【Shadow Era】PvE/Campaign Mode Detailed

Now I may be giving too much credit to the HEX, but good competition is always good for consumers.  None of us have really seen exactly the HEX’s PvE in action, but what Cory Jones made it sound like is certainly a couple step ahead (probably more) than any other dTCGs had done in the past.  Is it innovation?  No.  Some games I can think of are like Yu Gi Oh PSP, or Eye of Judgment PSP, or famous among old time TCG players are the Magic’s Shanldar.

So it may not necessary be the HEX that inspired other dTCGs, but at least pushed others companies to finally expedite its plan before game like HEX becomes public and claims “the only MMO/TCG”.

Today, let’s take a look at Shadow Era’s approach on its campaign mode.

Hello Shadow Erites!

As part of our Kickstarter Campaign (pun intended), we’ve raised some questions about our plans for the Single Player Campaign, and what all it entails. Today, I’d like to take a second to go over a few tidbits about it!

As with all upcoming features, please know that any and all of what’s discussed is up to change. ‘The best laid plans’ and all that. Consider this a rough guide to the intent, and that improvements will absolutely be made as we find them!

What is the Campaign Mode?

Thus far, very little has been said about the campaign aside from the fact that it’s in the works. With the Kickstarter, a little more was revealed about how the campaign will work: ‘Campaign Mode – Every hero will have a unique campaign to play through that sheds light on their backstory. Campaign missions will have a variety of unique win conditions and alternate game modes, as well as many new campaign-only cards.’ But what does that really mean?

The Shadow Era campaigns will consist of a series of missions for each hero, starting with twenty and increasing with each new set that comes out. It will tell the stories of how each hero earned their shadow crystal and became the fighters we know them as today as well as the very start of the war. Each mission will have varying win conditions, such as removing your ability to kill opposing allies, protecting vital artifacts, or discarding enemy cards as part of an interrogation. It’s more than just a bunch of AI decks; it’s an entirely new way to play Shadow Era!

Telling a Better Story

The Campaign Mode, at launch, will detail 2 years of Balor’s history through numerous missions and game text. 20 missions per hero from Call of the Crystals alone is a huge amount of gameplay to create and launch! Given the scope and time of that release, we’ve elected to break these releases down into smaller sections, or ‘batches’. Each batch will contain 5 heroes, and hold the story for 6 months of the world; that’s 100 missions with each update.

This style allows us to make sure each hero is the focus of their release, and gives everyone’s favorites time to shine. It also means the completionists out there have a chance to see every little inch of the game.

Rewards

Shadow Era is a free-to-play game, and we pride ourselves on that. Helping our newer players reach a better place with their initial hero choices is important to us! With that in mind, we’re implementing an all new ‘Loot’ system to Campaign games. This means more rewards, like weapons and allies, to help you get ready for taking the game to Quickmatch. It also means ‘grinding’ will be less necessary; we want you to enjoy your time in the game, not hating your life just to get another Soul Seeker!

The Mechanics

As was mentioned previously, we’re going to be adding some all new cards to the game. We’re calling them ‘Campaign Cards’. These cards are exclusive to our campaign mode, though it’s not impossible for some of the people you save to join the battle later on! These cards can be broken into three categories: Generic Campaign Cards, Treasure Cards and Scenario Cards.

‘Generic’ Campaign Cards

Allies, heroes, abilities, items, all of them will have unique variations brought to the campaign. You’ll be battling against never before seen enemies on both sides of the front, with differing abilities and tactics for making them true champions of the war. Some might even come to your aide to take down a particularly nasty opponent! Because these are unique to a single player setting, these cards also have a lot more flexibility on their abilities so there’s a lot to get excited about here!

Treasure Cards

Treasure cards are technically not a ‘new’ type of card; they’re still classified by the normal attributes (Item, Ability, Ally) but their effects are a whole other matter. When building a deck, treasure cards are selected and added to your opening hand so you’re guaranteed to bring the cards you’re after to bear when you need them. These cards are very powerful and can turn games with a single summon, but come at a steep cost. Once a Treasure Card is sent to the Graveyard, it is removed from your collection and must be purchased or re-earned to utilize again. As a fully consumable card, the abilities and strengths of the Treasure Cards can be used to get through a particularly tough fight, turning the war in your favor, but it takes time and patience to get more of them once used up.

Scenario Cards

Scenario Cards are an entirely new card type, with their own format and wordings to really set them apart in the Shadow Era universe. These are the restrictions of the game, or how you’ll win. They set the rules of your match, but are themselves cards. By taking this approach, we can directly interact with them in ways that players are used to. Treasure cards, and ‘Generic’ cards will be able to target, and in some cases destroy these restrictions. This means we can create whole new combos exclusive to the campaign, or build unique puzzles that would normally be outside of our possibilities.

A Smarter Opponent

Fighting against an AI enemy who just takes a beating is no fun for anyone involved. Realizing that, we’re revamping the AI logic based on behavior trees, so they play more like a real opponent. We’re also going to add scripts to the AI so that they can be more interactive; perhaps even talking a little trash during the game. This helps build a better single player experience, and put you where you belong – in the shoes of you chosen hero. These chats might also be key to beating some of your enemies, as they reveal their greatest weaknesses!

The Beta

We don’t just want to have A campaign. We want THE campaign everyone wishes they could play; the best of the best. Those who contribute to the Kickstarter and receive the Beta Access will get a chance to not only see the campaign before release, they’ll also have a say in the future of how this important feature works out. It’s the kind of chance no true fan would dare pass up!

Generally speaking, it looks like companies who are serious about making PvE/Campaign mode need to really focus on following things:

  • Campaign Mode OriginalJust a repetitive AI battle won’t cut it anymore.  One needs a reason to play campaign mode, and more importantly fun with playing it.  One of the easiest way to make such is “campaign original” cards, special game mode etc.
  • StoryCard game’s cards have lores, often affiliation etc.  Connecting these points with story are great.  There is even a deck type people referred to as “tribal deck”, which is basically decks built around the stories.  Existence of such concepts simply proves how people likes story associated to the trading/collectible card game.
  • Smart AIAs a former computer programmer but only with 1 quarter of AI programming…  I can only imagine the difficulty of making smart AI for card games.  There are way too many variables, but as a player/consumer, we all like to play against smart AI not just ones that put one card after another.  We also don’t like to see “hard mode” being hard because computer gets perfect draw every time.  So having smart AI is important part of the good campaign mode (perhaps HEX may be the first one emphasizing this fact).

Shadow Era seems to take all these key points and emphasizing them, a great approach.   Here in particular, I am interested in how far they will take the scenario card.  Perhaps it may be completely different, but when I read the description, the first thing came into my mind was “event card” in ascension.

This is a good example that dTCGs are evolving into next stage.  This is what I exactly predicted, and more importantly hoped for.  The game like HEX is stimulating the genre.

Now, I am still waiting for some game to take a step further than HEX, and bring true gaming experience like Yu Gi Oh PSP or Magic’s Shandlar i.e. you can walk around the world, gather items for your hero/champion.

One thing for sure  we can predict is we will see more and more dTCGs having emphasis on the campaign/PvE mode. These will include new dTCGs as well as the existing ones.  So if you like the concept but still haven’t found your game of choice, just wait.  You will eventually find one.

Remember, the kickstarter for the Shadow Era is still ongoing. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wulven/shadow-era-shattered-fates-cross-platform-card-gam?ref=live

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