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Shaqattaq
07-26-2013, 12:38 PM
by Ben Stoll

Hey there hexomaniacs! Itís been a while since we chatted. Today, Iíll give you a bit of insight into whatís been going on with Hex from the game design side of things, as well as a glimpse into some of the actual day-to-day insanity that is a part of being in R&D.

http://hextcg.com/rd-progress-and-insight/

Fleckenwhatever
07-26-2013, 12:49 PM
In advance of the 1 pm AMA: Why are you playing with physical cards?

Patrigan
07-26-2013, 12:51 PM
In advance of the 1 pm AMA: Why are you playing with physical cards?

That one is quite logical actually. New cards haven't been developed yet and you don't want to develop things that are still so volatile. Wasted development effort, especially with still so much left to do before alpha.

Hemlock
07-26-2013, 12:52 PM
Seeing the process behind Alabaster Sphinx was fascinating. Thanks for letting us in on it!

Also: haha butts

Chiany
07-26-2013, 12:55 PM
Wow that was a nice read, especially about the "old" and "new" Spinx.

1 question though, in the playing games part, you mentioned testing the power level of a tier 1 contructed card.
My question is, do you guys design cards with a specific tier power level in mind, or does this come while testing?

Chiany
07-26-2013, 12:57 PM
That one is quite logical actually. New cards haven't been developed yet and you don't want to develop things that are still so volatile. Wasted development effort, especially with still so much left to do before alpha.

You're probably right, but maybe let CZE answer the question ;)

EntropyBall
07-26-2013, 01:02 PM
Who is responsible for testing PVE cards? Is that the same people that are doing balance and development for PVP? How are those cards tested against PVE scenarios that may not be the standard first-to-0-loses.

self1sch
07-26-2013, 01:05 PM
It's strange to hear so much about set 2 already, while we don't even know most of the set 1 cards :D

Dralon
07-26-2013, 01:11 PM
I am also interested in the equipment design process. Is that done in close conjunction with dungeon design, or fairly independent? I could certainly imagine dungeon designs for which certain equipment would be considered good "counters" for that dungeons difficult aspects.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 01:11 PM
In advance of the 1 pm AMA: Why are you playing with physical cards?

Patrigan's answer is essentially correct. It takes a lot of time to script the cards (especially some of the more complex cards), and so we don't want any of our tech guys to have to do unnecessary work. Since the same software that ultimately hooks the cards into the game also has "print and cut" functionality baked into it (for this reason), it's most efficient for us to do early-stage playtesting physically.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 01:12 PM
Also, hello everyone! Thanks for reading and asking questions :D I am getting to them as quick as I can!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 01:18 PM
Wow that was a nice read, especially about the "old" and "new" Spinx.

1 question though, in the playing games part, you mentioned testing the power level of a tier 1 contructed card.
My question is, do you guys design cards with a specific tier power level in mind, or does this come while testing?

We don't always begin design work with a completely predetermined sense of where we want a given card's power level--the further into the process we go, the more we become concerned with each individual card's power level as part of it's existence in the set.

However, there are places where power level is a governing factor right from the beginning. For example, if a card has an extremely negative unfun play pattern, we probably don't want that to be the best card in the format and have every last person throwing four of it into every deck they build. On the other hand, for a card who is important to our story, like King Gabriel, we're likely going to target his power level high because he's a total bad-ass, and we want people to feel like they're playing with a guy who they KNOW is a total bad-ass in the story and not be disappointed.

Shadowspawn
07-26-2013, 01:19 PM
What takes the longest - designing the cards once you settle on some mechanics/themes or designing the mechanics/themes in the first place?

funktion
07-26-2013, 01:19 PM
@ben:
a) How many people are involved in balancing future sets / formats?
b) Are there some particular formats that you care more about being balanced or some you'll just let develop on their own (wild west would be the latter I would assume)?

c) So far we've seen a very low number of cards I would consider 'unplayable' is this a part of the design philosophy and something we can get used to?

Gwaer
07-26-2013, 01:19 PM
What is on a lot of peoples minds right now (that I'm not certain is your forte) is how is the game designed in such a way that kickstarter tiers will not dominate achievement hunting or the PVE experience in general. Though I'm pretty certain you're more involved with the PVP side of things.

Armies
07-26-2013, 01:23 PM
With Permanent effects still on the stack Have you decided if the effect will still target the card if it was destroyed and now resides in the graveyard?(and if that is not a relevant question then, how do you decide on these types of rules?)

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 01:24 PM
Who is responsible for testing PVE cards? Is that the same people that are doing balance and development for PVP? How are those cards tested against PVE scenarios that may not be the standard first-to-0-loses.

Haha, well the short answer is that PvE and PvP technically have separate R&D teams, and those guys do prioritize the development of their respective sphere of Hex.

The long answer is much more complex, because PvE and PvP are obviously inextricably intertwined, for example in that they both largely pull from the same pool of cards. Because of this there ends up being a lot of specific crossover work between the teams.

As I touched on in the article, one of the things we try to do most in Hex is maximize each R&D member's specific core competencies, and that means a lot of borrowing specific people for very specific tasks on PvE or PvP--our individual skill sets are, in reality, a lot more granular than "designer" and "developer."

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 01:28 PM
Who is responsible for testing PVE cards? Is that the same people that are doing balance and development for PVP? How are those cards tested against PVE scenarios that may not be the standard first-to-0-loses.

Sorry I sort of missed the last bit of your question in the midst of my tangential answer :D

There IS all sorts of zaniness in store in the PvE experience, and because of the vast number of moving parts we do end up with some funny, or cool, or unexpected interactions as we throw those cards against not just other regular decks, but also against unique dungeon encounters. At our core the PvP team is prioritizing PvP, but this is one place where we come in and work with the PvE guys to make sure all of the cards are testing well in PvE as well, and we test it just like you'd imagine: We build some decks, look for problematic interactions, and see how they play, and make any necessary changes
:)

Gorgol
07-26-2013, 01:30 PM
Is there a non-zero chance of more CZE employee related cards being designed?

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 01:31 PM
It's strange to hear so much about set 2 already, while we don't even know most of the set 1 cards :D

I know this wasn't a question but I wanted to comment anyways :)

It IS sort of strange how we end up just "ahead" of schedule in R&D. I found it very disorienting at first because one has to be in touch with the current experience that the players are having while simultaneously doing work which is way chronologically later than what they're experiencing. Part of my mind wants to believe you have all already chewed through the entire set 1 draft format just like we have but that is obviously not true :)

majin
07-26-2013, 01:32 PM
i want to know how many (estimate) PvP and PvE cards will be on set 2, set 3 to set X

Do you have a minimum number of PvP and PvE cards that needs to come out every set? Are we expecting at least 400 cards (200 PvE and 200 PvP cards) for set 2 and the succeeding sets?

Wall of Bears - is this your worst nightmare? will it have your pic in that card ^___^ ? (EDIT: will Kyle be in this card?)

nicosharp
07-26-2013, 01:33 PM
What stage of work do you enjoy most, from the 3 you mentioned in the article, and why?
The card design
The gameplay testing
or the theorycrafting/talking

Bidoof
07-26-2013, 01:34 PM
Hey Ben, a bit off topic but what kind of player do you consider yourself(e.g. Timmy, Spike, Johnny)?

Gwaer
07-26-2013, 01:35 PM
Wall of bears is certainly OP_Kyles worst nightmare... Which he lived through in the early days of the forum.

Loregoyle
07-26-2013, 01:36 PM
Wall of Bears - is this your worst nightmare? will it have your pic in that card ^___^ ?

Just popping in to say that Wall of Bears was my idea and if it doesn't make it into Set 2 intact, I am going to steal Ben's woolen bear hat and hide it where he'll never find it.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 01:37 PM
I am also interested in the equipment design process. Is that done in close conjunction with dungeon design, or fairly independent? I could certainly imagine dungeon designs for which certain equipment would be considered good "counters" for that dungeons difficult aspects.

PvE in particular is a lot of moving puzzle pieces, and we work hard to figure out the best way to cultivate them independently (which is sometimes necessary) while still making sure they will be able to fit together. But to give you a more granular and specific peek at this one, we really designed the cards first, then the equipment, mostly designing the equipment out of the finished card design. We want primarily to make sure that a player who loves a certain card is going to love that card even more by putting his equipment on it. The design direction for Equipment is, in this sense, more about making your deck sweeter than specifically interacting with the dungeon.

HOWEVER, it just so happens that the equipment do a ton of different things, and you will (at least eventually) have a ton of different equipment to choose from, and the different effects provided by your equipment will deal with different dungeons with varying degrees of effectiveness. So, if you're having a tough time with a dungeon, you will certainly be able to suit up some gear that is a good "counter" for a given dungeon.

majin
07-26-2013, 01:38 PM
Wall of bears is certainly OP_Kyles worst nightmare... Which he lived through in the early days of the forum.

LOL yeah, my bad, got confused there :)

funktion
07-26-2013, 01:40 PM
Just popping in to say that Wall of Bears was my idea and if it doesn't make it into Set 2 intact, I am going to steal Ben's woolen bear hat and hide it where he'll never find it.

