The Art of Magic

Discuss the development of other free/open-source games, as well as other games in general.

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Kestenvarn
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The Art of Magic

Post by Kestenvarn »

A few months back I was introduced to something called the Falling Sand java game, and its sequel. In this game, you draw different 'elements' on the screen that work together in odd ways - Plant element grows in Water and is consumed by Fire, Water and Salt affect the size of the slug, Wax slowly burns under Fire while Oil burns more quickly, etc. While experimenting with this, it got me thinking: how many book/game settings have you read that describe magic in the setting as an 'Art'? And yet it never seems to actually be this way; often enough it amounts to the same sort of button combo-like gameplay that melee combat offers.

It would be fun to play a game where spellcasting worked somewhat similar to the sand editor. Here are some other things to give you an idea of what I had in mind... I'm not sure if some of it is even possible, though. Think of it as more of a wishlist than anything else.
  • ~ I suppose it would technically be labelled a first person shooter, although the game wouldn't revolve around combat - it'd be fun just to mess around with stuff and see how it works. Melee combat might resemble the game Mount and Blade, with directional attacks being used by keypresses instead of mouseclicks to make it flow more smoothly. Health Points would be pushed aside in favor of damage based on location.

    ~ There would be some form of periphereal vision... maybe stretching the sides of the screen slightly and making object in the edges indistinct. There would be keys allowing your character to quickly look behind over the shoulder, to the side, and up/down - the camera reorienting after letting go of the button. There would also be actions such as leaping, falling prone, hiding behind cover, rolling to dodge, etc.

    ~ Character advancement is skill based, not class based.

    ~ Casters would be able to manipulate elements on screen with the mouse, which would interact with each other to create unique effects.

    ~ Regarding ideas for possible elements, we could look at ones the D&D as examples: Conjuration, Evocation, Illusion, Transmutation, Necromancy, Enchantment, Abjuration, Divination... suppose the elements conjuration and illusion mixed together - this could be used to create colored lights. Conj/Evoc might dissolve when coming in contact, creating an explosion that might be controlled by the clever caster.
Last edited by Kestenvarn on April 5th, 2006, 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Putting the Art back in Magic.

Post by Disto »

Kestenvarn wrote:A few months back I was introduced to something called the Falling Sand java game, and its sequel. In this game, you draw different 'elements' on the screen that work together in odd ways - Plant element grows in Water and is consumed by Fire, Water and Salt affect the size of the slug, Wax slowly burns under Fire while Oil burns more quickly, etc. While experimenting with this, it got me thinking: how many book/game settings have you read that describe magic in the setting as an 'Art'? And yet it never seems to actually be this way; often enough it amounts to the same sort of button combo-like gameplay that melee combat offers.

It would be fun to play a game where spellcasting worked somewhat similar to the sand editor. Here are some other things to give you an idea of what I had in mind... I'm not sure if some of it is even possible, though. Think of it as more of a wishlist than anything else.
  • ~ I suppose it would technically be labelled a first person shooter, although the game wouldn't revolve around combat - it'd be fun just to mess around with stuff and see how it works. Melee combat might resemble the game Mount and Blade, with directional attacks being used by keypresses instead of mouseclicks to make it flow more smoothly. Health Points would be pushed aside in favor of damage based on location.

    ~ There would be some form of periphereal vision... maybe stretching the sides of the screen slightly and making object in the edges indistinct. There would be keys allowing your character to quickly look behind over the shoulder, to the side, and up/down - the camera reorienting after letting go of the button. There would also be actions such as leaping, falling prone, hiding behind cover, rolling to dodge, etc.

    ~ Character advancement is skill based, not class based.

    ~ Casters would be able to manipulate elements on screen with the mouse, which would interact with each other to create unique effects.

    ~ Regarding ideas for possible elements, we could look at ones the D&D as examples: Conjuration, Evocation, Illusion, Transmutation, Necromancy, Enchantment, Abjuration, Divination... suppose the elements conjuration and illusion mixed together - this could be used to create colored lights. Conj/Evoc might dissolve when coming in contact, creating an explosion that might be controlled by the clever caster.
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Post by turin »

:( I really with the GPLFlash stuff was up to snuff. I might actually have to download flash (grr...) so I can check out what you're talking about.


