[Devlog] Mystery Babylon

Wow, you’re making fast progress on this! It’s looking really great so far, looking forward to where the project goes in the future!

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Pretty much working exclusively on this for the next month or two. Pushing hard to finish gameplay and focus on narrative and outside of combat features.

Hoping to Kickstart by early-mid June.


you say you want to kickstart it, Does it mean it will cost money?

Yes, it will be on Steam for around 21.99

That’s the plan!

Good to know it, now I have to start saving money

Well, that’s a long way off.

In the shorter term, I’m probably going to share early builds for free here for playtesting.

To catch bugs and get advice. My game is sort of Fire Emblem at its core, which isn’t bad, but once I have the full system in place, I’ll have to start adding new gameplay mechanics.

Like QuickTime Events like Yakuza: Like a Dragon or The Last Odyssey


It’s quite interesting, I have to say it

Do you have any plans to utilize any truly unique gameplay mechanics, or perhaps a unique story? You’ll have to work really hard to convince tactical RPG enthusiasts to spend that much when there’s so much competition that’s free, and QTE alone doesn’t sell. And, while the project is in early stages, might I suggest gunning for an artstyle? I know not every option is available to you at the moment, but looking to the future for things like this would perhaps be best at the moment. A strong foundation will serve you well.

I’m not criticizing the project as-is or intending to say “money bad”, but things like this generally have to be figured out for a Kickstarter to succeed, going off of the models of successful and unsuccessful projects I’ve seen before.

You clearly have big plans for the project, and I just want to warn you not to let your ambition surpass you. If you already have all of this figured out, then disregard my message; I’m only talking about what I can see from this thread.

Do you have any plans to utilize any truly unique gameplay mechanics, or perhaps a unique story?

Yes, to both!

I’ve pretty much laid out a long-term road map for gameplay, art direction, and narrative.

Combat-wise, the gameplay will be Fire Emblem inspired. Personally, I find the blend between Fire Emblem’s battle system and a Shining Force battle scene perspective to be a unique identifier in the art category. Most TRPG combat takes place either on the grid map or via sideview battle scenes like most FE’s.

At this early stage, I’m modeling the core gameplay after Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance in terms of formulas. The differentiating factor will likely be the incorporation of realtime interactions with combat (QTEs), the manner which the AI behaves, and different unit classes.

For instance, units in FE tend to know exactly where a player is, and will close in on their position. The idea in my game, is to have a movement range + a line of sight range. An AI unit only knows where an enemy unit it once it enters the movement range, but a “?” bubble will appear and they will move towards the general area that a unit entered their LOS range.

As for unique classes, the first one I can mention is Trap Magic. Sort of inspired by watching Zora’s trap magic in Black Clover. This unit can leave traps in a set amount of squares, as well as potentially return any magical or physical damage by a multiplier (ie: damage received * 1.5).

Different from Fire Emblem, there is gameplay outside of combat maps. Typically upon routing enemies, the combat map will revert to being normally traversable and you’d walk around the map more akin to a normal RPG. This sort of eliminates the need for a thief class, because you’d be able to loot maps after completion (most of the time).

A core part of the gameplay is that the cast is a recently formed “guild”. Typically after missions, they return to their guild hall, where the roster will be as NPCs. The concept is very similar to Suikoden II, if you’ve ever played. Recruiting happens mostly outside of battle and there will be traversable towns to visit in the map outside of battle.

A big part of the game will be upgrading your guild hall and becoming a more prominent guild. For example, a smaller guild hall will only support so many units, so upgrading barracks will be central to gaining a larger roster. There’s the concept of training grounds at the hall, which can help units level up or gain specific stats (its effectiveness based on the level of upgrades in the training hall section of the guild hall).

Stuff like that.

That’s a preview of where we’re going gameplay-wise.

Our narrative is honestly where I believe we’re going to do the best. I have a pretty awesome storyline lined up, it’s a more dark and mature one.

I shared the short story the beginning is based on here. To give a short summary, the small and newly formed guild is commissioned anonymously (via a white messenger owl) to free a man. It pays way better than the sort of work they’ve been doing, so they decide to do it. They must infiltrate a fort’s dungeon and speak with an informant who knows the location of the man. Stealth fails to be an option, so they must fight through the castle and reach the dungeon. Luckily, the bulk of the force is deployed elsewhere, so it’s a golden opportunity.

