With lengthy correspondence being posted on forums there is a significant problem. I simply fear of 1) people not reading it throughly and 2) we are tackling here much more than a single topic, and it seems to change from mail to mail. So, I think, a word of advice would be needed. Don't even how to start such a preface... "This is a discussion between us taking place from mid-March to mid-April. And you're watching it somewhere from the middle. We were writing about assorted suff and think you will benefit just by reading. But we are posting this to discuss with all of you as well". I'm also really gummy when it comes to any statements in places different than graphics or officially proposed large concepts (Roadmap, proto-Sandscape). All I can give is more a sip of what is in my alembic rather than stable, distilled product.
So, I'll avoid quoting this to ease your eyes and just copypaste what snowdrop wrote and reply a post below. Previous correspondence is here in ordinary quote marks:
"If I omit something this means it
was a part of the brainstorming only, not a vital idea, or a signal
that we just won't agree but rather live in a conflict than make
flamewar-like convo, disagreement which is normal stuff and should
happen from time to time, this not means bitterness or aggressive
silence. And finally, I'd rather make topics evolve. If you feel you
have nailed some important stuff I neglected, just ask or remind."
I have no issues with polemics and having a creative discussion as long as it is moving somewhere and well founded. Heck, that's the only thing I've been doing during my years at the university - discuss, be it in writing or verbaly. If there is never no conflict of opinion or different bids on somethning I would be seriousley worried as I see that as a sign of stagnation. It's like participating at a cult or party meeting with the intentions of learning something new, it just won't happen since all are of the same mindset. I prefer there to more often be different thoughts than the opposite.
As you write, to some, or maybe even most people, that might be seen as a problem and eventually become a personal one even. To me it isn't. Soalways feel free to fire away. What I hope is being judged in the end is each argument on it's own merit and not who it happened to come from.
One thing though: I think we would be wise to copy & paste our discussion into the forum. The problem with doing that is that it would easier tempt others to get caught up in it and get off topic, but that can be moderated, and other peoples input might be valuable. By having these discussions via e-mail we manage to exclude people and also make it harder to get them structured. So, I'll copy this convo as a start.
"Most important conclusion, when it comes to me and you disagree upon a
given topic, is defining what state ORC is in, I think. For me this is
demo really, ready to mess a lot in it. But I think for you this is a
bit closer to what could be called "beta" in terms of code
No, actually we don't disagree on this: I still see it in a state where I would trash all of ORC if needed be. (Btw I have already done that once: My first concept used a slot system and max 8 creatures in play per player.)
I agree it's demo, or, I'd even take it as far back as pre-demo and just call it all concept. We should never have used the word playtest and I'm the one to blame for giving such an impression.
What we seem to disagree about is strictly methodological questions, and they're important ones as they define how we approach the evaluation of development and the state of the rules system, independent of which system it is.
I would like to calm anyone that fears that I might favor my own suggestions, no matter how bad they may prove to be: I don't think any system should get some kind of extra scrutiny or benefits because it happens to come from a certain person.
On the contrary, if we have several rule systems to choose from we should pick the one that lives up to most goals in the General Design Document. Summed up that is maximised strategical depth & modularity with minimized administration and intermediate playing time. I think rule systems can be compared from an amount of factors and get an overall "score" which would tell us how good that system is. Given nobody has formalized this testing procedure (it should be done and such procedures should be kept updated and developed further as we discover things) i can't point to an exact science right now. One could however be devised by us if would want to. Maybe not super-precise, but still well shaped, logical and of instrumental value. Such a procedure may even be of use even if we only have one candidate as it would tell us something about it, at least if the procedure is well written.
To get back to our different opinions in methodology, I think they can be summed up this way: You draw conclusions from one game. I seldom do. It's my rigid opinion that we lack the necessary data to draw any well founded conclusions.
Now, this can be interpreted in a number of ways.
One is that I believe that the ORC is in a "good state" and only needs some polish, and that I want to conserve it for some reason. That I'm not prepared to change a lot or anything at all in it on a sturctural level. This interpretation assumes the following:
P1) I have enough data to deem the ORC functional.
P2) You don't have enough data to deem the ORC broken.
P3) I think the ORC works as intended.
