So, updates have been more sparse over the past few months, and that's with good reason. Brad and I both have our noses down trying to get the finishing touches put on set 1 so that we can go live to the Kickstarter. I cannot tell you guys how extremely excited I am about opening Siege to the public market of opinion to see what everyone thinks of the project. Thusfar, we've got about 60% of the Kickstarter materials down - All we have left are the promotional videos, art, and some other small loose ends that are easily tidied.
Also, Summer is slow. I tend to work more and do more outdoors-y stuff during the summers, but Brad and I have actually been analyzing the Metagame a bit more, and we've figured out that we've just gotten costing *all* wrong. The bottom line is this - I've played Magic: the Gathering for the better part of twenty years. Costing things, keywords, the way I word abilities - It all comes out in Magic lingo. All of my keywords are Magic-based. Everything I know, everything I've created over the past twenty years has been so heavily Magic-influenced, that it's really hard to break out of that mold. And Brad is very much the same way, in terms of viewpoint.
When we costed Siege armies and structures, in our brain, the most logical place for us to start was with the cheapest army, costing one resource. And then the next step up from that costed 2 resources, and the one after that costed 3. And in my mind, a one-resource army should be a 1/1/1. And a two-resource army should be around 2/1/2 or 2/2/1. And a three-resource army should be around 2/2/2 or 3/2/2 or something like that. Maybe throw some abilities in there as well, and recost them accordingly. The problem came when we hit stuff like Equites and Legionnaires.
By the way, we have a card database up. It's almost functional. We'll get there.
Anyway, Legionnaires initially cost something like MM1. For a 3/2/3 that got +1 Attack while Morale was 7 or higher. So, when we went through about seven months ago and re-costed everything, we saw an issue there. Because you could potentially drop a Legionnaires on second turn. This was far too fast. And then you could also drop one every single turn thereafter. This was also a problem. So we upped the cost to MMMMM. Which seemed okay at the time, but we were still thinking in Magic terms. To us, that was "5 Resource," and therefore, 5th turn, and in turn, midgame. A midgame drop. Little did we realize that you could still technically drop that on second or third turn. So, we've made yet another pass, and we've made costing exponential, which it should be. Legionnaires now costs MMMMMMMM. This is a much more accurate depiction of their ability and their impact on the game.
When we think of costs in terms of turns, it throws the entire process of. Siege isn't a turn-based game; We don't print land-search cards for acceleration. And part of the reason why is because we've 'fixed' Mulliganing. In every single CCG, there's a chance to get 'resource-screwed', and I think we've just done away with that - With something called 'Replan.' And it's something that only works with the Siege engine. Something like this wouldn't work in a system like Magic, because we have Morale, and we have a much different set of win conditions and concepts working with Siege. You can't just lay a card down and win the game, you still have to fight and scratch. And I want to keep it that way. There's a certain amount of strategy involved in making the concept of cards necessarily less mobile and less versatile. Think of Chess. There's no spot removal in Chess. There's no combo in Chess. Each piece plays a role, and has a specific set of things that it can and cannot do. I liken Siege a bit to Chess, in this regard. There's a lot of restriction on what a piece can and cannot do in terms of gameplay. There's no army that can immediately and irreparably nuke another army on the field. That army has to get in the trenches and fight it out.
In either case, though, I think that Replan and Re-costing our cards has given a huge positive impact on the game, and will give us a lot more room for designing new cards and also help players have a more decent early game, a better mid-game, and a much higher-level late game. Prior to Replan and the Re-costing, small armies had no room to compete in the environment we were working in, and large armies were almost impossible to play due to a lack of resources. This meant that all of the mid-sized armies were the only ones that could compete, due to their efficiency vs. their cost. 2- and 3- armor armies with 2 or 3 wounds were kings of the hill, and those days are finally over. And with good reason, and for the betterment of the game as a whole.
Brad will be writing on the actual re-costing process here shortly, as well as on Replan; It was actually a really intense process in re-costing the entire set. And what it all comes down to is that we've got to step outside of the concept of costing things as one would cost Magic cards. It's been such a long road, and we've had a lot of fantastic steps in the process, but I think this is the greatest and last. Siege finally feels like its own game - to me, at least. It's one of those things that we've finally gotten into the mindset of Siege being its own entity, and that feels fantastic.
I will also be writing more frequently over the next couple weeks on this topic as well as others - and start to get into deckbuilding, development for the player, and Resource Identities. Until then, Siege on!
