Early Spring concept tests by snowdrop and me

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Q_x
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Early Spring concept tests by snowdrop and me

Post by Q_x » Sun Apr 10, 2011 09:08

So, as you probably know, we finally did it. Found time, play a short game and wrote tones of text afterwards.

With lengthy correspondence being posted on forums there is a significant problem. I simply fear of 1) people not reading it throughly and 2) we are tackling here much more than a single topic, and it seems to change from mail to mail. So, I think, a word of advice would be needed. Don't even how to start such a preface... "This is a discussion between us taking place from mid-March to mid-April. And you're watching it somewhere from the middle. We were writing about assorted suff and think you will benefit just by reading. But we are posting this to discuss with all of you as well". I'm also really gummy when it comes to any statements in places different than graphics or officially proposed large concepts (Roadmap, proto-Sandscape). All I can give is more a sip of what is in my alembic rather than stable, distilled product.

So, I'll avoid quoting this to ease your eyes and just copypaste what snowdrop wrote and reply a post below. Previous correspondence is here in ordinary quote marks:

snowdrops mail:
"If I omit something this means it
was a part of the brainstorming only, not a vital idea, or a signal
that we just won't agree but rather live in a conflict than make
flamewar-like convo, disagreement which is normal stuff and should
happen from time to time, this not means bitterness or aggressive
silence. And finally, I'd rather make topics evolve. If you feel you
have nailed some important stuff I neglected, just ask or remind."
I have no issues with polemics and having a creative discussion as long as it is moving somewhere and well founded. Heck, that's the only thing I've been doing during my years at the university - discuss, be it in writing or verbaly. If there is never no conflict of opinion or different bids on somethning I would be seriousley worried as I see that as a sign of stagnation. It's like participating at a cult or party meeting with the intentions of learning something new, it just won't happen since all are of the same mindset. I prefer there to more often be different thoughts than the opposite.

As you write, to some, or maybe even most people, that might be seen as a problem and eventually become a personal one even. To me it isn't. Soalways feel free to fire away. What I hope is being judged in the end is each argument on it's own merit and not who it happened to come from.

One thing though: I think we would be wise to copy & paste our discussion into the forum. The problem with doing that is that it would easier tempt others to get caught up in it and get off topic, but that can be moderated, and other peoples input might be valuable. By having these discussions via e-mail we manage to exclude people and also make it harder to get them structured. So, I'll copy this convo as a start.

"Most important conclusion, when it comes to me and you disagree upon a
given topic, is defining what state ORC is in, I think. For me this is
demo really, ready to mess a lot in it. But I think for you this is a
bit closer to what could be called "beta" in terms of code
development."
No, actually we don't disagree on this: I still see it in a state where I would trash all of ORC if needed be. (Btw I have already done that once: My first concept used a slot system and max 8 creatures in play per player.)

I agree it's demo, or, I'd even take it as far back as pre-demo and just call it all concept. We should never have used the word playtest and I'm the one to blame for giving such an impression.

What we seem to disagree about is strictly methodological questions, and they're important ones as they define how we approach the evaluation of development and the state of the rules system, independent of which system it is.

I would like to calm anyone that fears that I might favor my own suggestions, no matter how bad they may prove to be: I don't think any system should get some kind of extra scrutiny or benefits because it happens to come from a certain person.

On the contrary, if we have several rule systems to choose from we should pick the one that lives up to most goals in the General Design Document. Summed up that is maximised strategical depth & modularity with minimized administration and intermediate playing time. I think rule systems can be compared from an amount of factors and get an overall "score" which would tell us how good that system is. Given nobody has formalized this testing procedure (it should be done and such procedures should be kept updated and developed further as we discover things) i can't point to an exact science right now. One could however be devised by us if would want to. Maybe not super-precise, but still well shaped, logical and of instrumental value. Such a procedure may even be of use even if we only have one candidate as it would tell us something about it, at least if the procedure is well written.

To get back to our different opinions in methodology, I think they can be summed up this way: You draw conclusions from one game. I seldom do. It's my rigid opinion that we lack the necessary data to draw any well founded conclusions.


Now, this can be interpreted in a number of ways.

One is that I believe that the ORC is in a "good state" and only needs some polish, and that I want to conserve it for some reason. That I'm not prepared to change a lot or anything at all in it on a sturctural level. This interpretation assumes the following:

-----
P1) I have enough data to deem the ORC functional.
P2) You don't have enough data to deem the ORC broken.
P3) I think the ORC works as intended.
Conclusion: The ORC is a keeper and no change is needed.
-----

However, all of the above assumptions above are false, hence the conclusion is also false even if it would be drawn.

We, as in both of us, lack data for any conclusions. At least we lack it for many of the ones you made.
As I wrote in an earlier mail, that doesn't prove you wrong or me right. It proves nothing and none of our points can be verified or falsified. That's the only thing I really want to put emphasis on.

I believe this is the biggest difference betweem us, and that is about pure methods used: You are prepared to take bigger steps and take them more rapidly than I am and you believe a good result can be achieved by doing so. I question that thought and think it's impossible (other than by chance).

The way I see it there are very many variables involved already, even in the simple and crude concept testing we did. To understand if something has been fixed or broken from the last time, and exatcly what, it's my belief that we should change as few of the variables as possible inbetween concept tests.

To compare this with programming, it would be the following scenario: You program in a language where you have no built in debugger, nothing that throws error calls. You have 10 000 lines of pure code. If you make changes in 300 places and then run your program and get an error, you have no clue about where it will reside. You only know that it is likley to be in one of the 300 most recently changed places. I think it's better to make only 3 changes, run the program, evaluate, and then repeating until all remaining 297 are added if they will still be needed. (Half of those 300 maybe depended on things which proved to be unproblematic in the end since some of the added code was added in such a way that it solved more than one problem, so in return it elimintaed the need of several planned fixes.)

Take another example and use an RTS game instead, like for instance StarCraft. When trying to understand if ore gathering in state x is a good concept or not one is dependent of what and how several other variables in the game are set to. Blizzard didn't ditch the ore as concept just because they did as test that, by loking at the test itself, actually didn't tell us anything about ore gathering but more about rushing and available units.

Your worries seem to be that I'll conserve whatever we have. Mine are that you make way too radical changes between concept tests. If I conserve we make zero progress and I will only hinder development. If you make revolutions instead of evolutions we will make faked progress: On the surface we learn and change a lot, but underneath it all it's all shallow as nothing is ever understood in depth. First sign of problem, and we ditch it and replace it with something new. One variable exhcnaged for five others. One system instead of another. All the time, until we by some miracle stumble upon one where you yourself are prepared to conserve and lessen the pace. Ideally that would be a system where all just worked out and that only needed some minor polishing.

