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Karnot

More Magical Magickae

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There are some articles that discuss the current implementation of magic in the games and implying (rightfully so, i must say), that it boils down to a bow or a gun with a different name. You know everything there is to know about your spells : range, damage, duration, mana cost, etc. There is nothing mysterious or threatening or respectful in that. Also, it doesnt make much sense that a mage study a few measly spells for many long years, it seems way too restrictive. Mages are supposed to wield powers beyond imagination, infuse any bystanders with fear and respect, not shooting 20 damage firebolts every 1,35 seconds for 2 mana. Asprin's Myth series is something of a reference, Skive got to an amazing heights knowing just one most basic spell and using it at the right moments. Also, for some time now, i was thinking that the whole spell-based systems are somewhat outdated. Sure, its simple to click and see the result right away, but the whole concept of a "spell" is somewhat ludicrous. Its one thing when a cleric uses a power granted by his god, a god could give all his followers identical powers, thus - "spells". But for every mage there is to not be able to do anything except some pre-made spells ? That is a regress of a sort. What i would like to discuss, is how to implement a magic in games as a more absract, spell-less, force. One way to do it is just use a Star Wars "Force" analogue, basically a telekinetic power. It would need to be coded with a somewhat advanced physics model, i suppose, but the options are numerous. The way i see it : - No spells, just a few options (for example Rotation or Spiral) - Force is applied either to existing objects, or projects a "patch" of Force - Spacebar tapping pauses the game and enters Casting mode - A stat that will affect the number of simultaneous targets and the speed of interaction. Examples of use : - Selecting the sword hanging on the wall - setting the force direction - adding rotation - enemy is slashed to his death by a swirling sword flying right at him. - Projecting the force on yourself adding spiral option - projectiles are deflected. - Projecting the force on yourself from below - walking on water or even flying. - Projecting the force on the enemy from inside out or from outside - gruesome death. - Projecting the force on the pile of rocks - enemy is stoned to death. - Projecting the force on the enemy's weapon - disarming. Of course the combat would need to be pretty much exp-less, since its way too easy to deal with the enemy in this manner, but i cant say that its a disadvantage in any way. What i'd like to see, is the magic in its most arcane form, like building towers from thin air, or summoning a netherbeing with unknown qualities that player will need to explore, or transforming objects into one another at will in the middle of nowhere.

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I agree, magic is just another "Gun" in most games there days.

I have been thinking about ways to make magic more amazing and less of a "Tool".

One of which is to add a bit of "danger" to magic. Make it so that its use carries a negative aspect. At the moment this is limited to "manna" and using this up just means you have to wait until it is recharged. Not all that dangerous.

As an example imagine being able to summon demons or Undead. Now usually these have a certain time limit or a limit to the number to can summon at once. Again, not all that dangerous.

My idea was to have each creature you summon to act as a drain for your manna. If your manna runs out, then you no longer control the creature, but it doesn't go away. It becomes an enemy.

You would have to give the mage some way to banish a controlled creature (and maybe even a way to regain control) so that the player can dismiss then to avoid this occuring.

This way a mage get a sense of danger about them. Sure you might have the party mage summon the skeletons to fight, but if they summon too many, they might loose control of them, and then you are faced with a real problem.

They might summon a lot of creatures for a short period of time (like a boss fight), but if they keep them too long, then all hell can break loose.

A second method is to make the mage as a battle field control character (rather than the artillery that is they current role).

This means that instead of spells that do damage, you give them spells that can deny an area to enemies, open up access for allies and so forth.

For instance, if you had a mage be able to create a wall of rock as a spell, the although this doesn't do damage, it might cut off a group of enemies so that your allies could deal with a smaller group.

Giving your allies access might be achieved with a spell that punches a hole through a wall (may be just a short ranged teleport between sides of a wall), or you might have a spell that can create a bridge over a chasm.

The last idea I am working on is to give the mages a bit of "Craft" to their magic. Instead of just having the mages cast a spell and then their manna is used up, why not give the mage some control over how the spell is cast, a sort of after touch to the spell.

