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Developers Corner

Developers Corner 

Characters, Skills, Etc.  » Too Little or Too Much Magic?

10 posts found

Novice Member

Joined: 7/24/11
Posts: 142

Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change-Confucius

OP  1/05/13 9:04:37 PM#1

Hello guys, girls, and transgender posters.

I have run into an unexpected problem. I am a member of a team, with a game in in pre-alpha, and the testers have brought to our attention a situation that was intentional, but may turn out to be a problem to most of our players.

Here's a brief description of the game.

Its not an mmo (right now), more similar to borderlands' drop in/drop out. (public, private/friends only) //Curently only six to a world, but planning to expand

Its first person view, with the razer hydra used for a feature called precision plus (P+), or mouse and key'.

Its based on mythology from numerous cultures from around the world, with our own little twist. Mid-High fantasy all players are humans who have no natural ability to use magic, so a meduim called lacrimas (crystal balls/shapes) are used to channel mana. The lacrimas also act mainly as an ID in-game, as well as other functions. 

Players start with stamina, and health only, mana is increased by leveling up and selecting it over the other two. But it takes five points allocated into mana to be able to use a basic spell. Now since humans aren't naturally able to use magic, the mana fee is somewhat heavy. (This is mainly to prevent spamming, and op range vs. melee, and promote strategy) 

Also people that oppose magic in favor of technology have altered lacrimas to prevent the use of mana in the surrounding area. They can be purchased by players to be placed on property, and used in warsby catapult. The anti- magic lacrimas are too big to be carried, and only stored in property, until activated or launched. 

Hope that was enough info. Now the problem is that many of the people we've had play that wanted to be a pure "mage" said its wasn't a viable playstyle. So our lead wants to take out magic use completely, or make it more similar to Skyrim's magic system.

Now the melee is great on its own with or without a hydra, but to allow more freedom we'd rather keep it. So my queation to you is;

Should we scrap the magic, or adjust it to allow for more balanced combat?

TLDR- Should the magic in our combat, be buffed or scraped?


Elite Member

Joined: 4/12/11
Posts: 4502

RIP City of Heroes!

1/05/13 9:22:34 PM#2

it need to be balanced if you want the playerbase to accept it.

I would suggest keeping a fixed amount of mana and improving "spells/abilities" as you level.  So a fireball always costs 35 mana AND has the same casting time but the damage goes up as you level.  Allow players to modify the spell with bonus slots as they level.


Novice Member

Joined: 7/24/11
Posts: 142

Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change-Confucius

OP  1/05/13 9:59:09 PM#3
Originally posted by waynejr2

it need to be balanced if you want the playerbase to accept it.

I would suggest keeping a fixed amount of mana and improving "spells/abilities" as you level.  So a fireball always costs 35 mana AND has the same casting time but the damage goes up as you level.  Allow players to modify the spell with bonus slots as they level.

Thanks for the input, it is skill based, each spell levels with use, but as you level you can modify spell traits, like duration,blast radius, dmg% increase, range etc. I'll consider the constant mana cost, slipped my mind.



Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/24/10
Posts: 779

1/18/13 6:37:33 PM#4

You could consider things like sacrifices.   Like unable to touch iron, can't use weapons, physical+unhidable distinciton, slower leveling, increased death penalty.  Could very easily fit into a lower magic setting if you turned magic users interaction to be more and more 'fey' to the normal world (The classical definition of fey meaning 'wrong'). 

Also means you wouldn't necessarily need to have a lacrimas system for non-magic players as well, have them worry about other systems like fuel, ammo, and crafting.

Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent.

"There are still vast swaths of our planet's surface in which it's surprisingly easy to lose things. Even a ship the size of a large building." Richard Fisher


Advanced Member

Joined: 7/29/08
Posts: 2615

6/15/14 8:52:05 PM#5

I will say this.  You need to make the game you want to make and accept the fact that some ( many) players will simply not like your game designs.   This is ok.   I know it sounds backwards, but one of the biggest mistakes developers make is altering their core game designs based on some minority of players.   Build the game you want to make, advertise it exactly how it is, and be happy with the # of players that want to play it.  If you constantly change core designs to chase some segment of potential players, you are going to end up with a watered down game with no identity.

Sorry to be blunt, but you should say to the people who want to be pure mages ´sorry, this is probably not the game for you´.

We have a similar design, low magic world.. and our solution is that ´mana´  is a daily resource with no way to recharge and that melee combat against you has a very high interrupt rate.   Our goal is to have magic be mostly about utility, with a ranged attack or two (replaces archery) before engaging in melee.  Mobs will generally close to within melee range, which makes casting or archery nearly impossible,  and any mob that doesn´t close to melee range is something YOU want to close into melee range against because their fireballs are much bigger than yours.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/04/05
Posts: 5297

1/07/15 10:25:53 PM#6
Originally posted by waynejr2

it need to be balanced if you want the playerbase to accept it.

I would suggest keeping a fixed amount of mana and improving "spells/abilities" as you level.  So a fireball always costs 35 mana AND has the same casting time but the damage goes up as you level.  Allow players to modify the spell with bonus slots as they level.

I've gotta agree with this ^.

Another suggestion I would make is to say that you might be focusing on the lore aspects of your combat too much. Make sure the game mechanics are solid, make sense, and are fun. THEN worry bout how it fits into the lore of the game. Depending on how that last part works out, scrapping magic may be the better option, but it's worth considering your other options first. I would say that turning it into something like Skyrim would (imho) be a bad idea. While it's a fun system for single player, I think it's a bad system for multiplayer (especially with pvp).

