Well hello there indies, modders and their trackers,
I am experimenting with a 3D game idea that involves creating magic using an artificial/constructed language*. Most of the time when magic is brought up in a fantasy setting the most powerful wizards are old with long beards, which points out that decades of knowledge about secrets of magic gives them power, not RPG character attributes of levels and XP which tries to mimic such knowledge, mana regeneration rate or maximum amount of mana a character can use. But still a limit has to be set of how much magic can be done.
My first thought was that mana would be a particle which can do and become almost anything if you have enough of it. Mana would only regenerate in certain spots. The addressed mana particles would collectively determine if they are able to do what you ask them to, otherwise show that they can't or simply do nothing. Mana would be mined and the efficiency of mining would be determined in how well the player knows the artificial language in order to influence it. Spells are cast by addressing mana particles, or clusters that they are part of, to do something. For now my first spell involves pushing and pulling the pointed object without draining anything. Now I am unsure on how to proceed further, so I call for a brainstorm! Here are my questions and current thoughts on them:
How much should a single mana particle be able to do? I didn't want a particle to have decimal/(floating point) value of how much power it holds, rather a mana cluster would hold certain amount of mana. So I though as new spells are added to the game the power value of a single mana particle would change. Perhaps even involve how much CPU cycles it would btake for doing a spell, thought that would be hard to balance.
Should mana defy gravity(float in the air)? Me thinks of wisps in Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos ending. Though this has gameplay implications if allowed to be moved. Otherwise I see mana as a fluid.
If mana floats, should it be possible for the player to order mana particles to move around? I thought there would be no cost to it as I didn't want a Mana particle to have different power to another particle. Though a slight problem with mana being mobile pops up, the classic fireball spell becomes inefficient(if fire diminishes over time), rather you would order mana to go to the target and then become fire/flame/plasma.
Should spells have instant effect? What happens to charging/streaming a spell? I think this is a hard question and will require a lot of testing. Say that you order all addressed mana to become fire/flame/plasma, if they all are part of a cluster an instant explosion occurs, if they are independent they all sparkle instantly. There is no buildup. And as mana does not regenerate, streaming seems non-existent.
Your thoughts on cooperative spell casting? Right now mana(listeners) checks who made an order(speaker/s) and from its positional perspective carries the order out. I haven't thought much about how multiple speakers would influence cost.
This idea came by influences from video games like Dark Messiah of Might & Magic("use the environment"), Morrowind(spellmaking), Sacrifice("Nostro, Klaatu, Elorum", mana fountains), Master Of Magic to name a few.
And especially the below scene from a Harry Potter movie, which made me think of how would we describe the spells being cast, not that hard in my opinion even if a computer couldn't parse an ambiguous natural language like English:
Voldemort's Snake - "Make my breath become a cobra, that is made of fire and five times its normal size." Dumbledore's disjunction - "Remove body of target(Cobra)" (I guess) Dumbledore's water sphere - "Move the water to form a 2 meter wide sphere to where I point at(Voldemort)." Voldemort's stream - "???" (What is that supposed to be?) Dumbledore's protection - "???" (Have to know what exactly is he defending against.) Voldemort's buildup and blast - "Buildup energy between my hands and unleash a sound blast with it when I scream." Voldemort's telekinesis - "Propel nearby glass towards what I point at(Dumbledore)." Dumbledore's glass conversion sphere - "Create a 2 metre sphere at my position through which glass converts to sand."
* - You might think the potential playerbase dropped to 5% when I mentioned the word "programming" and to 0.5% when I mentioned "artificial language". But I will have a GUI way to represent magic creation.