I want to know the story behind fish hands. I've been imagining different things in my head and been laughing non-stop about it, like:
-Does the fish have human hands?
-Is it a human with fins for hands?
-Is it a fish with human hands but mounted up on the wall like one of those singing bass that you can get at wal-mart?
-Is it a person with two fish taped to their hands (edward 40 hands style)?

Edit: This is not actually a question... move on to the next guy.

Armies
07-26-2013, 01:40 PM
What are spider spawns?

Gwaer
07-26-2013, 01:41 PM
How do I become the master of time?

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 01:41 PM
What takes the longest - designing the cards once you settle on some mechanics/themes or designing the mechanics/themes in the first place?

A great question! Well, I suspect it is different depending on who you ask and depending on the given set. Sometimes new mechanics really just seem to fall into place, and sometimes it seems like everything we throw at the wall ends up with some insurmountable problem that forces us to go back to the drawing board.

Ultimately, more actual time ends up being spent churning out designs, playtesting them, re-designing them, cutting them for new designs entirely, etc.

That said, we spend a ton of time braingstorming up ideas and then having R&D discuss them and theorycraft them to death, both at the very beginning and between rounds of testing them.

I know you didn't ask this but I will also share that for me personally, coming up with the new mechanics, while extremely satisfying upon successful completion, stresses me out beyond belief and is even mentally uncomfortable at times, while I find that filling up a file with individual card designs and making sure the cards interlock well with each other for constructed and draft is basically pure bliss.

CoS
07-26-2013, 01:49 PM
Ben- how do you problem solve mitigate a situation when you strong feelings with regards to a new aspect of R&D and Dan shuts down your idea/concept/mechanic? What process is used when you guys are at an impasse? Does Corey ever get involved in these situations?

Yoss
07-26-2013, 01:51 PM
Did you consider making the sphinx do something when "nothing" was the correct answer and the opponent didn't choose it? Like maybe you gain X life or return a random troop to your hand?

Rapierian
07-26-2013, 01:52 PM
How many cards do you go through to weed down to a specific set? For example, if you're trying to put together 100 cards for a set, do you come up with 300 card ideas? And how many of the 200 remaining card ideas will you revisit for the next set, vs. discard altogether?

funktion
07-26-2013, 01:53 PM
Here's two more:
a) Is it all one team that is working on set 1/2/3 at the same time, or does each set have it's own team? I think I'd be mixing up mechanics / cards from different sets if that were me.
b) Does working in a purely digital space ever feel like cheating? I think it's totally awesome that you can probably implement nearly any mechanic you can think of and it probably isn't as messy as a traditional paper card game. Is this something you're actively trying to do or does it just happen? (I mean breaking the traditional rules of marking cards / playing with your opponents deck etc)

Blare731
07-26-2013, 01:53 PM
I don't know if you can answer this but might as well give it a shot.

Recently it was brought up that saving in other things other than dungeons would be a nice thing to have. I can easily see that in a casual PvP match (non-tournament), saving can be implemented. Just storing all the variables of the game state somewhere (where you can retrieve it later, also on CZE servers so that it cannot be tampered with), seems like a great idea to allow for players to get up go on with their daily life and come back to play with that person without having to worry about starting over.

Do you see this as being something that is worth implementing? Also if yes, how important would you place this feature in respect to other features currently being developed?


I happen to think it is something that can be done in Raids as well, but that might not be the design direction you guys want raids to take.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 01:53 PM
@ben:
a) How many people are involved in balancing future sets / formats?
b) Are there some particular formats that you care more about being balanced or some you'll just let develop on their own (wild west would be the latter I would assume)?

c) So far we've seen a very low number of cards I would consider 'unplayable' is this a part of the design philosophy and something we can get used to?

a) Specifically as pertains to the term "balance," we have three people who I would say prioritize that extremely highly, although it's something that everyone has an eye out for.
b) Ultimately we would love everything to be perfectly balanced for the best possible experience. However, the interwoven nature of Hex forces us to prioritize. Although I try to have the PvP cards I design be balanced for PvE, I have to prioritize balancing them initially for organized play in constructed and draft simply because balance is more critical to that experience. With the plans for the zany organized play format that lets you use your Equipment, we know it's going to be a bit chaotic, because we needed to prioritize balancing Equipment for their more important purpose--a fun single player campaign experience. And this is ok, because that tournament format is not going to be a major format, we just want to make it available because, hey, why not? That format is more about being fun and crazy than being balanced.

c) To address this question fully would require quite a lengthy answer. For one thing, there is a slightly higher power level on average for many of the cards we've previewed just because sometimes power level is actually why someone will be excited to see a preview card. I think that initially people tend to overestimate power level on cards as well, rather than the other way around. There will be a few powerful cards in set 1 that I bet it will take a little time (or just a few brilliant deck builders) to catch on, but there are likely more cards that people will come to realize don't quite make the cut for the very highest levels of play.

I'm hesitant to get to deep into the "design philosophy" section of this just this second because it's very complex and lengthy and I wouldn't want to be misunderstood. But I will say that it was a priority of mine to make sure there are lots of different viable things to do in set 1, and to some extent this means there has to be more than just one powerful thing to do. In both draft and constructed, there are a lot of viable decks to explore, and we did our best to create a deeply explorable metagame that I believe will be digested over time, adapted to, etc.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 01:56 PM
i want to know how many (estimate) PvP and PvE cards will be on set 2, set 3 to set X

Do you have a minimum number of PvP and PvE cards that needs to come out every set? Are we expecting at least 400 cards (200 PvE and 200 PvP cards) for set 2 and the succeeding sets?

Wall of Bears - is this your worst nightmare? will it have your pic in that card ^___^ ? (EDIT: will Kyle be in this card?)

LOL Wall of Bears is basically my worst nightmare :D

Set 2 will be about 250 cards. That's about all I can say for now :)

StormKing
07-26-2013, 01:59 PM
How do I become the master of time?

Time Bug+Replicator's Gambit

Gwaer
07-26-2013, 02:00 PM
Time Bug+Replicator's Gambit
That likely would make a time bug a master of time... I want to be master of time =/

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 02:00 PM
What stage of work do you enjoy most, from the 3 you mentioned in the article, and why?
The card design
The gameplay testing
or the theorycrafting/talking

AH!!!!!!!!!! A great question and I foolishly answered it in someone else's more or less unrelated other question! The Card design is my favorite by far, theory-crafting and talking in general is actually second place, but specifically theory-crafting around new mechanics stresses me out, while theory crafting about individual cards and play patterns and formats I find fairly enjoyable. Playtesting is probably less enjoyable than fun theorycrafting, but more fun than non-fun theorycrafting. Playtesting is always at least somewhat enjoyable :) I don't think I could ever really get sick of playtesting Hex :D

Incidentally, that's a way that we get extra work in--we do the more "worky" work during the actual work day, and frequently playtest draft at night after people are a bit worn out, because it's F U N !

Blare731
07-26-2013, 02:04 PM
Do you, and other CZE plan on competing in tournaments with us? I would like to see a fun little thing like, beat a CZE in a tournament game achievement or something. (This can also be an infectious achievement that anyone who then beats this person gets just to make it so people who are completionists don't have to worry about not getting the chance).

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 02:07 PM
I want to know the story behind fish hands. I've been imagining different things in my head and been laughing non-stop about it, like:
-Does the fish have human hands?
-Is it a human with fins for hands?
-Is it a fish with human hands but mounted up on the wall like one of those singing bass that you can get at wal-mart?
-Is it a person with two fish taped to their hands (edward 40 hands style)?

Edit: This is not actually a question... move on to the next guy.

LOL I WILL TELL YOU THE WHOLE STORY!!!

So, my best friend Alexander and I were envisioning the world where we can actually plug ourselves into completely-realistic virtual reality machines and we can customize and design any experience for the user. In this "virtual reality game experience" I was designing for Alex, things start out pretty normal, perhaps even boring! But then out of nowhere, lo and behold, your hands have transformed into two giant flopping fish (presumably with unique biology that allows them to subsist out of water and obtain nutrients from your own nutrient stores). This is both terrifying and problematic!

So fish hands is a permanent modifier to a troop...and I really hope we keep the above mentioned thematics :D

...So, all your imaginings of Fish Hands are non-stop laugh worthy, but it's the bottom vision you had that's actually closest :)

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 02:07 PM
What are spider spawns?

2[ATK] / 1[DEF] Blood troop

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 02:09 PM
How do I become the master of time?

That's for me (and Time Bug) to know and you to find out. When you do find out, you can travel back in time to today and tell yourself how and save yourself the trouble in the first place.

...But that probably sounds like a bunch of illogical and paradoxical nonsense to anyone who hasn't yet become the Master of Time.

Alucard
07-26-2013, 02:10 PM
Hello!

Fantastic article on the design flow. I can't wait to bluff my friends with the Alabaster Sphinx!

I know you mentioned that Matt Dunn is your rules expert, but I'm kind of curious about your rules creation process for the game. It's hard for me not to mention MTG because there are a lot of similarities here in terms of the phases, creature/troop combat, sorceries/instants/actions/quickactions, etc. I understand that the resource and threshold system are a bit different, and I really like how you guys did it! I definitely enjoyed playing MTG back in the day, but after "damage on the stack" was removed from the game, I felt the game became a bit oversimplified.

