Along with Combat, Cards are the centerpiece of the gameplay. In the case of this game we researched decks from adventure games (eg. Zombies!!!), from deck builder games (eg. Pokemon) and even decks from family games (eg. Monopoly). These gave a wide variety of perspectives on game modification, enhancement and complication while keeping many of the Cards & Combat cards tied to familiar tropes.
In the end I settled on a Core Game Deck that governs actions when navigating the board (mostly movement and combat). For some modes we've included either a Booster Deck (expanding the Core Game Deck with mode specific cards) or Game Mode Decks (that are additional, separate decks specific to a mode).
While visual design is a long road ahead, the overall look and function of the cards boiled down to a few basic ideals:
BUILDING THE BESTEST GAME DECK EVER!!!
- There have to be hundreds of them. Variety, surprise and replayability are essential for card decks. It can't just be about quantity, each card must be distinct. This more than just unique aesthetics, card must influence game mechanics in as many different and surprising ways as possible while supporting the players enjoyment and tactical options.
- They have to be simple to understand. With minimal wording and art players need to immediately recognize the effect each card will have. We have to avoid the need for message boards and threads to spring up based on clarifying the minutia of a single card among hundreds - that sort of thing will put a complete stop to a 'consistent build of positive gameplay experiences'. Cards have alot to answer for: Does the card help or hinder you or others? When can it be played? Who does it affect? How does it affect them? For how long and to what extent? These questions must be addressed to avoid confusion, frustration and rage quitting.
- They have to enhance the play experience, no detract from it. Enjoying a game is easier when everyone feels a build of positive action from round to round, it's not usually fun to be constantly set back or targeted with destructive tactics. With this in mind I built a database of card ideas, the database includes a column called 'affect type'. Each card idea would be tagged with either:
- Fun Complication, Positive Outcome, Negative Outcome or Gag Card.
The refinement of ideas was simple - build on a foundation of positive cards and fun complications with the occasional gag card thrown in; severely restrict the negative cards; if a card is negative it affects many people, not just one target; where possible turn a negative card into a fun complication; continue to refine fun complications
- They have to be 'appealing'. When you flip over a card you want players to have an emotional reaction - 'yes, I got a ......... card'. This means the visual design, concept and effects have to come together to enhance the light tone of the game, and where possible be humourous, cute or endearing.
Next up, we take a look at combat.
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