Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dungeon Diving 10

Just a small update (no build just yet).

Got a TON of great things working. Gear is now component-alized. Meaning I create base skeleton equipment, and can add components to it (which just build into the stats) to reflect some variations instead of building a database of different gear. This is how WoW does their gear (“of the monkey” etc), and is likely how Diablo handles theirs. Gameplay wise, it allows me to structure and add variation, rather than doing them all in one go. As such, a “base” set of gear for my first playable alpha is now in and ready to be used.

Stat system (at least my initial attempt) is complete as well. Stats are POW/SPD/LCK. POW(er) affects how hard your abilities hit (as a multiplier), SP(ee)D affects how fast your abilities refresh and perhaps a dodging component, and L(u)CK affects item drops and critical rates. Item drops will be important because they’ll affect your ability to produce permanent gear upgrades. I purposely did not put in defensive stats for a reason -- #1 your gear has an armor stat on it which directly reduces how much damage you’ll take, and #2 your health is upgraded as you level (and bought outside of the dungeon). Perhaps it’s not the best idea, but I wanted to keep the focus on playing and skills and less on gear/stats. We’ll see how it goes.

I revamped the skill system to be MUCH easier to handle, where you can only use one skill at a time and once the “queue” clears you can add another ability (assuming you can afford it and the refresh is up). This was important for adding a casting system to the game (which I also did) – skills can have a cast time and will display a progress bar over the player’s head. Casts will pay off for being vulnerable to silences/stuns for that time period. For example, there is an enemy that has a 1.5 second cast spell, but at a certain level the warrior gains the bash ability that can stun opponents and cancel anything currently being cast.

The START of status effects are in. It really needs a full-fledged system for maintaining/displaying/acting off buffs/debuffs, and that’s likely my next task. For example, I want to give a skill for damage over time effects, which isn’t possible without this system.

Once that’s in, it’s just a matter of finishing off the skills, adding a few extra enemies, and then we’re at alpha! Excited to share with people, it’s been a long time to get this off the ground


Monday, November 25, 2013

Dungeon Diving 9

Overhauling the combat system today. On the user side it won't be a noticeable change, but on the backend it'll make things much easier. General outline:

-Player enters combat with an enemy, combat starts.
-While in combat, player's skills gain time, when time = requiredtime (per the skill), the button is clickable
-When button is clicked, the skill is fed into the skillQueue class. This skill holds the current skill being used by a player. Before being added, it makes sure that #1 there's currently nothing in the queue (I don't know why I called it a queue, it's not a queue at all...) and #2 player can afford it. If it passes, the costs are paid and it's put into the queue.

Queue is where the magic happens -- if there's anything in the queue, it'll add time to the casting count. Once the casting count is greater or equal to the casting time (which would be instantly if there was no casting time), the skill will execute. The queue will also look for things such as block/dodge/powerups, and have the ability for skills to be removed via stun (and not be added until it's over). Should make for a lot of interesting skills.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dungeon Diving 8

Latest Build: LATEST!

Okay I said I wasn't going to update without some content in place, but I changed how the camera works. It's now overhead (thanks to Zack's suggestion!), BUT it's now detached from direction. Meaning left just moves you left now, instead of turning you left, and the camera is always facing north. The camera pan for monster fights is still jacked up (I need to have it move based off the direction you encountered the monster now...) but otherwise it looks better I think (:

Real content sometime soon I swear


Friday, November 22, 2013

Dungeon Diving 7

Here's a comparison of my the possible views:

Topleft: "expanded" room
Topright: normal room
Bottomleft: "expanded" room, more top-down view
Bottomright: normal room, more top-down view

Taking opinions on what looks the best. The rooms will eventually be decorated more...


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dungeon Diving 6

Latest Build: Latest

New features;
Camera pans around when a battle initiates
Stats ported over (or slowly ported over) to a more comprehensive system:
POW - attack damage modifier
DEF - damage reduction modifier
SPD - ability speedup modifier
LCK - Critical/luck modifier

Health will not be controlled by a stat, and rather only by skills/level/permanent upgrades

This will likely be my last update for awhile -- not because I won't be working on it, but because I'm going to start the (long) process of adding equipment/skills/enemies to try and make a decently playable dungeon. I don't want to update mid-process (unless just to talk about my current findings) because there's a 90% chance it's gonna suck until it's right


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dungeon Diving 5

Do not fret I'm still alive!
Latest Build

First, my apologies: I took about the last two weeks (some 60 hours of in-game time) to play/beat Persona 4 (which I highly recommend). I might still go back for the platinum trophy, but right now I'm back with my nose to the grindstone on Dungeonsomethingorother.

The first big thing of the week is sort of defining a scope. Scopes are important (especially to an indie developer):
#1 To make projects lean. I'm a firm believer that less is more in video games. You set out with a goal for your game, and you want to accomplish that goal to a satisfactory point in as little features as possible. This makes you emphasize the GOOD features, rather than a dozen mediocre features.
#2 Scope creep makes finishing projects MUCH more difficult, and it's important to set goals and accomplish them. An unfinished game is just as worthless as a game that was never started. So to help that ultimate goal of releasing a game, it's important you set clear boundaries for what you must do to make that happen.

For this game, the focus is on a roguelike design (random content generation, punishing deaths) but with an RPG twist. Characters will learn better skills as they progress, and these skills will help them progress further. Your toolbox of skills you bring into the dungeon is what's ultimately going to dictate how well you do, and collecting as many tools for your toolbox is going to be vital for your success.

With that, here's my current outline:
--Characters when they are defeated in the dungeon will restart from the beginning. They'll lose all their gear they collected, and possibly all of their money as well after they've been given the opportunity to buy upgrades.
--Characters may find skills in the dungeon, buy them outside of the dungeon, or learn them from leveling up.
--Characters will level up, and in doing so receive a health boost, a stat point or two, and possibly new skills
--The only gear slots will be weapon/offhand/armor. Warrior's offhand will be a shield, Mage's will be a tome that'll reward skills and stat points, and a rogue will get a second weapon (etc). You'll find more gear in the dungeon, but you'll likely be able to buy "base gear" (which will always persist over your character), and "entry gear" (that can only be used on the upcoming run).
--Stats will be some combination of brawn/intelligence/dexterity/luck. Brawn will be used for your "non-sp" attack damage, intelligence for your skill damage, dexterity for skill cooldown reducing, and luck for crits/better drops.

I'm gonna start with just one dungeon, and go from there. The goal will eventually be to have more, but I want to get one that progresses like I plan in my head.

As for build updates:
--The UI is quite functional now, you can find/equip gear and they can have tooltips
--Chests now fade away after being looted
--Code was cleaned up quite a bit. Still a lot to go, but it'll be easier to understand down the line
--Minimap completely redone and much easier to expand upon now
--Damage numbers over the player/enemy's head when they're injured
--Stats/Experience/Levels in, although real formulas haven't been designed yet

That's all for now!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dungeon Diving 4


New UI is in!
Inventory is in!
Experience gain is in! (But not leveling up)
Chest dialogue boxes are in!
iPhone (pre-5/5s) resolution size in!

Next step: possibly real loot??


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dungeon Diving 3


Ahh so much has progressed! There's now a fully functional combat system in place for both the player and the enemies (sorry for the lack of interesting skills!). I programmed in a 'rage' bar, which will be the resource management system used by the warrior-type class where the resources build up from standard attacks and you can unleash them on your enemies later on.

I added the ability for the game to create "hallways" to spice it up a bit. They still function as rooms, but with a wall knocked out. One day I want to get better decor randomization in place, but that's not really that important I think. One thing I WOULD like is for the system to be able to create corridors, rooms 3 long and straight that branch off. Dungeon generation is actually the coolest part of the system so far, I generate the blueprints for a room and then I throw it into a factory function that chugs out the room and then I drop it into place.

I also have a working back-end for an inventory system with the ability to specify items as stackable (although the user interface isn't implemented yet, so you can't see anything).

Finally, there's a dialogue system! So now you can see what was really in that chest you just opened. Completely dynamic on my part, I specify the picture and the text and the system takes care of the rest.

Until next time!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dungeon Diving 3


Preliminary combat is in!! More of a proof of concept at this point -- I went 180 on how I wanted to handle it, but I like this system the best so far. Here's the low-down:

-Each character will be able to learn a variety of skills, but each time you enter the dungeon you'll only be able to take a handful of them. There will be a huge emphasis on making sure you have the right skills and build for the job.

-Skills have a cooldown and a cost. Your class will determine the resource management system that you use. The skills can only be used as often as the cooldown allows, pending you have the resources to use them. This means you'll be clicking nonstop until things are dead! Who doesn't love that.

More to come in the near future, like mobs attacking you back. That's kind of important.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dungeon Diving 2


Updated with some fancy lighting (and light sources), as well as some randomness to the level generation to make the rooms feel unique.

There actually is a lot of difficulty in making randomness not look so random. What I mean is, in a truely random situation it's totally normal to see something repeated 3 times in a row. But in a random level generator, this is actually a bad thing because, visually, you're not trying to make something random so much as you are trying to make it not repetitious. And believe it or not they're QUITE different. So the last few days I've been going through and every time I see something that looks peculiar, I write in some code to prevent it from happening. The result is a bit of spaghetti code, but there's no reason to prematurely optimize it, especially when I'm the only one working on it.

But all-in-all, I'm pretty happy with where the generator's at. The only issue I still have open is the fact that "junk" can form under a chest, but the code involved in making that not happen isn't worth the effort at the moment. So hopefully it doesn't bug anyone else too much (:

Next stop: combat! Should be interesting, and hopefully fun. If not for me, at least for the player (:


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dungeon Diving


This is what I've done so far (minus some lighting changes to make it more spooky!). It's coming along well for a week's worth of work (:

Dungeon generation is basically done, I need to place mobs still but the code is trivial. Working on adding some decorative "junk" and lighting (torches!) to the dungeon, as well as improving the wall generation algorithm so it looks more natural and less random. After that it's the fun stuff -- battles!

