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Brain Drain. I need your opinions on several aspects of design!

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Well, the title says it all except what aspects I need opinions on. Although this seems like an old question I would like some input on different ways of handeling magic in a fantasy setting. I am opening this from researching spells, casting them to balancing effects. As a note I have noticed that recent games display the mage as a warrior that uses a more mysterious sword. Perhaps you can think up some ways to make magic seem more like the true sense of the word. I am also looking for ideas on newer ways to deal with melee combat. EverQuest is just boring. Battle doesn''t seem too intense when all you do is hit buttons. (this doesnt appear to apply to action FPS games due to the required movement to stay alive) But this is for a massivly online setting. Keep in mind I already have many theories, I just would like to see new ones as well as compare my ideas to those that are out there. I''ll be posting a good share of my ideas once I see a few posts. This way nothing I say can change the information posted here. Thanks guys for your help.

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The concept of magic used by Larry Niven in his story "The Magic goes away" (or something like that), is one that I think would be interesting to use in a game.

Essentially, instead of wizards having their own mana supply, mana is present in the land itself. Spells draw this mana from the nearby surrondings and once the mana is used up, no spells can be cast in that area. There are only a few ways to "recharge" an area, ritualistic murder being one of them. Creatures whose metabolism is partly magical (dragons) cannot survive in a magically depleted area.

Niven came up with a devive known as the warlock''s wheel. It is a disk that is given a simple kinetic spell to cause it to spin faster and faster using up more mana the faster it gets. It has a powerful warding spell cast on it to hold the disk together at high speeds.

The disk rapidly uses up all mana in the area as it turns at astronomical speeds. Once the mana is depleted, the ward spell fails and the disk flies apart due to the extreme forces resulting from its spin.


Korvan

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I have toyed a few times with the depletion of mana, but in a massivly online setting it would come to be a hassle beyond belief. As more and more players join you would have to rethink how much mana was available in some places to make mages a viable class.. on top of that our terrain engine would have to track another layer of information. It''s a nice idea.. but a technical nightmare.

However, the idea of them not having their own source of mana is exactly where I am headed. Mana will be the very thing that hold reality together in this case and is inherent in all things. A casters ability to use, collect, and channel this mana is where thier power comes from. Also, I was thinking that certain stupidly high level spells would be able to break the laws of reality effectivly twisting the mana in a given arear until it "heals". This would affect spell casting.. and perhaps as you said magic oriented creatures.

Although.. that disk sounds oh so delicously evil and gorey that I might make something of it, lol.

Thanks for the input. I hope to see more.

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you could include some sort of mana "springs", so that mages can come visit and "recharge" from an [effectively] limitless supply. however, they cannot carry it away (other than whatever they personally absorb). perhaps some springs can have different types of mana (weak, strong, chaotic).
OT: i have one of those Warlock''s Wheels, but i can;t even get the damn thing to start spinning here in new jersey...

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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To me, the idea of a finite supply of mana in an area, or having to trek to a "mana spring" to refill, fails immediately at the basic "But would it be fun?" test.

You are restricting player options. Unless you add some kind of artificial limitation to control how they play, then mage players will just camp the areas around mana springs. They will either be too powerful while around a spring, since they have unlimited mana, or they will be far far too weak away from a spring. You could add some goofy rule like, "The SWIRLING CHAOTIC ENERGIES of the spring disrupt all spellcasting in the area to such a degree that spells only hit for half damage while cast within half a mile of a spring", but it would be better to just scrap the idea in the first place.

The exception to this would be something like an RTS where the players were on equal footing, and controlling the springs was a fundamental part of gameplay. Sacrifice did this - every player was a wizard, and every map had mana wells scattered around it. A wizard''s mana only regenerated while standing next to a well (or his own Altar), but they could summon structures called "Manaliths" that would claim the mana well so that only that player could use it. Additionally, they could summon creatures that would follow them around and channel a certain amount of mana to them from each of their manaliths, even when they were away from the manaliths themselves. This made controlling the manaliths a big part of gameplay, but would not work in an RPG, unless you were going for some sort of an RTS/RPG hybrid.

