Compare and Contrast - Lightmare Design Blog, Entry 1
After last week’s introductions I can finally begin to get into the game design meat that these articles plan to cover. We are also now ready to reveal a lot more of the gameplay of Infinity Heroes as we get closer to showcasing the game more. However I want to stress that the game is still at a stage where systems may change between now and beta.
The New World
When I was first introduced to the Infinity Heroes project one of the first things I did was redownload Lightmare’s Infinity Wars and begin diving into every aspect of the game. I watched tournament videos, talked with those still playing, read the old forums, met with some of the original developers, and just generally saturated myself in the Infinity Wars universe. All of this was because Infinity Heroes is pitched as a spiritual successor to the original Infinity Wars. If I was going to work as a designer on the project I had to know the original game’s design as well as possible, and
I needed to know what players loved about Infinity Wars.
But before I get into some of my discoveries, let's give a quick rundown on what Infinity Heroes is.
Infinity Heroes is a cross-platform, mobile card game that uses pre-constructed decks tied to Hero characters, and simultaneous turn mechanics. It is a spiritual successor to the acclaimed Infinity Wars animated digital card game. In Infinity Heroes we Compete, Create and Contribute.
Find out more information on this website.
Finding the Keys
Now let me present what I believe are some of the core gameplay and design systems from the original Infinity Wars, and how the new game tackles them.
Of all the game mechanics that are core to Infinity Wars and Infinity Heroes, none I believe are as important as it’s simultaneous turn system. Unlike in a lot of digital card games, rather than each player alternating taking turns you instead make decisions for the turn at the same time. Once all decisions are made, the turn resolves each effect and card played, with varying outcomes depending on what decisions each player makes. Not only can this make nearly every resolution phase exciting and tense to watch for players and spectators alike, due to the large amount of action it can create huge opportunities to predict and outplay others.
Predicting an opponent’s decisions however can become difficult and sometimes frustrating guesswork if there isn’t elements in the game that foreshadow impactful plays.
One of the systems in Infinity Heroes that helps make the most of these mind games that certain players love is the hero selection. Each turn you choose from one of your three hero lineup, that turn you draw cards from that hero’s deck and you can use that hero’s ultimate units and abilities. This gives each player some hint of what type of cards they might want to consider playing around that turn, especially when it comes to the often super impactful ultimates.
The Attack, Support, and Defence Zones
In Infinity Wars units are initially played into the support zone and then deployed the next turn into the attack or defense zone where they attack or defend automatically during the turn resolution. This combined well with the simultaneous turn format to create mindgames about were each unit will be placed in combat, especially when lots of ability cards where powerful, but conditional on the target being in specific zones.
This combat system is returning in Infinity Heroes but has a small twist that helps not only focus on the best parts of this gameplay, but also allows the game to function on smaller devices. In Infinity Heroes each zone has a limited number of slots, three attack and support slots and up to two units in the defence zone.
This helps keep some of the on-board complexity under control that could occur when you had a dozen units on each side and it was nearly impossible to predict how your opponent might distribute them between zones, let alone in which order, which can matter a lot in combat. Due to this change, Infinity Heroes can concentrate on exciting moments of skill and put more focus on each individual unit in comparison to hordes of units.
The Purity System
Infinity Wars had an innovative faction/deckbuilding game mechanic called Purity. Each deck had three faction insignias associated with it. This system was attached to the commanders you played, but also dictated which cards could be added to that deck. A card with a higher purity to a faction was often more powerful but also able to be played in a smaller variety of decks as you might need two or even three of the faction insignias to be the same faction.
Infinity Heroes maintains the series history of innovative deckbuilding mechanics by nearly doing away with the concept of deckbuilding all together. It is an unfortunate reality that as amazing as deckbuilding can often be for physical card games, in digital card games the process of building a deck doesn’t often translate as well, creating a barrier of entry to many new players as they try to navigate clunky deckbuilder UI, with little idea of what a good deck looks like, and often lacking access to key cards to make those decks.
Instead Infinity Heroes has you choose a lineup of three heroes, each one coming with their own preconstructed assortment of units, abilities, hero power and ultimate cards. Not only do each of these heroes come with all the pieces you need to play, without paying additional time or money towards booster packs. This system of choosing three heroes is a callback to the old purity system, and by altering your lineup you can create synergies between the decks, which rewards you for swapping your active hero and reacting to specific strategies.
Our plan currently is to provide a free rotation of heroes to try each week, then if you find one you particularly love, you can purchase the hero outright. This system should let even the newest player quickly get into the game, both on a casual or competitive level depending on their interest.
If you really miss digital deckbuilding, our in game Hero Creator takes deckbuilding to groundbreaking new depths, allowing you to create nearly any deck you can imagine.
Never Forget the Fallen
With all of the talk of the new game on the horizon I wanted to address some questions that those from the community might have, especially about the original game. At a later stage I plan on having another article more dedicated to a Q&A style, so feel free to contact me with any questions I might have missed.
Q: Will you honor the original promise to make IW cross platform?
Whilst I wasn’t apart of Lightmare Studios during active development of Infinity Wars I know that making the game cross platform was attempted multiple times without success. Not only was the codebase not well suited for it, but more importantly the core gameplay and UI of Infinity Wars when actually made for mobile or tablet, didn't translate well at all. For example having ten units in each zone might work for PC, but this just isn’t viewable on smaller screens. A big part of Infinity Heroes is that from the ground up we are designing and developing with mobile and tablets in mind, so the community can enjoy the gameplay they love across a large variety of platforms.
Q: Will the original infinity Wars get more content/balance patches/bug fixes?
We would love to fix and maintain Infinity Wars, put in new content and devote more resources towards the original game again. However, we don't want to bite off more than we can chew. Returning to an old project and making changes isn’t an easy thing to do. However if Infinity Heroes is even moderately successful, that will mean we will have more resources that could be dedicated in this direction.
Q: What about Infinity Wars 2?
Even though Infinity Heroes is a spiritual successor to Infinity Wars, that doesn’t mean we haven’t been hoarding ideas about how we might make a direct sequel. We have years worth of thoughts on exciting new systems and improvements. Infinity Heroes is hopefully just one more game in the Infinity Wars universe. If during development Infinity Heroes gains enough traction and there's resources to make it, we shall.
That's all for this week, I hope you have found this small insight interesting. We’ll be going into more details of Infinity Heroes shortly, but if you have any questions you can can contact me on any of the platforms below: