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Reader Comments (53)

Posted: May 22nd 2011 10:14AM Dumac said

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@Anshin
I think developers should look at Magicka for inspiration too, complete with spell backfiring and friendly fire and possibly with the addition of runes or scrolls as a resource. This would have been PERFECT for games like TERA (although i don't know how magic works in that game). Unfortunately, it conflicts with accessibility that MMOs crave nowadays to pull as many people in as they can. Until MMOs start diversifying more instead of going for mass appeal, we are probably not going to see a change in how magic is handled.
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Posted: May 22nd 2011 1:23PM Ghostspeaker said

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@Dumac I'd be cool with magic being able to backfire if they started implementing a chance for melee to trip and fall or hurt themselves when they miss and for archers to shoot themselves in the foot. Otherwise it just gives magic too big of a disadvantage compared to other forms of combat. I agree that it'd give magic a more dynamic, dangerous, "magical" feel to it, but from a balancing standpoint it'd complicate things rather a lot.

I think it could be fun and cool, but only if implemented correctly. Otherwise it'd just be an annoyance.
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Posted: May 22nd 2011 3:50PM Dumac said

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@Ghostspeaker Yes, some kind of balancing would be in order, although i didn't mean that spells should randomly backfire based on chance, but rather due to incorrect use like casting lightning when standing in water, you get zapped. This kind of thing couldn't be applied to swords and bows, although friendly fire can. But then again if melee could hurt your allies nobody would want allies near them and every fight would be 1 on 1 because 2 vs 1 would make things worse.

In the end this kind of thing would have to be limited to just magic. And why not, i would like it if magic was a separate type of combat to martial combat with it's own rules, i think that's the way it should be after all.
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Posted: May 22nd 2011 9:05AM Yellowdancer said

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This could all be solved if a RIFT MMO were created. Course, a RIFT MMO would also solve world hunger and poverty. And it would kill WOW.

Well, that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

Posted: May 22nd 2011 9:26AM (Unverified) said

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When Asheron's Call started twelve years ago you neede to do research to discover spells. Make combinations of components, try to cast something and if you were lucky you learned a new usefull spell.
That was a long time ago, even in AC you now buy the scrolls you need.

The problem is most MMO's have gotten close to fps games, everything has to be instant and easy, because that is what the majority of the paying customers want.

Can you imagine camping a spot for 24 hours like in EQ?
Sleeping, concentrating, obtaining rare components, all things that will be much closer to the written fantasy worlds are too much of a hassle in games.

Posted: May 22nd 2011 11:07AM chuckasucka said

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@(Unverified)

I feel like a game that took this approach nowadays, and knew that they were going to attract the core mmo players who wanted these types of systems, would do very well. It would be a smaller chunk of the mmo playerbase, but i think that there would be so many people who would be grateful for the game.

I'd love to see it :)
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Posted: May 22nd 2011 9:36AM (Unverified) said

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More Mind magic is needed. Whether it is magic of illusion or psionics, it is a VERY underdeveloped field of magic. I loved the psion in Allods, but I hate Allods itself mainly from the mismanagement of the game, not the game itself.

Posted: May 22nd 2011 9:45AM (Unverified) said

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I always thought the Asheron's Call way of casting spells was innovative and kept the game interesting until someone made a tool which cracked the components needed for your new spells.

Four types of magic await, Creature Enchantment, Item Enchantment, Life Magic, and War Magic. You also had 3 other areas of magic that made you a better mage, Arcane Lore, Magic Defense, and Mana Conversion.

To learn each spell in each line you needed all the components in each level and the skill level to cast it. You would look for items that buffed your intelligence so that you could cast higher spells than you should have been able to cast. You could have a higher level person buff you to make learning the new spells easier. You always had to have the components in your back to be able to cast a spell, similar to Ultima Online in both areas. If you did not have the skill to cast the spell after the buffs you kept leveling, using the lower level version of the spell, so that your skill would increase. Eventually you had the ability to cast the spells you learned earlier with the buffs.

