Card Hunter psychology both now and into the future

Discussion in 'Card Hunter General Chat' started by Sir Knight, Sep 22, 2013.

  1. Sir Knight

    Sir Knight Sir-ulean Dragon

    Because this forum hasn't suffered one of my essays in far too long . . .

    A. Card Hunter is a collectible card game for players who want the extra depth of context on a game board. This tabletop-like context dynamically changes how cards behave and how they are valued.

    B. Card Hunter is a tabletop game for players who want the extra randomness of cards. This card-game-like randomness dynamically changes how board position is attained and how it is valued.

    C. Card Hunter is a strategy game that requires players to utilize the concepts of collectible card games and tabletop games to overcome traditional and new videogame challenges.

    I list these because I was thinking about the psychology of the Card Hunter player, how it's learned by growing players, and how it clashes with new players who come to dislike the game. Specifically, I was thinking of the "standard complaints." I wonder whether these complaints will be a force that breaks the game, or something that fades away over time, or just something that longstanding posters will always have to face.

    You can stop reading now, because everything else is just details.

    Dwarf Fortress, a very complex and difficult game, has "standard complaints." People come by the forums and say:

    "The interface is bad. How can you expect anyone to play this game without a usable interface?"
    "The difficulty is unreasonable. How can you expect anyone to play this game without reasonable difficulty?"
    "The graphics are terrible. How can you expect anyone to play this game without decent graphics?"

    You can argue all you want about these points but it doesn't change the twofold truth. First, that the interface needs improvement, the difficulty is tremendous, and the graphics are ASCII (unless changed by the player). Second, that everybody who "plays this game" already knew that some groups of people would be turned off by these details. Complaints may be valid, but longstanding posters know all the responses by heart.

    Card Hunter, a very complex and difficult game, is gradually developing its "standard complaints." I pieced together some a few months ago. Again:

    1. "I don't like cards connected to items. Eliminate that system."
    2. "I don't like actions dependent on random draws. Eliminate randomness."
    3. "I don't like power restrictions on items. Eliminate that system."
    4. "I don't like how level interacts with XP gain and such. Eliminate level dependencies."
    5. "I don't like Armor/Blocks/whatever is defeating me right now. Eliminate that system."

    Or to expand from here:

    6. "It's impossible to know how to prepare my deck because this game doesn't give me enough information."
    7. "It's impossible to prepare my deck because this game doesn't give me enough items."
    8. "I don't like preparing my deck. Let me complete the game without deckbuilding."

    All you have to do is toss in other words like "here, I have a suggested alternative that surely will make this game more popular," or "this is just a ploy to get me to spend money," or even "how can you expect anyone to play this game without a more reasonable system?" and you'll get the various levels of politeness or rudeness from such threads.

    You can argue all you want, and of course all these complaints are valid. However, notice the text in bold at the top of this thread.

    Longstanding followers from Card Hunter's development expected a system of A, B, and C from the start. New and growing players must learn to appreciate and utilize this three-in-one definition of the game.

    If someone doesn't want to play the whole game, then of course there's going to be a problem. Longstanding posters have been mapping A, B, and C to 1-8 for a long time now. What prompted me to write this essay, though, was wondering whether the "standard complaints" could change. Say, whether they could fade away over time. Consider:

    2, 5, 7, 8. Eventually, people furious with randomness will get the knowledge and the items to minimize poor-rolling Armor or often-drawn Move cards. (Or quit.)
    5, 6. People furious with strategy will learn that, yes, if the module says "there are animated trees in here" they might want to bring fire. (Or quit.)
    1, 3, 4, 5, 8. People furious with deck management will gain a deeper understanding of how tabletop games AND card games AND strategy games work. (Or quit.)

    Then people will have higher-level characters and a decent item pool. There will be an established presence among the gamers of the world. And then Blue Manchu may expand the content.

    What will happen when the people who now use only Reliable Mail go to check out this "new expansion?" Or the people who learned that "Human" means "this jerk has Parry"? New single-player levels, or even a new tier of multiplayer (e.g., level 36), will now be approached by a flood of people who know the definition of the game.

    Will there be a new "Compass of Xorr is too hard! There's too much Parry!" in the higher levels? Will there be "It's literally impossible to play multiplayer when your hand is randomized!" in the higher tier?

    I'm guessing that when people complain about the expansions, it will be more for actual balance errors. People who know what the game is SUPPOSED to be will speak of it differently, and the "standard complaints" will apply mostly to the "classic" content.

