Illusionist magic

By on February 20, 2009 3:03:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

pillsbur

Join Date 04/2003
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I would really like to see the role/specialization of illusionists well developed in this game.  A set of well rounded illusionist spells could really expand the gameplay stratigies. Effecting things like-

Diplomancy- increase or decrease how nations feel about each other by clouding the eyes of leaders from other nations.

Defections- cause a hero to defect to your cause-even if you allignments do not match.

protection-even if a hole is knocked into your walls-if no one can detect it (illusionary walls) you are still safe.

Cause panic in other unenlighted cities.

hide outposts or even whole cities with a dome of concealment.

Phantom army-create an army that looks real on the screen but vanishes when attached -thereby diverting enemies resources.

create fake shards- again , they look real on the map until you try to tap into their energy.

-of course each spell should have an appropreate counter.

Any other suggestions or ideas?

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February 20, 2009 3:19:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Make bridges appear demolished, causing the soldiers to waste turns trying to repair it.

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February 20, 2009 3:41:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Always--I like that one.

And even if a lot of these spells appear too powerful.  They can be balanced by not always working as intended 100% of the time.

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February 20, 2009 3:51:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd like to see illusion magics as well, but even more, I'd like to see a good chunk of basic info on the current plan(s) for the magic system. Right now I can imagine everything from all five elemental schools having illusion spells to illusion spells being no-go because all the magic is very strongly tied to being fire, water, earth, air, or life. Maybe life is an illusion? Anyhow...

I want a rich and complicated magic system more than ever because I really, really like the idea of using some mana to take an enemy on a wild goose chase instead of having to risk real troops on a decoy maneuver. A fake shard sounds prety neat too, but also sounds like it should be pretty expensive to maintain (or if spells have levels, it should be a very high level one).

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February 20, 2009 4:31:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting alway,
Make bridges appear demolished, causing the soldiers to waste turns trying to repair it.

I really like that one, but even more in a different scenario. I want to be able to make it look like I demolished my own bridge, forcing invaders to take a longer route. Of course, if you employ this tactic often they might catch on and try to cross the bridge anyway. But then you could switch things up by actually demolishing the bridge the next time.

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February 20, 2009 4:44:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yes-if done right, this aspect of magic could be a lot of fun.

How about a spell that creates a fake double of an army or monster that you already have.  Maybe the two must remain within sight of each other or something but this would be a fun strategy to play with for those so minded.

You could also give the illusion that a town you own is really much bigger than it is.  This may force others to quickly upgrade to a higher class of scouts (ones that have a better chance of penetrating illusions).

Don't know if its possible but having something like a hidden path/road that only your nation can reliably see would also be fun.

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February 21, 2009 10:07:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GW Swicord,
... but even more, I'd like to see a good chunk of basic info on the current plan(s) for the magic system....

Hear, hear. We haven't heard from Frogboy in a couple weeks ( ), and getting some info of the basic rules that magic is going to work by, and how magic research is going to work (will there be spells that require multiple schools, etc) I think at this point is probably what we are most excited to hear about and that until we get that information all of our "ideas" are pretty pointless.

In other words, for us to have meaningful input into the game we need to understand the system we are dealing with. At that point we can let our creative juices flow ("Cleanup on aisle 3!") amd SD can actually harvest some useful info from us.

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February 21, 2009 12:29:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It would be cool to have some good illussion spells that might actually work on players.   Of course, though, when you say 'phantom armies' I think of the 'phantom warriors' and 'phantom beast' of MoM....  They were worth diverting resources, because if you didn't, they would stab you and it would hurt.

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February 22, 2009 12:45:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

When I think of phantom warriors, I think of the bit from the beggining of A Wizard of Earthsea where Ged weaves together the words from two spells to distract and confuse invaders. I can't really do it justice in this post, but IMO the best written spell description I've seen.

I think illusion has a lot of potential for really interesting magic, and I hope we'll get (or perhaps mod?) some cool stuff in there.

