Where deckbuilders and surreality meet

After Fragment Forge reached its first milestone, I decided to take a break from game development for a bit to clear my head. I started playing a lot of the new interesting deckbuilders, such as Griftland and Accross the Obelisk, I started getting ideas on how to make an infinitely expandable single-player deckbuilder, that does not dilute its card base by constantly adding new cards. Those game’s power-creeping on behalf of the player also inspired me to think of a way to make a deckbuilder which had legacy elements which were not straight up making the game easier.

I just had to think of a theme to marry these concepts into the spire-like deckbuilder formula. The only requirement was that the theme was not vanilla-fucking-fantasy 🙂

Enter Dreams. My first attempt at making a deckbulder using the card game framework work on a deckbuilder formula. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel from the start, I stuck close to the Slay the Spire formula, but added a few twists of my own.

The first one is that you don’t get a preconstructed starting deck. You also don’t do a pseudo-deck construction. Rather like Monster Train, you combine many decks together to select the archetypes of your run. In typical vanilla-fantasy terms, think of it like selecting a class, race, weapon and quest. Each of these comes with their own starting cards, and each archetype selected also can modify your character in many ways, such as modifying their starting health.

Then, on top of that, each archetype selected has its own pool of cards to choose from when drafting. The pool for each archetype is large enough that when you combine them all together, you end up with approximately the card-pool for a single character in other games of this type.

This allows me to add new archetypes, (for example, new “weapons”), without diluting the consistency of card types in any single run. Therefore making for an infinitely expandable game with no downsides. In fact, each new archetype added, increases the possibilities in a run exponentially.

As I said before, I absolutely wanted to stay away from classical fantasy tropes. I also wanted to make a game which is not all about the pure-violence if possible. Not because I have something against Violent games, but because it’s just such a common trope. Griftlands made a cool approach with that, allowing you to play the game almost completely peacefully if you so wish.

But in my case, I decided to move onto the surreal. Not only because it’s not a typical theme, but also because it allows for a lot more possibilities, as well as a lot of humor. Therefore this game will be played in dreams.

Making a game about dreams, allows me to make cards that are anything from typical fantasy, to sci-fi, to absolutely ridiculous. After all, our dreams don’t follow any particular logic and it would totally make dream-like sense for a magic sword, a plasma rifle and a rubber chicken to not only exist at the same time, but be just as effective as each other! In fact, this is why the Rubber Chicken is my very first item (i.e. archetype card pool) which I designed. I want to set the theme just right, you know?

This also gives me an opportunity to move away from the typical terms of violence and death that are typical in these games. I put a lot of effort into making the terminology of the game fit well into its theme. Therefore, you don’t “damage” your enemies, you “interpret” them. In turn, they do not “damage” you, the “stress” you out, and if you get stressed enough, you don’t die, you wake-up!

And this meant that I was making a game with a Thesaurus as my buddy :D. I think it gives the game archetype a nice coat of paint, and I am pretty proud with some of the terms I’ve come up with to signify typical aspects. It also means that I need to come up with different terms on behalf of the player and the enemies, for the same things, but hopefully it’s not too much to pick up. It also allows me to use creative terms which you don’t typically get to see a lot. For example, some Torments clutter your deck with useless cards. I call these, “Perturbations”.

Finally, the dream theme, allows me to create a legacy-aspect which makes thematic sense. But I’ll talk about this another day.

Until then, you can already try out the very first pre-alpha release.

Oh and btw, I am in great need of collaborators for this project. While I can handle the coding, the design, art, sound aspects elude me and I could also use support in coming up with ideas for archetypes, cards and campaign concepts.

If you are interested in jumping in, let me know! As always, this game is Free Software under the AGPL3, so any work you contribute belong to you and the whole human commons.