    The most interesting place to test player psychology will be any new cooperative multiplayer.

    In such a mode, anyone can play. But we presume such a mode is far in the future. So I ask: by that point, will "Card Hunter psychology" have formed a strong enough presence that people coming to this game will know what to expect? Maybe there will even be other games with design identical to Card Hunter and it will be a known "genre."

    Or will the new cooperative forums be filled with a thousand new "standard complaints," and longstanding posters just have to deal with it? Critically, it's not just a matter of a single newbie on a forum: the cooperative nature of the game means that now a gaming group must work amongst its members to resolve a clash. What may be "an ideal venue for DM-ing" to one may be "an impossible mishmash of randomness" to the others.

    Given the example of Dwarf Fortress, I think it's clear that "standard complaints" don't go away. They may get better: in that example, there are plenty of other "roguelikes," and even games that directly reference Dwarf Fortress, and so the "Dwarf Fortress psychology" is something people can understand.

    Thus longstanding Card Hunter people should probably prepare for the long haul. And be polite as they do it. Clashing expectations are inevitable. But by the basic example of other internet communities and other tricky videogames, new people need to understand: their complaints may be valid, but longstanding posters know all the responses by heart.
  2. Phaselock

    Phaselock Bugblatter

    lol...'keep it in and then let go in 1' :p

    a) I'd expect any 2 bit dev with half a brain to pick up on the uniqueness of yes, there will be other games with identical/similar designs.
    b) Any online game with a relatively 'high entry level' generates a lot of complaints, largely because everyone pick up knowledge at different levels/speed. I doubt CH has a high entry level ... its the depth that make mastery difficult. Which in turn makes customers annoyed/resistant. The modern so-called gamer wants his 'fix and glory' in the time it takes to snap his fingers, rather than sit and (gasp!) think of a winning line.
    c) Forums are forums. Numbers don't lie in game no matter the forum complaints. Plus I'm pretty sure that CH attracts a ton of minors. Shrugs...
    ParodyKnaveBob likes this.
  3. xienwolf

    xienwolf Goblin Champion

    I yearn for the day that people universally understand that there are many different games out in the world, and not every one will appeal to them personally....

    Till then, this is a pretty decent take on what to expect for all foreseeable future of CH. I may try for the same approach/analysis in a few other games I frequent...
    ParodyKnaveBob likes this.
  4. ratapwnz

    ratapwnz Kobold

    I think randomness always ruin multiplayer potential of any game. If you play vs AI in single player u can face that dice throws can be your enemy. And its ok, coz u fight AI, AI manage random numbers - all seems legit.

    But when u fight another players.. well it like between you and him - who have best tactical skills, think deeper and overall can play better. So when you dominate you oponent but he wins by some random dice throws.. fffss its really unacceptable for me. I can play with some random features, you can keep them in mind and build strategy depending on any results. But when ALL RANDOM, from your hand (full randomness every turn) to your damage/blocks.. Not sure i want hurt my nervs that way.
  5. Kalin

    Kalin Begat G'zok

    Other CCG/TBS hybrids like Sanctum from 1998? I played that when it was new, but wouldn't spend any money on it, so I could only play unranked matches.
  6. progammer

    progammer Ogre

    My definition of dominating is kinda different. If I considered I am dominating my opponent, I have taken into account what he could draw and what dice can failed. Things like making sure they are out of position and frozen to death. Making sure they can never reach me, always have a backup plan, backup finish. Or making sure he is out of cards etc... Unless I can do that, I never feel dominating so I never feels anything unfair if luck just suddenly spiral out of control. Just sharing a mindset.
    ParodyKnaveBob and Phaselock like this.
  7. Keyser

    Keyser Goblin Champion

    Ratapwnz just did a nice job illustrating complaint #2. I wonder if we can collect the whole set in this thread.
    ParodyKnaveBob likes this.
  8. Sir Knight

    Sir Knight Sir-ulean Dragon

    I'd rather not gripe too much, if possible. But I knew that a thread like this would get different sorts of emotions going. It's totally okay.

    (I'm just impressed ANYBODY READ IT.)

    Phaselock: thanks for the response. I made one edit to the section you quoted:
    I wanted to bring up a possible conflict among gamers. RPG groups have to deal with DM/player expectations, and many Card Hunter forum members have said they want to "DM" a custom game with their friends. Thus my warning about a new type of frustration we might see on the forums: both "why is the Card Hunter DM system so [insert complaint here]?" and "I just lost all my gaming friends because of you! I want my pizza back!"