The battle system will be cool, as the goal is to make monsters "predictable" to a degree. You'll need to know which monsters have which moves, as well as their tendencies. If I get really adventurous, I might even have them learn from your movesets too ;D

The only thing that really "irks" me at the moment is the turning. Since the goal is to make the game "mobile friendly", the navigation of the dungeon is just going from room to room. No time "wasted" etc. With this I'll be creating larger dungeons to churn through, and hopefully the dungeon generator will get to a point where the dungeons stay interesting too.

I'll update again when something cool happens. Until then!


Friday, August 30, 2013


Finally fixed my computer last night, as suspected the motherboard was toast. Game is still there though. But I think I'm putting it on hold.

The reason is three fold:
#1 I am an amateur. I don't have ANY proof I'm capable of doing what I'm doing, and that's tough for me to show my merit
#2 The market is catching up quick, especially with Heartstone on the way. There's a huge chance I won't recover any money I add into it
#3 I really need a team. It's not a one person job, there's a reason the market is the way it is.
#4 I really don't want to rip people off. I can't figure out a way to make a CCG that isn't entirely about exploiting the players.

That said, I have a new project: it's going to be a dungeon grind sort of game focused on mobile, but instead of the traditional combat system I'm going to have three "slots" you must fill each round with abilities, and you and your opponent trade blows in these rounds. One must always be an attack, one must always be a defense, and the third is your choice but the order and WHAT is the attack/defend moves are up to you. The dungeon layout will be similar to zelda dungeons, but with focused combat rather than open-world. In a way it'll be very similar to Praxis was, except without the cards, and at least initially without the multiplayer. A big part will be knowing which moves to use when, and countering attacks with your defend actions etc. All the while leveling up and finding fat loot and sculpting your guy (:

It'll be fun!

I did a random dungeon algorithm today, it was my first experience really working with custom classes in Unity. I made a custom XY class to hold coordinates and "shift" a direction, and a Room class to hold what's linked and dig a direction. It works great, I can make huge sized maps very quickly. Next is adding keys and locked doors, but this in itself poses a fun problem due to the "inaccessible key" dilemma (which some long time zelda fans might remember unbeatable dungeons if you collected keys in an unorthodox fashion). How to solve this, I'm not sure. But it's something to consider!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Current Gameplay v1.1

Link to v1.0 here: Current Gameplay 1.0

-The game takes place in a lateral, a fourth spatial dimension connecting two separate "existences" as we've come to understand them. There's an attacker trying to infiltrate the defender's world, and the defender is doing everything in their power to prevent the invasion before the lateral closes.
-The defender has a ‘barricades’ row which protect the entrance to the defender's existence from the attacker. Each player has a units row that they can play units in, and they'll attack the unit in the opposite lane, or the barricade if there is none.
-Players at the beginning of each turn draw to a full hand of 4 cards, and players are encouraged to make as many plays as they can.

DEF UNITS  [] [] []
ATK UNITS  [] [] []

-Turns are taken simultaneously with the opponent. There is the upkeep, deployment, resolution, and attack phase. All user choices are concentrated in the ‘deployment’ stage. In order, you can:
1. Choose all the cards you want to play, and what their targets are. Cards are paid with resources which refresh to the maximum (5 resources) each turn.
2. Choose your ‘assist’ card if you want to participate in assisting this turn.
-Once both players ‘lock in’ their plays in the deployment phase, the resolution phase begins and plays are resolved in order, alternating between players. The player who controls the assist resolves their first play first. Then attacking begins, and the turn repeats.
-Attacking involves the attacker attacking down his lane (L1,L2,L3). If there is a defender unit, he'll damage that and the defender will attack back. If there is no defender, he will attack the barricade. If the barricade's health is reduced to 0, it'll be destroyed. If there is no defender and no barricade, the attacker infiltrates and scores a point (and the attacker is discarded).

Each turn during the deployment phase, players may discard a card to the assistance battle. In resolution, the player with the HIGHER card cost wins the assist; if they are tied, the player who currently has the assist retains it. The defender always starts with assist.
Assisting has four benefits:
1. The player with assist gets the first resolution of cards in the deployment phase. This means if you have a critical play, you are essentially guaranteed to have your first card resolve uncontested.
2. If you win assist, you gain 1 Morale and 1 AP.
3. It allows you to “trash” a card, essentially a one card mulligan available each turn to help you churn through your deck and keep the pace up.

-The attacker wins the game by infiltrating three attackers.
-The defender wins by gaining points for each turn their buildings are not attacked. This may change, pending a better system.
-Players may also win if they reach maximum morale.

Morale is a shared meter between both players. It will start at 0, and whenever a player gains morale their opponent loses the same amount (and vice versa). Essentially it's a "tug-of-war" between players. There’s three ‘states’ of morale: high, medium, low corresponding to specific value ranges. Morale is used as a state-base requirement for some effects (If you have high morale, this unit gets 2 ATK), can be spent for powerful abilities (Spend 2 Morale: Opposing unit is incapacitated this turn) and if you have FULL morale you win the game. Thus, morale management is extremely important.

Two ways to gain morale:
2. If you win the assist conflict, you gain 1 Morale
3. Cards effects will sometimes award Morale

Unit – your bread and butter ‘creature’, they have ATK/HLT with persistent damage (that is damage doesn't disappear at the end of the turn like in MTG). If DMG = HLT the unit is killed. This makes it VERY apparent if healing will have an effect and state base things that add health are more clear. They also have deployment timers before they're deployed. Each unit loses 1 deployment counter per upkeep. When you play a unit, it’ll be “inactive” (can't attack or be attacked) until the deployment timer reaches zero.
Tactics – They cost resources and their effects are seen immediately. Often used for quick, favorable board state changes.
Generals - Both players have a general. Generals gain 1AP at the beginning of the turn, and any unspent resources at the end of the turn are turned into AP for the general. They can use that AP to enter play and can turn the tide of the game. Generals also dictate what factions you can use in your deck and how many "faction points" you have to spend during deck construction to play off-faction cards.

Unit next time,

Monday, August 12, 2013

More Updates

SO, last weekend my computer crapped out. If it turns out to be my harddrive, then this project is toast and while I want to say I am absolutely starting it back up, there's MONTHS of work to be redone -- I bought an external on Wednesday to back everything up now that I was convinced this project was worth pursuing, UPS came thursday to leave a signature paper, friday someone stole the package, and saturday my computer died. Such is life.

HOWEVER, I have reason to believe it's my motherboard at the moment, which while a huge setback in terms of getting a new one etc is a pain in the ass, once I'm back up and running things will continue to go.

IN THE MEANTIME, I'll continue to post little story snippets that I think up and write like the last post.

ALSO, I think I'm dropping the distortions. They're an awkward card, in my limited playtesting they proved more of an annoyance and source of confusion then a useful and fun tool. I also want to introduce some sort of 'hero'. Without it being so cliche. The hero will have useable abilities that will have big effects on the game, sort of the focal point of the deck and a stone to build on. I think I did a blog about how important it is to give someone options, but not so open that they are paralyzed just trying to come up with an initial direction. It helps a lot, as a player both experienced and inexperienced, to say "hey you can go anywhere, but start walking straight ahead and see where it takes you". The second big use is to tie two big loose ends: I want him to gain points for each unused resource, as well as points for advantage battles. Right now they seem very lackluster, and I want when you lose that advantage to be like "goddamn I needed that". I thought about giving an additional resource on the following turn, but it seemed a bit much so this might be a good alternative.

TRANSITIONAL PHRASE, I'll be updating again soon with more info as it comes. In the mean time keep your seatbelts tight and ready to rock


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Story time.

(Editor’s note: like everything, this is all subject to change. But here’s some story because I talk about boring mechanics enough)

Marcus slouched in his chair -- it had been a week since he had seen Dalla, and with each hour the worry on his face grew. She would disappear from time to time, but never for more than a few hours, and certainly not a full day. He worried she escaped and was killed, or even worse discovered. His mind drifted. Since the North Confederation had gotten rumors of the Blight engulfing lower Cypris, there were dreadful stories spreading about exactly what was happening. When he slept, he dreamt nightmares of the stories he heard. Tendrils crawling across the ground like a tidal wave of darkness. People’s screams as they were engulfed into nothingness. The sheer overwhelming nature of a force they neither controlled nor understood. All they knew was that what went into the black never came out. These images stayed with him after he woke, replaying in his head all day like a broken record of a horror show. But the lifeless look that painted his face wasn’t about his own fate, but for what might happen to Dalla if she was stuck outside the walls. Or even worse, if someone else had discovered her roaming the streets and was now deciding what course of action to take. He wasn’t ready for that to happen. His skin crawled at the very thought and he dismissed it immediately and continued to read the paper about today’s misfortunes.

When Marcus had first arrived in what was then northern Russia, the area was cold and demanding. He had come looking for work, like many before him, but his leads dried up and his reserves dwindled down much quicker than he expected. Two years ago, with an unsteady hand and a ballpoint pen, Marcus enlisted in the reserves for patrol in some of Russia’s harshest conditions. The runs were miserable: scouting critical control points, supply runs to the outposts that littered the more habitable sections of the frozen landscape. He learned to adapt though. Trekking these harsh conditions provide quite more difficult than his previous experience in recon work, but in a strange way rewarding. The runs taught him the landscape and all of its intricacies and perils. And it was on a particular run to the lowlands that he met Dalla. He spotted her in the distance against the white backdrop. It was a short animal, of a peculiar light orange hew fur, resembling something like a rabbit. But it was quite different at the same time. It had two large eyes that contained two pupils each, and a different number of toes on each foot. Its eyes seemed to bulge a bit out of its sockets, and the hair was much thicker than any animal he had seen before. It didn’t quite hop, but moved more like an insect as it scurried across the snow; its legs moved quick while its body seemed to just propel forward rather than a typical bobbing motion an animal would display. Marcus captured it, planning on selling it to some fur trapper or researcher who, he imagined, would pay a large sum of essence for such a peculiar animal. He had assumed the animal had digested some Verve that fell off the back of a shipment, resulting in its odd form. An oddity, but nothing of real importance. Tests on animals like this were conducted all the time in the labs at Central. But, he grew to love the animal and befriended it, making sure to keep it out of official eyes to prevent an official reclamation, as Verve animals were strictly off-limits to civilians.

