the story of keyforge is a strange one. The collectible card game came with much fanfare in 2018 (including ours), featuring a procedural algorithm capable of automatically generating decks of about 32 billion different cards. Attraction was its surprising factor, as the game’s developers didn’t even know what was inside each box. Publisher Fantasy Flight Games quickly gained a foothold in hobby stores and established a nascent organized play circuit; The game felt as though it was poised to become the next big CCG. Then, in September 2021, the publisher announced that it would no longer be making cards.
Messaging was secret at the time. Fantasy Flight simply stated that the game’s sophisticated algorithm was “broken” and needed to be rebuilt “from the ground up”. It can certainly be true. But there was a much bigger problem, company co-founder Christian Petersen said in a recent interview with Polygon: All the software engineers who helped build the algorithms in the first place now work for a different company.
Peterson founded Fantasy Flight in 1995. The Minnesota publisher made a name for itself with Peterson’s own strategy game, twilight kingdom, is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most complex board games ever. That single super-popular game spawned one of the premier tabletop publishing houses in the United States, responsible for keyforge Of course, but also for other games that were based on franchises like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and many more modern classics that were produced by their own creative teams.
In 2014, Asmodee, a large multinational company that had dozens of popular board games under its umbrella, snatched up Fantasy Flight. Peterson left shortly thereafter to establish a new business called Strange Stars. engineers who could help rebuild keyforge Worked for him now for Asmodei. So, he did what any good businessman would do: he offered to buy back the rights. keyforge,
“Asmody again delayed it by six months or so,” Peterson said. “Maybe they didn’t like the amount I was willing to pay. In the end, they came back and we struck a deal this June.
Now Peterson, who has spent the past several years developing software and manufacturing systems for the board game industry, among other things, is back in the publishing business. their first product is called Keyforge: Winds of ExchangeAnd as of publication it has raised over $1 million in crowdfunding on GameFound.
Is this enough money to rebuild the algorithm and send the game back to the wild? Only Peterson knows for sure. In any case, he told Polygon that he firmly believes keyforge Still worth saving. So does the game’s new creator, Michael Hurley. Also a veteran of Fantasy Flight Games, he was among the executives in the room when co-creator Richard Garfield (Magic the Gathering) First using a prototype – what else? — A highly modified Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
“There [were] It has a lot of macros,” Hurley said, picturing the words to emphasize the size of the file involved. “It had a list of the names of every card that was included in the file. [Garfield] The game was designed for. […] When he wanted to build a deck, he would just run some script, and it would basically generate a list of cards that were within the deck. [Then] He would draw the cards the spreadsheet told him to draw, and then put them together.
“He would do this over and over again until he had […] Two dozen different prototype decks that he built this way. ,
But, in the original design, not all decks actually worked very well.
“He basically wanted all the decks to be completely Random,” Peterson said, “so you don’t know what you get. But we said, ‘No, it won’t work because there’s going to be so much variation in what you get that it’s going to be a problem for the players.’”
What they ended up with was a much more structured system – recipe is probably the better word – for deck building. keyforge Algorithms, both new and old, work the same way. They take out 12 existing cards from each of the first three houses, which are thematic factions that texture the in-game lore. The deck then gets a name and unique art on the back of each card, similarly generated by the same algorithm. But not every deck is created equally, and more powerful decks are adjusted for competitive play (much like a handicap score in golf).
But every once in a while the algorithm does something unusual, creating an ultra-rare card called a Maverick. This is a card originally designed to be part of one house, but switched to be part of another. The Mavericks even print their emblem on the border to call them out. If present in a unique deck, Mavericks can become the core of powerful and unpredictable strategies that can be difficult to counter with other decks.
Peterson says the project to rebuild the algorithm is well underway, and it should be ready in time for the next batch of procedurally generated cards, Mavericks and all. Keyforge: Winds of Exchange in January 2023. Will it be soon enough to give the game a second chance at success? He is optimistic, but practical.
“The big question is, are the audience still around?” Peterson said. “It is very difficult to resume an injured sport. it is almost impossible. I have done this many times in my career where we [have said], ‘This game was injured. running together. It’s mostly dead. And we love the game, we think it’s really cool. but what can we do?’ It’s not worth it in most situations. […] Why try to revive it [when it] Just don’t make financial sense?”
The crowdfunding campaign ends on September 26. Pre-orders are expected to begin shortly after it ends, and will continue for several months until release.