Sample High Level Design (Climates)

  • Climate High Level Design Document (HLDD)


    Climates, Climate Types, Affect Types


    A Climate is a type of 3DS (a defined three dimensional area of space in a zone, much like it was in Vanguard).  A Climate has a name/description.  It has data that describes a particular Climate placed into a zone that is a 3DS.  It has a type which references the Climate Types table.  The Climate Types table contains all the types of Climates that could exist in the world and data describing that Climate Type.  It does not contain data specific to a Climate placed into a zone -- that location specific data is described in the Climate, not the Climate Type.  Additionally, the Climate’s 3DS could be static or it could move (for example, a volume of extreme cold may move slowly across a zone, causing the player to perhaps choose different routes through the zone depending on where a specific Climate is at that point in time in that zone).  


    The Climate Type, in addition to data defining the Climate in general, references the Affects table.  The Affects Table is a list of all of the different types of things that can affect a Character.  Some examples:  heat, cold, poison.  The Affects Table will be set up such that we can easily add new Affects at any time, pre- or post-launch.  


    This document describes Climate Types and Climates.  Climate Types should refer to a record in the Affects table.  Other game mechanics will reference the Affects table that are unrelated to Climates and Climate Types.  This document will refer to Affect Types as necessary but is not the design document for Affects in general -- Affects can affect a Character because of events unrelated to Climate or Climate Types.  For example, if a Character is hit by a poison spell, that spell should reference the Affects record for Poison so the game knows how to deal with a Character affected by Poison due to a spell or anything else unrelated to a Climate.


    Climate -> Climate Types -> Affects Table


    How does a Climate affect the Character?


    At some consistent regularity (TBD), the game should check to see if a Character is in a Climate.  It should then reference the Climate, the Climate Type the Climate refers to, and, as necessary, the Affects Type the Climate Type refers to.


    When a Character is in a Climate, that Climate will attempt to affect that Character.  That effect is defined in the Climate, Climate Types, and Affects Types tables.  That effect should be very broad, capable of affecting just about anything related to the Character (his health, his attributes, etc.).  It can have a positive effect, a negative effect, a neutral effect (something that flags the Character in some way that the game may react to then or later, but is not necessarily immediately or obviously helpful or hurtful), or any combination of the above.  


    How can a Player configure his Character to interfere with and/or modify the way in which a Climate is affecting his Character?


    Before the effect of a Climate is applied to a Character, that effect may be modified by how the Player has configured his Character.  The following is a list of some (but certainly not all) ways a Character can be configured to modify the effects of a Climate:


    • Buffs:  The Character may be enchanted by a spell that modifies the Climate’s effects.


    • Skills: The Character may have a skill that modifies the Climate’s effects. The types of skills that modify a Climate’s effects are called Acclimatization Skills.  Please reference the section of this document that deals with Acclimatization for more information and detail.


    • Items: The Character may be equipped with Item(s) that modify the Climate’s effects.


    • Racial Innates:  The Character’s race/species could have an innate positive or negative modification to a Climate’s effects.  Note: The author is unaware of any decisions made as to Racial Innates, what they would be, and what they could affect.  In general, racial innates are tricky because they need to do enough that they are worthwhile, but not do so much that one particular race becomes more popular than another.  Innates should be situational.  While playing Pantheon, Innates having real impact should be the exception, not the rule, lest race become a balancing problem.  Therefore, racial innates and how they might interfere with a Climate’s effects will not be addressed in this document.


    Modification of a Climate’s effects by a Buff, Skill, or Item(s) can be positive, negative, neutralizing, etc.  How effective a Buff is generally depends on the level of the spell relative to the level of the Character being buffed.  How effective a Skill is at modifying a Climate’s effects depends on the skill level relative to the potency of the Climate’s effects (defined in the Climate and/or Climate Types table).  How effective an Item or Items are at modifying a Climate’s effects usually depend on the relevant stats of the item(s).


    A simple example:  


    The Character is in a Climate called Desert Heat.  Desert Heat has two effects:  1. it damages the Character, lowering his health/HP and 2. it causes the Character to consume more liquid than usual (e.g. water in the Character’s inventory is used up at a faster than normal rate).  Note: #2 depends on the Consumables System which, at the time of writing, does not yet exist as far as the author knows.  That Desert Heat damages a Character and to what degree is defined in the Climate and Climate Types tables.  For this example, it simply damages the Character and makes him consume liquid refreshment more frequently.  The Climate could simply reference a Climate Type called Heat Level 4.  Heat is the Climate Type and Level 4 refers to how severe the Heat Climate affects the Character.


