Author Topic: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts  (Read 28355 times)

Offline Teremus

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[Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« on: October 21, 2014, 06:54:26 PM »
This is likely going to be one of the most controversial posts I'll have ever made in the history of these forums. I ask that every single user who has their eyes on this thread, please ensure you read what you're about to see VERY CAREFULLY because I'm sure there will be a very wide variety of reactions to this post and we need to keep it civil at the very least. Thank you for your cooperation.

Recently, Lightmare's team got together and put themselves through a Design Review. We went over what we started with back in Alpha, what we've done over the course of development, and where we're at now. This allowed us to evaluate everything that's ever been done to the game, how we've grown, how our necessities have changed, and what the future looks like with the current plan being set in motion.

Here's how this post will be laid out:

  • Current thoughts
  • Block Rotation
  • Faction Rotation

Current Thoughts

This likely won't encompass everything that everyone would like to see, but it's important to state nonetheless. There was a very valuable piece of information that came from the review. This is in regards to the "Balance Environment" in Infinity Wars.

As you'll see below, the review has allowed us to stipulate what "Blocks" will exist in our game. Blocks, and their associated Sets, have an environment within them. This environment can be both the design concepts applied, as well as the meta game concepts.

The review has allowed us to recognize that without these processes previously in place, the environment has become inconsistent and mixed with other environments that were a symptom of these statutes not being in place while we moved through the initial development phases.

A good example of this is where the Overseers of Solace are introduced into the game at the end of what is now considered a Block. The environment now has a couple different metagame designs introduced to it that were outside of the initial concept parameters.

The actions we have to take for the health of the game will be a system shock I'm sure to quite a few of you. Moving forward, implementing and sticking to this structure will allow us to create a much smoother and more efficient design flow from Set to Set, then ultimately Block to Block. It's going to lead to good things, a bright future, and afford us a lot more flexibility in terms of balance and design overall.

I'm only asking that you keep an open mind. This is one of the scariest subjects in card gaming, and for good reason. We're not out to dissuade any opinions or thoughts, we simply wish to explain the result of the review.

A couple points of clarification for your consideration. The information in this first section is for reference as you move through this post to better understand what you're seeing.

*As you move through this post you'll see the concepts of Faction Rotation, and Ranked Legality discussed in the 2nd and 5th topics. It is extremely important to note that these concepts are not tied to each other in any way, they operate separate entirely.

*A card is 'Ranked Legal' if the set that contains it is for sale in the Store. That is the sole requirement for being ranked legal, it is not tied in any way to a faction being supported in current new releases. Note this only applies to sets: if you could get the card through some other method in the store, such as a alternate art pack or a premade deck, the card is not Ranked Legal. If a card is Ranked Legal, all previous versions of that card are also legal, even if your copy comes from an older set.

*Each year, we update the cards in the 'Foundation Set'. The Foundation Set contains X number of cards that we have chosen to keep in the metagame. They are all reprints, and we do not drive existing players to buy them. These simply exist for new players to have the means of acquiring cards Lightmare has deemed as "Core".

*It is extremely important to note that there is currently no "Foundation" Set in Infinity Wars. It is currently planned to introduce the first Foundation set into the game following the Order Block.

*There will be 2 Blocks available for Ranked Viability at any given time, which means there will be anywhere between 4 and 6 sets available for purchase in the store at any one time. Because we've just now started the Order Block, you're still looking at the first rotation being a good long ways off.

*Star Trek and Omni cards will remain Infinite Only. The Infinite Game mode will also be serving as our "Legacy" format, until we deem it necessary to separate those two in the future if it comes to that.

Block Structure

Each Block contains 3 sets. Each set released is part of a Block.

The first block released so far is “Rise / Infestation / Ascension” (Rise block). The next will be “Order / Oppression / Rebellion” (Order block). Blocks are rotated out of the Store as a whole. This is done for a couple of reasons:

  • Cards are designed with their environment in mind, and created to work with other cards within that block.
  • It avoids situations where a faction that is being rotated out is awkwardly left with only a few playable cards.

At the start of each Block, a new faction is introduced. At the same time, one faction will begin to be phased out.