They reach the dungeon and find the man, only to find him being uncooperative, demanding to be taken out of the fort before divulging information. So, they have to make their way back out of the castle before reinforcements arrive. They make it out, but he demands to have a key item the guild commander is wearing if they want the info. He has to give it up. Then, he’s told that the man they are looking for was transferred into the royal capital’s dungeon a year ago, and likely not alive.

From there, they return to their guild hall and find the messenger owl on the roof. His attached message tells of the location of a portion of their payment. They send a response that they’ve found the man’s location. They fetch the gold, and use it on equipment and guild hall renovations. By the time that’s done, the owl returns with a message notifying them to infiltrate the royal castle during the upcoming festival to be held.

From there, it’s as the short story reads.

To spoil the end, the man in the cage is who they are to free. He is a “Stigmata” and his blood is being harvested as an ingredient to the royals’ “special” wine.

That’s about as much as I’m going to divulge at this state. Just know, they end up becoming aware of a secret society amongst the elites of all nations who perform terrible atrocities… And it leads to some unexpected places.

I wrote it up for anyone joining our development team, but it has lots of information about the future of the project.

Art-wise, it’s a 16-bit PS1/SNES sort of target. Think Suikoden II meets Trials of Mana.


Good to see. I wish you the best.

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This is quite solid, as you say, it has a lot of potential

Thanks, the narrative I mentioned should all be in the demo for Kickstarter. So I’ll need to have the battle system completed, guild hall features, and a lot more completed.

It really depends on how much help I can get in the art department. Perhaps I’ll make a post here specifically for art recruiting and provide details.

For the sake of not maintaining two posts, I’ll leave my art recruiting post here:

Above I shared our revenue sharing agreement. It’s not a legally binding contract (which we’d create once everyone is on board), but it gives an overview on the scope of the project and long-term plans.

There are a lot of talented pixel artists here and the bonus is that you are all familiar/like TRPGs, so it’d be awesome to work with one (or a few of) of you.

There are a few areas that I need help artistically:

Battle Sprites (likely not making it to the demo)

Currently, we are using pixelated 3D models as battle sprites. Which has it’s own merits, but ideally, we’d be switching to fully pixel art sprites.

The process for creation of one of these sprites is based on a 3D animation that has been exported into pictures. For an example, check this zip.

Example based on the frames the zip (WIP):

The examples of how this will look in battle can be seen above, but I’ll repost here:

Basically, the artist takes the 3D model .png’s and draws over them with pixels, frame by frame. 60 frames per animation is tough, but the result is a super fluid animation.

The average size of the battle sprite itself is around 140x134, but it can vary. Still, rather large for pixel art.

There’s about 16-17 animations per battler (which vary by unit type):

  • Idle
  • Hurt Idle (optional, but nice touch)
  • Attack 01
  • Attack 02
  • Attack 03
  • Double Attack 01
  • Double Attack 02
  • Critical Attack 01
  • Critical Attack 02
  • Start Blocking
  • Blocking - loop
  • Block Impact (hit while blocking)
  • Damage 01 (hit reaction)
  • Damage 02
  • Dodge
  • Stun
  • Death

It’s a lot, 60 frames per animation. These are typically for player units, the amount of variation animations may go down for enemy/AI units. ie: only one attack animation

This is the toughest work, yet the most rewarding because it’ll be seen all the time.

If I can’t find anyone who can do these, I’ll be forced to stay 3D. At least, until the demo.

Map Sprites (Big One!)

These sprites are the ones on the map. So far, we’ve only gotten 2 custom sprites done. Which is not a lot.

The artist I was working with created a sprite base (feel free to use it, if you want. I own the rights and I don’t particularly mind):

(we totally need one for women… going to have one made)

The two custom sprites would be the one with the green jacket and one knight sprite, currently being worked on:

Made with the base.

The size of the frames are 21x48, slim enough to fit our 16x16 grid and tall enough not to be tiny. The main animations to be done are:

  • 4-directional walk cycles

  • Idle

  • Potentially more, outside of combat

These are also mega-important. For battle units, and for NPCs and characters outside of combat.


