You are in Control: Player Settings

You are in Control: Player Settings

In another post, we talked about the settings parents have over their children’s accounts. It’s important to us the game devs for not only the parents to have control over settings in the game, but also for the players to have control over the settings in the game. That’s why we want to have a comprehensive game settings menu.

First, the settings that affect game playability and lag. The player should be able to control things such as if they’re full screen or not and be able to tell the game what size their screen is. Maybe they want to set a max FPS setting. Or want to adjust the ‘field of view’ and thus how close they have to be to assets for them to load completely.

Games like MMOs also have a lot of ‘back end’ style filters that may or may not affect the loading time of the game, like vertical sync, bloom, post effects, or even shadows. Whether or not these back end programs are  actually helpful to the player depends on the player. (Game dev Ginny finds they tend to make the game blurry and hurt her eyes, and Game dev Becca’s current PC can’t handle them.)

If we have more than one camera angle in the game, such as third person, first person, or bird’s eye view, it could be changed in settings. Some players like to be close behind their characters. Others want to see from overhead. And yet others might want a first person view where they don’t see their character at all but the top of the head of their horse.

Players should also be able to control whether or not they want to deal with friend requests, group requests, club invites, and any other type of ‘request’ that’s put into the game. If the parents have blocked these controls in the parental menu already, then they’ll be grey and unable to be changed.

Sound would also be controlled in settings. Games often have two or three layers of sound. Players should be able to control the volume of all the layers. Maybe they don’t want to hear the music. Maybe they need to hear the ambient noise in order to find an object! If the game has a radio function, they’d be able to change the station from this menu. (Or another feature could be added into the phone somewhere too so they can flip through radio stations by pressing on a button on the phone.)

We also want to be inclusive of all players and well, customization can be fun. In the settings, the players would be able to change the color of glows for ‘active quest’ objects, arrow indicators between racing gates or on the ground, and race markers such as wooden arrows or trail pillars to tell players where to turn or go on the race tracks and trails. Maybe there can be a setting for custom colors for health, magic, and faction bars.

Sometimes, standard set glow colors can be hard to see, especially if your glows are candy colored and the environment is brightly candy colored. We hope to negate this problem some by having a game environment color palette that is more muted in shades and tones than extreme bright colors. (Game dev Ginny finds bright colors everywhere without any differentiation and depth also make her tired because they give her eyes no place to rest. Resting is important!)

Lastly, we have some ‘fun’ and optional game settings that have been in demand in other horse games. For instance, whether or not you want to see your character’s hat. Maybe, you want to hide your character entirely and play as a ‘wild’ horse.

Other options in this section would be turning the grazing animation for your horse on and off, turning on and off emotes, turning on and off other player names (good for making videos), and the dialog boxes for things such as changing your clothes between the Mirror World and the normal world, or ‘are you sure you want to spend real world money?’

There are probably other settings we just haven’t thought about yet! While we don’t want to overwhelm the player with so many settings they don’t know what to do with them, we want to give them enough settings they can play the game easily and find everything they need to find. This also has the benefit of if someone is color blind to a particular spectrum, they can adjust the game to where they can see things clearly. Because everyone should be allowed to play the game if we can make it so.

All the King’s Horses: Horse Customization

All the King’s Horses: Horse Customization

Every horse is unique and different. And because this is a video game, we can’t exactly replicate that to a tee. However, we want to give the characters a chance to be able to make their horses as special and different as possible. Or to be able to replicate their favorite horse!

The most important horse to the game, of course, is the starter horse. Our starter horse is based off the Fjord horse and comes in 26 variations of dun. When the player enters the mirror world, they’re in for a colorful surprise and probably a long conversation.

Once the player buys the game and unlocks their My Farm/My Stable, they can start buying horses from breeders around the districts of Astranar. Each district has three special horses that they sell. The player is going to need a draft horse and a pony as well as their starter to be able to get the full experience of the game.

Don’t worry. There will be quests to help them earn enough credits to buy their first draft and pony.

When a player buys a new horse, the price is determined by how rare the coat color is in that breed. A common rule of thumb is that brown will be cheapest, and black will be the most expensive. (Price variable won’t be more than a dollar or two.) They’ll also be able to choose the mane and tail color. All horses start off as solid colors. Some special breeds like the Friesian or the American Cream Draft or the Black Forest Horse will come in a ‘range’ of shades of their breed’s only color. Or in the case of the Friesian, a rare chestnut will be included at cost.

