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 Post subject: Game Design Analysis of Scrolls by Extra Credits
PostPosted: July 29th, 2014, 11:57 
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In-game name: SeeMeScrollin
Hi Scrolldiers,

Over the last few months I've spoken to numerous people from all areas of gaming to see what their thoughts are on the game we love. Different perspectives mean that we can gain a fuller picture of what strengths and weaknesses Scrolls has, and then feed that back to the devs to make of it what they will.

Last night, I was really pleased that Extra Credits' Dan Emmons (who handles the Design Club stream) started CCG week with Scrolls.

The VOD is here: http://www.twitch.tv/extracredits/b/552242113

For the tl;dr of you, the show notes have been expertly put together by our very own Ugster: :)

italic: notes from ugster

Criticism

    “The game is fine, it just needs to put me in a place where I can understand what I´m dealing with.”

    No guidance/pathing/curve of the player through the beginnings - players are thrown in (20:30)

    First thing players see is Lore & Tactics, not basics with the growth screen

    With scrolls bringing new players in the genre (mojang->mc), start from the beginning!

    Illogical order that it does not start with deckbuilder, but with playing

    Tutorial needs to be “found”, it´s not pointed out

    Hanging in the air after doing Tutorials - “Now what?”

    suggestion: progression through all the gamemodes one after the other with unlocks -> telling players what the should be doing by giving rewards

    you get gold: what is it for? how should you use it?

    he does not find the overview of achievements, which would guide him a bit, just notices if he gets one


Tutorial

    CD and Atk do not need to be told in turn 1 when it doesn't happen

    first movement of rat can´t happen when you are told how it works

    Why do you move your rat and don't attack 0 health idol?

    Why do you suddenly win the game?


Trials

    quickly become puzzles rather than teaching tools

    deck design of AI should be more specific (37:00 walls)


UI

    Ctrl feels cluttered

    Clicking on cards for effects (eg brother of the wolf) feels a little weird

    very limited sorting options in deckbuilder (by type)

    for beginners it's often confusing what happens if lots of stuff dies (ember bonds deaths), played cards should show longer

    When you play an enchantment/spell: Darken screen and highlight cards that can be targeted -> avoid misclicks with enchantments!

    what do the different gold rewards on the end screen mean?

    chat-system and rooms is “kind of weird”

    Give people (streamers/youtubers) the chance to turn off whispers to them! Youtuber Vechs had the same problem


Gameplay

    Strange that summoned units can move after getting played

    Very hard distinction between armor/magic armor! what helps vs which damage? Armor sounds like defense vs anything

    complex, there is a lot going on that needs attention which is hard to keep track of

    dislike of RNG (eg sudden eruption)

    he understood wild quick and well, don´t know how long he read up on it before, makes use of replenish

    hard accessibility for outsiders, because of huge variety of mechanics and effects -> TCG inherent problem


Card Design

    Keywords are not explained in scroll-text!!!

    cursemonger -> curse

    *dominion ward -> ward

    monstrous blood -> monstrosity

    Keywords should only be used when it ties a lot of cards together, eg inspiring is used very little, does it need a keyword?

    It´s very hard for new players to see rarity quickly. I've noticed this myself more than once

    No explanation what token means (eg shrine)

    Different unit types scrolls should differentiate in looks (creatures, structures, enchantment, spells)

    Confusion between base cd and cd, resources and current resource (eg bear paw)

    Lobber does not tell you what the attacked area is/how big it is

    cards have a lot of text -> for beginners more vanilla easy cards would be good

    “machine divinator, look at all that text, its gotta be good, right?” :D


Judgement

    Nice that there are fixed rarity rows -> does everyone get the same amount of rares? decreases variation and crazy fun decks, increases reliability

    I feel he jumped into judgement too early, maybe let the player unlock it after playing more matches to get a general understanding?

