Spells That Pack a Punch
Published on November 17, 2010 By ScottTykoski In Elemental Dev Journals

Since launch, one of the major complaints about Elemental: War of Magic was that the last bit of our title (the "Magic" part) was found to be...lacking (to put it gently). Global mana addresses areas of cheese, but without a significant overhaul to the Spellbooks and Spells you’re casting, that side of the game would still feel weak.  We’ve taken the following steps to rectify this in 1.1....


1. Spellbook Re-evaluation: There were several problems with the way spells have been organized in Elemental thus far, the most damning being the selection of Elemental based spells when designing your Sovereign. We’ve now moved these out of customization and into the tech tree, so you can make the choice to grab those books as shards are discovered. In their place, players can select books specific to a given strategy. The “Mobility” book has movement and teleportation spells, “Enchantment” gives the players city buffs, “Combat” does damage and protects friendly units relative to the caster’s INT, and “Terraforming” gives players the ability to sculpt the landscape in interesting ways.

2. No two spells should feel the same: Spellbooks in v1.0 through v1.09  were filled with tons of spells that all felt the same: Lightning, Fireball, Hurl Boulder, etc.  They were various tweaks on the formula, but the end result was a magic system that lacked interesting (and cool) choices.  Our motto going into 1.1 was that each and every spell (and each spellbook, for that matter) should feel unique and tempting over the use of another.

3. Bigger, badder, more ballsy high level spells: When I get a level 5 spell, it better not be a ‘slightly stronger version’ of a level 1-4 spell, ‘cause that would be lame.  Instead, I demand serious L5 muscle to my magical might - uniquely awesome options as I conquer the world.  For example...

L5 Mobility - Call of the Titans
A unstoppable spell that gathers ALL friendly unstationed troops and lets you target them directly into enemy territory.

L5 Air - Tornado
Cast upon the army of your foe, this spell will scatter all units in the stack, making them easy targets to pick off.

L5 Life - Death Ward
Taking 250 mp and 1mp/turn maint., Death Ward will allow any champion unit to escape death at the end of a losing battle (even if the battle is fought on enemy soil).

At the end of every spellbook the player will be greeted by a spell that was worth the effort to learn it.


Most of the old spells have been stripped out, and the v1.1 beta will have 68 new and improved spells. While the final 1.1 build will have around 75 spells to help your rise to power, we’ll continue taking suggestions on how to best make the ‘Magic’ half of our subtitle really shine!

Enjoy!

 


 


Comments (Page 2)
on Nov 17, 2010

Since launch, one of the major complaints about Elemental: War of Magic was that the last bit of our title (the "Magic" part) was found to be...lacking (to put it gently). Global mana addresses areas of cheese, but without a significant overhaul to the Spellbooks and Spells you’re casting, that side of the game would still feel weak.  We’ve taken the following steps to rectify this in 1.1....



1. Spellbook Re-evaluation: There were several problems with the way spells have been organized in Elemental thus far, the most damning being the selection of Elemental based spells when designing your Sovereign. We’ve now moved these out of customization and into the tech tree, so you can make the choice to grab those books as shards are discovered. In their place, players can select books specific to a given strategy. The “Mobility” book has movement and teleportation spells, “Enchantment” gives the players city buffs, “Combat” does damage and protects friendly units relative to the caster’s INT, and “Terraforming” gives players the ability to sculpt the landscape in interesting ways.

2. No two spells should feel the same: Spellbooks in v1.0 through v1.09  were filled with tons of spells that all felt the same: Lightning, Fireball, Hurl Boulder, etc.  They were various tweaks on the formula, but the end result was a magic system that lacked interesting (and cool) choices.  Our motto going into 1.1 was that each and every spell (and each spellbook, for that matter) should feel unique and tempting over the use of another.

 

#1 - I like this direction! Good on YOU!

#2 - ah really now?  REALLY?

why would a player ever want to use Erosion spell over the Lower/Raise Land spell if they want a beach for transports?  Does erosion have some benefit that Lower/Raise Land spell does not have?  The way it reads to me, Erosion spell is a subset spell of Lower/Raise Land.

I mean really?

Actions speak louder than words...

on Nov 17, 2010

Great.....glad to see the magic get reworked............

on Nov 17, 2010

I like what I see a lot -- great! Thank you! -- with the exception of this


1. Spellbook Re-evaluation: There were several problems with the way spells have been organized in Elemental thus far, the most damning being the selection of Elemental based spells when designing your Sovereign. We’ve now moved these out of customization and into the tech tree, so you can make the choice to grab those books as shards are discovered. In their place, players can select books specific to a given strategy. The “Mobility” book has movement and teleportation spells, “Enchantment” gives the players city buffs, “Combat” does damage and protects friendly units relative to the caster’s INT, and “Terraforming” gives players the ability to sculpt the landscape in interesting ways.


