Kyle Poole, developer of the excellent Battle for Wesnoth iPhone and iPad ports, recently brought to our attention his upcoming cross-platform trading card game, Shadow Era. To learn more about the game and what Kyle’s goals are in terms of pushing the genre forward, we asked him a few questions.
How long has Shadow Era been in development?
Kyle: I started Shadow Era back in January by hiring some of the best artists I could find on Deviant Art. I spared no expense, aiming for a quality even beyond that found in the top physical trading card games like Magic.
From the beginning I chose to develop the game in 3D using the Unity3D engine. This allowed me to easily do some great special effects for the card abilities, as well as enabling cross-platform support not only for the iPhone and iPad, but also for the web, PC, Mac, and even Android phones. Recently I launched Wulven Game Studios here in Vietnam to finish development and support the game.
Why a digital trading card game over more mainstream genres?
Kyle: I noticed that this was something missing on the iPhone. While there were already a few card games, they all had extremely simple strategy and played much more like a simple casual game. Having been a long-time Magic player, I wanted to bring the complex strategy to my favorite gaming device, and I found a lot of people shared in that desire.
What TCG is Shadow Era most comparable to?
Kyle: Shadow Era is most inspired by the more strategic trading card games such as Magic: The Gathering and World of Warcraft TCG. While certainly being on the more “hardcore” end of the TCG spectrum, it’s also easy to learn to play, as available card choices or targets are clearly highlighted in the game. My goal is to create a unique blend of strategy, interesting card abilities, engaging multiplayer and single-player campaign modes, and of course amazing card art!
In a nutshell, what is the gist of Shadow Era’s backstory?
Kyle: The story will come out in the missions, so I don’t want to spoil everything for your readers! But basically it was a typical medieval world until a dark portal suddenly opened up and evil Shadow creatures came forth. Why and how and what you need to do about it are revealed as you play through the game and level up.
What are some examples of different card abilities?
Kyle: Cards can have many different abilities, everything from doing direct damage, to damage over time, to more complicated things like sacrificing an ally in play to resurrect a dead ally. We also have a thread going on our website where players can make suggestions for cards they would like to see in the future.
What social aspects will be implemented into Shadow Era?
Kyle: Friend lists will let you easily challenge other players, while joining player guilds give structured rankings and competitions. Of course, social site tie-ins such as posting achievements to your Facebook wall or Twitter will be there, and eventually the web version of Shadow Era will also be a full-fledged Facebook app.
Will there be online multiplayer? If so, is it going to be real-time, staggered, or both?
Kyle: There are two types of multiplayer modes in Shadow Era. The simplest one has you playing against another player’s deck that is controlled by AI. Think of it as a “Mafia Wars” style challenge, where the other player doesn’t have to be online to play against them. This game mode is popular when you want to test your strategy against other players without the hassles of finding a live opponent.
On the other hand, the live multiplayer mode is fully cross-platform and in real-time, enabling you to play against a PC player while on your iPhone, for example. The game is designed for relatively quick matches, about 5 minutes long.
What is the extent of Shadow Era’s single-player campaign?
Kyle: There is actually a full single-player campaign for each Hero class. It tells the story of Shadow Era from the perspective of each class, and players are free to switch classes when they obtain new Hero cards. The content in the single-player campaigns will keep players challenged for quite some time, and the repeatable endgame missions and tournaments will ensure that there is always something to do.
What is the roadmap for the future of Shadow Era post-launch?
Kyle: We plan to release new booster packs with about 200 new cards every 6-8 months. We expect the game to be going strong years from now, and we’ll make sure to release new content to keep up with demand.
What is your vision of the future of digital TCGs?
Kyle: Hopefully Shadow Era will show what is possible in a quality TCG: great gameplay, extensive cross-platform support, and a focus on single-player as well as multiplayer modes. For me, a TCG that can follow you everywhere and scale the experience to your current device, while enabling you to easily play with people worldwide is everything I wanted. I’ll spare you a cliche quote like “the future is now” 😉