If the player wants to customize their horse more by changing the glossiness of the coat, adding markings, or giving the horse feathers at their fetlocks, then they need to visit a Horse Appearance Changer. Here, they can also again change the coat color and mane/tail color if they desire.

The Horse Appearance changer uses credits because these are items that can’t be stored and they’re changing the basic appearance of the horse they bought. Some items, like markings such as pintos, will be restricted to specific breeds. (For instance, if you buy an Arabian and want to make them a pintabian, you’ll need to visit the Horse Appearance Changer. If you want to make your American Quarter Horse an American Paint Horse, the same.)

Once the basics of the horse are nailed down, the player can then go to the Horse Stylist in order to make their horse fashionable.

The stylist will let them style and decorate the mane and tail of their horse. They’ll be able to change the color of the decorations in the manes and tails to their choosing. They’ll be able to clip their horse’s coat and style the horse’s fetlocks if they have feathers.

We are also debating options to let the player use vegetable based dyes to dye the mane and tail of their horse and to use hoof polish for the hooves. These may be update options.

The stylist also uses credits to change the style of your horse. These are things that again, can’t be stored, and would require the player to think about what they’re doing.

There are three gear brand stores in Astranar. The player will find these in every district. They’re broken down into the English Gear Shop, the Western Gear Shop, and the Show/Fancy Gear Shop. If they go to Morganite, they’ll be able to learn leather working and be able to make their own gear that much faster. There are also a horse decoration shop for things such as bridle and tail bows. And then at the florist and stuffed animal shop, they can buy flower bouquets and stuffed animals to put in their saddlebags.

The gear in the shops should match the cloths in the clothing shops enough so the players can mix and match the saddles and saddlepads to match their outfits. As new clothes come to the clothing shops, hopefully so would new gear come to the gear shops. Adding new gear would potentially be an update item.

Because the gear is to match the clothes, hopefully, once again there will be enough items and styles that everyone can find a horse they like and gear they would use.

The In Game You: Player Character Customization

The In Game You: Player Character Customization

At Mystic Riders, we want the players to have as much control over their character as possible, and this includes a commitment to diversity. After the player registers for the game, and takes their quiz to determine their starting district, the player will go through the character creation process.

They will have at least 8 different options to customize their character.

Body Type:

Mystic Riders wants to have three different body types for the game. The difference in body types is going to be the measurements of the hips, bust, and a little bit the waist. We’re giving them shape names so there is hopefully no negative connotations.

The Flower Body is body type with a smaller bust and almost no hips. The Star Body type is the medium body type with a medium bust and some hips. While the Heart Body type is a larger bust, slightly wider waist and big hips. All of these bodies are beautiful and normal!

Skin Tone:

We’ve chosen 20 different skin tones to use in Mystic Riders. 5 Caucasian, 5 Olive, 5 Asian, and 5 African. We want to embrace as many skin tones and undertones as we can from light to dark.

Face:

They can choose their face shape from the standard face shapes like round, heart, square, oval, etc. They won’t be able to choose makeup because they’re arriving on a plane!

Eyes:

They’ll be able to choose a selection of eye colors. Eye colors would be taken from our color palette. In an ideal world, we’d like each section of the face, eyes, lips, and nose to be separate choices. The player would have the options of 5 different eye shapes; almond, round, down turned, up turned, and deep set.

Lips:

If each section of the face is a separate choice, there would be 8 different lip options to choose from. The player would be able to choose lip shapes from a “natural” mouth, thin lips, to “bee stung” and thick “glamour.”

Nose:

Noses would have 6 or 7 options depending on how the noses are sculpted. (Finding good nose references isn’t easy.) Style would include upturned noses, down turned noses, narrow based noses, wide based noses, hook noses, button noses, and hopefully a ‘nubian’ nose.

Hair:

In hair they’ll be able to choose from a selection of “normal” colors (no dye jobs) and from ten basic styles.

 And their 1st Outfit:

Every camp has a camp store with clothing selections available for the player to purchase in the style of their district. The player would be able to choose an outfit from a dress with leggings, 2 blouses, a skirt or a pant and between the district hat or a riding helmet. They wouldn’t be able to show up to camp in the district coats or the muck outfit.

As the game progresses, the player will unlock new clothes to wear and be able to make and buy jewelry. They’ll be able to visit spas to change their hair style and buy makeup and nail polish. They’ll be able to store their new hairstyles, hair colors, and makeup in their vanity on the My Farm/My Stable and keep new clothes and jewelry in the wardrobe.

