Interdimensional Prophets – Deckbuilder (Game Dev) #1

A couple of weeks ago I kept myself busy programming an exploration game based on an old free verse poem of mine. I had developed the core of the game, the encounter system, when it became obvious that for the game to feel remotely compelling (even for myself), I’d have to manually develop dozens or hundreds of encounters. The game as it was conceived couldn’t continue past that point, so I thought about what I liked the most about that concept:

  • A team of players cooperating to solve some issue.
  • Each player having special abilities.
  • Gaining resources, abilities, etc, for one of the players at a time.
  • Exploring strange places.
  • Encountering weird shit.
  • Events that could alter how some encounters play out.
  • Gaining injuries, diseases, etc.
  • Gaining mental afflictions.
  • Being able to regroup at the hub and determine the resources that would be used for the next exploration.

Damn it if that isn’t a deckbuilding game. Not surprising, given that one of my favorite games ever is Arkham Horror LCG, a card game in which a team of at the most four players, each with his or her deck, uses the resources and abilities contained in that deck to solve perilous situations and beat weird monsters. It also features a location system that forces the team to move around, although that’s probably my least favorite part of the game.

So I thought, why can’t I program a deckbuilding game?

First of all, I need a fast system to produce cards. I had looked up programs to create cards in the past, and I was extremely disappointed due to how obscure their usages were. So I would need to develop one such program myself, tailored to the needs of my game.

So that’s what I’ve begun to do thanks to the insane Python skillz of ChatGPT. Behold the repository with the current version of my card generator:

Link to the GitHub repository for the card generator program

The first notion I had of such a program is that it should be able to take a background image, a card image, a frame image, and the necessary text, and generate a standard-sized card immediately. And so it does:

Yes, the cards even have rounded corners. Isn’t that fucking cool?

I have become emboldened by the fact that I could get this far in a few hours. So to come up with ideas I have relied on the current king of mini-AGIs (artificial general intelligences), that for me is (requires a plus subscription to OpenAI and an API key; I had to wait for mine). Such AGIs are able to make plans, determine what tasks to perform, and criticize their own performance, in the pursuit of fulfilling some goals you’ve told it to focus on. As I’m writing this, GPT-4 is running in the background, coming up with game ideas and mechanics for the notions I fed it. For example, these are some of the texts that GPT-4 has written:

  • An Afflictions deck will be created, which will add an element of chance and difficulty to the game. The deck will consist of afflictions such as injuries, diseases, and mental statuses that will be detrimental to the player when drawn. The severity of each affliction will be determined, and a variety of afflictions will be included to ensure that the deck does not become predictable.
  • Illusion: A card type that represents deceptive, disorienting elements a player might encounter on specific biomes. These cards could have effects that remove enemy cards from the encounter deck or switch the order of Biome cards in the Biome deck.
  • A card drafting system will be developed to allow players to choose which cards to add to their deck when trading resources. The system will allow players to have more agency and control over their deck, and add another layer of strategic thinking to the gameplay. The rules for the drafting system will be determined, such as how many cards are presented to the player, and how many of those cards can be added to their deck. The card drafting system will be tested to ensure that it provides an engaging level of strategy without compromising the overall gameplay.
  • Encounter cards will be matched with one or more features of the Exploration Zone card in play. This will reflect the biome, geography, or climate the team is exploring, making the game more interesting and exciting for players. Additionally, we will develop a mechanism for how Encounter cards are ‘beaten’ through spent Player cards that feature certain icons. This will give players more agency in the game and create more engaging gameplay.

Born too late to explore the Earth, born too early to explore space, born just in time for the AI revolution.

One thought on “Interdimensional Prophets – Deckbuilder (Game Dev) #1

  1. Pingback: Interdimensional Prophets – Deckbuilder (Game Dev) #2 – The Domains of the Emperor Owl

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