At any one point in time, there will be seven active factions in a set. After great discussion, we have decided that 7 is the sweet spot for the number of factions that we want to be supporting at any one point in time.

The approximate card breakdown for each set will be this:

Set 1Set 2Set 3
New Faction: 21New Faction:17New Faction:17
  • 2 Epic
  • 4 Rare
  • 7 Uncommon
  • 8 Common
  • 1 Epic
  • 3 Rare
  • 6 Uncommon
  • 7 Common
  • 1 Epic
  • 3 Rare
  • 6 Uncommon
  • 7 Common
When a new faction is released,
we want to give them extra cards to
ensure they are as playable as possible.
Phasing Out Faction: 8Phasing Out Faction: 7Phasing Out Faction: 7
  • 1 Epic
  • 1 Rare
  • 4 Uncommon
  • 5 Common
  • 1 Epic
  • 1 Rare
  • 2 Uncommon
  • 3 Common
  • 1 Epic
  • 1 Rare
  • 2 Uncommon
  • 3 Common
Other Factions (x5): 12Other Factions (x5): 13Other Factions (x5): 13
  • 1 Epic
  • 2 Rare
  • 4 Uncommon
  • 5 Common
  • 1 Epic
  • 2 Rare
  • 4 Uncommon
  • 5 Common
  • 1 Epic
  • 2 Rare
  • 4 Uncommon
  • 5 Common
Legendaries: 4Legendaries: 4Legendaries: 4
Legendaries exist outside of
other faction breakdowns
Legendaries exist outside of
other faction breakdowns
Legendaries exist outside of
other faction breakdowns
Factionless, Dual Faction, and Hybrid: 7Factionless, Dual Faction, and Hybrid: 7Factionless, Dual Faction, and Hybrid: 7
Usually in some form of ordered cycle
so that each faction is covered equally
Usually in some form of ordered cycle
so that each faction is covered equally
Usually in some form of ordered cycle
so that each faction is covered equally

Why would you add factions? Why not just keep it where it's at?

Ultimately, we add factions to keep the game constantly fresh, and to explore new territory in gameplay. We intend for Infinity Wars to exist for a very long time, and are setting forth plans now so that it can continue indefinitely. One of the fastest killers of a card game can be it becoming stale, and a good way for that to happen with Infinity Wars would be having the same factions and concepts in development 3-4 years from now.

We would rather create a new faction in place of an outdated one, introduce new mechanics/themes, in place of changing one of the old factions into something it was never intended to be in the first place.

It is best to keep a standard amount of factions in the game at any given time, this allows us to give each faction that is currently being supported the amount of cards to flesh out an interesting but self sufficient play style.

If rotation did not happen, the game would be in a constant stale form. Same mechanics, same themes, same concepts all throughout. If we created new factions without having a Rotation Concept from Block to Block, we would be forced to make less and less cards for each faction, which would make any Double or Triple Purity decks very difficult to work with.

In the end, this allows us to keep the environment, world, and cards of Infinity Wars fresh forever.

How do you choose which Faction gets phased out?

We will be choosing which faction to phase out, based on factors like which factions we feel are getting stale, running out of design room, or are unhealthy for gameplay. Once the decision has been made, the lore will be designed with this mind. Ultimately, we have decided that in Infinity Wars, the gameplay comes first, and story second, and do not make such large gameplay choices based on storyline.

How do you create mechanics of a new Faction?

We understand that certain 'pillars' of the gameplay experience must always be preserved, there must always be options for aggressive decks, mid-range decks, control decks, etc. and will always be mindful of preserving that balance when adding and removing factions. With 7 factions in the game, there are often more than one faction covering such a role, in their own way, so players can rest assured that the metagame will be maintained when faction rotations happen.

Why are cards eventually unable to be used in Ranked Play?

We want to create a varied but still balance environment for competitive play, however the more cards we have ranked legal at any one time, the harder it is to balance the entirety of the scope of ranked competition across all of the sets ever released in the history of the game.

One of the largest benefits of ranked legal rotation is that it allows the meta to shift more frequently, and far more naturally. As an example, 1 new set when we only ever have 6 ranked legal packs has a much larger impact on the game and it's Meta as compared to 1 set after we have released 20 sets that would be in the ranked pool.