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I love the GURPS magic system (with a few tweaks)

Basically, it works this way... Magic is drained from your stamina (it tires you out) then from your health. So, basically, the more magic you use, the less "other" stuff you can do. Anyway, after that, you can also get mana stones with add to your mana pool and can be recharged. Mages can also contribute mana to a spell, so, if Mage 1 doesn't have enough to cast a spell, Mage 2 can contribute mana to Mage 1's spell (at a value equal to or less than Mage 1 puts into it, since he controls the spell).

Finally, the longer you concentrate before casting the spell, the more mana you could put into it. Just for argument sake, say that you gain 10% mana for every round past the first... if your mage chooses to wait until the third round until they cast the spell, and have put 50 points into it, they gain 10 more points (20% -- round one gets no bonus) to put towards the spell. This gives low-level mages ways to cast higher level spells. Keep in mind that every round is another chance for the spell to get interrupted.

So, you've got 5 inputs here:

Mana Stones. Deplete but can be recharged at special locations.

Stamina. Recharges naturally with some resting -- if stamina runs out, your PC passes out.

Colleagues. They must use their turn to contribute to your spell, and can only contribute a limited amount.

Health. Worst case. If health runs out, you know the rest. A character should never be able to suicide themselves with this method (they can never spend more than Hit Points - 1 points of health), though they could get killed by dropping themselves to 1 point and accidentally getting themselves caught in the blast zone of an offensive spell.

Time: Limited only by the amount of time the character is willing to put into casting, and the risk they are willing to take that the spell won't get interrupted.

You can further limit this in two ways:

1) Player can only use 1 mana stone for a spell. So, with 20-point and 10-point mana stones, you can only use one, so you have a max of 20 points, NOT 30.

2) Have "mana areas".... Rather than draw energy from an area as you were thinking, use this to limit the effectiveness of magic in parts of the world. The magic that people have decribes how well it will work in a "normal mana" area. Low Mana areas lower the effectiveness, High Mana Areas increase effectiveness. No mana areas are pretty self-explanatory. The changes in effectiveness affect the likelyhood of spell success and failure and how much the spell costs to execute.

Finally, somewhat stolen (and changed) from Wizardry 8, have no such thing as learning a level 1 fireball and then learning a more powerful fireball. Instead, once you learn the spell, the strength of the spell can be determined based on how much mana you put into it. However, the more you put into it, the more fickle it is, and the more likely you'll fail unless you're a really high level mage.

-Chris

Edited by - crouilla on February 26, 2002 8:09:10 PM

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And now for something completely different...
How about, rather than requiring a resource like mana to cast a spell, make spells infinitly accessible. Cast as many as you like, as often as you like, but with a catch. The character has a "control" or "concentration" stat, which is depleted whenever a spell is cast, and regenerates over time. The lower this stat, the less control the character has over the spells he casts, ie, a fireball might be less focused, and therefore do less damage, or it might not fly straight, etc. And really badly out-of-control spells could actually start harming members of the character''s own party. The regeneration rate and maximum value of this stat would increase as the character gains experience. The great thing is, this also provides for ways to naturally increase the power of spells as you gain experience, because a rookie character starts with very little control.
It would take some creativity to design spells which can get progressivly more/less controlable, but I think that this would be a great system to play under.

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quote:
Original post by Plasmadog
And now for something completely different...
How about, rather than requiring a resource like mana to cast a spell, make spells infinitly accessible. Cast as many as you like, as often as you like, but with a catch. The character has a "control" or "concentration" stat, which is depleted whenever a spell is cast, and regenerates over time. The lower this stat, the less control the character has over the spells he casts, ie, a fireball might be less focused, and therefore do less damage, or it might not fly straight, etc. And really badly out-of-control spells could actually start harming members of the character''s own party. The regeneration rate and maximum value of this stat would increase as the character gains experience. The great thing is, this also provides for ways to naturally increase the power of spells as you gain experience, because a rookie character starts with very little control.
It would take some creativity to design spells which can get progressivly more/less controlable, but I think that this would be a great system to play under.


