Agent Decker’s campaign is designed around a sequence of five missions.
The good part is that they give the players new objectives along the way, forcing them to adapt as they’re gradually forced outside their comfort zone. The bad part is that this only works once. Once you know the missions and how to beat them the mystery is gone and you can prepare for them in advance.
Being a print-and-play game the players would have to assemble it before playing, so I wanted to keep the card amount fairly low. Instead of adding more goals I added a high score system. The first goal is to beat the campaign and the second, if the players want to, would be to beat their previous high score.
This lack of replayability was one of the first things I wanted to address in SUPERHOT: The Card Game.
In the original videogame the main objective is to kill every enemy in the level. That’s where my design started, but I quickly ran into three problems. First, it’s easy to lose track of how many enemies are left in the deck, and I didn’t want the players to stop playing to flip the deck over and count. Second, being a deckbuilding game there was the risk of a player simply adding all the enemy cards in his/her deck in a previous level, preventing the completion of the next one! Third, having a single objective got very repetitive, even if the enemy total would increase throughout. It nudged the players towards building one specific type of deck, ignoring everything else you could do in the game.
To fix this I had to steer a bit away from the original game. Varied goals were added, aimed at exploring the game’s mechanics and obstacles while keeping within the focus of the game: manipulating the level, the enemies and the flow of time. The goals can now be shuffled to give the players a different sequence every time, keeping players on their toes.
This meant I had to rethink each goal’s difficulty. Agent Decker’s fixed sequence let me control the pace at which the difficulty increases. This system doesn’t. The goals have to work whether they show up at the start of the game or further along, when the challenge is meant to have ramped up.
The solution was simple: more goals!
- Draw 1 goal for Level 1
- Draw 2 goals for Level 2
- Draw 3 goals for Level 3
The difficulty comes from the time flow mechanic and the bullets.
The core structure of the game had to change as well. Once a planned sequence of goals where from time to time new cards are added to the deck, now the obstacle card had to be designed for versatility.
To extend the replayability that ramp had to be replaced by a more open design. The cards became a series of dots which the goals ask you to connect into different shapes.
SUPERHOT: The Card Game is on Kickstarter right now! It was funded in the first three hours and is currently at 703% of its goal.