16 Oct
October 16, 2013


Aaaaaaaaaannnnnnd after a long and unfortunate silence, System Crash Beta is out!

Grab it HERE.

Now, some people may take my extended silence as evidence that I’ve given up or lost interest or something. Not so. What actually happens is, when my time is scarce, whenever I get time to work, I always end up feeling like blogging is time that would be better spent coding etc. But I take it too far, I should at least keep pushing out small updates. But, funny thing, the longer I go without updating, the more I feel like I SHOULD be making a big progress announcement when I finally do post, so I again put off posting until I have that big announcement to make.

I’m just kind of shit at PR, really.

But anyway, this is a big release! A lot has been added or changed in the new beta. Let me go through it.

  • 26 new cards, bringing the total from 55 to 81 cards, an almost 50% INCREASE in variety!
  • EXTENSIVE rebalancing. Most cards have been adjusted in some way. Many cards have shifted in cost and power tier, and had their special abilities altered.
  • Greater variety of cheap and expensive cards, for more variety at ALL tiers of gameplay. No more sitting with hands full of Neonmongers.
  • Black Market card buy/sell costs COMPLETELY redesigned. No longer is it a case where a card is more expensive the “bigger” it is. Cards are evaluated based on how powerful they are relative to their tier, and how specialized.
  • More variety in the Starter Deck, addressing one of the primary complaints, that gameplay is a bit dull in the beginning because of lack of variety and deck-building options.
  • Rebalanced campaign missions and rewards. Card rewards are more generous now. You’ll receive new cards more often, opening up deck building options at a faster rate.
  • Tournament Mode added to SenseSim. Campaign missions unlock SenseSim Tournaments against varying AI difficulties, which you can play to earn extra credits outside the campaign missions. If you’re finding a mission difficult to beat, play some Tournaments, earn some credits, and go buy more powerful cards in the Black Market before tackling that mission again!
  • 3 new Showcase Decks to try : Buff, Rush and Attrition! Take them for a spin against each other, or against the original 5 showcase decks! (Note, all Showcase decks have been moved to the Testing Helper campaign.)
  • Duels introduce the following 3 new mechanics : Starting Credit, Just Played Armor and Battlefield Conditions :
  1. Starting Credit : Players now start with 1 instead of 0 credits, which speeds up the first few turns play.
  2. Just Played Armor : Agents that have just been played onto the battlefield have a bonus point of Armor, until their next turn only, which lessens the advantage of getting an Agent into a lane first. It’s still an advantage, but the weakening of this effect has a subtle but widespread effect on balance.
  3. Battlefield Conditions : Campaign missions can now specify Battlefield Conditions, introducing bonuses, penalties or special conditions for one or both players. This changes up how missions play, introducing new challenges to overcome. How will your deck fare if your enemy is playing with an automatic boost to their Agents’ attack, or if you have only 10 turns to win the duel? Good luck, have fun!
  • New missions and flavour text!
  • Significant AI improvements. The days of the AI hurling Agent after Agent fruitlessly against Wei Lee are over! Also, AI decks have hint tags, allowing you to adjust the AI’s priorities in play. An AI playing an Aggressive or Rush deck will prioritize scoring OP rapidly, whereas a defensive deck, such as the Hacker deck, will prioritize blocking your Agents, giving its hacking cards time to work.
  • New Player Avatars
  • Music track playback shuffling
  • 9 brand new pieces of card art!

All this done while holding down a day job again. Sleep, what is that? 😉

Anyway, grab the build, if you’re so inclined, and take it for a spin. If you want to test the new Showcase Decks, please start a new profile, go to campaigns, and select the Testing Helper campaign. This will unlock every card, all the Showcase decks, and give you 10 million credits. Enough to try out any deck build you can envision, and pit any of your creations against the AI in SenseSim. But please, do try the campaign. I’m eager to hear your feedback on the changes! 😀


14 replies
  1. Jay says:

    I will do as you have asked, fair leader.

  2. James McNeill says:

    Looking good! I like the writing, art and atmosphere.

    I played up through the first few battles. I think it took me three or four tries to get through the first one, once on the second, and then I played the third two or three times and haven’t won yet.

    So far I don’t have any feel for strategy. The cards that generate victory points every turn seem to be pretty powerful.

  3. gareth says:

    You’re not the only one saying that I’ve made the difficulty too high in this release, James. Rats. :/

  4. Diego Doumecq says:

    I haven’t played it yet, but all the changes you describe seem to fix all the bad points that I remember of the previous build 🙂

    More commentary incomming!

  5. Diego Doumecq says:

    After playing quite a bit (something like 15 matches) I can safely say three things:

    * There’s a bug where clicking the button to start the duel does a fade to white … but the button can be clicked again while the screen is fading and the fading is reset. Although clicking again and again to reset the fade is kind of amusing. Fun for the whole family! 😛

    * The difficulty curve seems to be a brick wall. The game starts difficult and stays there for the first few missions. I don’t mind it but this doesn’t seem like it’s what you were looking for.

    * The cards are way more balanced now. No single card stood out as overwhelmingly useful and all seemed to serve a particular purpose.

  6. gareth says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Diego! Appreciated!

