General Design Document
About this document
What it is
You are now viewing the General Design Document (GDD) for WTactics.
The main function of this document is to outline the overall design parameters for WTactics. Imagine a picture with a complex motif surrounded by a nice homemade frame. This document can be compared to the frame of that picture: It acts as a boundary to the picture, making it clear where it starts and where it ends. It also helps to define the picture's shape, size, and even things like the depth of the canvas. It dictates how we can hang it on the wall and where we can hang it (if the frame's color and style are to match the rest of the room). To avoid choking on even cheesier analogies let's just say this: This document sets the scope, limits and direction for what WTactics should become.
Note that the GDD is not written with a specific rule set in mind: It has intentionally been created to allow several, potentially very different, rule sets to co-exist. This is deliberate - it is meant to give each and every game developer as much freedom as possible. Aspiring developers should feel free to contribute by joining any of the pre-existing development crews or by forming a new one on their own.
The GDD is meant to be our project's guiding star - the common ground for all the rule sets that seek to be a part of the WTactics.org project.
Readers seeking details on a specific ruleset should consult with that rule set's lead developer or it's associated design document(s).
- Small revisions, such as correction of bad English, spelling errors, grammar and other minor issues are allowed to be made by any registered users and are very welcome.
- Medium revisions, such as adding new paragraphs to complete or further discuss already existing ones or related subjects, are also very welcome additions. You don't have to consult anyone before posting as long as you add content. Please note that we reserve the right to revert or revise your changes without a warning.
- Huge revisions, such as totally re-writing crucial parts of this document, inverting it's meaning etc are usually not allowed and will be considered sabotage unless you have consulted snowdrop first and were given explicit permission.
- When you submit revisions you agree that we might undo them without explaining why (even though we will generally try to do so). Posting on our site is a privilege we give you - don't confuse it with a right.
- This document will be under development for the foreseeable future.
To some certain topics covered in this or other WTactics documents may seem a tad controversial (or even, dare we say it, a deliberate attempt to frustrate or agitate). Please try to remember: that is never our intention, and if you do find yourself upset by something we've published we urge you to turn your frustration into a positive force by grabbing a keyboard and contributing to our project with your own ideas, thoughts and theses.
What we as the developers, players & supporters of WTactics say and do should not be seen as a sign of a belief in our own superiority or mistaken for hubris. We don't believe we have the best solution to every given problem and we don't claim that all of our theories, beliefs or normative conclusions are correct. We don't even necessarily all agree on any given point, and we certainly don't want to give the impression that we are some kind of single entity or that we all think alike. Because we don't. On the contrary, as an open source project we are unlikely to ever be homogeneous.
We also don't state that all companies or commercial forces are evil. We don't believe that they have gotten everything wrong or that they are part of a tin hat conspiracy. We don't see ourself as moral übermenschen, nor do we imagine that games can't be created in other ways, with other means, in other shapes or for other reasons than WTactics.
We do welcome everyone, whatever your ideological, political, ethical or religious views happen to be. We welcome you no matter what field or profession or academic background you come from. We do believe in dialectics, discussions, arguments, proving one's case, patience, understanding and taking everything for what it is. We also strongly believe in having fun - developing a game should be something we enjoy, not a full time job that is killing us softly.
We do believe that all humans can be mistaken and that we ourselves are capable of making plenty of mistakes. We also believe that we can work together to learn from our mistakes and experiences, as well as the mistakes and experiences of others, and that we can use them to self-improve - both on an individual level through co-operating on this project, and also as game developers, roles in which we strive to be as professional as possible.
Lastly, we do believe that it's fully realistic and possible to pull this off. We think succeeding with the creation of an open source customizable card game (CCG) will be very hard, challenging and take hideous amounts of time and resources. Indeed, we not only recognize but declare that it will, at times, be a sweaty, messy and bloody trial. We are also confident that we will accomplish our goals. Because we want to, and because we can. It's not a matter of if - it's only a question of when.
The overall purpose of the WTactics project is to create a customizable card game (CCG) that meets the following goals:
- Free to play, modify & share.
- Playable online as well as with real cards.
- Targeted at both casual and competitive players.
- Continuously supported through revisions & expansions.
- Developed by the community for the community.
- Be an alternative to popular closed source CCGs.
These should all be regarded as goals in their own right, though in practice there may be some overlap. In the following paragraphs we'll look at a few of these goals in greater detail.
A game can be free to play and acquire, and it can also be free in ways which empower it's user to do things with it beyond playing it, i.e develop it further or build new games based on it. The two totally different meanings of the word free are usually described as "free as in beer & free as in speech" by the open source movements. One is a matter of price of the product and it being gratis, while the other one is about the rights you'd have when and in which ways you could use it. WTactics strives to maximize both types of "frees" and takes great pride in having this as one of the project's primary objectives.
Conventionally the CCG:s on the market have kept an average economical entry point for the table top player. Acquiring a pack of cards that allows you to start playing the game against somebody else that also has his/her own cards has usually costed as much as a medium priced table top game, in the range of 15 - 20 €.
One of the most common problems among CCG players, and also one of the main reasons for why people leave the genre and/or a game, is what happens next, after one jumps aboard. Due to the distribution model most companies in the industry has chosen it has been very expensive to keep on playing the game if the player has wished to renew his/her cardpool by buying additional cards. The main reason has not been price fixing or cartels, but the distribution model itself:
The most common way hitherto has been to sell so-called boosterpacks. A boosterpack is a small package of cards for a low enough price (i.e. 2-3 €) to make staying in the game appear cheap and to stimulate a larger amount of spontaneous or reoccurring purchases of it. This all sounds reasonable and as a good system for the consumer, until we look closer to what is inside of the boosterpack - totally random cards. As if that wasn't enough and in order to give even more incentives to purchase the booster packs the cards in most CCG:s have a rarity factor. Usually there are about three degrees of rarity: Common, uncommon and rare. A common card is created in much larger quantities, and more likely to show up in a boosterpack than an uncommon or rare card. Even if some companies guarantee a certain distribution/ratio between common, uncommon and rare cards in each boosterpack the fact remains that you would have to purchase very many boosterpacks to get your hands on a specific uncommon or rare card.
As a result
- The player does not know beforehand which cards he/she will get for the money. Giving money and not knowing what you'll get is something you have to accept if you choose to obtain the product in it's new state & from official sources as the company's website or local game stores.
- In each paid for boosterpack the player is likely to get a bunch of cards he/she has no usage of whatsoever since each game has it's direct and indirect deck building restrictions and the player will also get excessive duplicates.
- This, coupled with the rarity concept, forces him to continue to pay for new booster packs.
- It gives strong incentive to trade or sell, which in turn creates the driving force behind the games second hand market. The companies make use of this subtly forced trading aspect of the game in their marketings and even have the audacity to the world that it is a positive social aspect, making it sound as if it is something that would make the game more exciting and it's community friendlier and better. In reality both trading & buying/selling are just means of transactions. When practiced in the CCG context they do no not magically become more social than when they are buying (or trading) a loaf of bread. Furthermore, what's also seldom mentioned, is that trading/buying & collecting in general has a cost in time, and that it would usually mean you become less of a social creature in your surrounding, not more.
- The companies also exploit the well known fact that huge demographical groups, quite often related to gender & age, are interested in collecting: These groups consider the acquisition of "collectible items" to be something meaningful. For that purpose a CCG is the perfect object with it's distribution model, rarity and second hand market. You not only get to struggle to get a complete collection, but you can stay assured that it has a second market worth with relatively stable prices due to other players as well as collectors wanting to have some of your cards.
Why it works
One of the main reasons it succeeds in the case of games like Pokemon, YuGiOh etc is that the CCG buyers median age is low. As a consequence they don't think in long-term economical terms. They also don't have to, as they don't spend their own money that they've worked for, instead they do away with their guardian's, which is another factor that clouds their judgment of what's going on. As a target group they are also somewhat more easy to manipulate compared to adults. Their lifestyle where pleasure and entertainment is their primary and almost only concern, advertisement, trends, group pressure and so on are all phenomenons that factor in to the success of the CCG business model.
Even if those assumptions would be off beat it's safe to say that the median CCG player doesn't see how this system is constructed and thus can never question it's order or his/her own role and function within it as clueless consumers that keeps on paying to get the cards they would really want to get their hands on even if it's against all odds and unlikely to happen. The consumer keeps coming to the well to get his/her fix: "This time I will get that killer card that will allow me to build my dream deck."
Up until recently there has also been another important reason for why this has all worked out surprisingly well for the companies: There were no viable alternatives. That explains it even in the cases where the target group is 20 - 30 year old and it has it's own money. Let's face it. Playing a CCG is a lot of fun. It's an amazing game genre that has a lot speaking for it. If you wanted to play a CCG then you were forced to participate in one or more of the phenomenons associated with the conventional CCG business model. It was so because all the companies that mattered and could ever reach us as consumers on the market were in on it together, even if they operated independently and had no agreements in-between them. All major players in the industry were sharing the cake as all imagined they had incentive to stick to that particular business model. If only their product would just succeeded in the competition with their competitor's they assumed the model would maximize profits. They watched the must successful company in this context (Wizards of the Coast) and what it was doing, how good it was going, and tried to imitate it's "magical" success.
