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Your process of comming up with card effects

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jedite1000's picture
Joined: 02/18/2017

What is your progress in coming up with card effects for your game, do you have a backlog of effects already planned out and ready to be added, or do you add as you go when creating your cards

Any tips and tricks on how to come up with good card effects and wording that won't feel like you are reading a book?

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
2 classes

I make note of every statistic that can be changed.
These can be modified. For friend and foe.
Rules are named 1 by 1. Most of them can be undone or changed by a card.
The rules also contain every numerical mechanic that isn't linked to statistics.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I have a backlog of AMAZING abilities...

But sadly NO DESIGN for them. Something like about 30 or so Abilities which have different effects. Give you ONE (1) example: "Memorize ?".

How is such a COOL and AMAZING Ability work???

Simple: On a Spell Card like:

"Fireball" = Deal 1 Direct Damage to an opposing player.

I have "Memorize 2". What does this mean you ask and how is it SO COOL?!

Memorize ? = After this spell is cast, for ? Mana you may place this spell back into your hand.

There are a BUNCH of COOL Abilities like this one... So not only do you get to use the Card as a ONE-TIME Spell... For "2" Mana you can place the card BACK INTO YOUR HAND! Totally AWESOME!

Unfortunately, ATM I have NO game that can use these Abilities. But just this one (1) example should demonstrate how much POTENTIAL these Abilities are... Now all I need is for a DESIGN to work with them. Hehehe.

So I have a BACKLOG that usually doesn't WORK. And then I have to think about the cards that I DO HAVE and what MAY work. For ARCH, I'm still noodling over Abilities and Combos and such. I usually have a *spreadsheet* per game and take not of what is needed (for that DESIGN).

Usually I have a TAB for Cards and Abilities too...

So yeah, a bit of BOTH. Man I wish I could use that "Memorize ?" Ability... It's so VERY COOL! Cheers @jedite1000.

P.S.: I'll have to wait until I design something closer to Hearthstone as I was thinking of Abilities that could go well with that game!

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Here's another ability/keyword

Sacrifice ? = Exile a Unit in your hand with ? Mana in order to keep this Unit in play.

What does this ability do??? If you have a Card IN-PLAY and someone defeats it, instead of "discarding" THAT Unit, you can PERMANENT "Sacrifice" another Unit with "?" Mana.

So effectively you a "sacrificing" one card for another... Again TOTALLY RAD and COOL keywords/effects.

I've got a whole bunch of these (like 30 of them). And they are all NEAT and COOL too. The list used to be LARGER with MORE "keywords" but I trimmed it down to "15" with a "?" Level/Cost and "15" direct ones.

Anyhow the bottom line is that figure out what YOU need in your design. Do you want ABILITIES or KEYWORDS?! (or BOTH)...

Just wanted to SHARE with you some of my own development process and what I've been working on related to this thread/topic. Cheers.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Card special ability is very

Card special ability is very problematic. If strongly embedded to make the game playable, you get a chicken and the egg syndrome where you cannot test your game because you need abilities and you cannot design abilities because you do not have a playable game.

As an example, let's take Magic the gathering. In their case, with a thin set of core rules they can manage to have a playable game where you have lands and monsters you place in play. You can reach the state of a playable game and then add abilities and spells. If you can use that approach good for you.

Else, if strongly embedded, you'll have to improvise and duplicate abilities and stats and progressively refine the game mechanics, while refining your abilities.

There is also the top bottom approach: Define all possible special effect a card can have and draw abilities from that pool called the possibility space. Or the bottom up approach: while you play the game, come up with ability ideas and add them to the list.

The top bottom approach looks overwhelming and it could be hard to define the possibility space. But your range of abilities will cover the entire possibility space, and you will be able to know if the size of your possibility space is big enough. The bottom up approach is much easier and practical, but in the end, you could only end up exploring a tiny portion of your possibility space.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Another good point from larienna

Yeah, my own post must be confusing.

I think both posts translate to.
Do you have a working vanilla game?
If so, then you add new effects that add or change the gameplay.

It cannot go the other way around.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I prefer TOP DOWN designing as it seems to work BEST for me.

X3M wrote:
...If so, then you add new effects that add or change the gameplay.

It cannot go the other way around.

I think most of my designs go the OTHER "way around". Meaning I have a spreadsheet and I start by defining my units and then work per unit to either use an Ability or Keyword (or both). Usually there are less than 100 cards and so, this method is NOT prohibitive. If there are more cards, well then it may be a bit harder to define (to properly balance the abilities).

