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TheKrust

Love it or hate it... does it really make things better?

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TheKrust    104
I have a game that I am currently in development on. You can read about it here http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=455119 for reference, but basicly, my question is this. Origionally, the plan was to have no magic what-so-ever in the game. It would be an RPG relying on real-time fighting skills and technology such as the loose incorperation of guns. The idea behind that being that I simply didn't like the idea of magic, let alone in something that I was desining. But I was working today at my crappy ass job (he he he) and something suddenly hit... I don't normally like RTS games, but age of mythology is the only one I like. I love RPG games, and I've hardly ever seen one that didn't use magic. Before-hand, I viewed the idea of magic... well... to be frank, kinda gay. But now it hit me that there become so many more angles playable when magic elements are combined with it. So my question is this, How do I incorperate the magic elements to a semi-realistic, modern day based RPG without: 1. Becoming a cliche 2. having people hear about my game and go "Magic, that blows" ( and I'm talking about your typical teenager that thinks magic is little kid crap) 3. Having magic elements without interfering with or nullifying modern day technology. (ie Fire explosion spells vs. rocket launchers) Is this kind of idea even possible without breaking an "idea boundry". PS: by idea boundry, I mean people being so skeptical about your game being "really out there" that they don't even want to try it EDIT: While I'm on the subject, another concern I have is if I were to make a game using magic AND slightly more advanced than modern technology, how could I do this without having genres clash. Please no references to THEIF. [Edited by - TheKrust on July 12, 2007 1:41:06 AM]

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Sneftel    1788
Quote:
Original post by TheKrust
and I'm talking about your typical teenager that thinks magic is little kid crap

huh?

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TheKrust    104
lol, ok your point was made, but what I'm trying to say is:

1. the MAJORITY audience of that movie is smaller childeren and older people who read the books. That's not your typical "Lets go get drunk on friday dude" teenager

2. Harry Potter is a highly acclaimed, multi billion dollar collective project... I'm a guy with C++ and some cool knowlege.

I'm not saying that I'm aiming for selling this game to kids who thought the matrix 3 was a great movie, but I do want the "common teen" to hear about the idea and not completley reject it from the start because of "magical wizards and dragons".

The typical teen, as you might figure, take up a good part of the market. I'd be a shame not to tap into that.

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sunandshadow    7426
I must really be getting old if the current crop of teenagers is culturally different enough to think that magic is uncool. What happened to the ability to throw fireballs at bullies and afterwards seduce a cute elf being something every high school student dreamed of? [looksaround]

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Julian90    736
Quote:
but I do want the "common teen" to hear about the idea and completley reject it from the start because of "magical wizards and dragons".

(emphasis added) I know its a typo but this made me laugh...

Now to actually try and be helpful, hmmm, Star Wars? I would say "The Force" counts as "Magic that doesn't blow" and I think the main reason it works in a universe with lots of technology is
Access to the "Magic" must be limited.
- Only certain people should have access to it to avoid it eliminating the need for technology
- It should cost the player something to use it and they shouldn't be able to easily get the something back (for example age the player)

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TheKrust    104
"The force" being magic is debatable, but you do have a good thought. I never thought of having something similar to that, but I don't wanna rip off star wars.

hmmm, I suppose that magic (obviously called something different in the game) could be something either very rare or intentionally repressed by authority. There's an idea... not saying what it is though :D

Anyway, you do have a good point but keep in mind that star wars take place in a different era, and a different galaxy with superior technology. This takes place in what could amount to a really crappy version on new jersey in the middle of a third world country.

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Kobalt64    190
I'm gonna have to agree with Sneftel & sunandshadow.

I don't know a single person who doesn't like magic... I'm your Typical Teenager by the way.

Atleast, as long as it's not 'sissy' magic like Powerpuff girl stuff. Then again, I do know alot of Typical Teenager chicks who like stuff like that [smile].

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erissian    727
Quote:
Original post by TheKrust
The typical teen, as you might figure, take up a good part of the market. I'd be a shame not to tap into that.


Just this once, I won't make an inappropriate joke.

Now, I'm assuming two things:
1. You're young yourself
2. You have a personal distaste for magical themes

Now, as far as putting off the magic-is-teh-gay portion of the population, who needs them? If you want to make a game with magic, then do that. If you want to make a game without magic, then do that instead. Want to make a game where everybody is a wild boar armed to the teeth? Fine.

When you make any game, you're likely to put off somebody, but you aren't making the game for them anyways. I don't think that "magic blows" constitutes an overwhelming majority of teenagers, although I'm sure it's some portion.