    drafting feels strategic but confusing for a new player -> all those cards

    suggestion: “tutorial judgement” when playing first, with less choices

    maybe highlight “Add Scrolls” button after drafting

    “lame” reward for losing 2 times

    choices get “really really” obvious near the end

    not liking single resource drafts


Release (2:03h)

    critique on missing campaign when releasing

    “b2p game means it is released in a lot of ways”

    a lot of mojang hype “wasted” on not having the game in a more finished state at beta-release

    can scrolls collect enough people back? thinks tablet-adaption will be good, but won´t give a lot more players



Praise

    Tutorial is well done

    nice that you mostly just get the info you need in that turn

    good that you get some tactics like “kill units, not idols”

    good that it shows you different cards to sac (bad and too high cost)

    likes hex grid and saccing mechanic/decision, very fun | he really enjoys saccing

    Trials do a great job explaining different tactics and teaching about the game

    UI and animations are nice, great access to information

    clicking and animations/visuals well designed

    Positioning is easy and a simple concept while providing depth

    Hovering over enchantments and keywords to get explanations is intuitive

    freedom in deckbuilder is cool and unique, stats are useful

    judgement lets you plan and see ahead

    aggressive mechanics dominion and pillage are fun and good for the game

    Nice use of hex-board in cards like thunder surge -> playing out strengths of Scrolls

    Likes the just for you section, ability to buy specific cards

    game is very deep and interesting

    good cross faction synergy: “energy structures care about structures, not energy cards - giving them wider synergy”

    drafting multiple resources makes for interesting games, depth

    he visibly enjoys large attacks with their animations, reacts to huge units


These notes are taken from: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fFLzb4RDYTU431MX3czCIjx8mQQvd45MF8HhYeQXuRI/edit?usp=sharing

------

So, thank you @EC_OtherDan for the review and thank you Ugster for putting the notes together.

I'm sure the devs will find this all very interesting, but what do you guys think.

Thanks

The Scrollsguide Team

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 Post subject: Re: Game Design Analysis of Scrolls by Extra Credits
PostPosted: July 29th, 2014, 13:28 
Spearman
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In-game name: Anonymouse753
Good to see outside interest in the game! I think his criticisms definetly hold water with what plenty of other people are saying. This game is very hard for beginners, and I think in order for Mojang to fix this, they need to look at the game from the beginner's perspective. Just from their long exposure to Scrolls, all of the GUI, rules, and deckbuilding makes sense to them, but as a new player, not everything instantly makes sense. While I do kind of enjoy the "find it yourself" attitude, it doesn't really fit in today's games.

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 Post subject: Re: Game Design Analysis of Scrolls by Extra Credits
PostPosted: July 29th, 2014, 15:09 
Infantryman
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Joined: Sat Jun 22, 2013
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In-game name: Dagothur
I watched a decent amount of the VOD, and the guy wasn't very good at the game. Not that it matters considering he is new, but he is a long time CCG player i expected more ;). Overall his experience with the game was good. He said he doesn't like hearthstone because of how easy the game is that even draft mode was pre-made in his head whenever he drafted. He knew exactly what he wanted for each class which made the game too boring for him.
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 Post subject: Re: Game Design Analysis of Scrolls by Extra Credits
PostPosted: July 29th, 2014, 16:15 
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Good to see some valuable constructive criticisms from an outsider. Lots of them make good sense.

A number of points are mainly to do with first time unfamiliarity with the UI.
=> sure it is important to make a game as accessible as possible. But you don't lose (potential) players because they don't want to play a few games to get to know the UI. Also things like 'more sorting options in the deck builder' etc. are nice-to-haves but completely irrelevant in attracting or keeping players.


>>> It is important that the game feels 'polished' on official release, with a smooth UI, some nice intros, a fun campaign, and solid features like the black market, a newbie-friendly judgement set-up, and (spectator) chat/interaction options. Scrolls for tablets would work well too.

Most important however is the size of the active player base. And for that core gameplay and handling of regular expansions remains key.