I like that idea... the only problems it could have are:

1) A high-level mage would be virtually indestructable -- he could just cast the "Mega Destruction" spell as many times as he wanted. If the "concentration" stat can run out, then you may as well just have a Magic Point meter, because you end up with the same effect.

2) Assuming the rolling of the spell is simply made more difficult instead of impossible, then you can simply have the "roll and reload" effect, where a low-level mage learns a high-level spell, then gets in a large-level battle and just keeps casting the spell and reloading until it "catches".

However, I like the idea. Perhaps use the Stamina stat in my idea as your "concentration" meter. So, the more tired your character gets, the less effective they are at casting spells. This would make them want to keep many mana stones handy so that they don''t need to draw from their stamina and possibly screw themselves.

-Chris

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No, I think you misunderstood my suggestion. If the concentration runs out, you can still cast the spell, but there would be a good chance that the spell backfires and does more harm than good. It''s not a matter of the spell simply failing to work; it will always work but it can get dangerously unpredictable without sufficient concentration. So, yes you could just keep doing the "Mega destruct" spell, but at an increasing risk to yourself and your party.

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Korvan, that is absolutly bloody brilliant. I never thought to have magic effec the land (I mean Ive read about it, MtG books), but that would be a terific limitation for mages. Bad mages wouldnt care, theyd leave the area a smoking ruin, but good mages would want to save the world. Just walking down, a mage will instictivly take some energy, so you could hire mage trackers, or maybe set a hound on the trail, or ave some creature tha roams the souil looking for absences of mana and attack the sources, that is excellent.

A thought of mine:
Mana is in the multiverse, all the planes except ethereal. When a spell is cast, the mana conglogulates (whatever) in the ehtereal and is zapped down, either through the proper pathways that are used to access the multiverse, or across the layers themselves, rending the fabric that holds them together. A mage would set up a lab somewhere and draw the energy in either way. But the weavers (yes, from Loom) would come and fine him if he took it directly, but give him a check if the magic was routed correctly. Something like that.

For combat in an RPG, something that was more tactics based. SAy maybe you have 10 NPC''s wth you. you tell Mr. and Mr. Archer to stay back behind the bush and pop out to cover. Tell Mr. Pike, MR. Sheild 1 and Mr. Shield 2 to stay together in a formation with Mr. Pike in the back. Tell Mr. Mrs. and Ms. Swordsmen to stay back and charge where the enemy comes in, Tell
Mr. Horseman with the Flail to ride around and flank While you sit back and watch it unfold and lob roacks at the heads of your enemies. (That shield/pike trick was actual tactics during the med ages, as well as the use of the swordsmen, ie use realistic tactics...A guy with a pike would kick a guy with an axe''s arse no matter how huge the head of the axe was)..That is another thing, implement reach of weapons, and perhaps damage types. In reality, mace did much more against chain than plate, a sword coultn cut main but sould thrust through it....

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quote:
Original post by Plasmadog
No, I think you misunderstood my suggestion. If the concentration runs out, you can still cast the spell, but there would be a good chance that the spell backfires and does more harm than good. It''s not a matter of the spell simply failing to work; it will always work but it can get dangerously unpredictable without sufficient concentration. So, yes you could just keep doing the "Mega destruct" spell, but at an increasing risk to yourself and your party.


I understood -- and I definitely like the "danger" aspect. I guess your way would have to have some creative balancing techniques that stop high-level mages from abusing it, because they have an inhumanly large "concentration" ability. If used in a MMORPG (where "reloading" doesn''t really happen), this would work. If used in a single-player game, you end up with Issue #2, where the person will just keep reloading until they get a result they like.

-Chris

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quote:
Original post by crouilla
I guess your way would have to have some creative balancing techniques that stop high-level mages from abusing it, because they have an inhumanly large "concentration" ability.

Well, the danger IS the balancing technique. Obviously you don''t keep increasing the maximum concentration indefinitly.

quote:
Original post by crouilla
If used in a MMORPG (where "reloading" doesn''t really happen), this would work. If used in a single-player game, you end up with Issue #2, where the person will just keep reloading until they get a result they like.


Isn''t that an issue with any system?