Justifications & alternatives
Once one starts to understand the big picture and the forces at large behind the market strategies that the companies like for instance, but not exclusively, Wizards of the Coast have utilized this far it becomes apparent this is all a quite unique and bizarre business model for the consumer. The model has more in common with for example lottery than any other normal commodity you'd expect to find on a normal market. The only real winner in this model is the company. Needless to say, a company would never utilize the model if it didn't think it would be the most beneficial it.
One might argue that there is no conspiracy, no scheme and nothing illegal or morally wrong with these kind of models and practices. That in the spirit of liberalism, pluralism, subjectivity, cultural relativism, Laissez faire-capitalism et.c. it is all fine and legit. After all, nobody is forcing the players to purchase the game! They do so because, apparently, they want to of their own free will. That makes all and every transaction within the model a legit one.
While every person behind WTactics has his/her own ideologies, world views, agenda, understanding & convictions the project itself that unite us as players and developers would not bother with refuting the claims that above business model is ethically justifiable (and there's of course no doubt that it's very legal). We simply state facts as we perceive them, from our perspective. We also welcome everyone to participate in this discussion and openly invite you to add sections to this page that delves even deeper into the subject from any side. We don't pass universal moral judgment, nor do we claim that ours would be objective and more valid than anyone else's.
To us it doesn't matter what one thinks about the business models of the CCG industry. We want to create an alternative to those models. We don't care if they exist or if people are happy with them, as they seem to have a right to do so. In the scenarios where a player dislikes the conventional business models it's apparent why an alternative would be interesting. In the cases where a player has no problems with the models we would still offer that person yet another option to choose from. For what reason anyone would choose to use another alternative than the conventional CCG configuration would in the end be up to that individual to decide him/herself.
We are confident that the old CCG model, with boosterpacks, rarity, randomization and everything that goes along with it, will survive and keep on prospering into the foreseeable future and that it's existence as the most common business model for CCG:s is not threatened in the short term.
At the same time we also believe the market has finally started to slowly adapt to the requirements of it's customers and listen to the will of the players as a consequence of very hard competition between different CCG companies. A process where other distribution and marketing models are used is already in progress. Ironically Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: The Gathering, is now a part of the Cardhunter team, creating a card game that is partially described as "...free to play and you win cards by playing the game, not by buying expensive booster packs", acknowledging the awareness about the distribution model.
An examples of other two very well known companies on the market that seem to be aware of many players frustrations and disliking of the old school way of doing CCG business is Decipher, and to a much larger extent, Fantasy Flight Games with their living card game-system. Ironically the LCG-system is actually nothing new or ground breaking at all on any other market except the CCG one: The revolution of the LCG-system simply translates to that you as the player now have the right to know what you get when you pay for the product. Put in that light there is nothing innovative with the system, even if it is indeed revolutionary in the CCG context.
Nevertheless, we believe that such a business model (a normal one) is way more preferable to the consumer over the old CCG model. However new models fare it seems it would usually be true that the players are better off with diversity and alternatives instead of being unwillingly locked down to a single one. One strong argument for that, besides the obvious and classical speech about freedom to choose, takes focus on how the distribution model and market strategies can affect the game's overall quality and attributes.
Model's effect on gameplay
- Hinders execution of skills: Player can't try out all the deck building concepts he/she has in mind.
- Discourages meta-game creativity: Once you know you lack resources to acquire the cards needed you won't have as strong incentive to keep on inventing new decks.
- Due to artificially created scarcity via card rarity the player with the most money is the one that's better of, ceteris paribus. Implications are two-folded:
- It become a socio-economic issue about class belonging and economic means: Do we want to create a game that as many as possible can play or do we want to exclude kids with parents that don't have a fortune to spend on playing cards?
- It means that skills alone are not enough to master the game. Instead cash is just as important. This takes away something essential from the game, also making it less competitive.
- Quasi-justifiable imbalances: In some CCG:s the developers (or their employers) act as if they believed that overpowered or broken cards are somehow not a problem in the game as long as their rarity isn't "common". That absurd notion lacks merit. Even if the broken cards happen to be uncommon/rare they still exist and give ridiculous advantages to their exploiter. Furthermore it suggests that they will be overrepresented, in relation to their share of the total amount of cards printed of all rarity types for the game, in all competitive contexts, which only adds to the problem.
- Encourages deck diversity - since players don't have absolute control over what cards they possess, different players' decks are likely to be more diverse. Also, playstyles are forced to be more diverse as they have to adapt strategy to suit the available cards rather than vice versa.
Copyrights & other restrictions
We can, without taking a stance for or against certain forms of copyright licenses, still claim what seems to be objective facts:
- CCG:s are usually published using restrictive and traditional copyrights.
- These copyrights do in some cases make life better for the people behind the games, and they could arguably and in some scenarios actually help stimulate the creation of new games.
- Simultaneously the same copyrights and additional restrictions hinder the player from doing a number of things with the game. He/she is not allowed to:
- Duplicate the game components in order to give it away to a friend in order to play it together.
- In some cases even proxying cards freely is a problem, even though proxying has been around since the creation of the CCG genre, much thanks to the genres shortcomings created by the industry itself.
- Create derivatives of the game or it's resources and give the world yet another new game. This effectively hinders the creation of games as it only makes such endeavors possible for entities that possess enough resources.
- Usually, and in order to protect the company's economical interests, the players have very little influence over the game and not so much freedom to make it their own. This is understandable whilst protecting the game and trying to keep it intact and functional, but may seem less so when it comes to companies threatening with legal actions against it's player base because it has a fan page, custom made sets, card creators etc.
Gratis: Free as in beer
WTactics is, in part, a response to some of the issues that have plagued the CCG industry for two decades. By giving away the game for free we contribute to tear down barriers and offer solutions to the monetary and distribution related topics that are tied to the way companies have been chosen to do business within the conventional CCG industry.
When we offer the game that is truly free, get rid of artificial scarcity via made up rarity systems & nonsensical distribution models, and allow everyone to get any card they like we:
- Give the CCG genre a more honest and reliable face by making the gameplay solely be about skills and other elements in the game, instead of the cash-issues surrounding the acquisition of it. We let the CCG focus even more on playing the game and less on wasting time on hunting down cards through trades and consumption.
- Increase the availability of the CCG genre by lowering entry level costs and/or the costs for continuous play.
- Make trying out a CCG less adventurous for the newcomer, as it will have to spend much less money to try out a new genre of games.
- Remove class barriers, making CCG:s viable entertainment for people with less economical means and those that rather spend the money on other more crucial things than games.
- Turn the CCG into something which has a greater chance of becoming family entertainment. Families with 3 or more members in them that want to explore the CCG genre or pursue it won't be put of by cost issues.
- Stimulate the competitive aspects as well. Now that far more people can afford to be competitive it makes harder and wider competition, and even emergence of sub-leagues based on skill level, possible.
- Promote greater quality: As developers we force our self to deliver a game where each card is meaningful. Since all cards are available without restrictions it makes no sense to have "crap cards" that are never or seldom played. Such cards are just a testimony of bad game design. They are also a waste of our resources. An affect of this is that development actually becomes harder. In that respect it is pushing us to our limits, demanding that we deliver card quality instead of card quantity.
- In a similar manner, broken & imbalanced cards won't ever be around for long with the explanation that "only few people have them in their possession": As devs we can't hide behind such a lame excuse when dealing with WTactics.
- We will also never rotate, ban or phase out cards somehow because of balance issues or to lower the entry level for newcomers. It won't be done since we want to use every resource we have properly and rather fix the problem instead of circumventing it by a so-called short-cut.
Libre: Free as in speech
By licensing WTactics using the GPL2 and later as well as GPL3 we insure that we give the players maximum liberty to virtually do whatever they want with our game. Although the GPL is legally a copyright license as it regulates copyrights, it's more often described as a copyleft license to telltale about it's special features.
What this means is that the license first and foremost purpose isn't to empower the people behind the game (us, it's developers). A copyleft license doesn't reserve all the interesting rights to the privileged few that somehow acquired the legal copyright over the work. A copyleft license turns the whole issue upside down: Instead of primarily just protecting the rights of the work's copyrightholder, it also guarantees your very liberal rights as a player. It states, among many things, that it is perfectly fine for you to:
- Share & spread the game by duplicating it: We want you to share the fun if you feel like it, and we see no reason why you shouldn't give a copy of the game to your friends and neighbors.
- Use it's resources to create derivatives: If you are interested in creating something by building upon what we have or parts of it, we'd love it if you did so. By letting you do this we contribute to empowering people to explore their creativity, and we also provide the people with the material that could be used to support innovation.
- Even sell it and keep all the money for yourself, without anyone forcing you to give us a single cent! (But let's not be shy here - we would love it if you donated a third or so of your earnings back to us in order for us to finance new expansions. However, it is up to you to decide what you'd do with the money and nothing binds you to give us anything from a legal point of view).
The only things we require from you (and this is all built into the GPL-license(s)), is that whatever you do with the game:
- The end product still stays under the same license
- A copy of that a copy of the used license accompanies the end product when you share it with others somehow
- Your source material (original files etc) are available to the public, using the same license.