Conclusion: The ORC is a keeper and no change is needed.
However, all of the above assumptions above are false, hence the conclusion is also false even if it would be drawn.
We, as in both of us, lack data for any conclusions. At least we lack it for many of the ones you made.
As I wrote in an earlier mail, that doesn't prove you wrong or me right. It proves nothing and none of our points can be verified or falsified. That's the only thing I really want to put emphasis on.
I believe this is the biggest difference betweem us, and that is about pure methods used: You are prepared to take bigger steps and take them more rapidly than I am and you believe a good result can be achieved by doing so. I question that thought and think it's impossible (other than by chance).
The way I see it there are very many variables involved already, even in the simple and crude concept testing we did. To understand if something has been fixed or broken from the last time, and exatcly what, it's my belief that we should change as few of the variables as possible inbetween concept tests.
To compare this with programming, it would be the following scenario: You program in a language where you have no built in debugger, nothing that throws error calls. You have 10 000 lines of pure code. If you make changes in 300 places and then run your program and get an error, you have no clue about where it will reside. You only know that it is likley to be in one of the 300 most recently changed places. I think it's better to make only 3 changes, run the program, evaluate, and then repeating until all remaining 297 are added if they will still be needed. (Half of those 300 maybe depended on things which proved to be unproblematic in the end since some of the added code was added in such a way that it solved more than one problem, so in return it elimintaed the need of several planned fixes.)
Take another example and use an RTS game instead, like for instance StarCraft. When trying to understand if ore gathering in state x is a good concept or not one is dependent of what and how several other variables in the game are set to. Blizzard didn't ditch the ore as concept just because they did as test that, by loking at the test itself, actually didn't tell us anything about ore gathering but more about rushing and available units.
Your worries seem to be that I'll conserve whatever we have. Mine are that you make way too radical changes between concept tests. If I conserve we make zero progress and I will only hinder development. If you make revolutions instead of evolutions we will make faked progress: On the surface we learn and change a lot, but underneath it all it's all shallow as nothing is ever understood in depth. First sign of problem, and we ditch it and replace it with something new. One variable exhcnaged for five others. One system instead of another. All the time, until we by some miracle stumble upon one where you yourself are prepared to conserve and lessen the pace. Ideally that would be a system where all just worked out and that only needed some minor polishing.
As I understand it we will never learn anything nor will we discover a good idea even if we have it in front of us if we take revolutionary leaps instead of evolutionary steps. Revolutionary leaps are nice and action filled. I appreciate them, but I don't think they're a sound development strategy in the long run. I rather see small evolutionary steps. I don't believe so to conserve. I honestly believe that a bad idea will fail in due time even with an evolutionary model. The key word being time. It takes a much longer, but when the idea really proves itself flawed it will be apparent why it did so and we would also know that it was unsavable.
My worries with your rapid approach is that we will end up almost starting from zero every now and then based on way to hastened conclusions that are not supported by data, but by our guesses, hopes, fears and personal preferences.
I have no issues with changing some of the concepts in the ORC in to better ones if we can conclude that it's needed. Nor am I against trying out totally different approach and rule sets other than the ORC: I just won't work with them myself until I have given up on the overall ORC with it's current base, where the only parts that are nailed down are the two-zone spatiality (movement), the combat system and some sort of resource handling. I also don't mind putting it to sleep if it proves to be a flawed system that can't be rescued. But before doing so I want the data to be there and the majority of it pointing in one direction.
"I'm not concerned that much with card quality that rapidly. Sure we
need more, and sure we need better, but seeing those better stuff in
action was not my priority when playtesting, but testing the rule
system we have. Also I was less concerned with the prices the cards
have, but more with resource system (in all meanings that were used by
us two on various occasions)."
A CCG is just a modular rules system where each card contributes to add new rules or modify/negate existing ones. I agree that some core things in the rules system can indeed be tested with any cards, as I think you suggest, and that these things are working or broken independently of what cards we use. Question is which those things are in a CCG.
For example you noted that a player goes empty of cards in hand rather fast. Well, reason for that was that 1) the player choose willingly to waste plenty of cards as resources and 2) that there was no reason to save up expensive cards on hand since there were no expensive cards and the most expensive of the chepates ones were useless in that game anyhow. Can the claim that the cards don't matter for drawing a conclusion about the empty hand/card drawing really be made? Doesn't the actual cards have a clea impact on how a player plays (or doesn't play)?
