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Realm Wars Magic System Proposals

Realm Wars Magic System Proposals

Posted by: Mhaddy on Sat Aug 10th, 2002 at 4:57 PM
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This document is now defunct. Please refer to the updated Realm Wars Magic System Proposals.



This information was gathered from GarageGames' Realm Wars Lead Designer. The original can be found here.

Contents:
  • Introduction and Goals
  • Magic Point System
  • Elemental Magic Point System
  • Timing-Based System
  • Surrounding Influence Subsystem

Introduction and Goals


This document represents the current thinking on magic systems in Realm Wars. Like always, feedback on this document can be sent to James Margaris or posted on the forums or where this resource is found.

Goals
Realm Wars is an action-based game, not an RPG. We want a magic system that emphasizes player-skill and is accessible in the heat of combat. A good magic system will encourage good decision-making, planning and execution on the part of the player, without requiring them to juggle inventory or deal with spell-book interfaces.

There are three separate components to a magic system. The underlying system, the interface and the actual spells. This document is concerned only with the first of these, the underlying system. Every magic system has some limitation about how often spells can be cast, limitations on power, etc. This document is an exploration of the magic systems that have been proposed by the Garage Games community. It may be possible to include a variety of spell-systems. Perhaps a Wizard, Necromancer and Geomancer would all use different casting mechanisms.

Magic Point System


This is the most familiar of the magic system. Spells cost magic points, which can be regenerated over time or replenished via items. Spells can only be cast when their cost in magic points is available.

The main advantage of this system is that it is easy to understand and implement. Other than that it is weak in many areas though.
Pros
  • Easy to understand
  • Easy for the player to manage

Cons
  • Takes trivial skill to use.
  • When you are out of magic points not much to do other than wait around.

I am not a big fan of this system. My main concern is that when a player is out of magic points there isn't much to do. The system itself takes very little skill, and the skill it does take, meter-management, is straightforward and boring accounting work.

Elemental Magic Point System


Under this system, spells cost varying amounts of four elements to be cast. (Fire, Air, Earth, Water) Those elements are replenished by standing near fire, in air, on natural ground or in water.
Pros
  • Takes skill in terms of understanding the level layout and using it to your advantage, properly positioning yourself, etc.
  • Thematically more interesting, less mundane.
  • Allows for larger differentiation of levels. A level without water, for example, will play differently under this spell system than a level with.

Cons
  • Four meters to manage instead of one.
  • Requires more work in terms of play balancing levels.
  • Requires more awareness by level designers.
  • Four elements differ greatly in availability.

I like this system in that it allows for levels to make a huge impact on any class using this magic system. To best use this system players will have to understand level layouts and position themselves carefully. It introduces some interesting decisions: is it really worth it to wander off by yourself and abandon your teammates to get enough water for your Mega-Tornado spell, or are you better off standing your ground and sticking to weaker spells?

I do have two major concerns about this system. The first is that it places a large burden on level designers to think about how their level will impact anyone using this spell system. If a level totally lacks water, for example, the class will be at a disadvantage unless compensation is made in some other form. (Abundant fire, a level layout that works well with the available spells, etc)

My other concern is that the availability of the four resources varies greatly. Air is present everywhere, making it almost redundant. (You will always have air) Water and fire may be totally absent on some levels, or exist in very limited amounts. This second concern could be addressed by somehow changing the elements or the way they are powered up to even things out a bit. We do not need complete parity in terms of availability, but I fear that a fire requirement will force level designers to stick random fireplaces and torches in strange spots just to support this system, while air is overly abundant on every level. Air will for practical purposes not be a limiting resource at all, while water and fire might be severely constrained.

Timing-Based System


Under this system, the limiting factor on spells in time taken to cast, rather than a point cost. Spell casters would be required to memorize or charge a spell before casting it. During this charge time the spell caster would be limited in movement in some fashion and taking damage would negate the charging. After the spell is charged it would be immediately released, or the caster could perhaps stay in charged-state (slower moving) until the spell is released.

This system could also incorporate using different strengths of spells by charging for different lengths. So a fireball spell charged for one second might be a small weak flame, while one charged for twenty seconds could be a giant flaming meteorite.
Pros
  • Takes skill in terms of positioning yourself. (Because movement is reduced while charging)
  • Encourages teamwork in that casters need protection to charge effectively.
  • The player always has something to do, either casting a spell, charging a spell, or finding the right time/place to charge. Not a lot of downtime.

Cons
  • Might be too frustrating for starting players?

The thing I find very appealing about this system it isn't based on an economic resource model of collect resource -> cast spells -> collect resources again. It leaves a lot of room for player skill to make the difference in effectiveness and encourages team play.

Surrounding Influence Subsystem


This is not an entire system, but an addition that could work with any system. Under this addition, spells would gain or lose power according to the conditions surrounding the spell caster. For example, a fireball spell cast while standing in water might be weak, whereas an ice spell might be abnormally strong. A lightening spell might be stronger in stormy weather, and thorn-wall spell stronger near existing vegetation. This would also invoke some decision-making on the part of the caster: is it better to use a more appropriate spell or a higher-power spell that is less situationally useful? In other words, if I am standing near fire is it better to cast a fireball which will do huge damage and perhaps do area effect to my players as well, or stick with a single-targeted ice spell that will be weakened due to my surroundings?


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