Doing this keeps the number of potentially relevant cards to a minimum, so that a player coming into Infinity Wars 5 years down the road will still only have a maximum of 6 sets to consider when looking at competitive viability, rather than having to comprehend the entire history of Infinity Wars in order to be up to date.

This facilitates our competitive scene to grow with us as a Developer, as well as allowing us to naturally keep the environments controlled as we move forward in development.

Nostalgia Art Sets

Once a faction has rotated out, if we feel that players would appreciate some more content for that faction, we will be releasing alternate art packages, where players can buy a pack of 10 alternate art cards based on signature cards from that old faction.

The current plan is to allow a chance for Gold and Foils in the packs, as well as a rare chance for an 11th alternate art card to be included in the pack.

Concept Cleanup

Some of the concepts laid out don't neatly line up with the current state of the game, coming out beta:

  • The Overseers of Solace were introduced in the last set of the block, rather than the first.
  • There are currently 8 factions in the game, rather than 7.
  • IW2013 doesn't currently belong to any existing block.

To fix these issues, here is what we'll be doing:

  • In Order, the card breakdowns will be as though it is the 2nd set in the block, meaning Overseers of Solace will have 17 cards.
  • The Sleepers of Avarrach are being rotated out with the coming of the Order Block.
  • IW2013 will be rotated out of the store (and Ranked) when Rise block rotates out.

Quote
Why is this happening Moose? I'm sad.

Rotation is a scary thing. One of the design principles behind creating the Factions instead of just Colors was to allow players to feel more emotionally connected to their cards and collections. This is both a good and bad thing.

Rotation is scary yes, but also necessary. We acknowledge that the loss of a faction that you spent time investing into can be a heavy blow, and it's not a subject that we're taking lightly. It's key to remember that this concept is a very lengthy process, and not one you'll be seeing right away, and after it's begun you'll still have all of your cards and able to use every single one of them in the Infinite Mode.

Quote
If a Faction is "Rotated Out", is it gone forever?

It's called rotation for that very reason. There's always going to be awesome things we can do with rotation rather than straight up removal. That's not to say that every single faction is just going to be rotated in and out, but that we want to leave that option open. It's certainly something we are very interested in.

Has the Sleepers of Avarrach's reign of terror truly ended? Are they really defeated? Can wiping out a terror so great and overwhelming really be so simple? For now reality can rest easier without fear of the Virus.....how long will that last?

Rotation must happen in order to keep the barrier to entry low, and the game fresh. One of the scariest things about rotation is the feeling that you'll have to spend money in order to stay relevant, and we hope that the efforts we're going to be enacting as well as the features coming in 2015 will alleviate that prospect. It's something we're very aware of and something we're going to be actively working towards minimizing at all times.

The purpose of this post is purely for the sake of transparency. We appreciate and acknowledge there will be very mixed feelings on this subject. We hope that, while this subject can cause a lot of mixed emotions, that most of you will be able to keep a level head and an open mind.

Please keep the discussion civil, I'd prefer to leave this thread unlocked but will lock it if I have to.

Thank you everyone. See you on the battlefield!
« Last Edit: October 21, 2014, 07:08:29 PM by Teremus »
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Offline Chaz8591

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2014, 07:16:04 PM »
Oh man, this is an exciting bunch of information. Thanks for finally putting this out to read. :D There will be doomsayers in the thread, but I honestly cannot wait. I'm excited to see what these changes bring. And the names of the next three sets just get me even more pumped for what's coming down the line.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2014, 07:20:46 PM by Chaz8591 »

Offline Trevinburgh

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2014, 07:26:33 PM »
Thanks for sharing your thought process. There's a lot to chew on here but first impressions are that you're doing Good Stuff (even if my favourite faction is going to be first to be rotated out, sob). This sort of system will keep the game fresh and, let's be honest, provide more opportunities for you guys to make money (nothing wrong with that if done in a fair way).

One thing I haven't quite got my head round despite your clarification: will all the cards for a faction be Ranked Legal/Not Legal at the same time? Or will we have a situation where some cards of a faction are Legal and some not? If the latter than the deck builder needs work to support Sets, Blocks and Legality.

