Sunday, July 22, 2012

Trine and Cooperative Play (Wizard)

In the briefest windows in which I find free time I managed to sink another hour into a little game called Trine.  Trine is a platforming puzzler with the twist that you play as three characters in one and can rotate through them at will.  If you've ever played the Lost Vikings on the SNES/SEGA you'll be very familiar with the premise. The three characters represents your classic fantasy archetypes, Knight, Wizard and Thief.  Through a twist of fate and a magical mishap involving anartifact known as the Trine they have all been sealed into a single body.  This of course can lead to some fun tension and dialog but for the most part it leaves for a very satisfying cooperative single player experience.  Of course you can play with a friend on the same PC, or over the internet in the sequel but the game and its puzzles are obviously intended for a single player.

What stands out in particular with Trine is how each archetype handles moving from place to place, combat and of course the various puzzles (all of which are physics based).  The Thief has a grappling hook that she can swing from (and climb) but it only to wooden structures.  In a fight she has to rely on her bow and arrow which is often not enough, but useful for when you need to cut ropes to drop battering rams or potions.  The Knight of course is the primary fighter, his shield can block incoming projectiles (including endless fireball spewing traps) and he can eventually (with his girdle of giant strength) lift and throw large heavy objects.  The Wizard requires the most thought when it comes to maneuvering through the levels.  The impotent wizard never mastered the fireball spell, much to his chagrin, but has a very utilitarian power set involving the creation of simple objects and levitation.

He can create bridges to cross gaps, create boxes for extra stepping stones or to impale onto spikes as a safe ledge to jump across.  What's more he can levitate these objects and place them, however he cannot levitate an object he is standing on (he cannot levitate himself).  He can however, push or rotate an existing object (one he did not create) as he stands upon it.  Now I think this would make for a very useful power when it comes to tabletop roleplaying games and  I'm very interested in seeing where it can lead.  The Wizard cannot levitate himself but he can levitate an object an ally is stepping on, or he can materialize an object at the last minute to allow a falling ally to leap off of to safety.  It's a nifty utility power, that with the proper constraints can lend itself to class-based cooperative gameplay and give a new fantastical tool in your player's arsenals for overcoming obstacles.  You might be wary of doing this but think of it this way, if your players are more capable at briding gaps and pits that opens up whole new areas for you to design into your environments, things that simple poles, ropes and climbing kits are not capable of.

To put this into action let us postulate that our Magic Using Class has three schools of sorcery through which to specialize in.  Each one grants them an ability to use that can be limited in uses, or one that drains a mana/energy pool or a rechargeable ability that requires minutes/hours to reuse.  The schools will be Creation, Disruption, and Transmutation.  Creation allows the M-U to create simple objects, boxes, bridges, ladders, of crude fragile material.  Disruption is the opposite, allowing the M-U to telekentically instantaneously disassemble simple objects.  If they are very familiar with the object, if for instance they are a locksmith, then they would be able to disassemble a lock but of course this would require much more time.  Transmutation allows the M-U to levitate simple objects for short periods of time.  The further away the object the more draining it is, which is manifested by increased energy consumption in a mana system or a decrease in maximum allowable weight in a recharge system.

With that we've allowed the player access to one of three the Trine Wizard stupendous problem solving powers which will assuredly lend itself to varied gameplay.  Give it a try or add some suggestions.