In today’s write up we’ll be showcasing to you the progress we’ve made on one of the most important aspects of the game…our board itself!
Getting the board right has been an arduous process (and is still ongoing), but we hope in this article to be able to convey how something like this can take its time being developed and why all these particular details matter.
Older renditions of our board were on the surface — aesthetically attractive. It has a cool edgy theme to it and it looked great in promotional material, but upon scrutiny, it simply wasn’t functional enough to provide the kind of gaming experience expected from a higher-level TCG.
This write-up highlights many of the big changes we’ve made.
Please check out our Telegram announcement channel where we’ll also be including several attached images (for your full-scale viewing pleasure), alongside our design documents from developer to designer instructing on what needs to be done to realize our vision, in case anyone wishes to see the full nitty-gritty details of the importance of every aspect of the board’s design.
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So where do we start?
We guess the most obvious change would be the board’s entire theme changing. Here’s our old board and our latest rendition to compare.
Please, by all means, zoom in and have a deep look at comparing each board (or download it from the attachments in our announcement channel to view in full scale).
We don’t have a ‘board’ anymore, what we have instead is a battlefield. That’s where Shiryo is played, and rightfully so.
A physical board while easy to understand is quite limiting. It forces a certain play-style and ‘scale’ of the gaming experience, while having an open platform ties the game into the whole world, there are no borders in battle.
This freedom allows us to tie in the larger scope of additional Shiryo lore, such as the manga and other future potential expansions / DLC’s and other media formats.
The original board while by itself was visually very interesting, was also limited in how effectively we could immerse the player whilst interacting with the board. It felt like a one-way street, the player can look at the board but can’t ‘use’ the board.
An example of this is looking at the designs we have for elements represented in each corner of the previous board, they simply take up far too much real estate.
Though they were intended to have some animations within them, the vast area they take up and the functions they’d be able to execute — are quite limited compared to what we’re able to do with a freed-up environment.
The environment you’re looking at is one of our first ‘element themes’ (earth) and is one of the iterations we’ll be using in the 30 person test. We’re of course working on other elemental themes too, such as the following for the ‘water’ element.
While it might seem obvious now, having a specific element be thematically driving the board also allows us to add additional ‘glue assets’ which tie in with other assets in the board (and we’re able to add with the space we originally freed up), contributing to the how immersed the players experience will feel.
Glue assets are additional environmental assets that the players are able to interact with.
A word on ‘Glue Assets’ from our design document;
“Interactable glue assets on the sides/edges of the board should play special animations and/or sounds and work as secrets/easter eggs. We’ve previously spoke about special animations that are played when reaching max elemental whiles playing on that specific board (e.g. cracks and falling leaves appear once hit max earth elemental whiles playing on the earth board) but also we thought playing that elemental specific mythic card could play a cool animation that differs from max elemental, accompanied by a sound and screen shakes.”
Another clear change is the style and position of the players elemental indicators. While the element type remains the same, the position and overall styles have significantly altered. Thematically our artists were able to find inspirations from other areas of Shiryo that would be transferable across multiple board environment designs.
The positions and scale of these elements (while still being potentially adjusted), we’ve found visually pleasing in a more central layout adjacent to the players health. This way the players ‘game stats’ are all centralized in a more optimal way, allowing the best focus from a single glance as opposed to needing to ‘look all over the board’ to see your current status. Overall the result is less clutter and better for quicker decisions in-game.
From our design documents:
Elemental icons are shown during play with the idea of giving players a chance to build up a game plan or tactics on how to win their opponent. These should be shown before the mulligan so players have the chance to choose cards which have the best chance against enemy elementals.
These icons are currently placed to the right of the avatar health and rank frames. They should be aligned horizontally and equally spaced centrally between the avatar’s health and the player’s name/Gamertag.
Elemental icons should have a thin frame around them which matches the same colours and style as other board UI elements.
To accompany the elemental icons, the energy icons have changed significantly. Compared to the previous design, it had a visual representation that would require the user to quickly ‘count up’. Functionally this is inefficient for gameplay, players shouldn’t need to actively ‘tally up’ during a match and visually our artists felt we could refine how we were showing such vital information.
Like the element indicators, we changed the position to be more central (for optimal observation), and the visual aspect changed to a very easy-to-read dynamic number, so at a quick glance, you instantly know your energy. It’s a simple ‘quality of play’ improvement. Again, more space has been freed up, less visual clutter — and a more functional result.
Simply put we weren’t huge fans of the original player’s graveyards, and our artists had a lot of fun playing around with how we could represent such an important user interface feature.
Their idea was to condense the two graveyards into a single artistic element, prioritizing the visual of it with its functionality being exposed as a panel when a user clicks on it.
This pop-up panel enables the player to select their own or tab to their opponent’s graveyard simply and easily. It also enables a player’s discard pile to be viewable.
As I’m sure you can see by our design choice, we thought the best way to go was to make the graveyard an actual graveyard. We think it thematically fits significantly more than the previous design.
Look out for future secrets and easter eggs that might be around the graveyard.
A sample of instructions around our Graveyard from our design documents.
– On clicking on the deck in-game, there should be a small popup window/ tool-tip to show how many remaining cards are left, this can help players decide on a playstyle or tactic, whether they might need to play more aggressive as there might be less cards than they thought, or more defensive and safe if they have lots of cards left.
– On clicking the graveyard we should have a scroll box window that has a list of any cards that have been put in.
– Both deck and graveyard should be accessible on both player turns. However players should only be able to access enemy graveyards and not view how many cards an opponent has left in their deck, this can give too much of an advantage.
– We could also add some sort of discard pile icon, this would not be used as often as the graveyard but they are different things. Discarded cards cannot be played again that game, while cards from the graveyard may be re summoned or used again.
Whilst all the changes we’ve gone over so far have been improvements upon features we’d already revealed to you, one of the features I’m particularly fond of is our inclusion of a social system. This will include features like global chat, guilds, quests, friends and all the functionality that you’ve come to expect from those.
This kind of community integration is not common in TCG’s and one of the aspects that we want Shiryo to shine in — is the community.
The ability to quickly send your friend an invite, quickly spectate your guild leader in a match, or just being able to message your friend if you’re bored about how long they’re going to take. TCG’s are meant to be social, they’re based on board games that are supposed to be face-to-face and we want to capture as much of that experience as we can.
The social icon panel that we’ve designed thematically fits the menu systems, the UI and the overall vision that we’re striving towards.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our new board and the insights to its design, we’ve been working on it for a long time and we look forward to showing you it in action.