Design a Trait Contest

By on March 16, 2011 3:16:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Derek Paxton

Join Date 03/2003
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I love role playing game’s (RPGs).  At its core Fallen Enchantress is half 4x strategy game and half RPG.  The best mechanics for Fallen Enchantress are applicable at an RPG and 4x level.  In particular we are trying to push the RPG side of the game so that it feels like a 4x game set in an RPG world.

There are a lot of game mechanics and implementation details (flavor) that support this focus.  But one of my favorites in Fallen Enchantress is Traits.

Traits are used in a few ways.  They are assigned to monsters and champions much as abilities are in War of Magic (at an implementation level traits are abilities, the ability system has just received a lot of new functionality to support what we need traits to do).  They are also used when you design units.  So you can design a unit with their equipment, mounts and any special traits you want to assign to them (the amount of traits and the traits you have to choose from depend on your techs).

TraitsBut my favorite use of traits is that you no longer simply add points when your champions level up.  Instead you have a random selection of traits to choose from.  Some traits are common, some are uncommon and some are rare.  They are random so that players can’t simply choose their favorites every time.  It also allows us to make traits unbalanced, rare traits can be pretty cool without making common traits useless.  And it helps make your champions more unique if one of them got some cool ability when he hit 2nd level (instead of having that trait require a min level of 10 or another balancing control).

Fallen Enchantress offers 5 random traits for the unit to pick from when they level up and the player gets to choose one.  The traits offered may depend on the traits the unit already has, for example champions that produce gildar may get traits that allow them to improve that ability.  Champions will have the ability to improve their spell casting proficiency by traits (access to spells isn’t limited to intelligence in Fallen Enchantress), to improve their stats, or to gain new skills.

We have lots of fun traits planned.  But I’m excited to hear from you so tomorrow we will be starting a Design a Trait contest.  What abilities would you like units to gain when they level up?

Watch the http://www.elementalgame.com/contest for the contest to go live tomorrow.

 

Update on 3/17/2011: Conditional Traits

One of the most interesting features of traits is that they can be conditional in Fallen Enchantress (unlike abilities).  So they can only apply in specific situations.  we currently have tags for:

vsDamaged- This trait only takes effect when you are attacking a damaged unit

vsHigher- This trait only takes effect when you are attacking a unit with a higher (whatever UnitStat is specified).

vsLower- This trait only takes effect when you are attacking a unit with a lower (whatever UnitStat is specified).

vsOtherAllegiance- This trait only takes effect when you are attacking a unit of the opposite allegiance (kingdom attacking fallen or vise versa).

vsUnitType- Unit Type is a new attribute in Fallen Enchantress, all units are either Beasts, Elementals, Twisted, Humans, Construct or Dragons.  This allows a trait to only be active when you are attacking the specified unit type.

WhenUnderPercentHitPoints- This trait is only active when the unit with it is under the specified percentage of their hit points.

xActions- This trait is only active for the specified amount of actions in tactical combat.  This is how we give Plaguestalkers a huge movement and attack boost just for their first action.

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March 16, 2011 3:31:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

if some random traits would go on your son or doughter you would be my hero Derek

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March 16, 2011 3:40:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

AOW gave the choice of stat buffs or a trait, and it worked great.  Love this idea!

I'd look at AOW: SM for some generic ideas to borrow

 

I love the common/uncommon/rare, though rare should be RARE, though rarity should be decreasable by tech/luck/other factors.

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March 16, 2011 3:41:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

take another issue off the EWOM issue list... nice work Derek!

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March 16, 2011 3:45:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Monologue: the attention of enemy AI heroes is drawn away from friendly units and re-focused on the hero that is monologuing.

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March 16, 2011 4:08:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Pantasd,
if some random traits would go on your son or doughter you would be my hero Derek

 

Yes, cause one thing Elemental needs is Pokemon-esque breeding system.

 

Damnit! my son isn't the right nature! time to try again!

 

 

 

(I just bought Pokemon White, btdubs. loving it)

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March 16, 2011 5:25:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is a very, very good news. I'm a huge believer in strengthening the RPG side of Elemental. Truth be told, the mix of RPG and TBS is what inclined me to purchase Elemental in the first place. Unfortunately, I felt the RPG elements in WoM lacking and imagined that a great, bounteous deal more could be done in the RPG field, particularly in finding innovative ways to merge RPG with TBS. It's awesome to see that you've got the same vision in mind, Derek, and my anticipation for Fallen Enchantress has only grown stronger. I especially appreciate how the trait system is designed in order to make your heroes more distinct and unique. I can only hope that this trend towards greater characterization grows deeper as we learn more about FE.

If I may ask (and I certainly understand that it may be under wraps), what does the Fire Disciple trait do? Does it strengthen one's fire-based magic powers? And does it also provide a corresponding weakness to the element's weakness, say, water? I'm curious because I posted a very similar idea a while back, and it would be awesome if it was actually being implemented in game.

Great work, Team Stardock. Looking forward to the trait contest.

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March 16, 2011 5:27:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds really interesting. Allthough hestitant at first it seems FE is going to be a good game.