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I love you guys. I had never expected to get so many ideas together so quickly. And once again I thank everyone for their input.

Although I already have a strong sense of how magic will work in my game.. and yes it is an mmorpg setting. But I can see some ideas that could change how I plan to piece togehter limitations and enhance the study of magic. In the book series "The Wheel of Time" magic has two things that effect it, the amount of power you can draw and how exausted you become while drawing it. I like the idea of using the mana and casting spells, eating away at your stamina. I also love the idea of casting while your stamina.. or cencentration is low causing spells to go awry. This could be handled by a large table that could be completly random. And the more extreem the spell and the less stamina you have.. the higher the chances that the adverse affefct will be near deadly. Perhaps it could even damage your psyche and stop you from casting at all for a peroid of time.

I''ll be honest, I like the possabilities of the mana leeching from the land.. but I am a magic junkie and the idea of doing that strikes a bad chord in me, so I''ll trust my instinct. However I will stick with my alteration of it. Where large spells of huge power.. or spells gone horribly wrong (see above for how that could happen) could damage reality for a peroid of time making magic react in odd ways. Fire may stop working all together or might produce a water spell. The Lightning strike could summon drink etc. (these cases would be examples of EXTREME damage to reality.)

Can I get a little more input of how to handle melee battle in a mmorpg setting? I have a few truly unused ideas, bu tI would like to see what everyone else has floating around in their head.

Thank again guys.

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Combat, this section I havent touched very much in my personal musings, but...
RPG combat is handled insanly stupidly.

In RT:
Either pause the game, give orders, pause the game, give orders, play some more Baldur''s Gate, pause the game, BG, BG, BG

Frantically click on someone and click on another enemy ALOT!! CLICK CLICK CLICK!!! And hope your frame rate/processor/lag is good enough so you see the actions in real time

In TB:
I think it is better this way, personally, but IMHO, it breaks the immersiveness a bit. But hey, its just a game.

What I want to see is realism. If you went out on the battlefield with a dagger, then you would die.
If you used a sword then you would probably die against someone with a pike.

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Hmm.. Realism is a hard word to work into a fantasy setting, but I get what you mean. Two people who are equally untrained one obviously using the superior weapon get in a fight. My money goes to the person with the better weapon.

I have been working on a melee system that has no skills until the player makes them. In essence (and god knows this will be hard to balance) you will have a whole host of directional attacks that depend on your weapon class (be it pieetcing or slashing etc.) I''m still working on a way to interface the actual use.. but one step at a time. If it has to be button clicking I''ll make it interesting enough to hold your attention. Now let us say you swing left with your sword then manage to kick. If you managed to hit the kick button perfectly timed after the swing it registers as a combo and is saved to a list. From there, after your out of danger, you can refer to this list, discard any usless combos and name the ones you want to keep. These become new skills that are character specific. To give this a point, and to make it more interesting four things will be accomplished with these skills. One, as you use them your skill goes up and gives you more leway as to when you have to click the next button in the combo. So at a high skill level you could be very lazy as to when you clicked the kick button after you swing. Two, certain combos will match up with presets in the game that allow for amazing moves, matrix style, sureal and powerful. Also (although I havent a clue where to start it) using certain each step in a combo becomes a litle more powerful depending on which moves you use together. They may also have the effect of stunning a creature or taking of a limb etc. Three, The animation will change to look much more fancy as A) the combo skill goes up B) The combos become more complex. Four, the skills can be tought to other players, so that a guild called the dragon brigade, for example, could all have signature skills that would identify them.

This way there is no way for someone to say. "A warrior, we grouped with one yesterday and he sucked, therefore all warriors suck" because each person will be generally different. This happen in EverQuest quite often as a result of every class being forced to adhere to the exact same skills and generally equipment.

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Thats a good idea. Like if the player swings a halberd across with the axehead part, then pulls it back quickly with the pike...
Or fakes a high strike with the sword, them noves in and bashes the sheild down on the enemy. There could be a lot of potential with that. Except if there are only a limited set of combos....Eventually, all warriros will know all the combinations. You also have to be careful that it doesnt wind up like a wizard with swords and axes...where you choose from a list and it is performed.