When a player visits the spa, they’ll be able to play mini games, such as facials, manicures, and hair treatments and hair styling after selecting their new look if they desire. Lip colors and eye makeup will all be drawn from the colors of the color palette. The players will also be able to dye their hair with the same colors. Each district of the game has 7 new hairstyles for the players to buy. This means there is a total of 66 hair styles in the game.

We have 14 clothing store brands planned for the game with clothing styles from basic to vintage to niche styles like steampunk. Each of these store will have mix and match sets for the players to buy. These brands are in every district across Astranar and the island of Argentum. If they go to Ruby, they’ll be able to learn fabric crafts and how to make clothes that much faster.

Clothes, thusly, are level locked rather than zone locked.

Because customizing your character and fashion is so important to the game, we are hopeful that clothing updates to add new styles will be one of the common ‘updates’ to the game. Hopefully, we’ve thought of enough options so everyone can find a look that represents them and things they like to wear.

Cashey Money: In-Game Currency

Cashey Money: In-Game Currency

There is a potentially large disconnect between game production companies (those financing the games) and game players about what in-game transactions should look like. The latest trend to try and wring as much money out of players as possible is to include a large amount of real world micro-transaction exchanges inside a game they may or may not have actually paid for a ‘complete’ gaming experience.

Players, as a general rule, are becoming more and more vocal about their dislike of micro-transactions. Companies are continuing to see money in these in-game purchases and impulse buys or additional downloadable content, so they don’t want to end micro-transactions.

We hope to try for a compromise.

Mystic Riders as currently envisioned does have a two system currency going on. There is Coins, an in-game currency the players can earn through quests and selling items in their inventory, and there is Credits, which is a currency they play real world money for through a ‘credit card/paypal’ transaction. Coins and Credits should have a verifiable exchange rate that makes sense and possibly relate to the real world.

Let players see they are getting their money’s worth in the game and it’s not a completely made up system!

We desire to keep the Credit Only items in the game to an absolute minimum. We want players from lower income families to be able to enjoy the full experience of the game without having to spend more than purchasing the game. In fact, we want to have quests that will let them earn enough Credits to be able to purchase a basic draft horse and basic pony.

Credit transactions would include things like buying the game or buying expansions of the game, extra horses, customizing your horses appearance, and to ‘stay overnight’ which would speed up crafting times and story line quests.

If the player buys a horse and wishes to sell it back to the game instead of trying to rehome or exchange it, then they can sell it back for full price including any markings. A horse that has been trained is technically more expensive than a green horse because the player has improved the horse. So, there shouldn’t be a mark down or punishment of the player for choosing to decide on a different horse.

Buying a new horse means getting a green horse, while exchanging a horse with a breeder or stable means they might get a horse that’s closer to the level of the one they have in the district racing specialty.

Another way to earn Credits is by completing extraordinary achievements such as completing the map, or feeding every animal type in the game.

Credits wouldn’t be used for opening districts in the game, moving the My Farm/My Stable, riding the trains (map travel), stable care, any in-game equipment (clothing) or gear (horse tack), or other in-game items.

Most of the in-game transactions we want to be done with Coins, our in-game currency. There will be a level cap for how many coins the player can carry around with them. Thus, the player should be able to store coins in a ‘bank’ at their My Farm. This bank would have an extra password so only they can access it.

Gear and Equipment come in sets. A full set of gear or equipment shouldn’t cost any more than the Coin cap they can carry around in their inventory. For example, if the Coin cap is 10,000 coins, then a full set of gear (horse tack) at 9 items or a full set of equipment (clothes) at 6 items shouldn’t cost more than 10,000 coins. A full 10,000 coin set would be a high level, high statistic set to make the player and horse have the best combination stats for whatever district or event they’re trying to achieve.

Gear and Equipment with the highest known stats in the game would be items the players would make through crafting.

Coins can also be used to customize their character by changing their appearance through hair styles and makeup, in-game items and extra decorations, buying some of the pets they can’t tame in the wild, and forming clubs.

Hopefully with this system, the players will feel challenged to be able to earn the money they need through playing the game and may only need to pay for extras with credits. Thus, they can learn how to manage their money wisely.

