Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Feature Preview: Alchemy Rework

Hello Wizards!

Whoa Constrictor here, content designer on Magicmaker. This is the first in a series of posts from Tasty Stewdios that gives a glimpse behind the scenes on upcoming features! Our goal here is to gather your initial feedback to tweak things before they go live. Today, I'll be talking about the upcoming Alchemy Rework.

Please note that the art assets in the following screenshots may not be finalized, are works in progress, or are completely placeholder. That said, let's dive right into it!


I am a very lonely man.
One of the most consistent pieces of feedback we received is that alchemy was too difficult to understand and utilize properly. Secondly, the players who did understand it weren't rushing to utilize it, since it meant sacrificing three materials to create one. Economically it didn't make sense, since you could sell two materials to get your target material's gold value and just wait for it to shuffle into the shop!

Though I designed the system, my thoughts were pretty much the same. Even I never used it! So... what's the solution? Scrap it altogether? Not hardly!

I wanted to retain the feeling of alchemy (taking apart materials, and recombining them to make something else) while still keeping it an appealing option. Under the old system, you would combine two materials to derive a color, and then derive an element from a third material. Even from an in-universe explanation, it was incredibly wasteful and confusing. Where did the "type" part of the color pieces go? What about the "color" of the type piece? Do they just get destroyed?

Well, yes, but not anymore!

New Loot!

Fact: more loot = better. This is true because science.
In addition to materials, monsters will now drop essences and stones, corresponding to color and type respectively. Note that these drops are in addition to your normal material finds, not replacing them!

The keen observer may notice that these shapes look somewhat familiar. Remember last Saturday's screenshot?

New Tabs!

Fun fact: I only have this many essences due to a bug when originally coding this system.
These essences and stones are stored in the second inventory tab in a very orderly fashion. As you can see, the essences themselves have grades just like materials. After you've collected a handful of these, you can visit our old friend the alchemist, who has some new tricks.

New Menus!

Firstly, there are now two modes for alchemy: Combine Mode and Separate Mode. Combine Mode does exactly what one might think: you combine an essence and a stone to make a material. The + and - buttons can be used to make large batches of materials without re-slotting components.

Likewise, Separate Mode reverses the process- you can break apart materials into their alchemy components to reform into new things.

This new system addresses both problems that plagued old alchemy: material recipes are much more straightforward. No need to dance around with confusing color combinations! Secondly, it addresses the issue of waste- If you break apart three materials, you'll have the pieces to make three new ones. Finally, it makes alchemy an attractive option- rather than a destructive system, players are now always adding to their collections by using it.

While I was cleaning this up, I also made a few other changes that I'd like to briefly mention. First, a few of the material recipes are being altered- this is for a touch of consistency to material coloring. For example, orange materials correspond to health and mana modifiers. A couple of materials didn't fit this system, so they've been adjusted.

If you've got some suggestions, or other ideas to improve alchemy, feel free to share them in the comments section. We hope you're as excited as we are about these changes!

--Whoa Constrictor


  1. So the elements are contained within stones, and colours within essences? So you can get a stone of air? Don't misunderstand, I like silly little contradictions things like that, but I thought I'd bring it up before someone complains. It may make more sense to reverse the system, so essences have elements and stones have colour. Less likely that people will be upset by doing that, as far as I'm aware.

    On the other hand, it's magic, why the heck would it need to be logical? I approve of your decisions!

    1. The first iteration of this system had both stones and essences just called "essences". I just wanted to make sure the difference between type and color essences was very clear, in addition to the shape difference.

      Would you prefer they both be called "essences"?

    2. No. It is likely to confuse me.

  2. I like this idea, and i don't think it will be confusing at all.
    I don't think it will be confusing because you can use the reverse system to see what essence and stone combined make a the material you want to make , well that's the way i understand it, tell me if i'm wrong.

    Keep up the good work! (Sprites looking awesome btw!)

  3. (This does not relate to the original post)

    I just want to say thank you for making and working on such an awesome game, and listening to feedback. I also want to thank you for kind of inspiring me to work on making my own game sense you managed to make this awesome thing with so few people. ^^

    (Below this kind of relates to the original post)

    I like the new look of the game, but will the staff be customizable?

    (Below this does relate to the original post)

    I love the new alchemy system, and I look forward to using it in the next update =)

    1. The staff pictured is the Staff of the Maple Leaf artifact. There aren't any plans to be able to customize the appearance of artifacts but it's not completely off the table.

      Thanks for the kind words!

      --Whoa Constrictor

  4. I actually did use the old alchemy system a reasonable amount, though pretty much exclusively for combining multiple B grade materials into a single A grade. The new system appears far, far more usable, easy to understand, and less time consuming, but does it still have the functionality of upgrading materials from a lower tier to a higher one? If so, I might finally have a use for those countless F grade materials I keep stockpiling!

    1. The old system was very lenient because of the three-component requirement. If I recall correctly you were able to combine B-B-A into A, this is what you're describing right?

      New alchemy operates under equivalent exchange. D-F yields F, and D grade materials can be separated into D-D. Since no loss of components is guaranteed (old system had a net loss of two materials) and the separate function can't guarantee what you put into a material, I decided to prevent "laddering" materials.

      Imagine the following:
      F-D combine into D
      D separate into D-D

      By simply having a D-grade essence, you can turn an F-grade essence into a D for free via a convoluted process. This is absurdly time-consuming, but technically optimal. It's a golden path of boring gameplay that, once discovered, many players would do despite it not being remotely fun.

      As for "useless F-grades", my next project revolves around a system that makes F-grades useful even to players that frequent high difficulties, so I'm not looking for ways to remove them just yet. Even if this system never comes to fruition, selling unused materials to the shop for gold is an option.

      --Whoa Constrictor

    2. Thanks for the reply! Sad to see the "laddering" go, but such is the price of progress :P

      I have to be honest, i've almost never used the shop for anything other than buying cosmetic items, and the occasional random grade-A material. Money always seemed to be far more abundant than useful purchases, and I lacked the patience to just keep leaving and reentering the hub until I found something I could use. Have you considered having a reliable supply of the various Stones and Essences available for sale there, at an inflated price? That would let you maintain the current shop system as a form of "bargain hunting" for those willing to wait for a good deal, but for those like me who prefer to just have a reliable way to make use of gold earned with a minimum of fuss, the shop would be a much more attractive option. Maybe call it "commissioning" ingredients, or something like that.

    3. One of the features on the board for the shop upgrade is the ability to "Order" objects at a slightly increased price. There's discussions of "investing" in the merchant to expand the things he stocks or what features are available, too. None of this is concrete at the moment, though adding essences to the stock just makes sense.

      As we flesh out other systems, we're always on the lookout for opportunities to add uses for the shop. As it stands it's a vehicle for, as you said, cosmetic items, Haht's Hat and A-grades. I would personally like to get the shop to a point where the player is excited to check out the shop every time they return to the hubworld, though how we go about doing that is up in the air.

      That said, any ideas you guys have are very welcome :P

      --Whoa Constrictor