Magic is the most routine thing in the game, as much as a melee attack -- you can indeed throw fireballs at everything. I'd say that magic here is easier
than in Harry Potter, actually. It's like using the boomerang in Zelda, or something like that. Magic is easily just as central a part of this world as it is in Harry Potter, and it's something every human character in the game is at least moderately proficient at.
That said, there are degrees of magic. The most powerful stuff... has to be way more carefully husbanded than in most games. It's hard to get at all, and then it's hard to recharge it once you do use it, if it's not outright limited-use. These sort of ultimate spells aren't something you can spam, and aren't something that you'll want to waste when you have them.
Anyway, RooksBailey, sorry to disappoint but magic is the most central and prevalent thing about this game. You can shoot arrows as well if you like, of course. Physical and Magic are the two main branches of attacks. But magic is also used for a whole host of stuff other than attacks, unlike physical weapons.About Seeing Yourself Behind Stuff
The comment about throwing off a fireball was sort of a flippant comment, but it's true in a literal sense. If you absolutely don't know where you are, you can cast some magic and see what you see.
That said, becoming unseen behind buildings and other objects is a part of gameplay, not something that is unexpected to us. In a 2D game, there are limited opportunities to provide a sense of unease and like you are unable to see your surroudings. In a 3D game, there can be foliage or whatever to your sides, and there is the simple case of enemies being behind and above or below you, out of your line of vision. In a 2D game, you have no line of vision in that sense.
Well, the line of vision that is created here is front/top on, actually. You go behind an object, and it obscures you and whatever else is back there behind it. This is... new. It creates a bit of tension when you go into a dense cluster of trees, or into the claustrophobic space between a bunch of buildings. You can't see what's in there until it leaps out at you, if it's going to.
You're also not required to go in there. You can blow up trees, if that's what it is, or avoid heavily-treed areas entirely, if you want. As with dark alleyways in NYC, you don't have to go down them. It's perfectly fine to go right around, and in some cases safer. Don't give me the "waste of time" argument -- it takes all of four or five seconds to go around a building in this game, eh?
I should also note that it's extremely hard to get stuck on an obstacle, because as you walk it slides you around them -- this makes walking through even really dense forests quite easy to do, and isn't something seen in most other games (though we got the idea from a smaller feature of Zelda 1).
I think the worry here is that you'll get lost on the screen. "Oh noes? Where'd I go?" I jest, but I understand the worry -- I had wondered if that would be the case, too, and implemented the current system as sort of a "let's see how this works." And you know what? I don't think I've ever lost track of myself. Sometimes I've gotten caught by a monster behind a building, but that's where the fireball approach comes in. You can also hit tab to cycle through targets, so if you're paranoid about lurking targets that's one way to avoid them. Of course, if you're being chased by one target, firing at it, and another leaps out at you...
In short, as many folks in this thread note, I wouldn't borrow trouble before you've tried it. We're going into public alpha and beta for a reason, because we want testing feedback, but so far for myself, Keith, my wife, and his wife, none of us seem to have ever felt lost. It's kind of like touch typing, you don't need to see your hands to know where your fingers are, anyway. Unlike a strategy game, you are not meant to look at the screen of an adventure game and be able to just pick out everything on it from a surface view. You have to move around and explore, destroy things and look in things, prod things to see if they bite...
It's a balance between clarity and immersion. In the Silent Hill games, for instance, the best ones had terrible, clunky controls. This was no accident. It made your character feel weak and slow, and by extension upped the terror factor. On paper it might sound like that would decrease the immersion factor, but in practice for thousands of players who love the classics from that series, the effect was just the opposite. When later Silent Hill games made you into some sort of action hero military dude who could execute on all your fighting thoughts at a moment's notice, something was very much lost for those games, and they were not nearly as popular. AVWW doesn't have clunky controls or anything, that's not my point, but what it does have is a disconnect between what your character could nominally see, and what you
can see. In some senses you can see much more than your character, in others, you can see less. So far it works quite well, but it's one of those things you have to play -- not watch -- to really get.
If we absolutely had to, I could make a way for the character and enemy images to automatically create borders around themselves that would show up behind buildings. I've thought about it more, and it is definitely technically possible, and something that can be done at runtime so that it doesn't require any more artwork load for me. At best, it would probably be an optional-on feature, though, as I think it would detract from the aesthetic and the mood, as well as increasing graphical load by a low-moderate amount.
That said, I think that feels like an RTS game, not like an adventure game. You need that there because your dudes run around without you a lot of the time, and you have a lot of dudes. Where did you even put them all? In an adventure game... you only have one character, and if you are confused where they are or which one they are, all you have to do is press an arrow key or an ability key. Voila! Your character moves into view, or does some action that gives away their position.
You can go completely behind buildings in FF6 even, but it was never a problem there -- if you get sucked into a random encounter in that game while you're behind something, you might be quite lost when you come out a bit later, but simply moving reveals you. In AVWW, there isn't even the disconnected nature of being sucked into battles and then regurgitated onto the area map a while later.
Bottom line: as Echo35 mentioned, we listen to testing feedback, so even if you disagree with the above about seeing yourself behind buildings, don't get too freaked out. We'll see what people think when more folks have it in hand, but honestly it hasn't been at all a concern with our very earliest pre-alpha testers, and I don't think it will bother you in practice (aside from the way it is supposed
to bother you, in terms of making it feel dangerous to get closed in). A technical solution is possible for those who just absolutely hate this, if there are those sorts of folks in the end, but I insist that at least in alpha people try it this way first. Never know until you try something, right? Creating mood in a 2D game is surprisingly hard to do, and this has been an unexpectedly pleasurable tool in the arsenal for this game; I'm reluctant to discard it unless it causes wider problems, which so far I haven't seen evidence of. We'll work it out, one way or another -- deep breaths.