As I understand it we will never learn anything nor will we discover a good idea even if we have it in front of us if we take revolutionary leaps instead of evolutionary steps. Revolutionary leaps are nice and action filled. I appreciate them, but I don't think they're a sound development strategy in the long run. I rather see small evolutionary steps. I don't believe so to conserve. I honestly believe that a bad idea will fail in due time even with an evolutionary model. The key word being time. It takes a much longer, but when the idea really proves itself flawed it will be apparent why it did so and we would also know that it was unsavable.


My worries with your rapid approach is that we will end up almost starting from zero every now and then based on way to hastened conclusions that are not supported by data, but by our guesses, hopes, fears and personal preferences.

I have no issues with changing some of the concepts in the ORC in to better ones if we can conclude that it's needed. Nor am I against trying out totally different approach and rule sets other than the ORC: I just won't work with them myself until I have given up on the overall ORC with it's current base, where the only parts that are nailed down are the two-zone spatiality (movement), the combat system and some sort of resource handling. I also don't mind putting it to sleep if it proves to be a flawed system that can't be rescued. But before doing so I want the data to be there and the majority of it pointing in one direction.


"I'm not concerned that much with card quality that rapidly. Sure we
need more, and sure we need better, but seeing those better stuff in
action was not my priority when playtesting, but testing the rule
system we have. Also I was less concerned with the prices the cards
have, but more with resource system (in all meanings that were used by
us two on various occasions)."
A CCG is just a modular rules system where each card contributes to add new rules or modify/negate existing ones. I agree that some core things in the rules system can indeed be tested with any cards, as I think you suggest, and that these things are working or broken independently of what cards we use. Question is which those things are in a CCG.

For example you noted that a player goes empty of cards in hand rather fast. Well, reason for that was that 1) the player choose willingly to waste plenty of cards as resources and 2) that there was no reason to save up expensive cards on hand since there were no expensive cards and the most expensive of the chepates ones were useless in that game anyhow. Can the claim that the cards don't matter for drawing a conclusion about the empty hand/card drawing really be made? Doesn't the actual cards have a clea impact on how a player plays (or doesn't play)?

To use the StarCraft analogy: If we run out of ore quickly or not (or out of options to build certain units and do some actions) seems to depend a lot on what units are fielded and what technologies are developed, when, in what order and for what purpose.

You write about us testing the resources in the game, in an inclusive way, where we both mean resource piles (gold) but also the hand size (number of cards in a players hand). Can that really be done without the cards impacting the test? It sounds doubtfull. If it's possible then we can draw conclusions about the whole game by just playing it with two 40 card decks each, where every deck is only filled with 40 1/1 creatures that lack ability, faciton and all. While indeed some conclusions can be drawn from such an uninteresting game, I doubt much of it would be valid or useful once we start adding other card types, different creatures, abilities et.c.

"Single game was enough for me to spot
some flaws, but as I wrote it earlier, we can ask the others to test
and report without biasing them too much on the entry."
We can, and we should, sooner or later. Not yet though. We should just repeat the tests and collect more data ; ) (hides before you kill me...)


"> I'm usually very careful when it comes to drawing conclusions form sparse
> amounts of data. Only times I'd do it is if it was something really obvious.

What I would do? Extrapolate, interpolate, use imagination to create
possible problems and creative reasoning to solve them."

If it isn't broke, don't fix it. :) It just eats resources on what could prove to be perfectly functional stuff.
If it's not certain it is working - test it. It eats resources but will preserve some in the long run.

The problem is that your imagination can create problems that are not real. That's why I rather collect data. I know that you will be able to say "I told you so" a couple of times once we have the data, but, it will be an equal balance in the end where I would have been able to say the same to you. The benefit with the way I suggest of doing it is that we will have more certainty and in some cases actual knowledge,
"but I think its not that you don't
see the problems I see, but rather you want to solve it all when "the
right time comes" which sounds more like "too late" for me AND THIS IS
MAJOR FLAW OF ITERATIVE DEVELOPMENT APPROACH. This is conservative vs.
revolution clash, but I seriously doubt if we are, as a project,
mature enough to "conserve" the rule system rather than rewriting few
parts and trying again until a good light blinks for all. Trial and
error basically."
No, you're right: I do see indications of what could very well be problems. Indeed.

I just won't acknowledge them as such until we actually have confirmed them. Only way I know of to do that is to gather data, study it, and then interpret it. Preferably we would have another concept testing crew as well that worked totally indepenednt of us. Next step would also be to understand the problems fully, understand their causes. That's a pretty hard task by the way, and might also eat some time in some cases.


"Well, I'm pretty much convinced that a game with faction with more
expensive and stronger units (X) vs. a faction with cheaper and weaker
units (Y) will go as follows, (numbers I omit, as they depend on your
idea of crude balancing by increasing card cost):
initially Y looks better,
there is an equilibrium somewhere in between
finally X takes advantage.
Let's maybe call it X vs. Y game case (RB vs. E, whatever)"
Here we might just understand the goals differently or we might evaluate the situation you describe above differently.

What you write is, as I see it, exactly how MtG and some other CCG:s work. There's a faction that is generaly cheap and aggressive in the opening and up until mid game, and usually weaker in the end game. In MtG that is, and I hope fellow MtG players agree on this, Red. Reds strength is tempo and ruthless damage dealing. A thousand paper cuts or a hundred and some huge blows, while not preparing so much for late game. Typically a red player would manage to deal way more damage to the ther player than he'd recieve during first half of the game.


Is that a flaw? If I understand you correct you consider it to be. Personally I don't think it is. What would the problem with it be? When you are building a deck and choose to build it based on faction y or x (or both) then you are also aware of all other factions and cards around.

You know, while you build your deck, that it will be vulnerable against some strategies. You know that you build a deck that gives its blood and guts during the start and that it fades later on. It is a specialists deck, concentrated to do one thing only, most often. If you go on a tournamnet you might choose to ignore that fact and just pray for the best, hope that your opponents will build decks that don't use exactly those strategies your deck is weak against. This is all about the meta-game of the game, about player and strategical trends.

If we create a game where both players, indepenedet of faction selection, keep same pace and tempo, we take away some of the strategical possibilities from the meta game. I don't see what we can gain by making all factions play in same tempo, nor why it should be preferable. Only time different tempo is a problem is if we leave a faction totally unable to cope with a high tempo.

"Depending on time to play or initial influence you may want to
"balance" factions so that costs will be high enough for equilibrium
occuring somewhere in the game's sweet spot. "
I don't understand the equilibrium you speak of, how it's measured and why it should be a goal. (I suspect this is related to the discussion we're having about how we can make the gap between winning and losing player as small as possible?)

"If you will increase game
length, just to play longer (for long evenings) or shorter (for
tournaments), it will immediately raise need of additional balancing,
like with handicaps or specific faction rules, which I don't quite
like.."
Every good game must have some kind of standard rule set that dictates how the game is supposed to be played according to it's creators. Let's call this the official core ruleset. Core rules in our case should be whatever can meet the criterias in the GDD. My feeble attempt with the ORC this far is just that - a way tp try to achieve what is written it. In order to reach a wide audience and make the game popular we also want an officisla playtime of about 1h in average.