To use the StarCraft analogy: If we run out of ore quickly or not (or out of options to build certain units and do some actions) seems to depend a lot on what units are fielded and what technologies are developed, when, in what order and for what purpose.
You write about us testing the resources in the game, in an inclusive way, where we both mean resource piles (gold) but also the hand size (number of cards in a players hand). Can that really be done without the cards impacting the test? It sounds doubtfull. If it's possible then we can draw conclusions about the whole game by just playing it with two 40 card decks each, where every deck is only filled with 40 1/1 creatures that lack ability, faciton and all. While indeed some conclusions can be drawn from such an uninteresting game, I doubt much of it would be valid or useful once we start adding other card types, different creatures, abilities et.c.
"Single game was enough for me to spot
some flaws, but as I wrote it earlier, we can ask the others to test
and report without biasing them too much on the entry."
We can, and we should, sooner or later. Not yet though. We should just repeat the tests and collect more data ; ) (hides before you kill me...)
"> I'm usually very careful when it comes to drawing conclusions form sparse
> amounts of data. Only times I'd do it is if it was something really obvious.
What I would do? Extrapolate, interpolate, use imagination to create
possible problems and creative reasoning to solve them."
If it isn't broke, don't fix it. It just eats resources on what could prove to be perfectly functional stuff.
If it's not certain it is working - test it. It eats resources but will preserve some in the long run.
The problem is that your imagination can create problems that are not real. That's why I rather collect data. I know that you will be able to say "I told you so" a couple of times once we have the data, but, it will be an equal balance in the end where I would have been able to say the same to you. The benefit with the way I suggest of doing it is that we will have more certainty and in some cases actual knowledge,
"but I think its not that you don't
see the problems I see, but rather you want to solve it all when "the
right time comes" which sounds more like "too late" for me AND THIS IS
MAJOR FLAW OF ITERATIVE DEVELOPMENT APPROACH. This is conservative vs.
revolution clash, but I seriously doubt if we are, as a project,
mature enough to "conserve" the rule system rather than rewriting few
parts and trying again until a good light blinks for all. Trial and
No, you're right: I do see indications of what could very well be problems. Indeed.
I just won't acknowledge them as such until we actually have confirmed them. Only way I know of to do that is to gather data, study it, and then interpret it. Preferably we would have another concept testing crew as well that worked totally indepenednt of us. Next step would also be to understand the problems fully, understand their causes. That's a pretty hard task by the way, and might also eat some time in some cases.
"Well, I'm pretty much convinced that a game with faction with more
expensive and stronger units (X) vs. a faction with cheaper and weaker
units (Y) will go as follows, (numbers I omit, as they depend on your
idea of crude balancing by increasing card cost):
initially Y looks better,
there is an equilibrium somewhere in between
finally X takes advantage.
Let's maybe call it X vs. Y game case (RB vs. E, whatever)"
Here we might just understand the goals differently or we might evaluate the situation you describe above differently.
What you write is, as I see it, exactly how MtG and some other CCG:s work. There's a faction that is generaly cheap and aggressive in the opening and up until mid game, and usually weaker in the end game. In MtG that is, and I hope fellow MtG players agree on this, Red. Reds strength is tempo and ruthless damage dealing. A thousand paper cuts or a hundred and some huge blows, while not preparing so much for late game. Typically a red player would manage to deal way more damage to the ther player than he'd recieve during first half of the game.
Is that a flaw? If I understand you correct you consider it to be. Personally I don't think it is. What would the problem with it be? When you are building a deck and choose to build it based on faction y or x (or both) then you are also aware of all other factions and cards around.
You know, while you build your deck, that it will be vulnerable against some strategies. You know that you build a deck that gives its blood and guts during the start and that it fades later on. It is a specialists deck, concentrated to do one thing only, most often. If you go on a tournamnet you might choose to ignore that fact and just pray for the best, hope that your opponents will build decks that don't use exactly those strategies your deck is weak against. This is all about the meta-game of the game, about player and strategical trends.
