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SpellMasters — Pitching a game about Mastery

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questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011

I "touched" ever so lightly on this topic... As mentioned I am developing a "flexible" spell crafting mechanic which will allow player to define their OWN spells during a game of "SpellMasters". This engine is rather straight-forward but will be very *unique* from the myriad of other spelling games.

At first, I thought the game could be for younger children aged 9+ ... but I have come to the conclusion that the game is more for Teens and Adults. And the main reason for this is the spell crafting mechanic. It's not that it is particularly difficult, but as the game suggests it's "Spell MASTERS" not "My spelling is basic!" :P

Like I said the spell crafting mechanic isn't overly complex but it does require two very basic things that I think will be HARD for younger children:

A> You need to be able to think up words and process them through the spell crafting mechanic. This is not trivial because of the basic rules. But there will be "examples" in some instances like @Stephen (Let-off studios) suggested.

B> ADAPTING your spell book to the "Mana" that you have earned through the Dungeon Crawl ... Is quite frankly a real bitch. Because you may have all these COOL spells but no "Mana" for any of them... Adapting them to what you have is where the MASTERY of "Spelling" occurs. And this is one step that I think kids won't be able to understand...

For example: Two different words "Water" and "Flame" lead to different spells in the Wizard's spell book. And they each have distinct "control letters" which affect how the spell is cast and what is the resulting effect. But understanding on how to BUILD upon each of these two (2) spells is a challenge that I bet even English Teachers might find "interesting".

And this is where the fact that a BORING Word Game might be actually FUN and stimulating for adults but something kids would not comprehend... It's like drinking Wine: kids don't like it (Most because it's bitter). But as adults you learn to see how it reacts with your palet and your meal ... and Wine can be very pleasurable (aside from the alcohol content)!

Something to that "effect"... I think I'm taking the game UP a few "notches" into the realm of something ADULTS (and Teens) might like.


let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011

Have you clarified in your mind the intended audience for this game? From what it sounds like from here, you're still working that out.

Children versus Teen/Adult can have stark differences (I'm sure you know this). It sounds to me like you'll need to make some hard choices about this design. I don't recommend you attempt to accommodate everyone in a single project. There will be a high risk that no one will be satisfied by it, if that's the case.

The good news is that you could always come up with the Spell Masters equivalent of Agricola: All Creatures Great & Small later...

A second point is that you cannot force someone to wrack their brain to come up with the most complex word their tableau of letters can manage. You will need to design in-game incentives for doing this. Again, your desire to make a game for children may be hampering your efforts in this area.

Personally, I don't like making games for kids so maybe I'm just biased against the process of being so accommodating.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I try to be inclusive

But at the same time, I've never designed a game that was not easily accessible for kids to play. Take "TradeWorlds" for example... Some kids under the age of 10 ... might find the game "too boring" and "long" because they may take over 60 minutes. That's the thing with kids, you need to keep them ENGAGED. And so streamlining the game to have a very "aggressive" ATTACK-ing engine... Keeps players more involved in skirmishes. This can HELP extend the attention span of younger children because they like "the conflict" and the ability to "crush their opponents" (or at the very least 'do battle' and win sometimes).

But if WINNING takes too long... They can lose interest after a while. I experienced that with one young boy and his mother. He was winning but he got kinda bored with the game... seeing as he did not defeat his mother as quickly as maybe he would have liked. Anyway I knew when I started the demo... Attention span might be a bit challenged.

However for a WORD game, I'm thinking TEENS a step up from 10 year olds. A few years 3 or 4 can make a big difference. But don't get me wrong "TradeWorlds" is an excellent game for adults too... It's just that on the LOWER-END it can allow kids to play against or with their parents and can keep them part of the "game party".

So yeah I've still got some thinking to do... But thanks for your input... It is much appreciated...

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I'm thinking about making it more ACCESSIBLE

So for example the 1st Phase is the Puzzle, Dungeon Crawl Phase. Now you can use the "Flavor" text as a HELPER to figure out words that fit... OR you can go the other way and find words that fit that are NOT part of the "flavor" text.

Similarly, I think I might be able to provide a dictionary of words that can be used by each Wizard that suit their "style of play".

This would for the most part make the game much more accessible.

What do you think? Should I TRY to make it more kid-friendly or should I try to focus on Teens/Adults considering this is a "word" game...?

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