Welcome back. This post is going to actually talk about the future and not just complaining about what we have right now.
In the current implementation of Wizard, there are only two limitations for their abilities, which is time, and having to wear a robe, hat, and sandals (which for two points you can eliminate). Other antagonists are held to stricter limitations of how much they can do at any time. Most traitor/mercenary/heist equipment are not renewable. Changelings must manage chemical costs for their abilities. Ninjas must manage their battery costs and recharge frequently (which has its own problems but that's for another time). Cultists suffer damage from using their own runes, and the stronger runes require more cultists to assist.
Wizards don't have to worry about any of that. All they need to worry about is the cooldown. This makes balancing rather tricky, and makes the decision of when to use the spell trivialized. There is no fear of 'wasting' a spell cast when the only thing it caused is the fact you need to wait a few seconds to do it again.
To fix this, I've decided to add two new 'resources' for the new Technomancer to have to balance in addition to cooldowns. The first is Energy, which is the classic solution for these problems in other games, which usually use names like Mana, Magicka, Power, etc. It's rather unimaginative, but it works well. It is similar to the Ninja solution of having to manage a powercell, and at one point the Technomancer actually used a powercell and a RIG, however it was too similar to Ninja, and that part was scrapped in favor of a generic 'Energy' resource.
The second limitation is called Instability, and it is intended to prevent Technomancers from buying the strongest abilities, the best abilities to regenerate Energy, and spamming them to wipe the whole crew out. Basically, each ability causes a certain amount of Instability to accumulate on the Technomancer. It dissipates harmlessly over time if they are below a certain amount. If they accumulate a large amount of Instability, bad things will occur. The more instability the Technomancer has, the worse the effects get.
At the lower end, they might see sparks appear out of nowhere, or objects being moved around them. Worse effects include sudden pain, feeling weak, nausea, cracking windows, forced blinking, toxicity, shortness of breath, spontaneous combustion, electrical shocks, fainting, environmental changes, and more. The worst effects include more potent versions of what was said previously, as well as corruption of the local environment, violent discharges of your Energy, and Bad Things teleporting to the Technomancer to kill them.
So don't get carried away as a Technomancer. Fortunately, you are told of how much Instability you currently have, so you can evaluate if you should hold off for a little bit, or if you want to risk pain in the future.
The Spells Themselves
The spells in the current Wizard gamemode are what I'm going to call 'verb-based', because they use verbs. This allows fast use by hitting a button, but this has a few issues.
One problem is that it is hard to have a verb-based spell do more than one thing contextually, without requiring a pop-up menu. Some servers have (or had?) their Fireball spell be able to be angled at specific targets, however it required a big, clunky list to appear when you clicked the verb, to choose who to shoot at. This is very bad when you're in the middle of a fight.
Imagine you wanted a verb spell which did two (or more) things depending on how it was used. You'd need to ask the player what type of spell they wanted to use, or use two (or more) verbs, which can get out of hand pretty fast.
My new spell system solves that problem and many others by not using verbs. Instead, it uses objects you hold in your hand. This allows the act of clicking on something to trigger the spell, and to do different things depending on what is clicked, and how it was clicked. No clunky list menu needed.
This also allows for 'passive' spells that are only active while you hold them, for example, the Shield function. A picture of it is below. Note that this is a rather old picture, and there's no Core being worn (more on that later).
This is one of the new functions (which is what I'm going to call new spells). It blocks attacks from the front, draining your Energy with each hit, and does nothing if the source is from behind you. Isn't it pretty?
Object spells also allow me to make colorful lights and on-mob sprites, which can act as an early warning for what function the Technomancer may be about to use, or is using.
An object-based spell system has some less obvious bonuses, as well. It means you can carry up to two active spells at once, which can make combos easier to achieve. It also imposes some much needed limitations on when the Technomancer can cast. Being stunned is now a serious threat once more. No longer can they just hit Teleport and go to the other side of the station whenever they get hit by too many electrodes.
The object-based system lends itself to easy combos with other functions. It is planned to have 50 individual functions be available to purchase. At the time of writing, 30 functions are already finished. A lot of these can interact with each other in many ways. The goal is to allow creative solutions to problems, and to reward them well.
Technomancers are also receiving a change, that they do not require wearing a specific type of robe, hat, or sandals to use their abilities. Instead, they must wear a big, bulky Core on their back. It contains their reserve of Energy, and is the usual source of Instability when using their functions. The fact that the Core goes on your back has one major implication, and I believe it will make the Technomancer a more interesting antagonist for it.
What I mean is that they are effectively locked out of a back slot, which means no backpack. This will likely not be a popular change for some, however it was done to encourage a reliance on their abilities, as opposed to looting all the guns from the armory and using those to fight instead of their abilities. It feels really... unwizardly to see a master of the arcane use guns. This change should hopefully address that. Note that the Technomancer still has the choice to use a bag, but a quirk of the object-based spell system now gives what I feel is a meaningful choice to the player, which is "Is a bag worth not being able to hold a second spell in my offhand?".
A loss of a second slot for a spell can be crippling, depending on the Technomancer's build. For example, if they want to use Shield while holding a bag, they cannot attack while holding Shield. It is up to the player to decide if it is worth it. There are also work-arounds the Technomancer can use if they need to store some items. They could make a secret stash somewhere (the functions Mark and Recall make this a viable option). They could hire an Apprentice to hold their stuff for them. There's probably other solutions I haven't through up of. The point is that creativity is rewarded, and there should not be a singular best answer to a problem. This will come up a lot.
Most of the functions are going to be built to be small, and accomplish a basic task. This means that a Technomancer usually needs to use multiple abilities to make a solution, which tends to allow for more open-ended solutions.
Many of the functions can be used in more than one way, with contextual casting, further increasing the 'toolset' the Technomancer can have in dealing with a problem.
The result is that the number of spells that Technomancers will usually carry will be a lot more than the same five spells that a lot of Wizards pick up.
So, what kind of Technomancer will you make? An illusionist who can fake objects, people, and sounds, to deceive the station for your amusement? A summoner who can teleport vicious creatures to them, and control them to their cause? A relentless pursuer which always finds their mark with the use of teleportation and tracking? A juggernaut who specializes in defense, and can cause the opposing force to die to their own weapon? A supporting healer, who balances energy, instability, and life for both themselves and their partner, so that they may succeed together? A "hero" that shows up to save the colony from a disaster that they themselves engineered? Or maybe just someone who summons a feast for the whole crew, lighting cigars with fire functions, and throwing a party while the apprentice loots the vault?
Or will you go beyond this, and make your own setup? I look forward to seeing what kind of builds you all make.