So, my partner Brad has been working on other endeavors whilst we wait for art to trickle in. One of these endeavors is Goblins: Alternate Realities. If you're a fan of the Goblins webcomic, you should be ecstatic to see a Goblins CCG hitting the shelves. But the important thing to Siege is that Brad made that card game. Made it for those dudes, and if you visit the Kickstarter link, you'll take note that the Kickstarter hit its goal in just over 24 hours. It has now more than tripled - and almost quadrupled - its goal, and I've gotta say - That's damned impressive. So, what's in this for us? Well, when Siege goes to Kickstarter, I'm hoping that we can have a fraction of the support that Goblins has. But I'm absolutely ecstatic to see Brad's compatriots at Evertide Games doing well with their Kickstarter. Just wanted to update you guys there.
On to me! Apologies for being absent for a bit, but I am a married man now! And that is going rather swimmingly. Working many more hours at "Pay-the-bills" job, but I'm rather looking forward to not having to do that anymore, or rather, at least not have to worry about that anymore. Currently working on re-developing HoI, and I'm hoping that HoI's launch will coincide with the Siege Kickstarter. In this way, we can have quite a bit more support the day we launch the kickstarter. Beyond that, Brad and I are mostly just waiting for the first rounds of art, as mechanically, Siege is pretty well ready to go. We may have a bit more testing to do, and then some setup for sets 2, 3, and 4, but beyond that, I believe that Siege is in the best place it's ever been. Which is good, because it's ready to roll, and I'm ready to roll with it.
These last few days have seen a flurry of updates to the Siege App. The below screenshot is from tonight's latest build. If you are particularly in the know, you may see that Matt and I are talking via the chat window there. That is notable because Matt is in Ohio, and I am not in Ohio.
No, I am in North Carolina. Which means by the power of the internet we have connected two instances of the Siege App and are starting to pass data back and forth. The clients aren't processing all the requests yet, so we still can't play games this way, but we are getting tangibly close. Look forward to more updates coming out. Hopefully soon we'll be moving our testing from Lackey to this, which would improve productivity and happiness fifteen fold.
Hey everyone! Apologies for the lateness of my replies (Simpson's reference, for anyone who gets it), but this month has been hectic. Been in training for the past week, and between that, moving, working, and wedding preparations, there hasn't been a whole lot of time for Siege development. So, we have a big update this week - Namely, three new concept words; Raze, Truce, and Squander. Brad will be writing about these shortly, and going into more detail about each of them (Except for Truce, that one's all me), but I'll be providing some background to how we reached the place that we did. We had a game that stalemated for close to 50 turns all-around, and ended without a winner. Intriguied? Read on.
So, we've been doing some more playtesting recently (Which any of you can hop in on if you'd like), and one game gave me a big, happy trout-slap in the face. I was playing Morale Legion, and my opponent was playing a weird Psiloi/Scavenger Weenie hybrid. A couple of the early skirmishes went pretty evenly, him trading some cheap, inefficient dudes for some of my Heavy-hitters (Which was really disheartening). His deck was really fast and forced me to stabilize early, which I did. After stabilizing, I had him backed up into his own first expanse, and he entrenched everyone there. The glory of Scavenger, as it stands, is that you can sit and entrench and just keep pumping dudes out at an alarming rate.
I had a decision to make. I had a Lomars in-hand, and promptly played it, but very quickly found myself outnumbered by his Scavengers. I could have laid Siege, as I was entrenched in center, but he was +2 on Morale due to an early Rome trigger. I had built the deck wrong, and couldn't recover from losses as quickly as he could. This was my first mistake. My second mistake, I didn't push early enough. He was weakest early, and as time went on, his board position just got stronger. So, we both sat, entrenched, for thirty-three turns, until we drew our decks.
Now, from a development standpoint, this was problematic. To each of us, we had the better position, entrenched, and sitting was probably the better option. For me, I could have made the argument that pushing early would have been a better move, but I would have suffered heavy losses in the process. But this is the great equalizer to Siege's combat system - Big, bad armies don't always equal a win. You could have the biggest, baddest dude on the field, and your opponent could have 16 little ones and rip your face off, Gangnam-Style (I still haven't figured out what exactly Gangnam-Style is, so I'm just using the term randomly until I get it right).