For the full understanding of which rights & obligations you have please read the GPL-license(s) that are used by us. Sufficient to say we give each and every one of you more power and rights over the game than any CCG company ever has done in the history of the genre's existence. As far as we know, we are also the first CCG to be released using the GPL-licenses. While there are other free (as in beer) CCG:s, and other which do indeed use liberal licenses like for example the CC ones, we are sadly the first to offer a CCG using the most liberal & community empowering copyleft license available.
Table top & Online
While the CCG genre has many players it has usually been fragmented with very few (0 to 2) constant communities around one and the same local area. Players choose which CCG they'll play based on everything from theme, what their friends happen to play, what's in stock at the local game store to the language of the game, graphical style and price etc.
The CCG market is usually also very saturated and competition on it is tough. According to Fantasy Flight Games surviving even 2 years on the CCG market is a long time. Most CCG:s also never survive beyond the releasing of their core set. Games come and go, and so do the players. Because of all these reasons it is common that players in smaller cities have a very hard time finding others that have invested both time & money into the very same game as they have done.
Converters, players jumping from one game onto another and then onto another and so on, are uncommon in the world of CCG due to the related cost issues to get into every game. This further discourages versatility and mobility within the playerbase.
Not many free games
There are very few free and good CCG:s that are designed for the table top play. Now that we think of it this whole genre - the free table top CCG - was wishful thinking until recently and is still unheard of. There has also been no dedicated meeting place for this niche in the CCG genre, a state we've tried to mend by launching http://opencgs.org
The free CCG:s have found their way onto the net instead: Most free CCG:s are merely computer games. As such they are maybe great, but their rule systems and them relying on automated administration make them almost unplayable and very tedious as table top games, as they were never intended to be used that way in the first place. Add to that that their creators most often don't directly support the games coming to life on the table top.
Digital & Online
The internet is also filled with so-called "free" CCG:s that, after a closer inspection, usually turn out to be nothing more than ingenious scams and false marketing in order to lure the players to sign up and start purchasing "premium" content from online shops. While the companies behind these games don't directly charge people for playing on their server with some of the cards/features in the game they are far from truthful when they state that their game is "free".
Those games are not in any way more free than any other computer game where you, for example, are only allowed to play on certain levels, or with some features/abilities/functions disabled. If the companies would want to stop using false marketing they should label their products as "demo versions" - the proper and since long accepted terminology for any game that you are allowed to test for free but will never get in it's entirety unless you pay for it.
That is also how we at WTactics would define a free game: A free game, in the gratis sense, is a game that you can get in it's entirety without paying anything. It's either free, or it's not. Releasing some parts of it doesn't make the product as a whole free, no matter how it's marketers choose to conceal the true nature of the product.
- To remedy the lack of high quality & free table top CCG:s were creating a game that is primarily being designed to work on the table top. By releasing a high quality open source game we also hope to prove to the world that this is doable, and that it would stimulate others to do the same. It's said that MtG is the mother of all CCG:s. If so, we'll aim at becoming the father of a new chapter in the genre.
- A free game makes it somewhat easier to build a table top playerbase. Mainly because it is free of monetary cost, which is still one of the main factors to why people don't play CCG:s or don't switch between them.
- Even if we design a game for the table top we will support it fully in a digital form, with software patches that makes it perfectly usable online, for free. That virtually solves the playerbase issues for anyone that has the means and would consider playing a CCG in a digital form.
- By doing so we also contribute to the online CCG scene by giving it a legit game (compared with common but most often illegal "fan created content") that is truly free: No "premium" content or hidden fees to stay competitive or enjoy the full game, no spam, no risk that the game you've invested hundreds of dollars in will disappear over night and no nothing.
Casual & competitive
We want our game to appeal the casual player. With this we mean anyone that would be interested in trying out a cardgame to have some fun, and also the causal CCG player that is already acquainted with the CCG genre. To stay casual we believe it should be simple to:
- get hold of the game
- learn it
- transport it
- setup it up
- and play it.
We also believe that "the casual person" does not want to waste countless of hours on a single game session. For the average Joe, playing a game isn't something that should take a lot of time. He doesn't have that time or he isn't willing to dedicate it since he isn't a competitive or hardcore player. He would typically only play games that last 15 to 120 minutes tops, even if he at rare occasions could try out games that are outside of that scope.
As an open source project we're very dependent of our community. Each games community is usually made up of the competitive and/or hardcore players. They are most often the biggest fans and the ones that are prepared to invest time, effort and contribute to both the game's and community's development. Only time a serious community would backup a CCG and become dedicated to the game is if it's of high quality and offers competitive play.
Furthermore, being open source and lacking a million dollar company backing makes it necessary that we try to construct self-sustaining community structures in place. We see clear and mutual connections between a vital and active community and the lifespan of a project. The lesser the community of a game, the smaller are the chances the game will survive in the long run.
For us to survive, build a strong community and be taken as a serious alternative to other games we deem it necessary to make WTactics playable in a competitive manner by those who'd choose to do so.
- Create a community council, democratically elected players that have special access.
- Always release revisions of cards & rules whenever it's needed.
- Provide a comprehensive version of the rules that targets competitive play.
- Arrange online tournaments as well as trying to arrange real-world ones, with some kind prizes if our economy allows it.
- Support community driven online ladder play.
- Support a couple of popular and custom formats.
- Release expansions.
Slow or no response
Many games are only supported while they are commercially viable. If the game sells well enough the company behind it will back it up, in some cases even by releasing expansions. This is particularly true on the tough market of CCG:s.
Some companies have chosen to not maintain their games by releasing erratas, corrections and revisions necessary to fix broken mechanics, rules and other issues. Others have responded to the problems, but done it way too late when the players have already moved on from the game to a better developed one.
All fades away
The second a CCG is discontinued it's dead in the eyes of the cardplaying public. The players know that no new cards will be released, that the game won't be easily available in stores, and that it because of that will have a very hard time to get new blood into it's playerbase. For fully digital CCG:s this problem isn't as acute as for table top games and the companies can disguise a digital failure for a very long time compared to publishers delivering real world products to the local game stores.
Discontinued CCG:s have a special and sadder place in game heaven: They tend to fade away way quicker than i.e. a discontinued boardgame. There are very few exceptions to this rule. Some noteworthy ones are the communities behind Star Wars CCG, Doomtrooper & Rage, that managed to continue their struggles to re-vitalize their darlings with fan made content etc, keeping some of the most dedicated players around.
Even so and with such wonderful followers, in the end, no matter how great the community once was and no matter how many dedicated veterans that create their own stuff for the game, time passes and with it the game gets closer to oblivion for several reasons. Licensing issues, copyrights & legalities, being some of the major final nails in the coffin, are common walls players hit all to often even if they mean well and keep things non-commercial.
With the discontinuation the game's second hand market also gets reduced to zero rather quick. The product will also become more and more scarce on it, making it hard for people to get hold of it even if they want it. Cards that once were worth plenty of dollars have virtually become worthless over night and are almost certain to lack value if enough time passes. This creates a ripple effect through the collectors community - more people will try to sell than before, and prices will fall even quicker than if it would just be a question about competition among the sellers.
Furthermore, players that have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on playing and collecting the cards of their favorite CCG have now had their game's components - the cards - declared to (monetary) worthless. That tells the world to think thrice before investing huge sums in any CCG except for one that is likely to be around for a very long time. At this point in time there are very few such examples and only two come to mind that have been around since the start of the CCG era: Magic the Gathering and Legend of the Five Rings, two excellent games with very dedicated followers, yet of vastly different proportions and funding.
WTactics strives to break away from the conventional ways of releasing CCG expansions. New sets/blocks will most likely not be released in the chunks of 100 or so cards. Instead we'll take a micro-approach. The philosophy is to keep on releasing small and often, making incremental progress, instead of more rarely and big. Something along the lines of 6 to 12 cards per alliance per micro-set seems reasonable.
Reasons for this being an approach well worth investigating are:
- To testify that we're alive and well. Important to get new players and trust.
- Will allow us to incorporate and release good ideas faster as well as the community to playtest them.
- Shows the community that we're listening.
- Community dependence: Funding will probably come from the community. Easier to collect donations for a lower amount of cards. Also, since the cards will be delivered much faster, the community sees and understands where it's money goes.
- More continuous activity leads to re-visting to site/news/the community.
There are several ways to handle the acquisition of whatever money is needed to get new card artwork.
One model we will be trying is the Lysistrate method, maybe more accurately named Hostage Release:
- Developers outline the new cards in theory & in text form and get the community's feedback on them.
- Once all parties are happy and if funds are lacking because the community has failed to donate enough for us to acquire new artwork we, the developers, could pay for new artwork.
- We would then showcase the finished/new cards in low resolution & with watermarks or böack & white etc. and ask people to donate if they ever want the cards to become a part of the game and in order to cover the developer's deficit.
- When we get back the money we spent on that card we release it as usual using the same license(s) as the rest of the game, giving it to the world.