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February 22, 2009 5:45:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

When I think of phantom warriors, I think of the bit from the beggining of A Wizard of Earthsea where Ged weaves together the words from two spells to distract and confuse invaders.

Yes!    man, I've been motivated to go read wizard of earthsea again.  maybe I'll buy it if my local library doesn't have a copy.  I last read it back in high school, what a terrific reference point. 

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February 23, 2009 8:55:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Have there been other games in which stuff like this has been successfuly implemented?  Raiding ships that show no national identification comes to mind from the civ games but what else?

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February 23, 2009 10:16:28 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think the masking spell was in Heroes of the might and magic. It allowed to mask  units in the army - you could see all unit piles to be the strongest beast of the army. It was however not quite usefull - such thing may be used to protect weaker armies, however the higher level of this spell caused the number of the beasts of the pile to be zero. So AI wanted to attack you more likely, which was exactly the thing one wanted to prevent. I think something like this could be definitely usefull, however there should be two variants - one would cause the army appears to be stronger than real, the other one weaker.

There was also one bad thing on that spell in HOMAM - you had to cast this spell every turn. I think the better way would be the initial price+upkeep later, so you don't need to bother. The spell should last until dispelled by the caster, or untill the army is involved in combat. There shall be  also a counterspell (a true seeing variant), which would increase/decrease the number of units towards the real numbers (and perhaps the unit type). Both spells (true seeing and the illusion) need not work 100% - the stronger the illusion is the stronger the true seeing shall be to get the real numbers.

 

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February 23, 2009 11:11:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yeah, I like the idea of the bridge.

- Hiding a city is nice, but cities are known very often, as soon as you are able to cast such a mighty spell. What about faking buildings, like a wizards tower? I would like to see the battle sequence with an invisible city wall...

- Something like a "forget"-spell. This will not work on multiplayer, because a real player will never forget. "Forget that you ever explored Area 51" (Wow, that's a playercheat, because the AI can never force a player to forget. The player would be in advantage... ). Many Hiding-Illusions are nonsens, if the enemy already has seen the truth. Then you should be able to create the illusion and let forget(create) the history. Remember the nice tool in "Men in Black"? Such many things can be forgotten... a war, outstanding depts, promisses to others, alliances, explored armies or cities.

- Fake status. Your city is near a revolt? Now it is not time for the enemy to know this. The big army should look hurt?

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February 23, 2009 4:15:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I definitely agree that illusion type spells should be limited to those that can be used against both the player and AI. It is limiting, but I think it's better than having spells that can force the AI to forget something.

Also, they should be more believable than, for example, HoMM's masking spell (don't remember the name either). Making every stack in your army look like the strongest one is not believable. It will fool the AI but not other players - once they see that they'll know it's a lie, and will probably cast the spy spell to see the real forces (it's a common spell).

On the other hand it was plenty useful against the AI. Making your forces look much stronger to scare away enemy heroes, or making your army look really weak to get enemy heroes to attack you instead of running a way, forcing an annoying chase.

GreatVolk - the idea of an invisible wall made me laugh. It made me think of a charging army, with the first wave being crushed between the wall they never saw and the charging army behind them.

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February 24, 2009 7:13:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The invisible wall is a bad idea i think. A hidden city is also nonsense - even a blind spy can reveal it. It is difficult to hide something, where there are lots of people. However invisible units or fake ones are usefull. Such things are quite common praxis of the warfare (even if not achieved by spells). Bridges (un)destroeyd also make sense. Fooling the enemy is often more usefull than the direct combat.

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February 24, 2009 9:30:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A hidden city is also nonsense - even a blind spy can reveal it.

But we're talking about magic, and even if it were imaginary technology, storylines like SG-1 include devices that can move large areas 'out of phase' so that they are both invisible and intangible.

On the magical side, Gondolin (an elven city in the Elder Days long before the Lord of the Rings took place) was hidden physically by an impassible mountain range and magically by the power of the elven lords who lived there. I've taken the latter bit to mean that it was basically warded against scrying.