So, there we were, me with the territory and food advantage, with larger, deadlier armies, but him with the numbers break (Numbers Break: When your opponent has 7 damage up and it takes 8 to kill an army) advantage, and I didn't push, and didn't lay Siege. Both mistakes on my part, to an extent. So, we sat there, for thirty-three turns, and drew our decks. And I wanted him to move first. But this was the first roadblock in the development discussion Brad and I had - Who moves first? We had just spent 33 turns stalemated because the other player had the 'better' position. Whose responsibility is it to take the loss and move first? From our standpoint, this is bad for the game. I don't want players doing the "Draw-Go" thing turn after turn until the end. Does the game end in a stalemate? I say yes. If both players are unwilling or unable to move, the game ends in a Truce, and the teams go home. But this isn't official, just something I thought up as I was writing this.
So, I made the first move for the sake of curiosity. And he massacred my dudes. And I didn't drop any reinforcements the turn I moved in, either. Big, big mistake on my part. This one was my third. He had the numbers break advantage, more dudes, and was entrenched. So, after he killed all of my dudes, he moved up and laid Siege - In most cases, the appropriate thing to do. In this case, it cost him. Morale Legion punishes decks laying Siege, and five of my six Dire Evocati started equalizing the morale gap. But I walked directly into a well-timed Fight For Honor, dropping me to 0 Morale. I had 17 armies in-hand, four of which were Evocati, and more than enough resources to punish him and pull out the win.
So, he continued pushing, falling back, and entrenching as needed to keep up with my heavy hitters, and I made a few play mistakes in not ridding myself of his Praetorians to keep my Morale going (I had forgotten that you can play Dire Evocati while at 0 Morale to gain into itself), which were mistakes four and five. I had also forgotten to put in my single Theban Entertainers (Mistake six), and he finally got down to pushing into my expanse and killing structures. So, I started dropping Evocati in home, he got all of my structures in my Support, and we were prepared to play out the last two or three turns, when... Lackey exploded, crashed, and we lost the game.
Infuriated, Brad and I let our other playtester head home to his family, while we recreated the scenario. After all of the bloodletting and massacring, there were two cards left on the field - My Rome, and his Psiloi. Now, if that doesn't seem hilarious to you, that's okay. Because Rome has 2 armor, while Psiloi only has 1 attack. I couldn't play any more armies, despite having three left in-hand, and he didn't have any way to damage my City or win the game. Quandry, no? So, we started discussing what exactly happens in this scenario. Is it a tie? Do the Psiloi go home? Does Rome get slowly beaten down? They're behind their walls, untouched. Psiloi aren't going anywhere. No player can play anything.
So, this is bad. I don't want a game that just spent 50 turns stalemated to end in a stalemate (Or Truce). None of us wants that, really. So, we began pondering ways to fix stuff like this. And there were three problems to fix - First, players need an incentive to not sit for 50 turns entrenched. Sure, there are going to be decks that thrive on this concept (LMC is a deck that I will write about exploiting the Castle strategy), but for two aggressive decks to stall out like that, something certainly needed to be done about that. Secondly, the concept of an army unable to take any undefended structure seemed a bit silly to us. Of course, something like the city of Troy - or any heavily fortified city for that matter - would give armies trouble. And finally, there needs to be a way for players to end a game after all of the cards in a deck are gone. And these have given birth to Raze and Squander, which Brad will be talking about in the next article.
I will also be writing more frequently over the next couple weeks on this topic as well as others - and start to get into deckbuilding, development for the player, and Resource Identities. Until then, Siege on!
I promised a write-up on The Stockpile this week, but what I really want to be doing is developing. It's strange, blogging. Writing is kind of my second love (Or first love, depending upon how you look at it), and oftentimes, I enjoy doing this more than I enjoy developing. But at the moment, I am elbows-deep in the new Set 2, and it is going smashingly. If anything, there's far, far too much information for me to sift through. History has this really weird habit of having conflicting information, outdated information, and information in languages that simply don't exist anymore. Which leaves a really awkward amount of empty space where we know that stuff happened, we just have no definitive proof of what that stuff actually was. We have rumor and hearsay, but how much of that is actually truth? They do say that the victors write history, and there exist things like the Voynich Manuscript that to this day remain undeciphered. And then you add in things like the destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the Grand Library of Baghdad, wherein we (Humanity) lost countless historical documents. How do we know for certain that everything that's written is true, and that everything that's written gives the whole picture? We really can't, and don't. But even so, there's so much information to go through and so much creative control over how to represent factions, and I'm having a blast doing the research to find out more about the parts of history that I haven't yet (I stumbled across stuff about the Mauryan Empire last night, and lemme tell ya - Bad. Asses).