Steps here can vary, i.e. developers need not and should not ever spend a dollar of their own if they don't want to. However it is executed the principle is the same: Show the community, in a very concrete way, what something costs to get done and what kind of funding we need to accomplish it. Show a clear relationship between funds and end product.
Let's play with the idea that artwork for a single new card cost around 100$. If 10 persons would donate 10$ each then the game would have yet another great looking card that the rest of the world could access for free, forever. Now, break it down into 50 persons donating 2$ each, and this seems very doable. Even these micro-donations stack up nicely and help a lot, suggesting it is something that could be pursued by us.
Please notice that while this is in the general design document there is nothing that hinders us from using totally other or even combined models for funding. This paragraph is merely a suggestion.
Harder, faster, better, work it!
We believe that we should strive to respond quickly and decisive to all problems within the game. One could, without making premature or rushed decisions, see to it that there are well established and formalized procedures to both report and mend problems. The community should be empowered to not only report them but to also suggest and try out it's own solutions to the problems it perceives.
No loss situation
Due to our cards lacking scarcity and all of them being available for free without cost nobody needs to fear losing hundreds of dollars if the game would somehow lack a playerbase in the future. Monetary value can only fade if it was there to begin with.
More importantly, our game can not die as long as there are players interested in playing it. There need not exist any copyrights or license issues as long as people comply with the very liberal GPL:s we use. Our distribution model - using the internet coupled with the DIY-touch - also assures us that everything the community needs to revise cards or even create new ones is available and ready for them to use, fully legal and encouraged by us.
We answer to no one. There are no share holders that can take a crap on us. Be being free in spirit and pocket we're also a lot less sensitive to market frenzies. Not even the disbanding of every developer associated with the game could kill it of if there was an interest for it. The game an it's content lives it's own life, awaiting the next batch of skilled players and developers that can continue it's evolution.
All rulesets for WTactics are recommended to do their best to meet what's outlined in this section. It's written mainly for the rule developers.
- Staying true to the CCG genre.
- Includes deck building.
- Easy to learn, hard to master.
- High modularity
- Replayability value
- Low level of player administration.
- As little preperation as possible.
- Playing time: 30 min to 1,5 h.
- No game mats, boards or terrain etc.
Being a CCG
WTactics does not strive to re-invent the CCG genre or create a new game genre, at least not this first time we're doing all of this. We're not interested in re-inventing the wheel. Such a mission would be a lot of fun, but it has to wait for us until after we release a working CCG.
Thus, being as original or strange as possible isn't our goal with this game. One of the absolutely most primary objectives of the project is to create an open source CCG. We only want to take the CCG genre's better sides, mold them into a shape of our own, doing away with what we consider is broken, and output a libre product that is still true to the basic concepts of the genre.
Some of these concepts are:
- The game is played with cards.
- It has a huge cardpool.
- The rules are very modular.
- Deck building is a part of the game.
- Future expansions are possible.
Non-steep learning curve
Good game design should often lead to as low learning curve as possible. Period. At least if we want to create a game that is popular among the masses and not only directed to hardcore fans or very niched target groups.
CCG:s are already a pretty niched type of games. While most people have seen or know of boardgames, the same can not be said about CCG:s. We don't want to make it even more so by releasing a CCG that is very hard to learn.
We ask all our developers to make a difference between hard-to-learn-rules, or rules complexity, and depth of a game.
Chess is a good example: It has few and mostly very straight forward rules, yet it has an amazing strategical depth as well as replay value, all without any randomization or rules complexity involved.
WTactics should be a CCG that is on par with (or below) the average learning curve of other conventional CCG:s. Grasping the core rules in the rule book should be easy. The complexity is then added on a modular level by each card telling the player about new rules or modifications of the old.
Administration should be easy
Administration in a CCG is done when you do stuff like shuffling, marking cards, scribble with a pen to keep score, throw dice etc. Simply put: Everything you must do to play the game except for actually playing it is a part of the game admin. The WTactics rules and cards should be designed in such a way that the players don't perform lengthy or repetitive actions that are of the administrative type.
There are different ways of creating a high replayability value within a game. Well known elements are the use of randomization, letting players choose which characters they'll use, offering different boards, etc.
The way we will accomplish it in WTactics is to make use of the CCG:s genre main component: The cardpool.
By having a huge pool of over 200+ cards and limiting the upper size of the deck we force players to make choices about which cards they'll put into their deck. In theory, a player can construct a deck of any cards in the pool. In reality however, a player would try to construct a deck where as many of the cards in it as possible interact and can be played well together. Usually, the more synergy there is between cards in the deck, the better the deck.
Most CCG:s have rules that create both incentives and discouragement that usually guide the players when they try to put together a good deck. It's done to allow interesting combinations to take place, and also to maintain balance in the game.
Example of an incentive to include elvish creatures in a deck would be a card with the text "If you control 5 or more elves in play all elves get +3 Defense." If a player wants to use that card, he/she is likely to put elves in the deck. And vice versa. If he/she already happens to have many elves in the deck, adding this card might be a good idea.
This card is also of little use to a player that would want to build a deck that sports totally different factions or species. By designing the card as we do, we discourage it being put into that type of decks.
Put all this into the delicate resource situation that WTactics is in. We lack funding, resources and artists on the project. We will be able to release new cards, but, since we'll be doing it in a slow pace and won't ever be able to mass-produce cards like many of the CCG companies have the resources to do, we are put into a situation where we must seek to usually create cards with high card compatibility'.
A cards compatibility is it's "ability to operate and interact with other cards". The example we have checked out above is a card that would only be meaningful put in relation to x other cards in the card pool, where x is the amount of creatures that are elvish. If x is 50% of the cardpool, the card in our example has a very decent card compatibility. If x is 0.1%, then our card has almost zero compatibility and perhaps it even only works with one single other card, in the whole cardpool (that would be true if the cardpool was made up of 1000 cards in total).
If we create a game with around 200 to 250 cards in it's core set, and where most of the cards have very low compatibility, then we have effectively lowered the re-playability value of the game. The number of cards that are rational to combine in a deck would drastically fall, and in effect, we will create a game that has very few viable successful decks. That would be a disaster as it misses out on plenty of the purposes with creating a CCG in the first place as it lowers the customization of the game, in result lowering the individualization and personal touch of decks, as well as predefining the game by telling the players, indirectly, which decks to build and which ones can never be built.
Considered from a resource point of view creating a game with low card compatibility is not an optimal move because such a game would have to release many more cards to make up for the loss of combinations in deck building due to it's low card comp. Many more cards equal many more artworks, and sadly that's something we can't afford. Even if we would, it seems like a bad idea because of the above reasons.
- WTactics has to maintain a decent card compatibility. An early suggestion is that only ≤ 10- 20% of the total cardpool has a very low compatibility. By maintaining high compatibility:
- We offer players to have a large choice of possible decks, creating a rich meta game & many combos.
- Make up for us not having ten thousand cards in our pool.
- Use art resources efficient.
Making a good CCG that keeps high compatibility is harder for the developers as it allows more cards to interact with each other. More playtesting and revisions will most likely be required to balance that type of games.
- An average 12 year old would be able to easily grasp the basics of a CCG. The average player is expected to be older.
- There is no upper age limit.
- To not scare away age groups that are not used to read or lack patience:
- We'll offer quick-start rules, eliminating requirement of reading through a 20+ pages rulebook to play a game.
- The genre is complex and allows very intricate rules. We'll have easy and few core rules while having the rest of them on individual cards, panning out the learning curve.
- We'll recommend the game to teenagers and older. WTactics will not be aiming at satisfying the youngest players (0 to 11).
- Being a strategic customizable card game and due to our form as DIY and/or online play we expect a majority of the players to be 16 to 35.
- In the end we don't really care much about the age of the players as long as we create a game that is niched towards mature individuals - adults & not very young kids.
- WTactics strives to create a global community: Wherever there are means & opportunity to play the game we expect it to be an alternative. The most central parts in achieving that are:
- 'Translations: We want to translate the game to as many languages as possible with the help of the community. (See separate section)
- Free online play
- Be permissive of & encourage local fan communities.
The game will not be niched only towards old and expert CCG players. It must be playable both casually and competitive. Steps must be taken to make sure that the following groups feel welcome and become interested in at the very least trying out the game:
- Total newcomers to the genre: Inexperienced players that have never tried out a CCG before should get proper treatment and major support in a friendlt atmosphere.
- Active CCG players from other communities: WT could offer them variety, a break from the CCG they're usually playing, as it doesn't require them to invest cash in a brand new game.
- Cost exiled:
- Ex-CCG players that fled because of the cost issues.
- CCG Sceptics, those that never wanted to even get close to the genre because of the costs.
Player types analysis
Most of the text found in this paragraph is inspired by an article that Wizards of the Coast published on the topic back in 2002. Marc Rosewater that wrote it has since then also contributed with an extended version of it in 2006.
We'll work from the assumption that a company like WotC knows what they're doing and that what they've written is correct and relevant even for our game in cases where it can be considered comparable to Magic the Gathering.
The following is a compressed compilation of the most recent article, broken down in easy to follow points extracted from the article. Hopefully it's of use when creating a specific ruleset.
