Tao of the Machine

Programming, Python, my projects, card games, books, music, Zoids, bettas, manga, cool stuff, and whatever comes to mind.


Progress on the card game can be found here. I worked out mechanisms for playing creatures, and battle. (Much like Magi-Nation, aside, but not exactly the same.)

In other news, I'm currently working on making Firedrop more user-friendly. If nothing else, there should be an easy and straightforward way to create a site/weblog. Until recently, this wasn't a problem because I was the only person using it. :-)

I haven't had really interesting content lately, from a Pythonic point of view. This is mostly because work has been picking up (note: this is an anti-complaint emoticon:smile). I've been busy, and I haven't had much time to dream up interesting blog posts or articles. Then again, I never said this was a Python-only weblog, and this was a good opportunity to write about other stuff, like card games and things I'm researching (like Groovy).

Groovy 1.0-beta-3 is out, by the way, I'm going to test it one of these days.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-01-23 23:27:07   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: CCGs, Firedrop

Designing a card game (5)

A summary of what I have so far can be found here.

There are some "variables", like NUM_CORE, HAND_SIZE and NUM_DRAW. The actual values of these are not extremely important, and will be decided later.

The more interesting stuff has yet to be decided... What will creatures be like? What properties will they have? Any "keyworded" abilities? (Like Magic creatures have flying, first strike, trample, etc). How will they battle? What kind of effects and powers will they have? Etc.

I envision that there are at least two kinds of special abilities:

  • Powers: These can be activated and played whenever you want. E.g. "Deal X damage to target creature." "Heal 1 damage on target creature." Some may have a cost: "Sacrifice ~this~: Take 1d6 points from target opponent." A Power is considered to be an Action.

  • Effects: These are triggered by events that happen during the game. E.g. "During a battle, you may deal 1 damage to target battling creature." "When ~this~ comes into play, lose 2 points." These might have an additional cost as well. An Effect is *not* an Action, and can be played during opponent's turn as well.

Hmm, isn't this how Magi-Nation does it? Something like that. That game has an elegant mana/resource/casting cost system, by the way. Your Magi has a certain amount of mana, which grows every turn. To play a card with cost X, you simply move X mana from your Magi to the card. If the card is a creature, X is also its power. ... I want to strive for something just as elegant, without copying it.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-01-22 21:39:27   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: CCGs

Designing a card game (interlude)

Maybe I should make a redneck-themed game, that should sell well around here (or so I hope :-). I could include such staple cards as:

  • Roadkill
  • My Cousin, My Wife
  • Monster Truck
  • Bubba
  • Wide Load
  • Burping Contest
  • My Brother Daryll
  • My Other Brother Daryll
  • Roach Infestation
  • Huntin Dawg

I wonder if people here would see the humor of it and buy the damn game. Hmm... I won't hold my breath. emoticon:smile

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-01-21 22:01:49   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: CCGs, ideas

Designing a card game (4)

This "thread" will probably go on for a while... bear with me.

Decisions so far:

  1. There will be a potentially unlimited number of cards.
  2. There will be Goal cards. (See comments by Michael Chermside.)
  3. All other cards will be creatures. (Creature cards will have special abilities.)
  4. There will be a core of N cards. For a game, players add M cards of their choice to this. All these cards together form the draw pile.
  5. Each turn, a player draws 2-3 cards, chooses and keeps one, and puts the others back at the bottom of the draw pile.

While I ponder the rules, here are some more questions...

1. What would be a good theme for a card game? Commercial CCGs often use themes derived from books, movies, cartoons and the like; obviously I cannot use those, because of copyright reasons. (It would be cool to make a CCG based on the world of Valdemar, in Mercedes Lackey's books, but I'm afraid that's a no-no.)

I would still like to do a medieval/magic/fantasy theme, but the problem is that there already are so many games like that these days.

I could come up with my own theme and/or fantasy world, but see question #2.

2. Should the cards show art? They would look better, of course, and pictures would illustrate the theme and add flavor, especially in the case of un unusual theme. (Would Magi-Nation have become popular without the art?) The only problem here is, where do I get the art? Gazillions of pictures can be found on the Net, but I'm sure most of them are copyrighted. I suppose I could try and write to selected Elfwood contributors, and inquire if they would like to see their art on my card game... Hmm, it's a thought.

Given enough time and energy, I could do some of the art myself, but I don't have a scanner, and it would take a looong time to draw and paint art for (potentially) hundreds of cards. emoticon:nooo

Other thoughts:

There will be counters, points and dice, I just haven't decided yet how they will be used. There will also be some form of creature battle.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-01-21 21:45:36   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: CCGs

Designing a card game (3)

A summary of the rules we have so far:

  1. There will be a potentially unlimited number of cards.
  2. There will be Goal cards. (See comments by Michael Chermside.)
  3. All other cards will be creatures. (Creature cards will have special abilities.)

The interesting thing here is, that if the goals vary in each game, then it doesn't make much sense to prepare a deck. I envision that a game goes like this:

  • Goals are defined. (How this is done, is yet to be determined. You can pick your own goals, your opponent can pick them for you, maybe they will be randomly assigned, etc. The number of goals isn't determined yet either.)

  • You start playing, either with a pile of arbitrary creatures, or with the ones you brought (or both).

  • During play, you try to make the best of the cards (creatures) you get, trying to meet your own goals or to disrupt your opponent's plans. (Or help them -- this game will be less about winning or losing than most others.)

I think that would actually work well... players make a draw pile of creatures (maybe from all players' collections), and during their turn, pick a random creature from this pile.

Still, I would like a mechanism to get rid of creatures you don't like, or that don't match your plans... maybe, draw 2 cards, keep one, put one back at the bottom of the pile? Maybe even 3 cards. If you get a random stream of cards, then meeting your goals or not is just a matter of luck, or at least largely dependent on it. If you get to pick and choose, then you have more influence, to a certain extent.