Whatever card are released officially should be in relation to the core ruleset. Cards can't be designed with two or twenty other rulesets or variations of the game in mind. Creating such a game, that has cards that are either so general or so info-filled that they can be used in a number of various rulesets, is an enormous undertaking and one that will usually end up in disaster. The reason being clear already by us: It's hard enough to create one single rule set that's good, not to mention several ones, or balancing cards to work with a multiplicty of them.

Look at MtG: All serious cards in that game (yes, they also release joke cards) are designed to work as flawless as possible with the one and only official ruleset for that game. Has that hindered players from altering the game? From using different rules and making the game more individual and fitting to their own needs? No, it hasn't.

MtG, as most other CCG:s, have several formats. A format is a variation of the core ruleset. It can change things such as how much life you start the game with, turn or phase order or number of players, to mention a few examples. A format is not a totally different ruleset. It only alters the core one. Most things from the core are still intact. Yet, all cards can usually still be used in the new format, with the same text and values on them.

Formats are usually not the most played form of a game. The core rules are, at least in any game that has good core rules ;) The good thing is that different formats offer players to get a new experiences building upon old experience and knowledge: To try out different formats is something all dedicated CCG players do, and most of them will return to one or two of the formats from time to time as it's a fun change.

I think WT should offer people different formats, but I would rather see the community devise most of them themself. As for our part as developers, I don't think we should pay much attention to them in this stage of development: No matter what we create the community will still be able to devise formats.
"You may want to balance weaker units with stronger events or spells -
multifaction deck combining those two will be again stronger than any
of the factions separated."
Yes, that's the idea: Whatever a faction lacks in one field it will have in another. You're correct that combing the best of two worlds will seemingly beat a mono-deck. That's where some kind of resource system (or other punitive yet simple to track and understand mehcanics) comes into play: It should never be as easy to play and use a duo-deck as playing a mono one. And for each faction that is added into the deck that deck should become harder and harder to play.

I'm in agreement with you that multifactioned decks need something that makes them less powerful. I don't see ad-hoc rules as a solution though, and think such things can be solved in a number of other ways. In MtG they are simply solved at the resource handling level, as they have different gold currencies (aka mana, red mana, blue mana, etc). I personally would love to avoid having a) dedicated resource cards such as lands and b) diff gold currencies for a number of reasons I won't go into here.

My attempt at solving our multifatcion issues while at the same time not restricting the players form being creative and mixing factions in decks was the threshold. That was it's sole and main purpose for existing. I can agree it had no function whatsoever when we played, but I haven't given up on it yet as it could not be tested in a mono-deck (which we both used). I also think we might have to re-write some of the rules associated with the threshiold to make it somewhat harsher, e.g.. by only letting creatures in play count towards what threshold level a player is on.
" and making cards that could be chosen differently for 15, 20
and 30 turn game"
I'm very much against the idea of us officially creating different cards (or different versions of the same card) adapted to different game lengths. I'd even descirbe it as a bad design from our part. Surely there are way better methods of prolonging a game than that.

Take DoomTrooper as an example. There the players just agreed the amount of victory points they should amass before the game began. Naturally, the higher the amount, th elonger you would have to play to achieve it, and as an effect the players would have to field dekcs that were way bigger than 60 cards. I even remember playing a team game where I had 200 cards in my deck.

Honestly, I don't think we should deal with issues like these until after we have nailed a core ruleset. It's just a matter of devising a format for "long games", and that can be done in a number of ways. Just to name first one that comes to mind, you can involved die throws or a zillion extra mechanics associated with the combat phase, or start tracking HP on creatures or whatever.

We should focus on maximum depth, minimum admin and medium amount of playtime (= 40 min to 60 mi for normal people, in average). There will be plenty of ways to prolong the game without us having to design special cards. Then again, us being open source, nothing hinders the community itself to create such cards with prolonged games in mind if it really can't think of a more elegant solution.

This is all related to us making the best use of our resources, like our time and money, to make as solid game as possible. I think it should all primarily be invested into the core ruleset (whichever that will end up being). A new game has also a lot to lose and very little to gain by introducing itself as associated with severa formats and/or totally different rule sets: It will only divide the community and make it slowly die since finding playersm, discussing the game, developing new cards etc will be much harder. I much rather see the different formats grow from the community grass roots, and us promoting them once we are sure we have a solid base ourself that keeps the community together. With this I don't suggest that we suppress them. On the contrary, I'd gladly see good formats declared as officially sanctioned by us, linked to etc. What we should avoid is to, while the game is brand new and lacks a stable group of following, shatter the community into differernt small camps. I rather see a huge camp, and when it's somewhat self sustaining or at the very least in a state where we know it will live on, then also show it what else can be done with our game.

"What I'm trying to point you is how little sense are currently having
RPs and threshold."
Threshold is functionless right now since we use a) mono decks b) almost no cards that use thresh as a variable c) threshold rules probably need to be made harsher.

RP's on the other hand I see no problem with yet, and frankly I don't follow how/what you see as problematic with them.

"just mock up some stupid cards and try to play snow X vs.
snow Y with 30 cards in each deck look how things are breaking through
15 turns or so."
I write this with some caution as I might be wrong, but I really think that 15 turns is something that will be seldom seen as I imagine it. It would be like late end-game in MtG. Given we want our gamne to fit the same time frame we should consider most games have ended by then. (Notice: 15 turns are not the same as 15 rounds, as 15 rounds in a two player game equals 30 turns, where each players would play 15 of them = P )

"Cost of the card is more of a "I can play it later" and "RP
occupance", which is not a "cost" really. "
Would you mind explaining that more and give an example? I don't follow = (

RP's are used up every turn. Whatever card is placed on them consumes all of that RP. The RP system is identical to the system found in MtG, minus all the tapping of the lands, minus currencies, minus dedicated land cards, plus the added difficulty of gold optimisation (placing correct card on correct pile and having piles of different sizes etc). WoW CCG is maybe even closer as an example as they use same system as MtG but minus the currencies and dedicated land cards.

Now, cards do indeed cost in WoW, and in MtG. They cost in ours as well. Thing is we just nenver had to struggle with cost issues and economy, since we only had cheap cards and dropped cards into the RP's like crazy + lacked cards in hand. So from that perspective, yes, it almost seemed the cards had no cost.