Timmy, Johnny & Spike
These three persons are fictional and represent three different primary player types that can be broken down into subtypes. Timmy, Johnny & Spike are three separate main player profiles that give answers to questions like:
- What do a players want when they play?
- What are their reasons for playing?
- What makes them happy?
By answering such questions we're creating a psychographic profile. The goal with a psychographic profile is to isolate different personality traits and behaviors in order to understand what motivates a particular type of person to act in a given way.
- Is in it for the emotions.
- Wants to experience something.
- Would play bad/ineffective/non-optimal cards if they deliver a certain feeling.
- Gets often mixed up with inexperienced players.
- Plays to have fun.
Power equals fun. Having the largest creatures, doing most damage and huge spells etc characterizes the power gamers. It's all about hitting hard and with huge punches.
To appeal to power players and also keep them as players we need to insure that there are e.g.
- means for them to survive long enough
- ways to accelerate resource growth
- methods of putting power cards or version of them into play without having the resources
For these the whole point is to have fun by playing with friends and having a good time. Chances are high they'll go for multiplayer formats and/or develop own house rules, card lists etc to insure they are happy playing the game.
The following speaks for and against WTactics being able to deliver something to this type of players:
- We're about as complex as the average CCG or slightly more so, and of course also much less complex than many other games, CCG:s or not. All we have to do is to prove this. Methods suggested:
- Well written Quick Rules with illustrations.
- Special introduction decks designed to help new players get into the game as fast and simple as possible
- Tutorial videos explaining every single paragraph in the quick rules, step by step, also including examples of situations where the rule applies and plays out in various ways.
- Videos of real games being played
- Demo events on conventions and local game stores targeted at those that haven't seen the game and how it plays.
- No solutions are needed - the problem isn't real and we don't have that huge enough amount of extra rules or complexity.
- We welcome the community input and would support the innovations of different community formats. This support could, among other things, find it's expression in:
- Giving popular community created formats official status and including them on the main site, also giving credit to their creators.
- Have a team from the community that quality assures such formats before accepting them into the official format group.
- Support tagging uploaded decks as relevant/designed for formats x y z etc, making it easy to find already composed decks for a certain format.
- Something that speaks strongly for WTactics among the social gamers and that in some cases even might end up neutralizing what doesn't is the fact that we're a free game. As such it's easy to obtain and has a very low entry level of cost. A single player could in most cases easily afford 1-3 playable decks and also knows that it's easier to get friends interested in playing a game that's free compared to a traditional CCG which requires some investment. Admittedly, if these gamers are playing casually, they could pick up one ready to go deck for a conventional CCG from the LGS, for as little as €11. Given that the social player doesn't play han-solo they'd need at least two decks, and even more if they're a group of players. One might still argue that we have a winning edge due to the fact that we offer all our cards for the same price (zero) and that it allows us to compete with the commercial CCG:s by making free tailored decks possible. This can't be said about the commercial games.
Want to experience different ways to play the game, try various formats, build new types of decks. Keyword here is exploration. Diversity gamers will also try out cards and styles that aren't played.
What goes for the social gamer is even more true for the diversity subtype of gamers: We should be a very appealing deal to the exploring player due to the low self-costs (printing) involved when playing WTactics. The full access to all cards makes it less risky to explore the game and also possible to explore every aspect of it without having to struggle to acquire rare or expensive cards from the store, by trading or the second hand market.
From a gaming perspective WTactics will carry much to try out both when deck building but also playing a deck as well. With around 200 - 240 cards in it's initial set and coming expansions WTactics should be able to give the explorer something to discover. The very modular nature of a CCG also insures that a game never repeats itself. What we also give to the exploring player is a chance to share his explorations as well by uploading his deck creations, discussing them and perhaps even inspire him to become a part in the development process where a more total unveiling of the game is in focus.
Loves the unpredictable variation of the game. Coin-flips, dice rolls and so on all enchant their game play by making him adapt to the unpredictable.
The adrenaline players, as described here, is a group we've chosen not to pay all too much attention to. When designing the game we have prioritized strategy in contrast to randomness. In a CCG there is usually both to various degrees. We believe that there are fundamental differences between full information skill based games (chess) and no-information random-based games (bingo). There is also a very wide zone in between the given two examples, such as Poker. One may claim that Poker and such are indeed very skill based. We don't question that it may be true.
What we do insist upon is keeping WTactics free from core rule elements that utilize randomization to a degree where it will most often decide who wins or not. While we may end up utilizing some cards, mechanics and effects that make use of randomization, we primarily strive to create a game where randomization isn't decisive for how the game plays out in general.
There is probably no easy solution on how to reach out to the adrenaline players if they are defined as bingo-people, nor are we interested in reaching out to them in cases where the definition really fits as a description of the players. A game can't ever be designed to fit all kinds of people regardless of their taste and desires. This is in part also the explanation between the relation, or lack of it, between a players wish to play chess and the same individuals desire to play bingo.
- A way to maybe reach the adrenaline players somehow is to create some cards and mechanics that involve risk taking which is not really a random element. A not all too good example of that would be a creature that has very good attack values for a low price, but, which would degrade if the opposing player manages to put x creatures into play the next y turns. These types of challenges will maybe attract the adrenaline player and give him an experience of risk taking and high profit & loss playing style.§
- Other classical example is creatures that act differently due to coingflips, die rolls etc.
- Plays because he wants to 'express something about himself.
- Examples of such expression could be that he's clever, creative or odd.
- Lives for the customization of the game.
- Sees the meta aspects of the deck building process as the main part of the game.
- Seeks out new, nifty or complex combos.
- Fascinated by the interaction of cards.
- Likes cards that one can build a deck around.
- Gets an idea first and then finds the cards to build a deck. Example: What if a deck only had weak creatures in it?
- The main difference between the combo players and the offbeat designers is that the offbeats respond to a challenge they set and improvise more, while combo players optimize.
- Decide to express something with their deck, like the re-creation of a real historical battle or a certain theme that stands out, like a deck only containing creatures found in a certain story.
- Can be compared with a writer or artist, that uses the cards to tell us something.
- Are stubborn and want to show that the impossible can be done.
- No card is too bad, no deck build is too flawed - any concept can be made to work.
- Über Johnnies want to show to the world that they can do the undoable.
Thoughts on the Johnnies
We believe an open source community driven game as WTactics should be able to offer the Johnnies more than any closed source CCG ever could. Playing an open source game could even by itself be an expression of political or ideological views. Furthermore, the customization potential of our game is endless, not to mention we encourage it directly.
Since WTactics is a very customizable and modular game there are no theoretical limits that should stop our Johnnies from thriving within the game. There are many different ways to play it and each faction has it's own unique style. The cards that we offer should suffice to show the potential of the game and system.
The only foreseeable problem that lies ahead for the Johnnies is the lack of cards in a newly born CCG. It is natural that an elder game that has been around for quite some time and has expansions also offer a greater card pool to construct decks from. Our initial release of about 220-250 cards may seem bleak compared to games that are old timers by now and let the players choose from thousands of cards. Possible solutions:
- The problem will solve it self with time, cards shouldn't be mass produced just to satisfy a demand for quantity. Quantity must not be prioritized before quality. The fact that many games have so many cards depend on their commercial distribution system with many crap cards that are virtually unplayable. Many of the games doesn't really have an enriched game play because of them even if Johnnies supposedly might get some joy.
- Insure future expansions by early planning and make use if the the community as the main engine and resource.
- Turning the Johnnies into co-developers by having official expansion creation contests where they'd submit their ideas, harnessing their creativity by not only telling them to build with what they get from us, but to first build the bricks they'll build with. If a Johnny is that great builder, let's ask him for a helping hand and reward the efforts.
- Plays to prove how good he is.
- Only thing that counts is a win.
- He is his own hardest judge.
- Invents new deckbuilds only to win.
- Seek out what is broken in the game in order to use it.
- Fast to read newly released cards and mechanics.
- Very much knowledge about how the game works behind the scenes.
WotC are all too modest about these guys: While they are indeed creative and all, "innovators" sounds far too nice of a title for them. We'd describe them more as an explorers of exploits. We should also be grateful and thank these guys for being around - without them it would take several extra hard working months to spot balancing problems in the game. It's primarily thanks to this group we can revise the game and count on that people, via their game play, reveal what needs fixing and what works. Surely the innovators will have a blast playing WTactics, as they would with any game: We'll never be perfection, and we'll always offer something to break. We will on top of that offer fixes as well, and with time, as new cards some around, this group of players can once again test their wits.
- Don't invent - they take whatever the innovators create and optimizes it to work even better.
- Go for efficiency and win through it.
The tuners should be comfortable with the WTactics community through our supported deck uploading feature. Through it they'd be able to find the powerdecks to perfect further. There seems to be little reason to focus more energy than that on this subgroup.
- Are most interested in the meta game.
- Try to understand what is currently being played the most and builds a deck to win over the current trendy decks.
- Tinkers with the deck only to prepare it for what he thinks will come up in the next game.
- Very adaptable.