Studio Goals for Mystic Riders

Studio Goals for Mystic Riders

makeavgbetter9

DnD_SafeSpace from twitter:

Let’s start with #inclusion and #diversity – not just in characters, but also the people involved in the lifecycle of game development and marketing. #MakingAVideoGameBetter

For the game Mystic Riders, Becca and I are dedicated to wanting to have diverse and inclusive people working on our game including women, people of color, and those who are on the LGBTIA+ spectrum.

Black Lives Matter

Diversity Matters

Player Versus Player

Player Versus Player

The main thrust of Mystic Riders is a story driven single player versus environment experience. However, we aren’t against having Player Versus Player mechanics in our game as long as they don’t interfere or impede the story. Players can always experience the story together in groups.

But, we’re also willing to consider actual competitive style gameplay. This would be completely optional and wouldn’t tie to player leveling in any way. Player versus player in a mounted MMO is restricted to different types of racing.

Player versus player game play brings out some of the most competitive players and the players who are more apt to grief other players. These are the players who are more apt to try and break the game in order to gain a slight advantage and win a digital “prize” in order to be number one on the board. This type of play would have to be taken into account in the game mechanics so all players who can participate in PvP have a solid chance of winning if they have the right equipment and gear.

This is a game where you have to earn your way by playing story quests. Races, championships, skills and good gear are unlocked by playing quests and earning levels. A player can’t just play through the demo, buy the game, and go buy the ‘best horse’ in the game and the ‘best gear.’ That’s not going to work. There just won’t be one ‘best horse’ because different horses are better at different things. They won’t be just a fastest horse, there will be the most disciplined horse, the most agile horse. There may be an ‘all around’ horse but that horse won’t be the one that is the ‘fastest.’ Players must play quests in order to unlock districts, unlock horses, unlock races and championships and higher level of gear. They have to earn their way through the game. In order to run a championship race, they have to be a ‘champion’ of the competition in that district.

The players can form groups and participate in races together in competition races. This can give the player practice. Neither the player nor the horse gain experience for these races and they are purely for fun and placement on the leader boards. Competition races can be run as many times as the player and group likes.

Once the players have gone through the story racing section of their district and earned the title of “champion,” they can compete in Champion events.

Championship races are PvP races that can only be raced by those who have completed the story racing track that leads them to winning the district’s top prize. Thus, these are extremely difficult races that are for higher level players that have at least completed one district’s story. Every time a player completes another district’s racing story line, they gain another championship to compete in. All championships would be sorted out by player level. That way a low level 5 player wouldn’t be put up against a higher level 20 player with no chance of winning.

If a player wins the Championship and beats their own best score, they’ll receive a small monetary prize.

Or the players can form more formal groups called Clubs.

In order for the Clubs to have a purpose in the game, the Clubs could be divided into different categories or “divisions” by size. Division 4 could be 2 to 5 member clubs, Division 3, 6 to 10, Division 2, 11 to 20, Division 1, 21 to 30 or something like that. (I am not sure of the top membership number of clubs, it’s going to depend on player counts and the ability for the servers to handle them.) Where if anyone in the club participates (and there should be a minimum number of people who are required to participate per show) they get a point to put towards the Club “pot” worth of points. And if anyone in their Club places in the events of the show, they get a LOT of points to go towards the pot, the higher you place, the more points, and the Club with the biggest “pot” of points wins a cup to display in their clubhouse.

There would be several different events, leading your horse in a circle, show jumping, dressage, very formal things. Only one person can participate in one event. Each event has to have a new person so you have to strategize on who participates on who is the ‘best’ at each event or has the best gear. The more people the club has, the events the clubs have. Events of Clubs that only have 2 to 5 people, have 2 events, but a club with say 50 people, would have 10 events to participate in. Events are individual competitions.

Depending on how many divisions there are, and the upper limit of Club membership, will depend on how often these Club Shows Championships would be run, daily, hourly or weekly.

Leaderboards for all championships and races would be reset on a regular basis. Hopefully these limitations and restrictions will keep the PvP fair for all players and still make it fun and enjoyable to socialize.

The Three Horse Categories

The Three Horse Categories

Game Dev Becca has been posting about the different horse breeds we want to have in Astranar. Some of them are more special than others, such as your starter horse straight out of the Mirror World.

There are three different horse types in Mystic Riders. While each breed of horses will have their own set of special starting stats that align with the type of racing they excel at, they are separated into three distinct groups. We have what are considered regular horses, those horses that have a sport or Baroque body conformation and are in general considered warmbloods. We have draft horses, those with larger or cob body conformations and thicker barrels. Lastly, there are ponies. These are smaller than regular horses and in some cases are the origins of the bigger ones.

