Dev diary #6: How to make cards battles epics?

One of the challenges we faced was of course to answer the following question: how to create a cards game that contains epic fights?

This article is the sixth devlog for our relaunch of Drifter's Tales, a narrative board game available on Steam in early 2024 here:
Impactful visual effects

The first thing to do to release the epicness of a game is to work on the visual effects. So we've designed effects for each spell, item, summon, and enemy movement. Each animation must meet a few specific criteria:
  • each animation must be unique and easily identifiable
  • an animation must not interfere with the reading of stat changes (such as damage inflicted for example)
  • the more powerful the effects, the more the animation should be strong

Clear feedback

The other lever on which we can press to have epic and memorable fights is the feeling that the player can have with each action.

We have therefore particularly worked on feedback. The camera shakes depending on the damage inflicted or received, and the destroyed cards have a particular animation.

Also, the edges of the screen turn red when the player's life is below 50%. In the original game, this threshold was 25%, but our tests showed that this threshold was too low due to the low number of life points available to the player.

Keep player active during opponent's turn

Fighting in Drifter's Tales is a test of strength and strategy. As such, we've changed the way to play during the opponent's turn pending player actions. He will no longer be passive and various tests of speed and skill will await him.

Hidden mechanics

In our alpha testing, we iterated around to find out which things we can do to increase tension, and it turned out that the number of hit points was the central thing - much more than the number of cards on the playing board.

So when the player's hitpoints are below 50%, the game becomes a bit easier. On the contrary, above this 50%, the game is a little more difficult and the player will lose the first half of his life quickly. The player therefore has the impression of being on the go and this creates tension during the fights.