Yeah, I think it'd be good to write up the development process and history for the game, blockchain, and wallet. We've come a long way since we cooked up this idea in late 2017.
I updated the site to prominently feature our shame!
Fresh Volition news for your Thanksgiving holiday week (or, for those outside the US, your...Tuesday?). We launched a little card layout tool called Cardmotron.
You might see an email about it a little later, but in broad strokes, it's a layout tool we developed to prepare game assets for Volition. You upload an XLSX spreadsheet and it generates print-ready layouts. Our game designer @cryptogogue_ken found it so useful that we decided to make it available to everyone. If you’re a game designer and need an easy way to lay out your cards for print, check it out.
We're really only developing Cardmotron insomuch as it serves our purposes for Cryptogogue projects, so it's not something we'll be maintaining or supporting officially. But, we thought it would be a fun tool for any hobbyist game designers. You can see the source code and detailed instructions here.
Thanks for following us down this path for as long as you have.
Can't believe this year is almost over! Open beta is definitely looking like first half of 2020, but we are pushing to get to a closed beta before the end of the year. This will be our first big test for our blockchain and wallet. We have release candidates for both, finally!, so we only have one more task: templatizing the game assets (cards). That's happening now, actually, and I'll bring up a release date in our check-in this week. It might help get us over the hump if we put a hard deadline that isn't 'anytime before December 31, 2019'.
BTW, if you're signed up to be a playtester, you'll have access to the closed beta.
We're still plugging away at the protocol and the wallet, but we also got really busy with our day jobs . @cryptogogue_ken was good about getting the game design to test, and now he's waiting on us. @patrick and I sat down last week to sort out all the remaining tasks till we can release to the folks here. We're looking at a few weeks of work (that we need to fit around our schedules), so we definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We'll be ramping up community outreach stuff when we actually have stuff for you to check out. Long story short, we're not dead, yet! If you think it'd be helpful, I can start releasing some screenshots of what we're working on. But, we kinda figured that folks just want to mine boosters and play the damn game.
@dragon Patrick, Ken and I have been discussing this. I liked the weird Spoils lore, and we're not above writing a bit of fanfic for Volition. We'll try and get something polished for the forums.
Still working out the details of our Electro-Runic Voidal Condeser Unit manual, so that folks know how to store their voidal energies in their electronified haversack. They can then squirt them onto glistening sheets of pulp and play. No quotidian miscues or messy rituals!
@jaredpwagner @patrick is probably better suited to talk about these things, but I'm really glad that you and others are thinking about what building a CCG on blockchain technology actually means for the game.
To your first point, the blockchain is basically there to track ownership of assets for the game. You're right, though, that it's a little more complex than we first thought! We're very focused on an MVP, and we probably shouldn't be too worried about hard forks down the line. Though, we'll try to smooth this out in our beta release.
For the second point, we think about this a lot. We are building a consensus algorithm that is not Proof of Work, so we aren't worried about computing power or escalating hash rates. I mean, why solve puzzles for booster packs when you could get bitcoins? But, that leaves us with the problem of securing the blockchain. We'll have an update next month about how we're thinking about all this, but we think we have a good way of balancing fairness and security with regard to mining.
Lastly, we are definitely thinking about this aspect. Remember, every card will have its chain of custody recorded on the blockchain, so even if we were to re-release a card for another set, it could be tracked to the set under which it was released, the booster pack it came from, and when that booster pack was mined.
@djib6bed6o6 This has me thinking about the customizable aspect of the game. Potentially, anyone can make new art for the cards, but perhaps there could be a mechanism for localization as well. Good translations would be really important, and I wonder if we could or should crowdsource them.
Or, perhaps that's too much hassle, and Cryptogogue should just localize the game into X languages. There will always be someone missing out, though! I'll have to talk to the team about this. Thanks for keeping us monolinguals in check.
@jaredpwagner When sets are launched, the Cryptogogue team will have full control of the reference art, and hopefully it will be balanced in the way you describe. But, we really want custom art to flourish in the game.
Perhaps in the beginning we'll have to have some stricter controls about custom art (a controlled approval process of some kind), like @sprocket314 and @Grimjack mention, and then as the community matures, we can build a bit of resilience and automation into the custom art process so as not to have big headaches early on.
As for representation in general (and females, in particular), I would hope that artists show a little imagination, here. Apply similar standards for representation to all genders: some could be attractive, neutral, unattractive, monstrous, grotesque, comical, etc. My two cents, anyway.
@dragon It's interesting reading your thoughts about CCGs (especially vis-a-vis your experience with The Spoils). You talked about aesthetics, accessibility/availability, economics, and gameplay, and you're right that these are often taken for granted. They are topics probably worth discussing individually.