WTactics will partially have the same problem with the Analysts as we have with the Johnnies. With a limited cardpool the analyst will soon become restless. Question is what he/she does when that happens - does he get out of his cocoon temporarily and transform to another type, to later revert back into the analytical role once a new expansion is released? We think it's possible and see that this particular movement happens among some players in many CCG:s every time a new expansion or block of expansions are released. Rest of the answer and suggestions are shared with the Johnnies. If it is one group we should target in particular for development, it's this one.
Nuts & Bolts
- Test themselvs and plays to achieve improvement in game play.
- Wants a perfect play, even if he doesn't win, it could still be a success to achieve total synchronization of everything.
- The game uses legally acquired artwork for which we have written permission or an agreement to use. This permission and/or agreement comes from/is made with the artist(s) or whatever other entity that is claiming to have the copyrights of the artwork.
- By submitting artwork to us you agree on that we get the right to put it under the specific GPL-licenses we use.
- In addition you agree on giving us free hands to release it under other open source licenses if we find it fit in the future.
- As the artist of the work you always keep your own rights to do whatever you want with the work and license it under any other licenses to your liking.
- We will never consider "fan made" cards that could be assumed to violate other entities copyrights to be an official part of WTactics, and will never distribute or encourage the creation of such content.
- We do not go through great lengths to verify who is a copyright holder or not as we lack the monetary resources to do so since we're a global project. We trust that whoever claims to hold the copyrights does so. In cases where he/she does not it is he/she that violates international and regional law(s).
- We can not be held accountable for other people's actions.
- We will never make use of artworks that are of questionable legal nature.
- Should you believe our use of any art is somehow considered to violate your copyright(s) we encourage you to contact us. It will be taken care of promptly.
Depiction & use
- Due to the nature of a CCG artists and card developers alike have maximum creativity: Pretty much anything can be depicted as long as it is plausible within our take on the fantasy world.
- We don't censor nudity, violence, blood and so-called controversial topics, with a reservation for pure pornography and/or some other at this point unforeseeable types of content.
- Detailed genitals won't ever be relevant to the game and should thus be avoided.
- Artwork should not be used as card art if it's likely to cause major offense within our community if it does so on rational grounds. What is so or not is decided by the founder of the project or a representative(s) appointed to make such decisions.
- Every developer group is allowed to not make use of artworks they find problematic for whatever reasons it may have.
Please see our reference package and current artpool to get an understanding of approximately what style we want in the game. It can be downloaded from here. It is of the utter most importance that we try to keep the game's style unified and coherent as far as possible. In contrast to many other CCG:s we don't want a game where there are all too many and too different styles involved. Instead we'll strive to keep that amount minimal.
- No backgrounds. Background is always transparent.
- Full colour – palettes close to existing styles, vary with race.
- Card art will usually not cover more than 30 – 60% of a finished card, in height.
- A look that leans towards comic book.
- Fantasy setting.
- European, not manga/anime.
- Realistic and natural proportions & angles of everything.
- 2d, not 3d.
- Creatures are usually depicted from the waist up.
- All templates should be editable and preferably created in open source software like Inkscape, GIMP etc.
- All artwork should preferably exist in it's original file format.
- All art, no matter what type and for what purpose it was created for this project, should be created using proper layering and have it's originals keep the layering intact upon submission to the project,
- Open source software is recommended. Then gratis software, and lastly proprietary commercial software.
- Avoid submitting art in exotic or extinct legacy file formats, and in the same fashion please avoid using ancient software that nobody has heard of or seen before.
No matter what ruleset is being used the art will stay the same on the cards unless new art is somehow legally obtained. Totally re-theming the game at this stage (i.e. into a game about Werewolfs or into a Sci-Fi game) is fully possible given the open source nature of our project. Currently we strongly advise against re-themeing: Only time it would be wise to pursue is if the people wanting to do so have access to unified and large enough art archive that we would be allowed to use in accordance with the GPL(s).
To get a consistent thematic feeling from the world WTactics takes place in we need to make sure some basic concepts are nailed and kept unbreached in all cases where people aim at developing something for the original fantasy version of the game.
- Closest real life comparison is Europe during late medievel and renaissance era, approximately 1500-1700.
- Realistic within fantasy context
- No cross-genre
- Diverse cultures.
- World with topics we can relate to, as well as purely fictional.
- Technological advancements are limited.
- All we'd traditionally expect to see within the fantasy genre could be a part of the WTactics world.
- While magic exists it is not common.
- We will never do genre breaking crossovers: I.e. timetravels, laserguns etc won't be a part of the world.
- No electricity created by man.
- Gunpowder and rudimentary usage of it exists and is considered new, advanced, expensive and rare.
- Same goes for explosives.
- Primitive steam-tech is an option.
The game is influenced by and takes place in approximately the same universe as Battle for Wesnoth (BfW). Much of the BfW lore is not carved in stone yet. That and the fact that WTactics could be all played out on another timeline makes the lore of BfW not overly important for our project.
Although we want our world to feel comfortable and recognizable to the BfW playerbase, our mission is not to necessarily make the worlds intertwined or coherent.
- WTactics is designed to be easily playable with real cards as well as online ones.
- Our players must be offered proper guidance and easy ways to manifest the cards in paper form.
Costs & print quality
The larger quantities a work is printed in, the lower the cost per unit becomes if the work is done using professional printing services that specialize in those particular tasks. Successful commercial closed-source game companies often order great quantities of cards, have them printed first and then shipped to retailers. That model won't work for this project as we lack financial backing. In addition, even if we would have the funds, we also want to cut away as many middle hands as possible in the spirit of the openness and availability of this project, and also to keep costs down for the player.
For our game to ever be played with real cards by the CCG communities it has to either be cheaper or of equal cost to the closed source commercial product in the case where it's price is located on the markets lower segment.
Below we have listed approximative prices for products from the world of MtG only. We will refrain from using other games as an index, as it will complicate matters needlessly.
The prices are taken from cardkingdom when they're given in US Dollars ($, USD). Please notice that some kind of export restrictions seem to be in place, so people outside of the US can't order from cardkingdom.
Prices given in Euro (€, EUR) are taken from manaleak, using their built-in currency changer.
Notice: All cards are, for the purpose of this comparison treated as if they were of equal monetary value. The presence or amount of rare cards in the product is not accounted for in any way in the below calculations. Production costs for most of the rare cards (non-foil) are however identical to the ones of common cards. If you want to update prices please use the the same sites and don't use discount offers.
In MtG a player needs between at least 40 cards to play, although 60 is more common. Being able to play the game at any casual non-competitive capacity. Thus, an intro pack suffices for a player to get into the game.
Last updated: 8:th of July, 2010
- An intropack is a pre-constructed deck. It currently consists of 41 cards + a booster pack of 15 cards, giving a total of 56 cards.
- It costs 11.63€ / 7.95$.
- Price per card: 0,21€ / 0,14$
- When MtG 2011 is released the intropacks will have 60 cards in them instead, and also include a booster pack with 15 cards, giving a total of 75 cards.
- MSRP is 12.99$ according to WotC.
- Price per card: 0,17$
- A booster pack contains 15 randomized cards that are unknown to the player at the time of the purchase. A pre-determined distribution is used: A majority of them are common cards, and a share is uncommon while yet a smaller one is rare.
- It costs 3,83€ / 2,95$
- Price per card: 0,26€ / 0,20$
The only option we have is a Do-it-yourself solution. Because we're open source and not a centralized force that determines prices on the market or competes on it on equal terms with commercial closed source games we let the player decide what suits his/her wallet by giving three choices:
Full colour version
We'll supply the players with high resolution original quality card images in standard file formats, easily available for download and further processing.
Developing the cards as digital photographies is easy, cheap and results in a great looking cards of at least as visually high quality as any of the commerical competitors.
The market is filled with photo development services and competition is steep, suggesting there are many options to choose from for the player.
An important bonus is that photo paper from the labs is quite often thick and sturdy and of a much higher quality than casual copier paper that people use to have in stock at home.
With the introduction of digital cameras and advanced colour printers designed for printing digital photos many already have everything that is needed to create superb looking cards. The player can choose what type of paper is used and affect the cost per card by choosing wisely.
We don't recommend home-printing high quality cards as it is usually much more expensive than using the above solution. That said, this is still an option available to the players. We encourage everyone to do their own math on the subject and pick the solution that fits the shoe.
We also supply the game in a poxy version optimized for greyscale/black & white play. This allows all players that just want to test the game to print it at home on virtually any printer. While the game is not intended to be played using proxies we believe they should be easily available for budget and deck-experimenting purposes.
Detailed article on the subject
Printing_on_a_budget article is a work in progress, but you should find lots of detailed information there.
DIY games have a common problem with durability issues: Games assembled by the players with whatever materials they happen to find have often short life-spans and become crooked. WTactics is a paper product. Card are repeatedly used in various ways, moved all around and shuffled. To make the game durable the cards must be protected.
- Lamination is a possible solution but has several serious problems associated with it.
- The edges would become sharp and need further treatment
- the cards could become hard to shuffle and
- the cost per card would sky-rocket.
- Card sleeves is a much cheaper and more than adequate solution.
- Sleeves are available in all LGS that deal with CCG:s or similar products and also from easily accessible retailers online.
- They all have a transparent front.