    If a Character has the correct buff, skill, or item (or any combinations thereof), the effects of Desert Heat in terms of damaging the Character and causing him to consume liquid refreshment more frequently is modified.  Typically the combination would reduce or even totally mitigate the effects of the Climate.  The Character would take less damage over time and consume liquid refreshments less frequently or, possibly, take no damage at all and consume liquid refreshment at a normal frequency.  


    A more complicated example:


    How the Player manages how his Character is configured is an important part of Pantheon.  He should plan ahead, configuring his Character differently depending on where he plans to adventure.  Familiarity with the types of Climates his character will likely encounter is a tactical advantage.  Configuring a Character, however, typically involves trade-offs.  For example, he may choose not to be buffed with a spell that mitigates Desert Heat damage because the character is limited to how many buffs of that type he can be enchanted with.  He may choose not to wear a chestplate that mitigates heat damage (assuming Desert Heat is a Climate Type that is affected by Heat Resistance in general) because he is the the primary tank and therefore needs to equip a breastplate with higher AC but no heat resistance.  Or, perhaps he doesn’t care as much about the buff or the item because he’s built his Heat Resistance Skill up to a level sufficient to keep him alive without needing the other mitigators.  


    There may also be other trade-offs.  Perhaps a buff that increases the Character’s DPS also makes him more vulnerable to Desert Heat.  Perhaps the chestplate that gives him resistance to heat makes him more vulnerable to cold damage.  Perhaps there is a Climate within a Climate.  For example, while the entire lava tubes dungeon may be within a heat Climate, there is a smaller Climate of poison that he must travel through for a short time.  More tactical decisions then need to be made in terms of what buffs to have, what skills to rely on, and what gear to equip.  When and where the Character is should matter and have influence on how the player configures his Character both in the short and long term.


    How can the environment interfere with and/or modify the way in which a Climate is affecting the Character?


    The environment can also affect and interfere with how a Climate affects a character.  Perhaps in begins to rain in that Desert Heat Climate.  After all, it does rain in deserts, albeit less frequently than, say, a rain forest.  This would likely reduce the damage dealt by the Climate to the Character.  Perhaps wind changes the efficacy of a poison Climate.  Some brainstorming here should come up with a list of possibilities and how they might positively or negatively interfere with how a Climate affects a Character.  


    What kinds of Climates will there be?


    A couple of brainstorming sessions should occur at some point to come up with a more comprehensive list.  That said, the following Climate types should illustrate how varied types of Climates should be.  This is an important point, because when ‘climate’ is mentioned during casual conversation, weather is typically what comes to mind.  A Climate in Pantheon, however, is much more broad.  The following is a list of weather-related climates:  



    Air Pressure



    Sunshine / Cloudiness


    Additionally, Climates in Pantheon will also refer to conditions often unrelated to weather:





    Ice (specifically ice, not simply a cold temperature)

    Lava (specifically lava, not simply a hot temperature)





    Planar Energies

    Light (extreme)

    Darkness (total)

    Traction / Lubricity (physics based)




    How will Climates be organized and will some relate to others?


    As mentioned, a Climate refers to a Climate Type, and then a Climate Type references the Affects Table.  A simple example:  A Climate is placed into a zone, its 3DS defined as the area around a desert within that zone.  The Climate then refers to a Climate Type called Desert Heat.  Desert Heat then refers to an Affect that damages a Character and causes that Character to consume liquid refreshment consumables more frequently.  


    A more complex example could be that within the desert there are steam vents.  If a player exposes his Character to the steam Climate, this could cause him to take more damage.  Or, perhaps there is a general skill that mitigates Desert Heat, but has no effect, positive or negative, on damage done by the steam.  A Climate within a larger Climate could intensify the effects, or it could negate them.  As mentioned earlier, some Climates coordinates (its 3DS) may move around the zone instead of being at a fixed location.  In doing so, one Climate may intersect with another, which could either do nothing or, more interestingly, do ‘something’.  And that ‘something’ could be significant enough to influence how the player directs his Character while traversing or exploring a zone.


    How does the Climate System relate to Acclimatisation Skills?


    A separate HLDD on Acclimatisation Skills may or may not prove necessary.  Because Acclimatisation Skills relate directly to how a specific Climate may or may not affect a Character, it does make sense to discuss them here.  As mentioned earlier in this document, Acclimatisation Skills are one of four factors that determine if a Climate’s effects on a Character are mitigated or otherwise interfered with.  


