28 Oct, 2013, Idealiad wrote in the 1st comment:
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This question is very broad so I'll try to narrow it down.

First some background. In the game I'm working on I want magic to manipulate the fundamental stuff of the world model and allow players to create some emergent effects. Like some other games the magic system lets you combine and apply symbols/functions. Think of it as a mini programming language against the API of the world model.

For example, you could say light is a fundamental property and have symbols that manipulate it. At the same time you could say 'shadow' is a fundamental…note the goal here is not to simulate real-world physics accurately but to create a 'game physics' that interfaces well with the game mechanics, is discoverable by players, and flexible/deep enough to create some cool behavior.

Anyway, the question is – what would be some fundamental properties?

Things like the elements come to mind – fire, earth, air, water. I suppose forces like gravity and electromagnetism are others.

Does anyone know of resources and/or work already done for this kind of thing?

I found an interesting thread on spell effects at Mudlab, http://mudlab.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=... , and I thought for sure there was a thread like this already at one of the mud forums but I couldn't find it.
28 Oct, 2013, quixadhal wrote in the 2nd comment:
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The Final Fantasy series uses Fire, Lightning, Air, Earth, Water, and Ice. It's also worth deciding if you want a simple diametric opposition, or if you want strengths and weaknesses to be seperate.

For example, Fire might be weak against water, but Earth might be resistant to Fire. By that, I mean if a fire-based attack were hitting a water or earth based defense, they'd both take less damage, but while a water based attack would do extra damage against a fire-based defense, an earth-based attack would be normal.

That's only useful if you plan to have resistances that are element based, of course.
28 Oct, 2013, arholly wrote in the 3rd comment:
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You take that to some other properties too. Organic vs. inorganic. Liquid, solid, gas (plasma if you want). Density (floating vs. non-floating)

If you are talking "fundamental" properties, I would consider material to be a fundamental property. Wood burns, metal rusts, etc…
28 Oct, 2013, jurdendurden wrote in the 4th comment:
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Fire, Earth, Water, Air, Lightning, Wood, Light, Dark, Holy, Unholy, Mental, Physical, Sound…. I like the electromagnetic and gravity ideas too…

Also, here's a semi-random yet still somewhat pertinent idea:

For this example let's use the good ole' Fireball spell from D&D to give you an idea. Say you use 4 ingredients/elements/materials to craft these effects you speak of. You could use all fire-related ingredients and get your standard fireball, or maybe in a pinch you could do 3 specific fire related ingredients (ashes, ruby dust, a match), and allow players to toss in a random wood/earth related ingredient (some kindling or small twigs) and still get a fireball, just with reduced effect. This could allow for wiggle room when wizards are broke or don't have access to certain things.
29 Oct, 2013, Idealiad wrote in the 5th comment:
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Thanks guys, that's helpful. It makes me wonder about how to handle more abstract properties, such as inertia/motion and time (and what other abstract properties there may be?).

For example, say the effect the player wants is 'reverse motion' – so if someone goes to charge them, instead they're flung backward. Should there simply be a symbol that directly affects 'motion'? Or should I somehow deal directly with mass and velocity?
29 Oct, 2013, quixadhal wrote in the 6th comment:
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That's why, for a game, I always suggesting making properties in pairs.

If you wanted to deal with lowering or negating inertia, trying to work out simple formulas to describe its absense is a pain. But if you had an opposing force, you could use that to describe what you wanted to do.

So, let's look at motion from a game perspective. Something is moving in a given direction, and you want to reverse it. You can't really use "motion" by itself. "Inertia" isn't really the opposite of motion (it's the opposite of change). "Time" also doesn't quite do what you want. But if you had a notion of "reversal", you could apply the runes of "motion" and "time", along with another rune for "reversal".

To slow someone, perhaps "motion" along with "ice" would work well.

In other words, don't try to model your game system after reality. Design a game system that works well and model your game's reality around it. :)
29 Oct, 2013, Hades_Kane wrote in the 7th comment:
Votes: 0
If you'll permit a long winded post, the way we handle things has a lot to it and a lot of influences that we've drawn from.

We are Final Fantasy and Chrono series based, so that's the conceptual basis of our magic system, although there are several influences that all combine to make a relatively unique system, including influences from Grandia and Magic: the Gathering.

We have arranged our properties on a six pointed star, basically a star of david.

blue ___/\___ green
\ / \ /
/ \
Yellow /_\ /_\ red

Bah, no amount of editing is getting this ASCII to look right.

In the Chrono Trigger sequel, Chrono Cross, elements are generally defined by color. Red elements will generally have fiery properties, blue will generally be water based. Likewise, in Magic: the Gathering (which has 5 elements instead of 6), the "element" is generally referenced by their color. You have a green deck, which uses green mana, and will generally have things like elves, earth elementals, stuff like that. We decided to first define our elements like that.

