Sunday, 2 March 2014

MMOs: Spells and Spelling

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

All this l33t speak and short hand in MMOs can be convenient, but I'd like to see games that actually encourage people to increase their literacy skills, rather than decrease it.

My initial idea is probably one that will be unpopular (I can hear the grammar nazi yells now) to many but we have to start somewhere.

Mages and clerics in most fantasy MMO's are often meant to be wiser or more intelligent than their more physical counterparts so I would focus on them and their skills first. What I'd like to see is a change to the way their spell / prayer abilities work and there are three variations I can think of right off the bat: "Cantrips", "Prepared" spells and "Aura" spells.

Cantrips are the simplest of magic that can be done with the flick of a hand or a nod or simply through sheer will, and would basically function exactly how spells currently work in most MMO's. Activate, wait for cool down, repeat. Easy.

Prepared spells are more powerful skills you can ready before hand. To ready a spell, you simply have to type out the exact wordy chant for that spell - a whole sentence (more if the spell is stronger, and each has to be typed individually - can't be pasted in as one big chunk of text). Upon completion your little icon to fire or cast the spell is available, until you use it - upon which time you must ready it again (or maybe you can fire x amount of times before readying again). Failing to complete a chant properly (mistype) can cause a variety of effects depending on the spell. A "weak" class spell will probably have no ill effects. A "strong" class spell might set you on fire. This is much like the old D&D where mages prepare can prepare their spells before hand but once they are out they'll need to be quick and precise with the word smithing to regain their powers.

Aura Spells on the other hand have no little icon. They begin when you key in the first sentence of the spell and continues/strengthens its effect as you continue typing out the rest of the spell. The best example I can think of is a cleric reciting the Apostles' Creed (for example) in a demon infested crypt. As he finishes each sentence the radius of the spell aura increases, as does the damage it is doing to the foes within it, ultimately instantly destroying the ones left upon its completion, provided he didn't make any mistakes in the incantation.

Obviously both the Prepared and Aura spells also have a time limit to type in the next line with weaker spells giving you a few grace seconds while the stronger variants require you to pretty much be touch typing at a pretty high speed to pull off fully.

More bible and less machine gun.

What do you think? Any suggestions to improve on this would be welcome! :)


  1. Interesting idea but words should be in an imaginary language - less cost in translation and more immersion. And if this language has a meaning you could "invent" more spells.
    In an older RPG ( arcanium ? ) you.had to draw the rune with the mice. This could also be a fun activity.

    In a MMO this cause two prpblems : equilibrium in gameplay and power. How to equilibrate this with the simple gameplay of warrior ? This is the problem of pen&paper rpg as describes by tobold. The second problem is the power vs difficulty : the more skill is necessary to play a class VS other the more powerfull it.should be ( or nobody will be playong it) but this lead to strong problem.of balance for highly skilled player. The nerf war would be a headache for developer. This should work better in a solo/coop RPG

    1. The "new" language is a good idea. Haven't really thought much against the simple warrior stuff though. Basically I figured if the warrior gets to hit, the mage is screwed. If the mage finishes a big spell, all the warriors within x radius are screwed. Must admit I always think first from a co-op view point because that's the game type I most enjoy. :P