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Home / Technology / Exclusive: Valve takes us through Artifact's new demo, letting us want more

Exclusive: Valve takes us through Artifact's new demo, letting us want more



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Enlarge / Getting one's artifact on.

Valve Software

Editor's note: The two videos in this feature include transcripts and many of their details appear in the text and galleries of the article. So, however you want to find out about Valve's latest video game, Ars has your back.

BELLEVUE, Washington-Right, as this article goes live, Valve Software takes the next video game, Artifact in a great way. At this year's PAX West Expo in Seattle, eager fans are eager to play the first public demo of Valve's online trading card game (TCG), and they have good reason to be excited.

I'm not just saying that because of the pedigree of the game ̵

1; designed by the creator of the world's largest TCG, Magic: The Gathering and charged by the fantasy world and the characters of the Valve Smash Dota 2 . I'll say it because Ars already went hand in hand with this PAX West demo, thanks to an exclusive invitation to Valve's headquarters before the show. I had a nice time. In addition, unlike the attendees of PAX, I had quite the guide over my shoulder: MtG 's creator and Artifact lead designer Richard Garfield.

With so much access, I took the opportunity to thoroughly analyze the game at an early stage before launching on November 28 on Windows, Mac, and Linux (with an iOS and Android version from 2019). So if you can not come to PAX West this weekend, do not worry: my interview with the development team and my narrative look at the game could be better than waiting in a PAX Artifact line.

A Post-Token World

A first look at Artifact with lead designer (and trading card game legend) Richard Garfield. Video shot by Karel Bauer and edited by Justin Wolfson. Click here to read the log.

"It's a card game," Garfield says as he looks at the mouse over card options during the fight. "You should always draw more cards."

Garfield may be a seasoned and thoughtful game designer, but he's not a friendly instructor. I have to get him to describe exactly how the game works. For the first few moments I played the game (which I briefly sampled at an event in March), he urged me to run the corpse-lined floor.

" Artifact is an electronic trading card game," Garfield says when pressed. "You assemble a deck, and you compete to be the first to knock down two of your opponent's towers, or if you knock them down twice, that's OK."

From then on Garfield immediately Artifact describes the differences to other TCGs, both on the tabletop and on the electronics, without destroying the elements, traditions and quirks of the genre. For the Uninitiated: In games like MtG by Wizards of the Coast and Blizzard's Hearthstone players are expected to build a card game with martial powers, including damage, healing, and armor. The game has some strict rules, including the expectation that you will defend your half while attacking the other half, but the gameplay is largely determined by the cards in a player's deck – whether the cards are one of openness or defense, fast attacks or drawn cards are tactics and so on.

He points out the great differences in his game to other electronic TCGs: "Any number of creatures in the game at the same time", "any number of cards in your hand" and three different – still connected arenas in which you can play with cards and deal with them. As a result, each Artifact match turns out to be a huge virtual table that would not fit into an average, real flat.

Garfield can not stress enough how much the possibility of tons of cards has driven his dreams of making an electronic TCG. One point of inspiration came from a true MtG match in which a player had to deal with too many unwieldy components.

"Someone had 30 creatures or something ridiculous," says Garfield. "They had all these tokens, I thought a computer could do that better than my tabletop, so why can not I play that experience on a computer?"

He praises other electronic TCGs, especially Hearthstone and CD Project Red's Gwent. Garfield calls her "wonderful" and "fresh". He also makes no secret of what he misses in these and other electronic games: depth and scope.

"Electronic card games made up to that point were much easier than paper card games," says Garfield. "That seemed a shame to me because you have this resource, a computer that can handle much more complicated things than a tabletop." That was around 2015, says Garfield, and by that time, his former assistant on the coast, Chris Green, was working at Valve. (Green has since left the developer.) Through this existing friendship, Garfield eventually brought Valve's offices a card-on-computer design document.

His early idea had no links to Dota or fantasy worlds, or even any existing IP. Instead, they focused more on the reasons Garfield missed. MtG 's digital versions, up to that point, had left. In particular, he thought the disruption system of MtG was not well translated into online games – "you always have to be alert to what your opponent is doing," he says. Other gameplay elements have been changed for online versions to "make the game easier".

"The game I envisioned [to Valve] was more of, we take away the boundaries," says Garfield

"That narrows you"

After thinking about Garfield's design document and looking forward to the idea of ​​winning MtG 's creator for a valve game, a newly formed team did not take long to win the design of this prototype on the Dota Universe

"One has to look at the whole spectrum of possibilities that were available to us" Artifact Project Manager Brandon Reinhart says. "We could make a new intellectual property, and there are a lot of costs and risks involved, we could use one of our existing IPs, and when we looked at these options, Dota made a lot of sense."

Both Reinhart and Garfield emphasize that Dota gave the designer team space to invent a lot of ideas while creating some boundaries. " Dota is an open book," says Reinhart. "We can add new chapters, and a deck of cards wants to create new chapters, and every set, every expansion, wants to explore the world."

I expressed Garfield his thoughts on licensed card games about which he had spoken the past – saying that Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh TCGs during a late boom The prices rose in the 1990s and early 1990s. "Where [other games] really has problems is where [a license] is not wide," he says. Also, where the person in charge does not want you to add a lot of things because it does not fit the tradition they already have. Dota was very open Adding things and at the same time it had enough tools to easily fill something like the deck of cards we were working on. "

Thus, the team immediately had access to a number of existing "hero" characters, and as a result, players' decks of cards revolve around these heroes, who end up as simpler, grunt warriors on the gaming table. known in the Dota world as a "creeps". Most of your deck of cards is dedicated to Spell Cards, and these are all color-coded, just like the hero cards. Each round of play extends over the three arenas or "tracks" of the playing field. In any fairway, you can only play magic cards if they match the color of a hero on the same track. (You also have to manage "mana" points, similar to MtG but Artifact makes the mana a little easier, refreshing between each round and growing by one point.

The "reaction system" of Magic has been modified to give players time to play a card or spell in a lane, while turns are taken alternately via an "Initiative" tokens and token A second currency, borrowed from Dota is priced in: Gold You can sacrifice your cards as a defensive move to keep your important towers from being damaged, but this will give your opponent more gold that they spend on equipment cards Once these are purchased, they go into a player's hand and can be played without mana requirements whenever appropriate.


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