Like I said, if you have a spreadsheet you can work by "inserting" new entries, modifying the stats of the entries, etc. It's workable IMHO.

So I don't need to playtest the Abilities until later in the cycle where I have properly defined everything that I need to PLAYTEST a pair of Decks. My main issue is with a design is "marrying mechanics"...

Like if I use an RPS-5 and use that to define who can ATTACK who... But then I also want a Hand... This means that the Hand and cards should be able to alter how the RPS-5 is handled... All this makes for complexity to something that was very easy to UNDERSTAND and PLAY.

So the "ADD THIS" method to designing (Bottom Up) is sometimes VERY challenging. I usually find that the DESIGN mechanics that work together (Top Down) is easier because things that are part of the DESIGN ALREADY "work together"... And it's less of a hassle to TRY to make two (2) mechanics work when you already have a foundation which is LIMITING.

Bottom line: I prefer TOP DOWN. Define everything as part of ONE (1) COHESIVE design. BOTTOM UP can have challenges when you WANT to add stuff (like mechanics or Abilities/Keywords). You just don't have sufficient of a FOUNDATION and this means that some mechanics DON'T work with each other or what has ALREADY been designed.

But to each his own. I prefer TOP DOWN. Cheers.

Note #1: And BTW with ARCH I was STUCK with this RPS-5 and REALLY WANTING TO MAKE IT WORK! It unfortunately has been the OTHER way around... The RPS-5 is IN-MY-WAY. It's just a prohibitive mechanic. I'm still working on it... But ATM it seems like IF you WIN an RPS-5 Battle you should have some kind of CHOICE. Like I am struggling with WANTING a HAND and not having all kinds of cards. Really don't want to complicate the DESIGN... And this is very BOTTOM UP (since I have a set of mechanics that I WANT to use... like the RPS-5).

OR MAYBE it requires something MORE NOVEL (again).

Like perhaps instead of using ALL FIVE (5) of your UNITS to attack, you ONLY select a SUB-SET of UNITs (like maybe "3"). You do this until THREE (3) UNITs are DEFEATED (determining the WINNER of the ROUND). I already know from the cards that there are CLEARLY "3" Rounds. You can WIN by defeating the BOSS or winning 2 out of 3 ROUNDS... This eliminates the requirement for "Victory Points" which I didn't like.

Maybe you REFRESH the defeated UNITS from the second hand of cards... And the opponent does the same with "defeated-only" UNITS (less than "3" if he/she won the previous ROUND).

The problem is BEATING the BOSS will no longer be the FOCUS of the game... And that is something I don't really like. It also makes the game played over "4" rounds which means there can be TIES (2 to 2). Also not very desirable... Hmm... Need more time to think about it.

Anyways you get MY POINT: BOTTOM UP can be very difficult to ADD STUFF (think mechanics) when you already have something that you WANT to be a part of your DESIGN.

Note #2: I think I am going to STICK with "ONE PLAYER MUST BEAT THE OPPOSING BOSS TO WIN." There are no OTHER Victory Conditions. This will make it that player do the most damage to clear the lanes and FACE OFF with the BOSS ASAP. If there is no ALTERNATE to "winning" both players should be focused on WINNING as-soon-as-possible!

And the WINNER of the game is the BOSS with the MOST HPs (if neither is defeated...) Something like that sounds good TBH.

Cheers all!

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
What I have been working on TODAY

This is very relevant to the OP: I am working on Units and Gear/Hexes. Also I have been working on STATs too and most probably ABILITIES too.

How do I do this? Well it all starts with a SPREADSHEET. In this spreadsheet I put a column for "#", Unit, Color, Description, ID, etc. Then you specialize the spreadsheet for STATs like Health, Fusion, Abilities, etc.

Right now it took me 2 days to define "25" Units for the Day Forces. The Darkness Forces are still yet to be defined, I will no doubt work on them NEXT week. But I'm also prioritizing watching videos about "Magic: the Gathering" as I am curious about the game since I know how to play "Pokemon" (which is royally UNFAIR "online"). No doubt Magic will probably be LESS balanced! We'll see...

So I have two (2) sides and I work on one side FIRST and then the other side NEXT.

Maybe you can divide your SLIMES into categories IDK. But if you do, give one sheet per SLIME TYPE (Class) and then it's a bit more manageable.

P.S.: If you have questions, do not hesitate to ASK!


Note #1: It can take a week or so to finalize a spreadsheet depending on the amount of units that you need to define. Classification can really help "batch" the process and help you focus on whatever class you are currently working on.

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