These seem to be what most artist around here are good with. However, I don’t want to emulate Fire Emblem’s art style of portraits. For a few reasons:

  1. It’s a commercial game to be sold
  2. The game is already so Fire Emblem influenced, the art style is just overdoing it

Currently, I’m using these tiny ones from castlevania:

Which is sort of the SNES/GBA style I’m gunning for.

We’d need:

  • Headshot portraits (potentially animates eyes and mouths)

  • Half-body portraits (potentially animates eyes and mouths)

Last, but surely not least:

Tilesets & Battle Backgrounds

These are really tough. Probably as tough as battlers, and not many people can pull off the 16-bit retro art style (it was sort of the pixel art golden age).

I already have an artist who’s helping with these, but check this document out if you’re interested.

I left it out, but there’s also inventory icons. Weapons, staffs, tomes/grimiores, potions, etc. Those are big too.

There’s also user interface design, but that’s less pixel art and more graphic design in Photoshop sort of thing.

This project is totally aiming to be professional, so if you’re looking to publish a game on Steam, this is a chance. I would read the agreement for more details, if you’re interested.

The idea is to work for revenue share, until we can release a demo and start a crowdfunding campaign (where the team involved would then be paid to work full-time on the project). As a result, I can’t have too many people on the team or costs will blow up. But, if you’re at all interested, let me know.

So I began working on Classes:


Blue is for unexperienced units. Green for Beginner. Orange for Advanced. Red for Master.

I can do a rundown of all classes later, but the ones that stand out:

Dragoon: a mounted unit that only attacks when dismounted, using the horse solely for mobility. The idea here is to allow units to become mounted as a means of high movement range, but can only attack while dismounted. The unit will try to retaliate to incoming attackers, but will suffer from a significant accuracy drop. So dismount before trying to attack.

This unit can also whistle for it’s horse, and it will begin to run (within it’s movement range) towards the unit. If it can reach and has remaining move points, the unit will able to move again (but not take any action).

I’m debating whether to allow the horse to be killable when it’s dismounted and left alone.

Invoker/Summoner: A magick practitioner that summons demons/familiars to fight for them. They can summon in a traditional attack, or even spawn separate units (like Tanith can with “Reinforce”). Of course, these spells have limited use but will refill per battle.

This class is a pretty much like Persona. The “Spells” equipped are more than entities the Unit ahs contracts with.

Angel Mage/Stigmata: Similar to above, except specializing in healing and buffing magic. Only when reaching Stigmata will these units be able to invoke and form pacts with Archangels, some of which are combat heavy.

The magic units are pretty central to the narrative of the game, hence so many options.

The other units are pretty close to regular FE. Sorcerors/Magus being the more traditional mage you are used to, likely with different affinities like Trap Magic. “Marzban” is a nod to Arslan Senki (Daryun is OP). Manslayer is a nod to Battousai from Kenshin. Fencer/Duellist is a speed focused version of Swordsman/Swordmaster. They work best with light weapons like rapiers and are great at dodging and double attacking. Not so great with heavily armored or mounted units, though.

Babe of the Abyss: A Mounted Knight with sorcery ability. Dark Knight, basically. I’m thinking of allowing them to choose between sorcery and summoning.

A note about mounted units: it’s recently dawned on me due to the size of my sprites and the size of the grid (16x16), a mounted unit will be really big. To give a visual explanation:

Imagine that the wolf (Shiro from Suikoden) is a horse. As a result, mounted units will likely take up TWO squares. making them twice the target. I’ll likely have to balance their stats to cope with this. This also makes the Dragoon class a bit more attractive, because it lowers the target to one square.

About flying units: none. I wanted to do (and still might do) a griffin and gargoyle flying unit class. But, given this sprite sizing issue… I’m not sure.

At least, they definitely won’t be in the demo. However, Invokers/Summoners can generate flying demons/familiars. So the logic for flying units will remain in the engine.

On the topic of reclassing: no.

I still have to work on skills after this is complete.

Anyhow, doing the programming for this all week. Just wrapped up all the work on sound.

Also, I’ve been looking into how to make this game easy to mod. Consensus is to build ingame editors and have files easily editable by JSON.

So, I’m planning to go back and edit how I’m handling certain things to use JSON and will look into building an ingame editor (likely, it will be a post-Kickstarter effort). For now, making things easily moddable by using JSON files is within my power, while still developing core mechanics. That will be enough of a base to build an ingame editor with. Or possibly an external level editor and such, if I can manage it.

