Elements have been a part of many games for a good long time, and are established well enough that many gamers don't even have to think about it. The systems are just intuitive.

That being said, coming up with a system that makes sense is proving to be difficult. I can make cases for one type of magic dealing extra damage to another in so many ways that it would have made more sense to just remove the element system all together. If you were playing as someone who had a fire elemental pet? Hoo boy. That pet is screwed. Water extinguishes fires. Wind extinguishes fires. Earth in the form of sand extinguishes fires. When Fire melts Ice, it becomes Water which extinguishes fires. Lightning was the only one that didn't really deal damage to Fire, and could start fires. There were also cases for Wind being able to spread Fire and for Fire being able to burn so hot that it vaporizes Water.

I expanded the system a few times with different aspects of the elements separated until it had officially reached the status of Pokemon Rigmarole. Then I said screw it and went back to the basic wheel system. If there are exceptions, then they can be baked into abilities themselves.

I think it requires a light touch to be done right. Something like FFXI's system where different hours of the day will influence the strength of your elemental attacks would likely be too much (which after looking into, looks practically identical to the flowchart I came up with for strengths and weaknesses). However, something like WoW's system where elemental properties only matter for if the boss is doing them, and if you have enough resistance (a stat which has proven to be largely useless in the last few years) would likely be not enough.

The real question is "Is an elemental strengths and weaknesses system really necessary, or is it just a relic of older games that doesn't have much relevance anymore?" I'm not entirely sure where the line is between "Strategically important" and "completely irritating" and "completely ignorable".

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 9/10/2010 11:22:00 AM


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