Mojang may have lost some steam with this extended beta, but they get one more shot at the official release with a solid promotional campaign. Please make it a good one!
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 Post subject: Re: Game Design Analysis of Scrolls by Extra Credits
PostPosted: July 29th, 2014, 22:19 
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In-game name: dmatthew
Quote:
Keywords should only be used when it ties a lot of cards together, eg inspiring is used very little, does it need a keyword?


This has been something that has been bugging me for a while now, actually. I'm glad this was brought up.
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 Post subject: Re: Game Design Analysis of Scrolls by Extra Credits
PostPosted: July 30th, 2014, 03:21 
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Quote:
When you play an enchantment/spell: Darken screen and highlight cards that can be targeted -> avoid misclicks with enchantments!


This! One thousand times this!

I can't tell you how often I did this when I was a beginner, and how frustratingly demoralizing it is!

When you are just starting out, you have to select the cards to read what they do and it is just way too easy to then accidentally cast the targeted spells/enchants on your own units that you are trying to move. There is actually some highlighting, but it is too subtle.

I've played hundreds of games now and I still burned my own unit again last weekend.
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 Post subject: Re: Game Design Analysis of Scrolls by Extra Credits
PostPosted: July 30th, 2014, 11:01 
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In a digital environment I like that they made a lot of keywords. It makes the text more clear and easy to see with your eyes and in the worst scenario you only have to put your mouse over the trait to know the "extra text". To me the biggest problem of Scrolls (about the ability of retaining players) is that it's not a casual game. I've played a little bit of Hearthstone recently and it's a lot casual and to me that makes some games super boring to me but that's less bad that someone that like casual games and gets crushed in a more hardcore game like it is Scrolls.

If you want your game to be a top sales the game has to be more casual but I like the strategic behind Scrolls and its complexity but it's true that we need more people so maybe it needs some multiplayer casual game (I'm thinking in some sort of 2v2 because it could be more casual and you can play with your friends and not only against them).
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 Post subject: Re: Game Design Analysis of Scrolls by Extra Credits
PostPosted: July 30th, 2014, 12:59 
Spearman
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4Robato wrote:
If you want your game to be a top sales the game has to be more casual but I like the strategic behind Scrolls and its complexity but it's true that we need more people so maybe it needs some multiplayer casual game (I'm thinking in some sort of 2v2 because it could be more casual and you can play with your friends and not only against them).


It doesn't have to be casual, it has to be accessible. People who are enthused about the concept behind the game, even people who are generally speaking "casual" gamers, are very likely to be prepared to commit to the complexity of the game if the game can prove quickly that it's worth their time and that they can learn and get better as they play, rather than having to spend as much of their evaluation time figuring the game out as playing it. If the game's accessible, people are unlikely to lose interest in that crucial initial period. Complexity doesn't have to mean confusing, and good design tends to want to ensure it's not. What's key is keeping the engagement, and at the moment Scrolls' opening is very oblique and inaccessible to people unwilling to go to an unreasonable length for a game they hardly know. Not a problem for people who KNOW it'll be good, or desperately want it to be so they keep playing anyway, but it's unlikely to hold the attentions of everyone else. We know how much fun this game is, but the average punter coming in isn't going to know that until they've familiarised themself with it, and at the moment there's no incentive to bother.
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 Post subject: Re: Game Design Analysis of Scrolls by Extra Credits
PostPosted: July 31st, 2014, 04:27 
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SeeMeScrollin wrote:
Trials

quickly become puzzles rather than teaching tools

Praise

Trials do a great job explaining different tactics and teaching about the game


Do these two statements seem contradictory?

Regardless, great read and incredible advice!
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 Post subject: Re: Game Design Analysis of Scrolls by Extra Credits
PostPosted: July 31st, 2014, 07:30 
Spearman
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In-game name: ugster
uwlryoung wrote:
SeeMeScrollin wrote:
Trials

quickly become puzzles rather than teaching tools

Praise

Trials do a great job explaining different tactics and teaching about the game


Do these two statements seem contradictory?

Regardless, great read and incredible advice!


Well, he finds them great teaching tools in the first place, having played only some of them. He likes the potential, but he wished it would be more heavily used.
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