Question to Developers about Text Assets ... ?

Number of spells. ... ?

By on January 30, 2009 8:20:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Vordrak

Join Date 03/2006
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This is a question arising from Brad's recent post about text assets.

Depending on how you read Brad's post there are between 100 and 200 spells in Elemental (10 per side or 20 per side). To put this in context Master of Magic had 210 spells, a variety which was one of the reasons it was so popular.

(1) Can you clarify whether you are aiming for 100-ish spells or 200-ish spells?

(2) Can you let us know what variety of secondary powers may be available for troops (for example in MoM and Age of Wonders there were teleportation, healing, vines ... all sorts of stuff).

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January 30, 2009 12:16:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

(1) Depends on what we find fun.  I think you should go back and look at the Master of Magic spells with fresh eyes (I know I have) and look at those 210 spells.

(2) No. I can't let you know yet.

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January 30, 2009 12:41:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As I wrote within another topic...  as long as gamers have the ability to add and/or change to the existing spells and techologies the game will have massive longterm potential !

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January 30, 2009 4:23:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I constantly go back and look at Master of Magic spells.  I look back at my manual, and just about every time I'm like "Jeez, they created so much stuff for this game!  What was the development of this like?"

If you're trying to meet the 210 spells, that sounds like a pretty fair goal.  *provided they are all or mostly useful (In AoW I found that many of the spells I didn't really use ever)

What about number of quests?

 

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January 30, 2009 7:32:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting NTJedi,
As I wrote within another topic...  as long as gamers have the ability to add and/or change to the existing spells and techologies the game will have massive longterm potential !

Nonetheless giving gamers the ability to add or change existing spells and technologies (or anything else, for that matter) is no excuse whatsoever for developers to release a game with limited features and content. For one, if it's limited at release then it isn't going to sell very well. Secondly, lots of people prefer to play the official game with no or very few user-made additions. Like you said, though, the ability for players to heavily mod the game will definitely help its long-term prospects and appeal.

Quoting landisaurus,

What about number of quests?

In the recent dev post about Text Assets it was already stated their goal is to have roughly 500 quests implemented as of release day, with more to come afterwards.

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January 30, 2009 8:43:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

In the recent dev post about Text Assets it was already stated their goal is to have roughly 500 quests implemented as of release day, with more to come afterwards.

Yeah that absolutely blew me away, I mean even if they were no more involved than the little popup random events in GalCiv2 that's still an astonishing number to be aiming for.. but if they're a lot more involved and complex (as it sounds like they're going to be) then that really does strike me as pretty amazing .

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January 31, 2009 2:00:19 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

With regards to the spells, the fun factor will determine the final number, not meeting some arbitrary comparison with Master of Magic.

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January 31, 2009 3:30:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

sorry,  I meant non-optional quests.   We know there is single player campaign, and I guess it wouldn't be in a very straight-forward level system (I get that strong impression) so I want to know about the quests that are not part of that 500.

(I should have called them 'main-story quests' or something along those lines)

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January 31, 2009 11:20:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Draginol,
With regards to the spells, the fun factor will determine the final number, not meeting some arbitrary comparison with Master of Magic.

Ooooooow.. but I LOVE arbitrary comparisons with Master of Magic!

On a general note though I can't imagine a situation where having more spells in the game would ever decrease the amount of fun I was going to have playing it, so the more the merrier I say. Having said that if I was a developer and had to come up with, code and balance them all I might feel differently

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January 31, 2009 1:50:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

On a general note though I can't imagine a situation where having more spells in the game would ever decrease the amount of fun I was going to have playing it, so the more the merrier I say

Oh it can happen for sure.      Its at the point where you have so many spells that they are up to your ankles, and you have to wade through them to find which ones are useful.   At this point the learning curve is extended by them, because new players won't be able to figure out which ones are worth researching.    Looking at the spellbook would be daunting, because when you wanted to find something you'd have to flip through several pages just to see half your spell list.  (which is awesome if you have that many spells, but can be annoying when it reaches a point where you're on page 10 of 30 looking for a simple mana-bolt)

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January 31, 2009 2:17:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Oh it can happen for sure. Its at the point where you have so many spells that they are up to your ankles, and you have to wade through them to find which ones are useful.

Yeah but I'm kinda taking it as read that any spell SD put in the game will be useful I mean I know it's another arbitrary comparison with Master of Magic (forgive me as it's really my only frame of reference for spell use in a 4x game), but I've never felt while playing that game that there was a huge surfeit of unneccessary spells slapped into it. I mean I guess you COULD do that potentially if you had like a 1000 spells and half of them were basically duplicates of other spells but with slightly different damage/mana required ratios... but I'm assuming SD wouldn't do anything that stupid .