Though, the technological underpinnings of Volition are our attempts to address some of the issues (pay-to-win, spending hard-earned cash on useless cardboard, static/non-customizable art). If you play any of the online CCGs, then you know that grinding is a chore (and why I almost always lose interest), so I look at the mining aspect of Volition as outsourcing the grind to automatons. I know we're relying on people having computers and access to printers, but hopefully that means broader availability. And, hell, if you wanted to play all the rares, you could print any card on the chain and play. Could be a way to turn 'cheating' into something fun: an all-card draft or something. Anyway, like I said: much more to think about regarding these aspects of the game.
I'd recommend raising some of your gameplay thoughts/questions in another thread as well. The time to play/tempo question is interesting, because I'm actually one of those that finds ~20 mins to be about the right amount of gameplay (and what I'd consider 'long'). I see it as my ideal average time to play. And, you can always play another game, right? However, the meta stuff is probably the real question. When playing, time is pretty relative. If I'm enjoying myself, it's almost irrelevant. If you get bogged down in the meta, then 20 minutes can feel like forever. I agree, though, that the games that require more creativity and thought are more interesting to me. Yet, some people like to chill out and play wizard poker because it's low investment. I'm sympathetic to that, too...
Geez, now I've buried my response to Ken's question. I'll try not to speak for @Therian12, but I think, like him, I've never been the earliest of early adopters of CCGs. It's always been a friend who demanded I play with them, and then, you know, I get hooked. I suppose it's finding and engaging these hub players, like dragon and Therian or anyone on this board, who really drive the network effect. But, since we can't get more early than the message board of an unreleased beta of an experimental game (!!), what would you need to bring on friends? @Shawnstoppable mentioned a video showcasing gameplay. Easily digestible rules and an FAQ for setting up mining nodes (figuring out the latter is my world right now, and it's pretty hairy...might not be accessible to the non-tech-savvy at the start--though we're trying!). And, how do you discover new games? The web? Play spaces?
There's a lot here, so I'll try not to be too unwieldy with my thoughts.
@Grimjack: I think a pretty apt example for us is DeviantArt. They place a lot of trust in the community to adhere to their etiquette policy and self regulate. I'm in agreement with you and Patrick that I wouldn't want to limit or stifle creativity with regard to customization.
Copyright and fair use will be an issue. We want artists to get credit for their work, and we also want creativity to flourish. @Bengali and Grimjack, we'll likely have to have a formal DMCA takedown process. Leaving copyright to the community might get the company in hot water (though, we won't be hosting any of the images--still, I bet Disney, for example, would try to sue us if some players turned Volition into a Star Wars CCG or something). If we do take the prudent approach, it'll be important to be as transparent as possible when removing art. I don't know how to do this one democratically, except to be honest as possible.
@sprocket314, Volition may inherit some mechanics from The Spoils, as well as some of the humor and absurdity, but I think Patrick and Ken are designing this to be much less outrageous. The sets that we launch will be appropriate for younger players--13 and up, let's say. But, as with any democratized system, it's wide open to, well, being gamed. In my opinion, the three primary categories of concern are prohibited content (obscenity, abuse, etc.), restricted content (nudity, profanity, etc.), and discouraged content (stupid stuff that detracts from the game: e.g. spam or art that makes a card look similar to a different card). Grimjack pointed to the difficulty adjudicating between these categories. All communities are going to struggle with this one (as we've seen with Snapchat, Facebook, Reddit...). My argument would be to rely heavily on the community to flag content, and we give players the tools to filter accordingly.
And, the other point sprocket and grimjack raised might be rephrased as: What kind of community do we want to encourage? This is difficult. We really want this to be a decentralized game. I sometimes use the term democratized. But, I don't know if I'd be comfortable if it was dominated by a particularly annoying group, especially at the beginning when we're trying to build critical mass. The economic model for the game might be laissez faire, but should that extend equally to the user-generated content? Can we justify balancing the health of the entire system by sacrificing a little freedom of speech? Should we merely emphasize and advertise our values, but try to stay out of regulating behavior?
Anyway, this is one of my favorite aspects of the game, as well. It has opened up a lot of questions for me, and it's been extremely challenging to have to think through the politics of it all. The questions I raised aren't rhetorical. I'm very interested in hearing what others think.
The one thing we do have going for us, as Patrick alluded to, is that this game is meant to be played in person. If a player wants to test the boundaries, then they will have to accommodate the responses they might receive. IRL problems...
The team has been heads down working on Volition, and it's well past due for updates.
You might have noticed the homepage has been refreshed with art from the wonderfully enigmatic Kenfoo. More art is on its way.
Three new advisors have joined the board. David Hoppe (CEO of Gen Con), Scott Dodson (Chief Growth Officer of Lingvist), and Jon Kimmich (of Xbox and Day 1 Studios fame). We're excited to have them onboard. They join Tim Shields (shout out to Cascade Games) and Origin Award-winning game designer Josh Lytle. Check out the press release for more info.
I'll page @cryptogogue_ken to the scene to see if he's got some game updates.
OK, back to the salt mines. I'll be back with updates (very soon, I promise).
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