But that's not what I'm talking about this week. As cool as theme and flavor and history are, and despite how vital they are to the game, it's the mechanics that make Siege what it is. And one of the coolest mechanics that we've introduced with Siege is The Stockpile. In the stockpile, you keep track of your resources - Morale, Food, Metal, Wood, Stone, and Gold. And if you want, you can keep a running tally of your Logistics and Command Ratings there also. The Stockpile operates on a simple base-10 system, where no value can be more than 10 at the *end* of any Season. This means that during the turn, you can accumulate more than 10 of any single resource, but by the end of the Season, your stores just can't hold more than that. And any resources you accumulate within those parameters follow you from Season to Season. So, while you may only have a single Lumberyard on the field, you're not entirely out of luck. You also get to build up resources for huge structures, immense armies, and so on.
There are a couple nuances about the Stockpile, though. First, food spoils at the end of each Season. So if you make it, eat it. It will not keep. This is kind of a control mechanism as well as a flavor mechanism. For those of you just joining the game, you primarily produce Food equal to the number of territories you control uncontested (Referred to in the game as 'Friendly Territories'), and each army eats a food. This is a great balancing factor, and a really good reason to go grab territory early and often. It also encourages not sitting back, because you'll be at an inherent disadvantage food-wise if you do. Secondly, Command and Logistics are not "Spent" in the same way as other resources. They're just static ratings that tell you when you can play certain tactics, or when certain things become available to your Empire. For instance, if you have a Logistics rating of 6, you may play any number of tactics that equal 6 Logistics in the same season. But the cool thing, is that your Logistics doesn't deplete when you do this - You don't lose Logistics or Command when you play stuff. You only lose the values when the card that provides it stops existing. As a result, if you play 6 Logistics worth of tactics, and have a card that triggers off 5 Logistics, then you still get the bonus from having 5 Logistics.
Now, aside from the concept of the Stockpile as a new CCG concept, there are some really key interactions with how the Stockpile works inside a CCG. First and foremost, you're not 'Tapping' resources, they're there regardless of whether or not you have structures to produce them. To borrow from Magic: the Gathering, were 'Armageddon' a card in Siege, it would do very little comparatively. Sure, you're not going to produce any *more* resources if all structures were destroyed, but the one-sided nature of a card like 'Armageddon' is lessened, the cheapness factor nearly entirely nullified, so much so that I think a card like 'Armageddon' could work rather well in Siege. Will one ever exist? Probably not, but I never say never, because I've actually had crazier ideas for cards in the past. But beyond the obscure ramifications of cards that probably won't exist in Siege, this brings up an entirely different dynamic on how you play the game - One that I don't think I've even fully grasped yet. For instance:
Let's say that you have five cards in your hand, five structures on the board. Your structures are 2x Lumberyard, 2x Mine, and 1x Market. In your hand, your cards cost MW, MMWW2, WWWW1, MMMMMM, and MMMMW1, respectively. In your stockpile is 5 Metal, 2 Wood, and 3 Gold. What the Hell do you play first? What's your best combination? What do you play first, second, third? This is what makes the Stockpile such a great addition to the game. This part, along with Territories and Simultaneous Turns, makes Siege a true 'Strategic Card Game'. And there's no 'right' play for the above. All of that depends upon what you're facing, what your opponent's setup is, what your Morale is at, and so on.
Stockpile Management is something that I'll go into more detail about in the future, but for now, I'll just be introducing concepts to you guys. In the future, we'll be doing open calls for testing if anyone is so interested. I'm going to sign off for now and put some more elbow-grease into Set 2. Next week, I'll be talking a bit about the process of development, and perhaps starting to rewrite my Treatise on Research and Game Development! Stay tuned!
I wanted to update you folks on some progress things and go into a bit more detail about the game. Today, I'll be talking about progress - Where we're at currently, what we're doing to move forward, and how close we are to getting there (I'll answer that one right away - We're freakin' close)For those of you who have been with us for a bit, you know how much Siege has changed during the development phases. From just Attack / Armor to the addition of a Strength stat, the addition and subsequent subtraction of the Siege deck, and the addition of the Siege mechanic. The addition of Morale, the redaction of Markets as a non-basic structure (And Gold as a non-basic resource)... The addition of Logistics and Command, the removal of Ranged, the reintroduction of Ranged, the implementation of Cities (And trade), the concept of card draw being less vital and food being our dump resource... All of these things have led us to this point. And what point is that? Well, as of a couple weeks ago, we began finalizing set 1. And I'm proud to be able to say that we are currently at 100% development for set 1 - entitled "Rome vs. Greece". And yes, those are the first two factions that we'll be introducing into the Siege engine - Roman Legions, strong and loyal, ready to march at the Caesar's orders... And Greece, stalwart and smart... Prepared to defend their homeland against all invaders. And while I won't say anything about future sets, necessarily... If any of you ask the question, "Will ______ be a faction you explore soon?" The answer is 'Yes'. Yes we will. Except for Canada.