- Sleeves exist in two - three sturdyness/hardness and price levels.
- The most common and cheapest fully back and forth-transparent sleeves are the softest: They are only appropriate when the cards are already printed on thick paper.
- Fancier card sleeves are harder and have painted backs with hundreds of motifs to choose from. They solve our missing card back issue and also allow players customization of his/her deck's appearance.
- Sleeves are available in all LGS that deal with CCG:s or similar products and also from easily accessible retailers online.
There are few free & libre customizable card games in digital form, for single as well as multiplay. More and more non-libre CCG:s become digital, and the market share taken up of the fully digital vs paper-only is growing due to very strong competition and consumer saturation on the paper-CCG market, combined with much higher profit margins for the digital form and a lower capital investment to get started. To prevail as a project and allow the players to stick with WTactics online as well a digital version of WT is needed.
The solution is straightforward: Primarily, it is to make WTactics playable online so that player vs player becomes possible. This has to be done. It is relatively easy to accomplish and is highly prioritized
It would also be a huge bonus if we could support releasing software that allowed the player to go up against a computer AI, as it could give the newcomers training and courage to go up against older players and also to learn the game in their own pace, not to mention offline play and perhaps even console support.
Dedicated vs generic software
We are not in any need and will not support development of a multiplayer card engine: Such engines are already around and suffice for all our needs. Wasting time & resources on creating yet another one that clones them and does the very same job is pointless. If people associated with WTactics want to improve already existing engines we do support and encourage them to do so if the engine in question is open source.
WTactics dedicated software becomes interesting only if we're aiming at getting an AI working. There are several ways to accomplish that. One of the more obvious is to fork or patch an already existing engine and building on it, adding support for player vs cpu mode. Another would be to build own software from the ground up.
This project lacks coders and doesn't have the means to fund that type of work. Should coders ever feel an urge to contribute to the project by creating an AI/single player mode, then we'd fully support it and make such an attempt an official part of this project.
Interesting open source projects that could be related to that endeavor: Wagic.
Due to us not settling with only one piece of software to enable the electronic form of WTactics to get life and the huge differences between platforms, programs and patches, we will not go into specific details for each and every engine. This section will deal with what can be said about the topic in general and what seems to be common ground for most of the electronic alternatives.
This goes for the card game engines:
- Lack of rule-enforcement: The game is played as if on a kitchen table. The players judge & enforce rules themself.
- Virtual tables: Beyond having the computer doing the shuffling for you and the ease of dealing with tokens and not having to travel around the world to find somebody to play your favorite game with, there's nothing that is done by the computer.
- Free to use: All the engines discussed in here are free to obtain and use. WTactics developers target open source engines first, closed source but free engines second, and the rest last.
- Work well: All of the engines listed do what they're supposed to and any one of them would be quite sufficient to play almost any imaginable CCG.
- Highly modular: By releasing a simple, often text-only, patch/module a new game becomes fully playable using the engines.
Native platform: Microsoft Windows
- Open source
- Good looking & modern intuitive GUI
- Easy to handle.
- Still in major development.
- Much changes often, even if it is fully usable.
Native platform: Microsoft Windows
- Excellent game distribution & update system
- Established community
- Supposedly planned Linux support.
- High degree of customization.
- Free, but not open source.
- Has an ugly & oldschool GUI, even after customization.
Native platforms: GNU/Linux
- Open source
- Only one with complete solution & support for built in collecting/trading/auctions/winnings of cards (no real money involved in any way).
- Centralized system, allowing players to easily find each other and play at tables.
- Relies on somebody setting up & maintaining two external servers.
- Has an ugly & even more oldschool GUI than LackeyCCG.
This project has no resources except for the people that choose to help out in some way. Currently that is one active person. We lack:
Artist are the key in a CCG project, without new art no new cards can be released. Funding is also important as it's needed to hire artists to work since none seem to do it for free for this project. Funding could also be spent later on as prizes and other community related events. Various types of programmers are needed to make site specific changes, create desktop or web based clients etc. Developers are needed to move the development of the game rules and balance forward.
Acquiring the resources
Exposure is central for any of this to become real: Without it there are no players, no donations, no new developers and no risk of ever getting in-house artists that want to contribute to the game's evolution. That's why we kindly ask you to do as much as possible of the following:
- Link back to us (WTactics.org) - it is important even if your site only has a few visitors.
- Talk about us on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Identi.ca etc.
- Mention us on gaming conventions and in local game stores - this is very very important, as these people are the most likely to help us out.
- Tell all your friends about us in real life as well.
- Print one of our nice posters and put it up in your school/university or at work.
Funding plays a major part. Sadly, nobody works for free to create our art. If you and your friends want to see a truly free and open source CCG come to life you should donate what you think you can afford. That will enable us to get money to spend on nice new artwork, which will be taken into the game and result in new cards within a very short timespan.
- The game and it's development should be kept open.
- Openness does not necessarily entail democratically ran or developers willing to follow every input from the community.
- Openness comes second to the long-term goals of the project: It must not ever be allowed to compromise the game, development or community.
- The development process should strive to be transparent, giving the community easy means of following it.
- Anyone can apply to become a part of any active development group or form a new group.
- Applying to join does not equate to acceptance: Every dev. group is autonomous and has it's own structures, goals and interests.
- Creating a new group does not equate to it directly becoming an official part of WTactics.org: It will be included on merit and results.
- The use of open source software is preferred and should be used whenever possible.
- In cases where that is not possible gratis software is recommended whenever suitable.
- We don't mind that people use proprietary software. It is fine to use it whenever one prefers that to the above solutions.
- Open file formats should be used whenever possible. If it's not, "standard" proprietary formats will do.
- Work in very exotic or ancient legacy file formats should be converted or avoided.
- The projects economy should always stay open and transparent.
- All donation amounts must be made public as soon as they become known to us. Anonymity of donors is optional and to their own discretion.
- Numbers should always be made public at request if they're not already so.
- The exceptions to this clause relate to any and all legal issues, such as NDA:s, people contributing or charging something but want their name(s) left out for whatever reason etc.
- Building a solid community for the players is a priority after the game has been released.
- Building a community for the very few people that work on this project while it's still unknown and non-existent is considered to be another task, much different from the previous.
- The social aspects of the global community will exist on our open and free forum where registered users can post their game related thoughts, questions, discuss stategies, tip each other of good print services, develop new card, decks and so on.
- A public IRC #channel available to the players on freenode won't be launched until we have a huge player base and can count on the channel not being very empty most of the time.
- Furthermore, community should be strengthened by encouraging and arranging on-line competitive play like tournaments, ladders, leagues etc.
- The community will not be kid-centric and won't pursue dialogue with the average 6-year old. Immature, tedious or meaningless behavior won't be tolerated, no matter what age the person is.
- It should always be a goal to keep a mature, tidy and very friendly climate at the site and its sub-domains. Spam, trolls, bullies, hostile and other persons that somehow sabotage a friendly climate should be moderated in a stricte manner by the community.
While we value democracy as a rule of government and perhaps also have the pleasures of enjoying the practices of it in our private lives, this project is not intended to be ran as a full-fledged democracy. This might come as a surprise for some of you that have the belief that there is a strong link between open source and democracy. It seems to be correct that a case could be built for that kind of argument. Open source does indeed empower people in several ways that can be connected to democracy and the strengthening as well as the practice of it.
Even if that is true it is also equally so that there is no inherent relationship between democracy and logic, between the fact that a decision was made in a democratic fashion and that it, because of that alone, is likely to be the most correct and rational decision. Expressed differently one might say that a notions popularity doesn't reflect if it's sound or not.
We are not anti-democratic. If you have a problem with a company not being democratic, or a game development group not being it, then we recommend you to not be a part of it, or to start a project of your own that is indeed democratic and where anything would go as long as it passed the vote. We respect anyone that would choose to work that way, but don't believe that it is our way and that it's how this project should be ran.
We don't want to make decisions simply because they happen to be the most popular. When you think about it you'll maybe realize that it is the only thing democracy actually guarantees and that can be said for sure about it's decisions. Nothing less, nothing more. Once you start investigating the matter you will also be surprised to how many open source and copyleft projects that have ditched democracy and replaced it with other structures instead.
This should not be misread as if democratic decision making has no place at all within this project. It does. The ways democracy is used will now be laid out in a clear manner.
To paraphrase Plato: When you are sick you go to the doctor. When your car is broke you go to the mechanic. When you want to cross the sea you will go to the captain - not to the doctor or mechanic. Would you, in any of these cases, want to vote about the solution of the problem and let it decide the outcome, or would you leave it in their capable hands? Do we go to those who are experts compared to us, or should we just consult with anyone that can raise a hand and happens to have an opinion of some sort?
What Plato was aiming at when he was discussing how a state should be governed was that the wise - philosophers - should rule since they were the most fit to do so. Plato realized that while democracy tends to be a popular form of government it is not necessarily the most rational. As hinted earlier, the sheer amount of people that believe a thing doesn't make their belief factually correct or the best course of action.