You're right that magic does open up a number of possibilities, and can be a convenient deus-ex-machina. On the other hand, if you keep with your original premise, then making the game work the way you want will challenge your creativity and innovation.

Implementing both a magical and technological world can be fun as well, and none of these three options are really cliche unless you fail to put any effort in. Besides that, it's hard not to do something that's been done before, and at what point do you consider something cliche?

Where do you draw the line with these? :

"A video game where an evil wizard kidnaps a princess and has an evil dragon for a pet."
"A video game where an evil wizard uses evil magic in an evil way."
"A video game where a not-so-evil wizard uses magic in a likely to be evil way."
"A video game where a wizard of some sort uses magic in some way."
"A video game about role-playing in any capacity."
"A game played on an electronic device connected to a display of some sort." (Sooo done before)

Frankly, there's been hundreds of stories about wizards, robots, or gritty cops on dangerous streets. There's been hundreds of strategy, role-playing, and shooter games. One brave hero? Thousands of years old. A brave group of heroes? That too.

In the end, as long as you add some unique and interesting addition to an old saw, it won't be a cliche. As long as it's fun, people will play it. People who are disinterested simply won't. Done worry about cliche thought, after all, there's nothing new under the sun, right?

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TheKrust    104
ok ok, guilty as charged on both assumptions. Maybe I'm just not really looking at the magic thing from the right angle. I think that all people INSIDE are magic lovers (to an extent). They're just in the closet lol

But ok, now I think I might have a new problem that can be handeled on a new forum... but we can surely contiue this one.

The answers commin right now are great, really stuff I'm looking for.

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Daaark    3553
As far as this common man hating magic based stories crap goes, you'd be surprised at how many different people I've met who like that stuff. I knew a few hot chicks VERY into final fantasy, a big tough mechanic who wouldn't stfu about World Of Warcraft.

How many people don't like the LOTR movies?

Fantasy novels often list fairly well in the NY Times best seller list.

If you want to downplay your magic, look into low fantasy stories. They have magic, but it's very restricted to a few wizard types, and even then, it's not endless big spells.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_fantasy

High magic stories / settings are the opposite. I'll use the new D&D setting Eberron as an example. They have magic powered trains to quickly travel over the continent, and the streets have magic powered lanterns lighting them up at night. They even have a player race called the WarForged who are robot like creatures brought to life by magic.

As for magic in a modern setting, there are plenty of examples of how to handle it. Buffy and Angel are good examples. The Crow, etc.

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Hollower    685
Quote:

But now it hit me that there become so many more angles playable when magic elements are combined with it.


It would be helpful if you could expand upon what particular "angles" you have in mind.

Quote:

1. Becoming a cliche


Try to avoid "magic points" concepts. Don't make magic just another health-type bar.

Avoid the stereotypical library of effects: damage dealing, buffing, defense, healing.

Definately no fire balls, lightning bolts, or instant full-body healing.

Quote:

2. having people hear about my game and go "Magic, that blows" ( and I'm talking about your typical teenager that thinks magic is little kid crap)


Avoid sparkly particles and glowing auras.

Stay far away from pointy hats, robes, wands, and riding broom-sticks. I'm sure I didn't need to mention those. [disturbed]

Consider the 'psionic' angle. Remote viewing, mind reading, mind control, and at higher levels things like telekinesis, pyro, levitation. Too much beyond that you start getting into 'superhero' type powers which again might seem like kiddie stuff.

Quote:

3. Having magic elements without interfering with or nullifying modern day technology. (ie Fire explosion spells vs. rocket launchers)


You could keep magic relatively passive; no attack spells. Make them reactive to some stimulus. Detection, defenses, and stationary traps.

You could have no "casting" and tie all magic effects to items. Again you'll want to avoid cliches like staves, cloaks, rings, and amulets.

You could go the route where the magic is done by some deity, who bestows artifacts or blessings upon it's followers as a reward for correctly performing some ritual (or a curse for doing it incorrectly). This seems out of place for a modern setting, but still could work (think H.P. Lovecraft).

That's all I can come up with right now.

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TheKrust    104
Thanks a lot Hollower, I can tell you have a lot of experience with story writing (that or you're just really creative :D )

Low fantasy (maybe I just read the article wrong) still seems a little too high key, but I get what you're aiming at. And the higher focus on psycic-like abilities is a good aspect too.

These will be very tough to incorperate without heading into copyright issues with star wars (jk, but you get what I mean), but even still like you say, It's another chance to streach the imagination.

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umbrae    308
Taking the Star Wars example and running with it. It seems that taking all the laws of physics and what things are like today and altering them slighty then working out what things would be like is a common way to create an interesting world.

