Nova Blitz Interview
Nova Blitz is a real-time online trading card game currently receiving funding on Kickstarter. Dragon Foundry’s game blends the familiar with the new by having a mana system and the game’s object being to deplete your opponent’s health. But also having simultaneous turns between players. Nova Blitz is just as much centered in the world of sword and sorcery as it is in the realm of futuristic science fiction. The CEO of the company, Paul Barclay, took the time to answer my questions about his fresh take on the trading card game (TCG).
We The Nerdy: Why do you call it Nova Blitz?
Paul Barclay: “Novas” are our main characters, so that’s you when you’re playing the game. And “Blitz” is a great word; it really shows off the speed of the game.
WTN: This is the first time I’ve heard of a real-time trading card game, what was the reasoning behind this inclusion?
PB: We wanted to make a trading card game that took less than five minutes to play, with no down-time and no waiting for your opponent. We’ve found that the pace of the game is a huge improvement over other digital trading card games, as it keeps the game fresh and exciting.
WTN: What other elements did you add that are new to your “typical” TCG?
PB: We’ve added a lot. There’s an asynchronous tournament system, including on-demand drafting, a full trading marketplace, and the shuffler ensures you don’t get resource screwed. There’s our Smart Packs: card packs where you decide what’s in the pack when you open them.
WTN: You give people the option of seeing what’s inside the card pack before purchasing. While the player gets what they want, don’t you feel that loses the excitement of not knowing what your going to get?
PB: Not quite. We let you pick the card set when you open the pack. You still won’t know what you’re going to get until you open it. So all the excitement of opening the pack is still there.
WTN: What did you exclude from a “typical” TCG?
PB: We’ve really cut down on the amount of random number generation in the game. Both the shuffler preventing resource screw, and using cards that affect the “strongest” or “weakest” unit, rather than a random one. We haven’t excluded much. Most of the things we’re excluding are to make the gameplay smoother and faster. For example, we’re not making cards that make you pick two targets. That would make the game harder to play, and we don’t need to make those cards. And because we’re a real-time game, we have to be very careful when making cards that make your opponent make a choice. We can’t just pop up a dialogue box on their screen, as they might be in the middle of something.
WTN: What do you feel that an online card game can do that a physical one cannot?
PB: The computer manages the rules of the game, so players don’t need to spend as much time learning the rules. Being online also means it’s much easier to find an opponent. It’s way easier to bring a new player into the game. We give them their starting cards for free (we’re giving players five decks to start with).
WTN: Your team has worked on Magic: The Gathering along with many other high-profile TCGs and video games. How has your team’s experience on working on different types of games influenced Nova Blitz?
PB: Primarily, making sure the game is polished and easy to use.
WTN: How do you plan on fostering an online community around your game?
PB: We’re already building up our community through our forums, Steam group, having regular conversations and [developer] streams (we’re streaming every Monday at 7pm PST). Longer term, we’ll be encouraging our players to act as ambassadors to build up a strong community around the game.
WTN: You’ve got over a third of your Kickstarter funding in just a few days, that must feel amazing. Has that influenced your development at all?
PB: Not at all. We’re exactly on track for development, so we don’t need to change our plans. We’re now [three-quarters funded with two] weeks left.
WTN: What is the hardest part of development?
PB: Making sure the game works smoothly is hard. Making the game fun is hard. Making people aware of the game is hard. Managing a distributed team including part-time team members is hard. Ensuring we have money to develop the game is hard. There’s no “easy” parts of game development. It’s a hard job for sure, but also incredibly rewarding.
WTN: Designing a TCG from scratch sounds exhausting, let alone everything else involved in this game. How many people did it take to develop just the card game itself and how long?
PB: The initial design and prototyping was done by six people; three engineers and three game designers. We’ve added more people as we’ve moved forward. Our current team is ten people, not including all the card artists.
WTN: Do you plan on developing another game after Nova Blitz or is the future of Dragon Foundry more focused on expanding the game?
PB: We’re focusing on Nova Blitz right now. We’re putting all our efforts into making it the greatest game we can.