So I've been doing some thinking, regarding cities and spells. As in the cases we've experienced in beta, neither was really satisfying. Which makes sense, it was a mechanical beta, not a full playtest version. There were opportunities to playtest, but were extremely limited. And that's great for what it was.
Now, I know some have heard me talk about satellite communities growing up around cities. And I truly stand by this idea. But I think it applies even more so now, than ever before.
With 3B, were getting into the arena of territory mattering more than just a city. And that there is a 10 square buffer between cities that can be built. But we also have to go a bit with the flow of the overall arching story... recovering from the wasteland.
Now.. my idea in this case. With some basic general ideas, to make kingdom level play a LOT more fun.
When you found a village, because that's what we do at step 1. We then grow that village into a small town. And from there, we grow it into a large sized town, then to a city, and finally a metropolis.
One thing you can do... to make city leveling more organic, and bear a semblance of reality, even fantastic reality, but reality. Is to after choosing the bonus you get for your town going up a level.
More people should come into your kingdom. And they do that by building a village nearby. A village that you don't build anything in. It just has a static baseline, houses, etcetera. But now is part of your kingdom. (And also helps project your kingdom borders organically as well.) The distance away should be something like 3 squares give or whatever feels right in testing.
Without a lot of fluff here.. this is what I"m talking about.. all bullet point like.
Each time your city levels, you get to build upon your community and the kingdom.
Level 1, baseline. This is the starting point.
Level 2 Village becomes a Small town (Level 2). Benefit: You gain 1 new level 1 village to place within 3 squares of your village.
Level 3 Small town grows into a Large town (Level 3), Benefit: You gain a new village to place within 3 squares of your town.
Level 4 Large town grows into a City (Level 4), Benefit: One of your villages becomes a small town. And you also get to place a new level 1 village within 3 squares of either your city, or that level 2 small town.
Level 5 City grows into a Metropolis (Level 5). Benefit, one of your villages grows into a small town. And you can place a new level 1 village within 3 squares of your city, or a new town that was made.
Those numbers are purely arbitrary. But they give the idea that not only as your city grows, people come to live under your banner. Those new villages and small towns, can be mechanically designed to act as bonuses to the baseline, offering more people coming from your villages when building troops, and what not. You can station troops in them, and will have a reason to defend them as well. They could contribute gold, or food, or research ... whatever seems like it will make the gameplay deeper, with more going on.
And then there is the other side of it.. you still go off and build new cities yourself as normal with Pioneers. And they eventually attract people, and when it's all said and done. It will feel much more fantastic, yet realistic. People will feel like these things matter. Hell those villages, could even have little name tags, or simply be nameless. They could help extend the borders, but also like the ideas of forts, allow troops to be stationed in safe areas. And we'll also have reasons to want to build troops to defend our kingdom against the wild monsters out there.
And they could also act as natural caravan points for road construction. And the 10 square minimum for city construction would still stand, based upon the actual growing city.. the one's that can grow into Stage 4 or 5's. Yet still have villages that maybe grow closer together over time. With a sense of real roads.
And another bonus to them is that they create the illusion of larger growth but without requiring more micromanagement. The key to them is placement. Once that is done, they act as part of your city, but you don't build anything in them. So that way, your creating a sense of depth, without the extra complication.
This also has the other added benefit of avoiding the need to spam cities. Because you'll have a larger area, and the five or so real cities you build will really span a good chunk of the map. But also feel.. real. Fantastic, but real. Without the fatigue of dealing with late stage city development.
It's a sleight of hand on one side. But then it also presents strategic possibilities. Including a realistic source of gold and some foods from those villages. Flowing to the city so that way they could be captured. Denying the primary city the benefit of that village.
I think that makes the case. And from testing, the recent phases of the beta, and seeing the current fluidity of the city situation, still being radically altered. I think this could present a new and organic feel. And Not something seen in any other game, so it'll be a new experience, that may set the trend, for 4X build style games.
I recently found myself thinking on how do you make the spells more interesting. As the current ones are just bland, and in many cases not very interesting. But then I started thinking. As I've been thinking on how do you make them interesting. And of course the first step is just to add a lot more spells. And hope that there are creative people at the helm to come up with interesting and unique ideas, that aren't just reskin's of the same spell with a different animation and effect.