If you can get a hold of Full Metal Alchemist have watch of one of the episodes. I'm not a fan but it's an interesting mechanic. Basically certain people after training or gaining the knowedge of how it works can use 'transmutation circles' to alter the world around them. They can't change water into wine but given the base ingredients they can create something out of it.

This works off the principal of equivalent exchange, you can only transmute something by putting in it's worth from the other side. In other words something must be lost in order to gain something else.

Anyway the story basically starts with two brothers trying to reanimate their dead mother. One of them looses an arm and a leg while the other looses his entire body and has to be affixed to a suit of armour. They did create something but it wasn't their mother. The story progresses and there are some interesting twists. Worth the watch.

I like the concept of altering a few rules and working out what has to be true if the rest of the laws still exist. As for a unique idea, that's up to you.

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Sandman    2210
There's nothing wrong with 'magic' in games, it's such a commonly used device I don't think it puts enough people off to be worth worrying about. Some of the most popular and acclaimed games of all time include 'magic' of one sort or another.

That said, no game needs a magic system. Not even RPGs. The Fallout games, regarded by many as the best RPGs ever made didn't have magic, and they had far more depth and offered the player far more meaningful choices than many RPGs with magic systems.

Don't bolt a magic system onto your game just for the sake of having one. If you do that it will likely feel incongruous and harm the game more than it helps.

On the other hand, don't be put off including a magic system in a game because you're worried a few spotty teenagers might think it's 'gay'. They should be concentrating on doing their homework anyway. [grin]

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Edtharan    607
"Magic" (note the inverted commas) is around us today. When you were a child and wanted a treat from the shops, you parents would say something like: "What, the magic word". And if you said it (the word is "please" if you didn't know), you would get the treat. As adults, we still use the word "please" to help us get what we want. We are still using this "Magic" from our childhood.

This is what "magic" means to most people. So magic is not just: "I viewed the idea of magic... well... to be frank, kinda gay."

However, in games, magic tends to be "Just another Weapon".

In the example of the "Kid in the Lolly Shop", the Kid did not have the Power (money) to get that Lolly, however, he did have the magic words ("please") that allowed him to achieve his goal (get the lolly).

Lets think about this in a game situation: Let's say you have the Black Knight who can't be killed by any mortal weapon. However, he is guarding the only weapon that can kill him. There play does not have the physical power to kill the Black Knight, but do they have the "Magic Words" to defeat him (it doesn't have to be words, it could be a magic ring, a potion, a cloak, a dance, etc). Well, in this case you might allow the player to paralyse the Knight (allowing them to walk past and pick up the weapon and kill the Black Knight), Allow the player to become invisible (and sneak past the Knight to get the weapon), and so on.

So in stead of "Roasting his ass over a slow fireball" kind of magic, you make the magic in your game special and not directly relating to combat.

Using magic as a weapon is a cliché. Making magic not usable as a weapon breaks this cliché(another cliché is just using magic as buffs and heals - avoid these, there are other ways that you can give the player the same gameplay effects).

Another way you can avoid the Magic clichés is to change the costs of using magic.

As an example. In "lord of the Rings" each time Frodo put on The Ring, he didn't use up manna (or some other magic points thing). He instead drew the attention of the Ring Wraiths.

Now for a game, that each time you used magic the Big Bad Wolf would come and knock over your house (metaphorically speaking), is not a good mechanic. If you wanted the house you wouldn't ever use magic. There is no interesting gameplay here (not unless there is something you want more than your house - and then there is no real decision too).

Instead, if you had it that every time you used magic, there was a risk that you would attract the attention of some "Other Evil" (which might make an interesting side quest). This Evil might have many different effects on the game play. They might steal something of the character's, put more obstacles in the way of the quest, or pretty much anything you can think of (you could even occasionally have a friendly NPC take an interest in the character wielding the magic).

There is also the "Magic as Technology", or "Any technology sufficiently advanced appears as magic". When ever you put a "Phasor" into a game, Faster than Light travel, or some other sci-fi technology, you are using "Magic" (note the inverted commas again).

In fact we even treat a lot of today's technology as "Magic" as many of us don't fully understand how the technology that we use works, we know the correct "spells" and "rituals" to make it work, but it really is "Just Like Magic".

Let's take something really simple like a light switch. It is a very simple piece of technology, but when we use it (the "Ritual") we just flick it on and it works (unless we haven't paid the electricity bill :) ). DO you understand how the power station works that generates the electricity, how the electricity moves along the wires to reach your house, how the mechanics of the light switch work to keep it in the on or off state (and how it stops or allows the electricity through it) or how the light bulb converts this electricity into light? At some point you probably don't understand how it works and just accept that it does. At that point you are treating the technology as magic.

