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Theoretical Community CCG Project

Started by Malagar, December 12, 2011, 03:35:41 PM

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Hello Community,
I opened this thread because few of us started to discuss a possible community CCG project elsewhere on this forum. I know this is not the first try and maybe not the last. But I would like to consolidate all ideas about a possible LackeyCCG community project in a single thread.

First of all - I have no plans in creating or leading such a project, but would participate and help with my skills if an idea would develop enough to reach maturity. Right now - just discussing a possible, open-source community project in theory is interesting and could spawn clever ideas and maybe a foundation for the future.

Second, i have no idea what game to create. But i would vote for a classic empire building game of some sort. in my oppinion we need a broad scope to keep the game expandable. a zombie game for example is lot of fun at first, but the well of ideas dries up very fast (this is also true for fighting games and a few others). I imagine a game spanning warfare, diplomacy, intrigue, micro- and macro management, as well as politics, and some kind of magic (or psi). this enables factions, thematic deckbuilding and lots of background to keep a senario open-ended and interesting. remember this is a community project and possibly every community member will start to design cards or even expansions once we agreed on the core rules. so, the initial idea may not be too limited or there wont be much design freedom once the first few hundred cards are designed. also community members may want to design their own "races", "factions" or whatever - and the rules have to support a wide variety of fighting styles / culture / characteristics. a big idea like a sci-fi planetary conquest may sound overwhelming at first - but dont narrow the initial idea of the game down to much, or after the 300th move card of a street fighter clone - there wont be any new ideas any more. but actually - im open for any idea, as long as its good!

Third - what i could contribute to a project like this is creating and playtesting rules. as i consider myself experienced with CCGs and game development (like most people on here). in addition to that, i am able to provide professional looking templates (altough i would need help depending on the size of the project) - take a look around this forum or at my website for examples. and - working in a internet based retail company, i could also provide website, a domain and technology for free.

Number four - I am 31, full time employed, happy with my wife, my life and my job. i have no plans to create the next "blogbuster megalomaniac ccg idea to sell for millions of dollars". I want a free game, a realistic game - with realistic expectations and a sincere background story. i would not participate in a game with capitalistic thoughts in mind - it would have to be free, but developed and represented as professional as possible. i also would not join a simple "fun-game" or one with a absurd background story.

Number five - the game would only exist in the internet and would only be playable through LackeyCCG. we all live scattered across the planet and printing cards is not only expensive but absurd. its much easier to gather and link a game community using the power of WWW instead of creating local game groups everywhere and try to promote a selfmade card game. finally: creating cards for online use only, requires much less resolution of graphics and makes acquiring new artwork and designs much, much, much easier.

my 2 cents on a community project. let this thread be a brainstorming experiment or let it die in peace.

Malagar over and out!


I like the idea mainly because I think it is kinda absurd that anyone thinks they could take a game to maturity on their own or with limited feedback. Thus, groups like these are totally necessary.

I also have a fairly busy schedule, but can check in at least once per week. I think forum-type discussion with monthly (and not mandatory) real-time chat sessions would be enough to keep everyone on the same page.

I don't think the right way to do a community project is to have it up to any user to make cards/sets/whatever. Cards should always be made by a team or the entire community (most likely come up with by a team, and then tweaked by the community).

I feel like I have a very good understanding of game theory in general and, moreso than that, meta-game theory. So my real strength is in designing groups of cards and deep analysis of groups of cards.

If it doesn't turn into a community project, can we at least get a dedicated (to the degree one can be dedicated) team together? 4-6 peeps? We can have a sweet name and make free to play games for the world to enjoy!



Yay for community projects!

I meant: One can design cards or a expansion. But of course the community would have to test them and mark them as official.

And: Yes, I think its better to have a small team of 4-6 people developing the core. Later on community members can enjoy the finished product or participate in creating expansions. Its hard to coordinate a 30 people design team, but very rewarding to have a 30 people community.