I remember it being a lot of fun to discover a new spell by trying different combinations of components. When you succeeded and cast a new spell to add to your book of spells you felt that much more powerful. All of the spell combinations were unique to your character. Once the tool Split Pea arrived everyone could just type in their name and know the component combination to learn the spell. I think about how great the spell system would have stayed if Split Pea was never released. Players were in awe in the early days of Asheron's Call when you cast a spell nobody had ever seen before.


Posted: May 22nd 2011 10:34AM dudes said

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Sorry, if it ain't got a fireball spell then it's not mage enough.

Posted: May 22nd 2011 11:11AM (Unverified) said

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I am thoroughly tired of magic being only about combat and 'porting between city hubs. If I had a dollar for every time my magic user had to rely on an NPC to make some sort enchanted item for a quest, when he should have the ability to do it himself...

And why do we continue to see games filled with hollow, generic crap of magical styles when there are plenty of evocative, real-world magic systems to draw from?

Also, quit it with the particle effects. Magicians in stories don't cause fireworks shows for every little thing they do.

Finally, why is it a wizard can summon the power to destroy armies but can't figure out how to shield himself from harm?

Posted: May 22nd 2011 11:26AM (Unverified) said

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Just because its a mechanic that hasn't really changed since Everquest (Possibly UO) doesn't mean that its being neglected and not evolving. Yes, there are some more interesting spell systems out there, but how easy would they be to implement, and how fun would they be to play? I don't think developers are willing to risk money on a spell system that "might be fun" in the interest of being different.

Posted: May 22nd 2011 11:56AM Vunak said

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@(Unverified)

This is why the MMO genre has gone downhill in my eyes. Developers are scared to deviate from the norm. We need a AAA development company that is willing to take those risks. I think they would be surprised at the amount of people they would have playing there game. Maybe even see a lot of the older MMO veterans come back from there retirement from the genre.
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Posted: May 22nd 2011 7:59PM (Unverified) said

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Sadly, the way things work, not just for mmo's, but all forms of business, innovation starts in the independent sector. :/ That's not to say no innovation comes from the big companies, DCUO and AoC both had some new ideas on how to do combat (both choosing to eleminate auto-attack and instead going for a more button-mashy approach), but we'll have to see wether this catches on or not.
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Posted: May 22nd 2011 11:57AM (Unverified) said

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Honestly I think there so much room for creativity in the mage class that someone should just devote an entire MMO to just spell casting. Instead of sticking to typical class cannon setups, let the mages wear whatever they want, and just make the type of gear they are wearing modify their spells. For instance if you really wanna play a duel wield mage make his spells cast fast, and do allot of cc, and then let the character switch to a staff and then nuke the enemy. (Im kinda borrowing from GW2)

Also with spell casting the environment and other spell caster awareness needs to be quintessential. If theres a body of water near by I want one mage to be able to summon a massive wave from the water, have his friend charge it with electricity and bring it down upon the enemy.

Also with motion gaming becoming more and more viable I think games like this will one day be very intriguing because potentially we could actually make the arm motions to raise the water from the lake, instead of just clicking.

Posted: May 22nd 2011 12:03PM Valdamar said

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What annoys me when I play mages is having half a dozen spells that basically do the same thing - ok they may have different cast times, different damage numbers and different graphical effects, but they're all direct damage attacks - there's not much variety to mages in most MMOs (my pyromancer build in RIFT is downright dull tbh, though effective - just a nuker, much like WoW's mage, EQ2's wizard/warlock at launch, EQ1's wizard, DAoC's Eldritch, etc. - fortunately my RIFT mage does have four more interesting builds that aren't all about nuking).

I'd like to see far more variety in MMO magic - more control effects - mages should be the de facto control and debuff class - in some games they are (EQ1's Enchanter and GW1's Mesmer deserve honourable mentions), but the "glass cannon" stereotype is usually far more prevalent - MMO mages are usually just mobile, fragile, artillery pieces.

