Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spoils Reply

I'm surprised at the number of post in favor of a Spoils videogame.  I might start working it.  I'm going to take things slow and just work on getting 2 starter decks working.

I've very bad at saying, "I'm going to work on such-and-such" and then I never do it.  In the past I said that I would work on a Pirates game and a Star Wars game.  So while I might work on a Spoils videogame I'll try not to talk about it until I get something working.  

"Shoot!  I wish programming was easy", says the old man that lives in my head. (joke)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Spoils: A Brief Introduction

Today I'm going to take a detour from my main topics of Magic and programming and wonder down the path of another trading card game. I've become interested in The Spoils and although it is relatively a new game with only 4 sets, some of the rules are very similar to Magic: The Gathering while others are subtle improvements.

When playing Magic I regularly have the following problem.  I know which three cards/abilities I want to use but then I have to look at my land to make sure that I don't accidentally use up all of my red mana because I was going to Shock my opponent during combat.  And the situation just gets worse when playing 3, 4, or 5 color decks when you have lands that can produce multiple colors.  I'll call this the "land tapping problem" and although I know it can be solved by taking a few extra seconds to think about the situation, I still find it annoying.

Oddly enough the Spoils doesn't have this problem.  In order to play a card you have to pay its cost, like 2, and meet the card's threshold.  Threshold is basically the number of "basic resources", aka land, that you have.  Threshold isn't used up and can be used to meet the requirement for multiple cards.  So while a card's cost could be 2, the threshold might be 6 Rage icons, which means that the card can't be played until late in the game. 

The card's cost can be paid by any resource, so this solves the "land tapping problem".  In the Spoils, although any card can be played as a resource (aka land) only basic resource cards have threshold icons on them.  I think Magic's biggest flaw is the requirement of land and while the Spoils doesn't eliminate land, it reduces the need to stuff half your deck full of lands thus causing mana flooding or late in the game when you draw a land instead of a useful card.    "Hey it's great to draw a mountain on my 15th turn while I'm neck and neck with my opponent but I would really like something more useful."

(The VS/Marvel/DC trading card game didn’t have the "land tapping problem" and only had generic costs like 3 but penalized you for using random cards by only allowing characters with the same team affiliation to group attack.)

Combat in the Spoils is similar to Magic's old combat system. 

Declare attackers
  Let both players play cards/abilities
Declare blockers
  Let both players play cards/abilities
Assign damage
  Let both players play cards/abilities
Deal damage

The Spoils adds it own spin on combat and every creature has a speed.  Higher speed creatures assign (and deal) damage before lower speed creatures which makes combat much more complicated.  Instead of having 1/1 creatures, the Spoils has 1/1/1 creatures since creatures also have a speed.  You may have multiple combat phases because a player can attack with each of his creatures separately or together.  Creatures in the Spoils also have the annoying "summoning sickness" rule, which means that they can attack on your next turn. 

In Magic creatures have power/toughness and the Spoils renames them strength and life but they are the same thing.  The Spoils has 5 factions which are very different in flavor than Magic's 5 colors but you have to be blind not to notice the similarities.  The Spoils also has "faction cards" which are similar to Magic's avatar cards which affect how many cards you draw, your starting life, etc... 

I might try programming something like Forge for the Spoils.  It would be great to make it official with the company that owns the Spoils and actually sell it.  Programming for real money sounds like a very enjoyable project.  Not that I haven't had a great time starting the Forge project and giving it away but I would enjoy a change of pace.  A Spoils videogame with a good AI and decent graphics would be very fun indeed. 

The world needs more trading card videogames. :+}


I said "decent graphics" because that is my weakest skill.  Programming the back-end, non-graphical stuff is usually pretty easy and fun.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Forge is Not Dying

I didn't do a good job of explaining this.

1. Forge is still going to be developed and nothing really is going to change.  The DMCA notice just makes me change where I post Forge, so it can be downloaded.  Torrents could solve this problem but I try to make it super-easy to try Forge, which is why I have a plain, old-fashioned download link.

2. I don't blame Wizards of the Coast.  I started Forge as a pet project and released it (on a whim) on the internet.  I never thought about violating copyrights or anything.

Friday, July 15, 2011

DMCA Notice – aka Cease and Desist

I just received another DMCA notice from the lawyers representing Wizards of the Coast.  I would like to make a truce with Wizards.  Maybe Forge is in violation of copyright and maybe it isn’t.  I seriously doubt whether Forge is taking money out of Wizards of the Coast pockets but that isn’t really the question.  Copyright law, not money, is the real question.

Truthfully it always makes me a little bit sad when I receive a DMCA notice but I guess it goes with the territory.  I promise that the next trading card videogame that I work on will be so obscure and forgotten that no one will even care.  Maybe I’ll choose some random card game that was based on a Japanese anime but is now defunct.  (Both the anime and the card game itself.)  Maybe I would choose something like the Inuyasha card game which has 1,200 total cards.  

(You can view it’s non-existent homepage here using, which scans the internet and archives webpages so you can view past versions.)

In reality I haven’t worked on Forge in the last 3 years so the DMCA notice effects me the least of all.  Yes I have this awesome blog but I’m not invested emotionally.  Forge was a great project to start because it was so freaking fun to play.  Forge is my favorite videogame ever, hands down, and is probably one of the greatest games ever made.  I do thank the many coders that keep improving Forge. 