As he looked around the Haven, a supposed a safe refuge from the incoming terror, he worried Dalla had slipped through one of the many patchworks around the perimeter. The walls were rushed, cemented together and painted with some new paint containing Verve. The walls on the faces of the stones were a bold blue color, but as the paint met the plaster it turns a yellowish hue. They claimed that this mix would stop the Blight, but the streets whispered of failed experiments. The sight amused Marcus, entertained by the thought of such a colorful wall being humanity’s protection. Makeshift houses littered any open fields that were available, sometimes in odd shapes to fit the available space. The only open field that remained was the rather large crop area at the center of the Haven, their only source of agriculture to feed the city. He noticed workers painting hastily a greenish coating on the walls, which he immediately recognized as some paintable version of Verve. He got mixed reports if the walls were even tall enough: no one seemed sure how much was ‘enough’. The roads showed signs of severe aging, probably build generations ago. People littered the streets, wandering around almost aimlessly, probably trying to clear their minds of what to come. This wasn’t a Haven, but a trap for their death. And yet, it seemed to be the only option. All you could do was hope the blight never made it up north to test the walls they put all their faith in.

While the Haven hurried around him to get ready for the Saturday counting, Marcus studied the area. He recalled Dalla liked to search for scraps at night in the darkness along the eastern wall, where a semblance of a market started to form since the Haven’s inception. The Soltari, the local government body for the Haven, provided rations and materials to survive; anything traded in the market was extras people brought when they arrived at the Haven. With all the scuffling, someone was sure to drop some of their rations. With the condition the roads were in, they often decided it wasn’t worth even picking up. He walked along a broken path towards the east and studied the wall, taking note of any holes or imperfections that might be big enough for Dalla to sneak through. Towards the end of the trek, he spotted some tracks heading through what looked like a punched out portion of the wall, not much bigger than Dalla. He immediately recognized the odd toe pattern, and once the night came he made his way back to scale the wall, hoping what was on the other side was Dalla and not something far worse.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Design Choices

There's a very good chance I've just gone crazy. In fact, it hit me so hard I had to come here and write a blog about it.

I played my FIRST Praxis game ever with someone last night. The upside was that nothing broke, the downside was that I don't think my model worked. For a number of reasons, but I think I'm just going to rattle off my thoughts about the game we played.

#1 It was VERY apparent I didn't balance well at all. Praxis is kind of hard to balance at the moment, one in part because I have both a cost and a deployment timer (which says how many turns your unit is "inactive" before it's summoned). Originally I thought this was a benefit that allowed me to "fine tune" in cards, but in reality it's actually quite detrimental because I'm having trouble wrapping my head around how much an extra turn before you deploy costs. You can't scale it because a 5R 2DT unit would be super high in stats (which i'll get to in a minute why that's bad), and it can't be additive because a 1R 2DT unit gets bumped up very quickly. Right now I just changed it so that you add R+DT and from a lookup table that's the points allocation as a guideline. Hopefully this works out better.

#2 The attacker and defender's asymmetric goals make DT's a nightmare. An attacker, theoretically, wants its biggest and baddest units (AKA 5R 2DT) and it's worth it to wait for them, because full lane control isn't as important as getting damage through one. Every time a unit dies, the lane is "open" while the new unit replacing it waits for it's DT to click down (which is a turn-free attack for 1DT). Conversely, a defender really would love a deck full of 0DT chump units, where he can guard every lane because his buildings upgrade by not being attacked (and thus his win condition is don't let the buildings get attacked). Both of these feed each other in an terrible feedback loop.

#3 Morale (which I want to rename to be less cliche) needs to be a commodity used to really change the game in your favor. It needs to always be important to gain, and spending it really needs to be scary. Not sure if I want to tie a win condition to it anymore.

#4 The advantage wasn't as fun as I was hoping, and it's effects were minimal. I wanted advantage to be a BIG DEAL to win. This might be dependent more on cards though, as going first never made a big deal in our game.

#5 My friend was totally overwhelmed. Part of it is because the game wasn't explained and the controls are a bit wonky with no good AI, but another part is there's just a lot to digest. you're drawing tons of cards per turn, there's buildings and two rows of units and a distortion and everything going on.

Overall, there's just a lot to digest. I wanted every turn of Praxis to be like a BIG deal in terms of the game progression. I wanted the strategic planning, and a battle in itself during the attack, the dust clears and you go "ok jesus, now what's my plan?" or "yes! that worked!!". There's no windup, no stalling. We hit it hard, and we hit it fast.

SOMETHING needs to change. I think it's an issue with my win objectives. And DT's are already a bigger hindrance than help, although I might keep it at 1DT for 95% of cards and only state when it's not. I'm crazy enough to think about getting rid of the defender's units completely -- focus their energies on upgrading their buildings and setting up roadblocks. It's a stretch, but I think something drastic needs to be done. Need to sleep on it.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Campaign goals

I played Fantasy Flight's Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG on Sunday. It's a role playing game in lieu of D&D but with less rules and more abstraction/emphasis on storytelling and story building. And as a result, a large part of the story is improvised as you play and events unfold (unlike D&D, where you roll for a success check, not only do you roll to see if you succeed or fail, but you roll to see if you do so with an advantage/disadvantage. So you can succeed with failure (you shoot an enemy but your gun jams) or you can fail with advantage (you were chasing someone and tripped and lost them, but you tripped on an item that’ll help you in your adventure). And because of all of these on-the-fly possibilities, you really just make it up as you go. Which was interesting to me, for a few reasons, but mostly because of the really immersive story that evolved from a whole bunch of people who had never done this before.

So how does this tie into Praxis? I’ve always iterated that I want the developer/community relationship to play out as in Praxis, but honestly this Game Master/Player relationship is a perfect analogy for what I want. I’m currently building the skeleton and the tools, and I want to see players completely roll with it. For probably some good reasons, developers are often VERY cautious about allowing players to mold the experience. I think Sirlin (or some other famous blogger) did an article akin to this once, but in developing the “player experience” in a lot of AAA games, there’s a vision in the developer’s head about what the player to experience and the player is sort of “force fed” this story and the events that play out. But I look back on my gaming history and think about the games that have left the biggest impressions on me and I mostly come up with player generated experiences. At the end of the day, in my experience, if you can give a player the tools they will make something amazing.

I think one of my BIGGEST goals in Praxis is going to be allowing players to craft story arcs for a campaign. I’ll develop an external campaign editor, where you can make choices and see dialogue and travel to places, and the creator can set the decks and the rules and whatever they want. Part of this is going to involve decoupling campaign from multiplayer: each custom campaign is going to be a “sandbox” for the player, where their outside collection cannot influence the cards they receive in the campaign. This is so you can drive a story better, but also to prevent creating “farming” campaigns to get cards. Perhaps I’ll have “sponsored” campaigns that’ll allow currency gained in the campaign to count towards your account. But ultimately I want a player driven story, as the players are MUCH more creative than I will ever be, and the best way to do that is with a visual – and what’s a better visual than the game itself?

I want to see US create something awesome. And part of my duty to make that happen is to facilitate the creative juice flow.


Thursday, July 25, 2013


Today, on July 25th, 2013, the first game of Praxis was played. It was a complete gridlock and I decked out and didn't have code written to deal with that.

But it was delightful.

LOTS of work to go. I wrote down a whole bunch of things to fix and improve. But no major bugs happened, so they're mostly cosmetic/balancing.

Here's where the fun starts. And boy I'm excited. I hope you are too (:


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pricing Strategies v2

I've been debating more on this. It's almost a "given" that players will detest any progression method that encourages premium content, for the reasons I outlined below. But what if we separated the two entirely?

Here's what I'm thinking:
-Free version has ads, but unrestricted game
-Free version only has 1-3 deck slots
-Free version has an energy cap on campaign
-Free version earns X gold per game
-Free version has X% chance to find the essences to "upgrade" cards.

Two pay models:
-Aesthetic upgrades. There will be sketches of cards available, as well as possibly re-colorings. You can buy pretty cheap ($1 a card?)
-Subscription. Say $10/mo, with reductions up to say $5/mo for a year. Doing this one will unlock like 10-20 deck slots, and permanent ad reduction in-game. In fact, they might be purchasable on their own and you'll get a price reduction on the first premium month. While you're subscribed, you'll earn double gold, double chance to find upgrade stones, and no energy caps on campaign.
-MAYBE you'll be able to buy in-game currency with RL money, but if it's done it'll be purely so you can, it won't be the intended method to get cards.

It's tough to come up with models that facilitate a "fair" game between players. This is all speculation at this point, but I like to write down all my ideas.

Oh, and all cards tested now and attacking system known-bugs resolved. All that's left is barricades and then it's on to the fun stuff.

That's all for now

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pricing Strategies

We’re closing in!! Four cards to verify they work correctly, three buildings to create and test, an attack system to verify and debug, and then we’re starting the very beginnings of playtesting! It’s been a fun ride so far, I’m excited for everyone to rip apart what I’ve created and tell me why it sucks so I can make something beautiful.

I want to post some thoughts on what a CCG needs in terms of card design. I’ve done previous blogs on this subject but here’s some more insight to where I want things to go.

I had a long discussion with a friend yesterday about the “collection” part of a CCG. CCG’s are inherently flawed in the competitive scene, because to be truly ‘competitive’ (in that skill prevails over previous time commitments) you need to have access to EVERYTHING, which creates a situation where either you remove the collection portion or RNG/wallets prevail over skill. A CCG, in that regard, can’t ever TRULY be a competitive game like starcraft can, because there’s always randomness in both the game (a shuffled deck of plays, for example), and in access to those cards (your toolbox is based on whatever RNG decided to give you in boosters). Most games rely on this as a monetization point – they stage the game as “everything is free!” but realistically a free player won’t ever get access to everything they’ll need. I’ve seen it referred to as a grindwall (as opposed to a paywall – things you can only get by paying) and for all intents and purposes they serve the same use. But what I previously discounted was the fact that people LIKE the progression. It’s fun to unlock new, powerful cards. It gives the player a short term easy goal, and grinding for cards you’ll never use is a lot less fun.

