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.


    1. Hey John, interesting post - didn't know you were a competitive MTG player. :)

      Anyway, this post brought to mind David Sirlin's site / blog, as well as his book:

      If you haven't seen it already, he has some really good content (and also happens to be working on various card games)!

    2. Oh yeah i LOVE sirlin. I think I talked about him indirectly in an older blog if I mentioned Kongai (kongregate's card game). He's VERY insightful and all his lessons come from real game design experience failures/successes. It's almost a bible of sorts I think.

      And I was a competitive MTG player, but I never made it far. I was somewhere between too good for FNM and too bad to make it to pro-tours, so I spent a lot of time (and money) chasing PTQ's and eventually got burnt out on the financial investment and the cut-throat nature of those games. People weren't playing it for fun, they were playing it for money/fame/rep and it really killed the spirit of things for me for a long time