Design Considerations

War of Words is progressing nicely.  I’ve been a little torn between two competing thoughts on some of the core gameplay.

The first idea is the simpler of the two.  It involves having special defenses and attacks while playing a battle game.  These defenses and attacks are made by making a word using a special letter.  These special letters appear for every 30 points you receive (that number can be changed of course).  It is a simpler idea to implement because you just need to mark certain letters as “special” and then detect when they are being used.  Then you start some effect code to implement the action (one such action is removing a row from your game board, for example).

The second idea is a more elaborate but more strategic approach – using a spell casting system.  In this case, the same actions are available (actually a lot more of them are available) but you can choose to cast them at anytime as long as you have the ability to do so.  In order to cast a spell, you need to have learned it, you need to equip it, and then you need to have the cost covered.  Cost in this case is in magic points (MP) which is a resource gathered by making words.  Better spells cost more and you have a specific maximum amount of MP that you can use.  This keeps things down to specific levels.

This second idea also implies many other RPG gameplay elements such as level, experience, and hit points.  I’m really leaning towards this model and have pretty much decided on it.

As a player, you’ll be able to bring up to six spells with you into battle.  The spells list will be much larger (25-30 probably) and they will all do different things bringing a lot of different strategies.  You can learn spells one of two ways:  1) at certain levels and 2) defeating a certain enemy will give it to you if you already don’t have it.  Some spells will even carry a further equipment cost.  This cost means that some of them will take more than one “slot” in your equipment list.  A really powerful spell might take 2 or 3 slots and that means you are forced to carry less spells.  You can change your equip list only outside of battles.

Everything in this system is tied to word score.  Word score relates to how many points you get for each word you spell.  This translates to XP (experience) and to MP.  If you win or lost a battle, you get the XP equivalent to your word score.  If you run away from a battle, you get nothing.  MP is replenished in battle with the same score (up to MP max however).   This makes the system a lot simpler.

You are rewarded for words in the following ways:

  • Rarer letters (such as K, Z, Q, X, or J) are worth a lot more than frequent letters (such as S, R, L, N, T, or vowels).
  • Longer words are given bonus points.  Spell a 10 letter word for 15 extra points.  This starts at lengths of 6 or 7 (not decided yet).  Short words consisting of frequent letters score very little points (such as 2-5).  They will help you keep your board managed, but they won’t give you a lot of XP or MP.
  • There are also special letter tiles that double or triple the score of a word (similar to Scrabble).  There are also spells that you can cast that do this same thing for a temporary amount of time.

As you can see, the gameplay is getting more elaborate but is also coming together.  I’ve already started programming some of it.

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