So here’s where my philosophy is changing a bit. I think there always needs to be good cards and bad cards, because starting with “bad” cards and going to “good” cards is what makes things fun. I’ve touched on this before, but if all cards were theoretically equal in power level, there’s no incentive (other than trying something new) to progress. Kongai was designed like this, but unique and important reasons, but a “true” CCG cannot. I don’t think the difference needs to be as big as the traditional powerlevel between a common and a rare in a game, but it does need to be there so players can judge and learn and progress. Mark Rosewater has done great articles on this very topic, and so has the creators of Solforge, and I am starting to buy into their philosophy a bit more – the choice isn’t made from the perspective of game design (as a “boxed” game would never truly want worse cards and best cards), but from the player experience.

That said, and this has been my personal biggest struggle to come up with, is breaking the normal CCG model which inherently is a turn-off. CCG’s, to be competitive, need access to everything, and generally CCG’s make their money off of exploiting people’s impatience. Which isn’t inherently bad, but it creates a strict difference between “free” players and “pay” players. And what’s ignored so often is that if there’s a way to gain an edge, it’s not a “perk” for competitive players, it’s a requirement. This could be exploiting frames for moves in a fighting game, exploiting bugs to gain an advantage in a console game that won’t get patched, grinding for that 0.001% drop of an item, or investing money to match the top players. It’s just a requirement. But games need to make money, because otherwise there’s no game period. There’s definitely an inherit benefit to having free players, arming them to be competitive, and most importantly making sure that even if they aren’t supporting your product they are happy and content. Everyone starts as a free player. And I notice a strict difference in myself between a game that I go “Goddamnit, I need to pay $X so I can get what I need to keep my rank this week with the new changes” to “This game is awesome, I wonder what I can get with $10?”. F2P, thanks to people exploiting the human psyche, have really given a bad taste in most player’s mouths, but how do you support a game with continual content progression with a non-static structure?

I’m at an advantage here, if my game does not do well, I don’t have to worry about putting food on the table. I never fault a game developer who wants to stick with the traditional model because their livelihoods depend on it. I can afford to experiment a bit though. But how? If a CCG inherently NEEDS progression to stay fun, and progression costs the developer money, either we find a way to make the focal point of fun not on progression or find other ways to generate revenue. I personally kind of feel the issue is really with the fact that costs are quite hidden. I think if you knew it would cost you $5 or $10 a month to be competitive, things would be easier to digest. Even if it’s something simple -- $10 a month to double your money earnings, or increase your chances of finding the card. What if card acquisition wasn’t random at all? Forget boosters, which inherently add the artificial game lengthening, and make it tied to skill progression somehow. The progression is the fun part, the gamble is the addiction. What if there was a level up system, and each level unlocked new cards? Or you chose the “set” to unlock every level? Playing more skilled players gives you more XP or something.

Truth be told though, no one really makes breaking grounds in terms of finding the answer to this. Most stick to generating money (for good reason), but if you can appeal to a large portion because your game ISNT costly, and instead has some new edgy way of going about things that makes it seem more like a fun relationship rather than a personal exploit, I think we can remove the bad taste in people’s mouths from the F2P world and make it more as it was intended – free players are just as much of an asset as paying players, you just need to utilize them correctly.

Until next time!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Coding progress

Morale bars added, advantage (finally) separated as a separate step, and buildings are coded (but untested). All that's left now is to add some building abilities and some minor polish to make things make sense to people other than me. After that it’s FINALLY time start some play testing. I expect it to go absolutely horribly, and I’ll tell you why:

The resource system in Praxis is kind of odd. We’re not in Solforge/Yugioh’s “every card is worth the same (1 play)” boat, but we’re not in MTG’s “cards are balanced by their cost” boat. That is, a card that costs 1R is not worth ½ as much as a card that costs 2R, because there’s no “buildup” to resources. If this is the case (which it is currently in my current balance, which I got to test out for a few games until I made all the changes outlined below), then it’s almost strictly better to always play 5R guys, because the deployment counter makes units surviving much more important. On the flip side, because of our draw mechanic, if 5R guys are only marginally better than a 2R guy, then I will likely quite often play my 2R (or TWO 2R’s) and play a tactic to make up the difference in power . So there’s a delicate balance to be struck, and I think that will take a lot of practice to nail. But it’s exciting nonetheless.

More info to come when more is done!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Development Tools

Yesterday I successfully put the game on official version control using VisualSVN/tortoiseSVN. Going to buy an external to do a mirror backup soon too so I don't lose my source incase of failure.

More importantly though, I started a trello to track objectives/outstanding bugs/things I want to get to eventually. Right now I was just using an (unsaved) notepad file which was awful. The great thing about this is you can see what I’m working on if that tickles your fancy: Praxis on Trello.

Things are definitely chugging, I hope to have something playable really soon for a few select people (:


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Origins of life

As I pour more time into 'researching' all the psuedo-science I've laid out in the story, some of the questions that have come up have been very philosophically deep. Particularly, the question of "what is life?" has come up countless times. It's easy to describe characteristics of like (aka what it means to be alive). Things that are alive reproduce/replicate, they can influence their environment, they struggle for existence, etc. But this isn't what IS life, it's what characteristics do things that are alive display? Personally, I think I'm a believer that life is not a component, but a property. To be living is to be whole, and while people love to categorize things (perhaps as a way to digest complex phenomena), there's a whole lot of grey area that makes it impossible to draw the definitive line and characterize things. HOWEVER, storytelling, especially fictional story telling, is just as important to be sensationalist as to be factual. We can play out "what if?" scenarios that scientific method cannot. We can entertain the idea of a god, or of alien races, or of a parallel dimension that connects separate existences together. But sometimes, especially in science-fiction, the closer you bring these fantasies into reality, the more engaging of a platform you have to tell a story. So here's my platform:

Back in the 40's, Erwin Schrödinger (yeah, that Schrödinger) gave a speech not on complex mathematical phenomena, but on classifying life in physical/chemical terms. He had this idea for a "aperiodic crystal", a crystal which held all of our genetic information. In reality, this is kind of what DNA turned out to be, so kudos to him. But there is this idea of an ordered, but not patterned, structure. He also had an interesting idea, called the Schrödinger's "paradox", where he argued that while everything trends to a more chaotic state (aka the second law of thermodynamics), life seems to become MORE structured as time goes on. How can life not tend towards a more chaotic state? Well the idea is that the order created within life must be offset by more disorder created in the surroundings of that life. Which leads to an interesting dilemma:

What if life WERE able to be extracted? Life, in its purest form, must therefor be the ultimate source of order. Just in theory, I have this world filled with disorder, and somehow I'm able to make the stars align and extract a completely pure substance. I must have to create a lot of "waste" to balance it out. This is where the blight in Cypris is born. This is how the world of Praxis 'dies'. Gathis is filled with life "manipulators", but in reality this isn't true -- the reason the faceless can "open up" the lateral to gathis/praxis while Marcus has to create this big life citadel is because they've actually worn the shell of their universe thin. Every action has an opposite reaction. Those rules don't change.

But you might ask, "Hey John, that's all fine and dandy, but what IS life extraction? It seems ridiculous." And it's not, really. Or at least plausible. Consider forces. Forces, as we know it, are really an observable effect on mass. Forces aren't materialistic, they aren't directly observable, and we have zero idea what causes them. They are more an explanation than an example. But what we CAN do, and we've become very good at, is quantifying the effects of these forces. So far we know of 4 fundamental forces: Gravity (which everyone is familiar with), Electromagnetic (eletricity, light, magnetism), Strong (what binds neurons and protons together), and Weak (which causes radioactive beta decay and sort of covers 'the other stuff'). What's interesting is, we REALLY only have good knowledge about weak/electromagnetic. We have theories about gravity and how strong and weak interact, but much less definitive. And for something that governs basically existence as we know it, what's it say if we don't understand the fundamentals?

Here's my take: everyone thinks that objects/mass cause forces. We have gravity because we have mass, there is light because of vibrating photons, etc. But what if it's the opposite? Force dictates mass. We are all trending towards a more chaotic state, that is a 'fact'. If you live in a world where there was ZERO forces, you'd never trend towards a more chaotic state. Throwing the marbles randomizes the order. Gravity causes mass to move. You could (theoretically) have forces without mass, but mass without forces? That's a finer line.

What's interesting is, none of these 'forces' cover what makes something alive. If these are the building blocks of all physical/chemical observed phenomena, then why can't it explain or innate need to replicate (to the cellular level), or emotions. What if there was an "unobserved" force controlling all this? I say unobserved as in not scientifically quantified, but you see it everywhere. What if this 'life force' is what dictates the line between living and nonliving, just like we say as a requirement of matter that it 'has mass' (and thus affected by gravity)? And just like with weak force, we could pinpoint it and say "aha! This is exactly what we mean when we say weak force". Marcus is groundbreaking in that they make this observation of the 'life force', and maybe rather than "extracting" life, they are able to "capture" it like a sponge filled with water. The urecite isn't LIFE, persay, but it contains life in its purest, unadulterated form. It hasn't taken a "host" yet (similar to how a virus is not living until it has its host cell), but it's just brimming with potential. The current rules about what's "living" are all from observation, but this 'life force' could very well operate in more ways than we can just observe. And with this capturing, the opposite force must happen, and that force is responsible for death. In my mind, in "praxis world" life is zero sum -- when things "die" they return to the ground, and from the ground that life is transferred into other things.

Ponder on that for a bit.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Design Changes

I know no one has actually played the game yet, so this is more of a personal chronicle -- but here are changes I've made/am making this week:

Removed Presence
Rationale: Presence was a way to “vary honor” a bit more. Presence was the combined resource cost of all your units on the field. The idea was that honor largely stayed stagnant, and a lot was riding on it. So I wanted more ways to shake up honor gain. In reality, it’s just one more thing to worry about and doesn’t add anything to the game. So it’s out.