Magic to hide an entire city seems a reasonable thing, so long as there are ways to counter it, e.g. a Global Disjunction spell or a series of wide-area Dispel Magic rituals. Plus, city-hiding magic will always have the basic weakness of only working completely if everyone stays in the city and lets no one and nothing else in. Turtles have to eat eventually, and when that head pops out of the shell...

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February 24, 2009 9:34:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting mrakomo,
The invisible wall is a bad idea i think. A hidden city is also nonsense - even a blind spy can reveal it. It is difficult to hide something, where there are lots of people.

Why? It's not like we're talking a drape over it. We're talking about using magic to make something invisible to prying eyes. A blind spy isn't going to find a city that's been made invisible by magic (unless the magic used doesn't work well). That said, I agree that making a city invisible wouldn't be particularly effective - it seems like roads will be important in this game, and there will probably be a fairly constant train of caravans moving between settlements; which means that even if you can't see the city itself, you'll be able to see all the signs that point to the existence of a city. However, I don't see that problem with an invisible wall. It could provide a huge advantage to the defender in tactical combat, because the aggressor won't have planned for it, and even once he realizes there is a wall, trying to keep track of where exactly it is and what to do with it would be a challenge.

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February 24, 2009 11:20:48 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

How about the illusion of having your units look like a completely different nation?  This could be interesting/fun in a multiplayer game. "I'm telling you, that's not my blind spy!"

It probably would be hard to completely had a city but one could certainly give out misleading information about it through illusions (size, defense, what is garrisoned there, ect.).  If you were up against a known illusionist, this would certainly keep you on your toes.  Again, could make for some fun gameplay.

How about counters to all of this?  Should there be a special skill to detect illusions or does detection have to be spell-based?  Would it be greater in units with more experience or more magic?  How should it work?

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February 24, 2009 12:12:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think, the important thing is, that the illusion is switched on or off, like wearing a cape. And the skills or spells to disable illusions should remove the cape. If some troops would see the illusion and other not, that wouldn't result in good playability. It should be more like: "Hey, brother, do you recognize the dragons toes? These are chicken toes." Now everyone recognizes that the big dragon is only a chicken... Uncovering an illusion is like finding the fault in a picture... "The bridge looks destroyed, but why is the water not flowing around the ruins?". "Why are all these people walking to that region? There is nothing!"

I would like to have probabilities and range. Like: A standard viewer has a 100% chance of detect/uncover a standard illusion within range of 250 meters in 5 days (a round/combat turn...). 50% within 500 meters. 25% within 1000 meters. The range and propabilities can vary depending on the spell (type and power) and the viewer (skill and spell). A good viewer will see the illusion more early. So if you are far away, you can take your time and check the area for illusion. The longer you take your time, the better the information.

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February 24, 2009 1:34:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like my idea with range and probabilities. I thought about it.  Both can be easyly modified.

Propability Modifiers:

- *0.5 for not concentrating on searching for illusion

- *0.5 for moving

- *1.5 for known topic. (A wizard will discover errors in a false wizards tower. An engeneer will discover errors in a false bridge)

Range Modifiers: The effort/mana the wizard used to create the illusion.

Quoting mrakomo,
The invisible wall is a bad idea i think. A hidden city is also nonsense - even a blind spy can reveal it. It is difficult to hide something, where there are lots of people.

Cookbook of how to create a invisble city wall:

Step 1) Paint the wall in green color.

Who will not discover: Google Maps

Who will discover: Anyone within range of 20 km

 

Step 2) Paint Buildings on it.

Who will not discover: One eyed monster, because of lacking 3-dimensional view. Cylops, old seaman.

Who will discover: Anyone within range of 2 km

 

Step 3) Ensure the light will cross the wall.

Who will discover: Anyone within range of 500 m, because a line of grass is missing.

 

Step 4) Add grass at the bottom of the wall

Who will discover: Anyone who recognizes, that everything enters the city on the roads, nowhere else.

 

Step 5) Add false liveforms. False children playing soccer through the wall. False rabbits. Guards who force everyone to use the roads.