I'd also recommend announcing rotations a long way in advance so people don't get upset if they invest in a faction only to find it rotated out soon after.

Offline antideath

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2014, 07:45:23 PM »
Well that did not sting at all...
makes sense to me and i love it opening up NEW factions.

IW2013 i feel gets lost a little..
but the "Foundation" cards your selecting i hope dip into this pool?

2 Blocks of ranked. Nice and way down the line.
Will you create "New Blocks" from old sets?
Mixing and matching?
opening more ranked viability at a given time later?

ALTART packs..EEK..good but bad..
with release of alt art packs it makes them just novelty ... because they are not ranked legal instantly.
much rather see ALT ART Sprinkled into Boosters with all the Plat/gold Foil chances added to it.
If they lose ranked play due to creating Alt art only boosters. i am not sure that's a good direction.
Or just keep using as promotions we can eagerly collect and play with.

Looking forward to the weekend stream!

Offline Benionin

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2014, 07:46:25 PM »
I'm glad to see this post and everything in it.

When I started playing Magic, the concept of block rotation seemed so natural. Of course, I started only a few years back, when it was already a cemented practice, and didn't even start playing competitively until last year. I just assumed that that was how it was going to work.
It's much more difficult to implement, however, if you're a new game. I'm glad to see that the IW team has put a lot of time into this and I'm happy with the result. Factions are harder to rotate out than colors, but I think you guys have done a great job with this.
Keep up the good work!

OOH, and Alt Art packs! I bet those'll be LP, but I love the idea. Alt art Sage collection DoD, maybe?

PS: Moose, treat yourself to some cheese. You've earned it for dealing with us crazy people. I'd tell everyone else at LM to have cheese too, but I don't know if they're as obsessed with cheese as you are.
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Offline Teremus

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2014, 07:50:08 PM »
Quote
One thing I haven't quite got my head round despite your clarification: will all the cards for a faction be Ranked Legal/Not Legal at the same time? Or will we have a situation where some cards of a faction are Legal and some not? If the latter than the deck builder needs work to support Sets, Blocks and Legality.

I'd also recommend announcing rotations a long way in advance so people don't get upset if they invest in a faction only to find it rotated out soon after.

If a Faction is supported in a current Block, it is Ranked Legal. I.E. if the Sleepers are ever Rotated back in, all the legacy versions of a card you own that are reprinted in the newly ranked legal set will once again be ranked legal and usable in place of the new versions. If it's not reprinted, it's not legal. We will be looking at this very carefully for how factions can either be re-designed or re-worked.

We do intend for that to be the case, this was the first case of such, as well as the last one. Moving forward, this structure will afford us much more capability to be as transparent as possible.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2014, 04:34:12 AM by Teremus »
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Offline heavyyield

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2014, 07:53:10 PM »
Rotation seems heavily based on Magic!

Im a bit disappointed by the lack of addressing the elephant in the room: how will players be able to keep up without spending hundreds of dollars each year? At least in Magic, there's still the Modern format. Are you planning to implement a 'Modern' ladder? I have read the post carefully, and it seems that you will have to wait for a block to rotate again, until you can bring out your goldie oldies.

How about players like me that want to simply play against other good players? Are we stuck in Infinite mode playing against Star Trek, gimmick decks and not getting ranking or any sort of challenge? I get that tourney play and whatnot should only contain the latest block (you have to make money!), but the lack of support and deepfreezing of old cards is disheartening. I am glad that you announced it this early. It gives a heed to those that want to spend big on the coming expansion packs.

Another question on edit: I really like the introduction of new mechanics and factions. What made you decide to go that route instead of adding 'subtype' factions into existing 'colors' (to use a Magic metaphor)? As far as I know there are at least 4 or 5 viable Black strategies and Archetypes. It seems each Faction in IW will be catered to a certain Archetypr?
« Last Edit: October 21, 2014, 08:02:15 PM by heavyyield »

Offline BlackLightning

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2014, 07:53:28 PM »
As long as there's a mode that enables the player base to play which ever cards/decks from which ever faction, I think this is a good move.