I’ve seen FEBuilder and stuff like Tactile, so I can always try to build in-game versions of what they do. I suppose the tricky part is battle sprites will be huge. They are 3D for now, but the idea is to move to 2D post Kickstarter when I can afford the 60 frame behemoth animations.

Be back with progress in a week or so.


oh my god this looks amazing! I can’t wait to see more of this kind of stuff, though I figure rotoscoping at 60fps is extremely time consuming and draining work.


Totally agree!

It took the artist about 22 hours at $12/hr (which was a goddamn bargain, tbh). So around $264 bucks per animation. Animation per battler can range between 11-16.

So very draining indeed. Considering there’s about maybe 5-6 player units and about 7-10 enemy units in the demo… it’s difficult.

One solution is to cut the original frame-rate down to 30. Which I might do and still end up with something pretty smooth.

That, or simply wait and use my web development salary lol. Which means no updates for a while and this takes longer x.x

I did luck out and find a prospective pixel artist down to revshare and try rotoscoping:

will share how that gif comes out.

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They are quite expensive animations, now I see why your goal is so high

Just a look at our knight sprites and critical attacks. I should add a more satisfying critical attack sound.

You’ll barely notice, but I added lances for enemies. I hate those animations and will likely pick up these ASAP.

I am also trying to mess with the shader on the 3D models to get closer to a pixel art style.

Most of the work this week that was supposed to spent on Classes (which is actually surprisingly easy to setup) has been spent porting all “ScriptableObjects” (a term in Unity dev) to be created from JSON. Allowing potential modders the ability to modify existing or create new Classes, Items, Units, etc. just by adding a JSON file to a certain folder. Article about it, if anyone is interested.

Anyhow, I’m moving to making things easy to mod early rather than build a load of new features and have to port later. Smart move, because I’m nearly finished.

An example of one portion I’ve already finished:

  "Filename": "RockStairsTopTile",
  "TerrainName": "Stairs",
  "SurfaceType": "Rock",
  "TravelCost": {
    "All": 0,
    "Mounted": 3,
    "Unmounted": 2
  "HasLightOfSight": true,
  "IsStairs": true,
  "StairsOrientation": "LeftToRight",
  "BlockExit": {
    "Up": "Ground",
    "Left": "Ground"
  "BlockEntrance": {
    "Up": "Ground",
    "Left": "Ground"

The way traversability of tiles works is you define:

  • Terrain Name, which will be shown in the UI when hovered over
  • Travel Costs by Unit Type
  • Surface Type (to define which SFX should play when walked on)
  • Has Line of Sight: Can you see through the tile?
  • Whether a type of Unit can exit or enter certain sides of the square
  • If the tiles are Stairs (or any slope like Tile, this triggers the slope-like lines when moving)
  • If you are stairs, which direction it’s facing

Stairs are sort of a special case, since you there’s extra fields there specifically to set them up. Necessary to be able to know when we need to render our slanted path instead of normal squares.

A much simpler tile than stairs would look like this:


  "Filename": "GrassTile",

  "TerrainName": "Grass",

  "SurfaceType": "Grass",

  "TravelCost": {

    "All": 1,

    "Ground": 1,

    "Mounted": 1


  "HasLightOfSight": true,

  "IsStairs": false,

  "StairsOrientation": "None",

  "BlockExit": {},

  "BlockEntrance": {}


Anyway, that’s just a sneak peek at how these JSON files work. I’ll share examples for Weapons, Consumables, Gear, and Valuables later (which are all types of Items). Most likely though, I’ll build either in-game or external tools that generate these files, so you don’t have to do it manually. But, for the tech nerds like myself who are into that stuff, I thought I’d share.

Class-wise, I’m going with static promotion bonuses. Already have base stats with autoleveling working for AI Units. Since this was pretty easy to handle, I’ll be adding Skills as well this week.

Anyhow, art! I got some more wiggle room in budget, and I am not quite sure where I should focus it. It’s definitely not enough for 30 or 60 frame battle animations. But, it may be enough for a 10 frame battler with 8 animations. Still debating on whether to focus on making 3D not look weird or dedicating the budget.