We initially had plans to release a particular subsequent set after this (Brad and I have been wanting to get our hands into these factions since day one), but changed gears shortly after set 2's initial development, and ended up with an even better concept - to be announced quite soon. And we've been working feverishly to get set 1 to a place where we're both comfortable with it - and we've done it! But not only that, but we've also been working quite hard at getting Kickstarter things ready, getting distribution models updated, working on our business plan, finalizing artwork, contacting distributors, and so on. And while the vast majority of our past has been development on the game itself, we're now to the point where we're no longer interested in making changes to the system.
Through all of these changes to the game, we've finally landed in a place of balance and a place where it feels right. New elements don't disrupt the game, and old elements don't stagnate the way they do elsewhere. Power Creep isn't nearly as much of an issue with Siege as it is in most other games (I'm looking at you, PoxNora [I beta-tested PoxNora, and tested it in the clusterf- that followed])... And of course I say these things, Siege is my baby. But mt point lies in the system - It is so easy to mold the way we want it to be. It's such an open platform, there are literally limitless possibilities with the game engine. Listen to me, speaking like Siege is a computer simulation. But it kind of feels like one. I can't say too much about it, but at the end of the day, I've dreamed many, many more things that are possible with Siege than we're putting into it currently. I guess my point is this - the platform that Siege creates by existing is far more important than what we do with it now. Siege as a platform and as an engine has so many ramifications, so many possibilities, so much impact to the concept of gaming in general, that I don't even think that Brad and I quite grasp it yet. But this is good. This is longevity. this is where the game needs to be, and where it's been heading for the past... What, four years? These things don't happen overnight, and we've poured limitless hours away from loved ones trying to get this project off the ground. And I'd be pandering if I said that it was all for you guys (But in most cases, it is - I want you guys to be happy with the efforts we've made), it's for us too. Honestly, a good portion of our time has been spent playing the game that we love instead of making the game that we love, but that also speaks vehemently to how much fun Siege is (No one's disliked it yet, which gives me unbelievable amounts of confidence at the game's success). I've had a blast playing the game and analyzing the cool aspects of the system, and just envisioning all the things that Siege can make possible. Knowing how close are to launching just makes me giddy.
And now we're almost there. We need artists, and art. We need talent who can invoke emotions that no one else can invoke. And this will take a while. We are using our savings for this project at the moment, but we'll be opening funding projects in the not-too-distant-future to help with costs. And if we can get the project funded by fans of gaming and games and history, then we can keep making these things for you. Because Siege certainly isn't the only thing that's on our list to do. Siege is the starting point. It's the point at which all of my decades of thought and creativity (And Brad's too) can be channeled and shared with the world. It's the concepts and ideas that make people happy - this is why we do this. I want to see people happy. And I know that sounds trite, but it's the most honest truth that I can provide. Those of you who have known me for years know that I'm not exactly a run-of-the-mill, everyday guy. In good ways and in bad. But I try my best to make a change for the positive. And I think that if I can better someone's life, whether it be through making them smile when they crack open a pack of cards, or whether it be through a briefcase of money I leave on their doorstep on Christmas Eve, I want to be able to make that difference. And that's where Siege comes in. I've never had a concept quite like Siege just plopped down on my lap like this. I've been blessed enough to be able to work on this project with Brad for a number of years now, and my faith in it is just through the roof. Everyone that plays the game loves it - we know it's a hit. It's just getting word-of-mouth out there about the project, who we are, and what we're out there to do. And I hope that I can make a living at it while I'm doing it, because this is what I love and this is what I live for. It's quite literally my childhood dream.
