Mage Hunter Developer Diary (Demo v1.1 Updated 5/2/22)

Welcome to the Developer Diary thread for my latest CoG project, Mage Hunter!

What you can expect: This thread is for questions, discussions and feedback. My goal is to release in late 2022 or early 2023.

My progress so far: This project started in Fall 2021. I am almost finished with Chapter 4 and the game is around 60,000 words so far. We’re going to start with a demo of Chapter 1 and expand from there!

Mage Hunter Chapter 1 Demo (v1.1)

Generations have passed since invaders brought magic to the Kingdom of Jubai, and the subsequent rise of the battlemage class meant the oppression of normal folk. The only people who can stand up to the magic-wielding nobility now are the Mage Hunters — a secret organization which takes in orphans like yourself. Part of the Phoenix Chapter, you are now of age to protect the capital city from magic-users, but how will you choose to do it?

The Mage Hunters have crafted incredible technology powered by a new energy called “slipflame” to take down battlemages, but will you go in blasting explosive bolts from your bow, or will you sneak in with your silence bombs? Will you fight with a superheated blade, or control enemies with puppet darts? And when it comes time to rise up against the mages, will you stay loyal to Phoenix Chapter, or find your own path?

  • Roleplay as male, female, or non-binary; gay, straight, pan, or poly.
  • Master the 3 types of slipflame, fight with sword and bow, or attempt a peaceful path
  • Join one of four factions
  • Discover more about your order, the mages, or the nature of slipflame and the history of your city

More to come soon!

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Probably the most predictable question here, but… will there be romance?

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Ladies and gentlemen, we got him. XD this option pretty much made sure I am reading this.

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Same

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So far I’m struggling a bit with this. The premise sounds absolutely awesome, but the first chapter didn’t really manage to grip me.

The tests feel a bit repetitive - they didn’t feel as challenging as they are supposed to be for the MC, probably because they are obviously just there to establish the base stats. One choice and you’re done with each individual test.

I’m assuming the other initiates are going to be important characters or possibly even love interests in the future, but we hardly see anything of them. Instead we spend much more time with the Matriarch and the inquisitor. I feel like I got a decent grasp of their characters, whereas the initiates still feel a bit lacking.

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Just wanted to say that I enjoyed this immensely!

Throughout the playthrough I kinda got the impression that my choices really don’t matter all that much except for starting stats, despite being written as if they’re grand life-changing decisions. It’s a whole bunch of “What are you going to do?” followed by decisions of what you actually do, which can be either the same or completely different.

Oh, a lot of great interest so far! I’m excited to get to work on everyone’s feedback. Read on for details.

Of course there will be romance!

Noted! I will be sure to feature superheated blade action in climactic chapters.

My first reaction to this is there will be other chapters haha. But yes, I think you’re on to something with the feeling of the trial. Initially I was worried this chapter would drag on too long, and I wanted to use it to set up the “rules” of the game while polling the player for their initial stats. There are almost no failures here, but I don’t think it would be appropriate to have major failures right out the gate and instead give both a “beginner’s luck” sort of feel while also establishing that being raised in this order has given you unexpected skills. I think you touched on a solution that might work: If the initiates can watch each others’ tests, they can both establish character and add context and tension to each test. It’s a little unrewarding right now because the inquisitor is a cold person. Her character isn’t great for narrating the action. So, thanks! I will definitely be making changes based on this.

Thank you!

My initial reaction to this is: “Isn’t that what life is like?” The things you say you want to do are often different from the things you actually do. So, I don’t think the problem is there, but your comment gave me an idea. I think I will have the inquisitor or matriarch comment whether you performed the trial the way you said you would or contradicted yourself. This might also add more satisfying stakes since their opinion of you may change. Thanks for your feedback!

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I mean… I’d say that if that’s what your life is like, there’s something wrong. Though it’s pretty clear there is something very wrong in the MC’s life.

So you only do exactly what you say you’re going to do? Then, why did you choose different options during the trial than you said you would? ;p

Er, what? I didn’t. I think you’re misunderstanding something… not sure how to make myself any clearer though…

Your issue is that you can say you’ll do things one way, then in the trial you can choose to do something different with no consequences, right? If you didn’t choose something different, how do you know there are no consequences? Or do you mean the option to do something different should not be there? If that’s the case, I can’t do much about it, that’s just the structure of how these games work (unless I do a lot of work creating customized options based on each of your initial choices, but the purpose of this chapter is to help set up the initial stats for the player. The stats are where the consequences will come into play at a later time).

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Not at all, I’m not trying to argue with you. The purpose of this thread is for feedback, so I’m trying to figure out what you mean and apply fixes to my draft appropriately. If you can please explain, I can make the story better for you.

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The choices of what you plan to do are written like life-changing choices. Yet, code wise, they do very nearly absolutely nothing. The choices of what you actually do affect your stats, but their importance is completely blown over in the text like they don’t even matter.

Okay. Well, then that is a matter of perception that I need to tweak, because almost all the choices in this chapter do affect stats, including the life choices at the beginning. I think the problem here is that the narrative doesn’t react to the trials enough, as KP_Paul also noticed. I think my planned fix to have the initiates able to watch and react to each others’ tests will go a long way to fixing that. As for the life choices, they were intended as exposition, but I think I may track some of the players’ answers to shape the game in later chapters. Thanks for your feedback.

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I think readers have the expectation that the trials are just that, trials. But they aren’t. Not at all. They’re just stat buffs.

Perhaps you could include something before the trials start with the leaders saying something like “How you choose to surpass these trials will inform what kind of Mage Hunter you could be.” Instead they go on and on about how you may not succeed, when… uh… there’s no possible way to fail.

They actually do say that, but apparently I haven’t made it clear enough. Two initiates do fail as well, it’s just that mechanically you can’t fail. I’m not sure if it would be better to approach this from the angle of creating the illusion through narrative like you said or by including failures that are necessarily inconsequential because you don’t have any stats to test yet… or maybe make it possible to get a better result and be awarded a higher rank at the end? Maybe all of the above.

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Oh, yeah, I checked back and Silva does mention it. I guess it just got lost in everything else.

Narratively explaining a trial without anything to test is certainly difficult, but it does seem like that was the intent, so I think changing it to have actual outcomes would be a pretty different story.

I think there is another place you could allude to it though: IIRC the Matriarch says something about the first part of the trial being about what you have been, and there’s the implication that the second part is about something else but that isn’t explicitly mentioned. Could explicitly state it’s about forging what you could be.

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Oh, that could work well with the themes. I like that.