I have two tilesets on the way, but that won’t be until the end of the month. They are pretty barebones down to essentials like floors, walls, and roofs, so I could end up spending more on that for more detailed maps.

OR I could focus on getting custom battle backgrounds. Road with a castle and some trees, maybe some animated leaves falling. And get some custom foregrounds, and not use that Shining Force rip (where the player stands).

BUT I cannot do them all. I’m open to suggestions on where ppl think the main pain point in the art is. I’m willing to bet it’s the battlers… which is also most expensive lol


Alright, no shiny new gameplay to show (yet).

Due to the focus on moving everything to be easily modifiable. Good news is: it’s pretty much finished.

Or at least, the system is in place. There’s more work to be done for allowing custom Units. Which will be tricky, because you will have to provide the sprite sheets for 4-directional walk cycles. And tell the system:

  • Size per frame (ie. the walk cycles for normal unmounted units in the template I shared is 21x48)

  • How many frames in each animation (ie. the sprite base has 9 frames in each direction)

This goes for the walk and idle animations for map sprites for Units.

For battle sprites, it’ll likely be similar.

I will definitely need to provide an external tool that will generate the files for you and allow you to preview animations, and what not. Likely, I will have to write a C# application where you can:

  • Create Units and set their map and battle sprites

  • Set the amount of squares to be occupied by a Unit (ie. mounted units will take 2 squares, like I said before). You may wan to add custom mounted Units or even monster bosses like 3H that take 4-6 tiles.

  • Set Unit Portraits, headshot and fullbody. Setup face animations.

  • Import Maps from Tiled. I really doubt I’ll recreate the wheel and create a level editor when Tiled is pretty damn good. You’ll be able to set TileConfigurations (the JSON for which I shared above) from within Tiled very easily.

Example: Capture

Another: Capture

By assigning specific Tiles in a tileset a Config: TileName Custom Property, the engine will read your map and assign the Tile. TileName is the same as Filename in the tile JSON:


      "**Filename**": "**GrassTile**",

      "TerrainName": "Grass",

      "SurfaceType": "Grass",

      "TravelCost": {

        "All": 1,

        "Ground": 1,

        "Mounted": 1


      "HasLightOfSight": true,

      "IsStairs": false,

      "StairsOrientation": "None",

      "BlockExit": {},

      "BlockEntrance": {}

  • Allow Custom Events To Happen at Certain Tiles on the map

  • Write Dialogue Sequences

  • Allow for custom C# scripts for people who want to. Likely using Roslyn

etc., etc.

It will end up being a rather large venture, but it can be pulled off! Still planning to look into how Tactile and FEBuilder handle these operations, but odds are that I’ll have to do myself.

I am setting the basis for a system like this by moving everything to be serialized to JSON files, and these visual tools will likely just correctly setup these files rather than have you do things by hand.

I will also write some indepth documentation.

Bare in mind, the development of the external tools will likely be a post-Kickstarter venture. Meanwhile, I will personally be setting the stage for it by continuing to write the code in this manner. If I am able to succeed in my campaign, maybe I’ll reach out to the Tactile devs to work on it if they’re available.

While I’m on the topic, I got Weapons and UnitClasses working in this format as well:


  "WeaponType": "Sword",
  "DescriptionBroken": "A broken steel sword, nearly useless in battle. A blacksmith can repair it.",
  "MeleeSound": "swosh-05",
  "RequiredRank": "D",
  "AttackRange": {
    "Minimum": 1,
    "Maximum": 1
  "Stats": {
    "Damage": 12,
    "Hit": 70,
    "CriticalHit": 9
  "BrokenStats": {
    "Damage": 0,
    "Hit": 45,
    "CriticalHit": 9
  "Weight": 8,
  "MaxDurability": 35,
  "Filename": "Steel Sword",
  "ItemName": "Steel Sword",
  "ItemType": "Weapon",
  "Description": "A durable steel sword.",
  "Pricing": {
    "Cost": 1000,
    "SaleValue": 600
  "Icon": {
    "AtlasPath": "Assets/Sprites/GUI/UI Materials/Icons/assorted icons/heartamulet.spriteatlas",
    "SpriteName": "heartamulet_4"

It’s a good thing I am doing this for items, because I want to support Steam Economy. If you use Steam, you’ll notice some games allow you to trade/sell items you get from games. This is that.

