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Thread: Metamorphosis (Custom Races)

  1. #1

    Metamorphosis (Custom Races)

    OK, this is one of the things we've already touched on in another post. I said then that I would eventually do a post about it. Well, good news! This is the post about it.

    Most of us are familiar with the idea of custom races. You start with a blank slate and a number of points. You spend those points to give the race some benefits. Maybe you take some negative effects to get more points and spend those points on something you really want. The results can be truly awesome. You can put together different races for different play styles. It provides another level of replayability (in a game that already has an almost insane number of possible permutations). Given time you will probably find the one race combination you love above all others. (I have my ultimate super race in MoO2. I'm sure many of you do as well.)

    So, something that creates so many positive good time happy feelings should obviously make it into the game right? Well, yes, probably. However, there are some things to think about. There are some questions to consider. Here are a few I can think of:

    1.) Do we worry about trying to maintain balance? (This may seem like a stupid question, but it's not. Some abilities and benefits have genuine synergy bonuses when used together. You might have three bonuses that were each OK, but when put together were game breakingly powerful. I'm not saying we should pasteurize WoM with balance, I'm just asking the above question.)

    2.) Should the custom race have custom graphics or just use one of the other race's graphics?

    3.) If we just use another race's graphics should we keep the normal version of that race out of a game where you're using a custom version of it? (Should we have “standard elves” in a game where you've made custom elves? Etc.)

    4.) Should the AI be able to use the custom races you've made? (I'm running with the idea that if custom races make it into the game you'll be ale to save them to the race pool.)

    5.) Do we allow custom races in tournaments? (We haven't talked about tournaments yet, but I think they're a cool idea. With standard multiplayer games the “house rules” switch will allow you to turn on or off custom races, so that's no problem.)

    6.) Should there be independent cities of your custom race spawned in the game?

    7.) Should custom races in the pool end up in a game even if you're using a standard race? (Should we provide a switch for that option?)

    8.) Should combat and non-combat bonuses be kept separate or should you be able to spend all your points on just one or the other?

    9.) Should there be any limit on the number of negative effects you can take or should you be able to take them all and make both the best and worst race in history.

    10.) Do we put a story limit on some bonuses. (You can't choose Undead and Diplomatic, or whatever.)

    I'm sure you guys can probably come up with more questions as well as answering what I've asked. So, jump in.

  2. #2
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    First let me say as long as there are custom Wizards I'm actually cool with NOT having custom races. I'd like to see more and more races added via DLC to give more options but as a player being able to design them isn't a big deal. Now giving modders access to do so might be nice but spending dev time (especially before release) to make nice GUI tools to make custom races seems to be to be a very low priority. That said on to your questions:

    1.) No. If you're allowing modders or even just regular players to create custom races then if they want to break them game so be it.

    2.) If you are decide to make it for joe user then you'll probably have to let them use existing graphics (especially unit 3D models), however if you go with my preference and just provide an API or something that modders can hook into then they should provide custom race graphics. (modders level of knowledge is assumed to be far beyond joe users)

    3.) Yes. No matter what option is chosen the base race should still be able to exist in the game. I assume that even excluding custom races it's possible for two competing wizards to choose the same race so I don't see why having the custom race would be any different. (i.e. lets say there is a 4 faction game... it's possible that there are like undead, draconians, and two elf factions each with their own different wizards).

    4.) I would say no but if there is a strong push for this from others it could always be an option. Even as an option though I'd default it to no.

    5.) I would say no, not only should they not be in tournaments but because you're not balancing them (see 1) using them should not allow achievements, etc. either. Perhaps you can rank the most popular custom races if you manage like a central distribution point and you can then validate they are not balanced and "bless" them allowing that specific custom race to be included in tournaments, gain achievements, etc. but that's probably too much work and again, the default would be no.

    6.) I see this as the same thing as 4). I say no but if there is an option for the AI to use custom races then it should be available to both AI wizards and independents.

    7.) Again I'd say no but I'd use the same toggle for 4) and 6) if it existed.

    8.) I'm not really sure what this means but if you're not trying to balance them as noted in 1) and you're not letting them in tournaments and enabling achievements as noted in 5) then I would say why restrict combat vs. non-combat. Let the custom race maker do whatever they want... if they want to break things... that's on them.

    9.) As with 8.) no limit, let them do whatever.

    10.) Nope, as with 8 & 9 let them create their own story.

    Again though if you can create custom wizards and more races are added via DLC then I really don't think giving joe user the ability to make a custom race is very important at all. At most providing modders who have the technical chops the ability to add races sometime after release seems sufficient to me.

  3. #3
    I know I've got some thoughts on this topic, but for right now I've only got time to answer the questions.

    1.) Do we worry about trying to maintain balance? I would say yes, Each attribute should cost points, with there being a limited number of points available. If you're worried about overpowered combinations of attributes, perhaps selecting one attribute will raise the price of its OP-related fellow attributes. You may also want an option to remove the point limit, but that will tag the resulting creation as overpowered, and thus will not appear in the game normally (IE, independent cities, AI factions, can't earn achievements with them, etc.).

    2.) Should the custom race have custom graphics or just use one of the other race's graphics? I'm not sure what the question means. By graphics, do we mean custom flags and colors? Certainly, in that case! But do we mean custom 3d models? That sounds like a significant bit of work, effectively forcing you, the developers, to build the graphics for multiple extra factions. I need some clarity about the question. Custom races will have to look unique, but we also want to make sure your graphical team's time is maximized for the most benefit!

    3.) If we just use another race's graphics should we keep the normal version of that race out of a game where you're using a custom version of it? No. I've just finished creating a brand new race. It's not supposed to be identical to the race I based them off of. Ergo, both should be available in the game.