Rob Cashwalker
Friar Sol
Jeff Wadsworth
Chris H

I am providing links to the newest version of Forge.  The newest version is 07-15-2011 and has 8,614 unique cards.  Bz2 files can be uncompressed using 7zip.  The Windows files are at the top of the 7zip webpage and Linux/Mac files are further down. is a decent host but it does have a few pop-ups.

No deck files are included but you can download decks from the Forge deck forum and put them in your /res/decks/ directory.  You can download decks without registering.

forge-1.1.0.tar.bz2 – Windows/Linux (14 MB)

forge-1.1.0.osx.tar.bz2 – Mac (15 MB)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Buggy Cards – To add or not to add, that is the question

When I was working on Forge as a personal, pet project I didn't mind adding buggy cards.  I knew which of the cards were buggy and generally they just made me smile when a bug happened during the game.  Generally the bugs were mildly annoying but nothing more than that.  (If the bug caused the game to crash, I didn't smile.)  And the Forge developers continued to add cards that were a little bit buggy.  By “buggy cards” I mean the cards would work under "normal circumstances" but not when things got complicated.

(Random cool card picture)

This rule-of-thumb has worked well for a while but it now that Forge has 8,437 things could be changed.  The only reason that I included buggy cards to begin with was because Forge didn’t have many cards.  And the more cards it has equals more fun.  Now all of the buggy cards could be removed and the player could optionally use them by changing an option.  

I started thinking about buggy cards after recently reading this post on the Wagic blog.  One paragraph caught my attention:

[start quote]

I’m also proud to think that in Wagic, when we say a card is supported, you are very unlikely to find a bug with it, and if you do, we acknowledge it’s a bug, we won’t say “no, we couldn’t do better than that with this card”. When we can’t fix the bug, we “downgrade” the card. It is still in the game, but you have to enable a special option (the “grade”) in order to play with it. 

This way, by default, a card that is not good enough will not appear in your game experience. For example, you won’t officially find the Planeswalkers in Wagic, because we think they do not reach the “quality bar” we expect them to reach…but it doesn’t prevent you from downloading them in a “workaround” version. So, when we say we support 7700 cards, we could actually say we support 8000 cards, but 300 of them were not considered “good enough” to be in the default settings.

[end quote]

I thought it was a very good way to deal with buggy cards.  Of course the level of “bugginess” is hard to tell.  Does a non-buggy card mean that it is 100% rules compliant and works correctly in all situations?  And to further complicated the situation some cards appear buggy only when other new cards are added.

Wagic is a great implementation of Magic with rules enforcement.  Wagic’s primary platform is the Sony PSP but it also runs on Windows, Linux, and Nokia N900 (maemo).  Wagic for Windows features mouse support or you can use the plain, old keyboard.  I think you can also use your gamepad if you use an external program to remap your keyboard to your gamepad.

Keep on tapping (and winning),

Monday, July 4, 2011

New Version

Happy 4th of July.  Some of you will be enjoying a new version of Forge and a day off of work.  The rest of you suckers will just have to work.  Forge has 300 new cards and a total of 8,437 cards.
Some of the improvements that Chris H. mentions:

This version features a complete rewrite of Sealed Deck mode. Full cardpool, block and custom modes are supported. Custom sealed files in the res/sealed folder are exactly the same as custom draft files, except the file extension ".sealed".

A distinction may now be made between AI decks and Human decks, with the addition of a deck Metadata "PlayerType", which right now just helps by sorting human decks into the human combo box and AI decks into the AI combo box.

Rob fixed the main Deck Editor's bad behavior with cards reappearing in the top after clearing the filter. A similar change should be easy to apply to the quest deck editor.

A number of bugs are fixed in this version. This includes the multi-targeting bug and the Trigger issue is now fixed. Many of the auras were missing potions of the descriptive text which appears in the card detail panel. After a lot of head scratching we believe that we have implemented a quick fix for this version.

The keyword "CARDNAME can't be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control." was replaced with the new shortened "Hexproof" keyword. There are several new and sveral revamped quest opponent decks.

06-24 was the date that this version of Forge was first posted on the forums.  Many thanks to the faithful developers :*) - For a list of developers scroll to the bottom of this post.

Link - Forge 06-24 (Windows, Linux) 33 MB

Link - Forge 06-24 (Mac) 17 MB - Use Keka to uncompress 7z files.  The Mac version (optionally) needs 2 more files that contain pictures, you can get them from here.

Download - Card Pictures (160 MB)
These are most of the low-quality (LQ) card pictures.  You can download the rest of the LQ card pictures or the high-quality (HQ) card pictures using the menu on the New Game screen.

Java - in case you need to update or download Java

You can move your decks files by copying them from /old forge directory/res/decks/ to your new deck directory.  You can also copy your pictures from /old forge directory/res/pics/ to your picture directory.

If you have any questions/comments, please post them to the forum.

Some of the awesome new cards include:

p.s. Many people helped with this version. A special thank you goes out to them:

Friar Sol
Rob Cashwalker
Jeff Wadsworth
Chris H