One of my backer rewards will be 1 of 3 weapons/spells attainable only by backing the project. Available to max backers, max.


  "Filename": "Adept",
  "Title": "Adept",
  "RelativePower": 2,
  "BaseStats": {
    "Movement": {
      "Base": 10,
      "Growth Rate": 0
    "MaxHealth": {
      "Base": 13,
      "Growth Rate": 40
    "Strength": {
      "Base": 4,
      "Growth Rate": 15
    "Speed": {
      "Base": 8,
      "Growth Rate": 60
    "Skill": {
      "Base": 8,
      "Growth Rate": 70
    "Magic": {
      "Base": 12,
      "Growth Rate": 70
    "Luck": {
      "Base": 8,
      "Growth Rate": 50
    "Resistance": {
      "Base": 10,
      "Growth Rate": 70
    "Defense": {
      "Base": 4,
      "Growth Rate": 30
    "Weight": {
      "Base": 11,
      "Growth Rate": 0
    "Constitution": {
      "Base": 8,
      "Growth Rate": 0
  "MaxStats": {
    "Movement": 14,
    "MaxHealth": 50,
    "Strength": 16,
    "Speed": 20,
    "Skill": 25,
    "Magic": 25,
    "Luck": 20,
    "Resistance": 25,
    "Defense": 15,
    "Weight": 11,
    "Constitution": 10
  "PromotedBonus": 1,
  "PromotionGains": {
    "Movement": 0,
    "MaxHealth": 2,
    "Strength": 0,
    "Speed": 1,
    "Skill": 2,
    "Magic": 3,
    "Luck": 0,
    "Resistance": 3,
    "Defense": 0,
    "Weight": 0,
    "Constitution": 0
  "PromotionOptions": [
    "Angel Mage"
  "UsableWeapons": [],
  "UsableMagic": [

Phew! So, this is why there’s no new gameplay… yet! At least, nothing you can see. I incorporated Unit’s Class into experience gain formulas and officially got AIUnit autoleveling to work randomized growth rates.

Classes have BaseStats with base value and growth rates, but so does the Unit. AIUnits will use the Stats on the Class. PlayerUnit's will have their own set of Stats and growth rates.

I should also note, our RNG is based on Random.org. So, it’s truly random. Most programming languages have a Psuedo-Random Number Generator. I’m using this tool for this. So, this is already plugged into battle calculations. I just plugged into level up growth calculations this week.

For the code savvy, this project is open source until Kickstarter.

Ok, I do have some art updates. I doubled down on tilesets (which will take a while to be made though). They will be made by Gecimen. I should officially have all the tiles I need to build the demo for Kickstarter now. There’s about 3 maps with combat, and one for the guild’s home base.

For the sake of making it to late May-mid June Kickstarter, I cut 3 levels. Basically, the castle levels. If you read the story I explained, the playable portion of the demo will end after freeing the informant and finishing preparations at home base (after doing upgrades to the base).

However, I will add some cinematics of the royal castle and preparation for the Midsomer Festival, as well as a short peek at the important prisoner in the castle depths.

I still estimate a solid 2 hours of gameplay.

I also was able to commission a custom battle background to be made, which should be done in about a week or so. Two more to go, and we’ll be good for the demo.

About pixel based battlers, it MIGHT be a thing in the demo. One of the two pixel artists who are actually on the team (meaning they’re in for revshare) is working on them. He’s trying to do 60 frames, but I really might cut it down to like 10. And show the higher frame-rate version in the campaign as an example of what to expect in the finished product.

I mean, look at these:


They are like 3-5 frames… Looks good. 10 is still a good amount.

In any case, 3D doesn’t look so bad anymore. So we’ll see.

Have a 10/60 frames WIP:


I also commissioned a logo/start screen to be made. I got a WIP to share:


Animation and effects are incoming.

Once that’s done, I’ll get our website up and running.

That about wraps it up. I’m currently the only programmer, which is fine. But, I’ll look into finding someone. These modding features extend the time of development, so having two heads doing separate things would help.


I actually like the 2-5 frame attacks in those games. They’re short and punchy. They deliver the hit. A more elaborate animation is cool for magic, but otherwise, short is fine.

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