Siege SCG Blog The developers of Siege official musings

2Dec/120

Calling All Artists!

We are currently looking for artists for Siege! If you or anyone you know feel like you can do professional-level artwork for a Strategic Card Game, please send a portfolio to brad@siegescg.com attached with some of your artwork. We are in need of artists who can do very detailed, high-resolution color prints for use on the cards themselves. This is one of the last steps for us to finalize before launch! If you have any questions, feel more than free to send us questions, comments, and if you see any potential artists that you think would be a good fit for the game, please let us know!

Remember, guys, this is your game! We make this for you, so help us help you!

Matt

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2Dec/120

Greetings!

Hey,

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!

Matt

14Oct/123

I’ve been busy. Just not Posting here

This is what I've been working on:

This is where all my free time goes. I think it is paying off. Don't ask my wife what she thinks.

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.

/Short post

Brad

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5Apr/120

Lines and Spheres

So as I stated in the first entry, the first idea I really had oh so long ago for this game hinged on the idea of territories as a core mechanic for a card game.  Territories that weren't so rules heavy they overloaded players, but still complex enough to really allow for a new style of game play.

This was difficult and I wrestled with many (many many) slightly different iterations of it before setting on what Siege has now.  But surprisingly, the basics were always the same, which is one of the few mechanics in the game that was never really completely overhauled.  Hopefully this is a testament to it's solidity and not my stupidity, but time will tell.

The core is simple.  Instead of playing cards to zones on the table that are of arbitrary distance and relation to each other as in most ccgs, territories in Siege are all connected one to the other in a row stretching between one player to the other.  After some trial and error we settled on 7 territories, all laid out linearly (so the physical space is in this regard 1 dimensional).  We toyed with the idea of having rows and columns so that they territories were essentially on a grid.  The issue with any of these proposals was it was too rules heavy.  It burdened players with card management, was difficult to keep track of when using actual cards, and in general was just more trouble than it was worth (even if some depth of tactics was lost).  This was part of the process of finding the sweet spot between "completely tactical sim" and "game I actually want to play," and it took a lot of work to fine tune, and I'm sure we'll never really be done.  Plus, by having a 1D layout of cards, it allowed for much easier sorting for players since they only have to worry about a cards relation to others in one direction to determine which territory it is in, very helpful.

But the 7 territories.  What's great about this is that you can start defining things in the game by their spacial relation to each other.  So for example in Magic, you can really on define things by what type of card it is (it's color, it's types, subtypes, etc).  Basically you can only define a card by what is actually printed on the card.  By entering a physical space you can begin to define cards by where they are.  In this regard two completely identical cards could be different based solely off of where they are positioned.  This was meat and potatoes stuff for me, something I really wanted the game to highlight over and over.

It allows me as a card designer to design simple, elegant cards and still allow for diversity of game play.  I don't necessarily have to design complex cards in order to achieve complex and deep game play situations.  This is crucial to the theme as well, since we wanted to stick to a more realistic card designs that were ground in reality.  Reality doesn't really beget super complex card design like you see in other fantasy or sci-fi games.

But the 7 territories.  Early on I decided the win condition on the game would be simple: Control all 7 Territories.  This started a whole snow ball in my brain that lead to what is now the idea of who controls territories.  Each territory is defined in two ways. First is it's position in relation to each player, and second by which player owns cards in it.  So the first territory closest to you is your "Home" territory and the next is your "Support". The same is true for your opponent's first 2 territories.  The middle 3 territories are all "Expanse."  So using these simple labels for territories allows us to start creating rules for who controls what territories just based on where they are.

Now the idea of what is in each territory is different.  Basically we use the territory's space from you to determine what you can and can't do there.  You can only build armies and structures in your home and support.  This creates a great way to slow down the pacing of the game. Each army in the game may move 1 territory a turn so essentially any army you recruit has to wait 3 turns before it can reach the opponent's "base." By using this sort of forced "summoning sickness" it allows for a great catch up mechanic.  The closer you are to winning, the longer it takes to deploy forces to the front lines, it also means everything you build when you're on the defense is that much closer to having an impact (It's great when mechanics lead to balance in your game, even when they aren't designed to do so directly.).

 So with the idea of territories firmly in place, and their definitions defined, the way this impacts the card design is also of note.  As previously mentioned you can really only define cards in games like Magic by what type of card it is.  It's printed identity.  Sure you can do things with the graveyard and while it's in your hand, but that is by far the exception to the rule that in general the only place a creature card matters is in play.  Take that idea to the next level and start asking, "where in play is this creature?" or better yet, "where in play is this creature in relation to other cards in play?" and you begin to see how fun this idea can get.

Take for instance the first keyword-ed mechanic I created for this game: Phalanx. Phalanx reads, "+1 Armor while there is another friendly local phalanx force." A little insight into the terms, "Local" means in the same territory and "force" is any army or structure.  This simple idea, the idea that it matters not just if you have two phalanx armies, but where they are in relation to each other, opened the door for I would say 60% of the card design to follow.  So as a player you now need to not only worry about when to play phalanx armies, and when to attack and when to sit back, but you are now managing the battle on a much higher level, you have to make sure that when you are advancing two phalanx armies that they arrive at the fight at the same time, because otherwise they are more vulnerable to attack.  As an opposing player you are trying to keep them seperated, make sure they don't get there.  A very simple mechanic leading to very tactical gameplay.

So the idea doesn't simply end with cards that benefit themselves.  You can begin to define global effects in more interesting ways.  No longer do "enchantment" like effects (to steal from Magic terminology again) have to effect everything or nothing.  Now you can begin to say "Cards adjacent to this card get +1 Attack" or "Local armies have some effect."  These sort of effects are described under a blanket term called "Sphere of Influence" (I take no credit for the term). Basically each effect isn't global, it's always only impacting the cards within it's sphere of influence.  So since structures, which can't move about the field, are always in your first two territories it allows some really neat "castle building" where players will stack certain effects in that area to grant their armies close to home extra bonuses.  Or possibly leaders (which are effect grant cards that attach to other cards) have effects that impact armies near them, so you could create an empowered front row of fighters, all with one effect.  But from a balance standpoint, this effect doesn't effect everyone, creating a great way as a card designer to design complex and powerful abilities, but limit their impact to the game in a tactical way.

I'll wrap up here for today.  The idea of simple to understand territories has done more to set to course for the rest of the game design than any other single idea.  Nearly every mechanic in one way or another builds of the idea of physical space.  Every card has clearly defined roles that relate to where it's at, or where it's at in relation to other cards. This one set of rules, this one mechanic, creates the foundation for the tactical elements in Siege that I strove for from the games inception.  Next we'll probably go over some specifics to simultaneous turns because that's interesting from a game design standpoint because of the hurdles we had to overcome to make it work.

Thanks for reading

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14Mar/120

The First of Possibly Many…

Hello,

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.