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.