Hey! As you probably know, we did a large-scale survey of CCG players (more than 1,000 active players). It showed players have some major frustrations about the top CCGs.
Chris and I love to play CCGs ourselves, and our top frustrations are in sync with those of the survey participants. To solve these frustrations, we’d like to propose an idea for a new game (iOS and Android) – and get your feedback.
BTW, this proposal doesn’t go into a lot of details, because Chris and I wanted to get your feedback on the high-level points first.
This proposal has 5 points.
So, what makes this game different than the top CCGs in the market today?
First – we’re building this game, from the ground up, based on our large-scale survey of very active CCG players.
So this game is designed for CCG players, to solve their top frustrations:
- Gotta spend lots of money for good decks
- Too much RNG/luck
- Some cards seem totally unfair
Second – this game will be designed by CCG players (Chris and me, together with players like YOU).
As you know, large game studios are required by their investors to maximize revenue. But we (Able Apes) are a small, 4-person indie developer. So we can do some things that large studios simply cannot do. See the next 2 points for what I mean.
All the cards in our game will be free! Yes, you read that right – ALL cards will be FREE.
When we release new expansions, all cards in that expansion will also be free. You get all those cards as soon as you update your client.
So does this mean we’re completely removing the Collection mechanic from our game? Short answer is “No”. The game will still have the Collection mechanic: Card backs, Card trims, Heroes, Hero trims, etc. But when a match starts, neither player will have any deck advantage based on how much money (or grinding) he has spent in our game.
That makes this a fair game for everyone, including new players.
In our game, you get all the cards right away, for free. No need to pay through the nose, and no need to grind. So you can spend more of your time doing what you really enjoy:
- Playing a match (many fun game modes)
- Collecting card backs, card trims, heroes, hero trims, etc
- Everything else that’s fun in the game
If all cards are free, how are we going to make money to keep the servers running?! Through sales of:
- Cosmetic items (heroes, card backs, card trims, boards, and so on)
- Other in-game virtual items that don’t give any advantage at the start of a match (extra deck slots, etc.)
Of course, we’ll make a lot less money because of our decision to make all cards free – and we’re totally fine with that.
Chris and I have discussed this a lot. We feel the best role for RNG is when it’s used like spices in a meal. What does that mean?
As you know, the taste of a meal is enhanced tremendously by using a small amount of spices. However, when too much spices are used – the entire meal is actually ruined! I should know – I once ordered a 5-topping pizza with 5x olives … and trust me, it was not edible for me 🙄
Enough about food, let’s get back to RNG! Every time my opponent plays a card that casts 12 random spells to suddenly end a 15 minute game – a tiny little part of me dies 😧. And based on the survey, I know I’m not alone in feeling this.
BTW, we’re not proposing eliminating RNG from our card effects – that’ll be like eliminating all spices from a meal. Our game will still have RNG card effects to create unpredictability, fun, and variety. But it won’t have cards with massive RNG that flat out wins games.
We’re okay with lower revenue because of this decision.
Here’s the 3-step approach we’d like to propose for our game:
- Each card will be properly balanced – i.e. no crazy OP cards, for any reason.
- All cards are free in our game, so we don’t have any reason to have OP cards (and get players to pay for those cards).
- We’ll do regular balance patches, once a month.
- So when we mess up & release a card that’s OP, our balance patch will fix it quickly.
- Balance patches won’t require you to update your client.
- So you won’t need to download another 2GB to your phone just to get a balance update!
This approach will also help with the problem of meta going stale because of OP cards/classes.
How will we decide which cards are OP? We’ve developed a proprietary formula that works consistently well when tested against dataset from a top CCG. We’ll combine this formula with community feedback to decide which cards are OP.
Last but probably the most important point…
Our team will develop this game working closely with the Player Community – i.e. YOU and players like you. What exactly does this mean?
But almost every major decision will be made only after getting feedback from the player community. Our team may not always be able to do exactly what the community wants, but will always listen and try our best.
In every expansion, a good % of cards will be community-created. Our team will set the vision for the expansion, and may tweak these cards if necessary for balancing – but by and large these cards will be community-created.
Our community will be able to playtest new cards in a PTR (Public Test Realm) before they are released into the game.
We’ll set up an online platform for our community to suggest and vote on ideas – everything from cards to game modes. This will drive the direction of this game.
To recap the 5 points:
- For CCG Players, By CCG Players
- All Cards Are FREE
- Controlled RNG (Luck)
- Better ‘Balancing Philosophy’
So that’s the proposal from Chris and me for the new game. What do you think? Post a comment below (it’s very easy, no registration etc). Let’s together define a great game!
P.S. I’d like to thank Dawson, Kyle, Henry, and Andy for reviewing an advanced draft of this post and providing invaluable feedback – thanks guys! 🙂