Mages should be able to levitate enemies or push/teleport them around, they should be able to create quicksand to mire/trap enemies or flame-walls to funnel enemies into specific prepared areas - I'd like to see far more tactical uses of magic in combat than just TAB target and nuke, nuke, nuke - /yawn, boring. I want to see far less spells, but each spell doing something unique within that school of magic. I can actually make a far more interesting mage character using powersets in City of Heroes - most Controller powersets have far more variety and awesome magical ability in the 18 powers in their primary and secondary powersets than any mage class in a fantasy MMO.

Just being able to place a template down on the ground for an area attack in RIFT gives me some tactical control over how I project my magical power - more than most MMOs allow - and yet I've seen so many people complaining about that on the RIFT forums, wanting area attacks to be target-centred, just so that it was easier to cast those spells in PvP - I think MMO PvP has been largely responsible for the blandness of magic in MMOs, turning mages into portable artillery pieces and not much else - the different schools of magic shown by different coloured graphical effects but otherwise having few differences - in fact I blame MMO PvP for MMO PvE being so combat-focused these days, with classes being homogenised and balanced to the point of being virtually identical with just graphical differences.

I want to see more tactical control over how magic is deployed - it's a shame we'll probably never see Hero's Journey as its devs had some great ideas for making magic more interesting to use, but it looks like ArenaNet has had similar ideas with GW2's Elementalist being able to lay down fire-walls in any position they desire - I hope they have a lot more magical abilities like that, which will allow emergent gameplay and tactics, and far more interesting uses for magic than just target and nuke.

Sure, magic should be capable of colossal amounts of damage in certain circumstances, but such spells should take time to cast (maybe even requiring a ritual) - I'm thinking that maybe a mage should be able to blow apart the main door to a castle, but that the spell would take maybe 30secs to cast and his companions should have to defend the mage from harm during that preparatory time. Ok, I wouldn't want to cast a spell that took 30seconds myself (6 seconds seems like years when casting Cinderbolt on RIFT's Pyromancer - especially as most mage souls have instacasts or cast times no higher than 2 seconds) - unless the ritual involved an interesting minigame - I much prefer using insta-cast spells personally, but the problem is that you're basically turning magic into a firearm - a fireball just becomes a bullet with a more elaborate graphical effect - when really it should be like a flamethrower (i.e. not actually that effective in combat at killing people, but really useful for area denial, clearing out strongpoints, and as a psychological debuff).

Unless a fireball actually consisted of napalm (so that it would stick and apply its effects over time, roasting the enemy), it wouldn't hurt a guy in plate armour that much - not as much as having a sword stuck into him or a hammer blow to his head, or a bullet fired through him - a fireball is nothing like a bullet, but as far as most MMO gameplay is concerned it might as well be.

It just seems ludicrous to me that in most MMOs fire is the most damaging school of magic, rather than lightning/electric (which could potentially kill someone dead by stopping their heart) or death magic (which should be able to kill better than fire, seeing as death is its specialty) - or even just a good old arrow killing or disabling someone in a single shot (which it was more than likely to do in reality, but never does in MMOs) - and yet fire always seems to be the king of magic damage.

I'd like to see more non-combat uses for magic as well - make levitating over spike/pit traps, dousing flame traps or icing up mechanical trap mechanisms a viable tactical use of magic to get past traps in a dungeon - an alternative to getting a rogue to disarm them, or the warrior to just trigger them while the cleric heals him.

That said, in the last ten years I've never played a mage as my main character in an MMO... until now in RIFT - my mage was my first character to hit L50 and I play him more than my L50 warrior and cleric - so maybe they're doing something right to have finally won me round - though I think the flexibility of RIFT's soul system is a large part of that, because instead of just being a "glass cannon" I can also be a pet class, or a healer, or a controller/debuffer, or buff/support, or change from direct damage to DoT-based or area damage specialised - RIFT's mages have a lot of flexibility (as do clerics and rogues - warriors, not so much).

