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  • Upcoming Changes to Magic & Empire

    Over the last few weeks, the design team has had discussions on where this game succeeds, and what's holding it back.


    We all believe that the aesthetics and the core mechanic of M&E are winners. The core game is beautiful and fun, and there is tons of content. But the lackluster component remains the dynamics: the meta-structure, the game-outside-the-game that makes people want to come back day after day. Our current meta-structure revolves around leveling your spells. As a designer and a fan of CCGs, I've always had a problem with this meta.


    Here are the problems we have identified and are addressing:
    1. It's a terrible grind-fest. It's relatively easy to get the spells to level 5 or 6, but then it slows down dramatically. Upgrading minions for multiple champions can feel painful, and the game feels like it comes to a halt after a week or so (which is reflective in our current 14-day retention metrics).
    2. When analyzing our current game loop, it's all about battling to get silver, and spending silver on mostly crappy spells, and turning those crappy spells into essence, and using the essence to get crappy upgrades, and then hope that those upgrades might win you more battles. For me, this is just not fun.
    3. The upgrades don't feel meaningful. This was especially the case when spells were 80 levels. But even at 20 levels, each upgrade doesn't really seem to have an impact on your progression. Instead of having impactful "YES!" moments, we have unimpactful "eh" moments.
    4. Balance is a huge issue. As a player progresses through the game, his collection becomes 10x stronger. We don't have any controls in place re: how the player chooses to upgrade, so a player can pour all of their resources into one spell that has Dangerous and create an insta-win condition.
    5. PvP is limited by problems with balance, minion levels, and champion levels. Spell leveling places players on a grid that has N points of relative power. Each one of those points is essentially a bracket of players. Therefore, if we want to take leveling in consideration for PvP, we need to split the audience into multiple brackets, by Champion, since each Champion will have a different relative power. To avoid this, I was planning to just remove leveling from PvP so everyone is equal, but then leveling loses its value in the game’s most competitive component.
    6. Arena promoted the use of multiple champions, but arena is changing. In the new system, this will put players in the position of starting over with a new champion, furthering the grind, but without a clear incentive to do so.
    7. The game requires mathematicians to figure out choices. When you play a game like Hearthstone, every card you play has value. You play X mana so you can get Y. Every decision you make is tactical, and players can make quick mental calculations to make smart play decisions. In M&E, you can have a spell that does 18 damage for each beast in play, with a spell giving one minion speed, and that minion has Lethal, making for mental calculations that turn off lots of smart, tactical players. 18+18+18+36(2)+36(2) isn’t something we want to ask our players to calculate.
    While designing features to address these problems, we're keeping some simple design goals in mind:
    1. Battles should feel quick and snappy. We'd like to keep the average battle around 5 minutes.
    2. Deck building should feel easy and accessible. It would be great if at some point we could even recommend "recipes" for decks.
    3. The game economy is optimized by actively playing with at least 3 Champions. Having more than 3 Champions can give players additional boosts.
    4. Nothing hidden behind paywalls. Everyone can access all content given time. No p2w!
    5. Balance, Balance, Balance. Each Realm and each Champion feel unique, and none dominate the meta.
    6. Design for engagement. We want the game to be fun.
    Here is how we are addressing these problems:
    1. Minion spells will not level. Instead, they have fixed stats.
    2. Minion spells will not evolve.
    3. Players can craft any spell in the game.
    4. Champions will not level; instead, they have fixed stats. Champions still will ascend to gain abilities and starting blood, but not stats.
    About crafting

    This crafting system would use ingredients to unlock new, powerful Spells. Players will be able to craft any spell in the game without having to spend a dime. We're also giving players full control of their collection. If you don't like a spell and never see your self playing it, then you can break it and get ingredients to use for crafting desirable spells.

    We're still in the process of figuring out exactly what kind of crafting system we'll build. It could be as simple as one ingredient (i.e., Essence). Or it could be more complex than that.

    Having a robust crafting system ties in all the game systems into one loop. Campaigns drop ingredients. PvP Arena milestones drop ingredients. Guild play drops ingredients. Events drop ingredients. Expansions can include a bunch of new spells to craft. This decision opens up lots of possibilities that favor the player and let us design new content.

    Removing upgrades and evolve is likely a very controversial decision for people who have stuck around since BloodRealm ended and the process of rebuilding it as Magic & Empire begun, and I realize a lot of you might not be a fan of the change. I also recognize that a lot of other CCGs (ie Hearthstone, Eternal, Legends, Faeria, Gwent, Shadowverse, etc.) have a similar crafting system. Our plan is to innovate in gameplay and with new features that we have in store for end of year.