"Also a threshold means
almost the same - in turn 3 one should be able to play both threshold
2 and cost 3 cards, for the same price of "just playing". There is no
real "cost" for cards."
Well, threshold the way I created it is not supposed to be a cost or even a secondary cost. It is suppsed to check if you "deserve" or "have the right" to play a card that is very much associated with faction x. Whenever you can meet the threshold demand you get the right to play the card. Threshold is just that, nothing else. (But if can ofc be used by other cards in whatever way you want, as an independt variable. E.g. "3: Mark an enemy creature with threshold 2 or lower")

Threshold is supposed to make multifaction decks more balanced as it demands that more conditions are met by the player before he can put something in play. If I have played 3 turns and I now have a threshold 3 gaian creature in hand and also have a threshold 3 Banner creature in hand at the same time, itäs not overly obvious or certain I will be able to play any of them, not to mention I won't be able to play both.
"My ideas (state for today):

You play a small pile of cards before playing a creature onto it.
Spells and equipment that the creature will use. Cost says how many
cards need to be there to play a given card, and same way threshold
show how many faction-specific cards have to be there before playing
another card."
What exactly does this solve that cant be solved in a more hastle free way? The implications of this are many... many many.
Some of them are that all cards come into play with attached cards to them, which takes away the possibility to play pure creatures. Why would we want to do that? Another, that has to do with administration, is that table and cards get very much more cluttered this way. No to mention what that means for cards when they move around. That alone probably makes it a bad idea = /

"You play RPs face up, each card actually has to be played as it is now
before entering the table (respecting the cost and threshold of the
things that are in RP), but the cards are played onto the table by
taking them from the top of an RP."
Like it, we can try it out. Question remains though: What does it solve? What does it improve?

Only drawbacks I see right now is it makes the table somewhat (just a little though) more confusing and, and this is my major concern, maybe it will be too hard to create RP:s? I guess concept testing will show. Maybe a solution would be to let a player that wants to put a 3 gold cost card into a RP with only 1 resource card in it to discard the difference from his hand, in this case he could maybe discard 2 cards into the grave (or rather, out of game) and then place the 3 godl card into the resource pile as a resource. It's a crude solution to a problem that may not be there though, so let's not waste breath on it.



"Graveyard thoughts:
I like graveyard. Even graveyard+oblivion I'm OK with. It should
remain, no matter what happens.
by saying that looser should be given a chance to use his "grave
power" I was thinking for more like event cards doing things like:

Rejoiced
Cost 3
Take all cards from your graveyard and use them as your new RP. The RP
you play this card on will be discarded into graveyard. You can't play
"Rejoiced" card during this game anymore.

or
Composting young god
Cost 5
Sacrifice this creature during fight to draw additional damage to a
creature Composting young god attacks or block. Additional damage is
equal to amount of cards in your trash."

All for that, albeit not the exact balancing you suggest above ; ) Rejoiced as an ubercard = P
"Opening are few first turns, stage when there is huge randomness
introduced and opportunistic behaviors occur often (playing what goes
into hand on game start or during opening). Randomness may be reduced
by mulligan."
Trust me on this, there is very little effect of how you will perform with your deck that depends on pure luck/randomness. If you play best of three or best of 5 or 7, there is no luck in the world that can sav your ass against a good player with a good deck, or even against a good player with a medium deck.

Mulligan is a must have. I think we should be generous with it and even allow one free mulligan. Every additional time beyind that when a player makes a mulligan he draws one less card, or perhaps even two less. Feel free to put it into the rules if its not there already, becasue it must be.
"Also here some cards that are important later should be
obtained and kept in hand for later use. I'd say if we allow to have 7
cards at the end of a round,"
Yes, sounds as a good number.

"we should start game with 9 and draw 2
each turn."

Could try that, yups.

"Midgame for me is the part when you (as a player) are thinking mostly
in terms of strategy and tactics, when you're trying to establish a
base to make such plans go smoothly. IMHO this is the game stage where
most skills should show - in tactical thinking and deck building, and
this is the moment where good player should overcome bad one,"
A CCG that functions that way can indeed be built. I myself didn't imagine ORC that way. This relates to a touched upon topic somewhere above and the speed and tempo of the game. I'd describe it differently: Each deck has it's own tempo, it's own curve that would explain when it is in the opening game, midgame or endgame. For a fast deck opening could be just the 2 first turns, while opening could be 3-4 first ones for a slow deck. Also, each deck has different length of each of these "periods".

">>Having left and right fronts helps with narrow table space.

>That causes a communication problem: What do the players tell each other when they want to attack the "left" front? That's why I used front and back rows instead: They can't be mirrored or misunderstood.

Do you have such problems when shaking hands or looking into mirror :P ?"
No, but when doing so I don't communicate using words with the other party ; ) There is also already agreed and public convention that tells people they should shake using their right hand, not their foot or left one = P

Imagine two players on skype, or worse - chat - and them having divided the table in left and right, and sitting opposite to each other. What would they say/do to clearly indicate what zone they mean?

As I suggest it now it can't go wrong and needs no extra "learning" from the players side. Also take into account complications in a 3-4 playergame.



yay. 3h later I am finally on the finishline.... ; )
Feel free to post all of thois and continue it in forum if you think its a good idea. Could maybe start up diff topics etc as well. =)
Last edited by Q_x on Sun Apr 10, 2011 09:49, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Early Spring concept tests by snowdrop and me

Post by Q_x » Sun Apr 10, 2011 09:41

Q_x reply to the above mail from snowdrop:
I think rule systems can be compared from an amount of factors and get an overall "score" which would tell us how good that system is.
Do it like they do it since forever, just add some evilness: pick up judges, make your secret list of judge values, ask them about a note for each rule system in 1-20 scale, multiply this by your value for a given judge and you will get something on top.
To get back to our different opinions in methodology, I think they can be summed up this way: You draw conclusions from one game. I seldom do. It's my rigid opinion that we lack the necessary data to draw any well founded conclusions.
Methodology is a word of Satan when you are that early "in things". Sure we have no valuable data until we declare we have it. We did a game, test it a bit, it went sub-optimal (not totally bad though), and now one half of my brain is being busy wondering why it was sub-optimal, drawing pretty much the same conclusions as yours (bad rules, bad cards, inexperienced players, lack of experience resulted in bad decks), and other searches for answers not knowing the questions. Of course I know it's early to conclude anything serious... It may look like a quackery, but it worked so far for me, not letting me to stumble in any major real life problems.
I believe this is the biggest difference between us, and that is about pure methods used: You are prepared to take bigger steps and take them more rapidly than I am and you believe a good result can be achieved by doing so. I question that thought and think it's impossible (other than by chance).
But what is serious is a time spent here, for WT, and I mean some real count of man-hours, that not only snow is devoting to WT, but also other persons. So, I'm trying to make the time to be more productive. Less IRC, more thinking (and more real life as well), but also shaping progress in a way that would make other people productive easier. This being said: I totally agree with those small steps "methodology" of progress, it is all-proof, scientific approach. The only problem I see is to separate what is hard to separate with science - you simply can't isolate a single factor while humans are around. I proposed AI-based balancing already, but lemme explain this human factor with an example.