The other reason I usually don't play mages is that I hate the robe-wearing stereotype - I don't want to be a 6 foot bearded man in a dress - at least in RIFT I can wear long coats instead (though for a few levels here and there I had to tolerate wearing a robe - thank goodness we have the wardrobe system now). Honestly I wish all types of armour in MMOs were open to all classes/characters and had their own pros and cons - so plate armour would protect you against physical attacks but also make you slower at moving/attacking and fatigue you more in combat and be noisy so you couldn't use stealthy abilities that well with it and make you sink in water instead of being able to swim - leather armour would protect you less but without most of those drawbacks - with chain/scale armours being the intermediate armour types between them.

The other stereotype I hate is that mages are weak melee fighters - this isn't that prevalent in literature or movies - I'd rather play an MMO where every playable character had some magical ability and some weapon-using ability (being competent at both would be what made playable characters special compared to most NPCs) - maybe you'd get to select a couple of melee or ranged fighting styles (sword+shield, bow, 2-handed mace, throwing knives, dual wielded axes, staves, crossbows, flails, whatever) then get to select a couple of magical schools as well, and be able to combine them in interesting ways - such as a dual-wield axe fighter who knew fire magic being able to enchant their axes with a fire aura, and be able to throw that fire aura outwards as a magical ranged attack by swinging the axe (pro: you do a ranged attack; con: you lose the extra fire damage in melee until you recast the buff). This would allow endless options, just like CoH's powerset system, for putting different weapon techniques together with different magic types.

Magic is starting to become mundane in MMOs - mostly just projectile attacks with different graphical effects to determine the school of magic - it's about time some developers actually made magic in MMOs awe-inspiring and more... well, magical.

Posted: May 22nd 2011 9:34PM elliotrock said

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@Valdamar

Check out the old but amazing dual class system of Titan Quest Immortal Throne for ideas on melee magic welders (its free):

http://www.gamebanshee.com/titanquest/classes.php

Open classes or dual classing is a great idea.

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Posted: May 23rd 2011 11:08AM Valdamar said

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@elliotrock
Yeah I have a couple of hundred hours logged playing Titan Quest: Immortal Throne (according to Steam) - one thing I really liked about it was the class system - my main character in that was a Diviner that spent most of his time in melee range (admittedly he was using the triple-shot attack at point-blank range, not actually melee'ing, but I did have to enhance my melee defences to get away with standing toe-to-toe with bosses - albeit briefly).

I was about to say it would be really nice to see a similar multi-classing system in a modern MMO but then I realised my current MMO, RIFT, pretty much has a very similar system with its souls. I guess if RIFT had no callings, if any character could use any of the 36 souls together, but you could only take 2 souls instead of 3, then it would basically be the same as Titan Quest's Mastery system. CoH's powerset system would be closer though if they got rid of archetypes and let any character use any powerset, as their primary and secondary.
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Posted: May 22nd 2011 12:24PM Aardvarkk said

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You bring up a good point Justin, about the dangers of magic. Many books talk about not using magic beyond your comprehension, maybe people can use magic higher levels then themselves, but at a increased risk of personal harm or madness.

Posted: May 22nd 2011 12:51PM Clockwork72 said

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I've never liked the linear progression of spells in MMOs and how it's like 'Oh, I'm level 8 now so I need to get the next rank of Fire Bolt'. What I would love to see if a game where you construct spells from learned abilities. You could collect materials from the environment or from creatures or people and then take some time to experiment with the materials. So, something like a 'fireball' would be studying fire elemental remains from which you could learn a basic 'create fire' ability, then you could augment it with range (if you know how to do that), and then add an area effect (if you know how to do that). As you progress in magic you would learn more abilities and be able to add more powerful effects or just more effects. Make it so you can study just about anything but only some with give insight.

Posted: May 22nd 2011 3:51PM hereafter said

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It was already mentioned, but Magicka has a cool system where spells combine for different effects. It's a very active system, without needing fps-level connections. I think a variation or expansion on that idea would be a great way to move forward.

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