Just to give everyone an example of "damage on the stack" in case they don't know what it is: Say I have a 1/1 creature and you have a 2/1 and a 3/3 creature. You attack me with the 2/1 and the 3/3. I block with my 1/1. After damage is "on the stack" (meaning damage hasn't been dealt yet, but has been assigned to each creature), i play a spell to sacrifice my 1/1 to deal 3 damage to your 3/3. This results in all creatures being placed in their owners' graveyards and I take 3 damage from the 3/3 creature (even though it died).

I think HEX is going to be so much better than MTG because of all of the great design ideas you have come up with for the digital space. The sky's the limit! That being said, what made you decide to go with the "MTG model" (I use this term loosely) for the game rules? Can you expand on your decision-making process and what kind of rules discussions you may have had during design? Also, I'm curious - is there going to be "damage on the stack"?

Thanks a lot for your hard work!

funktion
07-26-2013, 02:12 PM
In this "virtual reality game experience" I was designing for Alex...

Thanks for the response that was awesome! Speaking of simulating real life... this just now got me thinking... there needs to be a Hex version of "mental" formats (where you play with an imaginary deck and can't use the same card twice). Except for Hex it could also be a typing game... y'know to help out the kids too while you're at it.

Typing Mental Hex... tell the powers at be to make it so.

Kslidz
07-26-2013, 02:19 PM
how do you get a job in this field? I would love to create cards and test all day.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 02:22 PM
Ben- how do you problem solve mitigate a situation when you strong feelings with regards to a new aspect of R&D and Dan shuts down your idea/concept/mechanic? What process is used when you guys are at an impasse? Does Corey ever get involved in these situations?

LOLZ love this question.

Well for starters, I will say that (fortunately, as it is of critical importance) Dan and I work very effectively with each other. Our minds encounter game design from very similar perspectives, and we frequently inform our decisions from a pool of game design principles that we both have a lot of overlap with. Because we think in the same way, most of our disagreements have to do with us weighing two sides differently (We both recognize a design as complex and awesome, say, but one of thinks the awesomeness is enough to justify the complexity and one of us doesn't)--we usually don't see the matter at hand in totally different ways. From here we usually try to continue to hash it out, agree to playtest it perhaps, and then continue to attempt a meeting of the minds which is usually concurrent with our improving the design overall anyways.

Of course we don't always see things the same way, and when we do come to an impasse, which does happen, one of a couple things happens. We either try to rope other people in, to really get a larger group of people tackling the issue, or we simply discard the idea for something we both like. At the very end of the day, if only one of us believes in a mechanic, we'll tend to (time allowing) try to just come up with a different solution--one that we both like.

Fortunately, this sort of thing doesn't come up much, but when it does it can get a little stressful ;D

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 02:23 PM
LOLZ love this question.

Well for starters, I will say that (fortunately, as it is of critical importance) Dan and I work very effectively with each other. Our minds encounter game design from very similar perspectives, and we frequently inform our decisions from a pool of game design principles that we both have a lot of overlap with. Because we think in the same way, most of our disagreements have to do with us weighing two sides differently (We both recognize a design as complex and awesome, say, but one of thinks the awesomeness is enough to justify the complexity and one of us doesn't)--we usually don't see the matter at hand in totally different ways. From here we usually try to continue to hash it out, agree to playtest it perhaps, and then continue to attempt a meeting of the minds which is usually concurrent with our improving the design overall anyways.

Of course we don't always see things the same way, and when we do come to an impasse, which does happen, one of a couple things happens. We either try to rope other people in, to really get a larger group of people tackling the issue, or we simply discard the idea for something we both like. At the very end of the day, if only one of us believes in a mechanic, we'll tend to (time allowing) try to just come up with a different solution--one that we both like.

Fortunately, this sort of thing doesn't come up much, but when it does it can get a little stressful ;D

I don't think we've ever had to take anything like this to Cory--he's got a lot of other stuff to deal with and so we try not to burden him unnecessarily

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 02:25 PM
Did you consider making the sphinx do something when "nothing" was the correct answer and the opponent didn't choose it? Like maybe you gain X life or return a random troop to your hand?

This is a pretty cute idea and no I had never considered it! The reason why we likely wouldn't include this is simply text-box real estate. The card is pretty long already and frequently we have to cut little bits of extra game text that aren't essential just so the players aren't always reading through multiple paragraphs.

BlackRoger
07-26-2013, 02:26 PM
1) Do you design each card aiming to make it good enough to one day fit in some constructed deck?
Or do you put in some "Filler" cards which are meant more for sealed play balancing?

2) With all the crazy mechanics you are throwing in, are you trying to make sure there are enough "Standard cards" to make the cool ones actually stand out? (And make the gameplay a little less crazy)

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 02:31 PM
How many cards do you go through to weed down to a specific set? For example, if you're trying to put together 100 cards for a set, do you come up with 300 card ideas? And how many of the 200 remaining card ideas will you revisit for the next set, vs. discard altogether?

Hmm...It is different set to set. For set 1, many, many cards were created and then essentially discarded, simply because we were starting set 1 while we were still trying to lock in various larger systems designs, let alone the actual rules to Hex!

I guess it also depends on exactly what you mean. We do have some cards that are playtested and float around for a while, and then get changed even after living a pretty long life in the file. This might be, I'm really not sure, but I'll guess 40 cards from set 1? More often a card as it's originally plugged in just goes through a lot of changes but is still the same in some sort of essential way.

But if you also want to include like, a cycle of 5 rares that was written up once, saw one round of playtesting, and then got immediately changed, or a card that was changed after one draft because we knew we needed it to fulfill a different role, the number is much higher. This is when we're still figuring out the set in a larger sense, and so the cards are much more amorphous and malleable in a sense, with sweeping changes being made more frequently. If you count every little card in this category that appeared and then changed, it might be three times as many.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 02:33 PM
How many cards do you go through to weed down to a specific set? For example, if you're trying to put together 100 cards for a set, do you come up with 300 card ideas? And how many of the 200 remaining card ideas will you revisit for the next set, vs. discard altogether?

I would say upwards of twenty cards that were being thrown around at some point in set 1 are now going to see the light of day in set 2. They got moved out because we wanted to save them for set 2, or because there wasn't room, or because they just fit better with the cards in set 2.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 02:36 PM
Do you, and other CZE plan on competing in tournaments with us? I would like to see a fun little thing like, beat a CZE in a tournament game achievement or something. (This can also be an infectious achievement that anyone who then beats this person gets just to make it so people who are completionists don't have to worry about not getting the chance).

We are always drawn to this sort of idea, as we really like getting to connect with the community in unique ways. I can't say for sure but I bet we'll do something that is fun! In a general sense, CZE will not be competing in organized play just because it's for our players not for us, and it's a bit unfair--I've got a bit of a headstart on getting my deck ready ;)

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 02:43 PM
Thanks for the response that was awesome! Speaking of simulating real life... this just now got me thinking... there needs to be a Hex version of "mental" formats (where you play with an imaginary deck and can't use the same card twice). Except for Hex it could also be a typing game... y'know to help out the kids too while you're at it.

Typing Mental Hex... tell the powers at be to make it so.

I'll pass it along!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 02:48 PM
Here's two more:
a) Is it all one team that is working on set 1/2/3 at the same time, or does each set have it's own team? I think I'd be mixing up mechanics / cards from different sets if that were me.
b) Does working in a purely digital space ever feel like cheating? I think it's totally awesome that you can probably implement nearly any mechanic you can think of and it probably isn't as messy as a traditional paper card game. Is this something you're actively trying to do or does it just happen? (I mean breaking the traditional rules of marking cards / playing with your opponents deck etc)

a) There is typically some overlap, especially in specific roles, but each set has its own team. Yeah, short there was a short period of time where I was both tying up set 1 and starting work on set 2 at the same time and it was extremely stressful :D

b) It feels like cheating in the sense that it is a whole other feeling from just designing physical cards, and it does feel much more like you can "do anything." I would say that we're actively trying to explore design space that can't be gone to in physical card games, just because there is a lot of stuff there that people will be excited about (because they never got to do it playing physical card games!) and it's sweet. But we're mostly just starting from the standpoint of "what would be super awesome?"

Kslidz
07-26-2013, 02:50 PM
Where do you draw your most influence from? MTG? WOWTCG? A videogame? Book? Mixture?

Are you trying to translate cool things into the Hex universe?
Or, are you more interested in finding out a way a card can be written to represent something?
Do you think about would be happening in the Hex universe or are you more about the mechanical side of cards and your unconcerned?

Frank1397
07-26-2013, 02:54 PM
Where the kickstarter pledges also tested in R&D how they work in game dynamics?

Milamber
07-26-2013, 02:57 PM
G'day Ben,

Just wondering whether its for nostalga, ecenomic consideration or as a nod to those that get on board at open release. is there a deliberate element of set 1 PVP design that will see some selected cards survive beyond prosperity ?
I mean are you design with it in mind that you want a couple if the iconic cards from set 1 to be unique enough that they remain unique/fun or at the core of some themed mechanic deck design even as cards sets are released, surviving a perceived " power creep" as sets are released?

