Sunday, February 25, 2018

Magic the Gathering Challenger Decks

So in a little over a month, Magic the Gathering is going to go full Yugioh and give players powerful almost fully complete decks that can compete at FNM level play. For $29.99 players will be able to get over $80 worth of cards that are put together in such a way as to be competitive at a local level.

The amazing thing is that with just a few tweaks, these decks are capable of becoming Pro Tour quality decks. This is a huge first step to fixing the issue of people showing up for FNM. I'm not sure how other locations are doing, but my FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) is having trouble getting butts in seats after the horror of Standard this past year.

I wonder, if perhaps, this endeavor becomes a success for Wizards if they'd do the same for Modern. Could you imagine paying $60-$120 for a premium deck that is almost the same list as a pro-tour deck? Sure maybe its just 1 Liliana of the Veil and 1 Jace, the Mindsculptor, but this could do a lot of good for player turn out.

But I'm not sure what it would do for collectors and stores. I saw a video by the Professor who was talking to James Chillcott about people who invest and supply singles for people. The reason I think these Challenger decks will work for Standard, is because they will eventually be rotating out in six months, and that might be what makes this work. Modern though, never rotates, so that would cause issues.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Quick Movie Review of DOOM!

Black Panther: Is Killmonger the best villain in Marvel? Honestly, this is the first villain I've seen that has changed the hero's stance on something.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Mana Resource Concept

Why mana? I've asked this question before.

I started thinking, what if we did mana like how magic does. During a fight we build a type of mana, and then, we can cast spells, and let that mana type come back. The idea was kinda working like a more complicated version of energy building from Champions Online.

So as a thought experiment, I figured, lets look at Magic the Gathering. There's an MMO being made of it, and so I thought, what if I were designing that game? How would I make planeswalkers work?

Magic has different types of mana: White, Blue, Black, Red, Green, Colorless and Generic. Generic is paid with any kind of mana, while the other colors and colorless requires a specific mana type. But in MtG, mana is locked behind the land mechanic. Each turn you get to play a land, and that might mean that if you do not have a land in hand you would not gain mana that turn. The game also has mana ramp spells. Spells that allow additional lands to be put into play, and therefore the player trades a turn now, for greater mana faster the following turn.

In an MMO, you don't have turns. So you have a few choices, slow paced fighting, or fast paced movement and spell casting. This affects how complicated you can have a mana building mechanic. I think I'd have players pick a color first. Maybe ask them questions that would tie them to philosophies of a color, and probably tie some things to other choices (similar to how Guild Wars 2 does it).

So this version we could do something very similar to energy builders, but I think maybe a combination of other resource managements would be more interesting. For example, let's start with a Red Planeswalker. The Red walker would see some monsters out in the wild to kill, and so they would start by gathering mana.

Gather Resource: Mountain
Ability: 1 second, channel, add 1 Mountain resource (max x).

Lightning Strike
Ability: Use 1 Red Mana and 1 Generic Mana, deal 3 damage to a creature.

Pass Turn:
Ability: Takes Abilities off Cool down.

So when a fight starts, the player Gathers Resource, then Passes Turn. This resets their available mana, lets them add another resource, and resets their spells.

So why would a player not just always reset? Maybe the spell choices are a bit randomized.

Maybe there is a cooldown rotation (a time spent before they can cast spells, like an untap second). Maybe everyone in the fight has to pass before abilities reset (this would be a bad idea, could cause griefing other players in a party). Maybe, if the player Passes too many turns, they run out of draws and "lose".

Makes me think a bit of MegaMan.exe chip system.

I think each walker could be given a resource gathering attack. Something representative of their Color and Land type. They have to hit an enemy with it, to add a resource, which are like Death Knight runes. You generate mana of the type you want, up to a certain amount, and then spend them on your spells.

Passing the turn, resets what spells you can cast, but allows for you to generate another Land rune. While not doing so, generates generic mana that can be used to cast the spells as well.

We could also gate end of turn to a time limit.

This feels like it would be a slower, more methodical game type.

I feel like I should explore this idea more later. For right now, it feels like there is a conflict in player desire to ramp into powerful spells and having some sort of negative for not casting spells or using abilities.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Thinking Out Loud - Level Design

The way I design a level is usually by creating an interesting shape first. I then think about what that shape makes difficult, and add challenges based on that. I usually go too far at this point. Then I go through the whole thing and test it and scale back what I call "the asshole coefficient" of the design.

Depending on the kind of level you are making and the intended difficulty the coefficient can require entirely changing a portion of the shape of a level or the challenges that are in that portion. Finally I test again.

This is when I feel the level is ready for outside testing. I'll ask a coworker to test it real quick, mostly looking for fun vs asshole sections. If a section stands out as being too frustrating, or too easy, I tweak those areas.

This is usually what I would submit to approval and mass testing.

Sometimes, I have trouble picturing a new shape that would be interesting, so I revisit things I've done before and I ask, "are there new challenges I can put here that would change how this plays?" But this is very rare, and a last resort option.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Variance - A Plan Killer

One of the major issues of making decks in Magic the Gathering, is that I'm constantly fighting against variance. Often times, I'm struggling to fit in enough variety while also having enough copies of an effect that I'll see it when I need it.

The biggest issue with that is, that there's multiple types of decks, and facing off against them means that you won't always have a plan for what you're dealing with. The most you can do is plan for the trend, but when you mostly play in big tournaments you really can't rely on that. The bigger the tournament, the more likely you are to run into decks you would never be able to plan for.

So instead I keep tuning this deck that at most I end up being 50% win rate vs most things. It would be fine if it was based on skill, but the win rate is based on draws.  I really can't describe any of my wins as skill based. It's all luck and variance.

This makes it hard for me to plan how to make changes. I'm focusing on being better versus creature decks and having some sideboard cards to ease combo and control (which shares a lot of common hate cards). This way I know that I have a good chance against X types of decks (aggro and midrange should be more likely for me to win), and control and combo should be possible or at least at worst a 50% lose rate.

I'll be testing a new list, and seeing how the changes work out. I'll update with more info later.