Looking at the spellbook would be daunting, because when you wanted to find something you'd have to flip through several pages just to see half your spell list. (which is awesome if you have that many spells, but can be annoying when it reaches a point where you're on page 10 of 30 looking for a simple mana-bolt)

I think that would be more a matter of having them organised in an efficient and easy to use fashion other than anything else. Sure if they were just in a straight list then it could become a drag finding the one you wanted, but ideally they need to be organised by category (combat spells, city spells, global enchantments etc) and then listed by power or what have you so that they're in an easy to understand order. You could even have a search feature if the spell book got really big to streamline the finding of a specific spell, or a custom list making feature where you select traits a spell needs to meet to be included in the list (e.g. I want a combat spell, which does direct damage, for less than 50 mana.. then it gives you a nice easy to manage list of applicable spells).

Also, though it's true that a really massive spell list could potentially be daunting when your'e just starting out, I'd prefer a big list because (assuming the game is as good as we hope) I'll be playing it for ages and I'd like to be learning new things for as long as possible.

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January 31, 2009 3:27:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yeah but I'm kinda taking it as read that any spell SD put in the game will be useful I mean I know it's another arbitrary comparison with Master of Magic (forgive me as it's really my only frame of reference for spell use in a 4x game), but I've never felt while playing that game that there was a huge surfeit of unneccessary spells slapped into it.

The lack of other 4X spells is exactly why this game needs to be made.   There really arn't many (HoMM and AoW are the main ones).   But anyway, yeah Master of Magic could use some balancing with the spells, but for a game in the early 90s it is pretty good.  If you want useless spells, may I direct your eyes to Age of Wonders.  IN master of Magic, there is really only a few direct damage spells, so you only ran into a problem where you were having to pick between two spells that did the same thing when you took multiple elements.   I vote that the solution to this is create a new type like water+wind=ice (see another thread that talks about spell ideas.  there are several).  Non-damage spells came in the forms of summons (which were pretty much 'you got what you paid for' in mana) and strange effects (which were usually pretty self-explanitory, easy to understand, and usable).   AoW had a few spells that were maybe not even really worth it (I can find specific examples for you if you really like).  More than never I'd look at my research list and say "jeez, I don't want any of these spells."

In this game the direct damage spells should have clear tiers so players don't have to waste time figuring out which is better.   I think in MoM this was further squed by the ability to channel additional mana into the spell without being sure what the direct result was.  The idea is a great one (to channel more power into it for better results), but the UI for it wasn't that great.   If it is repeated it should be easy to set straight once the beta comes out (or just several options for the power level should be available that are better explained than a sliding bar and seemingly arbitrary number)

I'm assuming SD wouldn't do anything that stupid

well, I hang out with enough designers to tell you, it isn't stupidity that would cause it.   Just maybe lack of insight.  Its an easy mistake to make, since it doesn't slap you in the face with a giant wong if you start treading the line.

Also, its like the old saying goes, "you can't tell perfection if there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away" and it remains true.   This tends to cause two extremes > nothing left to add means that there is a huge spellbook, or nothing left to take away which means you have a small but functional spellbook.   If you don't want a small spellbook, but you don't want a mass of crap... there is a balance to be found that failing to find isn't a mark of stupidity by any means.

 

I think a solution to the daunting spellbook would be to create a TON of spells, then have pre-saved sets.   So your standard set would include as many and only enough spells to make the game fun.  But when you go into the spell-book editor you can pick others.  (the only problem with that is that players are stupid and will probebly go for the 'complete spellbook' option on 1st go anyway dispite the default 'beginners spellbook' that was there at first)

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January 31, 2009 6:35:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think in MoM this was further squed by the ability to channel additional mana into the spell without being sure what the direct result was. The idea is a great one (to channel more power into it for better results), but the UI for it wasn't that great. If it is repeated it should be easy to set straight once the beta comes out (or just several options for the power level should be available that are better explained than a sliding bar and seemingly arbitrary number)

That's a good thing to bring up as I think that's how MoM avoided the example I gave above about including multiple spells that basically do the same thing with slightly different damage/mana cost levels. You're right that it wasn't implemented that well though; if such a system was implemented for some spells in Elemental I'd really like it if the UI gave you the changing damage/mana ratio (assuming it just doesn't stay 1:1) when you move the slider about. It was a little tricky in MoM to tell what kinda bang for your buck you were getting when you moved the slider and I think this would make it a bit more transparent.

