When we swapped Combat Card’s engine a few weeks ago, the behaviour of quite a few game systems changed with it. Some of these changes are legitimate bugs, but others are just due to the way the two engines handle things differently. Either way, we’re working to get the game back to at least the quality of the old version, and improving it wherever possible.
One area we’ve just finished improving – so will be putting out in an update shortly – is how you deploy cards to the battlefield. This seemingly easy area of code has needed quite a bit of work to get it doing exactly what we intended and to make it feel nice to use.
When people wonder why game development takes a long time, it’s often down to working through all the ‘edge cases’ which crop up. The player can put their finger on a card in their hand, then drag and release over an empty slot. Sounds easy, right? But what about:
- When you want to deploy the card into an occupied slot?
- Or when two other slots are occupied?
- When you shove a card out of a slot, how quickly should it move?
- And which way should it go – left or right?
- When you drag the card half over a slot and release?
- When you release the card somewhere else, nowhere near a slot?
- Should Warlords auto-deploy, or let you do it manually?
As you can see, there are a lot of seemingly insignificant factors we need to get right with this, otherwise card deployment will ‘feel’ bad, or shoving cards aside will feel arbitrary and random. Plus, we really want to get this area working well, because deploying your cards is one of the key tactics in Combat Cards.
Obviously, you need to choose which of your cards faces each enemy card. But, are you trying to destroy that card or just hold it up as long as possible? Then there are decisions to make when you deploy a new card after an old one has been destroyed. Do you put the fresh card in the empty slot or slide a (possibly damaged) card there? If you’re expecting your cards to destroy the enemy opposite them, can you do it without ‘wasting’ damage output (when your card does way more damage then the enemy needs to destroy it)? Or do you accept that waste, ready for whichever card your enemy deploys next?
So many decisions! This depth is how Combat Cards can be fun with only three attack choices (but much more on width and depth in a future post).
Other than the initial tutorial battles, we let you manually deploy your Warlord, even though they have to go into the centre slot. So why do we do this?
If you already have two cards on the battlefield when you deploy your Warlord, there are no choices to make – the Warlord will just shove its way to the centre slot. But if you’re deploying the Warlord with only one card on the battlefield, we’ve found that choosing where you leave that lone bodyguard can make the difference between victory and defeat.
If you leave your bodyguard facing an enemy, you prevent that enemy from attacking your Warlord, but if you deploy opposite an empty slot then your bodyguard will attack the enemy Warlord. Which is better changes from battle to battle, and working out the optimum choice is a fun decision.
We realise that waiting for us to release updates is frustrating, and I’m not trying to brush aside the valid complaints about some of the issues the game is suffering from. But one of the key reasons I wanted to write these blog posts is to make sure that you at least understand why things are happening, even if you don’t like or agree with them.
I wasn’t planning to cover every feature we work to improve and fix, but feel free to let me know if you’d like that approach – this blog exists to talk about the things you guys find interesting.