| Mail |
You might also like: WoW Insider, Joystiq, and more

Reader Comments (53)

Posted: May 22nd 2011 4:50PM cliktea said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I always liked Ultima Online's system where you would see the name of the spell over their head, I still know a lot of incantations by heart and the reagents they took to cast. I thought that was fun. Asherons Call had a pretty cool system as well. Ever since EverQuest though the whole magic system just got dull.

I think there is all sorts of innovative ways and improvement that can be made. Not everything has to be glowy-hands-of-dullness that spawned from EverQuest. Just look at games like Magicka, Ultima Online, Asherons Call for inspiration.

Posted: May 22nd 2011 5:31PM Shardie said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I can remember playing Ultima 4... yeah, way back when, gathering reagents for spells... I still remember where that nightshade is!. Should such a system come back? I don't know.
I don't think the Reagent system of spellcasting has a place in the modern main stream MMO. Note I said main stream. I think the modern main stream player is too impatient for the older styles of Magic, such as spell preparation, reagents and the like.

... I've been seeing Magica on steam, wondering if I should buy it... maybe it will tide me over untill a good MMO comes out

Posted: May 22nd 2011 6:09PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
For my part, I'd really like to see an Exalted-style MMO with the appropriate treatment of magic. For those unfamiliar with the RPG, every character type has a tree of 'charms', which for the two most usual Exalts - Solars and Dragon-blooded - key off their skills. Solars are humans turned up to 11, so for example at first they simply have superhuman skill, but further along in their charm tree they get the ability to perfectly parry an attack. ANY attack.

More practical for an MMO would be the Dragon-blooded, who are more numerous and lower powered, and they have elemental affinities. Above all, though, there's none of this 'you wear a robe and are useless in a fight and cast Magic Missile over and over' nonsense. The closest thing is Sorcery, which is the domain of *big* effects. You don't cast Fireball, you cast Death of Obsidian Butterflies, which can decimate an entire army. The drawback is Sorcery tends to leave you quite vulnerable while casting it, but it's not as if a sorcerer has to forego armor and knowing how to use a sword, being slow and expensive is what balances it.

Some of it would be tricky to translate to an MMO, but if the World of Darkness MMO actually takes off, I'd enjoy seeing an attempt at Exalted.

Posted: May 22nd 2011 7:27PM Graill440 said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
The mentality, "there is nothing wrong with one class beating every other class" is as ignorant as the hills, and a Large majority of MMO players want it to stay that way. I have seen the nearly exact wording on quite a few posts on this very site.

When a person states that everything should be equal there are shouts of NO! from people wanting the status quo to remain as is, for obvious reasons, primarily magic users, again for the obvious reasons.

Magic has always been overpowered and simple, whether healing or damage, the primary reason? Developers make it that way because the simple are drawn to the easy way of doing things. Developers passion and what they deem as "this is the way it will be" rule how subscribers play. You do not have a choice, nor do the folks trying to play against or with a magic user.

Stating magic needs a revolution is comical, developers wont listen one whit to subscribers unless those subscribers join together and have the intestinal fortitude to stop playing and paying, and because the vast majority do not, nothing will change.

Making an MMO where everyone is on the same sheet of skills and power and can pick and choose their playstyle and skill type, melee, magic or whatever and be competative in both pve and pvp against one another is something you will never see until developers decide to change it, and again until subscribers stop playing and paying (laugh) that magic revolution will never happen.

On a side note, some of the ideas i have seen flitted around here in this thread and past years are great, by all means keep throwing nifty ideas to developers that cruise these site for these bits of "magic", in doing that, you will also never get paid for anything. (grin)

Posted: May 23rd 2011 11:45AM Borick said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Graill440 Classes. That just adds to the problem.

What would it be like if you had a combat build that could beat almost any non-combat build, but left you unable to farm or build or effectively use the in-game political system?

Combat-is-the-game is the problem, in my opinion.

Posted: May 22nd 2011 8:17PM NeverDeath said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I think what I, and a lot of people are waiting for, is an MMO that gets it right in making the player feel like he/she is experiencing the game, not just playing another MMO with your character in 3rd person doing things that you don't feel the impact of or directly control. That's what it is that we want, control. If we have to cast a spell, we want to be a part of that process, not just click the button and watch it do its own thing. Sure, some spells have effects that are consumed by your other spells and so on, but those are really pretty hollow mechanics when you get right down to it, that don't scratch the surface of what COULD be done to make the experience more interactive.

I have a lot of ideas for it, that are honestly worth too much money to be posted here, but I do indeed strongly believe that not only magic systems but the way MMOs function (More MMO than RPG) pose a strong detriment to what could otherwise be a much more free and remarkable experience if a studio wished to aim for such a lofty goal. Unfortunately, everyone wants to play the safety game, release another variant of ol' faithful and dare not break the mold for fear of loss. A reasonable fear - for those who are not up to the task, at least.

