The goal of Weathermage from a design standpoint is as follows: “A combination of the gameplay of Divinity: Original Sin with the vast expansive world of Skyrim.”
In our ludum dare 32 entry, we used a top-down camera reminiscent of Divinity: Original Sin, but some users mentioned the terrain tiling became much more obvious when viewed in this mode. One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is how to address this issue without destroying the gameplay aspect. Namely, the player should primarily use the mouse to cast area-targeted (not object-targeted) spells. I don’t want to make the game feel reminiscent of Dragon Age in a major way – we’re not making a third person semi-realtime RPG, we’re making a turn-based RPG prototype that has a beautiful environment worth seeing.
Testing Cameras (Thank you, Guild Wars 2!)
There are many games with great camera systems, but I found Guild Wars 2 to have the most configurable camera for a third person game (note: you can even switch to a first person camera if you wanted to!).
New Camera Perspective
Let’s break down how this camera would work and how it affects gameplay.
- Third person camera, meaning it is centered on the player character. In the case of Weathermage and a possible party system, we would have the camera ‘jump’ to the current selected character. In battle, this would jump to the character whose turn it is.
- Zoom in with minimal rotation. Right now our top-down camera rotates quite extremely into a third person-style view, but if we were to change it to be third person from the start, we can make the camera zoom-in feel smoother.
- WASD movement. I’ve been trying to get around this kind of movement for awhile now, mainly because it is what might make the game feel reminiscent of Dragon Age, but I firmly believe this is superior to having click movement in a third person perspective. In combat, movement is still controlled via WASD, with action points being deducted the more the player moves.
- Party members follow the currently selected character outside of combat. This is how it was done in Dragon Age also. Divinity: Original Sin actually gives the option to ‘detach’ characters so they can move independently, but I would rather not mess with who is attached to the party group and who isn’t. Pillars of Eternity did this best – each character has the option to enter a ‘sneaking’ mode that allows them to move without party members following. This ultimately means each character is still ‘attached’ to the party but those that are ‘sneaking’ are moving independently.
- Casting a spell involves clicking on a target or location. This also has the built-in plus of forcing the player to only cast spells at targets the character can currently see. We can also add more randomness to spell trajectory so spells might get blocked if an enemy stands behind cover.
08/20/2015 EDIT: Turn-Based to Realtime
I’ve been brainstorming for months now on how to make a turn-based game feel proper with the above camera, and the best course of action is to turn it into a realtime with pause game similar to Dragon Age: Origins. The weather system could still be incorporated, but would need to be more properly planned now since everything is in realtime. In short, we should aim to combine the gameplay of Dragon Age: Origins with Divinity: Original Sin‘s spell and weather effects.