[Poll] Looking for Feedback About My Magic System

Exactly, the game would be balanced around the abilities the player obtains. And, of course, I don't think it's unreasonable to give a larger, perhaps unbalanced level of power to players who are willing to put in the time and effort to uncover powerful combinations. Using the example of FFX, without more than a few hours of grinding using the right techniques a player can construct a party of characters who can each output nearly 100,000 damage as either a physical attack or a magic spell and be able to buff the whole party and heal nearly 100,000 HP. At that point even the optional super bosses are trivial, but it's possible within an otherwise balanced system.

Or in the FF7 example, obtaining the four secret Materia basically breaks the game in half.

In FF8, the player could avoid leveling up and obtain extremely powerful spells from trading cards early on, utterly breaking the game balance.

There are definitely ways to build the system such that it is "mostly balanced" but with the possibility of being abused by people willing to make the effort to abuse it (usually in ways that weren't foreseen anyway). I think that's a good sweet spot to aim for.

Personally I have a lot of fun, in subsequent playthroughs of my favorite games, ripping the systems to shreds and seeing just how trivial I can make the content. And some people, I understand, have no qualms about doing that the first time through because they'd rather enjoy the story and characters than put effort into conquering trials of skill and strategy. And that's great too.

Thinking about a hybrid system opens up more possibilities for equipment systems, too. Perhaps slots for Artifacts can be based on certain equipment, making choices about stats vs slots relevant.

It's also definitely possible to set up a synergy system where the effectiveness of the Artifacts is dependent on the Relics they accompany. I'm not sold on the idea of keeping the circle-slots or using distance from the Relic to determine Artifact effectiveness, but a system where a "black magic" Relic would demand more MP of a "white magic" Artifact, or reduce its capacity to heal, etc, could offer a lot of depth for customization that rewards specialised characters but allows a Jack of All Trades to still be effective.

Could even do something like a points-based system, where Relics offer a certain number of points for equipping Artifacts, and give "discounts" to Artifacts that are in line with the Relic's theme.

[Poll] Looking for Feedback About My Magic System

The two relic system sounds better. Letting the player too freely choose rarely works well. For example, any character who is a black mage will also be a white mage and vice versa. A common result is that such games, while in theory having a nearly unlimited number of builds, in practice they only have two builds, the fighter and the mage. That is, if I make one fighter build, I can either copy that for the second fighter with a minor variation at best or I can gimp myself. Ditto for mages.

Kind of like the end result of mastering a bunch of job classes and using Mimes and Freelancers in FFV: your final party is two identical mages with XMagic and two identical fighters with XFight, making the diverse job system meaningless.

As LockeZ would put it, the "correct" choice becomes more apparent in that situation.

Merlandese, I like where you're going with that. The lore is always changing in small ways. Rather than completely design a system to fit it, and rather than fashion the lore after a system, I want the two aspects of the game to evolve together such that they just mesh perfectly from the player's perspective.

In other words, it would not be burden to establish a story wherein a hybrid system works very well and makes sense. I will think on that at length.

[Poll] Looking for Feedback About My Magic System

Here ya go, broseidon.

Acceleration Flow can be found at the bottom of the page. Everything on that page is pure gold for folks of our ilk.

[Poll] Looking for Feedback About My Magic System

More generally this is a question about letting players choose a class vs. letting players choose each ability they learn.

That pretty much hits the nail on the head, there. In the first system, each Relic would provide the character with a discernible battle role--or, at least, enough of one that equipping two Relics would complete the picture.

Your final paragraph contains a lot of useful insights, all things that are rolling around in the ol' noggin. I'm not sure if you meant all of the questions to be rhetorical, but I have thoughts about them.

As for number of party members, I'm leaning towards four. Originally I wanted three, but two early story segments leave the player with four characters, and it would just be awkward design to have a three-member party for those segments. Plus, being that there are 8 mandatory characters, split-party segments work nicely.

Each character will have his own innate abilities, small ways to distinguish him from the others. My goal will be to balance these abilities so that the player can truly pick a party based on preference, not on utility. And later in the game, the intent is for the player to be able to pick from any of the characters.

Equipment is something I'm just not sure about. I recently read an article about the concept of acceleration flow in the experience of an RPG, and it opened the floodgates, so to speak, in terms of how I'm thinking about the player's progress in my game. I'm just not sure where I want to be on the "incremental upgrades" vs "meaningful options" spectrum. I've played both styles of game and games in between and it all comes down to what best serves the overall product.

There's no control of stat growth. Characters are meant to be somewhat tabula rasa so that, when the player is constructing a party, his relic choices are what truly defines that party, and the relics themselves will differentiate the stats of the characters in various ways. The result of this design is that, as the player progresses through the game's initial acts with mostly pre-determined parties based on the story progression, his pool of relics will be likewise limited; this eventually evolves into the latter acts where the player can obtain more relics, and powerful ones through optional content, and distribute them amongst his own choice of party members. The complexity of choices, battle roles, classes, however you define it, evolves with the game's progress.