I love the idea of random traits with varying commonality.

 

Are the affected stats censored to prevent forum users to start yapping on and on about stat usage?

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March 16, 2011 5:35:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ooooh, this'll be fun!

One thing, in my opinion, the more traits the merrier!

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March 16, 2011 5:39:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ahara,
Sounds really interesting. Allthough hestitant at first it seems FE is going to be a good game.

I love the idea of random traits with varying commonality.

Are the affected stats censored to prevent forum users to start yapping on and on about stat usage?

Not really, they are censored to keep from causing confusion.  The actual screenshot shows detail stats that won't be displayed in the final game.  They don't have icons and would just make people wonder what in the world we were doing.  Plus its fun to slap a big "Censored" on a screenshot.

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March 16, 2011 5:46:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Another thing I'd like to see: Traits that require other traits to be an option, if the option isn't there, a new trait is selected.

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March 16, 2011 6:02:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have one question about traits. Will traits be applicable to normal units? One of the coolest parts about Civ was the way that units could be leveled up to take on different traits. While you could have 20 knights which all had the base stats, these units could be upgraded to be slightly distinct from one another. In WoM, I can build a whole bunch of spear units with different armors and equipment, but outside of the HP bonus for leveling up, these units are identical to each other. Thus, there is almost no incentive for the player to care about his individual units, which should make up the bulk of his forces. While it granting access to all the available traits would be detrimental to the overall status of champions, having a smaller pool for units based upon their equipment would reward players for not treating their units like interchangeable cannon fodder.

For a simple example, let's look at a simple spear unit. In general, the spear could grant a unit a trait we will call "Spear Trait", which might be a prerequisite for a whole set of spear-based traits. If the unit is a champion, the champion would then not only get to select traits from the general pool, but also the spear-based pool. A normal unit, who does not have access to the normal pool, would only get access to the spear-based pool. Thus, if we say that all of the spear-based traits grant spear abilities, such as a range bonus or some form of spear wall, each new unit would be the same, while experienced units could be leveled to meet the various needs of a particular player's strategy.

On the modding side, this would have amazing consequences for mod makers. In WoM, there is no method of creating or modifying level up schemes for the various units, and with the exception of HP, base unit stats do not change. Even if FE does not give traits to normal units by default, at least giving them an interface to select traits if they have some available would give mod makers the power to give units skill trees and stat boosts, which make sense in the context of their mods.

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March 16, 2011 6:16:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting kenata,
I have one question about traits. Will traits be applicable to normal units? One of the coolest parts about Civ was the way that units could be leveled up to take on different traits. While you could have 20 knights which all had the base stats, these units could be upgraded to be slightly distinct from one another. In WoM, I can build a whole bunch of spear units with different armors and equipment, but outside of the HP bonus for leveling up, these units are identical to each other. Thus, there is almost no incentive for the player to care about his individual units, which should make up the bulk of his forces. While it granting access to all the available traits would be detrimental to the overall status of champions, having a smaller pool for units based upon their equipment would reward players for not treating their units like interchangeable cannon fodder.

For a simple example, let's look at a simple spear unit. In general, the spear could grant a unit a trait we will call "Spear Trait", which might be a prerequisite for a whole set of spear-based traits. If the unit is a champion, the champion would then not only get to select traits from the general pool, but also the spear-based pool. A normal unit, who does not have access to the normal pool, would only get access to the spear-based pool. Thus, if we say that all of the spear-based traits grant spear abilities, such as a range bonus or some form of spear wall, each new unit would be the same, while experienced units could be leveled to meet the various needs of a particular player's strategy.

On the modding side, this would have amazing consequences for mod makers. In WoM, there is no method of creating or modifying level up schemes for the various units, and with the exception of HP, base unit stats do not change. Even if FE does not give traits to normal units by default, at least giving them an interface to select traits if they have some available would give mod makers the power to give units skill trees and stat boosts, which make sense in the context of their mods.

You can add traits to normal units (ie: non-champion) when they are being designed.  Normal units don't gain traits when they level up (thats part of what makes champions special).

There is 1 trainable unit that gains traits when they levelup (Sions).  We have an xml tag that says if a unit gains traits when they levelup or not, so it would be easy for a modder to allow all units to use traits when they levelup if they want.  They could also create different levelups for different units by using the prereq system.

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March 16, 2011 6:24:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There is 1 trainable unit that gains traits when they levelup (Sions). We have an xml tag that says if a unit gains traits when they levelup or not, so it would be easy for a modder to allow all units to use traits when they levelup if they want. They could also create different levelups for different units by using the prereq system.

Will Sions be able to access all of the base champion traits, or do all traits have prerequisites allowing them to be easily categorized into subsets?

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March 16, 2011 6:32:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Great stuff!

