In the last blog post, I was talking about the first few games of Intryon being played. Since then, we've had the chance to play a reasonable number of games and learn some more about how well the game works in its current state.
One of the issues we were having is that not enough low end ships were coming out during the early part of the game. We tried adjusting the hand size to 8 as an experiment and that helped quite a bit; the flow of cards is now much better. Unfortunately, this created a new problem - some of the rules we were using provided an attack/block bias in favour of small ships, and it was very noticeable once the flow of ships was improved. We made some changes to counter this.
Some observations with the game right now:
There is a large issue with the 'can't attack or block with a ship on the turn that it is being played' mechanic. If you get into a situation where the opposing player has a good few number of ships more than you on the battlefield, they can play a split battle tactic (using half the ships to attack the player and/or incoming ships which can't defend themselves, and the other half to defend) that right now is almost impossible to counter. It's also impossible to bring in new ships because they get smashed to pieces immediately before they even get to fire a single shot. Once you get into this situation, it's pretty much game over.
The tactical phase as it is currently implemented is pretty pointless at the moment, since there are hardly any tactical cards in either deck. In the average game, you're only ending up with 2 tactical cards, and it usually makes more strategic sense to use them during your own turn rather than in response to the opponent's actions.
The anomaly cards are not a great concept because they tend to be a huge gamble. It's not likely people will want to play them because they are rather expensive and half the time you shoot yourself in the foot by doing so.
The plan for the next batch of testing is to add more tactical cards and adjust the ruling on how they can be played. The original concept of ships "warping in" will also be enforced, which means you can't target ships until they are configurable. The anomaly cards are being removed from the deck entirely and the concept will be reserved for later use (I have an interesting idea on how to make them into something fun in the future).
We won't be play-testing again for some time. I'm going back to development of the games engine now that I've returned to Hemel. I guess this gives Paul some time to figure out how he wants to adjust the decks to accommodate the new changes.
Over the last few weeks, @Paulicus25 and @Medessec have been working hard to get the first batch of Intryon cards ready for play-testing. Paul came up with some initial stats for two of the starter decks (one for the humanoids and one for the energy beings) and Trevor did some lovely card border art (it's awesome and really growing on me ). Yay for teamwork! After that, all that was left to do was play the game. We don't have the game engine in a playable state yet, so we will be playing it using paper print-outs for the time being. (There has been some decent progress with development of the engine though - I will be making blog posts about this later, when things are in a state where I can show something meaningful.)
Today, over the course of some hours, myself and Paul printed out the first batch of cards, discussed and clarified the rules, and then battled it out. It's a bit tough to play this game using paper, because it was never designed to play in that fashion, but we managed to improvise the electronically-assisted portions by using dice and some other random bits and bobs we had lying around from other games (although this slowed down gameplay by quite a bit...)
I took the role of the humanoids and Paul took the role of the energy beings. The first two games were completely one-sided, because we started out with bad opening hands, and our first few turns of card pickups were awful. Paul won the first game and I won the second - both were landslide victories.
In the evening, we played a third game in which the card draws were more evenly matched, so we were able to get a better idea of how the game is playing. It was a very close game, as I was probably 1 or 2 turns away from killing Paul when I lost...
I was on 12 and Paul was on 14. He then got a lucky draw of a badly balanced card in his turn, almost doubling his attack power and utterly annihilating me. Without that card played, we were basically tied.
While playing the game, we took note of various balancing issues and made some minor adjustments. The balance seems mostly OK, and the general mechanics we came up with seem to work pretty well and are fairly evenly matched (assuming playable cards come up consistently).
The most notable issue was that the number of low-end ships seems to be too small. If there were more of them in the deck, it would probably make the game work better. To resolve this problem we are considering increasing the deck size from 40 to 50, with the bulk of the additional cards being small ships. In addition, the hand size (currently 5 cards) probably also needs increasing, because there aren't a lot of additional card draw options in the current decks and if we increase the number of cards we also need to increase the number allowed in the hand so that the percentage of cards seen in an average game stays roughly consistent (the aim is that in an average game you will end up seeing 40-50% of the cards in your deck). I suggested we could go with a hand size of 8 cards instead. However, we will hold off on making these changes for now, at least until we've had a couple of games played the opposite way round (with me playing the energy beings, and Paul playing the humans), so that we can get a better idea of whether those adjustments are really needed, and get a chance to play the game from the opposite side of the table.
In the opening portion of the new year, I'm hoping to start getting some concept art from Trevor, and there will be more playtests. Once we're happy with the deck structure and balancing, the starting decks for the other two races will be designed around the ones we already have. The games engine is also almost at a point where I can start to show off some stuff. You should therefore expect to see more visible progress being made on the game from now on.
At the moment I'm not willing to give an ETA on the alpha test. There is quite a lot still to do. But playing the first few games - it's definitely huge progress!
That's all for now folks. Stay tuned for more stuff
Hello, and welcome to the new Intryon dev blog! I've been meaning to set this up for a while now, but I got kinda busy
The purpose of this blog is to keep you updated as we make progress on the development of Intryon. It will probably be more informal than the official forum threads. I'll try to keep regular posting going on the dev blog so you've got a feel for how much progress has been made so far - feel free to comment and provide feedback!
I'm hoping that Paul and Trevor will also post in here as they work on stuff. I need to give them a gentle nudge in this direction
For updates: If you have an RSS reader, you can use it to subscribe to this dev blog. You can also check the activity stream from the website if you're a regular visitor - new blog posts should appear there.