BTW, sounds like a cool game concept.
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Post by irrevenant »

It's especially disappointing given that Dungeon Master did element based magic back in 1987. Unfortunately, noone seems to have run with it since then. :(
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Post by Kestenvarn »

Image

This is sort of what I was thinking for the peripheral vision aspect of the game. I've always felt that first person cameras felt somewhat awkward to play since you had no sense of your own body or the surroundings... this should help fix that somewhat.
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Post by Darth Fool »

Kestenvarn wrote:
This is sort of what I was thinking for the peripheral vision aspect of the game. I've always felt that first person cameras felt somewhat awkward to play since you had no sense of your own body or the surroundings... this should help fix that somewhat.
Or, it might give people motion sickness. I would definitely have it so that you could switch back and forth between the normal view and the normal+periphary.
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Post by Kestenvarn »

Hmm, hadn't considered that. Yeah, making it an option would be better... I remember my dad having problems with certain 3D games that used odd scrolling.
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Post by Elvish_Pillager »

I once wrote a game which swung the camera around almost the right amount to make you sick. :twisted:
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Post by irrevenant »

Kestenvarn wrote: I've always felt that first person cameras felt somewhat awkward to play since you had no sense of your own body or the surroundings... this should help fix that somewhat.
Probably the simplest and most intuitive way to achieve this, is to use a regular 'over the shoulder' 3rd person view, but to have the camera a bit further back than normal. That way you can see anything 'sneaking up' on the avatar, but you still have normal forward vision...

P.S. Another bonus of 3rd person is that you can have more meaningful melee combat than first person.
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Post by Kestenvarn »

Was against third person, although it helps platforming elements, because you are no longer looking through the eyes of the character, instead floating around on a detached point behind it like some sort of zen awareness.
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Post by Kestenvarn »

http://mrl.nyu.edu/~jhan/ftirtouch/

Above is another interesting video I saw last month, on the possible future of monitors/keyboards.
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Post by Steelclad Brian »

That's a beautiful video, though I think the visual effects are cooler than the interface. For general computing, I'm not sure there's any advantage between having the monitor and your hands in the same place. You're forced into the practical limitations of the human body - the screen has to be within a comfortable arm-distance, you have to account for people that are taller and shorter than one another, disabled people lose the ability to access the device. It's neat and very visually appealing, but outside of neat art projects like the one shown, I'm not sure there are many practical elements.

The price of a first person perspective is that the player will experience the game with blinders on. As a consequence, the perspective works best in games that involve enclosed spaces, so that the player can feel safe that he won't be attacked along those axes. Most first person shooter fans naturally develop the ability to quickly assess their virtual surroundings using fast mouse turns, but that limits your game to people who have those instincts built up from a childhood playing Doom.

For RPG's, I think a third-person perspective is just far better for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that you get to actually see your cool character.

The peripheral vision trick you mentioned has been tried in certain games, and looks extremely unnatural. There's a now open source game called Marathon 2 that had an effect that would give you an increased peripheral vision, but I can't recall it ever being a particularly useful effect. At the very least, by doing that you'll give the player a distorted view of the game-world which could hurt art direction.

I think the best way to give a first person perspective peripheral vision is to just use non-visual clues such as sound or "radar" type effects. Either that or put the majority of gameplay in enclosed spaces, with some kind of zoomed out third person used for overland travel.

As for what you describe, you might want to check out a game being created by ex-Blizzard employees called Hellgate: London. The gameplay is essentially Diablo style dungeon crawling with random dungeons, but the game also features a heavily customizable weapon system that resembles what you describe. The weapons are all supposed to be conduits for spells, and by collecting other items the player can modify them to change the nature of the attack. It also has mixed first person and third person perspective, with third person perspective used for melee attacks.

It's definitely not what you describe in terms of flavor, but it's the closest thing off the top of my head to what you describe.
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Post by Yogin2 »

It would be fun to play a game where spellcasting worked somewhat similar to the sand editor.
Wow... so many posts and no one addressed your topic, really.

I think it's a fantastic idea. i just don't know if it's implementable. The key conundrum with an "art" based magic system is evaluation of the spell. What is a good spell? How does the computer know if you created a good spell or a spell that was mediocre or a spell that should fizzle? You have to invent statistics and parameters to model the result of magic(art), and then use these statistics to evaluate whether it's good or not. You might have to take a very large sample of magic-artwork and get a large sample of user opinions on which ones are best, and then do a statistical analysis to parameterize these statistics for use in your game. Even then, I'm not convinced it will work well.
<sapientx> [The heavy fighter]'s like a cross between an HI and a mage
<sapientx> I couldn't decide whether to guard him or put him on the front line
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Post by Kestenvarn »

Well, lately I was thinking of something like... it takes energy to draw modifiers (similar to the Brush Tool) like 'Extend', 'Explode', 'Contract', 'Sink', etc. When one of these comes into contact wih an element, it alters the behavior of the element. When two elements collide, you get an effect based on the amount of each.
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Post by Yogin2 »

right, that kind of idea helps control how much "input" or mana you can put into a spell. Still, how do you judge a spell's efficacy? eg. take your falling sands example. If I tried to create an illusion, what kind of sand formation produces what kind of illusion, and how strong is it? Or an attack spell, eg. lightning bolt? What kind of damage does your spell do? How do you judge the falling sand to decide whether the lightning bolt fizzles, or is critically-strong?
<sapientx> [The heavy fighter]'s like a cross between an HI and a mage
<sapientx> I couldn't decide whether to guard him or put him on the front line
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