Duels of the Planeswalkers Q&A

זהוי הגרסא האנגלית המקורית של הראיון שערכתי.

I've fairly recently started playing the latest digital version of the world's most popular CCG, Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers (DotP) on Steam. As a long time fan of Magic I wanted to get some more insights into the game and why it is the way it is. To do that I contacted Wizards of the Coast and got some questions answered by Michael Gills – the Digital Brand Manager.

So let's begin:

How did DotP come about? What was the design intent and direction? Do you feel it achieved both?
Duels of the Planeswalkers was originally envisioned as a way for digital gamers to either experience Magic: The Gathering for the first time or reconnect with the game. While we have continued to add additional content for lapsed or existing players, like the challenges, its main focus remains as a way for new players to discover Magic.
We were pleasantly surprised to see just how successfully it functioned as an introduction to Magic for new players and as a fun game for existing players as well.
How is DotP situated in relation to Magic: The Gathering Online in the market? What are the main differences between the two games?
Duels of the Planeswalkers is a great introduction to Magic: The Gathering that provides players with a twitchy, arcade style play experience. Magic Online is a digital version of the full Magic: The Gathering gameplay experience.
I like to think of Duels as the friendly player or staff member at your local game store that teaches you how to play and gives you a few decks to practice with and Magic Online is a digital version of the store where you can purchase product, trade cards, build decks, and enter tournaments.
DotP is distributed through Xbox Live Arcade and Steam. Why go with digital distribution? Why is the PC distribution exclusive to Steam?
As an introductory product, we wanted Duels of the Planeswalkers to get as wide of a distribution network as we could while maintaining the quality level and customer experience that our customers associate with the Magic brand. Distributing it through premier services like XBLA and Steam (and soon PSN) allows us to get it out in front of the largest audience possible while keeping our commitment to quality.
Since a lot of the depth in Magic is contained in the construction of decks, why is that omitted from DotP?
When a new player is learning Magic, you start with pre-constructed decks so they can focus on learning the game mechanics and interplay with their opponent. We already offer the full Magic: The Gathering experience digitally with Magic Online so we wanted to create an easier entry point into the brand that focused on the core reasons the majority of our customers find Magic fun while removing some of the distraction.
Editing existing decks is also very limited in DotP. Why not allow removal of cards from decks or changes to land numbers? Is this planned to be added in the future?
Duels of the Planeswalkers is focused on creating the best new player experience possible and supporting quick and easy gameplay for existing players. While we can’t talk about our future plans, we definitely listen to our customers and respond quickly to requests that align with our ultimate goal, which is creating the most fun introduction (and reintroduction) to Magic in the most accessible way possible.
One of two kinds of issues I've encountered while playing DotP is problem with timing effects and activation. How much weight was this area given during development and how hard is it to program a timing sensitive game like Magic? Can we expect fixes for this?
Duels of the Planeswalkers is the first digital product we designed primarily for the new or lapsed player. As such, the game needs to move along. New players should see the fun of the various interactions in Magic: The Gathering while not having to worry as much about more detailed aspects such as timing and priority.
Our digital studio spends a lot of resources on supporting these types of details in Magic Online and is focusing its efforts more on introductory play for Duels.
The other area was the inability to select lands for tapping to power spells. Are there plans to allow more player control over this?
Our developers are always working on improving the AI aspects of Duels. There are no current plans on allowing players direct control over tapping resources.
Why do cooperative games on the PC require a gamepad? Can that requirement be waived sometime in the future to allow more PC gamers to play co-op? How about remote co-op?
We felt that the game-pad provided players with a better cooperative multiplayer experience than the other options we had available at the time Duels was developed. We are always exploring ways to improve the experience and remote co-op is one possibility we are looking at for the future.
Can you tell us about the challenges and experience of building AI for a game based on Magic? How intimately are the AIs tied to the different decks?
Several members of our R&D team have worked extensively with Stainless Games on the development of the AI and the challenges in Duels. Since we have reached the size limit for the XBLA game, they frequently have to make trades between what type of cards are selected for decks and challenges due to the level of complexity the AI would need to parse.
What do the two expansions already out add to the game? What kind of support and expansions can we expect for this game in future expansion or updates?
The two currently released expansions add on additional challenges, achievements, decks to unlock, and cards for the base game decks. Basically if a player is enjoying Duels of the Planeswalkers and wants more content they should check out the expansions.
We are currently working on additional future content for Duels of the Planeswalkers as well as the upcoming PS3 launch.

So there you have it. If you have any more ideas, suggestion or issues, Wizards' customer support is probably the way to go.

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