Who will discover: Anyone who recognizes, that the children should go to sleep or that bunnies are not awake at nght.

 

Step 6) At night: Change the rabbits to wolfs.

Who will discover: Anyone who recognizes, that ....

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February 24, 2009 9:37:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GW Swicord,

On the magical side, Gondolin (an elven city in the Elder Days long before the Lord of the Rings took place) was hidden physically by an impassible mountain range and magically by the power of the elven lords who lived there. I've taken the latter bit to mean that it was basically warded against scrying.

Before being found and promptly roflpwned by Melkor... Which is also something which must be possible if it is possible to hide a city. It should take a large amount of resources to render a whole city (mostly) invisible. Make sure it is able to be found through some means, such as having your units mysteriously disappear or wind up dead within x squares of the city. Since it would take so many resources to hide a city, it would only be used for the best city or 2 in your empire. So if an enemy detects it, BAM! Instant 'this is my most important city' beacon.

Heres an idea of how illusions could be detected:
Mage X on one side decides to hide their city from group Y.

Mage X is a moderately powerful illusionist, and so can create a somewhat complex and hard to detect illusion around the city. Now, a mage in group Y comes along. Mage Y is a somewhat inexperience mage when it comes to illusion. And so mage Y feels a slight tingling of magic, but nothing which he conciously notices, and so the city goes undetected.

Now, Mage Z comes along. Mage Z is an extremely powerful illusionist. As he gets within 15 kilometers of the hidden city, he detects a slight magical field. Due to his great knowledge, he knows the spell is an illusionary spell. What follows is in essence a game of magical hot and cold, as he feels his way toward the city through the sense of magic. As he gets within a few kilometers, he is able to twist the magic surrounding the illusion enough to unveil the city's illusion so he and his army and see it clearly.

These examples use measures of how powerful a mage is in a specific area. What I would suggest is something like a level/magical rating/xp/magical specilization which would easily show a player the power of their channeler and heroes and would factor in greatly in to how effective their magics are, especially when it comes to countering said magics.

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February 25, 2009 3:40:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The problem of the hidden city in the game is the cities in the game are not Gondolin like. Gondolin could remain hidden, because it was completely isolated from the world. However cities in this game are considered not to be isolated. If that happen, merchants can not access the city, nor the peasants.The city would starve and you would get fine ruins. If on the other hand merchants can enter the city, spies can do it too.

Invisible city walls is a bad thing. The enemy units will see the armies behind the  wall and so they can easily decide where to strike. The roads lead to the city gates, so the attacke would know where the gates are even if he can not see it. What does make sense is to simulate the city wall is still holding even in places where it was already destroyed. On the other hand I think it would be very difficult to implement such thing (how AI should react on this?).

The illusion may be dangerous even in cases you know it is the illusion. Imagine a case you stand against one enemy and one mirror image. You know one of those is a fake that can not harm you, however you need to strike it and the probability you strike a real target is only 50%.

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February 25, 2009 3:12:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting mrakomo,
The problem of the hidden city in the game is the cities in the game are not Gondolin like. Gondolin could remain hidden, because it was completely isolated from the world. However cities in this game are considered not to be isolated. If that happen, merchants can not access the city, nor the peasants.The city would starve and you would get fine ruins. If on the other hand merchants can enter the city, spies can do it too.

Who is to say we can't have a largely self-sufficient city surrounding by a ring of mountains, accessible by just one tunnel or pass through the mountains? Being self-sufficient it might not be the most efficient, but the advantage of being cut off, essentially invisible, could still make it worthwhile. And Gondolin was not completely isolated from the outside world - heck, Melkor knew exactly where it was, just not how to get in. People went in and out frequently.

Quoting mrakomo,
Invisible city walls is a bad thing. The enemy units will see the armies behind the  wall and so they can easily decide where to strike. The roads lead to the city gates, so the attacke would know where the gates are even if he can not see it.

