PROJECT : Duel Suites

ROLE : Game & Graphic Designer

DURATION : 2 weeks

Project Overview

Duel Suites is a causal focused, competitive card game designed to streamline learning and accessibility. We aimed to create an easy to pickup, thrilling, pseudo- strategy game built off the simple foundational pillars of rock-paper-scissors.

Challenges

1) Build off  rock-paper-scissors to create a dynamic game play experience

2) Develop mechanics to remedy stalemates and keep up the game play cadence

3) Address the learning curve issue inherit with learning a new game for players.

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Card Display

Starting Off

We started by first discussing  games we were both familiar with which relying on a rock-paper-scissors dynamic in some facet of their design.

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Titles researched

We examined each to find out what made their configuration and implementation of said mechanic compelling.  Typically it was used as the backbone for each games combat system, which alongside various other mechanics, would determine the match up probability between units on an encounter to encounter basis.

Our main takeaway was, unlike solo rock paper scissors (RPS), where the core mechanic is the only determining factor in who wins, within the ecosystem of the games examined it became more of a 

micro mechanic which informed and influenced player decision within a larger context.

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Match up triangle

Ideation & Creation

One thing we had a great interest in exploring was “Player Choice".  Core RPS has players randomly choosing or basing a vast majority of  their choices  on self assured "probabilities". We wanted to introduce variables which would lead to more meaningful decision, so we  adopted the “Role-playing Game” theming from our research examples to develop our system. 

We played around with the dynamics between various RPG themed actions.  We refined and settled on what we wanted the outcome of each interaction to be, adding on an HP system to determine a WIN State / LOSE State for players.

Scissors      Rock        Paper

Attack         Guard        Leech 

- 1 Health Point from opponent

Stops 1 point of damage

Recover 1 Health point 

New Matchups & Outcomes

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Winner deals X2 damage. 

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Winner steals 1 health point 

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Loser discards a card

Development & New Ideas

To help structure our game we chose to incorporate a deck system. We assigned an action to each suite from a deck of playing cards, with the addition of the “Revive” action to round off them off.

Diamond

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Attack

Spade

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Guard

Heart

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Leech

Club

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Revive

Minimalist resign of card suites & their Actions

With our Win/ Lose states established along with our core and secondary mechanics we took some inspiration from traditional card games to further refine our gameplay experience before moving onto playtest & iteration.  We defined designated card zones to further our structure.

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Deck

Grave

Hand

Active

1

2

3

4

5

Card Zones 

Testing & Iteration

What you need to play :

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+ 2 Players

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+5 Health Tokens (each)

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Deck of Cards

After our initial play testing we wanted  focused on gameplay flow and clarity. We found players lacked confidence during crucial moments of play which resulted in much slower and drawn out games, which stemmed from slow acclamation to the rules. Along with this a few of our values needed tweaking to balance out the experience to be more inline with the pacing we desire.

Problem

Players would often refer to our rule sheet, second guess their choices, hesitate when a phase ended and sometimes not proceed unless prompted by testers.

Solutions

 Card Redesign 
We doubled down and drew cues from the card component of our game. In traditional TCG

(trading card games) vital information is presented on each card to accelerate acclamation, so we iterated on solutions along those lines to help out or own players. 

HP Shift

We reduced the max HP value  by 50% for players from [10] down to [5] as matches carried on a bit too long. Such a large health pool balanced against such low damage output by players  left them feeling less invested in their earlier moves.

We noticed engagement and tension rose around the halfway point as the ratio of Health x Damage shrunk.

Flow graph
We refined our gameplay loop by dividing it into distinct Phases. Three to be exact, partitioning the actions players take  thus reducing the players memory load and increasing the confidence in their decision making.

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Prototype sketches | Card Design

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Refined gameplay flowgraph

How to play :

PHASE 1

. Both players begin with 5 Health points. First to zero losses. 
. Both players draw 5 cards  at the start of a phase from the deck in sequence :  1-1, 2-2, 3-3,4-4,5-5.
. Each player can choose to replace up to 2 cards from their hand at the start of a phase. Placing those cards at the bottom of  the deck,shuffling,then drawing.
PHASE 2
. Club cards are played if applicable, but only one can be played per phase.
. After a countdown from 3, both players play a card from their hand.
. Card effects get resolved.
. Cards played are sent to the grave.
. When either player's hand is completely  depleted, PHASE 3 begins!

Card Design & Implementation

The main pillars I kept in mind when designing our cards were;

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 Clarity

 Keep it minimal, clean, easy to decipher and visually appealing to look at.

Utility

Provide the player with the most relevant information to reassure their gameplay choices

Iconic
Create a strong visual association for the player using the language of shapes and color, to accelerate knowledge retention.

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Final Iteration

Anatomy of Cards

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1. Used to create and reinforce a strong association between the action and the icon.

2. Provides player information on what happens when cards of the same suit are played.

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3. Provides the players with the results of card match ups in short, concise and clear phrases to accelerate learning. 

Style Guide

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THANK YOU

Lets create together! Feel free to reach out to me stevierayca@gmail.com

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The Team

Daryl Feniquito

Stevie Ray HUNTER

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