Plaid Hat Tech and Games

Updates and musings about what I'm working on at Plaid Hat Games.
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Summoner Wars makes progress!

Joseph Arthur Ellis
United States
Ashland
Ohio
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Microbadge: Summoner Wars fanMicrobadge: Defcon StatusMicrobadge: RaxxonMicrobadge: Ra fanMicrobadge: Star Wars: Rebellion fan
Welcome to the return of the Plaid Hat Tech and Games blog! Today is all Summoner Wars talk, with a scheduling note up front!

PAX Unplugged

Colby, Jerry, Niki and I will be at PAX Unplugged! Colby, Niki and I will be driving there together in Colby's minivan. Come see us at the booth (masked)! Maybe we can get a live game in of Summoner Wars. Also, with the little spare time I'll have, I'd love to get a game of Twilight Imperium 4 together if anyone's interested.

Summoner Wars Online

Welp, I've been absent from this blog, MOSTLY from working super hard on Summoner Wars Online, especially to get us to 1.0. There's still lots of improvements to go. I continue to gain skill at improving the animations, and I have some ideas to take that to the next level.

I've got a big list of to-dos in order to launch Summoner Wars on Steam. Besides doing the actual Mac/Windows configuration, and bug fixing, the following is on my list:
* Coding the Saga Mode single player campaign written by Mr. Bistro.
* Creating the Challenge Mode, which gives you series of standard games against AI but with a puzzley-twist.
* Fully integrating Cloaks and Skyspear Avians into the public app.
* Adding personal and global stats, MAYBE even ELO rankings (if you have opinions on this, hit me up in the comments.)
* Improved animation flow and more animations.

I'm also working like crazy trying to get ready to translate Summoner Wars Online into multiple languages.

We hope to make a big push when we release on Steam, to try to extend our reach, and I think the single player modes will be key for this. It'll likely be a couple weeks before I can get started on this list, but it should come along quickly once I get to it.

Balance

Since the core of our community right now is the most competitive and highly skilled players, I've been getting a LOT of messages asking about if we'll balance the game with errata/changes in the future. Also lots of suggestions on how to do that. I really can't respond to all the messages about this topic, so I'll address it here, and maybe a conversation is more possible in this thread.

The short answer is, YES, we are very interested in doing that, but we are NOT in a rush to do it soon or to settle on a method. There are a lot of pluses and minuses to every possibility, and of course more than one approach might be used.

* Updated starting setups: This is the least intrusive option, as we can publish a "competitive" set of starting setups, and it's not really errata - we could keep printing the physical sets as is. However, this is the most limiting option, as there's only so much you can do here (I'm not 100% sure if it would even work to balance factions), and it doesn't engage with the online system in an interesting way.

* An actively evolving online world: This is on the other end of the spectrum from updating starting setups, in the "it's a feature not a bug" category. In this version, we would have regular updates akin to X-Wing Miniatures Game. They would be announced on a schedule, and they would be online only because none of them would be considered to be permanent. We could even write story reasons for temporary, fun changes to mix things up (Elut-Bal suddenly has the Martial deckbuilding symbol!) while aiming to improve balance overall (0-cost mass heal!). There a lot of positives to this - we could experiment more, as the changes could go beyond just pure balance, and it wouldn't alienate the physical experience too much, if things tend to normalize back toward the printed after a couple iterations. However, it does run the risk of making the physical version feel too out of date or out of touch.

* The third option is standard errata. Choose a small handful of changes, test them rigorously, and announce them as the new normal. Our full subscribers could then get the updated cards and we'd update future printings. This keeps the physical and digital game most in sync, and incentivizes subscriptions, but subscriptions are harder to pay for outside of the USA due to shipping, and it leaves people who were early adopters but can't subscribe feeling left out. This is also somewhat limiting - we'd only ever want to do stat/setup changes, not text changes, so that it'd be easy to have a crib sheet.

What will we do? I don't know. But I wanted to let you all know, we're thinking about it. Let me know which kind of changes you like best in the comments.

Design Update

Early in this blog's days, I mentioned that I was working on faction designs for the Obsidian Dwarves, the primal/fire deck. I wanted something with big power but risk to yourself and was having trouble coming up with anything beyond the aesthetic.

Eventually, Colby and I sat down and brainstormed together, and the results were great! We've got a whole deck designed that've played a handful of times, and it is an absolute blast. In fact, it may be the most ready-to-go of any of the 3rd-cycle decks.

I won't give away too much, but the summoner tends to "heat up" and then "cool down" over time in power, and you have a lot of interesting ways to use that power and manipulate it. We are also trying out our first champion structure and dang is it cool.

I will try to be back next week with more here! Thanks for your patience as I shut it down for a while when my head was down coding for a few weeks.
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