If we create a game where both players, indepenedet of faction selection, keep same pace and tempo, we take away some of the strategical possibilities from the meta game. I don't see what we can gain by making all factions play in same tempo, nor why it should be preferable. Only time different tempo is a problem is if we leave a faction totally unable to cope with a high tempo.
"Depending on time to play or initial influence you may want to
"balance" factions so that costs will be high enough for equilibrium
occuring somewhere in the game's sweet spot. "
I don't understand the equilibrium you speak of, how it's measured and why it should be a goal. (I suspect this is related to the discussion we're having about how we can make the gap between winning and losing player as small as possible?)
"If you will increase game
length, just to play longer (for long evenings) or shorter (for
tournaments), it will immediately raise need of additional balancing,
like with handicaps or specific faction rules, which I don't quite
Every good game must have some kind of standard rule set that dictates how the game is supposed to be played according to it's creators. Let's call this the official core ruleset. Core rules in our case should be whatever can meet the criterias in the GDD. My feeble attempt with the ORC this far is just that - a way tp try to achieve what is written it. In order to reach a wide audience and make the game popular we also want an officisla playtime of about 1h in average.
Whatever card are released officially should be in relation to the core ruleset. Cards can't be designed with two or twenty other rulesets or variations of the game in mind. Creating such a game, that has cards that are either so general or so info-filled that they can be used in a number of various rulesets, is an enormous undertaking and one that will usually end up in disaster. The reason being clear already by us: It's hard enough to create one single rule set that's good, not to mention several ones, or balancing cards to work with a multiplicty of them.
Look at MtG: All serious cards in that game (yes, they also release joke cards) are designed to work as flawless as possible with the one and only official ruleset for that game. Has that hindered players from altering the game? From using different rules and making the game more individual and fitting to their own needs? No, it hasn't.
MtG, as most other CCG:s, have several formats. A format is a variation of the core ruleset. It can change things such as how much life you start the game with, turn or phase order or number of players, to mention a few examples. A format is not a totally different ruleset. It only alters the core one. Most things from the core are still intact. Yet, all cards can usually still be used in the new format, with the same text and values on them.
Formats are usually not the most played form of a game. The core rules are, at least in any game that has good core rules The good thing is that different formats offer players to get a new experiences building upon old experience and knowledge: To try out different formats is something all dedicated CCG players do, and most of them will return to one or two of the formats from time to time as it's a fun change.
I think WT should offer people different formats, but I would rather see the community devise most of them themself. As for our part as developers, I don't think we should pay much attention to them in this stage of development: No matter what we create the community will still be able to devise formats.
"You may want to balance weaker units with stronger events or spells -
multifaction deck combining those two will be again stronger than any
of the factions separated."
Yes, that's the idea: Whatever a faction lacks in one field it will have in another. You're correct that combing the best of two worlds will seemingly beat a mono-deck. That's where some kind of resource system (or other punitive yet simple to track and understand mehcanics) comes into play: It should never be as easy to play and use a duo-deck as playing a mono one. And for each faction that is added into the deck that deck should become harder and harder to play.
I'm in agreement with you that multifactioned decks need something that makes them less powerful. I don't see ad-hoc rules as a solution though, and think such things can be solved in a number of other ways. In MtG they are simply solved at the resource handling level, as they have different gold currencies (aka mana, red mana, blue mana, etc). I personally would love to avoid having a) dedicated resource cards such as lands and b) diff gold currencies for a number of reasons I won't go into here.
My attempt at solving our multifatcion issues while at the same time not restricting the players form being creative and mixing factions in decks was the threshold. That was it's sole and main purpose for existing. I can agree it had no function whatsoever when we played, but I haven't given up on it yet as it could not be tested in a mono-deck (which we both used). I also think we might have to re-write some of the rules associated with the threshiold to make it somewhat harsher, e.g.. by only letting creatures in play count towards what threshold level a player is on.
" and making cards that could be chosen differently for 15, 20
and 30 turn game"
I'm very much against the idea of us officially creating different cards (or different versions of the same card) adapted to different game lengths. I'd even descirbe it as a bad design from our part. Surely there are way better methods of prolonging a game than that.