    Exposure to a subset of Climate Types will result, over time, to the increase of a related Acclimatisation Skill.  For example, if a Character is adventuring in a zone full of Desert Heat Climates, his resistance to heat damage skill will go up.  The more it goes up, the less damage he takes over time due to the Desert Heat Climate.  In general, this will encourage the player to expose his Character to a variety of Climates, and in order to expose himself to these Climates, he will have to travel throughout the world (encouraging exploration and discouraging attempts at bypassing content to more quickly advance).  This, combined with the Achievement Leveling System, will result in players doing tasks and exploring regions all over the vast world of Terminus.  Hopefully this will remove or at least alleviate some of the ‘grind’ that haunts most MMOs.  


    It is likely that the Climates one can build up a resistance to will begin as more general and common environments and then, over time, move toward the more rare and exotic.  For example, building up resistances to general heat or cold would come first.  Then, as the Character advances in level/tier, he will encounter more rare and specific Climates, a subset of which he will also be able to build up a resistance to.  If implemented correctly and with forethought, keeping in mind expansions to the game, Characters should not reach a point where Acclimatisation ceases to matter because they’ve mastered all of the basics.  One of the design luxuries afforded to the Pantheon designer because of the nature of Terminus is that crazier and crazier environments can be added to the world, especially as planar collisions begin to occur again and more frequently.  Environments incorporating more and new Climates should become the norm as the game matures.  At some point, it may be necessary that a Character builds up resistances to exotic Planar Energies.  Essentially and ideally, the player should never feel ‘finished’ working on Acclimatisation Skills.


    In the majority of cases, once the Character has earned points in an Acclimatisation Skill, they will not lose any of that skill, regardless of whether they stay in that Climate or leave it, never to return.  It will be the exception, not the rule, that certain Acclimatisation Skills atrophy.  If the Designer responsible for a zone has placed rare and exotic (and usually small) Climates as areas the Character needs to pass through in order to reach a specific goal (completion of a quest, defeat of a boss mob, etc.), he may require the Character to first spend time in a different region or zone to build up special resistances to these deadly ‘micro’ Climates.  In such a situation, he may want the player and the player’s friends/guildmates to spend some time in a certain area in order to effectively proceed.  In that case, it may make sense from a gameplay and progression standpoint to have those more exotic skills atrophy.  The storyline or quest may dictate that an area be conquered in a specific order or along specific paths.  Thus, if the player decides to leave early and return later to complete that area, they may need to build up those special Acclimatisation Skills again.  


    How is the Climate System related to the Situational Gear System?


    The Situational Gear System (a separate HLDD) essentially makes where the Character is at, when he is there, and what’s going on at that time, all matter.  The where, when, and what (and even why) is a context or circumstance of which the player needs to be aware.  As it relates to this document, the Climate a Character is in or may be entering soon should in many cases influence the player in terms of how he configures his Character (both short and long term).  


    In addition to the Characters buffs and acclimatisation skills, the player will likely want to equip items that help mitigate the negative effects of a Climate.  Therefore, in addition to all of the traditional attributes of an item (defensive capability, offensive capability, spell casting modifications, weight, description, appearance, etc.), the item may also increase or decrease a Character’s resistance to a specific Climate Type and/or Affect Type).  The more Climates are used and the greater the variety of Climates in the game world, the more Situational Gear will matter.  The other situational attributes an item may possess unrelated to Climate will be described in the Situational Gear HLDD, as will the reasons behind Pantheon’s emphasis on situational gear, situational tactics, etc.  Situational Items can also have other attributes, like +10 against Dragonkind, etc.


    Formulae & Specific Game Mechanics & Systems



  • Aradune
    Aradune sandstorm and earthquake added
    April 6, 2014 - 4 like this
  • Sarim
    Sarim Very nice system! This certainly adds a huge amount of depth to the game. I hope that you will be careful tho with some of the climates. Specifically those which affect how the game is shown on a monitor (such as light, and darkness). Taking away the...  more
    April 6, 2014 - 3 like this
  • Sogotp
    Sogotp I would like to have one type of climate that greatly affects hearing and sound. Either it really enhances the sound so that spoken abilities and spells are more powerful or have it affect them in such a way as the players are in an absolute vacuum and...  more
    April 7, 2014 - 3 like this
  • Khuul99
    Khuul99 Looks really interesting, I like it
    April 15, 2014 - 1 likes this