    4.) Should the AI be able to use the custom races you've made? (I'm running with the idea that if custom races make it into the game you'll be ale to save them to the race pool.) Definitely. I don't only want to create wizards, but races too. And I want my custom wizard to rule my custom race. And then I want to fight against my custom wizard who is leading my custom race. That's a huge part of the allure!

    5.) Do we allow custom races in tournaments? (We haven't talked about tournaments yet, but I think they're a cool idea. With standard multiplayer games the “house rules” switch will allow you to turn on or off custom races, so that's no problem.) I'd have to know more about the tournaments concept. I'd agree with Asmodai: No, unless they are somehow moderated by the tournament host and accepted into play.

    6.) Should there be independent cities of your custom race spawned in the game? That would be really cool. Definitely.

    7.) Should custom races in the pool end up in a game even if you're using a standard race? (Should we provide a switch for that option?) There should be a switch for this option - Original races only, add "balanced" custom races only, and add all races, including "overpowered" races.

    8.) Should combat and non-combat bonuses be kept separate or should you be able to spend all your points on just one or the other? You should be able to spend all your points where you want. Again, particularly nasty combos should require extra points to spend.

    9.) Should there be any limit on the number of negative effects you can take or should you be able to take them all and make both the best and worst race in history. As long as the negative effects matter, I say let them load up on all the negative traits they want.

    10.) Do we put a story limit on some bonuses. (You can't choose Undead and Diplomatic, or whatever.) Not at all. It's a custom race, so maybe the whole point for the creator is to build a diplomatic Undead race. I say don't shackle the creator's creativity. [The better creators should stick to the lore, but they shouldn't be forced to.]

  4. #4
    I like the feedback so far! To clarify one point: By custom graphics I merely meant that we create a "custom race" faction with all the 3D models you need and 2D art resources. Then they would look like "generic race" rather than elves or dwarves or whatever. (I'm feeling a "let's just use the existing factions." trend at the moment.)

  5. #5
    Mage’s Assistant
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    Supposing the races are as complex as presented(each with their own units and possibly mechanics), the ability to make a custom race seems strange. How would it work? What can you change with customization? Suppose you take humans as the base race(for which the units are based on), which means you will get a spearman unit. Now, you customize your race to be stronger. That already changes the faction balance by a great deal by making the spearmen better than they ought to be. (and possibly making certain races far too powerful with certain combos)
    I would prefer better wizard customization and no race customization(provided the base races are unique), than average amounts of both.
    On the other hand, I do like the idea to customize a subrace of the base race. You have your elves, so you might make dark or wood elves out of them, or make your orcs grey orcs and such. But it seems to me it would be a nightmare to balance. Perhaps it would be better if there was already a handful of subraces that are balanced to begin with. (You can use the same base graphics but with different skin etc colors. Normal lizardmen are green, your ice lizardmen can be blue)
    The problem with customizable races in multiplayer isn't really that it's unbalanced, but that it leads to all players taking the same picks in a competitive game. Everyone who has played MOO2 multi knows about UniTols. Of course, if you can switch custom races off, it's no problem.
    As for the limitations you can put to customization, that's more of a hands-on question than a theoretical one. You'd have to know the exact bonuses and maluses you can pick, what they cost, how they interact with each other, what their actually practical effects are and so on to determine if they should be limited or not.
    Roughly it seems to me, that the more customizable the races are, the less unique they will be to begin with. I prefer unique play mechanics to customization.

  6. #6
    Moderator Aldaron's Avatar
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    1.) Yes, but don't worry too much about it.

    2.) Why not both?

    3.) No, both can coexist. You could make Dark Elves while regular elves are in the world as well.

    4.) Sure, Fallen Enchantress does it, but it should be an option.

    5.) It should be an option, some players may like it, some may not. Plus, even if you want to balance them it'll nevel be perfect.

    6.) Yes!

    7.) Yes, and yes.

    8.) I would lump everything together. I always like to play custom races without any combat bonuses.

    9.) I'm on the fence on that one. I depends on the first question. If you let people choose and unlimited amount of negative effects then you could open up some extreme combos for min/maxers to exploit (like flaws in d&d 3.5).

    10.) No, let us do as we like.

  7. #7
    You see, this is why community input is so important. I though this was going to be a much more popular idea than it seems to be, lol. I still want to keep the point open, but for the moment I admit it's going to get pushed down a few rungs.

  8. #8
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    I am against custom races overall. If you do decide to add it, doing it way later is fine. Specifically:

    1. No, just points system it.
    2. Both
    3. Yes, unless you're overburdened with artists with nothing to do.
    4. Optionally, but leaning towards 'no', especially if your AI is race-specific
    5. No
    6. Meh, optionally
    7. Optionally
    8. Doesn't matter
    9. No more than double, so if 10 points, no more than -10 penalty
    10. Yes

  9. #9
    I have to admit the idea hasn't gotten a lot of love so far, lol.

  10. #10
    Mage of the Lesser Tower Rybon's Avatar
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    1. Yes

    2. Not necessary, but would be cool to at least change there color.

    3. Yes

    4. That would be cool.

    5. No.

    6. Yes.

    7. No. and yes to the switch

    8. Spend the on just one or the other.

    9. Yes, I think the negative and positives need to balance.

    10. Nah, Vampires can be very charming. I hear some even sparkle.

    ---------- Post added at 02:31 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:17 PM ----------

    I think it is kind of early to tell what kind of love it would get. Seems to be only 20ish people piping in at this moment. Of course you need to know sooner than later, but I think as more people come this idea could pick up. I guess it also depends on how modable the games races are when the public gets a hold of it. I just have to think of Civilization and how fast people had up new Civ's.

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