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Sunday
Sep112011

Introducing Flash Duel 2nd Edition

Flash Duel 2nd Edition is such an unusually large leap over the first version that I think I should explain how that came to happen. It started out simply enough, but it ended up as a business experiment of sorts.

The original plan was to just release an expansion to the game with 10 new characters. After that, there'd be a second expansion that added the ability to play with more than just two players. One problem with this plan is that I have since upgraded the manufacturing of my other games, and I do much higher quantities now to make that possible. It wouldn't make much sense to print thousands of copies of the expansion if there aren't even thousands of the original in existence. So what was really needed is a remake of the original that uses better manufacturing (the original version's cards were sometimes blurry...) and that can exist in high enough quanity to even be part of the retail distribution chain.

Ok, so we'll just rerelease the original game, then? Several fans of the game were disappointed with this, for various different reasons. The most obvious is that if they already owned the game, they were hoping for more. But also, some complained about parts of the rules and wanted some things to work differently. I was looking over the card art, and I wasn't quite satisfied with the lettering of the card titles, and some other graphic design elements. Also, we've developed a FAQ about how some of the abilities work, and it seemed like several should be reworded so as not to need their FAQ entries in the first place.

Next, a guy named BT (who made the awesome 8-bit art on the screens in the Puzzle Strike Upgrade Pack) suggested that we color-code some of the words. I immediately saw the value of that idea because "attack" and "dashing strike" are different entities in the game, and different things trigger off them. An ability that says "when you attack" doesn't trigger if you dashing strike, and vice versa. By color coding attack to red and dashing strike to purple, it made that concept even more clear.

While I was rewording the abilities and color-coding them, I realized we needed more room for that text box at the bottom. The base game has a couple abilities that need it, and the expansion had more, so I went ahead with that change. But then it became clear that the aspect ratio of the character art fit a whole lot better when we used the chibi (kid) versions of the characters, than the original ones. I also got rid of the black border around the character cards and did edge-to-edge art instead, which makes the cards feel bigger.

 

Modes and More Modes

We've talked about changing some graphic design elements, card wording, art, and even some system-wide rules changes. So at this point, you can think of the project as a remake. But then some crazy ideas came up. One player suggested a 2v2 mode, and another player suggested a variant on 1v1 where you can actually *draft* whatever ability cards you want, to make your own custom character. I started developing both of these modes, possibly for an expansion. There was also the multiplayer mode I had originally panned as an expansion: the Raid on Deathstrike Dragon. In this mode, you team up with up to 4 players against a 5th player playing as a powerful dragon. (It's actually the expansion character Master Menelker in his dragon form, which is far more powerful than Midori's dragon form.)

Also, some people asked if there was a way to play the game by yourself, solo. I worked on several possible answers to that, but the one that worked best was coming up with a simple algorithm that a "bot" would use against you. It worked pretty well, so I thought this mode should go somewhere, too. This is getting to be kind of a lot of modes though, so which ones should appear in which expansions?

Too Much Value

And then the crazy idea was on the table. "What if we put the base game and both expansions--including all those modes and all 20 characters plus the dragon raid--into one box?" This goes against traditional business concepts actually, because releasing one game, then an expansion, then another expansion is just a better way to make money out of a product line. It's not a bad thing, it's just what everyone does, no big deal. But what would happen if we put it all in one box but only charged the amount that we'd normally charge for just the base game? This would be impossible with Yomi and impossible with Puzzle Strike, because there are just so many components. But it's maybe within reach for Flash Duel.

But...is it a good idea? I honestly don't know. Maybe I'd sell more if I separated these into three products, but I'd like to see what players think and what the press thinks when they get what amounts to basically "too much value" in one box. TWENTY characters means 190 matchups in 1v1, not counting mirror matches. Twenty characters in one box is kind of ridiculous, really. Plus the 21st character of the Dragon, who we'll get to in a later post. And all-told, there's actually SEVEN different game modes here. Yes, you can play the game in the same old 1v1 mode that the first edition was all about, and if anything, it's even simpler due to better wording and rules. But you can also explore a sort of shocking amount more with drafting and single-player and 2v2 and dragon raids.

So the experiment here, what I'm wondering about, is if a game has a lot more gameplay in it than you'd really expect, does that get noticed? Do reviewers talk about it, does it bring more players into the fold? I don't know, but I guess we'll find out. I'm really happy with how it turned at least, and just wait until you see this dragon raid thing.

