The Ripple Effect

02 May
May 2, 2013

It’s funny how the ramifications of a design decision, especially changing something mid-project, can ripple outwards across your design.

For instance, the new buy-sell system for individual cards in the store is universally well-received. It’s a nice upgrade from the old, simple way that cards unlocked over time.

But it’s introduced an issue that wouldn’t have existed in the old system. When you sell a card to the store, you get less credits for that sale than the card is actually worth. In the grand tradition of wily merchants everywhere, they get the better of the deal.

I like it this way because it means I can give the player a bunch more cards than they actually need, safe in the knowledge that this unfavorable exchange rate means they will need to offload 2-3 spare cards to buy a new card that they desire. Even more, if you want to purchase a card of a higher tier.

But now we come to the issue. A player needs at least 60 cards to field a valid deck. What if he sells too many cards, but then, because of that unfavorable exchange rate, he doesn’t have the cash to simply buy them back again.

This is especially possible in the initial stages, when a player is still learning the game and doesn’t have many more cards than 60. They might have sold the cards before they even bump against the 60 card requirement.

I contemplated adding in a 100% reversal on your last few transactions at the market, but that simply makes the problematic situation harder to reach, not impossible. And I would have to consider when to expire that window.

So instead I’ve going to add in 2 things. First, I’ll forbid selling cards if it would leave you without any valid decks in your deck set. Secondly, I’m going to add in an alternate way to make cash. The 60 card limit is all well and good, but it would still be possible to, later in the game, sell all your good cards and then not have enough to buy them back, leaving you with inferior deck options. You’d still be able to build a valid deck, but perhaps you wouldn’t be able to build a deck capable of beating the missions you currently have available.

So I’m thinking about adding in a tournament mode to SenseSim (quick duel) mode. Where you play against a random Easy, Medium or Hard AI deck (you wouldn’t be able to choose the deck, it would select from the campaign decks at random), and winning a tournament would give you a small sum of credits, scaled by the difficulty of the opponent.

That way, in the worst case scenario, you could always grind a few SenseSim matches against the AI to earn enough credits to buy back your stuff. Alternatively, if you find the campaign progression a bit too tough, you could play SenseSim to earn some extra credits to buff your deck a bit before trying again.

4 replies
  1. Diego Doumecq says:

    I’m curious, why wouldn’t you let the player sell every card at full price? It solves all your problems and probably makes things easier to balance…
    You don’t need to design an alternative way to get currency and you have a hard range of wealth at every point.
    I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like your solution better, but I’m curious why you discarded this option. It’s clean and easy for you at the price of some player freedom.

    Reply
  2. kibertoad says:

    Sounds like a good solution!

    Hopefully campaign won’t be primarily balanced for moderately grinding players, thus making non-grinding players at disadvantage and forcing them to grind as well…

    Reply
  3. gareth says:

    Diego :

    Firstly, because I think the sweet agony of a harder decision ultimately feels more rewarding than a trivial choice. If you could simply swap your available cards around freely without any “friction” to the choice then I believe you may as well remove the option entirely. It’s not an interesting decision in any real way, once you clear the first few missions and have a decent number of spare cards unlocked. I may as well say “here are all the cards you’ve unlocked, put them in your deck in any permutation you desire”

    Forcing the player to swap at a rate of 2:1 or 3:1 makes it something they will think more carefully about. Which I believe makes it more interesting.

    Secondly, it makes cards unlocked in a campaign feel “premium”. You’re getting them at the best rate available, therefore those rewards feel “better”, I think. The contrast creates a sense of greater value.

    That’s just my opinion, of course. It’s trying to put into words what I instinctively feel is the better way of doing it. I might be wrong.

    Kibertoad :

    Don’t worry, I don’t balance the game around any expectation of grinding at all. I make sure that the missions are winnable via the standard progression. But of course, I know the game mechanics very well. What I consider to be a decent challenge, others might find too difficult. The grind option gives them a way to self-regulate their own game difficulty, to a degree.

    Reply
  4. Diego Doumecq says:

    Haha, great! Like I said, I was just curious why you took that decision, it looked like you were taking the high road in spite of how tempting the other option was 🙂

    I really like that you’ve put so much importance on the game design’s synergy. I’m sure your players will appreciate it.

    Reply

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