Buildings renamed to barricades
Rationale: Buildings never made sense, in a story-sense. Barricades will be a bit more “ethereal” in nature, possibly made of Ure, and are thought of as being a blockade to passing through the lateral to the other existence

Barricades lose the goodstuff/badstuff
Barricades no longer are upgraded for resources, instead they are “upped” if they remain untouched for a turn
Barricades now have 3 levels, level up automatically if they are fully “upped”, leveling up increases stats
There is no longer a 10 card ‘barricade’ deck, instead the 3 are pre-picked by the defender and once destroyed will regenerate to LV1 in a turn (or two)
Rationale: A functional change in barricades. They used to have one level, and once they were invested in enough they’d be scored by the defender. If their health reached zero before they were fully upgraded, the attacker would score them. Goodstuff happened when the defender scored them, badstuff happened when the attacker scored them. The idea was that the defender needed to balance the good vs bad in their deck based on playstyle etc. In reality it’s a balancing pain, it got mixed reviews, and it was increasing the complication of the game. The defender could also only invest 1R in them per turn, and often it was a “given” which the right upgrade would be (and you could forget to do it), which breaks one of my design goals. In this new system, it happens automatically. It’s less user input, less complicated, and easier to understand and evaluate. It’s also less cards to produce which is a plus.

Players start with same resources
Rationale: Defender used to get more to upgrade barricades with, but that function is no longer needed.

Reconditioned Win Conditions:
-Either player may win by getting “full” honor
-Attacker may win by advancing X units into the defender’s base.
-Defender may win by holding off the attacker for Y turns.
Rationale: Honor is much more important now, and will still serve its old functions (card effects etc). Attacker advances a unit by attacking a destroyed barricade, at which point the attacker is discarded and the player scores (and the barricade is immediately restored to lv1). The defender win con I don’t like much, but it’s a start. Old wins were by scoring X points by “securing” barricades or destroying them.

Advantage moved to separate step, immediately after play phase but before eval phase
Rationale: It was easy to forget to choose an advantage target, when it’s usually very important. This also doesn’t ruin the ability to play asynchronous games, as the official “lock in” is after you chose advantage.

Hopefully this works towards making the game more concise, more emphasis on the important/fun choices, and a better reflection of story choices!


Removed "passives"
The passives used to trigger based on the current advantage player's morale, at high morale they'd have really interesting effects. Just removing to now to make the game more concise, with the intention of bringing back in a different form in the future.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Game Design Changes Part 2

I've been stewing over this defender's role a lot lately, as it's basically holding up everything while I try and figure out how I want this game to play. But what if -- he doesn't follow the same rules at all?

So a big problem I had with the previous system was that the defender's buildings were an afterthought. The tools provided in my system made the buildings more of a nuisance than a fun aspect of the game -- and who wants to play defender if attacker is so much more fun?

But what if the defender's turn structure and his resources and hand and basically everything were catered towards the goal of defending?

Hear me out:

So buildings become locations. The attacker right now is fighting to get into these locations, and when his attacker has an unguarded location that he attacks, the attack is discarded as if he goes into the location. And if so many attackers go into a location, the location is toast. Or maybe there's three barriers, and they have to break the barriers and then breach the entrance.

So what if the defender's resources were structured different? What if each lane's resources were independent so that each lane got resources? What if a central point of playing defense was relying on your barrier's abilities as if they were towers in a tower defense game? What if the defender had a "pool" of resources, and it constantly grew each turn? What if they had cards that were exclusively for defense?

My point is, I think the answer to my issues is to focus on what, as a defender, would make the game a lot of fun. Rules can be broken just as quickly as they're created when you're designing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Story V1.1

Hey all, I've updated the story largely thanks to the help from a few of you in offering me questions about some holes in the plot. Again, it's far from perfect, but here's where it's at:

Old Versions:

  • Version 1.0


    The story starts on Cypris, the remnants of ‘Earth’, after the blight engulfed the southern hemisphere over two centuries earlier. The blight came from currently unknown origin, and started at approximately the tip of Southern Africa. It crawled the southern hemisphere in an almost tendril-like pattern, slowly killing everything in its path over a period of 5 years. There was no discovered way to disperse the Blight. Only the northern-most nations had enough time to set up proper protection against the blight creep, called havens, with three havens that were strategically chosen by all northern nations to try spread out as evenly as possible to mitigate the most damage: one in what was once North America, approximately at the Canadian Shield, one in Europe in the Germany/Poland/Czech area, and one in northern Russia in the northern Siberian Federal District, around Krasnoyarsk Krai. The key to create these havens was actually a scientific breakthrough by the Germans in life extraction from the earth, utilizing a similar technique that trees displayed. This tangible life, crystalized in what the Germans called Urecite, a throwback to Friedrich Wöhler. This crystalized life used to line the walls of the havens was so effective that people theorized the Blight was death itself. But this is not the story. The story starts with Marcus, current president of the Russian haven, Okhrana. Marcus was one of the few men who was exposed momentarily to the blight and while afflicted did not die. During his sickness that followed, while he was bed-ridden, he had visions of beings and worlds around him. While everyone else assumed hallucinations, Marcus believed he stared death in the face and death revealed a great secret. Marcus was one of the Božský, survivors of the blight, and people believed that they had some special immunity to what killed normal man. His compassion and status spearheaded him to become president, and it was here he started on a new breakthrough. Just as death was leading to Cypris’s extinction, Marcus believed the Urecite was the key to salvation. He theorized that this mineral held the key to the visions he saw, and if he could unlock it he’d be able to create a new world for his people. Over the next decade, they started developing a stockpile of Urecite and in the center of Okhrana they built a pyre bigger than any structure in the haven. Eventually, Marcus successfully cracks the code and builds a portal of sorts. A long tunnel with a destination, but without any size. They prepare an envoy and march to what Marcus believes is a new beginning.

    Praxis – Praxis is a graveyard. When Marcus and his group first arrive, it was unlike anything they had seen before. It was quiet and peaceful, but there was no green to be found, no signs of life. There were giant hulking structures, unlike anything Marcus had seen, but no inhabitants. Marcus takes in the surroundings. It was desolate, but it was peaceful. Marcus believes this is his opportunity to start a new life for his people. To get away from the blight. And so he sets up a colony. But unbeknownst to him, Praxis IS inhabited. The Delmar lurk in the shadows, watching the humans’ every move. The Delmar are machines, but machines binfused with life. Long ago, there was another race on Praxis. They were as intelligent as they were cunning, and they too were able to extract life as a tangible substance. But they didn’t have blight to combat, and so they incorporated the life into their structures. This was a major breakthrough, similar to life before and after electricity, or steam powered engines, or even early agriculture. They infused simple machines with this life, turning them into a living hulk of metal. Praxis was once beautiful, but as this old race extracted life from the world, the world slowly died. And as the earth withered, the old race was too ignorant to realize the issue until the stone was in motion. And as these machines became more and more advanced, they took on their own identity. They collectively became the Delmar. They became self sustaining, with the Delmar manufacturing new Delmar, until it snowballed out of the old race’s control. And with this, they wanted independence and equality, as life was life, regardless of origin. But the old race refused. They did not have souls. They did not reproduce. Life did not create life. This violated all the rules about what they thought of “intelligent beings”. A war erupted, and after decades, the Delmar won. The old race was wiped out from the earth, eradicated by the beings they created, and the Delmar were free. But the world was different – the Delmar didn’t need food or water, they didn’t need housing, and they are highly efficient without the same emotional range. They were programmed strictly for survival. And as they continued to grow, Praxis continued to die. With the arrival of Marcus and his crew, the Delmar felt this was a second coming of the old race, and so they planned their attack. Marcus was blindsided by the first attack, and retreated with what was life of his people back to Cypris. But the lateral, this portal to another existence, was now open. Marcus was ashamed that his vision he labored over for his entire life could be the very undoing of his people, and he vowed to seek vengeance.

    Gathis -- Gathis is inhabited by two races. The faceless (who need a new name) and the Cestre. Originally, the faceless and the Cestre were the same race. The split happened when a radical subset of the race sought a compelling power: ascension. They believed that by tuning into theirselves and tuning out the noise of the world, one choice achieve an inner sanctum -- and within that sanctum, be able to mold the world around them. They were viewed as radicals, trying to play the role of god as mortals. But over time, it was undeniable they were growing in power. They started rituals. Meditations at first, but they grew more intricate over time. Eventually, they started practicing rituals where they'd blind the initiating member, or cause them to go deaf, or mute, or anosmic. And with each sense, they felt they were achieving a higher power. They learned to communicate not through voice but through instinct. And it progressed and spiraled until new members traded all their senses for this 'enlightenment'. They operated as one, like their inner sanctum was shared by all of the faceless members, with one puppetmaster controlling all the marionettes. They had successfully manipulated their actual being. They had achieved something ethereal. But the Cestre, who detested the practice from the beginning, sought a different path. Rather than looking for ascension, they believed in more worldly powers. While the faceless were busy creating rituals to find their inner sanctum, the Cestre were busy finding harmony with the earth and creating inner peace. They learned to understand plants, and talk to animals. They could cause trees to grow, pacify beasts, and cause storms to happen. While they couldn't share thoughts, they could listen to any living thing. It was attunement. The faceless believed they had seen the divine plan, the way Gathis was going to end one day, and claimed the Cestre would be the downfall of the world. Tensions escalated, until war was inevitable. From here one out, the faceless and the Cestre would be involved in their own fight for existence. But the faceless had a plan.

    When the first lateral between Cypris and Praxis was opened, the faceless sensed this disturbence. How could these unknown other races open up this tunnel, they wondered, while they could not? They sought out answers, and while the war waged they were looking to take the next step in their ascension. What they came to understand was that this life force, the one they had centered and molded to achieve their so-called divine powers, was the key. Life transcended whatever they themselves could not understand, and by channeling this life force they could too exist in this other world they detected. They made one fatal flaw though: the inhabitents of Cypris/Praxis weren't "ascended beings" like the Faceless were. The Faceless assumed whoever created the lateral had to of been the same calibur as them -- why else could they sense it? But when the second lateral was finally opened, linking all three worlds, both the humans and the Delmar saw it as reinforcements, and didn't take too kindly to the additional challengers.

  • Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    Game Design Changes

    I was thinking on my (long) drive home the other day about Praxis – specifically about the “buildings” mechanic. So here’s some insight into my design process, and maybe someone else can pitch some better ideas or just start the discussion. I’ve had some excellent discussions that resulted in great ideas with about a half dozen people so far, so there’s always time to discuss some more!

    I know for Praxis I want the aggressor/controller roles to be almost pre-defined. In most card games, the faster, quicker pressure decks assume the “aggressor” role where they are trying to bust a hole through the defenses of the slower, more controlling “defender” before they can establish. And conversely, the controller is looking to stop the initial attack and tie the game down in the longer term. This is kind of a core concept of most card games (especially in magic) and becoming a good player often involves knowing when you’re filling which role – the slower of two very aggressive decks (or maybe just the one with the slower start) will have to assume the controller role and be prepared to, even if their goal was to be aggressive. Same with control decks. It’s part of the beast.

    The buildings idea came from the original model, where each player had a role of buildings and these dictated your resources available, and while you were developing your board you were also trying to develop your buildings. It was ultimately a failure because it broke my “you can always come back from losing” role – once you were down a building, you were down on resources, which made it harder to control the board and thus you’d lose more resources. The obvious answer was to just remove resources from something so easily lost – but then the function of buildings still came into play. They served as an awkward win condition for awhile, jumping between the middle building being destroyed (which caused huge turtling matches), to X number of buildings being defeated (which was just clunky). Eventually they were scrapped when new ideas came in.

    But once this defender/aggressor roles came into the picture, suddenly buildings made sense. The defender was looking to defend his buildings, the aggressor was looking to destroy them. Things were looking up for awhile, at least in theory, and I came up with the fun idea that when you score the building you gain positive effects, and when your opponent destroys it they gain cool effects. The catch of course is that the defender controls which pieces he puts on the board, and thus needs to weigh his potential gains vs the opponent’s and if its worth the risk. There’s still two big issues though:

    #1 The ‘buildings’ don’t work in the current story. In the current version, there is one lateral that connects all three worlds, with praxis being in the middle. Where do these buildings come into play, what sense does it make “scoring” them, and why not just move your building locations away from the lateral, and why does a new building just appear in your past once you’ve “destroyed” the last one are still largely unanswered questions.

    #2 They are kind of clunky. I wanted to make the defender gain more resource per turn, but have to balance between increasing their board state and working towards their goal. The attacker would therefor always be working on their boardstate and always working towards their goal. But here’s where things went wonky: I had to set a limit to amount of resources you could commit to a building per turn, to prevent an entire turn just being scoring a building (which you’d do on your last building to win). So then it was a maximum of 1 resource per building per turn. But it’s not an interesting choice, it’s just another (among many) choices to make. I thought about automating the process, but again it’s just more information going on in the background that’s whirling by, and they’d all go off at once (or relatively at once) which would be weird.

    And to touch upon my latter point, the game already feels very… cluttered. It needs to be leaner, more focused. There’s this morale, and your main goal (playing things), buildings up upgrade, advantage check, a presence check at the beginning of the turn, these automated attacks, auto dial down of deploy timers, etc. It’s a lot to digest and it happens quick. I’m planning on removing the presence check entirely, as it’s not something you “build” towards, it just does things and is more to think about but not strategically utilize. I want minimal input with maximum impact, and even “automated” input is input because you still need to digest what happened (which is a new philosophy of mine). I like the advantage checks. I think they need more impact (somehow), but it keeps the hands flowing, and it’s fun to see if you can “beat” your opponent (although at the moment beating your opponent seems almost pointless) especially if something is on the line. Obviously playing things is staying around. I’ve toyed around with the idea of removing deployment timers, but it’s an easy feature and I don’t need to commit to removing just yet. If it turns out that most units only have DT of 1, then I’ll just make that a rule and possibly exceptions to the rule (like haste and something for DT of 2). And so that leads to buildings.

    Building upgrades are next on the list to go. They have to. It’s just something new to worry about, it doesn’t make the game BETTER. I don’t get excited about buildings, they have all these stats associated (health, damage, resources left to score, passive effects, good/bad scoring effects). They take the focus off the game. The idea of scoring is eh too. They’re necessary in the fact that they are what establishes the attacker/defender model, but other than that they’re kind of odd. So what do we do? My current idea is to change from buildings to locations (or maybe destinations). There is no health on destinations, the goal of the attacker is to “breach” the defenses and arrive at a destination. If successful, the unit who breached is discarded as if he arrived at the destination and the attacking player “scores”. That score might tie into morale and if you fill your bar you win. But I haven't decided. It feels good, like you’re working towards a goal. But what’s the defender’s win condition? They have to stop you, but be able to do so in a quick 10-15 minute game. One way would be to tally up the opponent's units destroyed -- if you kill an army they can't attack you of course. Or you could revisit closing the portals -- amass some unspent amount of resources and win the game, or each one has a condition for closing. Another would be if the opponent can't win in X turns the defender wins. This is my favorite currently, but it means that the defenders games ALWAYS have to go to max turns which is kind of tedious and puts more emphasis on the attacker/aggressor model. It's just tough to say. This is where I'm really going to have to dig in (or maybe get some feedback from you readers). Developing a good game is tough, but I want to take the time to do it right.


    Wednesday, June 26, 2013


    Hey All,

    Been going through all the cards I did in the initial set and bugtesting them to make sure they work as intended. It's been a bit longer of a process than I thought, but it trucks on nonetheless (:

    Two things:

    #1 I leave for a vacation tomorrow until Sunday -- probably no updates until then!
    #2 A good friend Zack created a template for the cards for me this week, it's absolutely awesome:

    Things are definitely rolling!! Hopefully the momentum keeps up. I've done a few test games with myself so far and I was WAY off on balance, so I'll probably make some posts about how that process is going to work (or how I hope it'll work!). Until then --


    Sunday, June 23, 2013

    Initial Cards Programmed!

    Hey all,

    Last night I finished programming the initial 30 cards I'll be using to make two "design decks" to establish some game tempo and some criteria for balancing cards in the future. I was able to play a game (albeit very buggy, you should see my notepad full of "things to fix")! Very cool stuff. Buildings and their abilities still need to be programmed though -- but it's fun to finally be actually playing the game instead of looking at a code screen like I have for the last two weeks.

    More updates on what I'm doing soon enough, and I'll probably start getting some more intricate story detail drafts on here soon too.


    Thursday, June 20, 2013

    Small post

    Hey guys, nothing too interesting to post but I'm about to finish the programming for my first set of 30 cards (they're not good, but they're my "test group" to establish tempo/build a reference for what makes a card good/bad). After that they'll be tested (should be quicker assuming nothing gamebreaking is bugged) and then it's on to actual playtesting! Once the tempo's established I can start thinking about what we want the first cards to be like. It's all coming together finally (:

    I also made the comments open to anyone, hopefully this doesn't invite spammers but you won't need a blogger to leave comments.

    ALSO the biggest complaint I've heard from people is my game name sucks. And I agree! (hence working title). The Story is available so start cooking up something awesome creative people! I am just a lowly programmer, we suck with names.

    Edit: There actually is something I want to touch upon, and Praxis is sort of unique in this aspect compared to most CCG's because of our "proactive" gameplay style rather than "reactive" gameplay style. I think the best way to explain this is to explain some of the best advice I was given as an MTG player (I actually think it's from Next Level Magic but I had a friend tell me it first). He told me "being a good magic player means making the correct play every time, not necessarily the winning play". I'm just going to go into concepts and not cards here, so you don't have to know the rules of magic to understand my point. What he meant was (and this happened to me first hand at a huge tournament to place, no less), I was stuck in an either-or situation and it all depended on whether or not my opponent had an instant speed kill spell in his hand. We were down to the wire here. If I made the play, and he had the one answer I could think of off the top of my head, I'd throw away my win and be left open for next turn completely. If I didn't, my opponent obviously gets more turns to mount a defense and maybe even be able to strike in for the win himself. I wasn't really at life totals to be comfortable about either. I analyzed the board:

  • I had a decent defense in play -- I could definitely handle his board presently, but there were a few plays if he did next turn it would not only put me in a REALLY bad position but it would ruin my "winning" play. Hell, there were a few if he was really prepared that could end it completely next turn (although less likely).
  • He had already played 2 copies of the card I was afraid of. In my experience, most people only ran 0-2, but there is a 15 card sideboard in magic and he might have had extra copies (up to 4) in his deck currently depending on what he expected to play against.
  • He had 3 cards in hand, and maybe 25 cards or so left in his deck -- not much room left for an extra copy of this card.

    In my mind, this was my 'last chance' before I lost board control (whether or not that was the absolute right analysis would be better left for an actual good MTG player) so I took my chances. And of course one of those 3 cards in his hand was the answer and I lost the game and my chance at qualifying.

    But it was a lesson learned -- even though I lost, it was the right play to make. In most CCG's there's a lot of unknowns, and a lot of times you'll need to weigh the pros and cons and do some mental math statistics if you want to discern the 'right' play. And right doesn't necessarily mean the 'winning' play, because this differentiation is what separates the great players from just lucky players. And it's a hard skill to achieve (one that I never did for sure), especially when the "right" play loses you a few games in a row (although I suppose you should evaluate the scenario again then and double check your analysis).

    My point is, Praxis as a proactive game, not a reactive game. Every turn is one of these scenarios where we award smart decision making and really at a 'competitive' level you really need to get in the head of your opponent to be the best. We have a lot less "auto pilot" plays than most games (you have 2 mana this turn, do you play your guy to establish board or do you not and leave yourself open?) because the first turn of the game you can play everything you can in the last turn of the game. There's never a turn where you shouldn't play SOMETHING (or if you do, you're in quite good shape). Many games will increase complexity by complicating the board state, and a "good" player will be able to analyze the board and decide accordingly. There's a lot more to think about for a normal chess player when you're trying to capture a bishop in the middle of a game vs moving your first piece. In Praxis we capitalize in real war tactics of anticipating your opponent's moves. You won't win every game, and there will be games where victory is in your grasp and suddenly the floor crumbles. We facilitate those great comeback stories, we allow a player who's behind to get back into the game by correctly anticipating the opponent's plays. You ALWAYS have to be thinking what the "correct" play is, and you're rewarded for not playing the archtypes and giving yourself that extra level of ambiguity.