I'm shooting for a December release, but not sure if manufacturing can hit it yet. Fingers crossed on that.

More on Flash Duel 2nd Edition later. You'll hear about new character abilities, including:

  • A way to create an extra soldier on the board
  • A power so strong that if you lose with it, you lose two rounds at once
  • A way to keep a card secret across rounds
  • A fair version of Setsuki 

Reader Comments (21)

One thing for sure, gamespot gives out merit badges for games that have a lot of worth for the money. And demerit badges for the opposite.

September 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHenke37

this is pretty exciting, i hope this game gets all the recognition it deserves!

September 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterradiantdan

Very interested to see where this is going.
I have a bunch of Yomi decks, and love the game.
I wanted to pick up some more sirlin games, because they have something special that is very unique and desirable (characters and balance).
Pretty sold on this being my next sirlin purchase, without even needing to hear the rest.

I saw a lot of reviews on BGG saying if a game is good value for money or not. They usually talk about component quality and the likes, but I'm certain that such a robust game will be noticed for great value for money.

September 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPoet

Yeah I see component quality mentioned a lot in reviews, regarding "value." That's a tricky issue. I mean when you pay money for something, you hope it has solid physical construction, so that makes sense to mention. But there's a totally different kind of value too. For example, maybe a game has really terrific components, but it's kind of shallow and you play it like once. Was that a good "value"?

Games that are infinitely replayable have extremely high value, in some sense of the word. Maybe we need a different word there even. And I feel like we need even another word for the type of value you get from being able to play a game in a lot of different ways. For example, in Magic: the Gathering, you can play with decks you make beforehand, or draft, or sealed deck play. You can play 2 Headed Giant or Commander, and other formats. That's what I'm going for with this new Flash Duel--the ability to play the game in a lot of different ways AND the value that comes from the replayability of even just the regular 1v1 mode.

Components are important too. I tell those close to me that I'm a professional box maker with the hobby of designing games. It takes longer to make boxes, rulebooks, and cardback designs than it does to do all the rest!

September 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterSirlin

Flash Duel is a game I was never very interested in, but if it had that much stuff crammed into it, I would definitely buy it.

September 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterButtsLOL

I actually didn't think much of Flash Duel v1.0 - and I mean that in the literal sense. The game was too lightweight for me to even consider. The "too much value" thing you mention here is what put the game back on my radar. It reminds me of Puzzle Quest, in a sense, making up for lack of depth (it's just a match-3 game...) with tons of content (...with dozens of variants and way more spell effects!). So FD v2.0 feels 'meatier', despite having the same core mechanics.

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpkt-zer0

I wasn't that interested in Flash Duel... until now! The 2nd edition truly sounds awesome.

Regarding the different types and meanings of value, I would basically differentiate between three types - replayability, the amount of game components that come in the box and the quality of those components. And the 2nd edition of Flash Duel can score in all those categories:
- Lots of modes (great replay value)
- Lots of characters (great replay value + great "stuff in the box" value)
- New card layout (great component quality value)*

* Especially if those cards are strong and sturdy and not too flimsy like in some games. Note that I never held the cards from the 1st edition so I can't say how good they were.

Why do I say that the new cards have a great component value without having even touched them? Well, because they are huge improvements compared to the - already decent - old cards: The color coded words are brilliant and a clearer text in a text box of an appropriate size is always good, too.

One thing though: Changing the characters from their more realistic looks to their chibi versions changes the whole style and tone of the game. It was some rough and mature fighting game. Now it has a silly touch. I like both versions, but I can see some people not being fans of the chibi look. Was this considered during development?

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStar Slayer

I think cram all the value into one package. It definitely goes appreciated, especially the multiplayer component! Maybe have a portable option like previously that is meant for on the go, but doesn't have ALL the options.

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStew

Hi, Dave,

I just bought Flash Duel (Amazon) and the Midori/Setsuki pack (Games Unlimited, Pittsburgh), and I am really, really enjoying them. Your posts about Puzzle Strike and Flash Duel lately have gotten me really excited for this season of gift-giving!

You mentioned here that you are now doing larger production runs. Will I have an easier time finding these updated versions in stores? The owner of the store where I bought Yomi mentioned that he had trouble stocking your games. Thanks!

