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Ketchaval

Magic and Fear.

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There are (at least) two views on magic, the first (common) one is that Magic is usable like a gun with Magic Points working as bullets in your magic "gun". This is used in almost all games. The second concept of magic is the " realistic" which is where magic is an elemental force, a mysterious and intangible warping of the world. Focussed, but not controlled by powerful beings.. (or are they pawns of the God(s) ?). This view concentrates on trying to portray magic in a more superstitious way, where it is something to be respected.. either feared or loved. Linked to "real" magic is the idea of gods, religion, belief systems, sanity etc. Where groups of cultists may gather in the woods to carry out evil rituals to gain the favour of their so called gods. [For more on this look for an old Ernest Adams article on this at www.gamasutra.com ] The first method is one that we know and use in many games. Whereas the second is very rare. --------------------------------------- 1. What is the difference for a player between playing a game which uses the first type of magic, and the experience of playing one which uses the other type? 2. What would be necessary to create a game of the second type that is playable and enjoyable for the player? Ie. Gameplay features.

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Man i''m impressed on all of your posts, you have really sat down and broken apart systems used in games (i.e. magic) and brought up some good point on how things could be changed. I want to thnk you for helping to branch my thought processes in new directions.

"There is humor in everything depending on which prespective you look from."

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The biggest problem is that in most cases:

realistic != fun

If people want reality, they go to work.

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Ketchaval, I shared some of my views on the Magic in that post:

http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=50435

I do not consider Magic just "a way to kill a monster", although it could serve such purpose in need. The world that I desctibe is more of the second type you describe, where Magic is something rare and only a handful of people know it''s true powers. The others are mostly afraid of Magic, of the power it consists.

Another way to ask that question:
quote:
What would be necessary to create a game of the second type that is playable and enjoyable for the player? Ie. Gameplay features.

is to ask what uses has Magic that is not destructive, or creatinve in some way (like healing, food). Well, frankly, that''s all I can think about - it could destruct, or it could create. Look at B&W: you can create Wood, Food, etc with Magic (call it Miracles, whatever) and you can Heal citizens, oh, and you can kill them with Fireballs (those balls are everywhere). This is a game where "magic is the idea of gods, religion, belief systems, sanity". It is enjoyable, or some say so. Here we have it.


Boby Dimitrov
boby@azholding.com

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Oh, completely forgot about the Illusions, but that''s because I do not consider this magic. It could be done in real world by hypnotics, etc. Maybe we should define magic and make a list of all types of it, so we could discuss it freely.


Boby Dimitrov
boby@azholding.com

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So what is this type of magic? It is the Old type of magic, the kind that lurks in Myths (Cerce turning the men into pigs, the sirens luring sailors to their deaths), the X-Men movie, and the works of H.P. Lovecraft. It is the effects of the supernatural on human society.

quote:
By BobyDimitrov
is to ask what uses has Magic that is not destructive, or creatinve in some way (like healing, food). Well, frankly, that's all I can think about - it could destruct, or it could create.



I was thinking more along the lines of how can we create a game where powerful, scary, reality warping magic beings exist, but have it so that this is manageable by the player. Ie. How to avoid the player being frustrated when their platoon of soldiers is turned into soldier ants.
There are two perspectives to this.
- 1. The player (and any units they control) is NON-MAGICAL. They get the excitement of dealing with a scarily powerful enemy and succeeding by the use of their wits.
- 2. When the player is a magical being, how can they control their powers; what is the aim of the game etc.


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BobyDimitrov, I thought you'd like this topic seeing as you were talking about similar concepts.

Chronoslade, thanks! though, in this case the inspiration comes from Ernest Adams (you should check out all of the Game designers note books that he has done at www.gamasutra).

Buster , v. important point you make there (realistic not = fun). I think that you'd make it fun by considering the whole of the GAME and working out where the entertainment factor comes from, and how to give the player cool stuff to do whilst avoiding frustrating the player with a harsh system.
Ie. "reality warping magic beings exist, but have it so that this is manageable by the player"

Edited by - Ketchaval on June 6, 2001 3:09:16 PM

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Powerful magick in game use terms I think has an interaction rate problem.

I see really powerful magick as kind of being like a nuke, or the Death Star, or some miracle cure. Hard to consistently use, and instead more apt for key, dramatic moments.

A game like Diablo relies on a high rate of interaction with it''s most important elements, the monsters. Machine-gun magick in this case is necessary because magick is an expected part of the game fiction, and conflict is sure and steady.

Really powerful forces can''t be used quite often without having a transformative effect on the game world. In effect, if used with the same rate of interaction as in Diablo, it would be akin to playing during (and causing?) a limited nuclear war. The entire game world would experience cataclysm as your lightning rod levels entire cities and sets thousands of acres of forest afire.

More benign magick would have hte same problem. "Ta da!" Everyone''s cured. Crops grow throughout the land. Etc.

Big magnitude things used repeatedly make it difficult to sustain conflict and challenge, which may be one reason why machine-gun magick is so prevalent.


--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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Also what do I mean by "powerful, scary, reality warping magic beings exist"? Well, whilst having fireballs etc. being created could be seen as scary. But, the player will generally see this as just another standard gameplay mechanism ,
IF they

1. Take little damage (if they take lots of damage then it becomes a scarier type of magic- though no less mundane).

2. If fireballs are that common place that they are dodging them all the time (DUCK! another fireball, yawn).

3. If the magic has no effect on the characters or the world.
Ie. If the peasants that witnessed it are not cowering with fear, then why should the player care?

So mythical magic should be spontaneous, should be unique, should threaten the health of the characters and affect them emotionally! - It should be capable of unleashing horrific entities, of reshaping the world ... etc.

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The first method you talked about is an example of the designers succumbing to the marketers. Basically, you get a FPS with that kind of magic.

Personally, I think the best way to keep magic feared or respected or loved or whatever, is not to explain it in any manual or help. Don''t list all the spells, if you even use spells in your system. Make it really hard to get more advanced spells. Fireballs should be EXTREMELY rare, and townsfolk cowering in fear is an AI problem.

I think that the best would be to make magic itself extremely rare, and only learnable by a select few. The problem is, people want to play wizards all the time...so, apply a bit of realism, and everybody knows really simple spells. Like a spark or something. The people who can reach fireballs must still be rare, however.

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Yeah, there should be easy magic that anyone who wants to be a mage can use but very difficult magic that a dedicated player could master. The trick is to not make the early spells so powerful that your only choice is a sorcerer.
More exotic spells would really help too. I''m thinkng to some of the recent RPGs I''ve played and every spell is either offensive, defensive, or a stat modifier. Get some illusions and elemental magic in there! Someone with a better imagination than me may be able to think up some other types...

And I agree that really big spells like ones that may cause a Drought or an Eclipse should be learned in-game and not from the manual. These types of spells could require a lot of rare ingredients and a special ceremony to perform. Perhaps even several sorcerers working together!

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