In response to "The Source" from The Escapist forums:
You remind me of a point I always want to see addressed in a game--imagine the mana or energy or implement that supplies magic becomes inaccessible for a short time, through some kind of interference. But imagine that it happens on an irregular basis, that it could happen at random times, even in the middle of a battle. You're casting a powerful spell, and the connective conduit between the caster and the source suddenly becomes less distinct, and the spell is reduced to either minor or negated effects. Maybe the presence of some kind of sonic disruption, or gravitational effect that messes with the flow of energy causes the magic to suddenly cease functioning for a given time. Picture someone used to wielding the flow of the energy, and now has to supplement his previous methods with something new, or a very dangerous way of accessing the energy that could leave them dead, or accidentally allowing more than what one wanted through, risking the chance of some sort of catastrophe. Could very well be in terms of some kind of cataclysmic event.
This reminds me of Sanderson's First Law of Magics:
"An author's ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic."
There is a whole essay about it on his page, but the basic idea is, if you want your characters to be able to solve problems with magic, the audience needs to undestand the magic, otherwise it's just deus ex machina.
Look at LOTR: the reader doesn't really understand the magic at all, but no problems are actually solved with it, either.
On the other hand in superhero stories, for example, it is usually made quite clear what the hero can do, so the author can use those powers to solve problems with no sense of arbitraryness.
Games understandably tend towards the latter form.
I wonder how one could use a mysterious magic well in a game...
besides only letting NPC:s use it, of course.
In response to "Adventuring in the World of Mundane Magic" from The Escapist forums:
I don't think the game was played enough by this or other reviewers, as only at the start is it really mostly fed-ex quests. The game had procedural systems within it that provided randomized quests, but also provided scripted quests inbetween, to keep you guessing. Because of it's mix of procedural and scripted code, it allowed for "joined-up" quests you don't see in even today's cRPG's. I.e. If told a dragon was going to attack a village on a certain date, you would get there on that date and the dragon would be there to fight, but get there a week before the dragon and find a normal village, then go away for two weeks and come back to the village and it has been destroyed by that dragon you weren't there to fight! Now granted, this was done with just text/still graphic windows, but still. It showed how the quests were far from all fed-ex one's!
I have owned this game from it's original release as I bought nearly every Microprose game they ever released! The game is somewhat intimidating, but nevertheless take about an hour to get a handle on. I know in this world of instant satisfaction an hour is an eternity, but for a deep cRPG with 100+ hours of gameplay, it's pretty par for the course. Darklands was a game that gave back as much as you put into it, so once the 'rules' are learnt the game has almost infinite replay value!
You'll be pleased to hear a team is being put together to make a Darklands style game called "The Darklands" by using the Oblivion construction set and doing a complete conversion. Most of the team are steeped in Darklands Lore, so I have strong hopes for it. Just go to TheDarklands.com to see the latest and leave a note of encouragement!