The 1.1 Spellbook Overhaul Cometh!

Spells That Pack a Punch

By on November 17, 2010 4:37:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

ScottTykoski

Join Date 03/2001
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Since launch, one of the major complaints about Elemental: War of Magic was that the last bit of our title (the "Magic" part) was found to be...lacking (to put it gently). Global mana addresses areas of cheese, but without a significant overhaul to the Spellbooks and Spells you’re casting, that side of the game would still feel weak.  We’ve taken the following steps to rectify this in 1.1....


1. Spellbook Re-evaluation: There were several problems with the way spells have been organized in Elemental thus far, the most damning being the selection of Elemental based spells when designing your Sovereign. We’ve now moved these out of customization and into the tech tree, so you can make the choice to grab those books as shards are discovered. In their place, players can select books specific to a given strategy. The “Mobility” book has movement and teleportation spells, “Enchantment” gives the players city buffs, “Combat” does damage and protects friendly units relative to the caster’s INT, and “Terraforming” gives players the ability to sculpt the landscape in interesting ways.

2. No two spells should feel the same: Spellbooks in v1.0 through v1.09  were filled with tons of spells that all felt the same: Lightning, Fireball, Hurl Boulder, etc.  They were various tweaks on the formula, but the end result was a magic system that lacked interesting (and cool) choices.  Our motto going into 1.1 was that each and every spell (and each spellbook, for that matter) should feel unique and tempting over the use of another.

3. Bigger, badder, more ballsy high level spells: When I get a level 5 spell, it better not be a ‘slightly stronger version’ of a level 1-4 spell, ‘cause that would be lame.  Instead, I demand serious L5 muscle to my magical might - uniquely awesome options as I conquer the world.  For example...

L5 Mobility - Call of the Titans
A unstoppable spell that gathers ALL friendly unstationed troops and lets you target them directly into enemy territory.

L5 Air - Tornado
Cast upon the army of your foe, this spell will scatter all units in the stack, making them easy targets to pick off.

L5 Life - Death Ward
Taking 250 mp and 1mp/turn maint., Death Ward will allow any champion unit to escape death at the end of a losing battle (even if the battle is fought on enemy soil).

At the end of every spellbook the player will be greeted by a spell that was worth the effort to learn it.


Most of the old spells have been stripped out, and the v1.1 beta will have 68 new and improved spells. While the final 1.1 build will have around 75 spells to help your rise to power, we’ll continue taking suggestions on how to best make the ‘Magic’ half of our subtitle really shine!

Enjoy!

 


 

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November 18, 2010 6:14:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think a lot of concern over L5 spells is because People fail to understand that you are going to have to save for a while and be very frugle with mana even to cast them once, you won't be casting an L5 spell every other turn.

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November 18, 2010 6:32:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The number of spells should be increased over time but I think Stardock know that, and I have to agree with them if a spell is not unique it really shouldn't be included, it's pointless having a dozen magic books all with 50 spells in that are actually duplicates of 5 spells with different descriptions and partical effects.

What they've done is remove a lot of the dead wood and add a few new things to replace some of them, while fixing some core issues. I expect future patches to add more spells. It would be nice to have more spells in 1.1 but I don't want them bugged or meaningless so I can wait for more spells.

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November 18, 2010 8:03:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting luketan,

75 spells is far too little. We need at least 200 spells (like MOM). But more importantly the spells have to be different! Perhaps the game mechanics in EWOM are too simple to support that amount of variety , I don't know.

The last part is correct. There's only so many things you can do with the current mechanics in other areas. You can't for example have spells that give units flight, wall climbing, etc, because there's no walls and no "flying" mechanic.

People need to remember that this is a long term project. 1.1 isn't the end of magic where nobody will ever add another spell.

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November 18, 2010 8:16:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Looks good. I'm however hellbent on the spellcolors in Magic The Gathering and Master of Magic so anything else than that seems not as good. Might be wrong....

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November 18, 2010 8:42:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
L5 Air - Tornado
Cast upon the army of your foe, this spell will scatter all units in the stack, making them easy targets to pick off.

I love this one because it discourages lumping your entire army into a single "stack of doom" without feeling like an arbitrary restriction.

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November 18, 2010 8:54:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Campaigner,
I'm however hellbent on the spellcolors in Magic The Gathering and Master of Magic so anything else than that seems not as good.

You need some of these.

 

Quoting ,
L5 Mobility - Call of the Titans
A unstoppable spell that gathers ALL friendly unstationed troops and lets you target them directly into enemy territory.

While I'm not fanatically opposed to anything that has to do with teleporting, I think that this is way off scale
unless it also gathers all AI unstationed troops to the same location, resulting in one well... titanic battle.

Then it would be a great "mop up" spell because it sucks chasing down the very last enemy unit.
It's no challenge to do so "manually", it's not interesting. It's just annoying.