I write before/during/after work on this board, so we should limit discussion to just here for now.


To start, we need some ideas. I mentioned a Space Opera kind of game where every player builds a galactic civilisation in my opening thread.

Here is another idea: a typical dungeon crawler in CCG form where one player is the dungeon master and the others are the heroes. Its simple, asymmetrical and endlessly expandable (adding new scenarios, dungeons, heroes, skills, spells, monsters, traps, treasure, armor, weapons etc. etc. etc.).

Think of a Roguelike computer game or diablo 1-3 in card game form. I bet there is enough meat on a design like this to turn it into pseudo-open-source card-based-roleplaying-game.

just thoughts! are you thinking too?


I don't think CCG community projects tend to work out. It's usually a case of too many cooks spoiling the pot, as well as too many chiefs and not enough indians. With lots of suggestions, some of the suggestions will be bad, and there needs to be a small amount of people overseeing all of it and making the tough decisions.

No one can make a professional CCG all by themselves, but the core design of the game is usually done mostly by a single person. The many other people involved are usually content creators (like artists) and playtesters (who also give a lot of helpful feedback about the overall design). That's the reality of game design. I'm not saying that's the only way to do things, but that's usually how things are done with successful CCGs.


That's why I asked to define "community project". After doing so many community projects, I came to realize that the only successful projects are the ones where it is clear that the project belongs to one person and everyone else is there to give them input. If that sounds familiar, that's because that's what's already happening on these boards. People come here for input, and how much they come here for input dictates how much of a community project it is. For example, LackeyCCG is an Open Source project, but we all know that Trevor controls the project and says what does and doesn't go.

Inversely, if a person says "let's do a community project that is 100% Open Source", you end up with a project that A) gets overloaded with crap from different people with clashing ideas, B) gets shattered by everyone with egos clashing, and C) dies away as people lose interest in a project full of turmoil, watered down and never coming to fruition.

That's why you see in the Open Source projects headed by corporations saying "this project belongs to the corporation, but we're letting you give your input, but our designers will make the final judgments about what's included." Thus, !00% Open Source is a Fail and rarely gets anything accomplished, if ever, while an Open Source project where everyone understands and appreciates that they don't actually own the project and are just helping someone else to complete it, get a whole lot more done.

That said, everything posted to these boards by designers is essentially making their game open source to some extent. It's just a matter of how much control the owner of the project claims and how much they let out to the community. My suggestion is, start with a core idea and make sure everyone knows it's your project, not theirs. To do that, simply refer to it as "my TCG" and "my game" and make choices about what goes in and what doesn't.

The more you ask for the community's help on your TCG project, the more Open Source it will be. Once you have finished designing the game and acquired interest in it, then you can form a committee tasked with continuing to design cards and effects for the game based upon the rules you set up. Heck, at that point you could even leave the project behind and that crew will take care of its continuation. Just know that they might make some decisions that you don't like. Even then, that committee needs a chairperson who makes the final decisions about the direction of each set and the set's overall strategy.


I kinda agree. This kind of projects usually shut down after a while or turn out to be bad. It's better to post an idea and ask for input.


All right Malagar, it's just me and you. And both of the game themes you mentioned are things I'm both really into and have lots of ideas for. So let's start a sweet free-to-play card/board gaming "company" made up of people that have lives but also want to make a game. I'm almost positive Wisp is down, and if he is we can use some of his nicely developed ideas as well. As long as we're all on the same page time-commitment wise, there's no reason to ever fully abandon the project, we can just come back to it when our lives/free time fall back into place.

We can keep talking here or start a new thread/forum, whatever you think would be best. Maybe Yudencow is down? He has a super cool resource mechanic idea that I'd love to use, especially if we go for galactic battles type ccg. I'll hit up Wisp too.

A history of failure is just a sign that it hasn't been done right yet!!!



