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Magic Systems (RPG mostly, but other genres perhaps)

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I was digging through my favorites folder and found a post by BobyDimitrov on magic types (http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=50544) and it got me thinking about the actual way magic systems are implemented. So what''s good about the common systems, and what''s not? Here are the systems I can think of (with category names that make sense to me): Menu System: Standard Final Fantasy-esque system for turn-based or semi-turn-based combat. Tried and true, works for the turn-based combat, but in order for it to be do-able with long lists in an active combat system, the game must be paused unless the player sticks with something like 4 spells. Pausing even works fine--until you take it to multiplayer. Hotkey menu: Diablo maybe? Useful with a few spells, but may take too long to dig through spell lists. Modified Hotkey: Nox, with the ability to jump to a certain spell set according to how many times you hit certain keys. Works, until you''re in combat trying to remember "was burn rra or rrra or rwa...or maybe that was a different spell..." Gesture System: Black & White is the only game I know of that uses gestures, and while it''s definitely a creative system, it sometimes requires far too much precision. Yes, I get that typically magic is considered an art which requires precise control to work right, but carrying that over to the player may be taking immersion too far, to where it cancels itself out. At the least, gestures must be different enough that one can''t accidentally activate something else (such as how the squared-spiral and rounded-spiral would often trigger incorrectly). Are there any others I''m missing? I realize that I largely pointed out what was wrong with the systems without offering alternatives--I''ll get to that after these are discussed a little. (Plus, I have to think of a few. ) -- WNDCLASSEX Reality; ... ... Reality.lpfnWndProc=ComputerGames; ... ... RegisterClassEx(&Reality); Unable to register Reality...what''s wrong? --------- Dan Upton Lead Designer WolfHeart Software

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Key-combinations: Simple example, player wants to cast magic missile. The combination for this spell is X-A-D-S. Player has to type X, A, D, S and enter, after which the spell will be launched. Tough (because you have to memorize the combinations) but I think it simulates the process of spellcasting pretty close. You can always grant high level spellcasters the ability to create shortcut keys for their favorite spells (example, a level 21 wizard that''s always used fireball can set that spell to a combination of just two characters)

Might be somewhat similar to Nox''s system, but I haven''t played it so can''t judge. Excellent system to balance spells. High level spells would require long sets of characters, perhaps even with a timing element included.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Key combinations sound like a good concept. Even moreso for non-combat spells. You could create a formula based on the potency of the spell, and have steps in-between for using reagents or whatnot.

Like, ressurect: X - A - use mandrake - D - dance in a circle - S

Hot keying combat spells would be the best way to go for real time combat, or perhaps a fast right-click menu with a limited number of slots.

Depending on the game''s control setup, you could also use the keypad as a decent hotkey as opposed to the traditional functions keys. They''re easier to work with one hand while the other works the mouse.

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We could go even further by having not only keys, but words needed for the casting. Like the player has to type the enchantment and a typo could result in various penalties. I.e. if you try to cast "Fireball" (not fireballs again) and typing ashahrethum instead of ashehradum, you cast "Berserk"... I just love the concept of malfunctioning magic!

And even further: voice recognition. I''ve seen (and even tested) some VR systems at work and can say they''re up to decent level. Why not have the game engine recognize the spell, as the player actually says the words? And it could note the input level too, so the higher the player shouts the spell, the stronger effect will be. I.e. in real time combat you see a huge warrior swinging his doublehander to cut you in half and the first thing that comes to you is shouting the "Magic Shield" spell, hoping that it will save you for just enough time to regain control of yourself and trun that stupid warrior to a frog. *rant, rant, rant*

This technique will allow the player to express their personality in the game, by memorising spells and each player will remember different spells, depending on which ones he uses most. After all, you use only the spells you can remember, the others will take time looking up in a spellbook.

More on it: to learn a spell, you have to learn to pronounce it. I.e. a powerful wizzard teaches you a new spell - he gives you a scroll you put in your spell book and when you read it, it has information how to pronounce the spell (like transcription). Furthermore, the wizzard could demonstrate the magic, so you could hear how does it sounds, so it would be easyer for you to learn it.

Comments welcome, as always!

Boby Dimitrov
boby@shararagames.com
Sharara Games Team

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BOBYDIMITROV:

Voice recognition... Ah, a dream come true.

The technology is there, why not use it?

How expensive is a simple microphone? How expensive would it be to include voice recognition software within a game?

