Here's an update on what's going on with Sirlin Games. We're working on physical and digital versions of all three of the announced card games: Yomi, Flash Duel, and Puzzle Strike.
The digital versions will appear on a new site with all sorts of nice multiplayer features. The site will use Flash while the games will themselves will be in Unity. Even cards are more fun in 3D. We're sadly lacking in Flash and UI artists, and I don't know what we're going to do about that yet, but functionality and design are coming along.
Yomi is now at version 8.0, which is really more like 800 or something. New decks here (scroll down in that link to download pdfs fo all the decks). This new version has been a long time coming because we completely changed the way the card images are generated. The new method is a pain in the ass, while the old method was a gigantic pain in the ass, so that's a great improvement. Also, there's a bunch of new art in this version, but also several placeholder pieces. There might be technical problems here and there with the new cards, but you'll tell us pretty quickly I bet, and we'll fix them.
To play Yomi before its actual release, you could print your own physical version from the pdfs linked above, cut them out, and sleeve them against CCG cards or something. Or to playtest online, you're stuck with having to use Lackey for now (see forums). We're working hard to change this state of affairs though!
For our upcoming "real" online version, we're working on the core functionality of playing Yomi. That means seeing cards in your hand, dragging them around to rearrange them, playing to the table (face down or face up), looking through discard piles, and so on. We're basically starting by creating a virtual table that doesn't know the rules of Yomi, but at least lets you play the game in a reasonable and easy way if you do know the rules. And that just feels good when it comes to moving cards around, drawing them, playing them, etc. We're trying to make it feel really nice! More on that in a future post.
We have a lot of features lined up for this new site, but our first goal is to get the basic mechanics of our virtual card table, and having those 3D cards look exactly the same as the print version's cards. When just *that* works, even though parts will look ugly (things like placeholder text for your health instead of a nice looking health bar), even though the site itself will be entirely placeholder art, we're going to let you guys try it. That will be weeks from now still, but I think it's better to get it into someone's hands early than to wait months instead of just weeks.
After we reach this first goal, we'll then add the game logic to enforce all the rules of the game, and I think we'll also add rule-less versions of Flash Duel and Puzzle Strike so you have an easier way to play test those games, too. If you're willing to put up with in-development, placeholder stuff, you can help us develop the site and the games together.
For some reason, it's taken literally years to get the necessary art for Yomi. Certainly not for lack of me paying money, I'll tell you that much. Anyway, let's take a look at Valerie Rose, Manic Painter (by GenzoMan):
Valerie has heterochromia, meaning she has one blue eye and one green eye. She "sees things differently," and expresses herself through painting. Emotionally, she experiences highs and lows, which she believes gives her even more appreciation for the full spectrum of human feelings. She also happens to like both boys and girls--a crime in the capital city of Flagstone. She now lives at Rook's Morningstar Sanctuary, a protected city labeled as "enemy of the state" by Flagstone. She serves as Rook's artistic advisor, alongside Max Geiger, Rook's scientific advisor.
Valerie's punch, kick, block, dodge, and throw sprites (by Long Vo):
This game is now a "Final Candidate" phase. That means it might be done, but there's still time to correct balance problems should they arise in play testing. There have been a few changes to the game recently with Grave and Midori getting some different abilities, and Lum being revamped. As far as we know, there are no "god tier" or "garbage tier" characters.
I usually link to the images of the cards and rules, but now you can find both those links on Flash Duel's boardgamegeek.com listing.
I'm going to get some proofs of the final game in two or three weeks, and if those go well, you'll be able to buy the game (in physical card form) a few weeks after that. This is the simplest of the three Fantasy Strike card games, so it's no surprise that it will be the first one finished. That said, I think you'll find it very easy to teach, even to non-gamers, and the 45 different character matchups are pretty fun to experiment with.
This game has gone through many iterations lately, with lots of changes to the system's rules as well as the chips (the "cards") in the system. (More info on the game in the forums.) It's one of the more interesting systems I've dealt with because it involves several opposing forces that just barely seem to cancel each other out. That means that small changes in balance or rules have big effects, sometimes disastrous ones.
In Puzzle Strike, the metaphor is that you're sending gems from your gem pile to the opponent's gem pile, and vice versa. If your pile gets too full, you lose. But when your pile has a lot in it, you also get an advantage. The "purple chips" interact with the gem pile while all the other chips play a supporting role. The supporting chips completely dominated the game for a while. After toning them down a bit and changing a few rules, the purple chips completely dominated the game. Even buffing the other chips seemed to do nothing, and players would build degenerate decks with only about 13 total chips in a game where the entire point is to keep buying new things for your deck.
A couple small changes had huge effects in changing that dynamic. Now, buying a new chip for your deck each turn isn't optional: you must do it. (There's a horrible 0-cost chip you must buy if you can't afford anything else). This means degenerate 13-chip decks are no longer possible. It also loosened up the game enough to at least consider buying a mix of purple and supporting chips. Another change to the way purple chips work did the rest of the job by making it more viable to play both purple and non-purple actions on a single turn. In the current state, it seems that larger decks with a great variety of builds are viable.
There's also a set of opposing forces that drive the game to an end, or make it last longer. On the one hand, you must "ante" one gem into your gem pile each turn. This force drives the game toward an end because you lose when that pile is too full. But the system of attack and defense where you send gems to other players and block incoming gems makes it possible to theoretically stalemate the game. Various tweaks have made stalemates way more or less possible. Again, small changes in rules have big effects there. We're in pretty good shape now on that, but future iterations will go even further toward guaranteeing the game cannot stalemate.
Puzzle Strike still needs many more iterations, but it seems to be reaching a generally healthy state, finally. That said, I still know of no way to actually manufacture this game. The digital version is on the way for sure (though behind Yomi), and I'm still committed to figuring out some method of making a physical version too. I might just hand-make 100 sets, or recruit my loyal volunteers to help with that, and go from there. What makes it tough is that I don't want to use cards, but instead wooden or plastic chips, and getting those produced without enormous minimum orders is pretty hard.
Manufacturing, Distribution, Publishing...
Maybe I should hook up with someone established in the world of board and card games to help make the physical versions of these three games a reality with full distribution. I think the world could use a set of three new games that all let you choose between 10 balanced characters, and that don't rip you off with collectable schemes. Am I right?