One last thing, very VERY unrelated to this post - have you tried the iPhone version of King of Fighters and Street Fighter IV? The control scheme present in both games addresses many of the issues you have mentioned throughout your blog, mostly related to reducing the number of button presses. They are obviously far, far simpler games than their respective full versions, but I find myself playing SFIV more on my iPhone than on the console just because I feel that I actually have access to the "full game," regarding techniques.

Have a good one.

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNew Player

Star Slayer, the larger text box means even a smaller area for character art. Now, that area for art is still huge, but if you put the tall adult characters in there, they look really bad compared to before. And they look great as kids, because they fit. Also, the entire game is "light" and themed as the characters practicing for the real tournament. So if some people don't buy it because they don't like the art style, that's too bad, but it just doesn't look good with adult characters. The art in the 2nd edition overall is *fantastic*, especially the dragon art. I think you guys will be blown away by it.

New Player: I think SF4 iPhone has better controls that than the "real" version. And about Yomi being hard to stock, there is a strange false rumor about that. If you EVER hear that from any store, you tell them you talked to me and I said it's extremely easy to stock. They need to contact Salute@GameSalute.com and they will get fast and good service, and they will get inventory. I think what happened is that another distributor who used to carry the game, but doesn't anymore, has told stores that Yomi is out of stock and can't be ordered, etc, etc. All wrong. ANY story anywhere in the world can order inventory right now, today, this minute, by contacting Game Salute.

September 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterSirlin

Sirlin,

The store I was visiting said he had "trouble" with both the full version of Yomi and Puzzle Strike; it was a bit of a wishy-washy explanation. I will be stopping by there soon, and will request that he try again using that email address. For the time being, I will probably be ordering Puzzle Strike from your site, and will be waiting anxiously for Flash Duel.

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNew Player

Gonna be honest and say that one of the main reasons I didn't pick up Flash Duel the first time around was because I didn't think that it came with a whole lot, and I wasn't sure how much I could sink my teeth into it. Seeing more in the box is good all around for me, even with a higher price tag.

Lemme put it this way; I've bought plenty of budget and smaller games, and I find that I might actually get less entertainment per dollar for them than 40+ dollar games. This has held true for Twilight Struggle, Cosmic Encounter, hell, even Talisman, and I think it'd hold true for Flash Duel too.

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatzebar

Agree with the sentiments above. I play EN GARDE with a RAGE deck I picked up for $4 at Target (great game lab there, people, 6 suits of 16 with 10 extras), and didn't see the value proposition of EN GARDE++, despite my love for the designer's other efforts. This looks like a whole new thing though, with 2v2 and especially with the asymmetric Dragon game included. Count me in. Again.

September 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjeblucas

December release dates make me nervous, since the time of the year I play the most of your games is at MAGFest in early January. Yomi arrived with two days to spare -- hopefully the new, improved Flash Duel where Setsuki doesn't run away with the game does also.

Any idea as to a price point on this? I think I may be regifting my current FD Deluxe set if this releases on time...

September 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBardicKnowledge

The December date is not firm, there are too many unknowns. I was shooting for December 1st, but it could very well end up January for reasons out of my control. I can update the guess later when we're a bit closer. Probably $35, btw.

Glad you guys like the idea of all the modes!

September 13, 2011 | Registered CommenterSirlin

I haven't really tried playing Flash Duel but like what ButtsLol said, there's a lot of stuff piled in that box that I think is worth the money. I love how you revolutionized the card and comparing it to the first version.

September 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHalley

Another reason to switch to the 'kids' art for Flash Duel is that all of it has already been finished (for Puzzle Strike), while the 'normal' art for the Yomi expansion is still very much in the linetest stage. This allows the updated Flash Duel to be released quickly, and not a very long time from now.

September 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDredNicolson

Would you consider a discount for people who bought Flash Duel version 1? I would probably buy Flash Duel version 2 without the discount, but would definitely buy version 2 with a discount.

September 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRyzol

Dred, not exactly because I could have gotten other art first. It's more that the aspect ratio of the kid art works better, the tone kind of makes sense given the lighter theme of the characters "practicing for an upcoming tournament," and also a few people actually specifically requested this art because they like playing the game with their kids.

Ryzol, I already offer the lowest price I can given the manufacturing and development costs.

September 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterSirlin

Me and my brother still play Flash Duel weekly, and this news makes me really happy. I'm interested to see what sort of re-balancing made the cut, and what the new 10 characters ended up with (I saw an early preview on your forums). Definitely an instant pick up for me

September 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Reed
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