To get the full experience of Mystic Riders and to be able to explore the map completely, the player is going to have to own a regular horse, a draft horse, and a pony. (Don’t worry, we’ll help them out to get the currency they need.) The magical starter horse is considered a regular horse even though its closest normal world cousin is the Fjord Horse.

There are 4 draft horses and 3 different pony breeds for the player to choose from and 17 extra regular horses for the player to buy. (Plus some magical horses they can befriend and tame in the Mirror World.) There is also one breed of carriage horse in Astranar that the player will interact with but can’t buy.

The regular horses in Astranar are like the horses of the rest of the world, they’re good for eventing, showing, and for doing trail rides. These are the pleasure riding horses of the world. In Astranar they are commonly seen doing the different races around the districts, being transportation, and are by far the most common horse type in the country. Regular horses excel at dressage or flat racing. They can also be seen doing circus events.

Draft horses are available and are better suited to do farm work and forestry. They have the special ability of having higher endurance and can traverse deep into the marshes of Astranar where regular horses and ponies would get far too tired to go. If the player needs to move a tree trunk, or a bunch of rocks, or go into the marshlands, they’re going to need a draft horse. Draft horses are also better suited to show jumping.

Ponies are the smallest type of horse and are much sturdier than the average person would believe, though they are slower than a regular horse. The ponies are the agilest of the different horse types and thus have the special ability to be able to climb high up into the mountains where regular horses and drafts simply don’t have the footing. Ponies are best at western riding such as pole bending and barrel riding. They can also pull small two wheeled carts and participate in driving competitions.

We want to be able to have all types of horses and ponies in the game, and at the same time, we want each of these horse types to be necessary instead of just yet another horse mount skin. The player will have a reason to use each horse on a semi-regular basis and to train their horses to do different things. A regular horse, a draft horse, and a pony are going to be the foundations of starting their own stable. And really, ponies help calm the other horses down.

Horses need friends!

As the player levels up and builds their My Stable, they’ll be able to purchase more horses to put in their stable. What type of horses and what they train them to do, is up to the player. Thus, once again, giving them a more customizable experience.

Each horse will come in an array of standard solid colors, and players can add markings to them if allowed by the breed in the horse stylist. (Unless the horse is a special breed like the Friesian or the Knabstrupper, in this case they’ll have special coats of different shades of black or different arrays of spots.)

There are so many horses, drafts, and ponies that could be added to Mystic Riders either through expansions or updates. So, there is a lot that can be done.

Platformer Mechanics

Platformer Mechanics

Some of what we do as we think about Mystic Riders is try to answer the question, what does an MMO look like in 2025? What is the next step in the MMORPG experience? Games such as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV, and Elder Scrolls Online started the “mount” system for MMOs that is becoming more and more standard.

So, where do we go next?

In Mystic Riders, we want to use a more three dimensional level platformer gaming type of experience that Guild Wars 2 is flirting with in their jump puzzles and huge battle arenas. Make the map of an MMO a more dynamic exploratory experience and use magic and mini-games to enhance the experience.

Games like Sly Cooper, Ratchet and Clank, and Okami allowed the player in a single player mode to explore the map and reach places in varying ways. Sly Cooper can climb ladders and pipes, and sneak along ledges. While Ratchet and Clank gave the character the ability to swim and gadgets to fly, walk on magnetic surfaces, and even change the state of liquids to solids (and back.) In Okami, the player used magic to cause the wind to blow up banners, become small, or even slow down time so they could make that tricky jump.

A platformer by definition has the game set up as a series of ‘platforms.’ So, I’m not going to say that we aren’t going to crib from these games in places, because why mess with what works.

The easiest use of a platform mechanic is to provide places for players to jump between. Whether this is across rivers or up in the mountains or in the marshes.

The next step is because we have a dedicated mount system is to merge these platformer style mechanics with the different racing mini games. Instead of the races being on flat ground, they maybe be more three-dimensional. Having the player doing a dressage routine, but that routine as they turn takes them up a hill or down into a pit.

They don’t want to mess up the routine, because that means they fall and falling is going to hurt.

Or maybe they’re in the mountains on a pony and there is a very thin gully that they have to get through in a set amount of time. This gully could be set up as a clover leaf pattern going up or down or it could be a pole bending pattern where the player has to move quickly in a zig-zag shape.