The only problem with the "one owns the project - while all others help" is what i experienced while working on a computer project years ago: one (the owner) is doing all the hard work while all others (the helpers) just stand there, staring and yelling orders to "the owner".


cool answer, i appreciate that opinion! just wanted to write a grim post about how this thread develops. But I guess its better to focus on the real thing and start rocking!

@All (or is it just me and @Cyrus?)

So, after my introductory opening post i would like to go more into detail about what a possible semi-open-source project could actually be.

Building up on my first idea of a galactic empire building game i like to present you a few possible scenarios, concentrating on the background / grand theme for now and discussing possible mechanics later. and of course you are welcome to throw your own ideas into the mix - as long as you concentrate on creative and productive comments instead of thread-disassembly.

Scenario #1:
A space wargame with heavy focus on combat and less focus on empire building. this game could support multiplayer games where every player is the leader of a alien race of his choice. there could be race or faction cards the players choose from, each with their own technology, fighting style, advantages and disadvantages. the games point of view would be quite "zoomed out" - concentrating on whole planets instead of countries and buildings. the resource system would consider the productivity of a whole planet and not a single facility or patch of minerals on a planet. being combat heavy, this scenario would allow a wide variety of spaceships and weapons and even some system to customize them (like attaching weapon systems to a chassis).

Scenario #2:
This would be more like a space opera and include more micro-management and non-battle thematics as the first scenario. Imagine a world like star trek or babylon 5, where there is also lot of room for diplomacy, intrigue and politics. the scale of the game would also be interplanetary, focusing on solar systems instead of single planets. this approach would allow much more theatrical grand-scale actions like political factions, diplomatic contracts, conspiracies, racism/racial war / religious war, as well as solar system wide economics, riots and plagues. Think of this approach like a "Sid Meiers Civilisation in space" - but instead of controlling single cities, you would control whole planets. game mechanics would have to be simplified in order to correctly display the macroversum without slowing the game down too much.

Scenario #3:
Unlike the first two sencarios, this one would take place only on a single planet. Imagine two alien races meet on a desolate planet to fight over resources. there would be flying units and maybe spacecraft to support the ground troops, but all in all this scenario does not take into account the universe around the planet at all. Remember "Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri"? This scenario would be somewhat similar: A planet-based civ-building game in distant future with a solid mix of combat and non-combat themed mechanics.

Imagine the three scenarios as different "zoom levels" or scale of the map. When scenario 3 is a close-up, scenario 1 is the medium zoom level and Scenario 2 would be the "zoomed out" version.

There are many more ideas for a game scenario and parts of all three could be mixed. The question to our appreciated community is now on wich scale we should agree and how many focus we put on combat or other concepts.

@All (or is it just me and @Cyrus?)

Regarding Yudencow's resource system (the one in the other thread, if you meant that): This could well be adapted to a space game, where your "mana" represents the captains power in different tiers like "military", "command" and "leadership". Then you can distribute theese "mana-points" onto your ships to give them orders every turn.

BRAINSTORM EDIT 1: Actually this idea could be expanded even further. You are not a captain, you represent your whole race as stated on your "faction card" and the different tiers represent the pillars of society like "military", "economy", "culture" and so on. maybe 5 or 7 tiers to satisfy the law of fives (or seven: during your turn you can decide how to distribute your points in order to generate certain effects like attacking your enemy (requires military) or building new starships and bases (requires economy), or advancing your culture to achieve your agenda (requires culture).

BRAINSTORM EDIT 2: thinking about from where your rescoures come, we could take this idea even further like: your faction card provides you with a basic "income" (e.g. 2 military, 2 economy, 1 culture) every turn. but planets add to your resources (like planet Xanlith gains you another 1 military point while Venus grants you another 1 culture). then you add it all up (3 military, 2 economy, 2 culture in this example) and start distributing it on on fleets, planets or even your faction card. putting points on fleets lets them move or attack, putting points on planets lets you build new fleets or increases your culture (or whatever), and putting points on your faction card generates a faction specific special effect.