And it cant be too mortal combatish either, but that idea is really excellent.



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I think that the kind of combat system used in The Legend of Zelda:Ocarina of Time and TLoZ:Majora''s Mask would be fantastic for an MMORPG, but the problem is implementing combos, special attacks, and what-not when you only have the two mouse buttons to use for attacks. Of course, you could control the character''s movement with the mouse (directly, no point-n-click) while ''locked on'' to an enemy and within a reasonable range. That way, the player has their left hand free to hit keys for combos on the keyboard, and all they have to do to flee is back up until they are out of lock-on range or hit the flee key manually and run like the wind. If this doesn''t quite make sense, just tell me, and I''ll post the exact details how it would work.

Oh, and you should require characters to go on a difficult quest to get magic--that way you won''t end up with everyone and his brother as a mage. Also, consider staying away from spell cliches. Instead of a bolt of lightning sprouting from the mage''s hand, why not have him summon a small thunder cloud, and as his skill increases the lighting will have a better chance of striking the target and striking multiple times. I also highly favor the idea of "pumping" a spell with more mana to increase its power instead of having Fireball I, Fireball II, Fireball III, etc.

---------------------------------
"It''s groin-grabbingly transcendent!" - Mr. Gamble, my teacher, speaking of his C++ AP class

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In the case of a skill being created.. it will never become clickable. it just means you can begin to gain skill in it. Which allows you to make more timing mistakes when performing the combo.. so if there was a .5 second window of timing error at lvl 1 at lvl 50 you could mess up the next click by 2 seconds or some such. As for a limited amount.. in theory there will be too many to count. We just need an equation that will make sure that they dont all have the exact same effect(that will be the hard part).

And as a side note.. casting wont be a selection interface either.. might even be voice. but that one is still in the works.

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The mage quest of OOP''er, i think if you do implement it, then the quest should be some logic thing, or smarts thing, not a brute force quest or birng this thing back to this guy. Something more like Harry Potter''s Sorcerer Stone (required reading for RPG developers IMHO).

Hmm, combat, is this RT? B/C if it is, your guy makes a move, hits "Ctrl" + "/" Ctrl being Attack with priamry weapon, "/" is basic melee HtH move. If you hit Ctrl, then / a second after it, is the combo qued up? Or is it executed immediatly, because if it is immediatly, then your guy would have a lag between his attack and the kick. And generally a fighter in a battle would use a mvoe after studying th eopponent, not whenever he had a second to type to code, ala Mortal Combat. so you would have to see. If the character is attacking you relentlessly with a longer weapon, then it might be good to take a hit and come up inside his range. If a character is going ape $h1t with a sword, then you can parry it after he attacks with it, then come back and strike the character. all in all, you would need a fair representation of what the enemy is doing, otherwise you would have a bunch of attacks that would all work equally (besides bonuses for dfirrent types of damage (bash, pierce) against specific armors) well, or with mayeb a better chance of to hit or to damage. Some things work better than others in some situtations. Maybe certain moves against
To start:
Agressive enemy
Defensive enemy
Consider:
Armour type
Weapon type- meaning reach, tactic

And a discerning player would be able to see a favored way of using the weapon. Eg, slash or thrust with a sword, bash with the club or Swing wildly, etc

You would need a limited equation, and bonuses against certain factors listed above. Maybe some things might even work better int the dark (clubs over rapiers), some things better in the rain (maybe thrust over slash), close quarters (moves to get on the inside), weapon size (move outside enemy''s range)

M2C.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I like the stamina/health/concentration factors.
Its pretty sweet.
-vlion

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Something you said there hit a chord Dr.Mol. And I think real time battle just got what it needed.. and solved many lag related issues. When a combo is being done the moves are cued. Then almost like a script the character acts the instructions out. The only trick is to make it fast paced enough that warriors can get into their battle. But with a cue system they will have time to analyse their foe and judge what is best. I'll have to work on it some and see what happens.

Edited by - astrum on March 2, 2002 2:36:47 AM

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thank ya, thank ya very much.

This pubesent Pahallus takes a bow!

let me know how it works!

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