Secondly, like the concept of the Yin Yang where everything exists in a balance of light and dark, we have adopted a strong preference toward the concepts of Order and Chaos, neither are good or evil, they are just opposing forces that basically makes up the universe. The star is comprised of two triangles, each represented 3 elements. You have the "Triangle of Chaos" which contains the elements of Black, Red, and Yellow, and the "Triangle of Order" which has the elements of White, Green, and Blue. It is said that everything in our world exists with a balance of Order and Chaos, and it is the foundation of these elements and those triangles that form the basis of existance.

And while this may not have been M:tG canon, but nevertheless influences the system, I always recalled in my early days of learning, hearing friends say that the colored symbols on the cards that represented the elements, well, if two colors were next to each other, they were considered allied colors, and the ones opposite were the opposing colors. So, with our star, if two elements are next to one another, they are compatible.

In the Chrono games, each character had a single elemental affinity, which determined what elemental spells they would naturally learn and have some other affects as well, and so thinking in line with the other stuff, we've applied that as well. In creation, every character picks a primary elemental affinity, then based on that, they pick a secondary elemental affinity. Looking at the star, if they pick red as their primary element, then they can choose either green or white as their secondary. Magic users, in particular, will see a bit of influence in their character growth based on this. The particular Grandia influence sees it's mark here, as when you max your first red spell, fireball, you automatically learn the next one, which is combustion. If you picked red/green, and after you max your first green spell too (tremor), then you will automatically learn the red/green combo spell, magma splash. There's an entire stacked casting system that makes use of this concept, along with plenty of hidden combos that can take up to 4 spells to create a new spell affect, but I won't digress into all of that. But we've also made all of our mobiles have dual elemental alignments as well, and with the way this all works, a character will have an element from both the triangle of order, and the triangle of chaos, again, a balance between the two forces.

And then, with some of the other fundamental "forces" of the game, like gravity for instance, it is tied into being secondary affects or results of some of the other elemental combinations. Such as black and green combine to create any gravity based magic.

Along with the six elements, we also have physical and magic-non-elemental as well. At this point, any time based affects would likely fall within the non-elemental category.

As far as the conceptual basis of how this all works is that everything that is alive has not only an elemental affinity, but has living mana within themselves. It's like the force, basically, it binds and ties everything together, it moves and flows through everything. Even our rooms have an elemental affinity in a sense. There is a "room field" that every room has, with 5 "bars" that represent the predominant mana within the room. Casting red spells increases the red potency of the room, for example, along with numerous other things can affect the field. Filling the field with one color will temporarily "lock" the field and greatly increase the potency of anything that shares that color. The idea behind casting is that those able to cast magic are able to basically see and tap into the inherit mana in their surroundings. While most magic is outward based like this, some Fighter branches that rely on a concept similar to "chi" are basically manipulating their own internal, bodily mana. But for most casters, they expend their reserves of mana energy to draw and trace patterns in the surrounding mana to manipulate that mana to create magical affects. And indeed, this magical force, this flow of mana, is literally the life force (aka lifestream) of the planet itself, and casting spells and using this mana is basically a form of swapping ones own personal stores of mana with the planet. Under normal circumstances, mana is never expended, just changed, recycled, or swapped.

But in any case, this is the foundation upon which the concepts of magic, forces of nature, and everything is built upon and around. Like Quix said, we made a system and a concept and the reality of our world revolves around and fits within that.
30 Oct, 2013, Idealiad wrote in the 8th comment:
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Excellent post HK. And @quix, that's good, this discussion is making me focus much more on the game mechanics and how they interact with the world. To that end I'm wondering if thinking of spell effect kind of things is starting in the wrong place.

What about a list that deals with it more like this,

  • touchability

  • visibility

  • movement/motion

  • gravity

  • matter – solid/liquid/gas

  • size

  • hardness

  • pourability

  • breakability

  • sharpness

  • density

  • temperature

  • time

  • sound

Some of it is redundant and incoherent as a whole, but maybe that's a better direction.

What would you add/remove/change?
06 Nov, 2013, Nathan wrote in the 9th comment:
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I think visibility has, rolled into it, the notion of light/dark and as a consequences transparency/translucence/opacity (i.e. all light can pass across/through, only some light can, no light can). That goes for gases, liquids, etc. I suppose in that sense it's not necessarily an independent property.

pourability? Do you mean viscosity?
06 Nov, 2013, Idealiad wrote in the 10th comment:
Votes: 0
Not really. Pourability was from a list of old Magnetic Scrolls game properties and was an abstraction for liquids in general. I think you're right about visibility, that's constructed from lower-level concepts.

FWIW I've revised this list somewhat in the meantime and this is what I have now,





state (solid, liquid, gas, plasma?, ooze?)



As you can see it's more of a fruit basket than a bucket of apples, but I'm not really trying to model things that realistically, just get the fundamental properties of the game mechanics sorted.

This is quite a bottom-up approach compared to how you'd normally go about it, and I don't think I'll stick with this method entirely – at some point I think I'll need to go top-down (like, this is how combat works, this and that happens and so I need such-and-such). But I think it's an interesting idea to approach it from two directions at once, from fundamentals and from the high-level.