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.


    Tuesday, June 11, 2013

    Current Gameplay

    So I want to go over the state of the game, which is what most people probably care about. Currently, the game is 100% playable, and currently putting in some mock cards to establish power curves and the tempo I'm shooting for in-game. We're fully playable online, so once I have two “test decks” in I can release the alpha client and get some feedback from people gameplay-wise.

    Just a recap of the game itself:
    -In each game there is an attacker and a defender. The defender has a ‘buildings’ row (buildings will be changed once the story is more concrete, since they’re not going to be buildings), each player has a units row
    -Players at the beginning of each turn draw to a full hand of 4 cards. The attacker also receives 5 resources a turn to spend, and the defender receives 6.
    -The defender wins by ‘scoring’ a building. He does this by allocating enough resources (indicated on the building card) to upgrading it – the catch is the defender can only allocate ONE resource per building per turn. This means a building that requires 3 to upgrade will need to be defended for 3 turns, and if the defender wants to upgrade more than one building a turn they will have less resources than the attacker to spend that turn. Upon ‘scoring’ a building the defender will usually get a bonus (as indicated on the building).
    -The attacker must ‘raze’ a building by bringing it’s HP to 0. If they ‘raze’ a building, they will get a different bonus (as indicated on the building).
    -The defender builds a deck of say 10 building cards and 3 will randomly be chosen to start the game, as well as one being brought in each time one is scored/razed. The defender not only has to chose their favorite/most synergistic/best buildings but also weigh the bonuses the opponent will receive if they score that building.
    -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 to eventually add asynchronous play!). Here you make three choices:
    1. Choose all the cards you want to play, and what their targets are. More on cardtypes in a sec
    2. Choose your ‘advantage’ card if you want to participate in advantage this turn
    3. Choose your buildings you want to upgrade at the start of next turn if you’re the defender
    -Once both players ‘lock in’ their plays in the deployment phase, the resolution phase begins and plays are alternated starting with the player that has advantage until both players have made all their plays. Then attacking begins (automated across lanes) etc.
    Each turn during the deployment phase, players may discard a card to the advantage battle. In resolution, the player with the HIGHER card cost wins advantage, if they are tied the player who currently has advantage retains it (although they don’t get the morale bonus). The defender always starts with advantage.
    Advantage has four benefits:
    1. The player with advantage has their faction’s passive until the next advantage conflict. Passives give you a slight general edge, such as the opponent cannot see units you played until they deploy, or you can see your opponent’s hand this turn.
    1. The player with advantage 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 advantage, you gain 1 Morale
    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
    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). There’s three ‘states’ of morale: high, medium, low (actual ranges haven’t been fleshed out yet). Morale is used as a state-base requirement for some effects (If you have high morale, this unit gets 2 ATK), and if you have FULL morale you’ll get some undecided benefit.
    Three ways to gain morale:
    1. If you have the most presence at the beginning of the turn, you gain 1 Morale
    2. If you win the advantage conflict, you gain 1 Morale
    3. Cards effects will sometimes award Morale
    Presence is simply the total cost of all your units on the board. It’s here to encourage a fuller board state of higher costed units (an offset to ‘rush’) as well as a change in morale. Cards can obviously play off this too
    Card Types
    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.
    Confines – The attacker row and defender row each have a confine. Either player may cards in both of the confines. Attackers will want to put favorable confines in the attacker row, and detrimental confines in the defender row (and vice versa). Confines affect ALL units in that row. It’s important to juggle control of the confines when it’s important to prevent your opponent from dominating.

    There may also be a “wildcard” slot that you can play more permanent tactics or use as a batter’s box for units. How this will work hasn’t been completely decided yet.

    Any questions/comments would be great! I know it’s probably a ton to absorb without seeing the game in action, I hope to have a demo of things soon !

    Next post will be on the state of the story, and from there I’ll start talking about the changes I make and the different progress milestones I accomplish.

    Until next time!


    Hey all, welcome to my first dev post! I plan to update this with my current game development news, trials & tribulations, and lessons learned. It'll serve as both an avenue to communicate with people interested with where I’m at things on my projects (currently a cross-platform CCG) and a way for me to chronicle my progression so I can watch my growth in a living document and others can learn from my mistakes. I plan on three categories of posts: game content, game design, and coding. The content will focus on changes in story or game features that have been going on in whatever my current project is, the game design will focus more on the “why” side of content and the reasoning I have for choosing some of the directions I have, and coding will focus on some more of the technical challenges I had to overcome and how I accomplished them.

    A bit about me: I'm a 24 year-old graduated chemical engineer living and working in PA and creating a game called Praxis in my free time. I've been designing games since I was about 10, back in a program called The Games Factor and later it’s big brother MMF/MMF2. All of those titles I’ve published can be found on under my (very old and embarrassing) pseudoname t0nAd0. I’ve also done a whole lot of crazy spreadsheets for various games requiring optimization which can be found on my box account, here’s one for a city building maximize profits type thing. In recent years I've entered a few small code competition which I've placed 2nd and like 4th, and working on going from a very advanced beginner programmer to an intermediate programmer. Praxis is really my first ‘professional’ project, so let’s start there:

    I started working on this game back in August 2011. I wanted to play a mobile CCG, and (at the time) the only quality game in the market was Shadow Era with some level of strategic depth. To me, Shadow Era had a number of glaring flaws and was really a computer game ported to phones. So I started digging up what exactly would make a good mobile CCG. The basic ideas I had were simple:

    1. Quick games – if you have a mobile card game, you don’t have 20 minutes for a game. You have 5-10 minutes while waiting for the bus or waiting for a friend to call you back
    2. Strategic Depth – most games sacrifice this level of complexity for quick games, but I don’t think they’re necessarily linked
    3. Unneeded Imput – I found in Shadow Era, my turn was options for the turn were often quite pre-decided, or could be figured out very quickly. However I spent a lot of time showing my attacks, playing cards and waiting for resolution, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if everything that was a ‘no brainer’ was almost automated?