Posted: May 23rd 2011 1:44AM Space Cobra said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Having read all the responses, my own .02 cents.

IMO, I never did like magic, but I hate Psionics even more; it is less scientific or real-world proven. But, I've always been more into Sci-Fi and possibilities of future tech. Magic has always been to "Fairy tale" to me.

But, it is an easy way to make certain characters in any game. You need a "healer"? Well, we can twiddle our fingers and you are insta-healed. And so on.

I do agree with some of this; a game should not take a lifetime to play; people have done such things in their games (small, home-brew) and it really sucks having to wait weeks to months for one to heal to get back to playing (in real time). This is just one example.

I've seen a few games to try to combine speed of play and real-world (in-game) solutions. I guess a real world Fire Mage would equal either a guy with a flamethrower and/or a bazooka.

ATM, it is an easy way to fall back on "magic" to differentiate classes in an MMO. You make something wildly different from "the guy who uses a bow" or "the guy with a sword" or "the sneaky guy" by bringing in magic and, as a result,it opens up some other doors for you, such as clerics.

IMO, this can be a lazy way, but it has always been such: Many writers, many story plotters for shows and many games use magic in some form of another. In some ways, this is too much an overpowered "McGuffin" to clear out of a story situation, but it is also the "ooo"/"Aaaw" factor. So, here we have a "Sonic Screwdriver" that not only solves story situations, but makes writing/creating characters/classes easy for writers.

There are ways around this, but it does require a butt-load of creativity and I say that because one always has to think of every eventuality or in MMO terms, every skill that can be used in game against the enviroment or another player or on the enviroment or on an ally AND make it distinctly different (provide options of classes for players).

I think some players are ready for such a game, but I am not sure that the majority will be, unless you do create a fun, compelling game.

Basically, IMO, it's about experimenting and "breaking eggs" and trying to put something of quality out there that is accepted, but one has to go beyond typical game-conventions or typical fantasy-world/Holodeck solutions...and make it fun.

Posted: May 23rd 2011 8:32AM TheMMOJunkie said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I think magic needs a lot of work. Caster's used to get all sorts of cool spells that didn't do much in combat, but just helped to make the caster feel more like a magician...we don't see that much anymore. It's now 50 different variations of bolt, blast, or ball.

I'd like to see casters with some crazy spells that have huge prep and cast times, but if pulled of do some crazy things. I'd also like to see spells that can back fire etc. Just anything to make casters feel like these dark magicians again instead of fireball machines.

Posted: May 23rd 2011 8:41AM MewmewGirl said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Magic in most MMOs is how it is for one main reason: Game Balance.

Personally I'd like to see things like the horribly weak mage that can't do squat until high levels. I mean beyond weak at low levels so much that they struggle to kill the weakest of things, and then gets high level and just decimates things that other's can't kill. But they'd never do that today, every level throughout the whole experience tries to be balanced with the other classes.

Let's say you're a mage that has to do these long annoying tasks and preparations that you're talking about, find their own regeants too even, etc. What would be the pay-off in the end? Why would you want to go through all this trouble just to be the same power as everybody else? Because your attacks are pretty? If the payoff was that you were stronger, everybody else would complain non stop. People are too used to the balance and would whine like babies if you tried to change it and nobody would dare try in a mainstream MMO, tho maybe we'll get lucky and smaller companies may be willing to try new things.

You can't make one class super annoying and hard to play without giving it some sort of payoff if the rest of the classes were just easy. And you can't give that payoff without the rest of the game going up in arms.

So it's game balance that really killed mages and delegated them to being nothing but different looking attacks. In the end that's all they are in most games basically - different looks to the same kind of attacks.

In a Single Player experience you can do whatever you want, but online people just look for balanced characters too much and it kills doing a lot different...

Posted: May 23rd 2011 11:57AM Valdamar said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Didn't Horizons (now Istaria) try to do what you're asking for with their playable dragons? Really weak and with tons of limitations until they became adult dragons, but that took a looooong time. I never played it but I read about it - but if that's the kind of gameplay you'd like to see, then it might be worth a look - as far as I know the game is still running.

Posted: May 25th 2011 4:15PM MassiveMMOGamer said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I agree with the overall OP, magic has become way too simplistic, onenote, typical.
But, i think the most important key to solving the problem lies in the developers ideas of what an MMO is as opposed to what the gamers want.

MMO Developers try way too hard to broaden their potential playerbase. I totaly understanding the desire to want as many potential players to play yer game. But the way they go about that is just depressing.

