Every Card represents a military Unit and are played into Vacant Spots on a grid. Each Player's Base and theField both have spots. The Placement of your cards into Spots matters. In particular, you can create Formations like Squads which not only gives you direct Stat bonuses but also provides access to Squad Maneuvers.
Spots an innovation in two ways. First, it creates a geometry and enables a greater variety of interesting powers like Placement or displacement. We can key powers to a player's Base or the contested Field.
Second, it limits the number of cards in play. This is important to maintain our shorter games and prevent overwhelming the players with too much information. It is also a key variable in the mathematical balancing of the game. Several card games suffer from infinite loops; 'Line Pirates has been designed so that every resource is guaranteed finite.
All Players takes their turns at the same time. Each Turn every player declares one Action, like to Deploy a Unit from their Base to the Field. Then all the Actions are Resolved simultaneously.
RTT is a major innovation for this class of game. In normal turn-taking games there is a hard cap on the number of players you can have. With two players gameplay is smooth because you can think strategy during your opponent's turn. After around 4 players or so the games become boring because after you've decided your tactics, you spend most of your time waiting for your next turn.
Real-Time Turns allows us to do things nobody else can do, like have large multiplayer events in the same time window of a two-person game. Real-Time Turns are the cornerstone that enables team play.
Players can organize themselves into Teams and then tackle multiplayer content together. Some teamups are temporary, so you might do a pickup group for a Finale Events at the end of a Campaign. Other Teams are stable and have a Standing in a League; they are more like a sports team.
Many "so-called" social games are still solo play. You don't actually get to play with your friends, you just annoy them with ally requests that you are forced to make in order to progress. In 'Line Pirates, you not only get to play with your friends, you can play with _a lot_ of your friends at the same time.
We're going to have cooperative boss fights and competitive team sports. We'll have arenas and battlegrounds. You'll be able to drop into most team games at your convenience (the notable exception being scheduled league games). A team game should be around the long-side of a two-player game, say 15-20 minutes, and will be much more exciting.
Every Card begins the game Hidden, meaning that players who don't own the card can't see what card it is. The card is Shown depending on particular Actions or Effects, and then all players can see the card. This state of Visibility is sticky; it stays one way until something comes along to change it.
Most card games implicitly have this aspect of visibility; cards are hidden in your hand and shown on the board. In 'Line Pirates, there's a much greater range visibility abilities. Most cards remain Hidden when Deployed to the Field. Some cards are Flashy and can never be Hidden. Others are Stealthy and automatically Hide themselves.
There's also interesting revelation abilities. You can Spy your opponent's cards or use a secret Agent on their HQ that keeps the top card of their deck revealed.
As you win games you get Components that can be used to craft new Cards. In the early Tutorials, just finishing one Mission is enough to gain a Card. As you become more powerful, you'll need multiple Components to create more powerful Cards.
Components have two advantages. First, it guarantees net forward advancement. As long as you keep playing, you'll be working toward getting better cards. Second, it means the same rewards are achievable no matter what your preferred Format or style of play. The only thing that differs is the rate at which you get components, which tends to be higher the more you win and the more you team.
Both Cathy and I are geekly mathematicians. Unlike other card games that have just sort of accumulated by trial and error, we've mathematically designed 'Line Pirates from the ground up. That means we have much more information about exactly how powerful each ability is and how it interacts with other abilities. Every 'Verse has synergistic themes among their Cards and strengths and weaknesses against other 'Verses.
There are many benefits to this design. First and foremost, we have a wide range of viable deck strategies. We've ensured that no matter which 'Verse or combination thereof that you play, you'll have advantages against some decks and disadvantages against others.
Second, this leads to simpler deck design. Casual players can choose 'Verses with cards they like, make a few Platoons and Companies and then mix and match to make decks. Competitive players can still optimize their decks down to specific cards and abilities.
Third, we have no bad cards. Every card is guaranteed useful in some Format. Taken altogether, we've made it harder to build bad decks and much easier to build good ones.
The mathematical foundation of the game allows us to accurately guage Card Power. In most games, you are paired with other players on the basis of Player Rating but not on decks. In 'Line Pirates, your Deck Power is also factored in.
