I thought I'd start sharing how we designed the game and how we are thinking about the future. The spell system is in my opinion the most awesome part of Magicka - being able to combine elements to spells on the fly is simply fantastic fun! To keep this from becoming a text-wall-of-doom I thought I'd split it up into several parts, beginning with the high level principles of spells in Wizard Wars and the differances from the original Magicka. Much of this has been said already but it might be good to have it in a single post.
Why only 3 elements?
We looked at the feedback from the original Magicka and there were a few things that kept popping up; Spell balance was an issue, the majority of the spells were poor choices and that it was difficult to remember the spell combinations. So, we looked at the spell system to see if we could streamline it without losing complexity. And trust me, we love complexity!
The sweet spot ended up with 3 elements. That gives us almost all the complexity from the original (except ARSE mines and other spells with 4 different elements) but is a better fit for muscle memory in Wizard Wars fast paced spellcasting combat. It's better for remembering what the spells actually do and - best of all - they are balancable in such a way that we can make all spells useful choices! It's safe for me to say that there are way fewer bad spell choices in Wizard Wars then in the original Magicka, but I'd even dare to say that there are more good choices as well! ARSE mines are great, but in Wizard Wars ARE, ASE and SRE mines are all working, balanced choices that are useful in different situations. I'll return to this example in another post if you like, with more detail on the spell types and how the elements work.
What about the subelements Ice and Steam?
They are still in the game, but they are not combined into one element in the element queue. So, QRQRQRQRS from the original Magicka is now done QRS.
Why? Two reasons; first is that subelements are confusing to new players - the bewildered look in their eyes when they struggle to grasp what happens in the element queue is a sad sight. Second reason - do you remember Lightning+Steam? Making people wet and then zapping for double damage was great fun in PvE but it just doesn't work in PvP. We think that the amount of special combination/separation rules that is required to make the subelements understandable, failsafe and balanceable just isn't worth it. And Patrick (our great animator) utterly owns me with deadly ice shards so subelements are very valid choices!
What is this context sensitive stuff?
It's quite simple really - where to cast a spell depends on where you click and how it is cast depends on whats in it.
Adding elements to the element queue and clicking on yourself will cast the spell on yourself (cast self). Clicking on the ground will cast it on the ground (cast force).
Middle mouse button (MMB) will cast self regardless of cursor position.
If the element queue contains beneficial stuff - Life/Shield elements resulting in Healing, Resistances etc - the result is cast self.
If the element queue contains painful stuff - Fire, Lightning etc - the spell is cast as an area of effect (cast area).
Cast Area also neutralizes your status, so if you are on fire and cast Water self, it will become a Water AoE that douses the fire.
Cast Area does not induce status on yourself, cast Water self will become a Water AoE that does not make you wet. There are plenty of other ways to do that.
Why did we do this? Well, we want a player to be able to play with only a 2 button mouse. It will be slow and cumbersome but it actually works which we think is pretty amazing and it really helps getting new players to understand the spell system in all its beauty. But of course better accessibility for new players must not lead to the experiened players being forced to play in some form of dumbed down mode - MMB as selfcast is of course there.
What about the cast weapon spells?
They are currently not in the game. Why? Because we made a really fun melee combat system! I'll go into more detail in an future meleefocused post, but we have combos, movement, great effects - all sorts of stuff that makes you want to use weapons as weapons!
Also from a game balance perspective, cast weapon lead to players having a massive burst damage capability and that is simply not fun in PvP. We want all players to have a chance, however slight, to survive a surprise attack and by skilled blocking and countermeasures win the fight. Weapon Cast+high damage spell = death before the target can react.
As you probably has seen in the screenshots, there are 4 Magick icons with a little bar below them in the ingame HUD. We want to get the game in your hands as quickly as possible so we have exactly 4 Magicks in the beta; Haste, Revive, Summon Death and Meteor Shower. We would love to add a bunch more, but our focus is absolutely to get you into the game as soon as possible! Anyways, we have experimented quite a bit with different methods of preventing Magick Spam - it's not a fun experience to have spammable Revives or Meteor Showers in a PvP game. The method we have chosen is a focus meter, similar to a super meter from fighting games, as an example Street Fighter. It works like this;
- The meter goes from 0 to 100 focus.
- Players gain focus over time, and by playing the game well (killing enemies, capturing control points etc).
- Haste cost 25 focus, Revive 50, Summon Death 75 and Meteor Shower 100 focus.
- So, using Meteor Shower requires 100 focus and you lose all of it, but you can instead cast 4 Haste or 2 Revives with the same amount of focus.
Magicks are activated by clicking the corresponding icon or pressing a hotkey (1,2,3,4). Haste instantly makes you move faster and Meteor Shower will be centered around your wizard, while Revive and Summon Death are placeable, you go into a Magick cast mode and can place exactly where you want Death to spawn or who you want to revive (it can be several, I believe the office record is 3 enemies and 2 friendlies.) Placed magicks are telegraphed, IE all players can see on screen that Death is spawning here or that a Meteor will land on this spot in 0.5 seconds.
We want to keep complexity but increase accessibility of the spell system.
We want to make the game playable with simpler hardware and make macros pointless.
We want to make the game balanced and that all spells are good choices or at least useful in specific situations.
We want to accomplish this without dumbing things down.
Make no mistake; Wizard Wars is a complex, fastpaced, hardcore skillbased PvP game. It will also be fun and accessible!
Next time I thought I'd go through the different spell types (beams, projectiles, barriers etc) in more detail. If you have other suggestions, please let me know.
Now, fire away any questions, thoughts or suggestions and I'll do my best to answer in a timely fashion!
(edit: Added magicks)