Then it hit me, as I was thinking about 4th Edition D&D, I came to really like the process of where the player begins to replace older encounter spells. But even that wouldn't be good enough for this game.
Which then I had an epiphany on the subject.
How do you make spells each individually interesting, even though there may be a vast library.
Each spell should have it's own spell level. And when your researching spells, you should be able to put that research, into leveling up Each individual spell as well. And that to make each spell interesting.. create a little uniformity. Something very similar to Champions. Where you customize a power when you spend points, as you go up in level so each one is customized by the player.
There would be spell levels, 1 through 5.
Spell level 1, is the baseline of the spell. Let's take Fireball as our example.
When you research another level of spells, you can learn another new base spell, or can level up a previous spell you know.
What type of enhancements are available? More damage, farther range, larger area of effect. And a whole host of other enhancements that fit to that spell.
Let's take a fictional Fireball spell using this method.
Fireball level 1.
Damage: 10-20 points of Fire Damage
Critical Hit: 10% Chance, damage maximized times 2.
Range: 8 squares
Area of Effect: 4 Squares
Special: 25% chance for Ongoing damage 5 points (save ends).
So that's a pretty good baseline spell, has a good damage potential (in our hypothetical numbers are variable at this point), it has a good physical range, and affects quite a few targets. And has a good proc' chance, as well as a decent critical hit chance.
Now trust me when I say gamers love this stuff.. because each spell can be serious customized, so now knowing there are 5 levels of the spell, we can come up with the variables, and assign point values.
First, the variables.
Increased Damage. Increased Range. Higher Critical Percent. Larger Area of Effect. Special riders, chance to increase spell proc's.
So let's say we want Increased damage when designing to have up to 2 more levels of increased damage. Each will cost 1 upgrade point. Increased range, we want that to be upwards of 3 levels of increased range. Critical percentage, also 3 levels. Area of Effect as well but only 2 levels. And finally Increased proc'ing damage upwards of 3 levels.
Mind you these are all arbitrary decisions... that present us with some variables, that a designer could play with to tweak to get some good numbers.
Now.. let's take our power and build it out.
Let's say we level this spell up 4 times, to get to level 5.
Level 2 we upgraded Damage, 1st upgrade damage changed 15-35, Level 3 upgrade we chose Increased Ranged 2 additional squares of range (Range 10 now). Level 4 Upgrade, we chose to increase the critical range, 5% to 15%, and finally we chose for our level 5 upgrade. Increased Proc chance for ongoing damage, an additional 10%, to 35%.
But to lay it out on the spell page.
It would show how much you can advance it.
Damage Upgrade: 1 - 15-35 Damage. Upgrade 2 - 20-40 damage.
Range Upgrade: 1 - Range + 2 (10). Upgrade 2 - Range +2 (12).
Critical Upgrade: 1 - +5% (15%). Upgrade 2 - +5% (20%), Upgrade 3 - +5% (25%)
Area of Effect Upgrade: 1 - Burst Area +2 squares (6 squares), Upgrade 2 - Burst Area +2 squares (8 squares).
Special Proc Upgrade: 1 - +5% (30%), Upgrade 2 +5% (+35%), Upgrade 3 +5% (+40%).
And this is the range that a player could see, and then begin to plan for their spells. Using this as a base line, then you could create other things. Now this is where Spells become really interesting, from game to game. And also become unique. (Now all those values above would need a real tweaking to bring them in line with the functional variables.)
This just is another part of organic gameplay idea's that can be different, but also special and give that deeper meaning to the gameplay. Let's be honest it is 2010. We can handle games with intricate depth and new concepts. And I think in this case, both examples, for organic city growth, and spell customization each game. The door get's bigger, and unlocks new ideas.
And summon spells are not immune from this idea.. they can be upgraded over time too.. more damage, tougher armor, higher hit points, attack proc chances for neat events.. and so on.
The idea is limited only by the imagination of the developers, and then by the modder's.
What does everyone think about this? Does it make sense? Weigh in and give voice while we have a chance to influence, the last parts of the game before it's all locked down.
As always thanks for your Patience with reading my wall of text!