When I was playing Magic the Gathering Online the lack of matchmaking really irked me. Finding opponents there is done manually, and it'd be hit or miss. I'd routinely be clobbered by people with 5 thousand dollar decks, or worse, clean the clock of a clearly new player. Only maybe half of my games were even fair fights right out of the gate, and only a quarter were really interesting.
With UpClose Matchmaking we're hoping that _every_ match you play will be a close call, where your skill and choices matter. That should be true whether you are fielding a free-to-play deck or a high-money deck. And you aren't forced to always play your best deck! If you want to experiment with a peasant deck or an unusual mechanic, you'll be matched with other players fielding something similar.
There's only one Type of Card: one that represents a military Unit. Cards routinely Create and Destroy other Elements in the game. For example, Sites that Attach to Spots or Equipment that Attach to Units are common instantiated elements.
This fixes a common problem in most card games, namely that Stat modifications are typically over-costed as cards. Meaning, in almost all cases you'd prefer to have a whole other Unit than a card that modified a Unit. It also addresses a card advantage problem, namely that when you remove a Card typically all attached elements are also removed. In 'Line Pirates, even though you Destroy the instantiated elements, you only trade card for card. This makes removal a fairer mechanic.
Last but not least, it enables us to do something no one else has done: detailed statistics on card usage. We're going to be able to collect and break down what abilities are used the most and least, and precisely how useful they were. This will enable us to further refine our mathematical model of abilities, specific with regard to resource-costing.
When you ask players the number one thing they love about card games, they'll say the replay value. When you ask those same players the number one thing they hate about card games, they'll say "a bad draw". Both of these arise from randomness.
In 'Line Pirates, we keep the good randomness and eliminate the bad. Each deck can define a Vanguard, which is basically a way to stack the initial draw of your deck. So in a Vanguard 3 Format, the first three cards you draw were exactly the ones you wanted.
Our use of Instantiated elements means that the other forms of bad randomness, like say drawing too much or too little of one type of card, effectively doesn't exist in our game.
Moreover, because our game is online, we can have a number of interesting abilities that influence randomness, like ones that change the probability of drawing certain kinds of cards.
Threat and ResponseEdit
Hand in hand with good randomness, we have a robust threat and response model in 'Line Pirates. When your opponent plays a threat, there are multiple ways to address that threat, both from Units on the Field or in your Base.
This means there is a lot more interesting "back-and-forth" struggling with opponents. Additionally, we've put multiple Abilities on the same card, making each one more versatile. Basically, we've made it so that you'll always have something useful to do and should never be stuck, unable to respond to your opponent or advance a threat.
Playstyle for your LifestyleEdit
At Spudnugget Studios, we believe in making games that are convenient for you, not making you conform to a pattern of play.
We've targetted 15 minutes as our play chunk. You should be able to complete an entire goal within that time, like start and complete a mission, play in a pickup team, or design and build a new deck.
Moreover, we have two distinct kinds of games. Casual games have no clock and you can take turns as you are able. The game is automatically saved after each turn. So one game with your friend might span days and you have as much time to think about your next move as you like. We expect people will use one chunk of time to take one turn on several casual games they are playing concurrently.
The other kind is a competitive game, where you play quickly against the clock, like speed chess. These games are guaranteed to finish within the allotted time, so you can fit them in as you have time. All rated regulation games are against a clock.
The classic gamer stereotype is a teenage boy and thirty years ago that may have been true. But today women now lead in tech consumption and the majority of gamers are female. Moreover, gaming has grown up: most estimates for the average age are around 40 years old.
We feel that women and adults are both being underserved as a market. So we're making a game that appeals to both genders and a spectrum of ages. In particular, we've got a storyline with real depth and characters you actually care about. We're aiming for a soap opera with a continually unfolding plot rather than a one-shot story.
Last but not least, the strategic complexity in 'Line Pirates is enough to satisfy hardcore competitive gamers (like me!).
Most Facebook games are just too simple. When you have a real challenge you get a real feeling of accomplishment once you succeed. One of the reasons why people play strategy games is to achieve mastery. 'Line Pirates can be played casually for fun and competitively for mastery.
We're hoping to evoke that same feeling of accomplishment as you complete the storylines. You'll be guiding Ezzy and other character through some pretty hairy situations, and to finish some Finale Events is an achievement in itself. We have a variety of Commendations to publically recognize your accomplishments.
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