You make new cards. You want to achieve a particular purpose, let it be giving more power to defend RB against malicious Empire. So this new Orc Prince goes through pipeline into playtest state. Now is the tricky part - you have not only this new card, you also have to change your deck a bit, so you will change it in the way that would help your idea of defending against Empire. This is the first weak spot. But lets go even further. Let's say this Prince has a rule, that when he blocks, he lowers all attacking units attack to maximum of 6, and Empire has attack up to 8, base, plus equipment. Now you will later maybe redesign whole Empire (due to balancing problems) to have this maximum attack of 6 and lower Prince's rule to 5, which happens to affect all strongest units of all factions, giving RB huge advantage in the endgame against all other. All interconnected, all in a circuit, no way of isolating anything from everything.
And, to be honest I see it same way as you see it - some works on cards, fixing the rules, some work on cards, fixing the rules - all iteratively. Just conseving manhours as much as possible. Add brainstorming and you have our game design approach.
My worries with your rapid approach is that we will end up almost starting from zero every now and then based on way to hastened conclusions that are not supported by data, but by our guesses, hopes, fears and personal preferences.
I wouldn't call it rapid approach. I throw a lot of stuff out of my head. Serendipitous paths my brain follows. And development it's not about picking the best ideas in a situation where we can't value them really, but most meaningful. The meaning is the thing I value most. No matter if the game is good or bad, designed well or poorly
Now, I'm sitting in what "meaning" is since good few years. You seem to be very rational in reasoning, I'll let you figure this stuff out, so that it will be more meaningful to you :P
We can, and we should, sooner or later. Not yet though. We should just repeat the tests and collect more data ; ) (hides before you kill me...)
Improve a single small thing first. Or try someone else, and let him (or her, if the girl who cuts herself will be back here) tell what he thinks. To be honest, it looks like there is more than one pipe leaking, but, as we both noticed, fixing all at once will not make less leaks in new pipes.
If it isn't broke, don't fix it. :) It just eats resources on what could prove to be perfectly functional stuff.
Look at fresh FLOSS projects, as they use this approach of fixing bugs on raw shit, and tell us all honestly if this is how the things should look like. There are many exceptions, but 90% ends up in the place we all know: broken, almost unmodified, engine demo.
First be sure you have made something that, when fixed iteratively, will not finally be all wrong.
Now, how to be sure we reached that state? Or when to try this fixing? Is there any rational set of guidelines to follow, or you just have a "feeling"?
Well, if you think of "feeling" - our project is all OK and ready to take off, I can tell you I feel it now. But there is long, long flight ahead. So we'd beter be prepared and ask ourselves what are the most important needs and future problems of whole projects, and before making some premature actions - how about sorting them all in the first place?

My answer would be focusing on a set of cards first (in the meanwhile also pinpointing all vital stuff unrelated to game design and taking care of those), cards good enough to test and fix the rules we have now (after fixing obvious stuff - creature's abilities should be affecting single front only, and, for collecting experience rather than data - starting with 9 and drawing 2 cards each turn to see how stuff works with more cards on hand). I see those cards as ready to "make us busy" pre-balancing set good cards, 6 pieces each of: creatures, equipments, spells, events PLUS two extra sets of two cards of each kind, to make strategic differences (mimic diff. factions), wherever we feel the line could be drawn here - I'd say RB and another faction we have. 24 cards + 8 + 8 - this doesn't sound impossible to do, and some of it is in place already. I'm aware of this is basically where Gaian gang goes, so let's maybe start sifting and refine it, one at a time...
I don't understand the equilibrium you speak of, how it's measured and why it should be a goal. (I suspect this is related to the discussion we're having about how we can make the gap between winning and losing player as small as possible?)
It was a state of balance in my head, draw, having similar chances to win the game. But since "draw" is more or less related to finished game and is pretty similar to word "to draw", and "balance" is somewhat static term, related to game mechanics design, I used "equilibrium" word.
This is important thing to keep the game balanced, and most optimal is a state, where equilibration starts from the begining and ends in the very end, no mater what factions are involved.
I'm very much against the idea of us officially creating different cards (or different versions of the same card) adapted to different game lengths. I'd even descirbe it as a bad design from our part. Surely there are way better methods of prolonging a game than that.

Take DoomTrooper as an example. There the players just agreed the amount of victory points they should amass before the game began. Naturally, the higher the amount, th elonger you would have to play to achieve it, and as an effect the players would have to field dekcs that were way bigger than 60 cards. I even remember playing a team game where I had 200 cards in my deck.
Now, here is the thing. You want to have the game flexible in length, yet still all factions to have equal chances of winning the game. This will born some problems, serious ones, hence all this equilibration babbling. Strategy should IMHO not be about hitting early or hitting late, at least there should be no factions designed on such ideas. Sacrifice, prevent damage, blunt force - this not translates directly into striking early or striking later, or using more spells...
That's where some kind of resource system (or other punitive yet simple to track and understand mehcanics) comes into play: It should never be as easy to play and use a duo-deck as playing a mono one. And for each faction that is added into the deck that deck should become harder and harder to play.
Now, it feels like it's soft spot here. Ideas will come as soon as I will grab the problem better, this means after I see multifaction decks in action :D

As for
Then again, us being open source, nothing hinders the community itself to create such cards with prolonged games in mind if it really can't think of a more elegant solution.
- I think this is valid idea. I'd call it "risky endgame strategy support" rather than "prolonging". But for such solutions you have to have resource system that is actually working, I mean really potent one. So, IMHO, not our case yet, but maybe soon.
>>"Cost of the card is more of a "I can play it later" and "RP
>>occupance", which is not a "cost" really. "

Would you mind explaining that more and give an example? I don't follow = (
Cost is something to pay when playing a card. Loose some resources to increase your power, this way chance of defeating your enemy. Now, when playing a card, what resources are used? Blocking some cards in RPs, and making those piles occupied. Plus, you cannot play all cards in first turn, you have to first build up a pile of a given size. Not much of a "cost".
What does it solve? What does it improve?
Each change I propose is to improve something. Prolly spoiling all other things. We need good solutions for two binded problems: good resource system and good multifaction deck support (= penalization in this case). All the rest - two fronts, way the fights are solved, I feel is pretty much OK (apart from hurting the influence, which is now easiest thing to do on the planet, and we can make it a little bit funny here as well). I will not propose probably anything that would change those things I feel are OK.
A CCG that functions that way can indeed be built. I myself didn't imagine ORC that way. This relates to a touched upon topic somewhere above and the speed and tempo of the game. I'd describe it differently: Each deck has it's own tempo, it's own curve that would explain when it is in the opening game, midgame or endgame. For a fast deck opening could be just the 2 first turns, while opening could be 3-4 first ones for a slow deck. Also, each deck has different length of each of these "periods".
You will run into complete disorder with just changing estimated game time with this approach. This is crude, this is simple. Gaians are in fact the very good example of the exact opposite approach: one faction is better at healing and making woulds hurt less, other faction sacrifices more resources, but gets sharper blades and berserkers with it, third faction messes with cards - peeks, shuffles, blocks supplies chains, all this is beyond ordinary "cheap and plenty vs. powerful, but can't afford... yet".