As stated in the OP, it will keep the game fresh and more accessible to new players. They won't be at a competitive disadvantage thus the game will have more staying power for newcomers and experienced players alike. I think that the majority of older players would prefer to be challenged rather than completely running over their opponent 8 out of 10 times.

This should be interesting.

Offline BlackLightning

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2014, 08:04:06 PM »
How about players like me that want to simply play against other good players? Are we stuck in Infinite mode playing against Star Trek, gimmick decks and not getting ranking or any sort of challenge?
For what it's worth, I think Infinite Mode will be pretty competitive when the update is in place.

Offline Feroe

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2014, 08:08:16 PM »
I'm very Hyped.
I love where this is going  ;D

Offline heavyyield

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2014, 08:09:57 PM »
How about players like me that want to simply play against other good players? Are we stuck in Infinite mode playing against Star Trek, gimmick decks and not getting ranking or any sort of challenge?
For what it's worth, I think Infinite Mode will be pretty competitive when the update is in place.

As long as the MMR/ELO isn't taken into account, it seems as though it will be random. Half of the time this means we will get hyper competitive decks against new players or old players trying out some stuff. That won't be fun for anyone :/ I'm already loathe seeing tryhard BioSol and triple CoV decks in infinite, so I shudder for this haha!

Offline quelsatron

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2014, 08:13:30 PM »
Will you be able to purchase rotated out boosters of old sets? If not, why not? It seems to be going in the direction you don't want to go, which is the digitalization and impermanence of the game. If I wanted to buy a bunch of old boosters from Magic the gathering I could probably still get a hold of old mirrodin or kamigawa boosters if not even older sets(I know homelands boosters are still cheap as dirt), is it really wise to potentially stop people from revisiting the past and even giving you money as they do so?

Offline Chaz8591

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2014, 08:16:50 PM »
How about players like me that want to simply play against other good players? Are we stuck in Infinite mode playing against Star Trek, gimmick decks and not getting ranking or any sort of challenge?

There was a mode (the name escapes me currently) that was created for only cards from the IW universe (no Omni/Star Trek Cards), however the only difference between that mode and normal constructed play was that you could play with preview cards. I believe that once the rotations start happening, they'll bring that mode back. So in constructed you'd have Infinite, Rank Legal, Any IW cards, merged, etc. Then you'd have Ranked play.

Offline heavyyield

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2014, 08:25:53 PM »
How about players like me that want to simply play against other good players? Are we stuck in Infinite mode playing against Star Trek, gimmick decks and not getting ranking or any sort of challenge?

There was a mode (the name escapes me currently) that was created for only cards from the IW universe (no Omni/Star Trek Cards), however the only difference between that mode and normal constructed play was that you could play with preview cards. I believe that once the rotations start happening, they'll bring that mode back. So in constructed you'd have Infinite, Rank Legal, Any IW cards, merged, etc. Then you'd have Ranked play.
Yeah, you mean Core mode. I kind of worded my post wrongly. But my point was that either our collections would be fully competitive (Ranked Legal) or not competitive at all, at least not in the sense that you can gather ELO and fight against people with similar skill based on matchmaking. Sorry for that.

Offline Symphony

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Re: [Important] Design Review, and Rotation Concepts
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2014, 08:47:03 PM »
Those are exciting news, Moose! And just so I'm sure I got everything clear, I have a few questions:

* When a block (or faction) is rotated out, will you still be able to use them in infinite/core normal modes? In the case of blocks, if you can still play with them, you'll just won't be able to acquire them through the store, correct?
* I'm assuming the 'means to alleviate' the feeling of spending money to keep up will come with forging, right? In any case, I'm glad you guys understand that this can be a serious issue for newer players or just people who don't spend money in the game (myself included).
* While it was pretty clear what are the reasons you guys are going to use for a faction to be phased out, what was Sleeper's? I seriously doubt they were any prevalent in the meta (aside from a few splashes) and their meta/gamestyle is hardly 'stale'. Was it solely a lore reason?

And as a last note, if/when WP gets phased out and the alt art packs are released, we NEED an alt art Karani eating the puppies. Please, make it happen :v
« Last Edit: October 21, 2014, 08:48:44 PM by Symphony »