Take DoomTrooper as an example. There the players just agreed the amount of victory points they should amass before the game began. Naturally, the higher the amount, th elonger you would have to play to achieve it, and as an effect the players would have to field dekcs that were way bigger than 60 cards. I even remember playing a team game where I had 200 cards in my deck.
Honestly, I don't think we should deal with issues like these until after we have nailed a core ruleset. It's just a matter of devising a format for "long games", and that can be done in a number of ways. Just to name first one that comes to mind, you can involved die throws or a zillion extra mechanics associated with the combat phase, or start tracking HP on creatures or whatever.
We should focus on maximum depth, minimum admin and medium amount of playtime (= 40 min to 60 mi for normal people, in average). There will be plenty of ways to prolong the game without us having to design special cards. Then again, us being open source, nothing hinders the community itself to create such cards with prolonged games in mind if it really can't think of a more elegant solution.
This is all related to us making the best use of our resources, like our time and money, to make as solid game as possible. I think it should all primarily be invested into the core ruleset (whichever that will end up being). A new game has also a lot to lose and very little to gain by introducing itself as associated with severa formats and/or totally different rule sets: It will only divide the community and make it slowly die since finding playersm, discussing the game, developing new cards etc will be much harder. I much rather see the different formats grow from the community grass roots, and us promoting them once we are sure we have a solid base ourself that keeps the community together. With this I don't suggest that we suppress them. On the contrary, I'd gladly see good formats declared as officially sanctioned by us, linked to etc. What we should avoid is to, while the game is brand new and lacks a stable group of following, shatter the community into differernt small camps. I rather see a huge camp, and when it's somewhat self sustaining or at the very least in a state where we know it will live on, then also show it what else can be done with our game.
"What I'm trying to point you is how little sense are currently having
RPs and threshold."
Threshold is functionless right now since we use a) mono decks b) almost no cards that use thresh as a variable c) threshold rules probably need to be made harsher.
RP's on the other hand I see no problem with yet, and frankly I don't follow how/what you see as problematic with them.
"just mock up some stupid cards and try to play snow X vs.
snow Y with 30 cards in each deck look how things are breaking through
15 turns or so."
I write this with some caution as I might be wrong, but I really think that 15 turns is something that will be seldom seen as I imagine it. It would be like late end-game in MtG. Given we want our gamne to fit the same time frame we should consider most games have ended by then. (Notice: 15 turns are not the same as 15 rounds, as 15 rounds in a two player game equals 30 turns, where each players would play 15 of them = P )
"Cost of the card is more of a "I can play it later" and "RP
occupance", which is not a "cost" really. "
Would you mind explaining that more and give an example? I don't follow = (
RP's are used up every turn. Whatever card is placed on them consumes all of that RP. The RP system is identical to the system found in MtG, minus all the tapping of the lands, minus currencies, minus dedicated land cards, plus the added difficulty of gold optimisation (placing correct card on correct pile and having piles of different sizes etc). WoW CCG is maybe even closer as an example as they use same system as MtG but minus the currencies and dedicated land cards.
Now, cards do indeed cost in WoW, and in MtG. They cost in ours as well. Thing is we just nenver had to struggle with cost issues and economy, since we only had cheap cards and dropped cards into the RP's like crazy + lacked cards in hand. So from that perspective, yes, it almost seemed the cards had no cost.
"Also a threshold means
almost the same - in turn 3 one should be able to play both threshold
2 and cost 3 cards, for the same price of "just playing". There is no
real "cost" for cards."
Well, threshold the way I created it is not supposed to be a cost or even a secondary cost. It is suppsed to check if you "deserve" or "have the right" to play a card that is very much associated with faction x. Whenever you can meet the threshold demand you get the right to play the card. Threshold is just that, nothing else. (But if can ofc be used by other cards in whatever way you want, as an independt variable. E.g. "3: Mark an enemy creature with threshold 2 or lower")
Threshold is supposed to make multifaction decks more balanced as it demands that more conditions are met by the player before he can put something in play. If I have played 3 turns and I now have a threshold 3 gaian creature in hand and also have a threshold 3 Banner creature in hand at the same time, itäs not overly obvious or certain I will be able to play any of them, not to mention I won't be able to play both.
"My ideas (state for today):
You play a small pile of cards before playing a creature onto it.