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November 18, 2010 9:23:53 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Another thing to remember at this point is that many of the Strategic Spells have little use because the AI does not use them against your Cities, thus using them, even just for shits and giggles, is a pointless waste of Mana.

When the AI starts devastating our cities with Magic, then we will see an marked increase in the number of spells that will need be used "all the time".

There is little point in having 200 Spells if only 75 might actually see any prevalent use. Not to say that more isn't better, but, quality and usefulness way outweighs simple Quantity.

 

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November 18, 2010 10:00:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yeah, the big thing we're going for in 1.1, magic wise, is to make sure spell options available are interesting, unique, and have little overlap, with the unterstanding that spells will being added throughout the process (read: the magic system will never stagnate). 

If the 75 spells in the final v1.1 are balanced, unique, and feel like they have a strategic use, I feel we've hit our goal (with loftier goals already being plotted for future patches).

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November 18, 2010 10:04:48 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

One important point on spell design:

Please keep the resist calculation in the Spell.xml instead of making it a hardcoded black box system.

The spells calculate their damage therre, they can also calculate their resist chance.

That ensures some desperately needed flexibility like...

Other resists:  Just because there is a "magic resistance" stat... that doesn't mean that every spell has to use it.
With a Throw Rock spell the projectile itself could be entirely unmagical and the whole spell could "resist" on the unit's dodge and defense stats.
Illusions might take the target's INT into account. Blood magic spells the total HP...

That would in turn allow adding vulnerabilities to certain creatures.

7 hidden "vulnerability" unit properties that default to decimal 1.0  if not assigned to the unit. (Fire, water... life, physical)

A fire spell would always factor in the Vulnerability.Fire in it's damage and/or resist calculations so a plywood golem would have a harder time to resist fire spells.
A glass golem would have maybe  0.7 Vulnerability.Fire but 1.3 Vulnerability.physical.

These vulnerabilities would not need to be displayed with the unit data. The generic "magic resistance" stat is enough information.

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November 18, 2010 10:18:19 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Gazz_,


While I'm not fanatically opposed to anything that has to do with teleporting, I think that this is way off scale
unless it also gathers all AI unstationed troops to the same location, resulting in one well... titanic battle.

Then it would be a great "mop up" spell because it sucks chasing down the very last enemy unit.
It's no challenge to do so "manually", it's not interesting. It's just annoying.

Anyone else thinking "Apocolypse" spell from Populous (or am I the only really old one around here)

other cool ideas from that (most of which wouldn't work in Elemental, but might spark some that would)

Baptismal fonts (a unit falling in them changed sides)

Swamp which propagated in the same way as John Conways "Life" http://www.bitstorm.org/gameoflife/

Flood - which raised the sea level one unit

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November 18, 2010 10:31:47 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wow, all this and the beta isn't released yet.

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November 18, 2010 10:34:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What's the point of turning grassland into wasteland, or the opposite? Does it even have a mechanical effect?

(with loftier goals already being plotted for future patches).

When the patch is released, will we get a very rough roadmap of what's to come?

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November 18, 2010 10:40:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting RFHolloway,
Anyone else thinking "Apocolypse" spell from Populous (or am I the only really old one around here)

Judging by how many here can quote the MoM manual blindfolded, I don't believe you're that much above average age. =P

My favourite was blessing the enemy territory with great lush forests. And then the tiniest little... spark...

Such natural synergy with spells is something I'd like to see in elemental, too.
For instance: an enemy army is traveling through a long mountain pass. (that you conveniently constructed there)
You close off both ends with Raise Land... and create a flood inside...
Or magma. Everything is better with magma.

(more or less) real physics such as more than one altitude level and water flowing downwards would add a massive amount of options. Kinda like a large scale Dwarf Fortress.
You would create a high basin and fill it with flood spells, only to pull the plug when an enemy army passes by and wash the heathens into the sea.
Something for the 2nd expansion. =P

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November 18, 2010 10:42:28 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Werewindlefr,
What's the point of turning grassland into wasteland, or the opposite? Does it even have a mechanical effect?


(with loftier goals already being plotted for future patches).


When the patch is released, will we get a very rough roadmap of what's to come?

This has generally been the case after they release one patch they then post about future patches. I think they will want to evaluate response to the 1.1 patch once people have played it too rather than bjust from reading the log in order to look at future direction. This is not including the first expansion of course which will be another work stream.

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November 18, 2010 11:00:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

We probably won't discuss futures unti 1.1 is out the door, though I think some PR is being done on Fallen Enchantress as we speak, so you may hear about that through more formal channels before we blab about it here

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November 18, 2010 11:02:48 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I do hope that Stardock haven't stripped the game of the unit based mana system, since (some) modders will still want to use that system with or instead of the new system.

I support the new system though, cheers!

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November 18, 2010 11:03:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Campaigner,
Looks good. I'm however hellbent on the spellcolors in Magic The Gathering and Master of Magic so anything else than that seems not as good. Might be wrong....

