This is a summary of gameplay changes we are considering for Bardcard. They are not necessarily listed in release order. Let us know what you think!
(Also, we're always seeking beta testers. Hit us up on social media if you want to be one!)
✅ Starving Mechanic Tweak
Problem: The "starving" status ailment disproportionately affects lower-level players more severely than higher-level players who can more safely ignore the health reduction penalty due to their high health.
Solution: Health reduction should be a percentage of max health instead of the value 1. The current thought is that 5% of max health would work well.
✅ Exit Card Mechanic Tweak
Problem: Exit cards (such as Stairs and Wooden Doors) can be matched undesirably in an unfair way, immediately ending a floor that a player has not finished exploring. This can happen on the very first match which yields a frustrating experience—especially if the player has spent a lot of time navigating to a specific point to complete a task.
Solution: Give players an option to flip an Exit card back down. May not have thought of all the edge cases yet, but it feels like a good way to go.
✅ Tabbed Status UI Overhaul
Problem: Scrolling the app to view the status tabs (e.g. "Stats", "Items", "Journal") takes effort and is not very scalable: The more content we add, the further the user will need to scroll.
Solution: Rethinking the design ("where to put the status" is a neverending adventure 😁), a "front and center" approach feels right. The players attention is generally already on the game board; rendering the status container above it feels natural. Here is a quick mock:
✅ Progression Overhaul
Problem: Players feel a lack of progression as death is harsh and "true progress" is only felt when a permanent thing happens (befriending a Familiar, finding an Artifact, crossing a Checkpoint). Having more constant progression can be more engaging and rewarding, and hopefully make the game feel less "slow".
Additionally, Checkpoint balancing is becoming untenable. Starting at a Checkpoint and starting at Floor 1 can yield very different experiences: The former can be frustratingly difficult (and demoralizing because finding a new checkpoint feels rewarding), and the latter can make the deeper floors feel quite easy if the player raises many experience levels along the way.
Solution: Refactor player experience levels to be based on the "score/points" metric (what the leaderboard uses) instead of earned in combat or when disarming traps. This new "XP" metric persists between runs (as it currently does). A few high-level notes on this overhaul:
- XP is earned by clearing a room (this is current behavior), finding an Artifact (also current behavior), and gaining a Beastiary knowledge level (new behavior).
- Attribute points are distrubuted by the player upon level up (such as current behavior). However, these points can be redistributed when a new game is started.
- Familiar bond is still earned via combat. Instead of player experience earned, battle action proficiency can be earned instead. This is dependent on the actions used in combat—for example, if a Box Cutter was employed, the player has a chance to increase their "slashing" proficiency. This metric slightly increases damage and accuracy for a given action type. (Note that this idea is not implemented yet.)
Problem: Game chapters have a finite amount of content and a fairly lengthy development cycle. Once a chapter is complete, there is little to do in the world of Bardcard.
Solution: Develop a gameplay mode featuring randomized floors with no end. (Aside: This was actually the initial gameplay idea for Bardcard and still exists in some form within the framework! So many changes over the years.) Some high-level notes and ideas:
- From the title screen, "New Game" presents the choice of "Story Mode" and "Endless Mode". Only one game can be played at a time. Switching modes does not erase progression in "Story Mode".
- Endless Mode is unlocked by achieving a certain amount of XP.
- The player always begins on Floor 1. Experience points are earned via combat and traps (like the current Story Mode experience).
- Lightweight tasks can be completed and secrets can be uncovered in randomized fashion.
- A separate leaderboard records weekly high scores for Endless Mode. At the end of each week, an in-game trophy is awarded to the winner. Different trophies are awarded on different months/seasons/occasions. Trophies are rendered next to the player's name on all leaderboards.
Problem: Bardcard gameplay heavily relies on textual content. Currently, the only supported language is English. This prevents an enjoyable experience for non-English speaking players, restricting a worldwide App Store release.
Solution: Develop localization support and translate all textual content to different languages. Players can choose their preferred language from the Settings panel.
We are seeking help translating and validating localization support. If you are interested in either translating or beta testing translation support, please contact us!
Problem: Bardcard was released with a single chapter. There is so much more of the story to tell!
Solution: Release the next chapters to further the story of Bardcard. New zones, floors, monsters, puzzles, artifacts, familiars—and everything in between. The proposed progression refactor should happen before furthering the story to keep gameplay rebalancing to a minimum, so we've got some work to do. Stay tuned!