    This really is a bit unheard of, at some level there is always a lack of information (your opponent's hand is hidden, your next draw and opponent's draw are hidden, etc) but here if you are constantly responding to what your opponent did last turn they'll always be one step ahead of you -- especially if they get advantage and get to make the first play it'll in effect almost be like "two turns" in a row for that first card. Some people may be more traditionalists and not like a new challenge and a new change of pace, but really I think it'll offer a greater deal of emphasis over making the "right" plays and anticipating your opponent's plays rather than the making the obvious plays. I think it'll also put more power into the hands of a player with worse cards and better skill, unlike almost every other CCG (although as I said earlier my goal is to eliminate that collection factor or minimize it as much as possible). Maybe it's not for everyone, but so far with my initial tests it's been a lot of fun and I hope you'll all stick along the ride with me in making something new and exciting.

  • Monday, June 17, 2013

    Deck Design

    Deck design for me in CCG's has always been a really tough thing to get right. Not in getting the perfect deck, but as a designer to facilitate a lot of options for decks. Too open (you can play whatever cards you want!!) and people get stage freight, stick to proven formulas, people have a more difficult time piecing together EVERYTHING at once, and generally don't drive creativity. Too many restrictions (you can only play this group, and this many cards, and of this subtype) and you put the cards into place for the player, giving them little to no creativity and not allowing the meta to grow. That sweet spot is reducing your game into bite-size pieces while still not telling the player which ones he has to eat. Magic, in my mind, does a great job of this. In reality, there is one anchor: card color. You're never restricted to playing ANYTHING really, but once you start trying to diversify your deck the game's RNG begins to work against you, and it's really a natural balance to that confinement. This is further compounded by their color pie -- each color has a very specific agenda and ways to win in a game. Thus, if you want aggro, you'll generally play red. Control is blue. Fatties are green, etc. Virtually everyone refers to the colors of their deck to describe it. It's beautiful. But here's a challenge (especially if you're not a super-deep magic player): try to come up with a deck that can use any color, no restrictions. Now come up with a mono blue deck, no restrictions. How about a mono blue deck with just commons? From the last 6 sets? I bet a lot of people would have a hard time in the very beginning coming up with a truely competitive deck with no criteria, and I bet a ton of people would arrive at the exact same deck (give or take a few cards) when I impose all the restrictions.

    This idea is what I see referred to a lot as a virtual cardpool. Sure there's probably 15,000 magic cards made. But when you pose these restrictions, this virtual card pool shrinks and shrinks until you're at a much more manageable level. In my example, we go from 15,000 to 86 (and that's just to make a 60 card deck, where about 20 cards are lands). It gets even deeper than that -- both deck size and copies of a card allowed in a deck go a long way too. There's a big difference between only 1x of any card in a 50 card deck vs 4x of any card in a 50 card deck. Shadow Era suffered from this originally with it's 30 card decks -- nearly everyone just played "the best in slot" with no contestion. It would be even worse if they had 4x of any card in a deck, as most people prefer consistency over variety (although that varies a bit from game to game). On the flip side, if your unique copies is too little, you have the reverse effect -- think about trying to use a pool of 86 cards to make a deck of 1x of any card in a 60 card deck vs 4x of any card to make a 60 card deck -- in the former you need to use 60 of your 86 cards, in the latter you can get away with just 15. It's all a numbers game where you aim from your hip and trust your gut.


    Praxis has a few cool features that I think alleviate some of these issues. For one, the advantage feature makes it far easier to play "techy" one-ofs to deal with unique situations, because if your opponent will not pertain to that card, you can simply discard it and get a new one next turn. The fact that we churn through so many more cards is a huge advantage too, because consistency becomes less of a worry (and maybe even a hindrance, that's still to be seen) and you're much more like to see those one-ofs or two-ofs than you would be in most games. But I'm looking to build on it, and here's how:

    I explained last post that I don't like rarities, assuming you're not trying to artificially lengthen your game content. I like being able to share decks with people and the people reading them be realistically able to build them if that sounds like a fun deck to them. What I AM toying with is the idea of "upgrading" cards. Each card might have three "levels", each with increasing power, but with increasing point values. So the "base" card would cost one point, base+ would cost two points, and base++ would cost three points. Your commander (for lack of a better term yet, as of now there's no commanders and no plans atm) decides the point value of your deck. If decks are say 50 cards, then perhaps you're only given 65 pts to make your deck -- you could play 15 base+ cards, or 7 base++ 1 base+, or somewhere in between. But YOU get to decide what those "better" cards are, and likely they'll be the cards that push your strategy further. On top of that, each commander says how many points can be played within its faction -- the four base commanders will let you play 2/3's of the points within their faction, and 1/3rd of the points in their ally factions. Perhaps down the line there's commanders that can only play their faction but get 1.2x points. It opens up a lot of avenues for desk customization, and two people can be following the same 'blue print' with different upgraded cards and they may play entirely differently. I'm really excited about this, I think it will be a cool direction for CCG deck design if it turns out to be a success -- it's an entirely new 'virtual card limit' that allows players to diversify in really interesting ways.

    Let me know what you think (as always), and until next time!


    Saturday, June 15, 2013

    Weekend Post!

    I had a great story discussion last night with cyberse7en and he asked me a SLEW of questions about the story last night and we firmed up a lot of the more intricate details. One thing that's been a very common question I've gotten though has been about how laterals work. The way I've been describing it is if you imagine you live strictly in a 2D world -- all of your movements are on this flat XY plane. And suddenly, you come to realize that not only can you move across this plane, but you can also move up and down -- and so you move up, and you've now reached a unique point in 3D quite different from your original point, and if you explore this plane it'll be different than what it was when you were lower. Now imagine that this happens in our world, a 3D world. There isn't a time difference, but my XYZ position is also accompanied by my my lateral position, and each position on the lateral equates to an entirely new XYZ world. That's the idea we're playing around with in all of this. Just thought I'd clear that up -- Cypris doesn't exist in Praxis world, and same goes for Gathis. But an hour in each world is the same, and if you were to open a second lateral would be the same distance away as the first.

    But that's not the focus for today, I want to talk about why Praxis is going to be DIFFERENT. Sure my game has a few unique ideas (simultaneous turns, shared HP bar) not explored much, and of course Praxis's game experience is going to be quite different than playing a game of Magic or a game of Elements. But the computer/mobile CCG market is becoming saturated quick (it wasn't when I started my project, but that's the woes of a single designer). So why should people check my game out over a AAA title?

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt has an interesting project, called hitRECord. The idea was for artists to come together in a collaborative nature, not only sharing the work they created but with the goal of people mixing it. And so one person has an idea, and another expands upon it, and then another refines a different part, etc, until you've refined a short and rough idea into a beautiful mini-production. And I thought wow that's awesome, I wonder if the gaming community could ever do that. And so here praxis falls into place: my original idea (with this virus and extracting life and this man vs machine conflict) has been evolving into what it is now (and still evolving!!) thanks to a ton of great people offering their ideas and saying "oh wow that's neat!! what if XXX?". And once the game is playable, what if the PLAYERS start pitching card ideas based off this ever-evolving story? Or even just me admitting that as a player you understand a lot of intricacies and quirks of a game at a more personal level than I ever will as a developer, so why isn't your voice worth more weight? What if instead of "no that idea sucks" or "yes that idea is good" we start talking "oh hey that's an excellent idea, what do you think if it could do XXX?" or "well half of that card is cool, but XXX is kind of lame, can we think of something a little more interesting?". What if game design wasn't just a dialogue between the designers (which at the moment is just me! I'd be talking to myself...) and rather a discussion with players? Why are you on the receiving end of the product when we have this awesome ability to include you as part of the design.

    Sure you don't NEED to do any of this to enjoy the game (and most won't), but I've had about a half dozen people ALREADY start feeding me ideas. I love that. Community in a game has always been a paradigm for me, and if that community is engaged I've always felt like playing a lot more. Wouldn't it be great if we not only facilitated that community, but fostered it? I want to see player generated content in a CCG, and that's a concept that has yet to be done properly yet.

    Another thing that I'm very strong about is about delivering a F2P product that doesn't follow the mold. I've thought about ways to deliver Praxis as a more front-end costed game (similar to the LCG system from FF games, most notably Netrunner). I don't want to exploit the human psyche candy crush saga style into belligerently HAVING to give me money to fuel your addiction. I want to make a quality product that people WANT to pay for to see the continued success and support the developers. Traditionally, F2P games have a large portion (sometimes 95%) funded by the top 5% of players. What if we can spread that out more? What would that take? That's what I'm going to try to do with Praxis.

    A big part in this is I'm not going to have card rarities attacked to how good a card is. That is, if a card is uncommon, it would be better if it was a rare. If I do implement card rarity, it'll be more as a definition of "WOW THAT CARD SOUNDS AWESOME!" similar to how mythic rares in magic were (supposed) to be like. But in all actuality, I don't see why I should waste what costs the most money (card art) on a bunch of cards that people are going to see in packs and then immediately forget about. A lot of reason this happens is to artificially extend the life of the game -- if you received 6 random cards in a booster, you might finish your playset quite quick. But if you only REALLY care about the rare at a competitive level, you've now increased the amount of boosters you need to buy by 6 fold roughly speaking. To a lot of games this is worth the common quality. To me it's not -- I am strictly trying to avoid that kind of mentality.

    Praxis might not be the most FUN or BEAUTIFUL or whatever CCG out there, but I plan to try and deliver the most memorable experience. Unlike AAA companies, this isn't my day job and I can afford to break even if it means delivering a better product. I want to make something that people go "I like what Praxis did with..." and I think with all of your help that everyone has been giving we can make that a reality.