 

I strongly dislike the way that Stardock games tend to have large units of knowledge based around functionality; a prime example of this is "Lasers" or "Engines" in GalCiv2, or your suggestion above. It always feels refreshing and exciting to have a large base of knowledge and being able to pick and use areas of it according to circumstance. Dominions is a good example of this: You research something like "Evocation", but that gives you the possibility of casting such various things as fireballs to divination spells -- depending on in-game circumstances. I'd much prefer Elemental to have books like "Life" and "Earth" or whatever, and have various functionalities within these split up; "Combat" feels like lasers, feels one-dimensional, and, much like lasers in GC2 was, could run the risk of being functional yet boring. I do mean this constructively, and will of course wait to see the results...

on Nov 17, 2010

Gene1966 what about Lower Land makes you think it will work on cliffs?

on Nov 17, 2010

sweetness... this thread is better than 50 tiny kittens

on Nov 17, 2010

If it has not already been considered, it would be nice if spells could be tied to more than one spell book. For example, the volcano spell could require the earth spell book and the fire spell book (and possibly terraforming).

on Nov 17, 2010

Heavenfall
Gene1966 what about Lower Land makes you think it will work on cliffs?

Maybe it was Raise Land, and Lower land defintion confused me but to the same effect.  And to address your question, #1 Cliffs are in fact land not water, and #2 if I want to create a beach today in 1.09e where there is only cliff, then I simply apply Raise land and the cliff is now a nice sandy beach that allow for transports to be contructed and embark/disembark.  Am I really that confident they would have changed that game mechanic?  in a word no.  Given the things that do not work or have not worked and then to rehash them and imply they will work w/o fixing them or at least documenting that they are fixed...  I hope you get my drift.  

Do you belief these things ever worked or that they got fixed?  Do you really believe based on the changelog and today's 1.09e that Erosion in practice is not a subset of Raise/Lower land?

I answered your question, dare ya to answer mine.

on Nov 17, 2010

xStarfirex
sweetness... this thread is better than 50 tiny kittens

 

Here's hoping the actual game experience won't be more like 50 grown up cats! 

 

on Nov 17, 2010

Gene1966

Quoting Heavenfall, reply 19Gene1966 what about Lower Land makes you think it will work on cliffs?

Maybe it was Raise Land, and Lower land defintion confused me but to the same effect.  And to address your question, #1 Cliffs are in fact land not water, and #2 if I want to create a beach today in 1.09e where there is only cliff, then I simply apply Raise land and the cliff is now a nice sandy beach that allow for transports to be contructed and embark/disembark.  Am I really that confident they would have changed that game mechanic?  in a word no.  Given the things that do not work or have not worked and then to rehash them and imply they will work w/o fixing them or at least documenting that they are fixed...  I hope you get my drift.  

Do you belief these things ever worked or that they got fixed?  Do you really believe based on the changelog and today's 1.09e that Erosion in practice is not a subset of Raise/Lower land?

I answered your question, dare ya to answer mine.

Heh, calm down there cowboy. If there's a problem with the spells overlapping in functionality, perhaps you should just make them aware of that instead of questioning their rationale. Clearly, I don't know how the spells will work in beta. All we have to go on is the text in the changelog, and I think we can both agree that neither of us know if the problem has been fixed, but that Erosion should NOT be a subset of raise land or lower land.

on Nov 17, 2010

AMEN! Hallelujah! Our prayers have been answered! *bows in obeisance*

on Nov 17, 2010

Holy mixed blessings, Batman! The revised structure still seems more gamy than milieu-based, but at least there are signs of meaningful themes for magic in the game.

Hopefully, that might make it worth suffering profoundly un-magical word choices like "Mobility" for major aspects of the game design (where are the elements in a naming schema that includes Mobility at the top level?). That's language I'd expect from using the remote I rent from my cable provider, not a game with aspirations to be both a "successor" to MoM and an innovative 4XTBS/RPG hybrid. Still, it sounds like 1.1 might be more fun than I've hoped for so far.

on Nov 17, 2010

Is it possible with the new system to have a spell that makes the ground cursed/blessed in an area?  LIke hallowed ground where certain creatures can't walk and sanctuary where wild monsters can't enter.

on Nov 17, 2010

I am hoping that some of the spells such as Tornado/Whirlwind could be used as both strategic and tactical spell. With an increased Essence or SP cost on the strategic map , just a thought!

on Nov 17, 2010

BoogieBac, As someone who has modded spells a lot, please add some way for me to target a party. I want to add game modifiers which have effects at the strategic party level. Like a spell to increase a parties move speed, or a spell to reduce an entire parties attack or defense. There are alot of other changes I would like to see, but I think this is the easiest and would give the most ability to modders to make cool spells.

on Nov 17, 2010

What about spells for levels 10 and above? That area really gets ignored as well. I have had a level 16 spell book but no awesome world altering, empire wide destroying/crippling spells. The spell of "Faking" does not count. We REALLY need high level spells to reward those who manage to reach high spell book levels.

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