefile. Frankly there's not a whole lot you can do about that, but some people will always feel penalized for not being willing to make an effort on a semi-optional part of the game.

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Quote:
Original post by Derakon
Now, there is one concern with discoverable spells that I didn't mention earlier - namely, the concern the player feels, that if only they spent more time researching spells, they'd have a "better" gamefile. Frankly there's not a whole lot you can do about that, but some people will always feel penalized for not being willing to make an effort on a semi-optional part of the game.


I certainly understand what you mean, but why not make spell discovery an ongoing process? e.g., a player must defeat a boss or complete a quest to unlock a rune or some other symbol, but they can always go back to collect them later.

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I'm sorry that I can't think of the title at the moment, but I remember renting a game for the NES or SNES as a child. It had a system just like this, where you earn runes and try to decipher the semantics that would grant you a new spell.

It was absolutely tedious. So tedious it haunts me to this day. I had to speak up for the children. Won't somebody please think of the children?

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Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
This will be fun for about 2 hours until someone posts the entire spell list to the internet.

(btw, a system akin to this was used in dungeon master if you want to research how that went)


Yeah, that really is quite a bummer now. I really liked getting Guild Wars the moment it came out, because people were still 'discovering' new things. It wasn't all just online for someone to read. That made it a lot more fun.

However, just because it is online doesn't mean that everyone will always look online. Games like the Myst series are a blast even though websites detail every single action in the entire game. But you only look online after you've tried for a long time. The thing is, if you want to have fun with it, you won't look online. So it can still be a fun feature.

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Didn't Square release an RPG on the SNES that used a similar system? I think you could input a name for your spell and from the spell's name it would have specific effects. I don't remember the name of the game since I'm not sure if it made it to the US but I think it has Rudra in the title. (From a quick google search I think it might be Rudra's Treasure)

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Very interesting feedback. What I'm getting from you guys is that it has the potential to be fun.

Also, there are a lot of concerns here that I hadn't thought of, thanks for informing me!

- Of course, this will need some serious balancing and adjusting...
- The UI must not be too tedious ... (I like blizzard's games, where the tactics are easy to learn, but hard to master)
- Limits on what kinds of symbols can be accessed (if not, people would only use the biggest and best ones).

So, I'm going to go away for a few days and write up a possible system for this thing, and I'll share it with you guys when I'm done.

Thanks!

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