[Poll] Looking for Feedback About My Magic System

The equipment screen is a huge challenge for me, simply because I have very little coding knowledge. I purchased Luna Engine for VX Ace for that purpose, so I'm hoping something similar will find its way into the MV plugin library. Making it easy to understand and operate is my first goal.

Unfortunately, the default screen for Galv's script (the second system, and the screenshot in the doc) is far from perfect in that regard and would need heavy modification to reach what I'd consider an acceptable level.

[Poll] Looking for Feedback About My Magic System

Really taking the mick out of me, eh? Well, I'm appreciative nonetheless.

Believe me, you bring up many important points which are always on my mind. This project is still in its early stages and a lot of material is still being moulded. Numbers are certainly not finalised--it's concepts that I'm meaning to talk about here, not specifics.

For example, the number of relics and number of abilities. You're absolutely right that something like 360 different abilities would be daft. I wouldn't want to play that game, either! Necessarily there will be overlap between the abilities offered by certain relics. The point of the first system is that there is a small number of relics that offer a more complex series of abilities with an identifiable theme, as opposed to the second system, wherein a relic may just offer one kind of ability. I apologise if my explanation engendered a misinterpretation of my intent, that the specific numbers are not final and not important.

Creating meaningful and synergistic abilities is one of the grand challenges of RPG design, and one that I'm not sure why you're so confident I am ignorant of. I understand that an excessive number of abilities does not a good game make. I also, as a consumer of games in this genre for nearly my entire life, understand that having choices is important. Sometimes, merely aesthetic choices, if not functional ones, can make a difference to some people, and qualify as meaningful ones to them. Players who do not appreciate such things are always welcome to ignore them, and players who do appreciate them have them available. Isn't that a better game for everyone, in the end?

The "why" of the thing is less important. Why are the relics only usable by certain people? Because that's what the story is about. I'm actually just a little bit offended that you would call that hiding behind a "convenient write-off". Why was Frodo the only one who could manage the power of the One Ring right up until the end of his journey? Because that's what the story was about. Why was Luke able to master the ways of the Force while it took Han the entire trilogy to merely believe in the Force's existence? Because that's what the story was about.

Many of the most classic stories in our collective literary repertoire revolve, at some level, around the classic Hero's Journey, wherein an individual is given a task to conquer and, along the way, obtains some kind of special power or item with which to accomplish that task. Necessarily the hero must be raised above the common man.

Maybe finding relics at the local pawn shop isn't an idea that will make it into the final game, but the point is that the characters will come to understand the meaning and value of these objects, while the common man will not, thus opening the possibility of obtaining the relics in unusual places, rather than just "Generic Ancient Ruin #7".

And as I wrote before, there will be no dissonance between player knowledge and character knowledge. Players will obtain knowledge of the relics as the characters do. It is a journey of discovery on both sides of the screen. The reason the relics are identified by name in the inventory is so that the player can differentiate between them without having to examine their internal abilities. Inventories are by their very nature abstract and ignorant of the fourth wall, so I don't think this design choice is unreasonable.

Again, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. All of the issues you brought up are definitely on my mind as I work through this.

[Poll] Looking for Feedback About My Magic System

Let me know when you've reached the finality of your reply, and I will evaluate it fully.

[Poll] Looking for Feedback About My Magic System

Greetings, fellow developers.

I'm at a bit of an impasse in designing the magic/ability system for my project. I have two different but related systems in mind, and I'm looking for some opinions about A) Which system is better from a design perspective; B) Which system you'd personally rather play with; C) Anything regarding either system, really. Any constructive thoughts will help.

In this post is a TL;DR version that just gives you the essentials and will allow you to make a decision. But, if you want to really delve into the systems and read my full analysis of the pros and cons of each and how the lore of the game is involved, here is a link to a Google Doc with all of that. It's not terribly long, but is far more detailed than what is presented below.

The Short Version:

In either of the two systems, magic/abilities will be granted to characters who equip a kind of item called Relic. Relics gain experience and level up, unlocking new and more powerful abilities as they do.

System 1
  • Characters can equip up to 2 Relics.

  • Each Relic will offer a very large library of spells once fully levelled, all based around a certain theme.

  • Relics will be few and far between, each one being particularly meaningful.

  • Characters will also have access to other accessory items that fill smaller, more mundane roles, such as status protections.

  • Some Relics may be too good, others not good enough (otherwise extreme grinders could unlock superpowered abilities at the beginning of the game).

  • End-game Relics may require grinding to unlock their best abilities.

System 2
  • Characters can equip a large number of Relics, perhaps 10-12 (up to 20 based on the limits of the code).

  • Relic spell libraries will be much more limited.

  • Relics will be much more common and obtained at more regular intervals.

  • Characters will not have access to additional accessory slots; Relics will fill these more mundane roles as well.

  • This might feel like a watered-down Materia system, with all the breadth but none of the depth.

  • The lore behind the Relics may need to be completely rewritten, and each Relic won't really feel like a special acquisition.

Thank you for any input you provide!
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