    Kalin: I was unfamiliar with Sanctum, I think. Good to know.
  9. funny

    funny Mushroom Warrior

    It's a proven fact about humans that we are quite bad in knowing what we (really) want or what makes us happy.
    Designing games is quite difficult, and i think if you want to suggest an improvement you should think really hard about it.
    Otherwise it may go like i read in an interview with the pokemon developer, he said he would read some suggestions aloud to the team and they would all laugh about it.
    ParodyKnaveBob likes this.
  10. kogi

    kogi Ogre

    Curious what your gaming background is? Play any tabletop at all? Warhammer? Battletech?
  11. ratapwnz

    ratapwnz Kobold

    MTG - about 4 years, most of time sealed tourneys. Also very little expierence with berserk. Also much D&D and different self-made games where no clear rules at all.
    About PC games: i play dota2, dota1 on competitive level, Tyrant (tcg game), world of warcraft.

    Why u ask? You wanna tell that all tabletop got much random and it's ok?
  12. kogi

    kogi Ogre

    Nope. Just curious. Tabletop definitely has less random. Where you choose your own units before the start of the game. So I thought your frustration might stem from that.
  13. Keyser

    Keyser Goblin Champion

    It would be interesting to know what the gaming backgrounds of those who love & hate the game are. I've played all sorts of games, but the last several years have been mostly Euro games and bridge. My sense is Cardhunter fits the psychology and skill/luck mix of the Eurogamer very well.
  14. Gerry Quinn

    Gerry Quinn Goblin Champion

    Quite a few people have mentioned poker and it does seem to me that people who like poker are more likely to enjoy this game. You have to be philosophical about being murdered by the cards in a high-randomness environment, and just hope to prevail in the long run by making the best decisions with what you get!

    I enjoy picking the strategy at the start, and then optimising my play from turn to turn depending on what's actually happening. Once you are playing a scenario and mobs have (say) tough armour, it becomes largely irrelevant whether you remembered to pack a lot of armour dissolving cards or not, because you still have to hack away with what you have, turn by turn (sure, if there's a ton of anti-armour stuff on your gear, you can wait for it to some degree, but you still want to make the most of the cards you have at any given time).
    ParodyKnaveBob likes this.
  15. Barkam

    Barkam Mushroom Warrior

    If the game is all luck then why am I consistently number 1 if not 2? And this is the guy that lady luck shuns.
  16. Keyser

    Keyser Goblin Champion

    You must have remortgaged your house to get some phat lewt, because this game is 50% luck and 50% P2W. :rolleyes: /sarcasm
    ParodyKnaveBob likes this.
  17. ratapwnz

    ratapwnz Kobold

    Its mostley come from real-time online games i think, where overall trend is less random.
  18. Bandreus

    Bandreus Thaumaturge

    Awesome read! I'm an avid DF player (can't wait for new release btw) so I know exactly where you're coming from.

    I think we can safely expect that list of standard complains to stay, and possibly grow longer. I don't think I can add much to the topic, as your post was very encompassing. But I wanted to stress the following.

    I think the current CH's community is very welcoming to new players. People is no doubt going to be confused (and possibly frustrated) when they first play the game. This is going to be especially true for casual player (i.e. a lot of people).

    If we want CH to grow as large as possible, being understanding and patient towards newcomers is going to be key, both in-game and in the forums. People who just don't like the game, or the less involved players, will naturally leave, regardless. But a welcoming environment is the deciding factor in assuring good players stay.

    That's something I like a lot about the bay12 forums: 99% of the people there won't ever get tired of replaying to the same questions over and over again. You never get replies like "just use the search button", the community there is just that amazing.

    I hope the CH's forums get as amazing as the DF's ones.
    ParodyKnaveBob likes this.
  19. Gentlecow

    Gentlecow Orc Soldier

    This is a good essay.

    But Dwarf Fortress is a stupid game! For reasons A, B and C. ;)
  20. Sir Knight

    Sir Knight Sir-ulean Dragon

    Yay! And yes, I've been waiting for that new release. It's remarkable how many interesting features you can fit into a single game.
    Darn it! And here I was all excited for the new release, thinking it would feature in-game collectable cards AND tabletop pieces! I'll have to quit in disgust. (Insert sound of clearing throat here.)
    Oh thank goodness. Because, of course, in addition to the "standard complaints," there are threads of "you jerks aren't giving enough respect when people complain." We try. We really do.

    And when things go wrong, I just have to remind myself of XKCD.
    Bandreus likes this.

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