BRAINSTORM EDIT 3: Theese edits render the first part of my post obsolete, but i guess that is the way how brainstorming works. so, the overall picture of the game is still quite cozy - but i can already see some card types at the horizon:

1. faction cards - representing your nation as whole, you start with exactly one card in play that represents a sentient, intelligent race. this can be anything from humans to insectoids, lizardmen, amoeba, ugly aliens or parasites.

2. planet cards - a player should start with at least one planet in play and loose play once his last planet is lost. planets grant additional resources and provide ways to spend resource in order to generate effects. planets also host and launch fleets.

3. landmark cards - big, monumental sites or buildings on a planet. we do not bother with factories or cannon towers here. this card type represents planetary shields, epical worshipping sites or even orbital attachments like space stations. landmarks increase production or provide bonus or ways to spend resources.

4. fleet cards - maybe this category can be broken down into different ship types. where larger ship types are represented by a single craft and the smaller ones by a squadron of fighters or bombers. fleets are the main force to attack and conquer enemy planets.

5. technology cards - not attached to planets they represent global achiements of your nation that can be done by spending enough points of the tier the technology belongs to. some technology increase attack or defense of your fleets, while others generate special effects.

BRAINSTORM EDIT 4: A final edit for today, this shows a RPS-7 distribution of possible "pillars of society" or "tiers" for the faction cards. should be enough for a game foundation. each tier could be tied to a mechanic, as well to certain resource production and spending methods and tied to a victory conditions as well. (names, positions and influence arrows are just for testing purposes - nothing is fixed here as this is just a very basic idea).

is that enough for the moment?


Very cool stuff you got going here Malagar. I think the card types are about right, but I'd want to include important characters as well, so we can have spies and other saboteurs, and great leaders, etc.
I think, by using characters and fleets as well as having an important element of all decks be the way they produce and expand their production of resources, we could make a really good wargame with focus on micro- and macro-management.

Me and Yudencow have talked a little by PM, here's the jist...

The resource system would works as follows...

At the beginning of the game you have a Resource Cap of 5 (or maybe determined by a Faction card). This means every turn you generate 5 minus [the amount of stacked resources you control] resources.
When a resource is SPENT, it is taken from your resource pool and placed back amongst your other tokens.
When a resource is STACKED (or some better word), it is placed onto a card, allowing for some sort of effect (fleet cards would become more powerful, structures would be enhanced in some way, and perhaps military structures could produce fleet tokens this way).

We also talked about the possibility of two decks, one for everything but Fleets (essentially) and one for Fleets. Basically you'd have your Production deck and your Products deck. Using Structures you could bring cards from your Product deck into play, which would mostly be "searched" instead of drawing a hand from.

I was also thinking that in addition to a free card draw per turn, you could also spend a resource to draw a card, but the game would have a hand size cap that you'd have to discard down to every turn. Also, when the deck is depleted, it simply recycles (perhaps at some cost, or maybe you need a Structure to do this), so you can get through your Production deck and build up your planets with fair ease. This would remove a decent amount of luck from the game, allowing it to really focus on set-up, knowledge of game-state, and just generally more on player skill.

While it might seem complicated, I don't think its outside the scope of a free-to-play game at all. Intentionally always free games are usually more complicated to a certain degree, because the people making and playing them are tired of playing boring, toned down, mainstream games, and want something a little more out of a game. At least that's how I feel.

This is fun :)



Here's a PM I just sent Yudencow. Its in response to him mentioning some cool ideas about developing civ trees, and my take on it. I also mentioned to him to check out this thread, so we can all start talking here instead of through PMs.

