Diadem - Game Concept

Diadem is an original game concept I have been developing. It is a single player game with world exploration reminiscent of Myst. It features an expansive fantasy-style world populated by humans and traditional mythical/fantasy beings. Humans are magic-users who control magic through use of various gemstones. The player is a human girl who will use the gem stones to construct spells and manipulate the world around her.

Different stones have different properties. Combining different stones allows the player to construct a myriad of different spells to defeat their enemies and overcome various obstacles. The goal is to create a unique combat and world interaction system which gives the player a sense of great control over their environment and abilities.

As the game progresses, the player will have to discover new spell combinations as their foes will gain immunities to the most basic combinations. Players will have to be creative and experiment to discover new combinations

The combinations will have some logic to them as the gems are based on basic elements and ideas. Some gems include stones to give control over water, fire, flesh, air, earth, mind, etc. Therefore most of the combinations will have a certain logic to them allowing players to get a feel for how to construct new combinations.

Combat & World Interaction

Gems

Magic in the world is manipulated by focusing energy through various gemstones. Each gemstone has a different effect and combinations of these gems are used to create more effects. Players will equip these stones and use them in both combat and world manipulation.

Each stone has its inherent base property (such as fire or flesh) and a quality, which determines how effective its use is. During use, a player can decide on a polarity, which determines if its effect is positive or negative.

Spells

Players can combine up to three gems to create a spell effect. Each spell can act on either a target object, foe, or incoming spell (see combat). Each spell takes into consideration the following:

  • The activation potential of the target. To affect the target, the spell must exceed the activation potential.
  • The invulnerabilities of the target. Some foes and objects are immune to more obvious spell effects.
  • The range of the target
  • The quality of the gems
  • The level of the player

Casting a Spell

When a player selects a target to cast a spell on, they are shown an activation bar. Adding each gems' effect to the charge bar builds the spell. If a target is invulnerable to a kind of magic, that gem cannot be added to the bar. For example, say a player wishes to cross a river by freezing the water into a bridge. To freeze the combination would be water and negative fire. However, this combination is unlikely to exceed the river's activation potential as the river is so much moving water. The activation bar wouldn't fill from this combination. A different combination would be required.

Combat

Combat is a turn-based RPG style play. The turns are timed so that a player can cast 2 spells, optimally: one defensive spell and one offensive. If you take too long casting either, you will not have enough time to cast the other. Players can also opt to skip either in preference of taking more time on the other.

The defensive spell is always a reaction to an incoming spell cast by your enemy (enemies always cast first). Players can respond with a specific counter to the spell, or some other defense (such as armor). Players can also opt to cast an offensive spell first and use their entire turn on that spell or to cast that quickly and use the remaining time to heal or cast another offensive spell.

Defense

Enemies will cast spells on you similarly to the way you cast against them. A foe might create a blast of steam with fire and water control. You can reverse fire to turn the steam into rain in defense and combine earth and water to slow your enemy’s abilities. The enemy can reverse water and turn the mud to dust.

Players can earn bonuses to a certain element or gem if they remove one of the combinations in the incoming spell. Players will not have a breakdown of the spell so to gain the bonus by a reverse, they have to break down the spell themselves. For example, a flesh bleed effect comes from flesh and negative water (flesh dried and cracked). This could be responded to with an armor spell (flesh + stone) or a heal (flesh + air) but to gain a flesh bonus a player would use water to negate the dehydrating effect of the negative water. Reversing essentially removes that part of the incoming spell.

Sample Combat Sequence

  1. Enemy: Water + Fire – wave of steam
  2. Player: Reverse Fire – turns to rain - water bonus. Water + Earth – mud (slows enemy cast)
  3. Enemy: Reverse Water – earth bonus – slowed time means no offensive spell cast
  4. Player: Fire + Flesh - flesh burn
  5. Enemy: defeated.

Puzzles

In addition to using the gems in combat, the player will also need them to get through the world. Your enemies have left magical traps and obstacles which will need to be avoided. Avalanches of rocks or snow, clouds of toxic gas, bridges which won't stay attached to the sides of the chasm they cross, quicksand, mazes, and much more. Most of the puzzles will be immune to the most obvious magical solutions so players would have to be creative.

Characters

There are two warring factions which fight over land, resources, and to show superiority of their gods and culture. Members of these factions are all spell castors who rule as an elite caste over commoners. Commoners have little interest in the dispute but kowtow to the rule of the casters.

There are two main warring factions which have to be dealt with in the game: the Sellon and the Reshet. They fight primarily for control over land and resources but the animosity between them is fueled by religious and cultural differences.

Main Characters

Eve: Eve is the main character. It is from her perspective that the story is told. She is an agent of the Reshet council who learns that her teachers have betrayed her. She defeats her old allies and travels to confront the leaders of the Sellon to end the war. She discovers, however, that the Sellon council has a sinister plot which could spell doom for all of Diesha

Sno: A magical familiar; Sno is a guide and helper throughout the game and a sounding board for Eve’s thoughts. Conversations between them can be used to explore what Eve is thinking and how she is feeling.

Jace: Jace is a love interest in the game. He is roughly Eve's counterpart on the Sellon side. He ends up becoming an important ally and eventually turns on the Sellon to help Eve save Diesha

Plot

The story begins with a simple task that you, Eve, have been sent to do. This will be an intro mission to serve as a tutorial.

Your next mission will be an assassination. The person you are meant to assassinate reveals to you secrets about your origins and your upcoming assignments. You learn that the Reshet council is going to sacrifice you to gain some advantage over the Sellon. Betrayed and angered, you return home and hunt down each of the council members to kill them.

After defeating them, you wander Diesha and face various foes and puzzles as you go. You find yourself at the Sellon border where you meet Jace. You decide to tell the Sellon about the demise of the Reshet council in hopes of ending the feud.

At first you and he are suspicious of each other but you manage to convince him of your trustworthiness. You and he decide to travel to the center of the Sellon lands to meet their council.

Along the way you again fight some foes and pass some obstacles.

When you meet the council, you tell them of the Reshet’s demise. The council is surprisingly concerned and they send you and Jace off on a mission under the pretext of having Jace watch you and judge you again.

In your travels you learn about a super weapon being built by the Sellon council. They were justifying its creation as a weapon against the Reshet and with the Reshet defeated they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to complete it. They planned to use it to conquer all of Diesha.

You and Jace make your way back to confront the council. Like the Sellon council, you must now defeat the Reshet.

Following their defeat you have one final task: to defeat the super weapon. This super weapon uses the power of all the gems in all possible combinations. To defeat it, you must be able to counter them all.

Inspiration

The name Diadem comes from the name of a series of books by John Peel which were about three magic-using kids who's powers were amplified by the use of gemstones connected to different abilities. I read these books many, many years ago but always enjoyed the puzzle-like nature of the obstacles the characters had to overcome. It wasn't until I was putting together my porfolio and visited his site to give him credit that I learned he had actually written the books to be "vaguely game-like" (and that he had written a few more I have to pick up...).

Inspired by the books, I expanded on the idea of magic focused by gems to create original mechanics and added my own story which is based on an idea I was planning to put into a book "one day".