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 Post subject: Battle Dex Developer Diary #1: Introduction
PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:33 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:58 pm
Posts: 564

Hi. I'm Ben, and I'm part of the team behind the new PC turn-based strategy/collectible card game, Battle Dex. I joined the team a few months ago to help ramp up development for our upcoming beta, and I'm documenting our progress here, aside from the usual patch notes and updates on our site.

Sure, I hope this will get more people interested in the game, but it's also a fun side project for me. I love reading developer diaries, and through them I've been turned onto games that I wouldn't have otherwise played.


I've worked on several games over the past four years: mostly casual games, Flash advergames, and web-based MMOs. This is the first turn-based strategy game I've contributed to, and I have to say it's the best one I've worked on to date. Battle Dex plays like a hybrid of Advance Wars + Settlers of Catan + Magic: The Gathering + Metal Slug, in that it's:

(1) a military-themed turn-based strategy game,
(2) played on a traditional board game-style hex grid, with
(3) tons of digital cards to collect and play during battle, plus
(4) a light sense of humor and a fun art style.

I enjoy all four of the aforementioned games, so it's been a treat to work on something like Battle Dex.

The team at Bandera Games is small, but talented. Some of the guys working on the game (or who have previously worked on it) came from NCsoft, Vigil Games, and Realm Interactive. Our founders helped to create the game that became NCsoft's game Dungeon Runners, after NCsoft acquired their studio. We've also hooked up with some awesome voice actors for each of our units' voices in the game, and it shows. I'm really proud of the team's progress so far.


Battle Dex was originally called Iron Condor, and had a small following of players early in development. A lot has changed since the move to Battle Dex: we've built a community for players (new forums, Facebook/Twitter outreach, YouTube page, newsletter, promotions, etc.), squashed several bugs, optimized the game to run on nearly all manner of PCs (including netbooks), improved the controls, added new maps, and so forth. Fortunately, we're moving into beta soon and hope to have lots of players help us shape the game into something they all want to play again and again.

One of our bigger recent updates was the ability to create several custom decks and label them, much like Modern Warfare 2's classes. This is a basic feature in all collectible card games, and one that needed to be in our game early on. It's been a blast to come up with different card strategies based on map type and opponent, and to see what other players in the community come up with. The different card types (buffs, debuffs, heal, units, transport, and special types) allow for all sorts of combos that have to be carefully balanced with fairness in mind.


The issue of balance has become a fun challenge to tackle. Much like all of the perks, guns, and class combinations in Modern Warfare 2 require strict balancing (and still need to be balanced, judging from recent patches), we need to make sure that someone can't dominate a tournament using a combo of particular units and cards on a given map. Luckily, a lot of that balancing was already done when I joined the team, but there's still work to be done.

For example, our Artillery unit currently has a minimum range of 2 hexes and a max range of 5. Some say this is perfect; other players think the range should be 2-4 or 3-5. Couple this with an Artillery Hero card, which produces an Artillery unit with buffed stats, and you have a unit that can shoot 6 hexes from afar.

On smaller maps that may only span 10 hexes in height, the Artillery Hero card could be too much. Of course, any player can use him (as long as they have that card), and a couple of air units can take him out with no problem, assuming the Artillery doesn't have Anti-Air units for backup. The Major or Minor Artillery cards could also help to take the Artillery Hero out with an airstrike, but because he can fire from so far away, it's tough to get close enough to gain visibility on him.

Both sides of the argument have good points, but changing the Artillery either way affects the dynamics of the other units. We could always make the Artillery and Artillery Hero units more expensive, as well. Several factors to think about.


Stay tuned for the next installment, where I'll talk about our tournament structure and opportunities for user-created content, including custom maps. In the meantime, feel free to check out Battle Dex and get in on testing before we hit beta.

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