    Thursday, June 13, 2013


    So my goal for Praxis is to try and build a robust backstory that the game can evolve with a bit more organically from that story, rather than develop the story about where I want the game to go. I had taken an initial “bad” approach (we’d call it bottom-up, where you come up with the gameplay concepts and fit a story around it, rather than top-down) and the original story suffered a lot because of it. So initially I had come up with a gameplay concept I thought would be fun (there was actually a lot more to it after the initial pitch – the idea was to marry an RTS with a CCG, so you’d be ‘base building’ as your building your unit defenses and juggling between them. The idea COULD work in theory, but it didn’t fit my design criteria for the audience I was trying to target). And with this idea, I came up with a story. The setting was a post-post-apocalyptic world (that wasn’t a typo), in a pretty crafty story where everyone has a stack for the downfall of the world but everyone points fingers at everyone else as the source. I had worked on this story a bit with my English major friend and here’s our last draft (sent in an email on 10/26/11):

    “General plot is that people put pressure on the government, and the government deperately needs funds to prevent economic collapse. President sends his officials to solve the problem. They devise a radical solution of creating a deadly, very contagious virus and the resulting vaccine, and sell said vaccine to bring in additional revenue. The virus production is contracted out secretly in two halves, a group who knows they are creating a weapon of biological warfare for the government, and a group who thinks they are part of an excercise to respond to a biological disaster. Everything goes as planned, the president's officials inform him of this virus (and not the fact that they are behind it) and to warn the people. They largely ignore this warning. The virus is released, and people die as mutated, disfigured versions of themselves in a slow and painful death. It spreads much quicker than the government anticipated, but the money is good so they do nothing about it. A whistleblower from the vaccine manufacturer realizes this is the cure he helped invent a few years prior, and whistleblows thinking it will help clear his name, and help the situation. The people find out and revolt in panic. They attack the capital where the virus is being manufactured. The government, fearing the cure will be destroyed, employ the military to protect the cure at all costs. They do not know what they are protecting, just following orders. They are overwhelmed though, as the people mistake their guarding for guarding the virus itself, and the cure is destroyed. Anyone who cannot get one of the few remaining vaccinations floating around eventually dies over the next few years, as society crumbles when 95% of its population dissapears.

    Fun plots gimmicks to play with: Old world vs new world, who actually caused it, discovering what the old world was like, etc.

    The Wandering - The looters, pillagers, and rapers out full force. Banned together like wolves not out of camaraderie but out of survival, they lost their morals in the destruction and the risk-vs-reward scales are definitely tipped towards risk. They are largely unorganized, but some rulers have risen with an iron fist. Their focus is on hitting quick, fast, with no defenses and straight at your buildings. Playstyle: Glass-cannon like playstyle of pure aggression. They go full force after buildings, their defense is their offense.

    The Resolute - The last of the truely civilized, banding together to try and reestablish government with the eventual goal of reviving society. The leaders are grizzled, emotionless veterans, but full of soul and livelyhood in the grey world. They are the last strong grip on modern life and fight hard to keep their ground. They are likely the holy-ground for the pure of heart still around, but not the most public for such a cause due to their favoring survival over the true benevolent nature. As such, they are often conflicted between survivors and their capacity for new recruits etc. Because of their morals, they are often in a more defensive position but not afraid to take action when necessary. As a result of being the only group who favors society's revival, they have attracted the pure of heart and greedy alike. The government officials who were never exposed for being a part of the virus took haven here. Eventually, there will be a conflict as their views on what society should be are different and a group will likely break off. Playstyle: war-of-attrition, establish a defense, win through outpacing their opponent not sheer power. Very resourceful compared to pure defensive power.

    The Battalion - What was once a military is now a political power. These are your meathead warriors with a chip off their shoulder in a taste for blood. Once defenders of the people, they are now defenders of themselves. Everyone mistakes them as being on the government's side, when in reality they were just as unknowing about what was going on as the people and are falsely lumped with them. They for the most part are isolated, but if you step on their toes you will be crushed by any means necessary. I imagine them metal-gear style, somehow with technology that doesn't exist anymore but is limited in nature. Basically they are the ones with the fun toys being part of the advanced military branch. Playstyle: Big, heavy hitters. Hit big, hit hard. Who needs control, just crush them instead. Who needs beginning-game, the game ends when these guys start the fuck up. Focus on comradery and military stuff.

    The Faceless - Through some weird mystical way these are the ones who can see "the bigger picture". Methodical in nature, everything has a purpose and they believe the apocalypse was to turn the tides in their favor. The world is their game, and they watch it slowly shift towards their vision, playing a hand in history when necessary. Mystical powers of some kind, perhaps divine. Definitely not worldly. Their name comes from both from the dark hoods they wear that mask their face, and rumors that they sacrificed their appearance for power. Playstyle: Very controlling, they aren't power hitters but they can control the board enough to ensure victory.

    The Lost - Not fully fleshed out, but they have never been seen, only told in stories around the bar. If anyone has encountered them, they haven't lived to spread the world of their existence, and if they did no one would likely believe them. They are manical, where the wandering are feared for being agressively scary, these guys are feared for being creepy as fuck. They will suck the life out of buidings to damage others, even sacrifice their own health in the name of winning. They don't speak, they are just feared. You do NOT want to come across these guys (if they are guys) somewhere. Likely birthed out of the same power that made the faceless what they are, perhaps more morbidly corrupted by the affair.”

    Sounds pretty fun for a first pass, eh? There were terrible issues with what weapons they’d use to fight and how this would fit in with the current game design and why they’d be fighting so much if most of the world died etc, on top of the hyper realism with attaching it to an Earth disaster that just muddled everything. In reality, while the story would make a great book, it would not make a great card game. So when I went to reboot this game two or three months ago, I had come up with the base idea – what if life was extractable as a substance, and useable from a manufacturing/engineering perspective? And I had devised a whole bunch of different scenarios that I dismissed for various reasons. Each one was great in its own regard, but not great enough to stand on its own. I had then stumbled upon a pseudo-science article that talked about “shadow matter”, in reference to some bacteria that coexists in our world but is entirely invisible to us. And it got me thinking: what if there was a fourth dimension wasn’t time in the strictest sense, but rather difference instances of existence. Completely different worlds with completely different histories, but if you were able to “link” them you could traverse between them as if you lived in an XY plane world and found out about the Z axis. And suddenly things started to come together. I came up with this idea of the laterals, these links between parallel worlds that are JUST similar enough that they could connect. So here’s my rough idea, by worlds:

    Cypris – this is the remnants of ‘Earth’, after the blight engulfed the southern hemisphere. The blight is some unknown but deadly cloud from unknown origin in the southern hemisphere that crawled almost tendril-like to crawl across the globe, killing everything in its path over a period of 5 years. Only the northern-most nations had enough time to set up proper protection against the blight creep, with three main havens that were strategically chosen by all northern nations to try spread out evenly: one in North America, approximately at the Canadian Shield, one in Europe in the Germany/Poland/Czech area, and one in northern Russia in the northern Siberian Federal District, around Krasnoyarsk Krai. This has been going on long enough that people are ‘sustained’ and ready to start developing solutions to rid the world of the blight. Which leads to existence #2:

    Gathis – Gathis has two independent races currently at war. One being the faceless (who need a new name), who like my description above have sacrificed their normal senses for some “heightened” ones. They are unique in that they share a collective thought process, as if a single entity were controlling all of them and are able to communicate through thought alone. The people of Cypris think it’s a sign of a God. The crazy advantage to this puppet method is that there is no distinct leader to kill, theoretically. But Gathis is inhabited by some 4th faction (which I call clades, fitting?) that’s been at war with them for who knows how long. And the faceless are losing. The catch is, this mastermind has made a connection to a man named Marcus, leader of the Russian haven. They can implant thoughts in his head, but they cannot receive return messages. Marcus interprets this as the voice in his head, telling him if he can open a lateral to Gathis and help the faceless with some vital resources, they know how to clear the blight. He complies. But there’s a catch, unbeknownst to both of them there’s actually MORE than two existances, and Marcus actually connects to existence #3:

    Praxis – Praxis is a graveyard. When Marcus and his group first arrive, there are giant hulking structures, but no signs of life. Marcus takes in the surroundings. It’s beautiful and peaceful. But dead and desolate. And he starts to think – maybe the answer is to transfer here instead. To get away from the blight and start over. And he sets up a colony. But unbeknownst to him, Praxis IS inhabited. The Deldra (needs a name change) are watching their every move. The Deldra are machines infused with life. See, long ago, there was another race on Praxis. They were as intelligent as they were cunning, and they were able to extract life as a tangible substance. This was a major breakthrough, similar to life before and after electricity, or steam powered engines, or even early agriculture. They infused simple machines with this life, turning them into a living hulk of metal. Praxis was once beautiful, but as this old race extracted life from the world, the world slowly died. And as the earth bled, the old race was too ignorant and blindsided by their own advances to realize the issue. And as these machines infused with life became more and more advanced, they took on their own identity. They collectively became the Deldra. And with this, they wanted independence and equality, as life they felt they deserved to be viewed as more than just servants of their machine-past. But the old race refused, and a war erupted, and the Deldra won out. The old race was wiped out from the earth, and the Deldra were free. But the world was different – the Deldra don’t need food or water, they don’t need housing, and they are highly efficient without the same emotional range. They are programmed strictly for survival. And as they continued to grow, Praxis continued to die, until one day it was too late. With the arrival of Marcus and his crew, the Deldra felt this was a second coming of the old race, and so they planned their attack. This is where shit goes down. Marcus thinks it was a setup -- and from Praxis opens a new lateral to Gathis. And that's all I've got so far?

    Also my 'buildings' are not accounted for in the story yet. Are they villages on the other side of the lateral? Why can I score and steal them? Do they hold open the lateral? These are questions that must be fleshed out.

    Anyway that's for now, if you stuck with this post this far, you're a trooper. Thanks for being awesome.