    Roadmap

    Speaking of, I wanted to give our players a clearer picture of our roadmap. Our priorities are based on the fact that we want players engaged with the game because they want to play (It's fun!), not because they feel like they have to grind and grind and grind to stay competitive.

    PHASE 1 (TEST LAUNCH) ~3 Months
    • Change design of spells - Make sure our spell collection is well balanced, thematically interesting, offers multiple strategic choices, and is easy to understand.
    • Remove Leveling and Evolve - There are too many issues with Level and Evolve. The endless, meaningless grind in M&E/BloodRealm has always held it back. Ths work has already started.
    • New Collection Screen - We need a better experience around your collection, crafting new spells and creating spell-books. This work has already started.
    • Changes in Battle Rules - Making some small tweaks to battle rules could help battles feel more interesting. This includes slightly larger spellbook size (from 12 spells to 18 spells), different ramp up of mana, draw mulligans at beginning of game, and slightly larger Champion Health.
    • Small Updates to Campaign - With the removal of upgrading and evolve, we need to make small changes to Campaign.
    • Bug Fixing

    PHASE 2 (FULL LAUNCH) ~6 Months
    • Remove Stamina and Battle Energy - This is a huge change, but a necessary one for us to break free from the design constraints of artificial energy. We want to create an economy driven by fun, not tedium. After all, we are fun makers!
    • Arena becomes PvP - PvP is a must have in CCGs. Arena seems like the best fit for PvP in our IP/world. The new PvP Arena will allow players to play as much as they want to climb rank, but their ability to get daily rewards will be limited.
    • Reimagine Solo Campaign - Our current campaigns are 36 battles, 5 difficulties each, with very little story, designed to facilitate the grind of the old system. We can design campaigns to be much more engaging and and story-driven.
    • Fortress - The Fortress is a system designed to encourage player engagement through asynchronous battles and guild participation. This effectively replaces the old Arena, and we have some very cool ideas for this around Guild play.
    Thanks for sticking with us throughout this transition period. We VERY much appreciate it. We're super excited about the future of M&E and we hope you are as well.

  • #2
    Thanks for the update, but color me confused. If there is no evolution/upgrade and everyone can craft anything, then does everyone have access to everything from day 1? And if so, where is the sense of progress?

    Perhaps most importantly, how will legacy players be dealt with? I.E. should we continue to upgrade/evolve spells or will all that be lost when the change comes.

    And with changes to campaign, what happens to Norse?

    And what about potions, should we make sure to use them all before the change (since no more energy) or will they convert into something? Similarly for silver/gold?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by BAgate View Post
      Thanks for the update, but color me confused. If there is no evolution/upgrade and everyone can craft anything, then does everyone have access to everything from day 1? And if so, where is the sense of progress?
      No. People will need to acquire ingredients in order to craft cards. Old-timers will actually have the hardest time with progress, because they will "inherit" so much content with their existing accounts.

      Perhaps most importantly, how will legacy players be dealt with? I.E. should we continue to upgrade/evolve spells or will all that be lost when the change comes.
      I would like ideas from both new and veteran players about this. Here are some considerations:
      • As you suggest above, getting ALL the content early in a game kills fun pretty fast. I loved Hand of the Gods a while, played the hell out of it. They made it cheap to get ALL the cards, so I did. As you can imagine, I burned through idea after idea, but started to get bored. Lesson is: games that make all the content available too easily can get boring fast.
      • A lot of veterans have insane amounts of silver. People earned this through serious grind, so just blanking it out would really cheese people off, understandably so. But if that gets "converted" to whatever silver lets you buy whatever you need, then they could end up with the problem above (imagine that Essence is the only ingredient to craft a card, so people can buy 1,000 Soul packs)
      • Evolved minions will no longer be evolved. Players can use up to two spells in a spellbook, as now, but a lot of people will have new "extras" that they can "dust" to use the common term that we are calling "breaking". So they're back to having a real surplus of resources.
      So it's tricky. You have people who are at end-game conditions for v2 (upgrade, evolve, dominate) entering a new phase of v3 where they could almost instantly be at end-game conditions again. One reality is that the thousands of people who played v2 the past have largely left a long time ago. Don't blame them at all. This has been a very lengthy redevelopment process. So we need to solve this for the few people who have been so loyal to the game for so long in a way that is fair to them and respects the time and effort and often money they put into the game, not to mention participating in the beta phase and being part of the community, but also fair to what we hope are the new thousands of people who are going to join the game and find a small number of people who are kings and queens with their inventory.