An insight to explain a little of how thematic themes and other design elements are used in new set design instead of "everything gets a new name and is now "X +1" would be a good topic for the community too.

And most of all thanks to you and the team really looking forward to the journey !

Justinkp
07-26-2013, 02:58 PM
Do you design sets from a more top down story/lore/theme pov or bottom up from a more mechanical pov? If both as seems likely are you planning on switching off as magic has recently tended to do or take each set as it comes?

Is set 1 sort of a core set and set 2 more like the first expansion? Can you tell us anything about planned block structure? How about any names besides set 1, set 2? :)

Corpselocker
07-26-2013, 02:59 PM
1.Do you know what occurs if Eye of Creation does if it hits an x card? I suspect plays it as 0.

2.Do the master race of Owls appear in set two or must we wait longer for that dominant species to emerge?

keroko
07-26-2013, 03:00 PM
what is the role of addiction, to you, in trading card gaming and how are R&D considering that and other human frailties in design?

What elements or ideas in design decision stand out to you, off the top of your head, that you want hex to give a player?

(PS - couldnt find a forum spot made like you do for the rest on the characters section, makes sense its up there with the rest of the static main page content I guess. I very much like what you are doing =D )

Unhurtable
07-26-2013, 03:01 PM
1. Are there any cards or mechanics you feel you can't balance well at the moment but still have that "this will surely be much stronger than we think it is, I just don't know why"-feeling?

2. What deck type has been the hardest to iron out so to speak? In other words, what deck type (ruby, diamond etc) has required the biggest amount of R&D to get just right?

Mr.Funsocks
07-26-2013, 03:14 PM
How does one get to your job? Or, more interestingly: What is your design background? Did you get an education in games design, or was "playing games" your education, as it is for a great many jobs in games industries.

keroko
07-26-2013, 03:16 PM
do you intend to create ai opponents based on aggregation of system seen player past action / derived strategy for response given a set of conditions / at event occurrence in a game? ("how did the players solve this problem?")

simplest real world upcoming example I know of in gaming is that Dravatar thingamabob - but that's racing around pre-defined tracks.
we're racing along pre-defined tracks here too no?

Blackbladeshade
07-26-2013, 03:16 PM
Hey Ben,

I realize you are just one of many players in the great game of multi-level corporate gaming design, but something has been bugging me over the last few months and I was hoping you could offer your opinion as to what might be going on.

Cryptozoic started with the premise that players came first, and did that fabulously at the beginning. However as time when on, and more and more games came out with the Cryptozoic label, at what to me appeared an astonishingly fast rate, it seemed to me like your previous projects started to fall by the wayside and stopped getting as much attention. I am worried that this new game HEX is going to push other games controlled by your company out of the limelight and stop receiving attention all together.

Do you have something in place that will help prevent this, and in fact keep your other products shining while adding this to the table for people?

Milamber
07-26-2013, 03:17 PM
Ohh and here have some cake....
/pass cake

I'm sure your well stocked on coffee but what's your R&D food of choice?

* and tell Corey to stop licking peppermint butler!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 03:26 PM
how do you get a job in this field? I would love to create cards and test all day.

I will say that the qualities I see most consistently in both inexperienced yet talented potential new recruits, as well as skilled and experienced masters, are:

-An extreme passion for games. We all work full time on games, and on top of that, we spend a huge deal of our free time playing and otherwise interacting with games! If you aren't certain that you're a games fanatic, I would think very carefully about trying to get a job in this field.

-A strong capacity for and perhaps even love for analysis and theory crafting. Most of us are very cerebral. I know some very talented game designers who are more "intuition and pure creative artistry" than they are intellectual, and I'm perhaps biased because I am VERY analytical, but by and large I have found the best game designers in general to have a strong capacity for logic and analysis.

-And what that last bullet point really ties into, is a certain capacity for open-mindedness and learning. In the beginning, if your mind is well-suited for the job, than it becomes about learning principles for good game design, and being able to apply them. I always see games as a composition of psychological and emotional experiences delivered to the user. A lot of amateur game designers tend to just come up with some "neat idea" and try to flesh it out without any real direction. And there's nothing wrong with this. A lot of game design is having "neat ideas." But those neat ideas need guidance. It can't just be "I've got it! A game about a wizard who fights robot zombies, and we'll have you pick from five different wizards and you move around the map using dice. Maybe dice for combat too? And you're fighting against the enemy player and wouldn't it be cool if he controlled all the zombies!?" That's all well and good, but each of those things comes with a lot of ramifications. Understanding the ramifications of decisions that are made in game design, and turning that understanding into reusable principles is, in my mind, the beginning of the critical next step as a game designer. Beyond just "dice sounds fun" or "I hate dice" we have to figure out what the use of dice means as thoroughly as possible. Dice create the sensation that the game is heavily impacted by luck, whether it is or not, because the impact of their randomness is very explicit (compare this with the subtler but equally as dramatic impact of the randomness of the exact power level of your opening hand in a game of Hex). Dice have a sort of "classic" charm to them because they've been around for so long. I personally believe that rolling two or more dice simultaneously is aesthetically more enjoyable (feel and hear them clink together in your hand!) than rolling a single die, so I tend to always have multiple dice where I can. We can think dice to death! But we'll likely learn a lot in the process.

For smart guys and gals that have the talent, one of the most important things is realizing that you have to learn stuff. You might think you have the sweetest and most original idea for a board game ever, and you might--but do you know the ramifications of each piece of it? Do you know the component costs, what your target audience is, if that target audience likes games as long as yours, etc etc? If you know that you are creative and love games and have the capacity to learn some very useful and very applicable principles--and there are what I consider to be fairly universal principles when it comes to what sort of emotional experiences people like and under what circumstances--then the last ingredient is just finding some way to learn them. It's hard to teach yourself some of these things, and even more terrifyingly, it's very easy to draw wrong conclusions about this things.

That said, a good start for anyone is to start cultivating an ability to take note of your experience. Try to take a step back outside of the game you're playing, and "notice" how you're experiencing the game. Take a second and realize that when you're holding two cards in your hand during a game of Texas Hold'em, you're on the edge of your seat while the dealer turns the flop. That high emotional tension you're experiencing, the anxiety over uncertain outcomes, is P L E A S U R A B L E !

But you'll get even better if you can FEEL this stuff for yourself, rather than just intellectualize it. And that means taking a step back and observing the experience, rather than just getting lost in it.

-And last but not least--a final key ingredient is empathy! The last thing I just discussed, but turned outward, rather than inward. Realizing that YOU are not EVERYONE ELSE who plays games. In fact, if you're someone who is deeply entrenched enough in games to actually start designing them, you are likely NOT your most common consumer, even though you share a lot in common. Once you know who your target audience might be, you have to cultivate major, major empathy with them. With Hex, we have all sorts of different players who are playing the game for different reasons, and looking for different cards and experiences. And this is a thing of beauty! But I can't just design cards for the people that are like me, even though many new game designers have the tendency to want to do so, because it's what comes naturally. You have to find a way to understand why your players are confused, or bored, or excited, in as deep a way as possible. Genuine empathy is KEY for game design.

-I always tell people that becoming a game designer is NOT about who you know, or getting lucky, or anything like that. Game design is very difficult, and there is not an over abundance of qualified applicants. If you become a master at it, you'll find some way to birth your creations into the world. Persistence and making your own games for practice is very key, but the value can be lost if you aren't learning your lessons, or worse yet, you're learning "bad lessons" because you're operating with false givens. This is the biggest thing that keeps people from being potential game designers in my experience. If you ever hear people talking about the latest blunder that a major TCG unleashed onto the world, just take a second and ask yourself. Are you really seeing the decision as it impacts ALL of its community? Or are you just seeing the decision as it impacts the section of the community that you identify with? Are you sure it was a mistake on their part? Maybe it was, but maybe you don't have the full picture. Humility is very key as you begin to blossom into a full-fledged game designer.

Once you have your feet on the ground, and you have banked a few nice and foundational truths about games in general, you can begin to build new principles for yourself, and solving problems will become easier. Of course, game design is always changing and is very dynamic and artful as well--so you must remain adaptive and always willing to question your own conclusions, no matter how far along you are!

Sorry for the long-winded answer and neglecting other questions but I have a lot of fondness for would-be game designers and so I want to give a robust answer to the question (not that I couldn't go on even way longer).

<3

Armies
07-26-2013, 03:28 PM
If you sacrifice a bone warrior does it become a pile of bones or just die?

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 03:30 PM
1) Do you design each card aiming to make it good enough to one day fit in some constructed deck?
Or do you put in some "Filler" cards which are meant more for sealed play balancing?

2) With all the crazy mechanics you are throwing in, are you trying to make sure there are enough "Standard cards" to make the cool ones actually stand out? (And make the gameplay a little less crazy)

1) We think about how every card will function in both limited and constructed. That said, there are certain cards that are more crafted with the priority to make draft and sealed fun, and some of these we assume will take a less prominent role in constructed.

2) Absolutely. You touch on a very important principle here, that I call "anchoring." In this use of the term, if we didn't have a few blank troops running around, the cool and crazy stuff would seem less cool and crazy (relatively), and the gameplay would also be too complex and crazy all the time.

