Since our last PS Blog post about Mages of Mystralia, we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and have been hard at work polishing up the game and even adding a few new modes to the game that we’ll share in a future update. For now, we just wanted to announce that we’ve locked in our launch date on PS4. Mark your calendars, because Mages of Mystralia is hitting your favorite console on August 22!
As we mentioned in our last post, we wanted to capture the feeling of what it might actually be like to be a mage. To us, this meant that our spellcrafting system had to be both deep and intuitive. By our internal definition, “deep” meant that there needed to be a very wide range of possible spells you could design, and “intuitive” meant that new players would be able to understand the system and play around with it without feeling overwhelmed.
It is said that good design seems obvious in retrospect. When you look at a well designed user interface, you might think to yourself, “Well of course they designed it that way. How else could you do it?” As it turns out, most elegant user designs are the result of hundreds of iterations – removing what’s unnecessary, clarifying functionality, streamlining, and testing, testing, and more testing. The majority of our team comes from the AAA space, so we put a high value on polish and usability.
Here’s how it works. When you begin the game, you are introduced to the four spell categories: Immedi (for close range spells like melee attacks), Actus (which creates orbs that persist over some amount of time), Creo (for conjuring spells), and Ego (for spells that affect yourself).
Each of the spells can be modified by runes that you collect on your journey. There are three categories of runes: Behaviors, Augments, and Triggers. Behavior runes make the spell do something. For example, if I add the Move behavior to an Actus spell, it will make the orb move.
Simple enough. You could also add the Move rune to the Ego spell, which would make you move in a quick dash. (And not to worry – when you discover the Move rune, you can use it in multiple spells. You won’t need to take a rune off of one spell to put it on another.)
Behaviors stack, so you can add, say, Duplicate and Bounce, which will make it a multishot fireball that bounces off of walls. The more runes you add, the more mana it costs to cast the spell, so you have to balance the cost and benefit.
If Behaviors are analogous to verbs, then Augments are adverbs. Augments only affect the rune they’re directly attached to, so the same Augment rune can have a very different effect depending on where you put it. An example of this would be if you add the Right augment to the multishot fireball we made. Depending on where you put it, it can make it do exactly what you want.
The Triggers are used to connect one or more spells together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. For example, we can make a decoy of ourselves by adding the Duplicate rune to the Ego spell. We can then add a Period trigger – meaning that we want this Ego spell to call another spell periodically. The system will ask what spell we want to call, and we can select the multishot fireball we made. We can also play around with things further by connecting a Right Augment to the Ego + Duplicate to make the decoy rotate around. And now we’ve got ourselves a spinning fireball-shooting turret!
Here are some other spells that we came up with. See if you can figure out how we made them!
In contrast to the way the current spell system works, here are some screenshots of earlier attempts at it from older to newer. If you don’t understand how they work, don’t worry! Neither do we anymore!
We’re very proud of how we were able to keep iterating on the spellcrafting system to the point where our playtesters were coming up with interesting spells and strategies that had never occurred to us. One person made a shield that pushed enemies away and shot lightning bolts at them. Another created a 1-2-3 punch in which he shot a fireball at an enemy, which in turn conjured up a sheet of ice and froze the enemy in place, and then rained down boulders on its head. We’re looking forward to seeing what you create when Mages of Mystralia launches on PlayStation 4 on August 22!