      So we want to find a more or less uniform solution, but Josh and I will personally assist players who are--and I struggle for the word here--inconsolable.

      We will make sure to get an in-game news item up to alert people to this post so that they can make decisions about spending gold.

      And with changes to campaign, what happens to Norse?
      I have been tasked with revising the battles. First, there will be three, possibly two but likely three, difficulties instead of five. Second, they will change the rarity of the minions and possibly the starting health and power of the champions. And for now, that's it. Later, we will show you a gorgeous world map you can navigate to get to stuff. I am having fun brainstorming this.

      And what about potions, should we make sure to use them all before the change (since no more energy) or will they convert into something? Similarly for silver/gold?
      This change is a long way off since the current arena will stick around during phase one, up to and past test launch.

      Comment


      • #4
        This a huge set of changes that I support. I respect that the team is making the tough decisions here.

        Honestly, I haven't played in a month or so, but I'm still following development. I've 'quit' twice before, so ill probably be back.

        Comment


        • #5
          Josh, thank you for your post. I really appreciate all the work and thought you and the team have put into it. While I do have questions/concerns, it really isn't pressing and it seems there are more questions than answers at this point. I'm going to wait and see. Thanks!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Josh (Developer) View Post
            Over the last few weeks, the design team has had discussions on where this game succeeds, and what's holding it back.


            We all believe that the aesthetics and the core mechanic of M&E are winners. The core game is beautiful and fun, and there is tons of content. But the lackluster component remains the dynamics: the meta-structure, the game-outside-the-game that makes people want to come back day after day.
            Agreed, though you might be a bit harsh on yourself about how lackluster it is.

            Originally posted by Josh (Developer) View Post
            Here are the problems we have identified and are addressing:
            1. It's a terrible grind-fest. It's relatively easy to get the spells to level 5 or 6, but then it slows down dramatically. Upgrading minions for multiple champions can feel painful, and the game feels like it comes to a halt after a week or so (which is reflective in our current 14-day retention metrics).
            2. When analyzing our current game loop, it's all about battling to get silver, and spending silver on mostly crappy spells, and turning those crappy spells into essence, and using the essence to get crappy upgrades, and then hope that those upgrades might win you more battles. For me, this is just not fun.
            Yes, though a bit harsh on yourself. Honestly I think you could adjust the amount of essence & the pack drop rates to fix this.

            Originally posted by Josh (Developer) View Post
            Here are the problems we have identified and are addressing:
            • The upgrades don't feel meaningful. This was especially the case when spells were 80 levels. But even at 20 levels, each upgrade doesn't really seem to have an impact on your progression. Instead of having impactful "YES!" moments, we have unimpactful "eh" moments.
            • Balance is a huge issue. As a player progresses through the game, his collection becomes 10x stronger. We don't have any controls in place re: how the player chooses to upgrade, so a player can pour all of their resources into one spell that has Dangerous and create an insta-win condition.
            Yes, though this is one of the best games I have seen in regards to this.

            Originally posted by Josh (Developer) View Post
            Here are the problems we have identified and are addressing:
            The game requires mathematicians to figure out choices. When you play a game like Hearthstone, every card you play has value. You play X mana so you can get Y. Every decision you make is tactical, and players can make quick mental calculations to make smart play decisions. In M&E, you can have a spell that does 18 damage for each beast in play, with a spell giving one minion speed, and that minion has Lethal, making for mental calculations that turn off lots of smart, tactical players. 18+18+18+36(2)+36(2) isn’t something we want to ask our players to calculate.
            I get what you are saying, but the game isn't anywhere near needing a mathematician. Honestly you need to be careful about simplifying things too much. Complexity makes things interesting & keeps it from getting boring fast. Be carful you don't remove too much.

            Originally posted by Josh (Developer) View Post
            While designing features to address these problems, we're keeping some simple design goals in mind:
            1-6
            Nobody is going to argue with this. I feel the game you already have shows you care about this because you have been doing it for a long time now. That being said this is the best game I have seen in regards to not making P2W while still making there a reason to pay. Also really like the idea of bringing more story into the game.

            Originally posted by Josh (Developer) View Post
            Here is how we are addressing these problems:
            1. Minion spells will not level. Instead, they have fixed stats.
            2. Minion spells will not evolve.
            My note about making things too simple definitely applies here. One of the advantages of playing a card game on a computer is that you can do something like leveling, which adds some depth. I get that the advancement can be a bit underwhelming at times, but I honestly believe that it can be fixed by adjusting the essence & pack drop rates. Maybe going to 10 levels instead of 20. I am afraid that without some way to advance cards the game will start to get boring. Of course it isn't fair to judge something before we have seen how the alternative will work. So I withhold judgment, but I do have misgivings.