To even view this page you have had to rely on this kind of "Magic". You types the URL (or clicked on the link) of this site and there you are. It seams simple, but it is incredibly complex (if you are really board, try it some time, describe all the steps needed to go from you finger pushing the "on" button on your computer to you seeing this website on your monitor - and for extra credit :) also list all the steps needed to get that computer onto your desk in the first place).

As you can see: Magic is all around us today.

Lastly, "Magic" as it is represented in games is very much a Western view of magic. Have a look at Some of the ways that the African peoples, the Australian Aborigines, the Ancient Greeks, the Ancient Egyptians, the Aztecs, etc, etc. Each of these peoples have a different view on what magic is, how it is invoked and the effects it can produce.

A bit of research and a bit of imagination can easily solve the problems you have with "Magic".

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T1Oracle    100
Most game today use magic. Here's a list of a few popluar titles:

Devil May Cry
God Of War
The Darkeness (FPS)
World Of WarCraft

Who other than you thinks magic is lame? It can be done in childish ways but, magic has been successfully sold to audiences of all ages and it continues to do so.

Technology hasn't reduced the interest in magic either. Look at the movie Transformers, technologically none of that is even logical. However, most people do not understand technology, to them it's like technology = magic that's real but complicated. Thus Transformers are "technology" because metal is real but all that shape shifting is "complicated."

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TheKrust    104
Yeah Edtharan
, I do see how the ring wraths thing might work, but calling magic and technology we don't understand the same thing is a big streach. I definitley see where you're coming from though. As how I refer to magic, is something completley impossible to happen... ever.

I can definitley draw some ideas and solutions from your post though, and this whole forum. I guess I was first just thinking that magic in the game woul be reffered to in the classical way, but twisting it around into an illegal, radiation-producing, superhuman skill is good too :D.

PS: I do know how all that crap works lol. My dad taught me.

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Sneftel    1788
Quote:
Original post by TheKrust
Yeah Edtharan
, I do see how the ring wraths thing might work, but calling magic and technology we don't understand the same thing is a big streach. I definitley see where you're coming from though. As how I refer to magic, is something completley impossible to happen... ever.

Would people in the sixth century have considered the ability to fly to be magic or technology?

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TheKrust    104
You bring up a classic point, but I think you know what I mean. I'm talking about something with no logic behind it what-so-ever. Flying in a machine is quite different than a fireball or lighting bolt coming out of your hand with no kind of technology backing that. Even if that kind of technology existed, it would be completley impractical. Not to mention absurdley dangerous.

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Sneftel    1788
Quote:
Original post by TheKrust
Flying in a machine is quite different than a fireball or lighting bolt coming out of your hand with no kind of technology backing that.

Ah. So if it comes out of your hand it's magic, and if it comes out of a staff it's technology.

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TheKrust    104
**sigh** not even thinking about the fact that a lighting bolt or a fireball coming out of a wooden stick would fry it... No, I don't belive a magical wooden staff would count as technology.

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HunterCyprus93    126
I would like to point out that my friends and I are young adults (18-23 age range). We are the kinds of people that will go to parties, throw parties, and do all that stuff.

Some weekends though, we will pull out a couple beers and play some classic D&D. We are also designing our own world for a game that has magic in it.

Not trying to argue with ya, just pointing out that there are a lot of people out there who you wouldn't normally see playing games like D&D, who actually do enjoy the fantasy fiction world a bit.

Like someone else said near the top of the post though, you can't make everyone happy, it's an impossible venture.

Cyprus

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TheKrust    104
I definitley know what you're saying, and as I said before, I think all people are (in a way) closet magic lovers. Some are just more open about it. I think the best way to go is the loose incorperation of magic just to add more angles (such as psycic abilities, time bending and such)

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Sneftel    1788
Quote:
Original post by TheKrust
**sigh** not even thinking about the fact that a lighting bolt or a fireball coming out of a wooden stick would fry it... No, I don't belive a magical wooden staff would count as technology.
Hey, a flame coming out of a plastic lighter would burn it too, right? So that must be magic.

Look, all this back and forth is fun, but a little offtopic. I hope I've been able to convince you that drawing an arbitrary line between "things that are magic" and "things that are technology" is counterproductive. Star Wars characters shoot lightning bolts from their fingers, and this is explained as technology. The Incarnations of Immortality series introduces a relatively complicated alternate physics consisting of a new type of antiparticle, and this is termed "magic".

In your OP, you mentioned an "idea boundary". I would suggest that the only idea boundary worth discussing here is in your own mind.

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