I'm sorry but that argument doesn't make sense. If the wall is invisible, the attackers would not know or (hopefully) not even suspect that there really is a wall. They would plan their attack under the assumption that there is no wall. The attackers would charge the defending army, only to slam against the invisible wall instead. It would cause widespread confusion and panic among the attackers. Another advantage is the attackers may not have brought many siege weapons to the battle, expecting that they wouldn't be needed. The ultimate result would be a bewildered attacking army thrown into complete chaos, totally unprepared for a proper siege.

Obviously this should only work once against the same opponent - at least with the same city. And even if the attacker is aware that there is an invisible wall, and roughly where it is, it would still make it much harder for the attackers to deal with it. How do you think some average guy wielding a sword is going to feel about jumping out of a siege tower or off a ladder onto an invisible wall? They won't know how thick it is, where the middle of it is. They might even be worried that the wall is just magic and will be taken out from under them once they're on it. Not being able to see something, even if you know it's there, makes it very hard to deal with - physically and mentally.

And to deal with the problem of the attackers being able to see the defenders through the wall, the illusion could be made more complex and could 'lie' about what's behind it from the outside.

And in general magic preferences of channelers should be taken into account by AIs.

 

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February 26, 2009 3:53:19 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

And to deal with the problem of the attackers being able to see the defenders through the wall, the illusion could be made more complex and could 'lie' about what's behind it from the outside.

This may work, however it is a projection, not the invisibility. However how do you think such thing could be implemented? What shall AI do? What would probably real players do?

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February 26, 2009 8:50:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting mrakomo,

This may work, however it is a projection, not the invisibility. However how do you think such thing could be implemented? What shall AI do? What would probably real players do?

We are in a game. it can be easyly implemented by a value: Illusion quality. I don't want to bother to put additional special features to my illusion spell. For gaming, it's enough to have different types of walls: camouflage, invisible, faking.

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February 26, 2009 8:57:01 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting mrakomo,
This may work, however it is a projection, not the invisibility. However how do you think such thing could be implemented? What shall AI do? What would probably real players do?

Well in reality, we'll probably be able to see what troops are behind walls and where they are anyways. That's how every game involving tactical combat i've ever played has functioned, anyways. In all TBS games with tactical combat I've played, there is no fog of war on the tactical map; except for units with special abilities or magic to hide during combat, every unit is revealed to all sides. Medieval II: Total War limits this a little bit by restricting camera movement, but you can still get a pretty good view of enemy forces, and you can still see everything on the minimap.

So talking about actual gameplay, I don't think such a complication would have to be considered. In terms of actual gameplay, an invisible wall would work just fine; the one problem I can see is making the AI deal with them effectively - both the first time and subsequent times.

I remember when RTS AIs would churn out armies without really considering what types of units the player was training. It was a really big problem because if counters were even remotely significant it made the games really easy. Nowadays any half-decent RTS AI will take into account opponents' military compositions and it makes a huge difference. If I only train cavalry I will probably lose, because the AI will notice, train pikemen and defeat my cavalry using a fraction of the people and cost. In a game like Elemental where magic will be so important, I think an analogous stride in AI programming needs to happen. The AI needs to pay attention to the kind of magic the different players focus on.

If I focus heavily on illusions, after a few conflicts my opponent should realize this and take it into account. If it sees my retreating army cross a bridge and then the bridge fall down, it should be skeptical and check to see if the bridge really was destroyed. If they attack a border city and encounter an invisible wall, they should be prepared for the same in other cities. Bring a few catapults or ballistae and see if the boulders/bolts bounce off of nothing before sending their army charging in.

Likewise if they notice that my channeler is supremely gifted at destroying vast swaths of weaker soldiers with overpowering heat waves or some other magic effect, the AI should take this into account and send smaller groups of tougher units at me, or protect its troops preemptively from such attacks.

If magic is going to be an important aspect of the game, then the AI has to adapt to other people's magic just as well as it adapts to other factors, like military composition. Stardock can let us do incredible things with magic, things that could really make Elemental stand out, but it will fall flat if the AI can't handle or adapt to it.

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