With that random draw pile, there's a chance that certain goals cannot be met. For example, let's say that there is a creature named Golem (to follow Michael's example), and a Goal that tells you to destroy the Golem. In this particular game, you get this Goal card, yet the draw pile (which consists of random cards) doesn't contain the Golem. Such a situation would not only be bad, but also frustrating for the players. On the other hand, providing a "core" of the same cards is not enough... there must be room for other cards as well, or you would always see the same cards. Maybe yesterday's "3 draw piles" idea is not so bad after all... one pile of core cards, one with cards of your choice, one with those of your opponent's.

A simpler solution could be: N cards form the core game, and all players add M cards of their choice. All these cards together are shuffled and will be the draw pile.

Comments welcome. Things will get more interesting when it's time to design the creatures and their mechanics...

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-01-20 21:02:34   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: CCGs

New Firedrop release

In the meantime, I am still working on Firedrop. See the release notes. This is an experimental version that uses a new StatusDialog control, which may be wrapped into Wax sooner or later.

Firedrop is still not very newbie-friendly, that is one of the most important things I need to work on next. Even a simple pseudo-wizard to generate default build.ini/build.py files, and templates, would be a major improvement.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-01-19 23:49:32   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: Firedrop

Designing a card game (2)

(There will be more posts in this "thread" as the design goes on. To understand what I'm talking about, some knowledge about existing CCGs (like Magic the Gathering) is useful. Those not interested in card games don't need to worry, I will still write about other things. :-)

I like the idea of having a potentially unlimited number of cards, so that will be the first design rule.

Now, not all of these cards will be in a game at once. Players will come to the table with their selection of cards. This does not necessarily need to be seen as a "deck", however. It can also be thought of as having an army of creatures, for example. (Another possibility would be, that players pick at random from a large card stock.)

If at all possible, I'd like this to be a tactical game. The "deck" principle makes this difficult. In most CCGs, your deck is like a little machine that you want to get started as soon as possible. When your strategy unfolds, it hopefully leads you to victory. ... Nova is different in this regard. There is no deck, no strategy. It's actually more fun to play than other CCGs I know, and not just because I created it. There's more interaction with the other player, there are more crazy twists, more situations depending on insight (and luck).

Let's say that each player brings their "deck", but there's also some kind of random factor. Not sure what yet. :)

Or, we can abolish the "deck" principle altogether, and just play with 180 cards, coming from any player's collection. Imagine 3 stacks of 60 cards each, face-down. At the beginning of a turn, a player takes the top card from each, picks one, and puts the other two back. That way, some kind of strategy can be developed during the game. 1)

One of my goals is to strike a balance between elegant simplicity and interesting, flavorful complexity. In other words, the basics of the game should be elegant and simple, yet individual cards should allow for interesting situations, and rules should be complex enough that meaningful flavor can be used. 2)

Another idea (unrelated): Creatures are cool. Newbies love creatures. Maybe this will be a creature-only card game. Creatures could have the usual stats (some kind of power, toughness, etc), maybe some abilities, and some kind of special effect. Maybe they should also have a cost, depending on whether we will be using "decks" or not.

Again, more later. These posts may seem a little (?) vague right now, but will hopefully be clearer once I got some basic rules fleshed out.

1) Of course, this raises a number of questions... Should the cards be put in the same pile where they came from? What happens if one of the piles runs out of cards?

2) What does that mean? A card game's "flavor" is closely tied to its rules. For example, by using a life counter (starting at 20), you can define cards that "drain life", "gain life", are "healthy" or "unhealthy", "good" or "evil", etc. That's just the life counter; Magic has a plethora of rules and abilities that allow for strong flavor. The new card game should not have quite as many rules as Magic, yet it should have enough to provide a reasonable basis for flavor.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-01-19 21:03:51   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: CCGs

Designing a card game

In short: I want to design another card game, and put its rules and card sheets on the Net, so people can print the sheet, cut out the cards, and play the game.

Sounds good, but let's not forget that many open source projects are started by enthusiastic people, expecting to get lots of feedback, bug reports and contributed code. Reality is usually different. The same may be true for an "open" card game.

Indeed, the idea is that people who are interested in CCGs (and other games) like the game, play it, ask rules questions, maybe even make new cards, etc. Whether that will actually be the case, is yet to be seen.

Either way, this game has not been designed yet. I created another card game, called Nova, a coupla years ago. People keep saying that I should sell it, otherwise I would have made it available online long ago. Nova is:

  • not a *collectible* card game
  • played with 60 cards, that's all you need for both players
  • a tactical rather than a strategical game

I wonder if the new game, call it "Game X" for now, should be similar. I kinda like the idea of being able to add more cards over time, without hitting an artificial boundary. (Or a practical one -- a game that requires all cards to be in play, shouldn't have 1000 cards. That would make shuffling the draw pile kind of awkward, for example. emoticon:smile)

Nova doesn't use counters, dice, tokens, or anything. Just cards. Game X can be the same way, but I'll probably use some form of counter.

Other questions to ponder:

  • Are duplicate cards allowed/encouraged?
  • Is deckbuilding possible/encouraged?
  • What flavor will be used?
  • Will cards be versatile, like Nova's, or more like other CCGs?
  • Will the cards have pictures?

Re flavor: This is the general "look and feel" of the game, a theme or a number of themes, and the way they tie in with individual cards. I like a magic/fantasy theme, but that has already been taken by lots of games, most notably Magic the Gathering. I do not want to make another Magic clone; this game should be different in both flavor and rules.

More later. Ideas welcome, by the way.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-01-18 12:32:40   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: CCGs

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