    And yeah, that difficulty curve. Not at all what I want. My bad, it seems to have crept in when I was making certain balance changes and I didn’t pick up on it.

  7. KrankyBoy says:

    Oh thank god it isn’t me. I have rage quite twice now (something I have only ever done once previously in a game). The AI will have all 4 agent slots filled and I am left with chits and buffs in my hand and no agents for turn after turn…I have maybe done 3 missions.

  8. gareth says:

    Heh, sorry about that. Not working as intended 🙁 *shamefaced*

  9. Colter Cookson says:

    As others have said, the game is hard. While I’ve had a few one-sided games, I often feel I’m as dependent on luck as I am on strategy. That can be fun, especially when I pull off win I didn’t expect or scrap by when the enemy has 28 objective points. However, I don’t think it’s good if you want the game to have a wide audience.

    The cost of new cards exacerbates the difficulty. After six missions, which took me about four hours to complete, I’ve only been able to buy one card, and it isn’t helping much. I’llplay against the simulator to get more money, but I’d prefer not to have to do that much; it feels like grinding.

    While playing, I noticed a few typos:
    1. In one of the early campaign missions, you receive an e-mail from Throwaway8853 asking you to retrieve several chemical containers from Zerodyne Corp. storage facilities. The e-mail concludes by offering a bonus if you get all four containers. There are only three containers, so the “four” should be three.
    2. In the e-mail “VirtuLife Account Renewal Notice,” the period after “automatically renew your account” appears too close to the start of the next sentence. I suspect you’re missing a space.
    3. In the e-mail “GNN Newsfeed” that shows up after the player completes Trouble 1, Trouble 2, and the three chemical retrieval missions, the third headline reads, “MetroSec report…” That should be “MetroSec reports…” because organizations are singular, not plural.

    I also have a possible bug to report. After I completed the three chemical retrieval missions on the docks, the World Map still claimed there were three missions there.

    I have two suggestions:
    1. The first time the player encounters a condition, show hints that explain what conditions are. The first time I saw them, I thought, “Great! If I want a tactic card to stay around for a while, I can play it in that slot!” I was disappointed to discover that is not the case.
    2. Consider allowing right-clicks to count as “cancel” during duels. You might also cancel cards if the player clicks on a different card in their hand. This will speed up play.

    Despite the difficulty, I’ve had fun playing the game. I’ve also gotten a chuckle out of some of the writing, such as the e-mail about male enhancement cybernetics.

  10. Colter Cookson says:

    I found two other typos:
    1. In the mission Eye for an Eye, the second page of the opening vignette says the mercenaries “Aren’t even try to hide their business.” “Try” should be “Trying.” I’d also suggest replacing “business” with “presence.”
    2. After “Eye for an Eye,” you receive a mission from Anon8896 requesting help stealing a docking manifest. In the e-mail, there is no space between “when” and “this” in “What I don’t know is where and when this shipment…”

    I skipped the “Rescue the Princess” mission because I couldn’t figure out how to win in ten turns. I suspect I could do so now, but the game gives me the “you have played all the missions in the demo” message. It’s odd that I can’t play a mission I could have played previously. Consider making the message show up only for later missions.

  11. Colter Cookson says:

    I forgot to report a few typos yesterday:
    1. The flavor text for Neural Backlash reads, “They got ICE in there that can fry your brain, leave you dead or a vegetable.” “Leave” should be “leaving.”
    2. In the e-mail “Looking to Split Some Work,” Andrew Rickson says, “You’re risking your ass so the bigger cut.” That should be, “You’re risking your ass, so you get the bigger cut.”
    3. In the opening vignette for “Getting the Dirt,” “gang signs” is spelled “gangsigns.”
    3. In the opening vignette for “Lending a Hand 2,” there is an extra you in “too willing to look at you directly.”

    I have one more suggestion: The game should remember my resolution settings and whether I checked “windowed” rather than defaulting to 1024 by 768 in Windowed mode.

  12. gareth says:

    Thanks for the feedback Colter! I’ll check out that bug and see what I can do about the UI suggestions.

    I definitely agree with you on the difficulty, I messed it up, primarily by giving the early decks certain buff cards I shouldn’t have. Tips it too much in their favour.

    I’ll also re-examine the rate you get money for the Black Market. You should be able to pick up at least a couple of decent cards in the first few hours of play.

    Thanks for picking up on those typos!

  13. Colter Cookson says:

    I had so much trouble with the Black Market in my first game because I refused to sell cards, even ones I didn’t plan on using, on the off chance they might be useful down the road. In my second playthrough, when I felt comfortable dumping cards and knew which ones to buy to support my strategy, I was able to buy cards quickly and win more consistently.

    Having said that, I would still recommend increasing the early rewards or cutting Black Market costs. I was only comfortable selling cards because I’d played the game enough to know what works and knew the campaign would end long before I needed to adjust my deck. I doubt I’m the only one who will be reluctant to sell when they first play the game.

  14. gareth says:

    Ah right. That’s a good point, I’ll add some more rewards.

    What about adding in more redundant card reward drops, that might help make it obvious that you can/should sell some of your cards, I think?

    Since you can only have 4 of most cards in a deck, if you end up with 5+ in your Storage it’ll probably be more clear to a player that they can afford to dump the excess for cash? What do you think?


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