But enough of that. On to actual game stuff! First, I'll be talking about simultaneous turns. This is perhaps the most difficult and most overlooked part of the game. Most people fall into two camps - Those who notice the simultaneous turns right away and flip out about it, and those who have no idea until the game's over and I mention it to them. It's strange, because those who don't notice the simultaneous turns are sort of shellshocked by the concept afterwards, but are overall happy with them. The execution is so smooth, and fits so well with the concepts of Siege and what we're trying to do with the game. I can't imagine doing something like Siege - Or any type of Strategic Game, really - in anything except simultaneous or real-time now. And I'm the type of guy who loathed real-time strategy. I played the original Command & Conquer for all of seven minutes before throwing the controller down in anger, frustration, and hatred. I loved Warcraft (Specifically Warcraft II), but I could never get past half of the missions - I loathed the concepts of RTS. Games from my childhood like Utopia and Sim City - All real-time, but I abused the Hell out of the pause functions of these games, because I just couldn't handle it any other way. As a result, I quickly adopted turn-based strategy games as my own, but Siege kind of changed all of that for me. I now understand why games like Vandal Hearts worked as well as they did - simultaneous turns rock socks. It's as simple as that. It's completely even, perfectly level playing ground. There are no inherent advantages or disadvantages in it - Nothing depends upon, "Oh, if I had won the coin flip..." There's none of that nonsense. It's all flat ground, so to speak. But simultaneous turns make Siege possible - You don't have to sit and wait for your opponent to do something, you can look across the table and see what he's doing and how his stuff is interacting with yours - When your armies move, his move also. It's as simple as that. Your troop movements are key, your build orders are key, if your general were to notice the shield wall that your army is facing, he would - in actual, real-time, decide what his best course of action is. And that's freakin' cool. But it's less impressive to explain and more impressive to show. So any of you who want to hit me up for a game in the next few weeks, feel more than free! And I'll show you why simultaneous turns kick ass.
But this isn't the only thing that sets Siege apart from every other game - Not by a long shot. Along with simultaneous turns, we have the Stockpile. The Stockpile is another really unique, amazing concept - One that I don't even have a full grasp on yet. In other games (Like Magic), there's less resource-management. You count your lands and then you count the numbers on your card. In Siege, you go a bit deeper than that. But that is a topic for next week. Next time, we'll talk about the Stockpile, resources, and the concept of cost. As always, feel more than free to contact either of us with questions or if you'd like to playtest!
I've been woefully absent from this place since Brad set it up, so I'm here to help rectify that. I wanted to introduce myself and let you guys know what my role is here and what I'll be doing for the game, a bit about my history, and some about my personal life.
First and foremost, I'm Matt, better known to pretty much everyone as Kablizzy. I was born and raised in Denver, but I now call Columbus my home. I am a game developer at heart, and it's something that I have been doing quite literally my entire life. Akin to those folk who were born with a putter in-hand, I was born to develop games. From my very first games, my focus was never on how or why the game was fun, but rather what was wrong with the game and what could be bettered and how. It did not matter what the game - Double Dragon, Hero Quest, Monopoly, Final Fantasy, Spades, Dino Park Tycoon... Every last game I've ever played has lacked something, and I was always tinkering with the how and why to fix what was wrong.
Brad and I met over a little-known indie game we used to play together: N: Way of the Ninja, by Metanet Software. Brad and I both started playing N in early 2004, and both of us joined the community shortly thereafter. We were both mapmakers, and both became moderators for the community's forums (Which are now, sadly, dead), and led the charge for most of the community's doings, along with a number of other community leaders. We both were sporadic around the community, and Brad left entirely for a time. Upon his return, we decided to make a "comeback" map pack for the game, and with the help of some other community leaders, we spearhead the biggest project the community had ever seen - we wanted to leave our mark on the community. We began mapmaking immediately, and over the course of four years, released our Legacy mappack in four increments, which all went over wonderfully. We had a team of thirteen people working on the pack before it was complete, and to date it was still the single biggest project that I've led. Along with Brad's guidance and work ethic, we kept the team motivated, well-informed, and enthusiastic through the whole of the project (Which we all did pro bono, by the way). The final draft had some holes that I still wish to go back and correct, but the core of the community has since died out to the point where it's moot to attempt to salvage it. Even so, I had a wonderful time working with Brad on that, and that - in part- is why I'm so enthusiastic about Siege.