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February 1, 2009 10:22:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I liked the fuzzy aspect of adding extra mana in MoM. But that's probably because I was very fond of "pushing" in the old Champions tabeltop RPG. To work, it basically depended on a player picking a really strong story moment and a ref making a good ad hoc judgement call about how much the player could "push" and what the extra effort would do. At its simplest, it was just a bid of additional damage or defense. But with complicated powers, especially when power-sets were interacting, interesting stuff could happen.

If there's some sort of "spell pushing" for Elemental, I hope that at least part of it is deliberately opaque to the players so we just have to choose to roll some dice, not take another obvious step in a thoroughly detailed plan for world domination.

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February 1, 2009 3:53:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I can say that I hope for fewer spells than more spells.  I would like a simple Fire spell that I could research to make better as time goes on, instead of having 20 different types of fire spells.  Similar to how they stated equipment would be.

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February 1, 2009 4:12:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Martimus,
I can say that I hope for fewer spells than more spells.  I would like a simple Fire spell that I could research to make better as time goes on, instead of having 20 different types of fire spells.  Similar to how they stated equipment would be.

There's an important distinction buried in there for me. I dislike the idea of each combat 'spell' being 3-5 spells with the latter ones just being improvements (e.g. lightning bolts level 1-5). But I like the idea of a fairly large number of built-in spells because the 'epic' aspirations of Elemental call for a lot more than simple combat magic.

I get the impression the devs might be trending in this general direction b/c they've as much as said that we can expect more complexity with the spells than with the hardware for regular combat units. Keeping magic fairly simple as far as tactical spells go makes sense, but I'm greedy for lots of stuff that works only at the cloth map level and has little or no direct effect on combat units.

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February 1, 2009 4:31:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I just want my spells to be flashy and useful.  If they are flashy enough, then the same spell over and over again will still be fun.  In Age of Wonders 2, when I cast hell fire, its like "OOOHHH eat that BI*CH!"  or even in Pokemon Yellow for the original GB, I use "Hyper beam" (an over used move at the time) and it inverts all the colors and shoots a beam.  Its flashy, so I'm just like "IN YOUR FACE" when I use it.   I want my combat spells to be like that.  Even if there is only like 2-3 per elemental.   The same goes for support spells.  In Master of Magic, I felt awesome casting most spells on people because you saw a fun spinning vortex of energy or something.  It made the few spells I had feel useful.

I think you can still achieve good spell animations without having fancy 3D.  That being said though, it may be hard maknig a lot of spells if the animation is very different from the cloth map to the 3D.  That is my only concern about the cloth map, is what might be lost in the transition.

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February 1, 2009 4:45:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting pigeonpigeon,



 NTJedi,
reply 2
As I wrote within another topic...  as long as gamers have the ability to add and/or change to the existing spells and techologies the game will have massive longterm potential !



Nonetheless giving gamers the ability to add or change existing spells and technologies (or anything else, for that matter) is no excuse whatsoever for developers to release a game with limited features and content. For one, if it's limited at release then it isn't going to sell very well. Secondly, lots of people prefer to play the official game with no or very few user-made additions. Like you said, though, the ability for players to heavily mod the game will definitely help its long-term prospects and appeal.


I agree, but we don't have to worry about limited features and content based on previous games released from Stardock.

 

 

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February 1, 2009 10:33:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Draginol,
With regards to the spells, the fun factor will determine the final number, not meeting some arbitrary comparison with Master of Magic.

Another arbitrary comparison with MoM that I haven't seen anyone do : In MoM you normally had access to ~50 spells (44 from schools + neutrals), less if you took traits. In comparison, being able to research up to ~100 spells looks like quite a bit of spells. I hope this won't degenerate into the "5 commonly used, 15 seldom used, 80 never used" syndrom. I guess having different mana for each schools will incite the player to use spells from different schools, but still...

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February 1, 2009 11:31:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

hope this won't degenerate into the "5 commonly used, 15 seldom used, 80 never used" syndrom

Well, in theory you will always end up in that place.   (maybe not 80 never used, that is far to big, lets keep to the 5 commonly used, 15 seldomly used, and 15 never used)

Its just before you have 35 spells, you have only those 15 never used spells that you must research to to reach the 15 never used spells which at that point are the 5 always used spells. and 10 seldom used spells.  (or 5 always used spells, 5 seldom used spells and 5 used in case the other guys use one of their 5 seldom used spells)

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February 2, 2009 12:46:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ephafn,


 I hope this won't degenerate into the "5 commonly used, 15 seldom used, 80 never used" syndrom. I guess having different mana for each schools will incite the player to use spells from different schools, but still...

