Converting the Open World Roam into Cards
Designing Hogs Of War The Card Game had us come against a big challenge mechanically!
In the PS1/PC classic, you could take your Hog across the map's terrain and attack from very far away, the mid-range and point-blank, from every conceivable angle, creating a sense of scale across distances and a freedom for the player to position their Hogs.
In the early stages we knew that this main element of the game play had to be in the Card Game. Two routes looked open to us.
Board/Tile roaming (DND style!) would give us the ability to move Hogs in all directions and allow a range mechanic based on number of tiles. A Rifle could hit a Hog 5 tiles away- the Cattleprod only 1 or 2 and so on. The cards could control this battle using a separate board and player console as an abstraction of the map. However this route pushed the price of the Box up and felt like a halfway house between Card Game and Board Game- looking at our future plans for the series, we felt we would be better to avoid a board for now!
(Above, an early inspiration for Hogs Of War, Wingspan, which uses a player console.)
The other route was entirely card based; we could use deck order- maybe the world changes through cards being pulled from a specific 'environment deck'? This was tested but was definitely thrown out early. As a positive, it easily created a world or game map for the Card Game as an abstracted deck but it severely constrained the player's ability to transverse that world.
I felt that if we wanted the player's to feel immersed in a battlefield spanning fight, we should allow them to modify that battlefield for their advantage. This is where- taking inspiration from videogames like League of Legends, DOTA and Heroes Of The Storm- we created the lane system that we are so proud of!
The Lane system has allowed a player to position his Hogs up to 5 intervals of distance away. These 5 intervals then give us the range constraints for most of the weapons in the game. It also allowed the player to move his Hogs as he wished, therefore giving the game that open world roaming feeling, but still allowed us to boil a complex (at the time) Videogame mechanic into an accessible, quick to play Card Game!
There is so much scope to layer mechanics on top as well. Many of the original elements of the game such as the Blimps, Tanks etc have now got a chance to be expanded on without making the game overly complex for the player.
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