Or, they’re in a marsh on their draft horses and parts of the marsh are too deep even for their drafts to traverse and instead there is a show jumping race in the middle of the marsh to get them from point A to point B.

There are also other standard platformer game options, like rebuilding bridges. (We have a puzzle game for that.) Unlocking different doors in various ways. Or you might have to own a specific type of horse in order to move the tree that blocking the path. (That is if you don’t have rot/disease magic.)

Using platformer mechanics in the environment will give the player something to puzzle out and more places to explore once they gain more magic and unlock districts than simply riding from point A to point B and hope for some hills or mountain paths.

Now how can we utilize magic in our platformer mechanics? For this, we need to look to Okami and Ratchet and Clank. You can lower and raise water. Turn water from liquid to a solid. Use the wind to turn a windmill and move bridges. Summon lightning to power a door or a dam. You can use magic to grow plants and make a ‘natural bridge.’ You can use magic to lift and lower rocks. Or to grow big and small. Or even to tame a pegasus and glide between extra long platforms.

The possibilities of how to make a map more dynamic with magic and mini-games really in only limited to the imagination of the game devs. Having different areas of the map only accessible if the player has mastered certain types of magic will hopefully encourage the player to explore the map multiple times.

They never know what they might discover and the secrets they could unearth.

Even if that means they have to become tiny like a bug or tame a pegasus.

The Last Bastion of Magic

The Last Bastion of Magic

The premise of Mystic Riders is that Astranar is the last country on Earth where magic still works and affects people’s daily lives. Every girl (player) that is invited to Astranar has a bit of magic attached to her soul, a shard if you will, that gives her the ability to manipulate magic and survive in the Mirror World. Each district in Astranar is dedicated to teaching one type of magic. The shard might be one of Light, or a shard of the Shadow. The larger the shard attached to the player, the potentially stronger in magic they are. The player’s shard is large enough that they might be able to master more than one type of Light or Shadow magic, giving them incentive to explore the other districts of Astranar.

Do they have the ability to use the long lost magic of Harmony?

No one knows why the magic of the world broke and why only Astranar can still touch the Mirror World. Perhaps that’s a mystery the player can resolve? Though it is unclear if magic can ever be fixed. Or if it even needs to be fixed.

The magic of the Light is the magic of the elements, of illusions, and of the mind. While the magic of the Shadow is the magic of decay, absence, and negative emotions. (Death stays out of it.) There is also easy magic that every caster on Astranar can use such as calming animals, cleaning and mending objects, sparking fires and summoning water.

All types of magic are controlled through three statistics: accuracy, cast time, and power.

Accuracy controls if the magic hits what it’s supposed to hit or does it explode with unintended results. Cast time controls how long it takes to cast a spell after the player finishes drawing it with magical energy. Power determines how big of an effect the spell has. The more powerful a player is, the bigger the impact and range of their spells.

It’s known that Light magic is more stable than Shadow magic especially if Shadow magicians try to use Light magic. It tends to explode in their face. But on the other hand, Shadow magic may be more powerful than Light magic.

Magical patterns are stored in books that the players can keep with them in their saddlebags or store in their libraries. There are four books, three for each level of magic, easy, medium, and difficult, and the fourth is holiday magic! A special book that holds the magical power of the special times of the year and can only be used during those days.

The player accesses their magic by equipping a book in the magical book section of the user interface, and then they can open the book, flip through the pages, and trace on the screen the pattern of the spell, either by holding down the mouse and hitting each dot in order or clicking on each dot individually.

The more magical powers they’ve studied, the more magic they have at their disposal and the more things they can do, and quite possibly (undoubtedly) the more places they can explore on the map in Astranar.

The player will have a magical meter that they use when they cast a spell. They can only cast so many spells before they’re out of magic and they have to wait for it to fill again over time. (Or maybe there are some snacks for that.) Cast a spell and it backfires, it might take away a bit of magic. The more magic they cast, the more magic they can use as they level up.

The player’s jewelry can help them get better stats in their magical abilities. Earrings, necklaces, rings, and bracelets can be equipped. The player can buy these at stores or make them by learning forging, or thread crafts. Different pieces of jewelry may take up more than one slot in their character equipment bar.

Decorative, function, and allows the player yet more control over customizing their characters!