 

Me too. But no point moaning about that, the name of the game is ELEMENTAL.. so it's fire, water, air, earth.... 

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November 18, 2010 11:21:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting luketan,



Quoting Campaigner,
reply 54
Looks good. I'm however hellbent on the spellcolors in Magic The Gathering and Master of Magic so anything else than that seems not as good. Might be wrong....


 

Me too. But no point moaning about that, the name of the game is ELEMENTAL.. so it's fire, water, air, earth.... 

 

And Heart!  That poor Indian kid got the shit end of the stick with Captain Planet rings...

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November 18, 2010 11:30:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting BoogieBac,
While the final 1.1 build will have around 75 spells to help your rise to power, we’ll continue taking suggestions on how to best make the ‘Magic’ half of our subtitle really shine!
Quoting BoogieBac,
We probably won't discuss futures unti 1.1 is out the door

Make up your mind! =P

 

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November 18, 2010 11:49:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Gazz_: We'll be consistently taking suggestions from you guys while solidifying the future designs internally. Once a vision is solidified and agreed upon, we present that vision in some official manner (and the cycle continues).

At no part will we break the comminucation cycle, but as future design/vision decisions are agreed upon and finalized, us mortals in the bullpen have to be careful not to step on the toes of the almighty marketing and PR departments, lest their wrath descend

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November 18, 2010 11:58:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Gazz_,

Quoting RFHolloway, reply 60Anyone else thinking "Apocolypse" spell from Populous (or am I the only really old one around here)
Judging by how many here can quote the MoM manual blindfolded, I don't believe you're that much above average age. =P

My favourite was blessing the enemy territory with great lush forests. And then the tiniest little... spark...

Such natural synergy with spells is something I'd like to see in elemental, too.
For instance: an enemy army is traveling through a long mountain pass. (that you conveniently constructed there)
You close off both ends with Raise Land... and create a flood inside...
Or magma. Everything is better with magma.

(more or less) real physics such as more than one altitude level and water flowing downwards would add a massive amount of options. Kinda like a large scale Dwarf Fortress.
You would create a high basin and fill it with flood spells, only to pull the plug when an enemy army passes by and wash the heathens into the sea.
Something for the 2nd expansion. =P

All of that sounds cool but horribly complicated to implement.

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November 18, 2010 12:21:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting BoogieBac,
Gazz_: We'll be consistently taking suggestions from you guys while solidifying the future designs internally. Once a vision is solidified and agreed upon, we present that vision in some official manner (and the cycle continues).

At no part will we break the comminucation cycle, but as future design/vision decisions are agreed upon and finalized, us mortals in the bullpen have to be careful not to step on the toes of the almighty marketing and PR departments, lest their wrath descend
Let's have an independant faction in the game: "the Dreaded PR Department". It's evil and its wrath tears continents asunder and topples mighty kingdoms and empires!

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November 18, 2010 12:28:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

@ BoogieBac

Just pulling yer leg. =P
I don't expect any "feature bleh will be in 1.131" because that would be a dumb thing for exactly the reasons (or departments = ) you listed.

And sometimes even the best idea in the world just doesn't work in the context of a specific game. *shrug*
That's no reason to stop posting ideas, though. Even if I expect it to be impossible within the scope of WOM, the idea might spark another one that does work...

Quoting Werewindlefr,
Let's have an independant faction in the game: "the Dreaded PR Department". It's evil and its wrath tears continents asunder and topples mighty kingdoms and empires!

It could have the power to prevent everyone from casting farseeing spells for a while.

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November 18, 2010 12:36:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

2. No two spells should feel the same: Spellbooks in v1.0 through v1.09  were filled with tons of spells that all felt the same: Lightning, Fireball, Hurl Boulder, etc.  They were various tweaks on the formula, but the end result was a magic system that lacked interesting (and cool) choices.  Our motto going into 1.1 was that each and every spell (and each spellbook, for that matter) should feel unique and tempting over the use of another.

Hmm... Now it looks somewhat... poor for me? Well, unique is good, but if it limit diverse...  I am not sure... 80 looks too small choice for spells...

Wait (I already peeked next, changelog, post) - is it possible to have "shaped" spell? I.e. now we have Fire Bolt - and it is single Bolt in game. It is good, but not enough. Can it be "Force bolt", and add elemental power from owned shards? I.e. if you have nothing, it is basic "Force bolt", if you have Fire shard, it can become Fire Bolt, Ice Shard - Ice Bolt, etc? The same could be true for Elementals, and so on. Can it be?

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November 18, 2010 1:42:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Raledon,
I do hope that Stardock haven't stripped the game of the unit based mana system, since (some) modders will still want to use that system with or instead of the new system.

I support the new system though, cheers!

I think you will find they have. Although I believe post 1.1 they are going to be looking at changing special abilities so they have a cooldown timer instead of workin on mana so you should be able to use specialabilities to create unit spells.

The question I have for them is how will special abilities work in 1.1?

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