The best way to prevent this type of scenario is by creating more of a rock < paper < scissors < rock  yet  more than the three variables from my example.   So for an example when battling summons:

     Opponent has fire elementals... so you bring water elementals...  so he counters with lava throwers.... so you counter with ice slingers... so he counters with magma jumpers... so you counter with storm mages... and so on.   Ideally two or three unit counters should exist for each type of unit... spells and items should also provide counters against unit types.  With beta testing and game patches balancing gets better with time.

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February 2, 2009 9:28:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ephafn,
Another arbitrary comparison with MoM that I haven't seen anyone do : In MoM you normally had access to ~50 spells (44 from schools + neutrals), less if you took traits. In comparison, being able to research up to ~100 spells looks like quite a bit of spells. I hope this won't degenerate into the "5 commonly used, 15 seldom used, 80 never used" syndrom. I guess having different mana for each schools will incite the player to use spells from different schools, but still...

That's not what he said, though. From the dev journal he said that there will be ~20 spells per school (whether that means total, or per race, hasn't been clarified). So let's say, for the sake of discussion, that there will be 100 spells total. It'll probably be either very difficult or downright impossible to actually research all 100 spells (just like it was essentially impossible to research every spell in MoM).

That said that in the right combination of map size and game settings it'll be possible for your channeler to become a real jack of all trades. That's one thing I always missed in games like age of wonders. Finishing all my magic research just resulted in a stagnant wizard; it would have been awesome to be able to expand my horizons and start to dabble in other schools of magic. Even if Elemental makes it so that you can never completely finish research, I'd still like to be able to choose whether to become an all-powerful channeler of one element, a very powerful channeler of two elements, or a capable channeler of all elements. More choices = more fun!

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February 2, 2009 1:11:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I hope it is still near impossible to finish research.  It made me enjoy playing that much more (since I had to play at least 5 times, assuming I was able to get the extra books to even be able to research all of 1 school in one go, which you couldn't do with just the starting number of books)

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February 2, 2009 6:57:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Here's hoping that the next dribble of info on the magic system will tell us something about how the elements work. Unless I've missed it, no dev has yet said anything about whether a channeler is limited to one element, can work with any or all of them, or can specialize if any-or-all is the default.

That basic set of spell book choices in MoM was definitely a major factor in adding replayability to the game for me. I ended up getting a 'favorites' mix and mostly sticking to it, but it was always good fun to go for the total focus on one school now and then.

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February 2, 2009 7:44:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Unless I've missed it, no dev has yet said anything about whether a channeler is limited to one element, can work with any or all of them, or can specialize if any-or-all is the default.

I'd bang my stick on the table if they did.   That was my main problem with Ago-o-wonders and I do not count it filler for my master of magic hunger.   Master of Magic was all about getting different spellbooks, mix and matching, or sacrificing spellbooks for other abilities like being better at magic item creation or starting on a different plane of existance from other players (and with better race options).   This game should have something along the same idea (though it doesn't need to be spellbooks per say, it could just be talent points or crystal balls or something.  I don't know)

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February 2, 2009 9:54:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting landisaurus,
I hope it is still near impossible to finish research.  It made me enjoy playing that much more (since I had to play at least 5 times, assuming I was able to get the extra books to even be able to research all of 1 school in one go, which you couldn't do with just the starting number of books)

I kind of hope SD makes the magic system versatile enough to literally make it endless. You might have researched every base spell in the game (although that in itself should be really, really hard - assuming it'll be possible), but you should still be able to upgrade your spells, or your proficiencies, in various different ways indefinitely!

For one, I think that is really the only solution I would be genuinely happy with that works for all map sizes, large and small. Any 'traditional' magic system big enough to be interesting on huuuge maps would be way too big for small maps, and vice versa. Having a limited set of quality base spells with infinite and versatile upgrades, however, would scale pretty well with map size if done well.

Quoting landisaurus,

Unless I've missed it, no dev has yet said anything about whether a channeler is limited to one element, can work with any or all of them, or can specialize if any-or-all is the default.
I'd bang my stick on the table if they did.   That was my main problem with Ago-o-wonders and I do not count it filler for my master of magic hunger.   Master of Magic was all about getting different spellbooks, mix and matching, or sacrificing spellbooks for other abilities like being better at magic item creation or starting on a different plane of existance from other players (and with better race options).   This game should have something along the same idea (though it doesn't need to be spellbooks per say, it could just be talent points or crystal balls or something.  I don't know)

I agree. I'd like your choices at game-setup to just reflect what you start with, and maybe what you're most proficient with for the beginning of the game. But I want it to be possible to completely mix things up once the game starts, some way or another. Maybe you need to find things like spellbooks or crystal balls like landi mentioned, or maybe you have to research other schools, who knows. But as long as it's possible and reasonable, I will be happy!

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