As I just mentioned in another post, I would like such traits to affect the way a champion or Sovereign behaves within the game - and not just affect their abilities and bonuses.  Not sure if this would be possible, under the current developer goals - but it would add another amazing layer of intrigue and immersion to the game.  Perhaps some traits could have unforseen negative repurcussions - eg the Headstrong trait could give bonuses to attack and initiative, but could result in diplomatic faux pas that could reduce your relation with another faction.  The Cautious trait might lead a Sovereign to surrender to an invading force and sue for peace, but also encourage him/her to produce defensive units that could help avert this in advance. 

I am greatly encouraged by this post, but would really love to see such traits have a deeper level of meaning, that will affect the game in unforseen ways - beyond just buffing a champion or Sovereign to ever increasing levels.

Would this be possible, in the scope of what you are planning?

 

 

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March 16, 2011 6:32:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting kenata,

There is 1 trainable unit that gains traits when they levelup (Sions). We have an xml tag that says if a unit gains traits when they levelup or not, so it would be easy for a modder to allow all units to use traits when they levelup if they want. They could also create different levelups for different units by using the prereq system.

Will Sions be able to access all of the base champion traits, or do all traits have prerequisites allowing them to be easily categorized into subsets?

Neither extreme.  Some traits require prereqs (such as those that enable spells) so sions won't have access to them.  But a lot of traits have no prereq so they are open to both Sions and Champions.

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March 16, 2011 6:53:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Neither extreme. Some traits require prereqs (such as those that enable spells) so sions won't have access to them. But a lot of traits have no prereq so they are open to both Sions and Champions.

Does Sion still mean a 'Character' unit created via the dynasty vs. a 'Character' unit recruited from the wastelands?

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March 16, 2011 7:00:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Does Sion still mean a 'Character' unit created via the dynasty vs. a 'Character' unit recruited from the wastelands?

A Sion is a unit that the Empire can train after an appropriate building is created. It is a special troop, like Darklings or spiders, so you can't customize them, but they are fairly cool in general, as they have a really nasty special ability.

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March 16, 2011 7:04:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

color code the graphics next to the trait text that way poeple know how important they are since your saying some are common and some are rare.

green = common

blue = rare

purple = epic

orange = legendary

this way you know you got something not common when the traits pop out especially since the stuff will be random.

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March 16, 2011 7:20:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting kenata,
... A Sion is a unit that the Empire can train after an appropriate building is created. It is a special troop, like Darklings or spiders, so you can't customize them, but they are fairly cool in general, as they have a really nasty special ability.

Thanks. I've not done much playing on the Empire side and I seem to have gotten lost somewhere about scions-as-offspring and the Sion unit in current builds. Given the plain English meaning of scion, I thought Sion was a typo and those units were produced by the dynasty system.

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March 16, 2011 7:55:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Could traits be a function of weapons, or requiring a certain weapon or shield, or at least require a certain weapon to use?

 

Are traits only passive, or are there active trait abilities?

 

Example: A Spear unit could set Charge, enabling it to get a free retaliation before the first attack in a round, and a huge bonus on that attack vs cavalry.

 

A Sword unit might have a Melee Foe trait it could gain, etc?

 

Thinking along the lines of Civ IV promotions, but I know others could do better.

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March 16, 2011 8:10:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Alstein,
Could traits be a function of weapons, or requiring a certain weapon or shield, or at least require a certain weapon to use?

Are traits only passive, or are there active trait abilities?

Example: A Spear unit could set Charge, enabling it to get a free retaliation before the first attack in a round, and a huge bonus on that attack vs cavalry.

A Sword unit might have a Melee Foe trait it could gain, etc?

Thinking along the lines of Civ IV promotions, but I know others could do better.

Traits don't have to be passive, they can add special abilities, spells, etc.

As for equipment, we aren't talking about that yet, but it's cool too.  

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March 16, 2011 8:20:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Derek Paxton,

Neither extreme.  Some traits require prereqs (such as those that enable spells) so sions won't have access to them.  But a lot of traits have no prereq so they are open to both Sions and Champions.
What about pre-reqs in the form of a trait tree ? As in, traits that could unlock the access to other traits in the list at a higher level ?

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March 16, 2011 8:26:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What about pre-reqs in the form of a trait tree ? As in, traits that could unlock the access to other traits in the list at a higher level ?

This is pretty much the current plan for Updated Weapon:FE edition.

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March 16, 2011 8:30:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Werewindlefr,

Quoting Derek Paxton, reply 15
Neither extreme.  Some traits require prereqs (such as those that enable spells) so sions won't have access to them.  But a lot of traits have no prereq so they are open to both Sions and Champions.What about pre-reqs in the form of a trait tree ? As in, traits that could unlock the access to other traits in the list at a higher level ?

Yeah, traits can require other traits so you can create skill trees if you want.  We do that with some abilities now.

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March 16, 2011 9:31:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
They are random so that players can’t simply choose their favorites every time.  It also allows us to make traits unbalanced, rare traits can be pretty cool without making common traits useless. 

Ah, finally, the idea works its way in. I've said it many times before (and hopefully you incorporate the notion in many other areas of the game), that balance != fun, not necessarily. MoM was fun and was the most imbalanced thing ever. Please don't always have the idea of balance in every area of the game (eg. if this skill is here, then we need this balancing skill over there).

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