SirHamsterLot
07-26-2013, 03:33 PM
If only i could get ben back to work so we can continue to produce the best experience for all you Hexamanics...

Shivdaddy
07-26-2013, 03:34 PM
Were there any cards that you decided were too close to certain MTG cards/other game cards that got cut from the set because of it?

Icepick
07-26-2013, 03:36 PM
Just so you know, if there are cards called Wall of Bears and Electric Bugaloo in Set 2 now, I'm quitting Hex forever :P

My question is, how many Set Bonus cards like Overcharge are there in Set 1? We've only seen the one, and no mention of others at all!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 03:40 PM
Hey everyone,

I am going to answer a few more now, but I am needed for some stuff so I'm gonna have to go. However, I will try to answer all or as many of the questions as I can within the next 12 or so hours. It has been a pleasure answering so many fun and awesome questions and thank you for listening to my lengthy rambling responses :D

I <3 all of you!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 03:43 PM
With Permanent effects still on the stack Have you decided if the effect will still target the card if it was destroyed and now resides in the graveyard?(and if that is not a relevant question then, how do you decide on these types of rules?)

The troop is no longer a legal target because it's no longer in play--so the action will not resolve.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 03:50 PM
Where do you draw your most influence from? MTG? WOWTCG? A videogame? Book? Mixture?

Are you trying to translate cool things into the Hex universe?
Or, are you more interested in finding out a way a card can be written to represent something?
Do you think about would be happening in the Hex universe or are you more about the mechanical side of cards and your unconcerned?

I draw a lot of influence from TCGs, but yeah, sort of from anything really. There are some cool things we're trying to translate into the Hex universe (Dinosaurs anyone?), as well as more brand new thematic stuff we're trying to create.

I am always concerned with thematics as well as mechanics, but there are times when one of the two takes the back seat for a moment. Some design is very "top-down." Meaning, we start with an idea like "Hey, shouldn't Hex have Dragons? Yeah, Dragons are sweet. How do we make a card that "feels" like a Dragon?" And then we try to make a dragon into a card.

Other times, we design more "Bottom-Up." Meaning, I start with a conclusion like "Hey, are people getting killed by aggressive early-game troops too quickly in draft? Yeah? What if we made something to slow that down. Maybe we need something that can be cheap, and when it blocks an opposing troop that troop can't ready on the next turn. Make it like a 0[ATK]/[5 DEF]. Hmm...what could that be...sure, we'll call it Freezing ice wall."

Frequently, it is more a marriage of the two however. Ideally, design is the perfect interweaving of thematics and mechanics :)

HyenaNipples
07-26-2013, 04:02 PM
Thanks for all the answers!

When will we see an official rule book for Hex? There are some questions of specifics that would be great to know. Armies has mentioned one already:


If you sacrifice a bone warrior does it become a pile of bones or just die?

And I'd like to add a few:

Do Inspire effects from copies of the same troop stack? Ex. Do two Ruby Pyromancers grant a new troop +2 attack, or just +1?

What effect does the action of 'transformation' have on a card's text? And what about the boosts it has collected?

ex. Will the Defense bonus of Radiant Armor persist through Enlightened Aspirant's transformation into Enlightened Seeker?

Can resources be played with Eye of Creation?

Hemlock
07-26-2013, 04:13 PM
Ben, thanks so much for this Q&A. This is like an update and a half.

You might not get around to this, but I've been curious about what triggers "Enter play" effects, like Urunaaz's. Obviously playing it from your hand sets it off, but what about bringing it back from the graveyard, or having another card transform into it?

Avignon
07-26-2013, 04:27 PM
Hi Ben,

Thanks for taking time to answer some questions! Here are my few...

Is there plans or thoughts of creating a keyword (assassin or sharpshooter maybe?) that allows troops to combat other troops?

Have you play tested primal pack drafting? (wouldnt expect this one to be balanced).

What is your expected timeframe to roll out each set, 3 - 4 months?

Do you plan of having "mini theme sets" such as WoW TCG dungeon treasure sets.

Can we expect to see similar themes from WoW TCG that are really awesome such as "Unity" and "Haste" and "Tribe"?

When is Alpha? (sorry couldn't help myself :P)

Cheers

Armies
07-26-2013, 04:37 PM
Hi Ben,

Thanks for taking time to answer some questions! Here are my few...

Is there plans or thoughts of creating a keyword (assassin or sharpshooter maybe?) that allows troops to combat other troops? there is a wild major gem that does this once per creature anyway

Have you play tested primal pack drafting? (wouldnt expect this one to be balanced).

What is your expected timeframe to roll out each set, 3 - 4 months? Yes 4 months is what they said.

Do you plan of having "mini theme sets" such as WoW TCG dungeon treasure sets.

Can we expect to see similar themes from WoW TCG that are really awesome such as "Unity" and "Haste" and "Tribe"?

When is Alpha? (sorry couldn't help myself :P) earliest is September, no official date.

Cheers

answered a few of your questions for you.

mmimzie
07-26-2013, 04:44 PM
Please make wall of bears a card. PLease please... this need to be a thing..

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 04:58 PM
Is there a non-zero chance of more CZE employee related cards being designed?

Yes, I would say there is a non-zero chance :D

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 05:13 PM
Hey Ben, a bit off topic but what kind of player do you consider yourself(e.g. Timmy, Spike, Johnny)?

As a player I identify primarily as competitive--meaning the primary way in which I engage with the game on all levels is to maximize my odds of winning. Although I am also enjoying other aspects of the game--the tense moments, the giant troop cards, the sweet thematics, the player interaction, the sense of creative ownership over the synergy I built into my deck--the primary motivator that is ultimately driving all of my interaction with the game is competitive. Learning how to turn this off is part of becoming an effective TCG designer or developer, and so I have also learned that skill (which is also beneficial if you're trying to teach your little sister how to play, for example :D).

Secondarily as a player, I identify as someone who takes great joy in synergy and cards working together to become greater than the total sum of their parts--on a microcosmic level of playing a quick action that enhances the [ATK] of my troop with lifedrain, but even more so on a more macro-level of look at all the crazy combo cards I put into my deck--I could kill you on turn 2!!! (Incidentally, it is possible to kill someone on turn 2 in Hex).

However, I also try my best to find the fun in and allow myself to identify with ALL of the things that players love about TCGs collectively--as I find it makes me a better game designer.

As a Designer I identify primarily as the thing I just described--I'm always trying to weave cards that allow for their own little crazy deck possibilities into the set. I believe that Cory Jones and Chris Woods (PvE lead designer) are very similar (but don't quote me on it as I don't want to speak for them), which is partially why Hex has so much sweet giant sandbox customization to it--Gem socketing, cards with equipment, and the like.

However, I truly enjoy designing cards for all different sorts of players!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 05:18 PM
I don't know if you can answer this but might as well give it a shot.

Recently it was brought up that saving in other things other than dungeons would be a nice thing to have. I can easily see that in a casual PvP match (non-tournament), saving can be implemented. Just storing all the variables of the game state somewhere (where you can retrieve it later, also on CZE servers so that it cannot be tampered with), seems like a great idea to allow for players to get up go on with their daily life and come back to play with that person without having to worry about starting over.

Do you see this as being something that is worth implementing? Also if yes, how important would you place this feature in respect to other features currently being developed?


I happen to think it is something that can be done in Raids as well, but that might not be the design direction you guys want raids to take.

Hey everyone--I have had a blast going through these and writing out replies to such thoughtful and thought-provoking questions. It means a lot to me to have you all on here curious to ask a question and so I want to answer each one as effectively as I can. However, for questions that I simply can't answer and can't promptly retrieve someone who can, I'm just going to skip past them in the interest of time. This, is one such question :)

Sorry Blare :D at least you gave it a shot.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 05:41 PM
Hello!

Fantastic article on the design flow. I can't wait to bluff my friends with the Alabaster Sphinx!

I know you mentioned that Matt Dunn is your rules expert, but I'm kind of curious about your rules creation process for the game. It's hard for me not to mention MTG because there are a lot of similarities here in terms of the phases, creature/troop combat, sorceries/instants/actions/quickactions, etc. I understand that the resource and threshold system are a bit different, and I really like how you guys did it! I definitely enjoyed playing MTG back in the day, but after "damage on the stack" was removed from the game, I felt the game became a bit oversimplified.

Just to give everyone an example of "damage on the stack" in case they don't know what it is: Say I have a 1/1 creature and you have a 2/1 and a 3/3 creature. You attack me with the 2/1 and the 3/3. I block with my 1/1. After damage is "on the stack" (meaning damage hasn't been dealt yet, but has been assigned to each creature), i play a spell to sacrifice my 1/1 to deal 3 damage to your 3/3. This results in all creatures being placed in their owners' graveyards and I take 3 damage from the 3/3 creature (even though it died).

I think HEX is going to be so much better than MTG because of all of the great design ideas you have come up with for the digital space. The sky's the limit! That being said, what made you decide to go with the "MTG model" (I use this term loosely) for the game rules? Can you expand on your decision-making process and what kind of rules discussions you may have had during design? Also, I'm curious - is there going to be "damage on the stack"?

