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Benefits of a Free Online Application for a Commercial Offline Game??

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3XXXDDD
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I wish to eventually turn System into a commercial game in reality. However that is a far away dream, so I was also thinking about releasing an Application for it to play people on line at first and keep it as a free game, even after System turns into a physical reality. It would promote the game as a means of advertising.

It's likely that if System does become big that someone out there would create an application for it anyway and despite the numerous amounts of Cease & Desists I could send to them, it is likely to have no effect (example such as Dueling Network who were sent with a C&D twice yet still managed to work around it and keep that site active). At least in this manner, The System CCG Team themselves could control how it's run.

It also opens other possibilities such as giving the Development Team a place to beta test cards that have yet to be released. Players could test and review the contents of a new set and if a problem appears the team could modify the card in question to solve it. This would avoid creating unnecessary entities like Forbidden & Restricted lists, which are remnants of broken design. It would let us release the card into the physical game without disturbing the balance.

As another possibility, before the physical game comes into being, we could hold tournaments with prizes and the entry fee could be used as fund-raising for the physical game.

In short,
- Advertising
- Fund-Raising potential
- Beta Testing potential
- Players opinions are valued and taken into consideration

It would likely be an IP to IP connection program using Hamachi or similar due to the costs of hosting a Server.

Any other pro's or cons that you could think of? or other general thoughts about this idea?

avalaunch
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I think it's a wonderful

I think it's a wonderful idea. I honestly don't think there are any cons.

I was a professional online poker player for 8 years, and I remember when online poker was first taking off, the brick and mortar poker rooms were trying everything to stop it. They were convinced it would eat into their business. What happened was the exact opposite. The online poker boom quickly spread to the brick and mortar poker rooms, and soon every poker room was packed to capacity and planning expansions.

The only fear you could have is that people would be so content with the online version of your game that they wouldn't want to buy a physical copy. But that just wouldn't happen. People like playing face to face, and the more people you expose to your game online, the better your physical copy would sell. An online version can only do good things for you.

oltyan
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Joined: 04/25/2012
Seems backwards to me

Its a great idea in theory, but I think you might have it backwards:

My boardgame has cost me about $200-300 cash to prototype. That got me printings, supplies, and pizza/drinks for playtesters. I've probably spent 300 hours of time in iterations as well. Lets give me a reasonable consulting rate of $35 an hour, and that brings me to about $10,800 of effort invested into my project.

The last computer based CCG I worked on took close to 1/2 a million to make. We had a team of 5 programmers, 3 artists, and 2 designers working full time on it for 6 months plus a couple extra months of engine development time.

Now, you don't have to have a commercially viable product if you're doing it for promotion, but if you want something that will generate positive buzz and excitement, you're going to have to polish it up some. I just think its easier to make the paper version, get people excited, and see if you can get someone to make the online version later. You will get so much further with paper than you can get with computers with limited time and budget that I wouldn't advise spending it.

Seriously, if I spent 1/2 a mil on developing a board game, that thing would be, like, omg, I don't even know. But it would have lasers, holograms, and robots.

3XXXDDD
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Out of curiosity, what board

Out of curiosity, what board game would that happen to be? To show an idea of what I am aiming for you can check out yugioh virtual desktop, vanguard master, Cray online. I have access to some programmers who are very capable of designing such an application for a good fee. My main concern, as most CCG designers would be the cost of art.

I think your focusing more on applications like Shadow Era, which I personally believe is too much.

avalaunch
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oltyan wrote: Seriously, if I

oltyan wrote:

Seriously, if I spent 1/2 a mil on developing a board game, that thing would be, like, omg, I don't even know. But it would have lasers, holograms, and robots.

I'd buy that game, as long as you weren't charging 500 a copy.

Seriously though - I forgot to mention that - yes, it's a great idea to generate buzz with an online version, SO LONG as you can somehow manage to pull it off without spending an arm and a leg on it. I have no idea how one would do that. I'm guessing at a bare minimum you'd spend a few thousand getting it developed, and that would be too much in my opinion.

oltyan
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Joined: 04/25/2012
Art cost is there, from

Art cost is there, from 100-400 an illustration, but still was a smaller portion of the budget than the engine itself. It really depends also on the number of rules you have to implement. The released TCG's I've worked on are Marvel Vs on the DS, Pokemon TCG Online (www.pokemontcg.com) and Big Bang Theory: Mystic Warlords of Ka'a (apps.facebook.com/mysticwarlords). Of those, I'd consider Mystic Warlords the be the most straight forward and those were the numbers I was quoting (Before we added all the metagame elements like the town and crafting system).

Something like the VS system, where each of the 300 cards we implemented had a unique effect, took a team of 7 scripters somewhere on the order of 6 months to get working right. That was working 60-80 hour weeks too.

You can drastically reduce your dev cost with a lightweight version or prototype instead of a finished product, and that could help. But it's still not cheap. Again, paper is such an easier format to prototype on, I'd stay there as long as possible before spending what you'd need to get it digital.

oltyan
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And I am totally making

And I am totally making "Laser, holograms, and Robots - The Board Game" as soon as someone gives me 1/2 million dollars.

3XXXDDD
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Well all three of those are

Well all three of those are much fancier then what I had in mind.

I'm in agreement with that paper is best for prototype, I just felt digital might be the best way to begin, rather prequel, the commercial life of the game.

oltyan
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Prototype Tool

If there were some prototype system, where people could contribute scripts for game text, and it would provide a basic framework for playing the game (Like some kickstarter's I've seen out there) then I'd say sure, built it on that. The problem is the effort of getting something worth playing is probably better spent doing cons/trade shows/print more copies to show people.

http://www.plaidhatgames.com/games/summoner-wars

Did it right. Fun game, good mechanic, nice presentation, and with that, they got a game developer excited enough to build an app for them. If people don't get excited about the paper version of your game, it is unlikely to change just with a transition to digital.

If you are designing a game specifically to be digital (something with tons of counters and lots of bookkeeping you expect a machine to do) it probably is worth while looking into some easy script tools to do that work for you.

Alex Swingle
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Joined: 06/06/2012
Complete side note, but I'm

Complete side note, but I'm surprised Shadow Era was able to copy WoW TCG without getting sued. The layout and formatting is exactly the same. Is there something I don't know about?

Back to the OP: It all depends on how you produce the app. Like you said before, there are already simple apps like Dueling Network that do this already. As long as it is basic and allows for free form ala Cockatrice (which would be easier to program since you don't have to put stop gaps), you should be fine.

The biggest cost would be the programming and artwork. People use programs like Kaillera for easy p2p servers, so no hosting costs are needed. The artwork could be a mixture of stock art while you pay for commission work.

I really do like the concept of digital copies can be paid to make physical decks and vice versa. Not sure how successful it'll be since games like Chaotic didn't work, but I reckon that is due to the audience for the game versus the actual game model itself.

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