Merging CCGs and RPGs: impossible?

Posted by arnaud on February 8, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Merging CCGs and RPGs: impossible?

Both CCGs and RPGs are both great and highly popular game concepts. Combining them would be even greater, wouldn’t it? Like cards that you can upgrade and equip at will?

Despite this sounds great at first sight, it bears contratictions within.

(I know there are games out there combining both genres “to some extend” but they are usually dealing with shortcomings too). Before I go on with the problems of combining these two genres, let us clarify what define these genres.

What are the essences of these genres?

CCGs are based on building a group of cards (or something else) that fit well together and that you can play with. The great gameplay interest is usually based on the wide diversity of tactics you can make using a group of cards …and collecting them to some extend.

RPGs are usually based on a hero (or a few) and is about upgrading and customizing it. Those definitions are pretty broad, so I hope you agree with them.

So, what’s wrong with combining them?

Now, imagine the combination of both: cards that you could upgrade and equip at will, endlessly. Despite it sounds great, it is opening a pandora box of problems.

First, a card image is not enough anymore to identify it. Remember, a card can have lots of different stats and abilities, right? Was it upgraded 3 times or 30 times? Just by looking at it, you have no idea at the strength of the card. Every card will be unique in some sense. You’ll need to read the associated attributes/abilities …for every card …and do a lot of number crunching. Wouldn’t this destroy the fun of the game? Won’t you miss the time, where just by glancing at a card you would now if it’s a weak or strong one? Or know it’s stats by heart?

Some CCGs allows you to upgrade cards, because, hey, it’s always fun to upgrade. And usually, the way to solve this is to put a low cap on how much the card can be upgraded. From 1 to 5 times usually, and a pre-defined evolution. That way, by looking at the card, you still know what it is and does. Actually, you could even say they are different cards, since there is no customization in the upgrade, they are all identical. Not very RPG-ish.

Now, to the second problem. If you can endlessy upgrade your cards, your starting cards would probably be the strongest. Why bother building another deck with lower level cards, it’ll be weaker! And it would take a lot of time to level up another deck to the level of the main one, it sucks! Instead, I should continue levelling the main one-and-only deck! In other words, all the fun of building different decks and trying out different strategies is gone. That would be a huge loss if you ask me.

So, apparently, “upgrading cards” sucks badly: you have to inspect each card to know the exact stats and building another deck is similar to reseting to level zero.

Are there ways around this? (1) Very limited card evolutions? (2) Evolving the “deck hero”?

As previously mentionned, (1) is the path followed by most games. There are a few pre-defined “evolutions” of a card, provided either by rarity or XP.

(2) As far as I know, this is less widespread. Some games like this probably do exist, but are less widespread.

What could evolving a “deck hero” look like?

I think, this could come in three flavors:

  1. making the “life counter” more HP, or with resistance, or attacking
  2. allowing to place stronger cards in the deck
  3. influencing the strength of the cards in the deck

What does it all have to do with creatures of Gaia?

A creature is like a card, and the team of six creatures is similar to a small deck. Indeed, there are more than hundred creatures, with many different abilities, and you have to pick your team wisely. In some sense,  it’s a mini CCG. ;)


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