    It was also nice because design-wise, a lot of it was “offline” design. A 3D adventure game requires knowledge of lightning, sound, modeling, polycount optimization, camera controls ,etc. A lot of the work on a card game goes into the design which is more of a mental exercise than a display of knowledge – making it a great first project.

    So I prototyped an idea with a friend, and just to show where things started, this is a copy & paste from the VERY first email I sent out:

    “Critera for Succss:
    -Average 5-15 Minute Games with ability for "quick" turns. People don't want to sit around on their phone for hours. Unless stuck in deep strategy, turns shouldn't take more than a few seconds.
    -Optimized for mobile. Needs to feel natural to play on a mobile device, something Shadow Era didn't accomplish.
    -Easy to pick up -- no overly complicated rules that someone couldn't figure out after playing a game or two. Things can get more complicated over time but the core of the game is easy. This is largely due to the fact it'll be a free game on the market, if you can't rope someone in 5 minutes you're fighting an uphill battle. Dominion is fairly easy to learn hard to master. Argricola is too complicated to pull in new users.
    -A dynamic/major mechanic that wouldn't work/is too tedious to see in a normal CCG. Something to set us apart from your normal CCG's, things like cards that evolve or persistant damage or tons of timers or anything that will add a level of depth without a level of complication.
    -Emphasis on deck. There should be skill involved in the actual playing (something I don't like about war metal tyrant), but I want to see people connect with their deck. Magic does this with colors, WoW does it with classes/faction, EDH does it with general. Just something so you are proud of what you made and can talk with like-minded players about it. Especially a loop for new players ("Check out my goblin deck!" "My white black deck is awesome!").
    -Variation in decks. I don't neccessarily want to see all cards on the same playing field of effectiveness (Kongai did this, and really all it resulted in was a perceptual lack of progression. What's the point of extra cards if mine are as powerful as they get? VS. did this too I think and it was what helped stifle their profits). I just want to avoid linear decks ("Well if you play general A, this is definitely the best build"). If a 'meta' exists there should be a counter to it, and I think that's what largely lacking in Shadow Era atm (It may just be because of their card pool size [author’s edit: it was, the game is quite robust now]). It doesn't need to be an overly complicated differentiation, as most people won't focus days on their builds, but it gives people something to think about while not playing, causing them to play again.

    That said my few ideas;

    In terms of computer-only mechanics here's stuff I've been spitballing
    -Cards that 'evolve' through some means (upgrade cards, leveling up, merging together, creating armies, degrading over time) [author’s note: this was before SolForge was announced]
    -Persistent damage (if I deal you 1 damage, it lasts until you die/are healed)
    -Procedural board state (resource dealing from catan, cards shifting in war metal tyrant, lots of damage calculations with every monster you play attacking)
    -Ability to change cards in game
    -Resource management (automatic adding of resources in agricola)”

    So that’s where it started. The first prototype was a 5 lane board with automatic attacks and simultaneous turns, and both players had a building row that could be upgraded. Each building could produce either War or Economy. War was used to play units (creatures) and tactics (spells), Economy was used to upgrade buildings. You won either by destroying their buildings or by fully upgrading your buildings. I spent a few months to even get this prototype up and running, learning a real scripting language (actually I started in unityscript, I’m not sure why) and working in Unity. And it was an utter failure. Essentially if you lost an Economy building first, you were behind in the rat race and you’d be outpaced. It wasn’t a quick loss, but unless you retaliated in the next turn or two there was no coming back. But you didn’t lose yet, you just knew there was no chance to win. We coined the term ‘no hope’ for this. And with that we created a new goal:

    “If you reach ‘no hope’, you MUST lose quickly”.

    And I realized this was one of the (initial, not anymore) problems with Shadow Era that bugged me: board control was so hard to gain back if you lost it, and without board control you’d lose. By turn 5 or 6, you’d know who the winner was going to be with 90% accuracy, but you wouldn’t end the game until turn 10 as the opponent dinged at your life total. Games are fun first and foremost, and there was nothing fun about this. A good CCG has the ‘push and pull’ where you’re neck and neck throughout the game, and that is crucial to a CCG that you can quit a game just by pressing the home button and going on with your day. It needs to be fun to lose, at least as much fun as you can make it.

    There were a few more issues with our design: every effect that triggered when on the “play stack” which was wasn’t resolved until everything else for the turn was resolved. So if a unit had the effect “whenever an enemy unit enters play, deal 1 damage to it”, and you had 3 card plays for the turn, all three would be resolved before the damage effects would start going off. It was clunky and produced some interesting but mostly counter-intuitive effects. There was also an issue with a lack of defensive plays – offense was always the best defense, because there was no good way to stabilize in an “automatic attack” system. We could never have a birds of paradise in our game, because it would always be attacked unlike in MTG. And our story was weird and it was just ‘missing’ something.

    Interestingly enough, my final version of my game before I had put a pause on it (college was over!) has VERY much like the new Heroes of Might & Magic CCG, minus the status cards to affect any row/lane, with two rows of units and flyers and everything. So awesome they were able to pull that idea together when I never quite could.

    Since then, I played a game called Kingdoms CCG for about a year, where I met a lot of great people who I was able to bounce ideas off of, and the awesome developers there gave me some insight into the business and how to approach things in a good manner. A lot of you reading this probably came from there originally, so a huge thanks for displaying some interest in what I’m up to.

    Next post I’ll highlight where the game is now gameplay wise, and maybe in the future we can talk about the story.