First Screenshots of project “Spellwars”

February 24, 2009 at 3:05 pm (iPhone development, spellwars) (, , , )

That’s right, I’ve got some pretty pictures. They’re actually not all that pretty, graphic designer I am not, but they get the point across. I am hoping to generate some interest in the community out there (that means you), if the project looks interesting to you drop me a line: I’m looking for people to work with me.

So lets get to the game. A basic description of what I have right now, is a simple 2-player spell combat game. The game resolves on a board, not unlike battleship, on which players take turns playing spells from their hand, not unlike Magic: The Gathering. A battle starts off looking like this:

Getting ready to start a duel

Seriously, do forgive the lack of design. Anyway, once you tap start, combat begins and you are presented with the spells in your hand, and you then choose one to play:

Choosing a Spell

After you choose your spell, it is placed in the middle of the board. You can then drag your spells around anywhere on the board, before you decide to continue. Once you’ve placed your spells where you want them, tap Turn, and the combat engine will resolve the turn.

Turn 2

It should be noted, the goal of a battle is to reduced your opponent’s HP to 0, by dealing damage through your spells. Each player starts with a certain number of HP, based on other things in the game that have yet to be fully implemented, so for today we’ll say both players get, oh, 50 HP. Sounds good.

Spells interact based on their location on the board, and their area of effect, visualized by the colored circle around the icon. Some spells have a large area, some are smaller…the value of each is different, depending on what your are trying to accomplish with a given spell. Typically a spell will be either serving in attack, defense, or support…potentially all of the above.

Each turn, the spells on the board resolve on a stack, with individual spell speed determining the order of spell resolution. There is no “your turn” or “other person’s turn,” it all happens at once. If 2 spells overlap, the active spell does damage to the “defending” spell, if the spell’s defense is reduced to 0 it is destroyed.

Resolved Combat

Spells in your hand are pulled from your active set, currently called a Book. Think of the deck concept in any CCG, same thing. Each turn, you draw a single spell. Each turn, you can play a single spell. Combat continues until one person runs out of HP. I am tailoring the gameplay so a single game can be played in no more than a minute, probably something like 30 seconds for a single duel vs the CPU. I figure that is about the amount of attention span most iPhone users have, most of the time. The app starts up in about 2 seconds, so you can easily play a game or 3 while waiting in line at starbucks.

Where do the spells come from? Basically, the rest of the game. Which is really the bulk of the game. I’m working on that part next. I envision a multiplayer world, somewhat like lootwars, but with unique places to visit and custom challenges…my version of instanced dungeons vis-a-vis World of Warcraft or Diablo II. My vision is that a big part of the fun of the game is in hunting down and finding rare and unique spells to build up your collection, and to have fun and powerful spells to duel with. You can bet there will be hard to find spells, spell sets, spell combines, limited editions, etc. I know that balancing the supply of items in an economy like this becomes of paramount importance, it’s at the top of my list for things to design very, very carefully. Digital economy, here I come.

On Motivations and Background

I started this project because I found a real void in the iPhone game world of solid multi-player games with deep, compelling game mechanics. Lootwars is by far the most well-designed MMO-ish game I’ve played, but it leaves me feeling so un-fulfilled, wanting so much more. I’ve been gaming for 20 years, and what first pulled my interest was the Rolemaster/MERP games in the mid 80s. Those games had such deep game mechanics that I almost never was able to get past just working through all the tables and numbers…and I loved it! The few game sessions we had as kids were fun, and I knew that one day a computer game implementation of something like that could make for an incredibly compelling engagement. I’m starting to feel the tips of that now.

Later, in the mid 90s, I again got sucked into a simlar game with similarly deep mechanics, Magic: The Gathering. From playing in small towns, to bigger tournaments with large prizes, to the million dollar Pro Tour, I spent enough time playing Magic to gain a real deep respect for the engagement power of a delicately balanced game. The guys at WotC work very hard to make sure Magic stays fun and balanced, even with the influx of hundreds of cards and dozens of new game mechanics a year.

These are what inspire me, and what drive me to create this game. The iPhone deserves it’s own game for gamers, by gamers. I want to make something that is appealing to a broad base of people, there’s no sense in catering solely to hardcore players, but that also has a deep set of interactions and fun things to do, that you can spend as much or as little time as you want, and still find more of the game to explore. I know it’s not easy, but I’m up for the challenge. And I’m looking for others who are like-minded. I can’t do this alone, it’ll take both partners and a supportive community. If you want to play a part, you know where to find me.

Thanks
R.

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