Part of this idea is having spells "channelled" by the mage. But unlike "channelled" spells in games like WoW which use a set amount of manna before you have to recast the spell, this would keep casting the spell until the player cancels it.

Take a Flying spell for instance. The player would cast the spell, then the character would keep casting it as the player fly their character around. As soon as they stopped casting it the character would fall (so you would only do this while close to the ground). However, as the character is flying they continually drain their manna (or other spell casing resource) and if their manna is drained, then the spell self cancels and they stop flying.

The after touch is that the player controls the direction of the flying. Now, this could be interesting if you allow the player to cast it on other objects. First, you would want the caster to retain the flying controls. Second, you would want the target of the spell to be effected by the flying controls.

So the caster might not be the target, and so they would not fly, but then the object that they cast it upon would. This might be a friendly character (and so allow them to reach a high up place), it might be an inert object (like a rock) which could then be moved around the battle field (or dropped on an enemy :D ), or it might be an enemy (and then you could fly them up high and drop them :D ).

This is why the after-touch concept can allow you to give the player much more control over the spells. They can use the after-touch to perform lots more tricks than the standard concept of a "spell" can do.

This method requires you to have a physics system capable of handling different after-touch methods (like falling objects do damage to whatever they hit), and so is the most complex (although the channelling part should be easy to do).

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The problem with using a non-spell paradigm is that it gets very complicated and hard to implement, very fast.

Look up the tabletop roleplaying games Mage: The Ascension or Mage: The Awakening for what is probably the best example of what I mean. The magic rules for either version of this game cover most reasonable eventualities ("reasonable" in this case includes time travel, memory modification, and growing extra hearts so that you won't be slain if you lose one). Because of its complexity, however, you can't write a reasonable game based on its ruleset. You just can't. Maybe we'll have games like that in twenty years, but certainly not now.

Additionally, adding mystery to magic is just fine for adventure games or non-traditional RPGs, but traditional computer RPGs have a stat crunching component, and many players enjoy this part of them. Taking away their ability to perceive the outcome of their actions will annoy and frustrate many players.

I'm trying to solve this problem in my game project by making magic effectiveness and exact results fluctuate based on other magical effects active and being cast in the general area, as well as the basic magical resonances of the area. This is acceptable magical muckery, to my mind, because even though the conditions surrounding a spell are very complex, a highly skilled and/or dedicated player can figure out, from numbers given them, how effective their spell will be - just like a particularly skilled wizard should know whether a spell would be useful in a situation. Thus, when the player does a complex bit of strategic thinking with regard to their spell cast, they get both the satisfaction of playing the system correctly and of affecting their RPG character's effectiveness using their own intelligence.

To me, magic should actually be reasonably quantifiable... for someone who understands what they're doing. A lowly apprentice might be stupid enough to try to imprison one of the seven archangels inside a ritual seal of imprisonment bearing that angel's name and the stamp of their power, not knowing what their seal of binding means, but any wizard worth his salt will have the in-depth knowledge to know that it wouldn't work, and the resourcefulness to come up with alternate means to their end. If it were completely unscientific, it would be too dangerous for common use.

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Sorry this post is going to be a bit rushed since I'm still at work, but I had a few things I wanted to throw out there while I'm thinking about it...

In my game I currently have 25 different Runes that can be used to 'cast' spells. Currently all you need is to have earned the Rune to be able to use it. So if know Rune A, you can cast any spell that has a 'cost' of Rune A. But if you only know Rune A, you wouldn't be able to cast a spell that has a cost of Rune A, Rune B. As it stands, this doesn't require any skill and always works.

What I was thinking is what if each spell had a specific order that had to be entered to work? Let's say you have Rune A, B, and C at your disposal. When you attempted to cast a Spell of cost BAC, a keyboard type interface would pop up and you would have to click on the Runes B, A, C in order to cast the spell. If you messed up and clicked B, B, A instead something bad would happen or the spell would fizzle. I feel this introduces two elements. The first is some type of skill requirement (I may luck out and my opponent that is about to kill me miskeys his spell so that I live another round). The second is that it in some way mimics the learning of a spell. If I have keyed a fireball with Runes B, A, C a hundred times, chances are I'm not going to mess it up. (Of course the sequence would be timed).

