PROJECT : Duel Suites
ROLE : Game & Graphic Designer
DURATION : 2 weeks
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Winner deals X2 damage.
Winner steals 1 health point
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.
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.
Testing & Iteration
What you need to play :
+ 2 Players
+5 Health Tokens (each)
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.
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.
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.
We reduced the max HP value by 50% for players from  down to  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.
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.
Prototype sketches | Card Design
Refined gameplay flowgraph
How to play :
. 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.
. 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;
Keep it minimal, clean, easy to decipher and visually appealing to look at.
Provide the player with the most relevant information to reassure their gameplay choices
Create a strong visual association for the player using the language of shapes and color, to accelerate knowledge retention.
Anatomy of Cards