The beauty of voice recognition is that it can be paired with in-game sounds.

Not only will I say ''alakazam'' to cast my magic missile, but if you''re standing close enough, you''ll be able to hear me say it.

Which also brings an element of strategy to the game: If I can hear what you say, and I recognize the spell, I can quickly counter your spell.

Question:

How far has technology developed in the VR realm? How long until we can put a VR glove on that will correspond to my character''s hand? Because then, we can really get spellcasting going. Black And White''s system was innovative (although frustrating again, because a mouse simply didn''t give me enough control I thought), but the ultimate goal would be to have your actual hand perform the necessary motions. After all, the mouse is just a tool controlled by your hand. If you can bypass the tool, you''ll have better control.

Is that thinking too far ahead... or not far enough?

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quote:
Original post by BobyDimitrov
And even further: voice recognition. I've seen (and even tested) some VR systems at work and can say they're up to decent level. Why not have the game engine recognize the spell, as the player actually says the words? And it could note the input level too, so the higher the player shouts the spell, the stronger effect will be.


Whilst voice recognition is a good idea, and some of the effects that you describe (ie. "instantaneous" player reactions: Shield) would be interesting features. There is no way that I (or many people) would shout stupid sounding Fantasy Spells TM (Frobot, Alakazam, Gotochi!) etc. If there was any chance of being heard by friends or relatives.

Edited by - Ketchaval on July 3, 2001 10:16:13 AM

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The Magic system is something I''ve put a lot of thought into, and the Voice recognition coupled with the dataglove would be the best way to go. Difficulty could increase, and the need to memorize things would be required. Of course, along with the possibility of a mistake, goes the added inflection of an incantation. Such as the voice, or the gestures... such small differences should have a direct effect on the spell.



Jace Murray

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I like the idea of combining hotkey combinations, with the concept of runic magic (also mentioned in previous threads)

So, one set of keys could be associated with one rune set, eg

Element runes:

f = fire
w = water
a = air
e = earth

Another set of keys would be associated with another rune set...

Target Runes:

s = self
o = other

etc.

Using a method like this, the player can create his own effects by combining different keypress sequences. For really long sequences, it might be possible to enscribe scrolls using a simple in game editor - these scrolls could be used when needed like any normal item.

As for datagloves/speech recognition, I think it is bad design to rely on the users having specialist (expensive) hardware to play your game. While it may well be more immersive to wave your arms around and shout strange stuff at your computer, it is never going to be popular enough to sell more than a few units, so it is a waste of time developing it. Stick to a keyboard & mouse.




Edited by - Sandman on July 3, 2001 10:42:30 AM

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Ketchaval, I have to disagree.
I don''t consider myself a passionate player, yet I shout full power when the stupid Creature casts a fireball at will, or when my Amazon is slained by a horde of... goblis, or when I get hit in Tyrian, or... well, most of the time. I, and surely most of the players, freely express emotions provoked by the game in a verbal, and often other way and don''t have a problem with that. Also it''s not an easy task making me feel ashamed, yet much easyer to angry me, or at least the AI suceeds in that quite a bit

Silvermyst, yes, one of the best things about that tech is other players being able to hear your actual voice and recognise spells. They could even hear you cast a spell and try to cast it by themselves. It would be interesting, since it''s quite likely for them to make a mistake, yet others will always be tempted to "steal" a powerful spell. Imagine what happens to the caster after missspelled Armagaddon ! Buahaha!

And about the VR (virtual reality, that is, not voice recognition), I''m investigating right now!

Boby Dimitrov
boby@shararagames.com
Sharara Games Team

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Sandman, that looks ok, just one thing bothers me.
Most magic systems are based on the opposing elements:
Fire-Water
Land-Air
Life-Death

If a Fire wizzard is specializing in Fire magic, then he cannot cast Water, he can cast the rest four with 50% effect and Fire with 200% effect. Well, if I was a fire wizzard, my spell would look something like that:
ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff
(Fireballs, many of them)

Any workaround?

Yes, you could add some "land" here and there to get Meteor Shower, or "life" to get Healing Flame, but it still does not make the spells "real", like with the whole word casting. The spells lose their personality. As I proposed in previous posts, even if we''re not able to implement voice recognition, we still can make the player remember some words and type them when needed.

Boby Dimitrov
boby@shararagames.com
Sharara Games Team

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