So, Brad and I collaborated on this, and we both worked on Heroes of Chaos: China. I have worked on SimRTK, Heroes of Chaos: Japan, Gunbound Classic, and my pride and joy, Heroes of Ivalice. As for my CCG cred, I have played Magic: the Gathering competitively for nearly twenty years now, but one of my greatest joys wasn't in playing - I was never really that magnificent of a player. I went to a few Grand Prixs and didn't do horrendously, showed up at a Pro Tour Qualifier and placed next-to-last, but was an okay drafter and phenomenal at sealed. Limited was where my bread-and-butter was at, but it was Magic that got me into the concept of CCGs being as viable as any other gaming medium. I've also dabbled in L5R and Lunch Money and the Star Wars CCG and a number of others like PoxNora, but none found me as intrigued as Magic: The Gathering did. I played board games like Settlers of Catan, Risk and Hero Quest and Battlemasters, and then Warhammer. I played Dungeons and Dragons and Shadowrun and Vampire: the Masquerade. The remainder of my gamer cred comes from my love of video gaming. I started out with an old Tandy 4000, where my dad and I played stuff like Frogger and King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry. From there, I graduated to the NES, SNES, Playstation, and then I did a massive crapton of PC gaming. I have a distinct love for RPGs, I've played Space Pimp Online and WoW and Ultima Online, Final Fantasy, Skyrim, and pretty much every platformer known to man, but the games that really drew me in were Titan Quest, Civilization, Utopia, and the like. Whenever a game has customization or a level editor, that's where I get my jollies. I think that's why I love CCGs so much, the possibilities are nigh-endless. The most fun that I have are times when I get to build or create or shape a game as I see fit, and I want to impart that upon the games that I make as well. My favorite part of Skyrim is the Hearthfire add-on, because I got to build my own house. I never got to really play Warhammer, I was always busy creating my army and fine-tuning them for optimum carnage; But more than that, I always wanted them to have an intriguing backstory. I didn't want just 20 Dwarf Warriors, they had to be named and have their own banner and colors and fighting tactics, and my general was always of a certain clan and had his own likes and dislikes and his weapons were named and had their own powers and concepts. A bit obsessive? Yep. But I was never content just playing. I have to create. I take joy in making things that other folk enjoy. I live to create - I get my greatest happiness from seeing someone else take joy in things that I make. The games based upon history and empires and world-building have always been my bread-and-butter. I think I've used that phrase twice in this article alone. I must be hungry. I've of course now moved on to some of the newer XBox 360 and Wii and Wii U titles, and I enjoy seeing the gaming community develop and grow and bring happiness into people's lives. It is a joy of mine to be in a position in life where I get the chance to bring the same joy to others that I have gotten out of gaming.
So when Brad approached me in 2009 to help him with a project of his, I jumped at the opportunity. It's an honor to be working with what I consider to be one of the greatest minds in game development history. We worked on an ill-fated computer simulation entitled TLO, which eventually fell to the wayside for Siege. I am a bit of a history buff, and I randomly tend to browse Wikipedia just to find articles on obscure historical figures. I am not sure I could be a historian by trade, but when I look up to Neil deGrasse Tyson, I feel like it's a viable profession. I have an exhaustive knowledge of Sengoku-era Japan, Genghis Khan's Mongolia, Pre-Colonial and Colonial America, and Three Kingdoms China. I may just pursue a history degree if Siege gets big. Speaking of which, I may just want to tell you guys why I'm here.
So, Siege. Siege has been my baby (And Brad's) for a number of years now. We have put exhaustive effort into this project. Siege combines every single element of every single game that I've ever loved - it has elements of Magic: the Gathering, Settlers of Catan, Warhammer, Civilization, Titan Quest, PoxNora, and a plethora of other magnificent games of our time. I was partly sad when Deadliest Warrior came out, because it was right after we began Siege Development, and it mimicked what we were doing so well that I knew we would always have to refer to it as a source. Which, of course, it is. Siege has this perfect blend of elements that speak wonderfully to me, and hopefully to you guys too. What really got me into Siege, though, were the mechanics. Siege has elements of gaming that I've never seen before, and the innovation that Brad put forth for this game is just fantastic. Our simultaneous turns are revolutionary. The theme has never been done in the history of CCGs. I was amazed at how easy it was to build a deck and how quickly I picked up playing, but how intricate and sturdy the system was. What Brad presented to me when I first took on the project was so new and intriguing and fresh to me that I couldn't help but sign up.
So what is it that I do here at Siege SCG? Well, I am currently Co-Creative Director in charge of Development, which sounds like a big title, but considering that we are a small, upstart company... Doesn't mean a whole lot. I'm also Community Contact Manager and Manager in charge of Logistics, Co-Founder, Co-Financier, and Office Masseuse as well, but these will be more important in the distant future. Right now, I am in the process of contacting and solidifying artists for the game, testing the mechanics and the system for our upcoming open Beta, and contacting distributors who will be carrying the game. But primarily, I am here to oversee the game's direction and mechanics and consistency and make sure you guys love the game as much as we do! During this time, I am also here to teach you guys the game and get feedback and listen to concerns and - of course - ideas!