As fort frontal front and back front, where frontal front attacks frontal front I'm all OK with that, this is all more geometry than vocabulary, so anyway :P Placing attackers face to face with blockers together is just easier with wings rather than head and butt, but as I said - this is completely irrelevant.
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Re: Early Spring concept tests by snowdrop and me

Post by snowdrop » Sat Apr 23, 2011 23:28

Q_x wrote:Do it like they do it since forever, just add some evilness: pick up judges, make your secret list of judge values, ask them about a note for each rule system in 1-20 scale, multiply this by your value for a given judge and you will get something on top.
That could be one way. I prefer a scale from 1 to 3 or a maximum of 1 to 5. Think broader one loses real meaning among most people.

Best to hold of the details for that once it becomes meaningful, and question is if it ever will in that way since we have yet to see any real effort into developing another rule system.

When I began work on the project I thought people would be baffled by how cool it was and that card game devs would flock to compete about who creates the "best" rule set. 1,5 years later we are still only one single crew. Talk about zero interest.

Upside is we have no competition ;) (actually that's a bad thing in hundred ways) and that we can eliminate the system-comparing process. Instead we'd ask ourself and our public independent testers if they're happy with the overall core rules. Revise, redo, recreate ad infinitum until beta release. ;)
Q_x wrote:We did a game, test it a bit, it went sub-optimal (not totally bad though), and now one half of my brain is /../ drawing pretty much the same conclusions as yours (bad rules, bad cards, inexperienced players, lack of experience resulted in bad decks)
If so, we agree on most things that are relevant, I think.
But what is serious is a time spent here, for WT, and I mean some real count of man-hours, that not only snow is devoting to WT, but also other persons. So, I'm trying to make the time to be more productive. Less IRC, more thinking (and more real life as well)
I agree on IRC eating much time and seldom resulting in anything and will follow your lead there to not get caught up in too much socializing and try to focus more on using the #channel as tool for creativity and production, see it more like a workplace instead of a bar.
I totally agree with those small steps "methodology" of progress, it is all-proof, scientific approach. The only problem I see is to separate what is hard to separate with science - you simply can't isolate a single factor while humans are around.
You're right of course - we can't. We can however come very close to isolating it, and while seldom having any certainty we can have our very strong and well founded thoughts of what causes what. Those processes just all get super messy very fast the more we change in between different tests.

Put in another way: We test y once and get result z. We now change some components of y, like Y1, Y2, Y3, and we do yet another test and get result x. Question here is a) which of Y1 to Y3 that caused x, if any of them at all or a combo even and b) how results z and x are comparable at all since it wasn't y that was tested in both cases.
. I proposed AI-based balancing already,
a) I'm not sure that can be done at this stage of development, I think it assumes we have already set rules. It could be used later on but it requires stuff like rules enforcement in some client somewhere.

b) AI based balancing never becomes better than it's human programmer. The only thing it does good is gather and evaluate data in predefined ways. It could be very useful, but given what efforts are needed to make that happen and where we're at it isn't worth hoping for some kind of miracle that solves our real task - to develop rules for game.
And development it's not about picking the best ideas in a situation where we can't value them really, but most meaningful. The meaning is the thing I value most. No matter if the game is good or bad, designed well or poorly Now, I'm sitting in what "meaning" is since good few years. You seem to be very rational in reasoning, I'll let you figure this stuff out, so that it will be more meaningful to you
You overrate me ;) as I didn't quite get the above passage:

Meaningful to me in regards to WT is the same as doing whatever that gets us closer to our goals found in the GDD.
Improve a single small thing first. Or try someone else, and let him (or her, if the girl who cuts herself will be back here) tell what he thinks. To be honest, it looks like there is more than one pipe leaking, but, as we both noticed, fixing all at once will not make less leaks in new pipes
(The italian-sounding Apple-fan? She won't now that you mentioned her in a public forum ;) Then again, she was pretty public about it all so maybe no harm done.)

We're the pipe-meisters here, sadly. I promised to pull a couple of new lines and shower us with fuzzy water but life had other plans for me and it seems new stuff (even new WT-stuff) pops up all the time steering away my hand. That written, I will come with some adjustments, mark them out as ready for typesetting, and knock on your door soon.

I'm just clearly what is holding us up and me not doing this has been like a months setback soon, speaking of bottle necks. :(

Look at fresh FLOSS projects, as they use this approach of fixing bugs on raw shit, and tell us all honestly if this is how the things should look like. There are many exceptions, but 90% ends up in the place we all know: broken, almost unmodified, engine demo.
True, but I don't agree on that being the primary cause, while it some times indeed is a very contributing one.

I believe most FLOSS projects simply die because they're han-solo projects with often unexperienced people wanting to give it a go, people that have more dreams than patience or resources in form of money, knowledge or time. Climbing the upward-sloping hill with Frodo for 9h straight will make even the best of us throw in the towel ;) It's a sad affair, seeing so many dreams end up being just that - at best, demos.
First be sure you have made something that, when fixed iteratively, will not finally be all wrong.
I'm getting confused now: Do you mean there is an alternative to iterative dev? (I just thought we agreed on doing it iter.?)
Now, how to be sure we reached that state [where all isn't wrong because of iter. fixing]? Or when to try this fixing? Is there any rational set of guidelines to follow, or you just have a "feeling"?
We can never work with the whole, with all cards, in relation to each other, at the same time. If so, all dev wil alway be iterative. Question then is only how huge chunks of changes we let through. Not if we change small pieces, but how many small pieces at a time, and when changing big pieces, which ones, why, etc.

I can't give you a good answer of how we can guarantee that we won't end up where you fear we might travel to using the iterative approach. A good argument against ever coming there is that it sounds counter-intuitive: You work with small steps to see what happens and have an easier tie to evaluate it.

What you suggest is that we by taking small steps all the time, can end up being in hell. Yeah, sure, we can - if we're blind (in which case the whole point with us not running bilindfolded has evaporated). I think the point with small steps are to easier see where we're heading. Not to easier fall down of the table and into a furnace.

Here I might add a reservation: If people fail even when taking small steps then they are not only just to blind to see it, they also use ad hoc solutions. They create a patch-work of solution-to-the-solution-to-the-solution-that-raised-yet-another-problem. We can't allow ourself to operate or get stuck on that level. If we do we end up where you suggest.

However, again - is there even an alternative here that you think will yield greater results than small steps at a time?