Thanks a lot for your hard work!

Hello, and thanks for the feed back :)

The rules engine creation process is something we, naturally, devoted a great deal of time and thought and care towards. There are many different reasons we executed the various facets of the engine the ways that we did. Sometimes it was for ease of play, a better experience for new players, and a better user interface. These are some of the reasons, for example, that we implemented our resource system the way that we did.

In many ways the game engine was built to be perfect for the digital sphere: In many TCGs, for example, the engine does not allow for cards you've introduced to the game to end up in all of your opponent's game zones. Whenever an engine-level decision allowed us to capitalize on the digital nature of Hex, we were more drawn to it.

Sometimes we made a decision in order to allow the player to feel a sense of groundedness, or familiarity. Many TCG players are used to playing with 60 card decks, for example, and it's also a number that I like quite a bit for a minimum constructed deck size, so we went with that.

My primary decisions come from supporting the best experience that we want for Hex. Most of the game engine mechanics, such as combat, the methods for playing cards, etc. very effectively facilitate the primary experiences that I want for gameplay: A sense of progression, a constant sense of tension (due to the high variance in the effectiveness of any one player's turn, the increasing pressures on health totals, and the importance of the draw), a sense of player interaction (especially found in the nature of the combat mechanics), and a large sense of impact from and unique ownership over your pre-game thematic and mechanical choices (How did I build my deck, what gems have I socketed my troops with, what champion and corresponding racial power have I chosen).

As far as damage working as you mentioned, there are not plans for that :)

Matenshi
07-26-2013, 05:47 PM
Hi Ben! I had a question about damage. If a troop attacks with 0 attack strength, does it still count as dealing damage?

For example, if a Battle Hopper got into a fight with a Genesis Hydra (http://www.pcgamesn.com/sites/default/files/hex%203.png), would it activate the hydra's effect?

Thanks!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 06:03 PM
G'day Ben,

Just wondering whether its for nostalga, ecenomic consideration or as a nod to those that get on board at open release. is there a deliberate element of set 1 PVP design that will see some selected cards survive beyond prosperity ?
I mean are you design with it in mind that you want a couple if the iconic cards from set 1 to be unique enough that they remain unique/fun or at the core of some themed mechanic deck design even as cards sets are released, surviving a perceived " power creep" as sets are released?

An insight to explain a little of how thematic themes and other design elements are used in new set design instead of "everything gets a new name and is now "X +1" would be a good topic for the community too.

And most of all thanks to you and the team really looking forward to the journey !

Hello! Ok, I hope this answers your questions :)

As to your first question, are you asking if some of the set 1 cards, particularly ones that seem sort of quintessential to either the game or a specific type of deck, will be somehow preserved or reprinted?

Good question :) We have asked similar questions of ourselves already. The short answer is, I'm not quite sure. We may decide that perhaps there are good times to reprint stuff, we may feel that we'll be able to comprehensively keep things fully new design-wise but still fulfilling the needs of specific types of design. So we'll see--it's not a bridge we exactly have to cross this second.

As far as everything not becoming "X+1" that is something we are very conscious of. For example, in designing set 2, we know that if we just changed costs and numbers around but essentially gave you the exact same ways to make a legion of bunnies for your shin'hare deck as we did in set 1, that that wouldn't fly. We will give you new cards that will feel right for your Shin'hare deck, but they'll be adding new personality and life to the deck. Doing this effectively can require some fine detailing; what will feel redundant, what will feel wildly out of place, and what is that sweet spot in the middle where you get something new that still feels perfectly at home already?

Of course, there will also be brand new never-before-seen stuff in each new set as well--and this will also perhaps increase power level somewhere it was previously not super high--and these are some of the ways we address power creep. As new stuff steps into the spotlight, other stuff can sort of temporarily take a back seat. In this way we are also able to let stuff breathe. For example, in set 1 of Hex we have a card called Wild Growth which is at a very powerful rate. I can go ahead and tell you now, there won't be an extremely similar effect of such a high power level in set 2. But that's ok, because you'll still be able to use your Wild Growths after set 2 comes out, and there will be all kinds of other stuff to chew on as well, including new[/I] takes on the Troop buff design space. Then, several sets later, you might get another powerful troop buff action that is again very similar to Wild Growth.

Hope that was useful :)

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 06:14 PM
Do you design sets from a more top down story/lore/theme pov or bottom up from a more mechanical pov? If both as seems likely are you planning on switching off as magic has recently tended to do or take each set as it comes?

Is set 1 sort of a core set and set 2 more like the first expansion? Can you tell us anything about planned block structure? How about any names besides set 1, set 2? :)

We do both. We primarily start with thematics, so we have something with which to guide the crafting of mechanics. Of course, we would never let thematics become important enough as to allow for damaging gameplay, so preserving ideal gameplay is sort of "most important" in some ultimate sense, but they are really both very important and interwoven. I would say that set 1's thematics are most heavily represented in the racial cards.

As far as planned block structure, the nature of set 2, and the like, we're not ready to go into that yet :)

What I will tell you is that set 1 is designed to be welcoming for new players in many ways but also to have a ton of depth and texture. It's also quite large. This is to ensure a robust experience right out of the gates, but not an experience that is inaccessible!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 06:15 PM
1.Do you know what occurs if Eye of Creation does if it hits an x card? I suspect plays it as 0.

2.Do the master race of Owls appear in set two or must we wait longer for that dominant species to emerge?


1. Plays as 0.
2. I cannot comment on the Master Race of Owls at this time (unfortunately).

Icepick
07-26-2013, 06:22 PM
Oh, I have another question! If a card is reduced to 0 defence while still in the deck by a card like Mortar Strike, does it stay in the deck or does it get moved to the graveyard? I assume the former, but there was some confusion as to the difference between direct damage and effects that just reduce defence for this case.

Arbiter
07-26-2013, 06:56 PM
What is your design philosophy on pushing boundaries (how far will you go)? I know the goal would be to have no card on banned/restricted lists or requiring errata, but I am concerned that may be very constrictive to design. For example, I have always felt the weakest sets of MtG were those where the designers were too worried about balance and played it safe and the end result was a set that was a boring play experience. When they pushed boundaries, occasionally mistakes were made, but these were all able to be fixed up (either in design or through errata). The play environments for these sets were usually far more enjoyable as the cards varied in power more and had many more interactions.

In the end, I guess a careful cautious design process creates exactly the environment the designers intend. Pushing boundaries means that the players will shape the environment more. I wouldn't mind a feel for where Hex sits.

What is your philosophy on card sets? MtG style blocks, where sets are part of a larger whole, or VS engine style where sets are designed to be fully self contained (still able to be played with other sets, but draft and some constructed formats will just use the set as a whole).

Also with a core card set couldn't you expand the digital nature of the game to here as well. So when set 1 gets rotated out, however many cards you deem necessary as core cards get classified as "core" in addition to their set designation. As more sets get rotated out, more cards can get rotated in and out of core (while never changing where they come from). If required you could even sell core boosters that would have a mix of core cards from various sets in them.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 07:02 PM
what is the role of addiction, to you, in trading card gaming and how are R&D considering that and other human frailties in design?

What elements or ideas in design decision stand out to you, off the top of your head, that you want hex to give a player?

(PS - couldnt find a forum spot made like you do for the rest on the characters section, makes sense its up there with the rest of the static main page content I guess. I very much like what you are doing =D )

Addiction or other potentially damaging experiences resulting from games is a very tricky issue, but certainly something that I have thought about a lot. In a nutshell, I think it is case by case, and very granular and grey. At the end of the day, I have to ask myself if I'm somehow creating a thing of harm, and not a thing of goodness.

As someone who has been a TCG consumer for a long time, and someone who has all different types of friends that are almost all TCG consumers but also TCG consumers of different types, I feel like I have a lot to work with when thinking about this sort of thing.

As far as addiction, one of the immediately nicest things about something like Hex is that it is very easy to put down between games. There are natural and satisfying places to stop. Stopping between games, or stopping between dungeons, or stopping after an event. Hex is also very mentally engaging, unlike something like watching TV, which I think naturally causes me to want to mentally rest up.

But more importantly than that sort of detail, I think we have to get to the heart of the nature of the interaction with the game. I do think that one of the things that is special about TCGs, is that they are sort of designed to be robust and epic and deep enough that you can get tons and tons of mileage out of them as an experience. A lot of people that play TCGs (and I'm already excited about Hex's players!) are very passionate about their game, and they love that they can continue to deepen their experience with the game the more they put time into it. Your connection to a TCG does not "cap out" easily. It caps out wherever you want it to cap out. But with so many decks to build, so many subtle ways in which to improve your game, so many friends to share the experience with, so many unique formats to play, so many ways in which one can be a part of the community--you may play just occasionally, and that is wonderful and works out to be a good experience as well, but you may also simply find yourself spending a lot of time in your hobby because you love it! To me, this is a true thing of beauty. But more importantly, I think it is important to not confuse this with addiction. Is your interaction with your TCG of choice causing you to suffer? Are you unhealthily out of control because of a TCG? I mean, these are the sorts of questions I would want to ask. But I don't think anything in Hex (or frankly any of the many TCGs im personally familiar with) is damaging in this way, and further, there is a lot of good that can come out of spending a lot of time with a TCG :) Perhaps everyone should have some balance in their life, but Hex will immerse you in a creative world, make you smarter, help you meet new people, help you connect with people long-distance, empower your creativity, and be super fun. I mean, I'm biased of course, but... :D

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 07:08 PM
1. Are there any cards or mechanics you feel you can't balance well at the moment but still have that "this will surely be much stronger than we think it is, I just don't know why"-feeling?