Also, I've implemented a system in which Magic will hurt the user. Some spells actually drain health or lower attributes temporarily. I've also considered the possiblity of random events happening because of the uncontrollable nature of magic (like a .05% chance of something weird happening everytime you cast a spell).

And finally, caesura, I'd love to hear more about your implementation of how magic is affected by other neighboring magical elements and location.

Comments, questions, critisms?

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I am still working on my magic system built out of operators and combinators. I think I may have gotten a system where you can create your own spells (and then make other spells out of those spells.), however I feel I am missing the same kind of thing you are looking for. It may also be too mathy for most peoples tastes.

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you would need a very very intuitive interface for custom spells on the go. The on the spot wielding and molding of raw magical power without a predefined spell that you are completing is not something a novist spell caster should be able to do. A better system might be standard spell systems but make all spells something that can be customized. Morrowind did this to an extent but implementing spell effects which had permitters that could be changed when making new versions of the spells. I think its a bit too mathy and concrete, but i think that a on the go spell system for custom effects might be to complex to implement well. keep in mind also that if magic gets too powerful, you have a balance issue in many games between different classes. If you can just make boulders fly around and crush people, why bother with a sword?

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I wasn't implying you would have to figure out how to cast the spell, i.e. try different Rune combinations (we've already seen that thread [grin]).

Instead, it was more about a skill developed by practice. Kind of like Guitar Hero. Sure you know the notes are Red, Green, Orange, Red - but can you press them fast enough to get the Star Power?

Similarly, I have to click Rune C, Rune A, Rune B on the spellpad (Rune buttons on the screen) before the time runs out. Do you think this would be too frustrating (kind of like having to watch the cinema displays in FFVII EVERYTIME I summon) or that it doesn't even add much to the game? Just let me cast the spell already...

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What if you use a build-your-own-spell system? You have a fully-featured magic system to create completely unique spells, and you can access the "build a spell" menu when you reach a certain level of expertise. You play around with bending the raw forces of nature until you have a consistent magical effect, or "spell". You've just added a new spell to your list. Now, in the actual gameplay, you have one more spell you can cast. The whole experimenting with forces of nature part is where it gets risky. You have to be very careful or you could accidentally teleport yourself to Mars, or whatever random stuff you want.

Also, why is everyone hell-bent on balancing magic users with non-magic users? Of course someone that can adjust physics to meet their needs is going to destroy a fighter in a fight. That's a given. That's one of the benefits of controlling matter and energy directly. If you get past the learning curve that is... And if you can get your spell off before the sword-wielding brute gets within 3 meters.

I really think it's self-balancing if you make it risky enough and costly enough.

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Here are some threads that explore the idea of "discovering" spells and allowing the user to create their own. Pretty much how I started developing my rune system instead of just letting a player cast fireball for no reason.

link 1
link 2
link 3

I grew up reading about Magic as a very powerful force and that's how a romanticize it now. Anything that can redefine the fabric of reality needs to have some kind of checks and balances. Which is also why I need restrictions on my psionics and my race of time-manipulating xenophobes.

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Heres an idea, to make things a bit different froma gun or a bow...

I came up with it by thinking about how the process of casting a spell would actually be different, and what it could be like!

It comes down to 2 things -
1.Casting a spell takes concentration, almost meditation.
2.Casting a spell, particularly advanced ones happens in stages.

So one implementation could be that to cast a spell, the player has to sustain a short period of concentrating, where he can't be running and can't be attacked or spoken to. It is begun by holding down the attack button. Perhaps over that interval the screen darkens apart from the player character until the whole screen is black apart from the player character.
Then the first part of the spell is ready, maybe now the player's hand is a ball of fire, a release of the button sends the ball of fire forward at the enemy, longer holding of the button changes it to a ball of ice. A quick press of the button, just after its left increases the size of the fireball, and uses an extra burst of mana points.

So you have more customizable attacks, but they are slower to do. The period where you can't be disturbed means that you are vunerable without other classes in your party, but will improve as you reach the high levels.
the concentration period, including sending the screen black will give an added feel of casting magic.

Just an idea - sorry if its actually crap - its late :).

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