Well, if you think of "feeling" - our project is all OK and ready to take off, I can tell you I feel it now. But there is long, long flight ahead. So we'd beter be prepared and ask ourselves what are the most important needs and future problems of whole projects, and before making some premature actions - how about sorting them all in the first place?
No, I don't feel that.... but I think the sorting is very slowly starting to take shape, e.g. via discussions like these. "All" we need to do is just to structure them down into docs in the Wiki so whatever insights we get aren't lost to the forum dwellers in the achieves of fading memory.
My answer would be focusing on a set of cards first (in the meanwhile also pinpointing all vital stuff unrelated to game design and taking care of those), cards good enough to test and fix the rules we have now (after fixing obvious stuff - creature's abilities should be affecting single front only, and, for collecting experience rather than data - starting with 9 and drawing 2 cards each turn to see how stuff works with more cards on hand). I see those cards as ready to "make us busy" pre-balancing set good cards, 6 pieces each of: creatures, equipments, spells, events PLUS two extra sets of two cards of each kind, to make strategic differences (mimic diff. factions), wherever we feel the line could be drawn here - I'd say RB and another faction we have. 24 cards + 8 + 8 - this doesn't sound impossible to do, and some of it is in place already. I'm aware of this is basically where Gaian gang goes, so let's maybe start sifting and refine it, one at a time...
All in. (The clarification of the scope of creature abilities should also be in rules by now. It's not as good as I want it to be but a start at least...)
Now, here is the thing. You want to have the game flexible in length, yet still all factions to have equal chances of winning the game. This will born some problems, serious ones, hence all this equilibration babbling. .
I don't agree that equal chance of winning a game necessarily mean that all factions share tempo. Having armies that use different tempos in games isn't a new concept or an untried one. While I agree that the tempo alone isn't really what should identify a faction, it could very well be a variable that can help create identity and, more importantly, affect the strategies the player will utilise.

That goes for all aspects of the game, as tempo in attacks doesn't necessarily translate to the same faction having tempo in e.g. playing Equipment (or have Equipment at all for that matter).

Why should we not utilize various tempo differences in our game?

From what I can figure your answer is maybe something like "because it will spoil equilibrium". Yes, it could. But it doesn't have to. That's the thing - what you give to somebody in tempo you take away in something else.

Over 90 - 95% of all games will be played according to standard rules given those rules are worthy being standard at all. Whatever is the norm about game length in them will often be true.

Does that cause problems to create a flexible game length? It could, but I'm not sure it does: If you have a faction that is quick in some regard and they would never be able to measure up to other "normal" factions in a lengthy game, then we have given their quickness too much focus. That would indeed bad design from us.

Else, there is also some kind of solution, albeit a really bad one: Just see to it that you have a dual-deck with that faction and one more for later game to support it. ;)

I think this is valid idea. I'd call it "risky endgame strategy support" rather than "prolonging". But for such solutions you have to have resource system that is actually working, I mean really potent one. So, IMHO, not our case yet, but maybe soon
However and whatever happens it is the same for all. A working resource system as you describe it seems to be(?) one that scales nicely both up and down, but this isn't the free market: We have pre-printed gold costs on the cards. Eventually, you will indeed hit some kind of foonky scenario where the resource handling is almost meaningless if you deviate too much with what the core rules had in mind and that isn't compensated by you playing a - for that purpose - adapted ruleset.

This problem can be seen in almost all games, e.g. Battle for Wesnoth: Just play around with village income or see to it that you both get much gold each turn and resource management will soon lose all it's meaning.

Also, how do you affect game length in chess? In Monopoly? In Go? In MtG? And what happens in MtG if you start playing with 500 life each instead of the core rule set 20 life each? Needless to say, the game doesn't scale well to that. Not without players using some kind of specifically designed rules format to compensate for that. (And such a format can be made and also be interesting)
Now, when playing a card, what resources are used? Blocking some cards in RPs, and making those piles occupied. Plus, you cannot play all cards in first turn, you have to first build up a pile of a given size. Not much of a "cost".
The "blocking of cards in RP:s" is the same thing as you spending Mana in MtG. You exhaust them for the remainder of the turn. The more you exhaust, the less you can do. It logically works as intended.

Why it failed in practice when we played and why it felt we never had to "pay" anything was because we had an excess of resources since a) all cards were cheap b) those that weren't were used as RP:s and c) most cards were crap and pointless to play even if they weren't cheap.

A player not being able to play all cards in her first turn isn't a problem, if that's suggested? It's a good thing, a feature. We want the game to create a resource curve that is going upward. It means that the further along and deeper we go into the game, the more resource we should assume that the average player will have in play, and the more powerful cards she can play. This is also what adds to making the game interesting: The stepping up of power and tier of cards that can be used. It also makes the resource handling important, since if you dont do well, you will eventually not be able to field as might cards as the opponent.
We need good solutions for two binded problems: good resource system and good multifaction deck support (= penalization in this case)
The two "problems" could be solved by one unified thing - a resource system. That's what MtG has done. The resources balance the factions you will play in the deck. However, we probably want to do it as good as they do, but preferably avoid using multiple currencies (aka colours in magic). Problem is that we then end up with the need to use something else instead, thus we have the threshold (which has also been "fixed" in rules and made way more strict)

What we don't need is yet another rule or variable. Dream scenario is unifying them in some way that would still be easier to admin than 10 MtG lands are.

eyerouge wrote: I'd describe it differently: Each deck has it's own tempo, it's own curve that would explain when it is in the opening game, midgame or endgame. For a fast deck opening could be just the 2 first turns, while opening could be 3-4 first ones for a slow deck. Also, each deck has different length of each of these "periods".

You will run into complete disorder with just changing estimated game time with this approach.
No, I wouldn't say that a decks internal tempo should be used to change estimated game time: I was only claiming that every deck will have it's own tempo, obviously depending on what you field in it.

If true, then it's harder to speak of start or mid or end game even when both players built decks for the same game length. It's still meaningful to speak of end-game etc, but it should be seen as something relative to itself and not measured against generic constants. Here we might differ in view, as I think it is unproblematic that I with my deck reach my end game while you with yours is in mid-game.
Gaians are in fact the very good example of the exact opposite approach: one faction is better at healing and making woulds hurt less, other faction sacrifices more resources, but gets sharper blades and berserkers with it, third faction messes with cards - peeks, shuffles, blocks supplies chains, all this is beyond ordinary "cheap and plenty vs. powerful, but can't afford... yet".
I see all the mentioned factors as relevant, and wouldn't want us to have a faction that was only about one or two of them. We need dynamic factions, yet differentiated, asymmetric and with enough of versatility to stand on their own.