QuoteI think we're kinda mixing Civ with Military, with a focus being that you can't have one without the other. At least that's what I'd like to do.
Without getting too fancy with civ trees (which could be really cool, but could also require a ton of cards to be made) we could easily create cards that require a certain Tech Level before you can play them. Thus, building a deck that tried to quickly build Science structures so as to bring out their factions top tech stuff could be a deck archtype, while having just a couple Science structures in a normal deck could also be useful.

Tech Level could actually be a good way to build in counter-strategies without having to give people sideboards. Most of the tech units would sit happily in the Product deck (as opposed to the Production deck), so they wouldn't clog up your hands. So you could devote some space in your Product deck to some higher tech level units that are really good against certain strategies, but not as useful against others. This way you only have to worry about bothering to build your next tech building if the units it will grant you are actually useful. Some decks could omit later tech structures completely if they felt like the space in the Production & Product decks was more precious than the ability to bring in those units, while most decks could safely run 1 of each tech structure for their faction, and rely on drawing or special "tutor" functions to find them if they need them.

I also want to add that I believe an important design element to this game will be limiting the size of the Production and Product decks. Otherwise, obviously, you could pretty much just run every unit in your Product deck. So, maybe 40 cards a piece? Obviously not something that needs focus now, just thought I'd throw that out there.


its important for me to agree on the comat/civ ratio of the game, because i dont want this to be a 100% wargame. but your thoughts are good - so maybe 60% combat and 40% civ-building might fit.

regarding complexity: i dont care if this gets a bit more complex than the usual CCG we could actually mix some boardgame elements into it. but: rules have to be streamlined and fast even with higher numbers of players.

i like the idea of two decks, we could call them "Civilisation" and "Warfare" decks or whatever. maybe we can even limit both decks to just 40 cards (this has to be tested).

the character card type is also a good idea, this allows us to add kings and leaders to planets and spaceships, increasing their abilities.

the yudencow resource system sounds interesting, but i dont think it will work well in this game without some modifications. i like the stacking on resources on cards, because this is basically what i wanted to do when i said "distribute your resurces on cards". what i dislike is the 5-minus rule (actually a good idea). but i want the resource production to be tied to your faction card and the number of planets you control. i think this is easier done by writing it on the cards and let players tap those cards to generate resources.

i also like the idea of reshuffling your deck when its empty, this is absolutely okay

the draw-for-resource rule would be something i would put on a faction card, it could be a special ability of an alien nation.

the maximum hand size could also be stated on the faction card.

also i recommend to have the faction cards sideways, because they are never part of a deck or held in hand.

in general i would put as many rules on the cards themselves to keep the rulebook to a minimum. its much easier to remember information when its chunked down to single cards and only visible when those cards are part of play.

i also had the idea to win the game via technology-victory: if you research - lets say 12 - technologies, you are the most technological advanced race in the universe and win the game. BUT: this could also be a special victory condition stated on a faction card.

aw, we should change the name of faction cards to nation cards, it suits better i think.

One more thing: I dont want to tie the building of fleets to special structures like "spaceship factory", because this limits what you can build early in the game and leads to mulligan-effects all over the game. instead you can build anything anytime if you got the resources - but certain structures could make building ship-types easier. all in all i dont want to go too much into focus about single structures (micro-management) like in a realtime-strategy-game (where you need a base, a harvester, a resource-mine, a infantry barrack, a factory etc. etc.). its about planets, and planets are big - we can assume there are plenty of installments on everyplanet. lets focus on macro-management instead. i think micro-management is better suited for games with smaller scale - taking place on one single planet for example or in a medieval setting.

hmm thats all for now - more input someone?


Here's some imput.

Having worked on numerous CCG's myself, both "solo", and as a group project (4GXG) if anyone remembers, the biggest problem (and trevor already mentioned this) is that SOMEONE or TWO (not more), should make the hard decisions. You have to decide what setting, what mechanics and what card ultimately end up into the game.

I have seen at least 4-5 of these projects die down due to too many people wanting a hand in it, but noone stood up and made a final decision, resulting in a split camp and ultimately the downfall of the project.

