Sunday, April 4, 2010

Designing a Game: Mage War

To solidify some of the ideas presented here, I have decided to make public my design process as I design a game. The game is tentatively titled “Mage War”. It is a short, replayable game of strategy.

Here’s a sketch of the skeleton.

In one sentence: In Mage War, two ancient wielders of arcane power warp the very world on which they battle in order to tap greater amounts of magical power and eventually trap their opponent and forever strip from him his magical capacities.

Key mechanics:

  • The game is turn-based.
  • The game plays out on two tile-based maps simultaneously—these maps effect one another throughout the course of play.
    • The terrain map is your standard map of hex tiles that represents mountains, forests, plains, etc.
    • The mana map represents what mana can be pulled from each tile. Mana veins run along some tile boundaries, from these mana veins mana is replenished to nearby tiles more rapidly. The kinds of mana present in a tile depend on its terrain map contents.
      • Mana veins have an intensity, and only mages that can harness a certain amount of mana can cross veins of high intensities.
      • Mana is an exhaustible resource and can be entirely stripped from a tile if there is no nearby mana vein.
      • In order to cast spells, the mage must move in the mana map and collect the appropriate amount of mana, though each turn the mage must start his mana map movement from the tile that corresponds to his location on the terrain map.
      • Mana veins can be manipulated later in the game through the use of meta-mana that accrues to each combatant on the same regular schedule.
  • Magic is used primarily to alter terrain on either map in an attempt to trap your opponent or starve him of mana.
  • There are two ways to trap your opponent, once your opponent is trapped and you’re within casting range of him, you can strip him of his magical powers and win the game.
    • Raise armies of immortal warriors from the villages that dot the map and position them such that the enemy mage cannot move next turn.
    • Manipulate the terrain of either map in such a way that the enemy mage cannot move.
  • Mages themselves cannot be harmed by magic. Casting a fireball on an enemy mage’s square only burns the terrain, it does not do damage to him.

I will be more specific about individual mechanics in future posts (as I design the game further).


Cheshiremythos said...

Sounds like an interesting game of chess really. But instead of starting with pieces you have to create them or find other ways to trap your opponent. I'm interested in a little clarification on the mana/terrain map though. Your movement in Mana World (M-World) starts from where you are in the real world, so does your spot in M-World reset each turn? How do you correspond areas between the worlds without making the maps hard to read? Also if you move in the real world before M-World does your person move in M-World too or does it stay in the old spot until next turn or you move it this turn?

Hopefully the questions help you more than frustrate you. Good luck.

evizaer said...

Movement in m-world always originates from the location in t-world anew each turn. The m-world character always originates each turn at the t-world character's location in m-world. The m-world mage gathers the mana, then returns to the t-world by going to the corresponding location of the mages body before the mage casts the spell.

Kenny said...

I view it differently: the manna map is an irrigation system with mages deciding what crop (type of manna) they want to grow on the t-world tiles, all the while trying to starve the other mage to death.

I can see a great CC-PP design emerging from this...

Unknown said...

So the next question, if a mage does not go back to their t-world person in m-world can they still do things like move and cast spells?

The idea of an irrigation system and a wizard planting the seeds of different mana types is interesting. Sounds like a fun idea.

Glyph, the Architect said...

You say that the player can raise armies of immortal warriors. I'm assuming that the warriors just act as a form of mobile barrier. Would the opponent be able to cast spells which kill these warriors, or would the warriors be able to attack enemy warriors to open gaps in the walls to prevent being trapped?