The player will find many uses for magic in the game, whether it’s to acquire a pet, or make small chores go faster, exploring the map, or using it to thwart the other faction’s plans. Magic is integral to the story.

What type of magic do you want to learn to control?

The Games Within the Game

The Games Within the Game

Mini-Games. I have touched a lot on mini-games while talking about every other mechanic thus far in the game! Part of our vision for the next stage of MMOs is incorporated mini-games inside the game itself. The biggest examples I can think of is the different hacking style mini games in Sly Cooper and Ratchet & Clank. The biggest mini- games that most MMOs have are their fishing mini-games. (Almost every MMO I know about has a fishing mini-game in it one way or the other. The original Guild Wars being the weird exception to this.)

Our target demographic, being female, really enjoy smaller style app games like bubble shooter, connect three, and puzzle style mini games. Women love hidden object games as well. When a single player game is made for little girls like oh, Tangled, or Disney Princess Adventures, a huge part of the gameplay is integrated mini-games and puzzles. We want to take this out of the single player game and put it into the MMO style game.

MMO games don’t have to be 100% fetch and escort quests, and drag and drop items into glowing sparkling fields. Because, that gets tedious. We know it does. We’ve all been there playing a game for the story or hoping to get to the end game for the PvP battles and been stuck endless grinding in fetch quests in order to level our characters and get new gear. And even in a combat MMO where there are NPCs around that want to hurt you, this gets mind numbing. (And so does the combat depending on the mechanics.)

And horse games, well, the type of horse games there usually are include mini-games such as currying your horse, cleaning the hooves, mucking the stables, and sometimes you get washing your horse and styling your horse with different mane and tail styles and fancy gear.

Feeding and watering your horse usually isn’t involved enough to be turned into a mini-game. With many of those horse games, that’s actually all there is to the game at all! (Which is so disappointing.)

So, here are some mini-games we’re thinking about for Mystic Riders.

Trace the Pattern/Connect the Dots

On your screen would be a pattern, or a set of dots. The player uses their mouse to trace the pattern or to select the dots in the right order to complete the pattern. Examples where this can be used: casting magic, doing hair in the hair salon, sewing a garment. Magic is the biggest place where we expect to use the trace the pattern mini game.

Bubble Shooter

The player has to shoot groups of bubbles in the right order to clear the screen. Mostly for magically locked places, such as the Mirror World.

Puzzles

Find the pieces in the area and fit them together. Good for making bridges, restoring artwork, or putting furniture and musical instruments together.

Pattern Match Mini-Game

The player is given rows and columns of items. There is a pattern, set number of items they have to match in each row. They need to move the items around before they’re put together at the bottom of the screen. Good for cooking and brewing, possibly cloth making, and so on.

The Slide Bar Mini-Game

The player watches a bar on the screen with a slider that goes back and forth. When the slider is in a specific spot of the bar (often a different color) the player clicks the screen to stop it. Useful for anytime that timing and accuracy is important. Could be used for forging, archery, and fishing.

Light Pattern Mini-Game

Sometimes, things just need to be a certain color. Whether or not it’s a set of lamps keeping a gate closed, or a group of Christmas Spirits that got caught up in the fun of Halloween, they need to be changed. Make the lights the right color, doors may unlock, secret places may reveal themselves, and Christmas can be saved.

Falling Objects

The sky is falling! Oh my. Oh, it’s just fruit and nuts you say. Well, carry on then. In the falling object game, the player runs around the screen to catch items before they hit the ground or direct falling items to specific spots. (These games should be easy. Easy I say!) Usually there is some sort of catastrophe going on. Or maybe the farmer needs your help to catch their apples before they hit the ground.

Pet Puzzles

The player guides their pet to go through mazes, push levers, press buttons, and sit on different pressure points in order to unlock certain gates and doors. Pets don’t do that you say? Well, this is Astranar and there’s magic. Mostly for having a good time with your pet, or Mirror World people don’t think the same we do about locks.

Clean the Screen

The player has to clean the screen with their mouse to reveal what’s under the dirt and grime. Mostly for archaeology.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the mini game options that are available to us as game devs. These are the ones that we think would be the most entertaining and make the most sense. For mini games such as horse brushing and hoof picking, I’d want to consult with experts to make them more “realistic” and also make them completely optional.

Without a combat system, it is imperative that we give the players a variety of ways to advance the game, so they don’t become bored with what they are expected to do to continue the story. Thus, our answer is mini-games.