Friday, August 30, 2013


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

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

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

It'll be fun!

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

Friday, August 16, 2013

Current Gameplay v1.1

Link to v1.0 here: Current Gameplay 1.0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unit next time,

Monday, August 12, 2013

More Updates

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Story time.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Design Choices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Campaign goals

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

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

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

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