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Suggestions for future games in the series (spoilers!)


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After playing all the "classic" Geneforge games (most of which multiple times), and more recently G1: Mutagen, I have had a thought regarding enhancing a mechanic in a way that I find neat, this mechanic is tied to the main theme of the series and the in-game decisions you make.


Potential spoilers ahead for those who have not played G2-5.



The main theme of the Geneforge series (in my opinion) is the choice between pure raw power and control over one's power.

On the one hand you have the shapers, who start super-strict regarding their control over their powers and punish severely those who stray towards pure, uncontrolled power.
On the other hand, you have the rebels who are less strict regarding such considerations, and tend to gravitate towards power (more and more as the series unfold).

The in-game mechanical representation of this dilemma is already found in the canisters.

What I suggest is making this in-game decision a core of your character building more profoundly.
Now, to a small degree, the game already has a mechanic like I had in mind. The more canisters you take, the less control you have over some dialogue options, but the more abilities you have (and the stronger they are).
I find this implementation problematic because of several reasons:

  1. The trade-off at the moment is between character power and story options and that's it (instead of forms of character power).
  2. The choices aren't very often relevant. Very few dialogue options are affected (except the ending itself), and the decision in character building is mostly "do you want this new spell/creation or not".
  3. The choices don't offer a lot of replay-ability of the game. If you want to cover all your bases, a game of "all-cansiters" and a game of "no-canisters" pretty much covers all of your bases.
  4. You may be barred from some late-game power if you decide to go pure (which may force players into rather harsh min/maxing just to take the "correct" canisters).
  5. Many canisters, even "high powered" ones, are simply irrelevant. Taking the second canister in a late game spell has hardly any effect.


To make the main dilemma of the game affect your character progression in a more significant manner I suggest having an axis which directly represents power vs. control - on one end you have full control, and on the other you have full power.
When interacting with a canister you either take it and move towards the power side of the axis, or you reject it (maybe destroying it?).

Now, if this axis is only there to display how many canisters you've used it is pointless (and technically exists currently, but not in a way you can see in game). What I'd like to see is that as you move along the axis, your character's power changes.


The idea is that as you go along the power route your character is stronger and more chaotic.


A possible implementation is adding a perk based advancement for Geneforge, similar maybe to Queen's Wish or other RPG games, but with a twist.
Each perk, depending on your current point along the axis, may change what it does to a degree that makes sense for that perk (and may, in the future change again if you use more canisters).


Here are a few examples for perks:

Spell efficiency:

  • Full control - your offensive spells are cheaper to cast (most energy/essence point efficient).
  • Partial power - your offensive spells are more expensive to cast but are also stronger.
  • Full power - your offensive spells are considerably more expensive, drain (may drain) some of your health, and are much stronger (most turn efficient).

Spell power:

  • Full control - each die rolling 1 with a spell is effectively a 2 (so 1d4 dice rolls  become 2, 2, 3, 4, with expectancy value of 2.75, but low standard deviation).
  • Partial power - gain extra dice when casting spells (say 15% more, 1d4 normal expectancy of 2.5 becomes 2.875).
  • Full power - your offensive spells dice range is increase by 1 (1d4 rolls 1-5, with an expectancy value of 3, but high standard deviation).

Spell AoE:

  • Full control - your offensive spells area of effect spells do not cause friendly fire.
  • Balanced - your offensive spells area of effect spells do full friendly fire, but cause more damage.
  • Full Power - your offensive area of effect spells area of effect may change their size, but are way more powerful.


Examples for creations' perks:

Creation control:

  • Full control - your creations are immune/highly resistant to mind control effects.
  • Balanced - your creations have a chance to deal double damage (or other luck based buff, remember, you are not in full control).
  • Full power - your creations are less resistant to mind control effects (or randomly go rogue at times) but have a chance to deal a bunch of extra effects when attacking (each rolled separately) - extra damage, debuffing enemies, draining health, other (the idea is to have them rather chaotic at this point).

Unstable creations (a perk that replaces what is the result of you creating "unstable creations"):

  • Full control - your unstable creations are turned to "charged" creations. Charged creations are stronger than normal unstable creations, have limited duration (they do not take damage over time, they simply wither after a while, or maybe wane with time) and are more expensive than them.
  • Balanced - your unstable creations are turned to "rogue" creations, rogue creations are stronger than normal unstable creations. Rogue creations will attack anyone near them (friend or foe) after a few turns (at which point they can't be absorbed). Exact amount should be unknown.
  • Full power - your unstable creations are turned to "burning" creations. "Burning" creations are considerably stronger than normal unstable creations, take damage over time, will go rogue after a while (like "rogue" creations above), and explode on death.

Now, regarding "guardian" perks I'm a bit at a loss, the Guardian approach to shaping has traditionally been - I'm a fighter like any normal human, but I can also shape like a weak Shaper and cast spells like a weak Agent", I've always thought of guardians as able to use their essence to directly enhance their combat prowess (anoint a blade/armor with essence, enhance attacks with energy, etc) but the game did not classically offer such a route.


An alternative to the "axis" method, is having a dual metric system. The more canisters you take, the more "power" metric you gain. The more canisters you reject (destroy), the more "control" metric you gain.
Perks offer you bonuses based on how much power, and/or how much control you have, but it is a zero sum game as the number of canisters is finite (so if you want to go to extreme power, you can't have high control, and vice versa). The perks may also start to change their effect, other than numerically at certain thresholds of power/control.
This alternative handles the power curve much more smoothly (canisters are useful all along the game, as you'll probably always want more control/power, as opposed to reaching the point of power-control on a single axis that you want, and staying there), and offers a direct progression to "purists". But it probably limits some perk ideas, and make them harder to balance.

Obviously I am just throwing out ideas as they come to mind, and probably not all of them are balanceable. I also think I've been rather tame when it comes to perks and more wild things can be had.


Regarding the perk system itself and its implementation, that's not really the main point.

It does not matter how you gain the perks, or even if this is the method in which my suggestion is implemented, instead opting for variance on the active skills themselves (creations/spells/combat abilities) as you move along the power-control axis, or any other method for that matter.

Also, whether using a canister actually gives you anything other than moving you along the axis is not really important for my suggestion.

I have other ideas for additional mechanics to the game, some of which may interact well with the one I suggested already, but I'd rather not muddy this long post too much anyway.

Thanks for reading, hoping to hear your opinions.

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Ooh I really like those ideas, it really does mingle well with the overall theme of Geneforge. As for mine, I would most certainly hope for more schools of shaping would be introduced in the remake, because I do felt that three school can be somewhat limited, but if that one is a bit too ambitious perhaps having more variations and faction based creation lines would be great.

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