Furthermore, some suggestions for how you may try to incorporate magic better:

1) If you want it to be limited, make it limited. Make magic more of a special skill, rather than a stat you need to build up over time. For references, think systems like FF's limit break, Neverwinter's Daily Powers, GW Elite abilities, etc. Make them 1 or 2 abilities that you have the option of equipping, that have a cost associated with them (long CDs, large energy pool needed to be built up first, etc.). However, don't forget to also make them useful. Make them worth the cost, so there is an incentive to have it. You mentioned you're game is like borderlands, so use those games as a template for reference (even in the BL games, each class has a few special abilities they can learn, which in some cases are a kind of magic).

2) What is the goal of your combat system? Do you want it to be more ability based, or more FPS based? Do you want ability useage to control the outcome of a fight, or what weapons people use / how well they aim to determine the outcome?

- Depending on the answer to that, you're looking at 2 very different types of games.

All in all, just going off of the OP, I would say your game (so far) sounds like it would benefit most from going in a direction more similar to BL. Have a limited amount of skills, 1 or 2 really strong abilities (game changers) that can either be magic, or some form of advanced tech (which would even allow for an ultimate ability to lock other player's abilities). And make sure that your weapons / tech is balanced / fun, and that the majority of combat revolves around that. You can also look at games like Jedi-Knight (an old game, but an incredibly well designed one) for inspiration if you need it.


Elite Member

Joined: 12/19/10
Posts: 4126

1/07/15 11:01:21 PM#7

If any one "build" outpowers the other, you can be sure that

a) The players will find it
b) Lots of them will exploit it
c) The ones that don't exploit it will complain about it
d) Once you fix it the ones that did exploit it will complain about it

Now, as long as you have different systems, you will have some disparity between them - you can't have everything totally equal unless you have everything totally homogenous (which is boring, unless your doing something like a FPS where everything is available to everyone at pretty much any time) - so it';s just a matter of how much disparity your system can handle before it breaks down into "unfairness" -- the more dispairity, the more unbalanced, but the more options the players have.


Elite Member

Joined: 10/29/07
Posts: 17701

1/07/15 11:04:21 PM#8

I think there are enough MMOs with high magic out there. Either keep the system or scrap the magic part.

And good luck. :)


Elite Member

Joined: 8/27/04
Posts: 8321

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

1/07/15 11:21:26 PM#9

I can tell what the main problem is right away,SOLO design.

If you want to know  what is imo the best combat design ever made it was in FFXI.

I will explain...If you have a group scenario each player looks out for each other and THINKS about their every play.It is perfectly fine having a mage with a lot of power,however they should  be like glass cannons AND they draw Aggro meaning they are pretty much dead if the tank can't get hate back.That is where SOLID testing and game design comes in,you make sure there is a fine line from drawing aggro and getting it back on the tank.

You also create ways so a powerful mage can opt for more damage power versus accuracy,that is another aspect lacking in most games,you SHOULD have an accuracy curve.

I am not total sure on your problem,i assume has something to do with Mage's can be nerfed by some in game mechanic or not,either way ,i prefer Fantasy over MECH /Tech ideas.I guess it depends on your map/layout.if it looks liek a Fantasy world,i would not want to see Technology ideas that are too modern.Again FFXI did all of this,they had Ancient technology that allowed for magic use and teleportation Crags.

Personally i much prefer Magical classes that are the ONLY ones that can harness the magical properties in items ,such as Staves or Wands or whatever other magical item.

I might also add ,i do not like point systems,they detract from plausible realism.I mean it is not like in real life we sit around and say ok i want to allot a point into looking like a Chick magnet or i want to up my hockey skills with a point system.I prefer ideas to be progressively learned by the system/player it is not like your going to allow them to o/p anyhow,so just set the maximum abilities in the system that one can learn per level.Again using FFXI as an example it was a formula that was around 4/5 skill points  in ANY skill per level.So you had to actually use those skills to work them up from 1-5 points.Example your Hand to hand skill starts at level 1 and 0,by using it you can skill up to a max skill level of 5 until you ding level 2 then you can start skill up again.

Skill systems work because a player cannot simply sit afk in a group and attain any skill,they actually have to take part in the group.
Samoan Diamond


Elite Member

Joined: 8/27/04
Posts: 8321

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

1/07/15 11:28:05 PM#10
Originally posted by waynejr2

it need to be balanced if you want the playerbase to accept it.

I would suggest keeping a fixed amount of mana and improving "spells/abilities" as you level.  So a fireball always costs 35 mana AND has the same casting time but the damage goes up as you level.  Allow players to modify the spell with bonus slots as they level.

You NEVER need balance ,i just tried to explain why in my other post.

Also it is another reason why you never want to mix pvp in with PVE  because then yes you need balance but that ruins a game's PVE design.You can do a LOT more with a game if you DON'T have balance.

A perfect example was playing a new on the list rpg called Gorgon.It felt so incredibly linear no matter what class i was on,it was because they tried to balance all damage at every variant of the game.So what happens then is every single ability at the same skill level felt identical,it made loading up a different class feel like a waste of time.Example why would i care if i am doing 30 fire damage or 30 melee damage,it still feels the same with just a different animation.

It takes me way too long to explain exact details,it would take like multiple paragraphs and examples from my fave game FFXI to prove how it should and can work without any balance at all.
Samoan Diamond