It's a really tough job, creating them that way. :) We can do it, and I have tried to make some very crude sketching in the mindmap in trunk, but have come almost nowhere with that important task. Feel free to add to that or start a new mindmap/docu on the topic.
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Re: Early Spring concept tests by snowdrop and me

Post by Q_x » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:17

I even started to write this once, but I've closed the tab somehow...
I prefer a scale from 1 to 3 or a maximum of 1 to 5. Think broader one loses real meaning among most people.
its 19.7 v. 19.5 that makes a winner sometimes...
Upside is we have no competition
Well, we have not many cards, so why would one make alt. ruleset? But I thought this is a goal overall: to make cards in the way that we make more spice and less bones go into it - give freedom and shape the character of each faction only.
I can promise you that - if I'll be alive when we'll finish those couple of factions, there will be such competiton.

about AI based solutions... I'm fantasizing, but there is nothing bad in doing so, so I'll go even further:
a) I'm not sure that can be done at this stage of development, I think it assumes we have already set rules. It could be used later on but it requires stuff like rules enforcement in some client somewhere.
You know, with a bit of hardcore luck, we may do both things at once: seek for good ruleset with AIs and seek for weak spots card-wise... Just a matter of finding someone making PhD in rule-developing AIs.
b) AI based balancing never becomes better than it's human programmer. The only thing it does good is gather and evaluate data in predefined ways.
At it's worse it will just make this 10 000 of plays in a single day, each one with slightly different deck, searching for a gameplay pattern that gives most chances to win. This is better than any person can do. This is what I'd call brute-force balancing.
Apart from making AI at all, which I'm incapable of ATM, it's actually the other way - it should be nearly as good as the best player it has coped with. You can literally program AI in the way that it observes human players patterns on the table (what cards are in the deck, what groups are they played in, what situations are choosen for playing events and so on), stores them, analyses, looks for possible winning decks and solutions, generalizes this, looking for repeating patterns with similar data and so on. This can be powerful tool, really. But I'd rather see good AIs done this way for rescuing people rather than entertaining, so whatever...
You overrate me as I didn't quite get the above passage:

Meaningful to me in regards to WT is the same as doing whatever that gets us closer to our goals found in the GDD.
I'll explain, as you have completely misunderstood what I was trying to express. Meaningful means in this case rather giving an evidence of one's humanity or observations, using potentially life-changing texts and ideas, hide camouflaged sincere and honest testimonies in pretty much any obscured place. Again art v. craft, brain v. heart (or spirit, both as in shamanic and ETOH meaning). I'd rather go away from treating this in naive or allegorical way and go deeper beyond that. It can be done in artwork, in flavour texts, rules, values, names, wherever you want.
That written, I will come with some adjustments, mark them out as ready for typesetting, and knock on your door soon.
Believe me or not, but I'm in hurry to start with it. Today it's travel day, but tomorrow I'll start.
I'm just clearly what is holding us up and me not doing this has been like a months setback soon, speaking of bottle necks.
Just a suggestion, but... Maybe search for the other, backup head and a pair of hands to push things forward? Someone that you meet regularly an can discuss stuff in person?

Thumbs up for calling stuff "han-solo projects" btw, it tells exactly the level of wizardry and Holywood luck needed to cope with any project that needs more than a few volunteers.
I'm getting confused now: Do you mean there is an alternative to iterative dev?
Not really. But you can reduce the number of iterations by taking care for preparing developed material prior to iterating over and over. Second thing is, if we are doing small steps, we can be forced to go around a big sea where only one big step would be needed to make a shortcut, and the result will be better and quicker...
What you suggest is that we by taking small steps all the time, can end up being in hell
More than that... What I'm trying to say also is to experiment, at a proper time, with bigger, alternative concepts, that can make the game more attractive, do not focus on the iterations only. As an example, we may want to have really bizarre card types, like settlements, global spells or quests, that will change the gameplay drastically, but not affect factions and balance.
I don't agree that equal chance of winning a game necessarily mean that all factions share tempo.
It needs really lot of smart cards and decisions to sort out this problem. Factions SHOULD differ in all possible ways, but if you will overemphasize this subject and later counterbalance their tempo with unit power - things will start to fall apart and you will have to stitch them back together.
Now, if you have a cheap faction at full sail - player will have to throw out some significant amount of cards more than the player with expensive and powerful deck. So, if this is the moment where players are equal in power and influence - one that has more powerful units will dominate the cheap guy and beat him. Try to balance that and if there is too much to balance - things will fall apart, and for example cheap faction will eat moderate one just like so.
From what I see, we can wait a year with any balancing talk, it's time to solidify at least one deck and ruleset.
Why it failed in practice when we played and why it felt we never had to "pay" anything was because we had an excess of resources
I'm really happy you've noticed it in the same way I did. This is why the idea of "reusable" resource pile came to me.
The two "problems" could be solved by one unified thing - a resource system. That's what MtG has done.
I know how this works. They did it in the way they did it only because their greed. Their system is terrible, unhandy and really ugly, plus it makes decks bigger by countless amount of cards, each one is paid for.
Even by simplifying their system you can make a better one, better game certainly, and I'm trying to figure out how to change our current one with the "small steps approach" Having ordinary cards to act as lands is certainly a good idea, and adds really gigh degree of flexibility to the deck, also stacking those is brilliant.
It's a really tough job, creating them that way. We can do it, and I have tried to make some very crude sketching in the mindmap in trunk, but have come almost nowhere with that important task. Feel free to add to that or start a new mindmap/docu on the topic.
We definitely need a place to throw in some ideas for future evaluation - for rules, decks, cards, abilities. I doubt if mindmapping will solve the problem.

As for current moment - less figuring and brainstorming and more doing :P This will help to get some background things done.
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Ravenchild
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Re: Early Spring concept tests by snowdrop and me

Post by Ravenchild » Fri Apr 29, 2011 21:54

finally read all this stuff

Well, as it seems we need much more playtesting and experimenting

As for AI: I don't think it is possible to get proper results with AI. First of all it would be very difficult to program this AI and secondly CGG are all about creativity and combos. That's probably absolutely impossible to simulate with an AI.

I would be interested in the decks you used. Could you post them please?

Maybe we should do some rough drafts of cards for other factions just to have more factions in play. These drafts don't need to fit the theme of the corresponding faction it's just for the sake of testing.

edit: Typo: action -> faction
Last edited by Ravenchild on Sun May 08, 2011 12:59, edited 1 time in total.
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Q_x
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Re: Early Spring concept tests by snowdrop and me

Post by Q_x » Sun May 08, 2011 06:51

My deck was pretty much random:

2 Algae armor
2 Donations for recovery
2 Doubt the violence
2 Dryads flute
3 Elvish Archer
2 Elvish Captain
2 Elvish Druid
3 Elvish Fighter
2 Elvish Marksman
2 Elvish Ranger
2 Elvish Scout
1 Elvish Shaman
3 Fairy pot
1 Green shield
2 Living trees
2 Merman Brawler
2 Merman Hoplite
2 Natures presence
1 Staff of enchantment
2 Sudden donations
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