In WTactics we want the best possible outcome in the long term. WTactics is not a short-term project that will be finished and wrapped up within a short period of time. It is an ongoing effort, that starts with laying down the core but also continues later on with balancing, revising and also expansions. As players and developers come and go and there are different trends in the world of games we need to install a system where human resources are used in the best possible way while they are around and contribute to the project.
This is one of the reasons for why a fully democratic way of governing this project is a a bad idea. In the end it would create a very unstable and chaotic environment where every aspect of the game would always be a target for a new voting session. As people come and go, so does opinion. We're quite convinced that the playerbase is very unforgiving when it comes to the instability of CCG:s: Having to get acquainted with new developers, re-learn rules or having constant major changes done in them along with totally re-vamping card changes coupled with a new direction for the while game and project every now and then doesn't instill stability. It would just be proof of us always being at square one. Don't get this wrong: There will be revisions done to this game and it will be unstable for a long time. They will however not be done so due to popular demand.
A far more important and compelling reason for why we don't want to rely on democracy is that human resources have something more interesting to bring than their mere opinion and being a number when voting: They have their expertise. We want to take that expertise and put it in the best possible position, give it what it needs and see how it grows into something that is given back to the project.
We believe that we are usually not all equally skilled at everything. We don't claim that we couldn't ever be or that intelligence, abilities and skills are inherited. Unless we're born with various handicaps or conditions what we excel at and what we need to practice depends on our different backgrounds, resources, experiences, educations, lives in general, our interests and so on. We don't see this as inequality, although inequalities in society would of course have a large impact on what an individual masters or not, or if he/she even got a fair chance in life. Instead we see it as a fact about current reality.
The main reason for why we work on creating a successful CCG is not to get new friends. It's not to cuddle, be social, liked or get a feeling that we have some kind of important social status because we call the shots and make decisions. It's not become "somebody" or to give us identities or power over our fellow co-developers. Our primary goal is to create a pro and high quality end product. Rationality dictates that we are more likely to accomplish that if we always try to match each individual's abilities & skills with the tasks at hand hand where his/her skills can be best utilized.
Thus, whenever it is the case that too many individuals are interested in performing a task that doesn't require all of their involvement, we will appoint the the people we believe would solve the task the best way.
An important question is how we would ever know that. Since most of us are not "professional game developers" with 20 years in the industry, who are we to make those decisions about each other's skills and who should do what? What guarantees we will appoint the correct person? It's a good and valid questions that warrants an answer:
Truth be told, nothing guarantees that. We don't have total knowledge or enough information to make the best possible decision in every individual case where people seem to be of equal skills. We do however always have discussions and dialogues where we would most often get clear indications that speak for or against a decision. We can always try to use our reason to the best of our abilities. We think that this is a pragmatic stance and that reason will also guide us to make the right decisions more often than a democratic process would.
The paragraphs about forms of government don't relate much to the casual player community. Persons that only want to play the game and have their occasional opinion about it posted in forums, blogs, mails to us etc could be described as partaking in a democratic process even if it's not a formalized one.
WTactics is currently not in a mature enough state to create a truly democratic processes where the community has a decisive and final mandate. It is also very uncertain if that would ever be a good idea to implement, for the same reasons given against democracy in previous sections.
Instead of giving the community the total and decisive power over already existing development groups, effectively making the developers in them superfluous & removing all need of developers all together, we invite the community to create it's own dev groups and develop the game in whatever direction it believes is correct. That is indeed community power in it's perhaps most concrete form.
We stongly advise whoever within the community that is considering this to have serious and constructive discussions with the already existing dev groups before he/she decides to create yet another dev group. The WTactics community is currently non-existent. Dividing it into too many groups will accomplish nothing in the end and do more damage than good due to the tremendous effort that's required within each group and the lack of manpower. We would be happier to see if people would manage to collaborate instead of going their own paths, as co-work is the only thing that will ever get this off the ground.
Connecting users & devs
- Once WTactics has an official ruleset and cards are out of Beta there must be formal ways for the community to share it's feedback about the game.
- Players should be offered to give it to us both in public as well as private.
- Feedback on cards and card revisions could i.e. be made directly in the card database or news post that related to the changes.
- Original feedback bringing something new should preferably always be met and responded to by the developers or representatives appointed by them.
- Try to find ways to encourage feedback, i.e. handing out titles or prizes to very active players that come with constructive criticism.
It is imperative that the community of non-developers/players feels empowered to influence the game. It should:
- Always be free and indulged to express it's views, experiences, thoughts and rationale about anything relating to the game.
- Get a clear demonstrations from our side that there is indeed a connection between it's input and the course of the development.
- Show that we consider it's feedback even when we dismiss it, and why it's being dismissed or accepted.
- Never take credit ourself for something which the community delivered.
- Nickname: snowdrop
- Will declare which rule set, along with it's finished cards, will be the official for WTactics once we have one or more completed that have been tried out properly.
- Decides what goes and what doesn't on all things associated with WTactics. Typically nobody would need worry about this as it's just a precaution to avoid problems, sabotage and other forms of counter-productivity.
- Trusts the community and doesn't interfere in it's business unless necessary.
- Appoints misc types of representatives/admins/moderators etc for WTactics when and if they're needed and on merit.
Lead developers are usually the ones that create a developers group and often the ones that are in charge of it, also having the main responsibility for the progress within the group. The LD:s are quite often the representatives for their group and the ones that dedicate most time and effort in it, having the most experience or knowledge about overall work being done in their group.
- Original rules concept: snowdrop
Anyone that somehow contributes over time to WTactics, either to the project in general or within a dev group, is considered to be a developer of the game. Please notice that this title won't be handed out lightly - it's only the founder and the leads that decide who gets it or not. Typically you'd earn it after being around for a while and contributing by doing something. All developers are properly credited.
To get the title artist you'd have to deliver something that's finished and of such quality that it will somehow be useful to the project.
The template team
Any artist that somehow contributes to the art related work that's done for the main site, forum, wiki, rulebook, card template etc is considered to belong to the template team. Usually these artists create pieces like logos, icons, backgrounds etc.
Card artwork team
The artists that create images for the cards and that do it for free are considered to be on the card artwork team. Currently there are none.
These don't officially exist within our project. We're not interested of concept artists since we don't use that type of workflow. We believe that the artist that does the end piece seldom appreciates following other peoples sketches and that concept art takes away from the artists freedom, taking away control and creativity. We consider giving an artist influence over his/her or own work as important in an open source project and in cases where the artist contributes for free.
- Have great liberty to contribute with almost anything they want as long as it matches stylistically and discussed beforehand.
- Are considered to be a part of the development team and will be properly credited, with link etc back to their site.
- Will, when possible, get their names printed on the finished card.
- All volunteer artists are offered a personal account on the main blog, giving them the opportunity to get more exposure, communicate with the player base, show works in progress etc.
- Have less influence over what they're creating.
- Are not considered a part of the development team and will not be credit in that section.
- Will never have their names on the finished cards.
All that donate financially or otherwise if it's useful have the right to be listed in the thank you-section of our main site, with their name or nickname and link back to their site if they want to. This is not mandatory, but we'd love to get a chance to
Individuals that decide to pay all associated costs for one or more cards are, along with the cardcount, thanked in a separate paragraph on the main site.
Levels of government
This project always welcomes new developers and also allows each developer to make a decision: Will he/she join an already existing group of people that's working on the game or will he/she create a brand new dev group that strives to develop a radically different rule set and cards than the ones around in already existing groups?
Each developer group is working on it's own rule set, cards and version of the game and what WTactics could become, and in a distant future one of the rule sets would be declared the official rules for the game.
How decisions are made within each dev group is not governed by this document. While we recommend each group to use meritocracy we wouldn't meddle in the groups own business and consider it to be self-governed as long as it doesn't violate any laws and doesn't act in counterproductive or obstructing ways for the project at large.
Each dev group could be made in a democratic, random, dictatorial or any other fashion the group would want to. In that respect there is a great autonomy within each group and the possibility to work in democratic ways are in place.
- WTactics first developer group goes under the name "The Original Rules Concept" (ORC). It is a meritocracy. Individuals that know that they have an issue with that are recommended to form their own dev group or join forces with another that's more to their liking.
Due to WTactics being a commune and open source project that invite all to participate we can not guarantee how or for what purposes our resources will be used outside of the WTactics scope. We do not answer for any other domain except for our official (WTactics.org) and have no control over contents of other sourced that are digital or in other forms.
If you should ever find out that parts of this project are used illegally somehow or unethically we advice you to contact the authorities, or, in the last case, the individuals that are presumably involved.
WTactics.org tries to take a social and worldly ethical responsibility and keeping an awareness about such issues. We hope to tell it like it is and take a stance for and against several phenomenons when they somehow hit our table while working with our game.
Our open nature does however make this harder as we're not necessarily sharing the same ethical convictions. Thus, we never speak with one collective voice, not even when the word "we" is used does it necessarily include each and every person in this project.
Instead of writing a long list of things we support or are against along with long essays explaining the subject matter we would much rather only commit to one single promise for the time being:
We promise to always listen, discuss and evaluate any type of ethical topics that might be voiced by our developers and community, no matter how controversial it may seem.
If you are interested in the convictions of a particular developer or development group please consult with them to get more info about their views and ethical stance.