Spells and equipment that the creature will use. Cost says how many
cards need to be there to play a given card, and same way threshold
show how many faction-specific cards have to be there before playing
What exactly does this solve that cant be solved in a more hastle free way? The implications of this are many... many many.
Some of them are that all cards come into play with attached cards to them, which takes away the possibility to play pure creatures. Why would we want to do that? Another, that has to do with administration, is that table and cards get very much more cluttered this way. No to mention what that means for cards when they move around. That alone probably makes it a bad idea = /
"You play RPs face up, each card actually has to be played as it is now
before entering the table (respecting the cost and threshold of the
things that are in RP), but the cards are played onto the table by
taking them from the top of an RP."
Like it, we can try it out. Question remains though: What does it solve? What does it improve?
Only drawbacks I see right now is it makes the table somewhat (just a little though) more confusing and, and this is my major concern, maybe it will be too hard to create RP:s? I guess concept testing will show. Maybe a solution would be to let a player that wants to put a 3 gold cost card into a RP with only 1 resource card in it to discard the difference from his hand, in this case he could maybe discard 2 cards into the grave (or rather, out of game) and then place the 3 godl card into the resource pile as a resource. It's a crude solution to a problem that may not be there though, so let's not waste breath on it.
I like graveyard. Even graveyard+oblivion I'm OK with. It should
remain, no matter what happens.
by saying that looser should be given a chance to use his "grave
power" I was thinking for more like event cards doing things like:
Take all cards from your graveyard and use them as your new RP. The RP
you play this card on will be discarded into graveyard. You can't play
"Rejoiced" card during this game anymore.
Composting young god
Sacrifice this creature during fight to draw additional damage to a
creature Composting young god attacks or block. Additional damage is
equal to amount of cards in your trash."
All for that, albeit not the exact balancing you suggest above ; ) Rejoiced as an ubercard = P
"Opening are few first turns, stage when there is huge randomness
introduced and opportunistic behaviors occur often (playing what goes
into hand on game start or during opening). Randomness may be reduced
Trust me on this, there is very little effect of how you will perform with your deck that depends on pure luck/randomness. If you play best of three or best of 5 or 7, there is no luck in the world that can sav your ass against a good player with a good deck, or even against a good player with a medium deck.
Mulligan is a must have. I think we should be generous with it and even allow one free mulligan. Every additional time beyind that when a player makes a mulligan he draws one less card, or perhaps even two less. Feel free to put it into the rules if its not there already, becasue it must be.
"Also here some cards that are important later should be
obtained and kept in hand for later use. I'd say if we allow to have 7
cards at the end of a round,"
Yes, sounds as a good number.
"we should start game with 9 and draw 2
Could try that, yups.
"Midgame for me is the part when you (as a player) are thinking mostly
in terms of strategy and tactics, when you're trying to establish a
base to make such plans go smoothly. IMHO this is the game stage where
most skills should show - in tactical thinking and deck building, and
this is the moment where good player should overcome bad one,"
A CCG that functions that way can indeed be built. I myself didn't imagine ORC that way. This relates to a touched upon topic somewhere above and the speed and tempo of the game. I'd describe it differently: Each deck has it's own tempo, it's own curve that would explain when it is in the opening game, midgame or endgame. For a fast deck opening could be just the 2 first turns, while opening could be 3-4 first ones for a slow deck. Also, each deck has different length of each of these "periods".
">>Having left and right fronts helps with narrow table space.
>That causes a communication problem: What do the players tell each other when they want to attack the "left" front? That's why I used front and back rows instead: They can't be mirrored or misunderstood.
Do you have such problems when shaking hands or looking into mirror ?"
No, but when doing so I don't communicate using words with the other party ; ) There is also already agreed and public convention that tells people they should shake using their right hand, not their foot or left one = P
Imagine two players on skype, or worse - chat - and them having divided the table in left and right, and sitting opposite to each other. What would they say/do to clearly indicate what zone they mean?
As I suggest it now it can't go wrong and needs no extra "learning" from the players side. Also take into account complications in a 3-4 playergame.
yay. 3h later I am finally on the finishline.... ; )
Feel free to post all of thois and continue it in forum if you think its a good idea. Could maybe start up diff topics etc as well. =)