Sunday, 29 September 2013

Permia – Duels

Welcome to the Seepia Games blog also on my behalf! I’m the person responsible for the design of our games and today I will tell you something about our upcoming game: Permia – Duels, from the designer's perspective. You can sign up for the Windows Phone closed beta at The game will be released soon for Windows Phone and later for iOS and Android.

As the name suggests, Duels is the first game to be situated in the fantasy world of Permia. Don’t expect to encounter dwarves, elves or even humans though. Permia is populated by completely unique humanoid races and prehistoric animals like dinosaurs. The Permia lore will be revisited later in detail though, so stay tuned! But for now, let’s get back to Duels. 

Seepia Games are all about multiplayer games and Duels is no exception. We wanted to create a collectible card game which can be played in five minutes, is accessible to anyone and still offers enough strategic depth to make you think. To keep games short, the basic mechanics need to be rather simple but still allow new tricks to be added in updates to keep the game interesting in long term.

Two Final Fantasy mini games, Triple Triad and Tetra Master, were both built around the idea of capturing tiles by playing stronger tiles next to opponents. For me, Triple Triad had too little variety as it is always played on 3*3 grid. Tetra Master offers a more varied game board, but the game system feels too random and it does not give enough feeling of control. While neither of the games managed to capture my interest for long, I believe that similar basic idea has a lot of potential when done right and that's where Duels comes in.

Deciding the tile shape was the first big design decision for the game. Using squares would allow either four (Triple Triad) or eight (Tetra Master) attack directions. We decided to go with hexagons instead. The resulting six attack directions give more options than four and give enough room for extending the game in future. Eight directions would make the game harder to grasp and be graphically less appealing.

We tested different versions of the attack system and in the end decided against using any kind of randomization. Instead, the game board is varied each time making games feel different. Especially interesting are the mountain and water land types which prevent normal unit placement. Units with flying or swimming ability can ignore these restrictions though. The game ends either when players run out of tiles or if no more free hexagons exist. Thus players don't know beforehand if all tiles will be played and who will play the last tile. These are affected by decisions to where flying and swimming units are played, which adds an interesting twist to the game.

The last major design issue I want to mention here is the card collection system. One thing I don't like in many collectible card games is that I tend to end up buying cards among which only small portion are usable and majority is excess copies of cards I already own. In Duels, the units can be combined to increase their power. One does not end having a huge collection of useless units but rather the excess units are useful for improving others.

Well, is Permia - Duels a game for you? Probably yes. :) I’m very excited about the game myself. Be wary, though. Our testers tend to get hooked to it, so you might too! Stay tuned for the exact release dates.

Jani Rönkkönen / Lead designer of Seepia Games.

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