If you are familiar with Pokemon's types then you'll know where this idea of elemental match-ups comes from. Based on a mix of real world application and game balancing I've come up with a starting point for making my game's core rock-paper-scissors mechanic. The complex way in which the pony classes interact will lead to interesting strategies on the player's part as one tries to always have the advantage on the opponent.
There are things like stab damage and immunity to consider too. A Fire Draco class will be different from a Draco Fire class because the class in the first position does 1.5 times damage on a move with that type while the secondary class does 1.2 times more damage. Similar rules apply to defense. On top of all that I can expand move depth by throwing in rare dual type moves. The Steel Wing move is suddenly a threat to Plant, Bug, Earth, and Draco class ponies.
A cool thing about the 18 classes (and 19th neutral class) is how the starter pony will be able to change into any of them so the player can have a version of their favorite.
The use of class rather than type comes from the biological classification tree. When imagining this world I wanted to picture how scientists would go about grouping magical horses based on what magic they shot out of their mouths. If species is pony specific and family can be a bunch of similar ponies, I wanted something higher up the chain to represent ponies of the same element.
As far as type match-ups go I grew up playing Pokemon so those rules are burned into my mind. Chances are they're burned into the minds of most of my players too so it's important not to confuse people with the rules and classes I'm adding in.
Among the new classes are Light, Chaos, Earth, Neutral, and many renamed Pokemon types. I tried using as few letters as possible for each class name so I can fit them together nicely on the chart. The only two names I often find myself swapping out are Aqua/Water and Myth/Fairy. To avoid localization hurdles classes will be represented by symbols in menus and on the battle interface.
|The type chart for Pokemon.|
|UPDATE: Class chart for Battle Gem Ponies|
My original plan was to have multiple points throughout the game where players have a choice between 3 class themed objects. After choosing one, the player can use it on their starter and have it become a powered up pony of that element. For instance, early on you choose between a aqua, fire, and plant crystal then get the ability to turn your pony into whatever type you chose and revert back to normal whenever you wanted.
The idea was dropped when I started thinking of more fun and cryptic ways to transform into various types. If I want to give players access to everything, I should make discovering each form fun. Even drive some word of mouth as people try to find certain methods together.
My mind is sure to change as I come up with solid ideas for the ponies to be seen on this adventure, so nothing is set in stone. Right now it's time to keep dreaming and recording so I can pick the best ideas out of the lot.