2. What deck type has been the hardest to iron out so to speak? In other words, what deck type (ruby, diamond etc) has required the biggest amount of R&D to get just right?

1. LOL love this question. When we get this feeling, and we do! There will be some card nagging at Dan and he keeps playtesting it and worrying about it and ultimately makes a decision. But we try to continue to address it until we've solved the issue. Certainly, some cards are more difficult to balance then others.

2. I would say that there is a very strong all Ruby deck that we spent a lot of time trying to get just right. Ruby has a lot of capacity to deal massive amounts of damage very quickly in several different ways--we wanted this to be a powerful strategy that cannot be ignored, but not so powerful as to color the format in an unfun way.

Good questions!!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 07:16 PM
How does one get to your job? Or, more interestingly: What is your design background? Did you get an education in games design, or was "playing games" your education, as it is for a great many jobs in games industries.

There is another question in the forums in which I go into great detail about what I think are effective ways to cultivate yourself for game design if you want to find it. I played games a lot my whole life, then competed in tournaments, did some freelance writing, and then applied for a job. For me, the design test for the job position was really when I first started to learn about games, because it was presenting me with ways to critically examine games from perspectives I had never considered before. So continuing to do that, as well as developing an understanding of the inner-workings of games on some levels incidentally simply by being a competitive player, I would say would be my "background." Of course once I got hired on, my "education" really began by learning stuff from all of the other really talented people I was working with, and so I emphasize being good at learning from others in general. There are some really great game design books out there, too. Just making games on your own is not enough necessarily, but it is a really good idea I would say--just reading and studying up is not enough necessarily either, so I'd say do both to really try and get better!

Cory_Jones
07-26-2013, 07:16 PM
Great job Ben! So many great questions...

Armies
07-26-2013, 07:17 PM
not sure if you missed the question or skipped over it but we want to know how sacrifice effects work with troops like bone warrior warlock inquisitor blood harbinger or any "die" effects. if you can't answer this just a comment that you can't answer it as of right now is fine.

keroko
07-26-2013, 07:21 PM
thank you for your answers.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 07:22 PM
Ohh and here have some cake....
/pass cake

I'm sure your well stocked on coffee but what's your R&D food of choice?

* and tell Corey to stop licking peppermint butler!

LOL. My R&D food of choice...hmm! I'm partial to Thursday Bagel Day but I'd say John Nee's curry is the best, though we haven't had it in a while :'( :'(. Other than that, Matt Dunn brings in this crazy popcorn with nori (seaweed) and stuff in it and it's delicious!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 07:23 PM
If you sacrifice a bone warrior does it become a pile of bones or just die?

It becomes A Pile of Bones!

Shrennan
07-26-2013, 07:24 PM
There seems to be a spelling error on the Polymorph equipment: The Dingler's Hood - it's roop when it should be troop! =P

Anyway, this made me think: I know the stance on altering power levels on cards versus banning them but will card text be altered if there is a spelling error or clarity issue?

Also, as an interesting thought, if a card ends up having a spelling error by release and CZE changes the text to fix it, it would kinda be cool to allow players to keep the misspelled card in addition to fixing card text for future packs.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 07:29 PM
Thanks for all the answers!

When will we see an official rule book for Hex? There are some questions of specifics that would be great to know. Armies has mentioned one already:



And I'd like to add a few:

Do Inspire effects from copies of the same troop stack? Ex. Do two Ruby Pyromancers grant a new troop +2 attack, or just +1?

What effect does the action of 'transformation' have on a card's text? And what about the boosts it has collected?

ex. Will the Defense bonus of Radiant Armor persist through Enlightened Aspirant's transformation into Enlightened Seeker?

Can resources be played with Eye of Creation?

I'm not sure about exact official rule book plans just yet. But to answer your questions:

-The two inspire effects will in fact stack. Note however that a troop cannot have multiple instances of the same keyword, so stacking those effects is useless, but stacking the stat modifiers is good.
-Transformation changes the card's base text box to a different "base" text box. So it will lose the game text it had at the start of the game. However, permanent boosts or 'permanent mods' persist through transformations. In this way, if a permanent mod grafted actual text onto a card, that text would still persist through the transformation.
-so, to your example, the answer is yes.
-Yes to eye of creation question.

Armies
07-26-2013, 07:30 PM
It becomes A Pile of Bones!

thanks for answering, now my evil plans can become diabolical plans!

HyenaNipples
07-26-2013, 07:42 PM
Thanks!

I think I owe some people money in regards to the Inspire thing...

Blackbladeshade
07-26-2013, 08:10 PM
Ben, while I appreciate you standing up and asking questions from the public, I have to say I do feel more than slighted. You basically pulled the politician trick of ignoring a question because you couldn't think of an appropriate answer at that moment. I understand you are trying to drum up excitement for HEX, but what about the rest of us. Many people are feeling like we are being left out in the cold while you drum up more cash for a new game, which will probably be ignored when you guys get your next big idea. Thank you for answering questions, and thank you from those of us who feel like we are left as refuse by the wayside.

Hemlock
07-26-2013, 08:18 PM
Thank you for answering questions, and thank you from those of us who feel like we are left as refuse by the wayside.

Christ, get a hold of yourself, man. With regards to the example, at least, he literally didn't know the answer. I think we can take him at face value there.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 08:19 PM
Ben, thanks so much for this Q&A. This is like an update and a half.

You might not get around to this, but I've been curious about what triggers "Enter play" effects, like Urunaaz's. Obviously playing it from your hand sets it off, but what about bringing it back from the graveyard, or having another card transform into it?

You're welcome! Thanks for participating!

-If a card enters play from another zone, no matter what, it is considered to have just "entered play." So for example, if Uruunaz comes back from the graveyard into play, his power will trigger.

-When a card transforms, the zone its in does not change, so transforming a troop in play into Urunaaz would not trigger his power.

Blackbladeshade
07-26-2013, 08:20 PM
So what your saying is I had to give him an acceptable answer.... that is not exactly acceptable. A simple thing might have been to say, you know what, I honestly have no clue. Instead to ignore that question then to continue on to answer a stupid question about a card is quite simply, in my opinion retarded.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 08:22 PM
answered a few of your questions for you.

Thank you :)

Additionally:

-no we didn't test primal pack drafting, haha! Probably would be a bit crazy
-You can expect to see mechanics that are awesome and perhaps some that will remind you of an awesome wow tcg mechanic :)

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 08:24 PM
Please make wall of bears a card. PLease please... this need to be a thing..

Yep, I'm working on cementing it as a reality :D Kirchoff is behind it too, so chances are good!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 08:24 PM
Hi Ben! I had a question about damage. If a troop attacks with 0 attack strength, does it still count as dealing damage?

For example, if a Battle Hopper got into a fight with a Genesis Hydra (http://www.pcgamesn.com/sites/default/files/hex%203.png), would it activate the hydra's effect?

Thanks!

It would not count as damage.

Welcome!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 08:25 PM
Oh, I have another question! If a card is reduced to 0 defence while still in the deck by a card like Mortar Strike, does it stay in the deck or does it get moved to the graveyard? I assume the former, but there was some confusion as to the difference between direct damage and effects that just reduce defence for this case.

Your assumption is correct.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 08:41 PM
What is your design philosophy on pushing boundaries (how far will you go)? I know the goal would be to have no card on banned/restricted lists or requiring errata, but I am concerned that may be very constrictive to design. For example, I have always felt the weakest sets of MtG were those where the designers were too worried about balance and played it safe and the end result was a set that was a boring play experience. When they pushed boundaries, occasionally mistakes were made, but these were all able to be fixed up (either in design or through errata). The play environments for these sets were usually far more enjoyable as the cards varied in power more and had many more interactions.

In the end, I guess a careful cautious design process creates exactly the environment the designers intend. Pushing boundaries means that the players will shape the environment more. I wouldn't mind a feel for where Hex sits.

What is your philosophy on card sets? MtG style blocks, where sets are part of a larger whole, or VS engine style where sets are designed to be fully self contained (still able to be played with other sets, but draft and some constructed formats will just use the set as a whole).

Also with a core card set couldn't you expand the digital nature of the game to here as well. So when set 1 gets rotated out, however many cards you deem necessary as core cards get classified as "core" in addition to their set designation. As more sets get rotated out, more cards can get rotated in and out of core (while never changing where they come from). If required you could even sell core boosters that would have a mix of core cards from various sets in them.

