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Transparent Cards: (Dis)Advantages thereof

Started by 3XXXDDD, February 09, 2013, 05:59:52 PM

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TRANSPARENT CARDS (or game pieces in general) - (Dis)Advantages thereof? For one, I think leveling systems can be applied much more dynamically.

Taking Pok?mon as an example, you can evolve an Eevee with "scratch" into a Vaporeon with new but non-additional abilities because for some reason it forgot Scratch.

However, using a Transparent card, you can overlay Vaporeon with the two additional abilities (which are placed higher up in what should be a standardized text box) while allowing the original scratch move showing through the transparent layer). So if you evolve it into a Vaporeon, you'd have scratch and the additional Water Gun ability but if you evolve it into Jolteon, you'd have scratch and the additional Thundershock ability. Using this with something more generic, such as race, could actually create whole new variants of strategy. 

I think a good way to approach this would be to have 3 core levels. Each level would correspond to a space on the standardized text box, so top of the box would be Level 1, Middle would be level 2 and bottom would be level 3. Level 3 creatures would have their skills written at the bottom of the text box, whereas level 2 would have them in the middle and level 1 would have them written at the very top.

A disadvantage, readily apparent in my example, is that on lower iterations of the cards you could be left with quite a bit of empty space to the point of disorienting. Granted games like Yugioh and Magic already have quite a bit of empty space on some of their cards and no one has had a huge problem with it.

Any of your thoughts?


The game Redakai uses transparent cards to allow players to easily compare values of attack cards against a character's relevant defence. The attack card is placed on top of the character, which has the bonus effect of making it look like the attack is actually hitting the character.

Attack cards can only deal damage to 1 or 2 different health zones on a character card. When overlaid, they change the targeted zone's colour to red. Once all the character's health zones are red they are KO'd.

Redakai's damage system seems weird because you could potentially keep taking hits from attacks that target your damaged health zones with absolutely no effect.

I'd say the advantages are:

  • Makes for easy comparisons between card values;
  • Can look fantastic if the cards appear to be affecting other cards visually.

The disadvantages are:

  • You have to use a card holding device if you want transparent cards in your hand to be hidden from opponents.
  • Can be difficult to implement an overlay mechanic in a way that best makes use of transparent cards - see comments on Redakai's damage system above.
    • The technology for using transparent cards may be patented already.
    • Printing transparent cards is likely to be more expensive and I don't even know who could print them.


So I originally started this post asking about Transparent Cards but I think that might be a bit too limited on a view how to approach the concept in it's entirety (For clarity, the aim is to allow information from under layered cards to appear easily through to the top of the cards in an effort to present one or more additional levels of depth to a game)

For one, as noted we have problems with concealing hidden information as well as binding (plastic basically melting/attaching itself to certain rubbers) which could cause quite a bit of a problem.

Well one way we could approach the latter problem completely and the former partially, is to have cards with open slots in them. Taking the standardized text box example I created above, instead of having a card with at least a transparent text-box (if not entire card) we could have a standard card but with gaps in the text box for the abilities from the lower level cards to show through. Granted, this might cause some inner darkness that could obscure lower text, it's probably not a huge concern though. As well as this only covers the exact information but it can still give your Opponent an idea of what you have depending if you used a formula similar to the standarized text box (Level 2 abilities have effect text in the middle, level at the top and so on).

So an alternate idea, which actually allows hidden information to exist, would have the text box be just one big gap with an opening in the side where you could sleeve abilities in and out of the text box at will, some restrictions of which abilities go where could be based on what particular titles of cards or even their race.

Using Pokemon as an example again, any Water Pokemon can learn Water Gun but no Fire Pokemon could learn it and this could be noted on the ability text or maybe any Pokemon could learn the move Water Gun at long as they had a water symbol on their card that matches the water symbol on the ability text.

Assuming that there is no other dead giveaway information here and all ability texts are of equal size and shape, concealing hidden information while allowing transparent information is feasible.

However if you don't care so much about hidden information in your game, you could take this to a new level and have abilities "balanced" against each other by their size.

E.g. You have 3 abilities each of which are worth 1 Point and are one lines worth of text. You can place ALL 3 of these abilities onto a single character.

You also have an ability which is worth 2 points and is two lines worth of text. If you slide this card in to the Character's text box, you are now bound by the actual physical constraints of the card itself and only have room to play one additional single ability with 1 Point/1 line worth of text.

Taking the entire train of thought into account, you could use information like this to do some neat tricks like

- Play a Dress Up game (I actually want to find some barbie and other clothes pictures to do this). You would overlay clothes on top of each other until you found a matching outfit (which would probably be noted by some symbol like P1 meaning Pink Outfit - Style 1 on each separate piece of clothing)

- Change up your Equipment. One of the reasons it was so tough to make a classic style Fantasy RPG Card game was because it was so clunky because you would have a party of 3-4 each with their own 3 equipment (Weapon, Shield, Accessory) with transparency, you can save quite a bit of space on the Playing Field to make the game play much more fluidly and maybe even create a successful version of this classic/clich? game

- Mix and Match abilities. Plenty of the beauty coming from Modern Day video games it the ability to let the Player chose who they want to be. You want to be a Black Mage who also knows Cure? Go ahead! You want to be a Fighter who knows how to Summon! GO AHEAD! Freedom of choice is what many, many people crave and letting variations like this exist allows each person to project themselves further onto their character which in turn lets people enjoy it more and more as long as it lets people go deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole.

Not to mention, in many CCGs you'll see the same abilities and much of the time practically the same card, I'm not saying that there wouldn't be overlap in a CCG using this format opposed to a CCG with a more traditional format, I'm saying there is more room and chance to allow for variation in this style.

So yeah, I think there is a worlds worth of discovery to be had here. Also my fingers are on fire from typing, yeowch.


Hi! New here.
Just wanted to say you are referring to lenticular tech. The idea has excellent possiblities...however the tech still needs to be refined. Also, I believe that standing on it's own in an original game system rather as a way to enhance existing systems would be better.


I like that its new and innovative and could be, aesthetically, really cool... but at the same time I don't really think having 4 cards together in a stack (like in the equipment example) is too much to ask for, and with separate cards you have a lot more room for text and such in the long run. So basically for transparent cards to really appeal to me they have to do something that two regular cards together couldn't do, and I'm not sure exactly what that could be...