BEFORE you go all wild on brainstorming (the fun part), please make sure that you appoint yourself and/or 1 other person to set the boundaries and make quick and FIRM decisions.

Do not be afraid to simply say : NO! to an idea, instead of trying to implement it into the game, watering down everything you wanted to accomplish in the first place.

since you already got something going, I would suggest to quickly set the setting in STONE, and go from there. There's no use to wait for months and months of discussion if we should include X or Y in the setting.

lastly, set deadlines. offer an idea, get opinions, and lock it after a certain date. I have seen too many project fall to the everlasting discussions of "counter card in or out" (for example).

YOU decide what goes in or not. Have an open mind to new and refreshing ideas, ask for help and offer GOOD feedback, but please do not Water the game down, just to include someone's idea because you are afraid he or she might leave the project if you don?t..

Having said that: What can I offer?

I can do Templating if needed (see sig for example game), have a good insight in balance, and can do some good number crunching for game purposes.

will post more after some reading and actual work.. :)

EDIT: did some brainstorming:

7 factions:

? Ecomomy
? Politics
? Culture
? Spirituality
? Ecology
? Science
? Military

you could make each of these factions (give them another name of course. the Economy faction suck arse.., maybe The Bank Guild?) be friendly to each of their neighbors, meaning you could have cards of their faction in your deck.

for example: Ecology faction, lets call them Green Unicorns, can use cards from the Science and the Spirituality faction, but not from the others.

here's an idea for a setting:

Imagine a distant Star where 10 planets (7 habitable) are orbiting star X.

add some cosmic encounter (alien, or natural phenomena) that forces the people on those planets to conquer/steal/negotiate in order to survive/overcome that cosmic encounter.

each faction is tied to a planet.
the 3 other planets can be used later on for expansions, or special events within the setting..

still pretty rough, hopefully you get the idea..


Before finally getting some real(-life) work done, i would like to settle this issue once and for all:

"I proclaim myself as the patron of this project - my application is justified because:
1. I was the thread opener
2. I had the initial idea"

I therefore set in stone:

1. This project is a semi-open-source CCG game, only available on the internet
2. It takes places in a vast sci-fi universe where a multitude of alien civilisations clash in interplanetary conflict
3. References are "Comsic Encounter", "Race for the Stars (or how it was called", and some computer games like "Ascendancy" or "Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri".


Thanks for your input! Glad to have your valueable thoughts here, i followed your past projects with interest.

But - I dont want to the be "Economy" things to be factions - i want theese to be "attributes" shared by all factions. Factions would be the alien races themselves.

So we have races like:

- human
- lizardmen
- insectoids
- amoeba

and each race has on its faction card attribute ratings like:

- human (military:1 / economy:2 / culture:1)
- lizardmen (military:2 / economy:1 / culture:0)
- etc.

some would be better at combat while others are better in sprituality. what attributes and how many - i dont care. i just dont want to reduce the game to "power" / "toughness"!

i really have to get off for work now - i post more later!


As I am reading this thread i got some ideas. We culd do that you invest mana/resources in your nation to evelobe like a cit hall in rpg. meaning you have to upgrade it to be able to build more advance buildings, and this will be the only building-based prequisite.

To units the building could offer upgrades to certain subtypes rather than having to have them to be summoned.

About the attributes, there are too many, I think you should narrow it down to 3-5 and have different factions master 1-2 of the aforemantioned attributes. Every race of course needs to have their own agneda and thus a morality.

I think the races you mantioned as examples need to be more specific and not just drawing the simple examples.

About victory conditions, I think there should be a domination victory for taking 50% of the planets, a political victory for winning 7 votes, a technological victory for geytting all your nation to your maximum and millitary victory for destroying all the other factions.

Well how long wll it take you to have a first draft of the rules?


How can an amoeba be complicated enough to be sentient? They are single cells.