I think it would be really nice to have different looking effects for each tier of spell. I know this has been brought up before, but that was back when there was an infinite number of tiers, and the old Final Fantasy trope of "Fire, Fira, Firaga" wouldn't work. Really
Now, however, we have a fixed 5 tiers of spells. I understand that Fire IV is stronger than Fire II what with its higher numbers and all, but if it were bigger and louder and caused more smoke on the screen, it would feel stronger. With there being limited time between now and 1.0, having to create 4x more spell animations than you have now would take a while, so what about having just a second new look that comes in at 4?
Or, correct me if I am wrong, in the .xml that defines the spell effects, there could be variable properties that are based on tier level. Maybe the community here could assist in creating more tiered effects like with the dungeon maps.
a 0% chance of that -- I'd rather put effort into new spells, rather than redoing existing spells just for visual effects. I could easily spend half the remaining time budget between now and 1.0 just working on this. More to the point, even if players were to get involved and start tweaking, it would likely be very rough quality-wise. Even worse, for many kinds of spells (launch rock, energy pulse, forest rage, etc) there are not any particle effects. Probably more spells have particle effects than don't at the moment, but that won't always be the case.
Absolutely driving this into the ground, even if that wasn't an issue, having fireballs emit more particle effects would cause a lot more load on the game. That's something that I tune very carefully which each spell, the optimum particles-to-quality ratio, so that it will work in all scenarios. Most players would not be able to do that, and would thus wind up tanking the performance of the game.
And even if performance
was infinite, just having more particles would have one of two effects: either it would lose detail if they were all on top of one another, because they would additively white themselves out (or if not additive, it would just look the same bug at more performance cost); or, if the particles were to spread out more, then they would be obstructing the screen in unpleasant ways. This used to be the case with earlier versions of the game, and people complained endlessly about it. I was resistant at first, but they were quite right; the smaller, more focused spells are a lot easier to see past, and it is also way easier to tell where their collision hitboxes are.
Another avenue to go would be to add custom particles into the game, to have different visual effects for each spell level. But that increases the graphical load of spells about 5x, and thus increases loading times and RAM usage by quite a lot (exactly how much would vary by situation; usually it wouldn't be 5x, but it would still be substantial). And then we also get into yet more quality control issues, as well as issues of making sure that if we don't know the player, that the particle effect is actually legally legitimate for us to use, etc.
I really have no interest in ever doing any of that; you'll be finding more powerful spells, with new graphics, but they won't be called "fireball 4." If we do something like a "fira," it will actually be a whole new spell with its own line. Kind of like how lightning rocket versus ride the lightning are similar but different, and share a similar tree. Make no mistake, I want to do lots of spells, and lots of unique spell graphics -- that part is no problem -- but I abhor the thought of being roped into doing reskins of the same content at different tiers. We just need a lot more spells than we have at the moment, in general, which I think will help with what you're looking for, at core.
Hope that makes sense.
I just wanted to go ahead and fully clarify my position on this, since a few people have asked off and on.