There are 6.4billion potential players. With equaly as many playstyles, tastes, wants, needs, desires. So it doesnt make sense to try and develop a game to each individual taste. So the developers try and just lower the bar so low, so simplistic, anyone can play it, while at the same time adding lots of flashies and rhythmic beats to try and capture the hardocre playerbase.

The result?

The current state of magic systems in MMO's.

The solution.

Stop trying to develop a magic system everyone is capable of playing today. Develop a complex, deep, rich,robust, magic system, that hardcores can play and casuals CAN LEARN.

If the hardcores embrace the system, and it *is* learnable, then the casuals will stick around long enough and learn it.

Its a balance between enticement, status, learning curve.

Thus far, post wow development has been the complete opposite. They develop systems for the casual and then try and get the hardcores to like it. Wether or not this works is opinion and subs.

What hasnt been tried, correctly yet, is the opposite.

Develop a magic system that is very deep, complex, with a learning curve, and a mystery level. The HC players will delve knee deep into it, and give it high status. Which will entice the casuals to learn it, spend time with it, not give up on it.

Now, it cant just be complex for complexities sake. It needs ot be good, intuitive, creative, unique, and offer a plethora of UNIQUE pathways within it. It MUST avoid cookie cutter "class" and "template" feelings. It should mimic a "real world" magic system, if thats at all imagineable.

If there were magic in the real world, it wouldnt be the case you decide to be a "War Mage" and so you instantly know ALL war spells that exist and then spend time making them +1 moe level.


There would be all the magic in the world out there, and each character would spend their own unique time/adventure delving into what interests them, what unique combination of things to learn. It would all depend on the individual adventure of the player. THE PLAYER WOULD BUILD HIS OWN CLASS OF MAGIC, HIS OWN MAGIC SYSTEM. Instead of the game saying "you can be one of 3 types of magic users, pick, and then join your group of 7823749832 other War Mages who all have the exact same spells and strengths and everythign that you do.

How would this be possible. By creating a magic system INDEPENDENT of the game experience.

Well, to cut short, the details would be endless debate and discussion. Whats important is that the system actualy be deep, ruich, complex, and independent of class and template. Letting players create their own individual unique class of magic user. While at the same time originating at a basic, simple level. So everyone can start magic, everyone can learn magic. But the actual magician is unique and dependent solely on his or her own individual adventure.

Posted: May 25th 2011 4:25PM MassiveMMOGamer said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report

Equally important is, whats been so so missing, is MYSTERY.

In todays post wow mmo development, every magic class is well defined, and known, from start to end playing this game, everything there is to every spell, every everything. Its weak.

Magic should have NO END GAME. Nothing should be wel defined. No one should know what all the magic system is before playing the game, or even when they start. It should be part of the adventure. Discovering what magic is. Discovering spells, WORKING towards achieving spells. Developing spells. Creating spells.

Magic should be part of the game. Instead of just a template of numbers to push for the corresponding flashy and +/1 damage/health.

For a War Mage to know how to cast firebalss, they should have to go on an adventure, to find a Fireball casting archmage teacher. Do quests for him, learn from him.

Lets say there are spell components to casting fireballs. And the ones needed is unique to each mage. The teacher would send themage on quests to discover what components, devices, energies, whatever, are needed to cast whatever. It should be part of the game.

I was soooo surprised when i first played wow. And found out, "oh, i pay 3 gold and now i cast fireballs...." thats it. No quest. No adventure. Nothing....:

"Oh, and look, i can see every spell my player will have, from start to finish, exactly what each one does...." why am i playing this game?

Posted: May 26th 2011 10:31PM Shadowstorm said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
The appeal of magic to me depends on how well the system is established in the setting. If magic is nothing more than "a wizard did it" or "this person studied the arcane arts of X" then I'm not interested. It's lazy, boring, and no more mystical than some D&D nerd with a roll of cap gun rounds. To me, a wizard using that sort of magic is interchangeable with any other sort of unexplained force, and it's completely flavorless.

But if magic is well and thoroughly explained, has certain rules and allows me to see what sort of effort it takes to wield this power, then it's excellent. It's no longer a plot device used to get from point A to point B without putting any effort into it. I actually understand what exactly that wizard is, what he's doing, why he has to do it, and he is no longer interchangeable with something like sci-fi or psionics.

Featured Stories

The Daily Grind: What do you love about MMOs?

Posted on Jan 30th 2015 8:00AM

The Think Tank: Repairing the 'social' in MMORPGs

Posted on Jan 29th 2015 8:00PM

The Stream Team: Hug it out in Final Fantasy XIV

Posted on Jan 29th 2015 7:00PM





WoW Insider