Lots of good stuff here. Let me get to it:

I agree there is a specific kind of suffering that happens to a TCG set when everything is boring, nothing is pushed. Pushing the power level and the balance of everything too close to the middle is a very common development failure, and having witnessed it firsthand on stuff I've worked on, it is downright painful. Ideally we hit that razor's edge--don't worry, Dan is very good about pinpointing numbers, and when I tell him that I want a certain card's power level pushed, he tends to agree with the philosophy and be on board with me (not that he always is, of course, he's there to keep me in check partially :D). Believe me, it would perhaps be my deepest fear (and perhaps Dan's as well, though I don't want to speak for him) that set 1 should suffer from not enough range and an improper execution of its power level among cards, so you'll find plenty of stuff that is "pushed as far as it can go" to ensure that the things that are happening are not dull.

I wouldn't say I believe there is only one correct way to structure sets in relation to eachother in a TCG. I see lots of value inherent in a block-progression model for TCG releases--there is often interesting design space to explore to continue to shape an existing paradigm without needing to depart from it entirely after just one set. But there could be a good reason to do it another way as well.

As far as the core type thing goes, we have discussed this sort of thing already, and I address a similar idea in another question somewhere...I'm not quite sure though how we'll address the needs this would fill, whether with some specific execution of something like this or not. Either way we'll have a little while before we come to this bridge.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 08:42 PM
Great job Ben! So many great questions...

Thank you Cory! I know, the questions are killer!

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 08:44 PM
not sure if you missed the question or skipped over it but we want to know how sacrifice effects work with troops like bone warrior warlock inquisitor blood harbinger or any "die" effects. if you can't answer this just a comment that you can't answer it as of right now is fine.

The Bone Warrior or will still become Pile of Bones. He dies when he's sacrificed.

ramseytheory
07-26-2013, 08:44 PM
So what your saying is I had to give him an acceptable answer.... that is not exactly acceptable. A simple thing might have been to say, you know what, I honestly have no clue. Instead to ignore that question then to continue on to answer a stupid question about a card is quite simply, in my opinion retarded.

We have massive hostility towards an incredibly communicative developer for prioritising the questions that they can actually answer, after they already said they would earlier in the thread. (You're asking the game designer about corporate strategy, have a little common sense...) And now we have a slur against disabled people. Would you like to stop now, or would you prefer to keep digging?

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 08:46 PM
There seems to be a spelling error on the Polymorph equipment: The Dingler's Hood - it's roop when it should be troop! =P

Anyway, this made me think: I know the stance on altering power levels on cards versus banning them but will card text be altered if there is a spelling error or clarity issue?

Also, as an interesting thought, if a card ends up having a spelling error by release and CZE changes the text to fix it, it would kinda be cool to allow players to keep the misspelled card in addition to fixing card text for future packs.

haha, I'm not exactly sure what our policy is for this stuff--but that is a cute idea :)

Corpselocker
07-26-2013, 09:08 PM
Ben- Thank you again. I've read through all of your response (one to mine) and I feel I have a stronger sense of the game and some of your design choices. I am thrilled that CZE gives a 'hoot' and spared you for our questions.

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 09:09 PM
Hey Ben,

I realize you are just one of many players in the great game of multi-level corporate gaming design, but something has been bugging me over the last few months and I was hoping you could offer your opinion as to what might be going on.

Cryptozoic started with the premise that players came first, and did that fabulously at the beginning. However as time when on, and more and more games came out with the Cryptozoic label, at what to me appeared an astonishingly fast rate, it seemed to me like your previous projects started to fall by the wayside and stopped getting as much attention. I am worried that this new game HEX is going to push other games controlled by your company out of the limelight and stop receiving attention all together.

Do you have something in place that will help prevent this, and in fact keep your other products shining while adding this to the table for people?

Hello!

I will try to answer this question a little bit, but you must forgive me because I can't really speak on behalf of "Cryptozoic" in its entirety, which is sort of the only way I feel there could somehow be to appropriately respond to this question. You'll even notice a couple other places where I point out that I clarify that I'm not putting words in other-people-that-work-at Cryptozoic's mouths just because I make an observation about them. And so it isn't appropriate for me to respond to that question, if that makes sense.

I will tell you that we have not stopped working on other games and that I don't think there is cause for concern here.

I hope this helps :)

CoS
07-26-2013, 09:10 PM
Ben- any chance that concepts from other games outside of WoW/MtG will be included in the "culture" of hex? Faction struggle seems a given, but what about other ideas? I'm not suggesting a intellectual property violation, instead was wondering if you and the guys at R&D had any specific thoughts on themes/mechanics/concepts that you thought would adept well to your intimate Hex vision?

BenStoll
07-26-2013, 09:11 PM
Ben- Thank you again. I've read through all of your response (one to mine) and I feel I have a stronger sense of the game and some of your design choices. I am thrilled that CZE gives a 'hoot' and spared you for our questions.

Thank you very much :)

I am going to go home now! But it was truly a pleasure to answer your all's questions; I missed a couple when I didn't have the answer, and so for you unlucky few, I'm sorry! :)

Thanks for letting me give the long answer a lot of the time, It's enjoyable to rant a little bit :D :D

Until next time, love to all of you!

Qorsair
07-26-2013, 09:24 PM
It's things like this that make me believe Hex will be an outstanding game. These guys are great people.
I'm happy that I was able to make a contribution to help get this going.
You're awesome, Ben! Thanks!

Chiany
07-26-2013, 09:29 PM
Thank you Ben for spending so long with us here.
Have a good night and weekend!!

Shrennan
07-26-2013, 09:32 PM
haha, I'm not exactly sure what our policy is for this stuff--but that is a cute idea :)

I love collecting in trading card games so my ideas tend to gravitate toward ways to make more and more cards collectible even through unconventional means. Of course, hopefully there won't be much need to alter/correct text for misspellings or clarity purposes! =)


Thank you very much :)

I am going to go home now! But it was truly a pleasure to answer your all's questions; I missed a couple when I didn't have the answer, and so for you unlucky few, I'm sorry! :)

Thanks for letting me give the long answer a lot of the time, It's enjoyable to rant a little bit

Until next time, love to all of you!

Thanks for taking the time to answer a lot of our questions! Even if you couldn't give answers to some questions, it's still nice to see you and the team talking actively with the community. A major reason I backed the game is because I saw passion within CZE that I haven't seen with other companies and the communication with the community is an evidence of that passion.

Rycajo
07-26-2013, 11:03 PM
Thank you for answering questions. Learned a few things about the game and learned a lot about your work.

From your profile:
934

This simply cannot be true. I'll be your friend. I'm sure you have made many additional friends in the Hex community doing this AMA. You certainly won me over.

Blare731
07-27-2013, 12:44 AM
Thank you Ben. I knew that there would be many questions (including mine) that you wouldn't be able to answer. I appreciate you taking the time to answer as many questions as you could!

P.s I hope to play you in a casual match then to get my achievement =]

Alucard
07-27-2013, 04:02 AM
Ben - Thanks so much for your time in answering all these questions, including mine! Yesterday was my birthday and it was the best birthday present to gain some insights into how this awesome game has and will come together. I can't wait until the livestream August 9th! I can't wait til alpha!

Icepick
07-27-2013, 04:26 AM
Thanks for the answers, Ben, very much appreciated!

Cory_Jones
07-27-2013, 04:29 AM
Ben - Thanks so much for your time in answering all these questions, including mine! Yesterday was my birthday and it was the best birthday present to gain some insights into how this awesome game has and will come together. I can't wait until the livestream August 9th! I can't wait til alpha!

Happy Birthday!

Milamber
07-27-2013, 06:04 AM
Ben, thanks for your time dude!
Great to have an open mike opportunity with you guys.
Very decent of you good Sir >.<

Look forward to reading through the next few pages I've not read.
Re Matt's popcorn of mystery... Now that sounds intriguing and likely straight outta a chest'o'hex!

MrSeriousBsns
07-27-2013, 08:04 AM
Amazing effort, Ben!

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!

funktion
07-27-2013, 12:05 PM
Thanks for all the effort and time you put into this Ben. I really appreciated that you didn't just give one line answers to anyone's questions, the longer ones were definitely enlightening!

Can't wait for the game, Cheers!

Shadowelf
07-27-2013, 12:41 PM
It's things like this that make me believe Hex will be an outstanding game. These guys are great people.
I'm happy that I was able to make a contribution to help get this going.
You're awesome, Ben! Thanks!

My sentiments exactly....you are amazing guys, keep up serving us joy :)

Dralon
07-27-2013, 01:25 PM
/bows low to Ben. Thanks so much for your time and efforts!

ossuary
07-27-2013, 05:54 PM
Hey, I missed this whole thing (stupid weekend in-law visits), but I just wanted to say thanks, and wow! Tons of great questions and answers / info in here. :)

majin
07-27-2013, 08:49 PM
great thread and thanks to ben for answering our q's and the community for helping him. really looking forward to alpha :)

Kalium
07-29-2013, 06:55 AM
Are you taking steps to prevent recreating the same ability mechanics with new packaging every set? Flying versus Shadow versus Horsemanship... things like this just dilute the rules without adding anything new.

On a side note, one of the things that turned me off from M:tG was a huge influx of creatures that were either untargetable or indestructible or both. A one round quick spell to grant immunity is one thing... but a constant effect... is just not fun to play against.

My ramblings,
Kalium