It’s Like Magic

A big focus of Masters is the player’s ability to cast various types of spells, which we call drafts for now because we want to reduce associations with classical Fantasy fiction. Although our game takes place in a contemporary setting and may have unique nomenclature for supernatural phenomenons, let’s not be too cryptic and talk about the “magic” in Masters.

It would be straightforward to have a whole bunch of attack drafts and a whole bunch of defense drafts and build an action game around it all. However, that’s not what we want, for two reasons.

Firstly, we want the game to be tied together by an epic storyline that’s not primarily concerned with how to quickly deliver one enemy wave after another. Masters is at least as much about exploration, immersion and storytelling as it is about big action scenes and fights. The second reason for not overdoing the latter is to limit the amount of physical and mental exertion we demand of the player, after all we’re building this game for roomscale VR.

So instead of making the magic all about fighting, we are giving players a big library of neutral drafts. Maybe they want to shrink an object, walk on the ceiling of a room, unlock a door, extinguish a fire, liquify a solid item, make something (or themselves) invisible, translate a text written in a foreign language, see through walls. There are lots and lots of things we are considering because players will certainly enjoy experimenting with these various options.

We must be a bit careful though. Every new draft we introduce into the game adds massive complexity. Imagine a draft that manipulates an object in whatever way. For every object that we have in the game, we must now keep this draft in mind. For every object we must ask ourselves: what if the player uses draft XYZ on this object? Will it break something in the game? Will the game environment respond naturally to this manipulation? Will it allow the player to progress in ways we never intended?

No player wants to cast a draft and be told that “this draft cannot be cast here” or something silly like that. But it may be unavoidable to restrict the player’s freedom somewhat. If and how we implement such a restriction has not been decided yet.

For the first episode it will likely boil down to us only introducing a small number of drafts and letting players try them out whenever and wherever without limitation. The entire gesture system will be new to players, and it doesn’t make sense to immediately give them access to a hundred different drafts before they’ve learned to properly use the system.

Speaking of which, as described in a previous blog post, our gesture system is multi-segmented. According to our current design iteration, drafts can consist of up to four individual gestures. Most drafts will use two or three gesture segments, such as Self-Air-Up to make yourself float or Environment-Dark to remove all light from the area. We want these mini-sentences to make as much sense as possible, so to make an object float you’d use Object-Air-Up and to see in the dark you’d use Self-Dark-See.

Drafts consisting of four gesture segments are considered hyperdrafts. These most powerful drafts can control time, life and death. Currently, we have laid out a rough structure for the various gestures and drafts, some of which you can see in the images accompanying this post.

The tree structure in these pictures looks more complicated than it is because a lot of the nodes are repeated – you can tell by the node icon, if two icons are the same, they’re the same gesture segment. Think of gesture segments as words. Players learn around 20 of these and then build 2- or 3-word sentences out of them to actually cast drafts.


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