            Originally posted by Josh (Developer) View Post
            Here is how we are addressing these problems:
            3. Players can craft any spell in the game.
            Yay.

            Originally posted by Josh (Developer) View Post
            Here is how we are addressing these problems:
            4. Champions will not level; instead, they have fixed stats. Champions still will ascend to gain abilities and starting blood, but not stats.
            You realizing you are just changing how it levels instead of getting rid of leveling here right? Well if you have all cards starting at full power then you don't need to worry about making sure the champ doesn't make the cards irrelevant. So this makes sense with parts 1 & 2.

            Originally posted by Josh (Developer) View Post
            PHASE 1 (TEST LAUNCH) ~3 Months
            • Changes in Battle Rules - Making some small tweaks to battle rules could help battles feel more interesting. This includes slightly larger spellbook size (from 12 spells to 18 spells), different ramp up of mana, draw mulligans at beginning of game, and slightly larger Champion Health.
            Nice I like the idea of slightly bigger spell books. Just a suggestion linking the advancement of a champ to getting more space in their spellbook would really help make the advancement feel meaningful.

            Originally posted by Josh (Developer) View Post

            PHASE 2 (FULL LAUNCH) ~6 Months
            • Remove Stamina and Battle Energy - This is a huge change, but a necessary one for us to break free from the design constraints of artificial energy. We want to create an economy driven by fun, not tedium. After all, we are fun makers!
            I am not sure that this is a good idea. Keeping people from unlimited play, so they wish they could play a bit more is a proven way to increase peoples interest in doing something. Leaving them wanting more doesn't just apply to show biz. Instead I think it would be better is the amount was increased instead of giving unlimited play.

            Love the idea of crafting that you mention. I think I like the idea of needing more than 1 component to craft spells. That way you can do something besides just grind to get the card you want. So long as you don't get too extreme it could leave players feeling like they have more agency. Of course I have already mentioned I like things to be complex over simple.



            ** Important Note ** Please note that my comments are not based on wanting to trash new ideas or reluctance to see things change. I mention these thing because the developers are spending all their time trying to find problems so they can fix things. So they might have a harsher view of things in the game than they actually are. Plus due to the anonymity of the internet people tend to be more extreme/harsher in their criticisms. So I want to remind them that this is already a great game & it may not need to be radically fixed (improvements are welcome though). Also & most importantly: Thank you for all your hard work.
            Last edited by Griffon; 07-13-2018, 06:17 AM. Reason: For some reason it posted while I was in the middle of writting.

            Comment


            • #7
              So will our gold amounts continue to the new version or are we forced to use them before the change? What about skulls, is that system staying for the new version?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by David (Support) View Post
                No. People will need to acquire ingredients in order to craft cards. Old-timers will actually have the hardest time with progress, because they will "inherit" so much content with their existing accounts.
                I'm rather confused by this answer, could we get further details?

                I'm fine with whatever changes are implemented, I trust the devs. But some of us will need clear answers as to what to do with our gold/skulls/cards/potions.
                I'm quite concerned by the evolve system (which I liked in the first place). I have a few 5-stars that are almost fully evolved (only one left to go), is it worth evolving them if I get the last one now?
                Also, what does it mean for the extra ability of fully evolved cards? are they all going to keep it or lose it? Some allies would be underwhelming (Commander, Hydra, Bone Knight, etc.)
                Last question, when are we gonna get a new hero in skull packs and how often are you planning to introduce new ones?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Now that I'm at a keyboard, and not my phone, I can add some things I didn't have the patience for earlier.

                  The removal of card leveling - I am -slightly- worried about this. Overall, I think it would a positive thing, but card leveling has a been a huge piece of the game, however, I do agree that the grind is worth getting rid of. Additionally, it's gotta be tough as a newbie running into a deck with maxed out cards, and getting the balance of level 'just right' could be more trouble than it's worth.

                  I missed the note about a change in mana during my first read. I had been thinking about that a few days ago, and decided that a 100 mana pool, with 50 generated every turn, strongly tips the scales toward larger cards. I don't even think about minions that cost less than 40, because they just don't have the board impact.