Now here I am, years into development, and ready to launch a game that I can say with confidence is my best work to-date. As I grow and learn and develop myself further, I can only hope that I can give you guys the best of me. This is my calling - I want to do this for the rest of my days, and for this to be a career for me would be the most magnificent thing imaginable. Thank you for tuning in, and I will have more content shortly with details on where the project is headed, plans for the future, and all kinds of cool stuff!
This is what I've been working on:
This isn't finalized, and frankly my skills in java are 100% self taught so it's very prototype-y. But it's a proof of concept and once I am thrilled to see in the wild.
I wanted a place to introduce people to the game, the rules, and the mechanics of Siege. As well as a place to talk with the minute possibility of people listening. This page has accomplished the first, the second is still in the works.
So a crash course on Siege: the history.
It's a collectible card game set in the time of ancient empires (think Greece and Rome), that is much like every other collectible card game out there (MtG, pokemon, vs, etc), with the major difference in that I, with the help of some others, made it from scratch. It's was meant from the beginning to be a tactics heavy, expert level, card game for people who liked games like the aforementioned MtG but wanted a more, adult, game. A game that rewarded great play over deep pockets, adept card usage over blind top decking, smart deck building over "GoodCard.dec."
Sure like any card game, there will be great cards, there will be luck, there will be bad players who beat good players with nothing but a bad bluff, but I wanted from the start to make a game that tried at it's core to be about skill.
I think we did okay honestly. And the game has gone through 4 major phases of it's development or version to get to where it is today, where I think it's likely to end up. Because outside of comprehensive proof reading, I have for the first time in the history of the game written all of the rules down. Up until this point at least some portion of the rulebook has always existed solely in my mind, this is dangerous for an number of reasons. Now, it is finally in a state where the rules are on paper and set (Note to all: It is entirely likely I will renege on this claim and start from scratch later, but I shouldn't because I like the game as it is now).
I had a couple of key mechanics in mind when I started Siege. One was the mechanic that is still to this day the backbone of the game: Territories. Most card games don't deal with physical distance, it's a lot to manage on a table top. Some games have space represented like front and back rows of a set up, but the space between players is arbitrary. Not so in Siege, in Siege there are 7 territories laid out between players that represent actual, physical, traverse-able space that cards can and must move through before they come into contact with each other. The idea arose because I wanted a game like tabletop games (Warhammer 40K, for example), but represented in a card game. Also physical space was a must if ancient armies were to battle. The spacing and tactics required in correctly deploying forces was necessary.
The 2nd idea I wanted to have was simultaneous turns. This one was more obscure since it wasn't really about tactics, more about purity of gameplay. I didn't want one player to have any advantage over the other at the start of the game, I wanted it to be a true test of skill. So I did it like this.
Another tenant of gameplay is what I'll refer to as "permanence." What I mean by that is your decisions and actions don't merely impact that turn but have lasting effects on the game and where each player stands. Games like Magic for example have very little permanence. When you start a turn everything resets and you get to untap all of your cards and start new, it doesn't matter if you used a land last turn or not, you can still use it this turn. Same for combat, it doesn't really matter if you attacked or what you did last turn, if you got a creature, it attacks this turn if you want it to. I didn't like that sort of short term planning. I wanted Siege to require long term goals, incremental change, slow developing conflict.
It may sound odd, but this concept is easily the most differentiating thing about Siege from other games I've played, at least in the way the game "feels." Armies who enter combat may take several turns before they fall, even if they are taking damage the whole time, possibly an army in combat could hold down the fort until you can recruit reinforcements. This idea of time, of permanence, changes the way you think about the game. You are always force to think ahead, to plan, to survey and predict. "Do I advance an army now or save him for a counter attack?" or "Do I build up my resource stockpile to play a larger army down the road or can I not wait?" I want you to make decisions in Siege that may not see their impacts until the final turns of the game. I've finished so many games with friends that end with, "Man, 15 turns ago had I just advanced my armies to stop your assault this would have ended differently, I would have had a chance."
This is fun to me, always fighting for the upper hand, slowly trying to enforce your empire's will on the other player's, calculated combat with permanence. I know this first post was a long one, and in the future they should get shorter and sweeter now that the meat of the introduction is out of the way. Next time I post I'll dive into the rules and hopefully start getting to why Siege does what Siege does.