                  Finally, with these massive changes, I'm in full support of a global reset. Let us keep our champs, maybe sorceries, but not minions. I've played since before spell boxes were a thing, and have dropped enough money that I'd rather not think about it, and I'd still rather lose all that than see new players get beaten down by long-time players after such a huge change in the game.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Aurelia View Post
                    So will our gold amounts continue to the new version or are we forced to use them before the change? What about skulls, is that system staying for the new version?
                    Josh will need to answer more definitively, but I think that you can do whatever you want with your gold (keep it or use it). We wouldn't blank out the premium currency. We might rename it, but I have seen some accounts where people are sitting on quite a lot of gold, either purchased or earned. But you will probably want to burn your skulls before this all said and done. There's a lot of time for that though.

                    biroute BAgate asked if people would be able to craft everything right away, because what's the point of that? My response is that no, people must get ingredients. Josh gave some info about these, but he's still deciding on this. We've discussed a larger number of ingredients, like 3 per realm, or maybe a smaller number, like 6, or maybe just 1, called Essence. At this point, it's pretty safe to say that the idea of having something like 3 per realm isn't going to happen. My second point is that so many veterans have such large stockpiles of resources that they can "begin" this iteration of the game and practically have all they need. But I can tell you very confidently from my experience both as a gamer and as someone working in game development that instant access to all that content kills fun pretty fast. It feels fun to have an orgy of card crafting and trying stuff out, but then 3-4 weeks later, it feels like...what's left?

                    krauseman I actually really look forward to this. Levels introduce so many design complications and balance issues, for the core battle, and then for design concerns like PVP. Josh has some really cool new designs for minions and spells. I have played this game for so very long, and gotten to where I played only PVP, which we haven't seen for a long time. And the new spell set is something that has me more excited about playing the game than I've been in a long time.

                    Mana gain will be more 1-10, with spells costing up to 10 mana. I'm not sure where Josh landed, but I think mana gain continues from 1 to 10, instead of stopping at 5 (or 50 in the past) with champions having to find ways to bump their mana past that. So as turns continue, the pressure will get intense once people can start dropping their sweet, high cost cards. It also means that some champions with slow mana curves, like Brienne, are suddenly really dangerous in those late game turns. Mana champions, like Majus, will have the opportunity to dominate early, so cards like Enchantress will have great early game utility, but lose their value in later turns.

                    To be honest, we really haven't discussed a global reset. That's a BIG BIG decision. Plus, there are people who spent money in beta. We actually have one player who I will petition to name a server after if we get big enough. And even with our tiny user base right now, the game does have people buying gold each week. Blanking their accounts would be a bad idea, even if they're "small" spenders. And to be honest, it's not like we put up a message reading "This game is in beta. All progress may be lost."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If I understand this correctly, all your silver, skulls, cards and energy systems will go when this new version '4' gets implemented. Gold remains but with a different name, unsure about acquired champions. How will the game be monetized with the energy system gone?

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                      • #12
                        I didn't say silver would go; I said the great bulk that some players have is an issue for them and for new players. Champions won't go.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by krauseman View Post
                          I missed the note about a change in mana during my first read. I had been thinking about that a few days ago, and decided that a 100 mana pool, with 50 generated every turn, strongly tips the scales toward larger cards. I don't even think about minions that cost less than 40, because they just don't have the board impact.

                          Finally, with these massive changes, I'm in full support of a global reset. Let us keep our champs, maybe sorceries, but not minions. I've played since before spell boxes were a thing, and have dropped enough money that I'd rather not think about it, and I'd still rather lose all that than see new players get beaten down by long-time players after such a huge change in the game.
                          Honestly I think the game pushes you towards having some cheap minion cards. You need them for early play, to fill in slots to block channels of attack & so you can use a sorcery spell in the same turn. Plus some of the rarer cards get their power from being cheap to play. War Elephant, Naval Explorer, Trusted Vizier, Illusionist (great blocker while you mana builds up), Willow Wisp & Elusive Hob (full Evo) all come to mind. That being said I have no problem with the proposed change to mana & think it could be interesting.

                          I really don't want to loose all my cards. I think better matching (with dummy acounts to fill things out until the player base expands) are what we need to keep new players from just getting stomped.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Griffon View Post

                            Honestly I think the game pushes you towards having some cheap minion cards. You need them for early play, to fill in slots to block channels of attack & so you can use a sorcery spell in the same turn. Plus some of the rarer cards get their power from being cheap to play. War Elephant, Naval Explorer, Trusted Vizier, Illusionist (great blocker while you mana builds up), Willow Wisp & Elusive Hob (full Evo) all come to mind. That being said I have no problem with the proposed change to mana & think it could be interesting.
                            Well, I never claimed to be good. Just a long-time player.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              So will all minions be like evolved version or unevolved ? I want my savage Hob, my mystic Wisp, my guarding artifact and hydra...
                              Make Jade Knight green !

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