Wednesday, November 17, 2010

GDS2: Utopia and Crutches

Color identity is my favorite aspect of Magic, so it's not surprising that my original set concept was about exploring the color pie in new ways. I wanted to depict the rarely-seen aspects, and the concept of a peaceful world adapting for war provided a framework for integrating these ideas into the gameplay of Magic.

This is not, however, an easy concept to design for. I struggled with whether or not it was doable at all, until I eventually settled on using enchantments as a mechanical touchstone to tie things together. The problem was that I quickly came to lean on enchantments too heavily, and they usurped the focus of my set. It was so much easier to design good "enchantments-matter" cards than "weaponized paradise" cards that it completely overran my submission.

Rosewater addressed this by deftly kicking the "enchantments-matter" crutch out from under me and telling me to start jogging. With the same update, my existing mechanics were condemned to the scrap heap and I was given four days to design 18 commons to show off my set's mechanics. Hoo boy.

I should mention that I don't think this was necessarily bad for my status in the GDS2. I was given clear instructions and a very difficult challenge, which is pretty much the perfect situation for trying to prove myself as a designer. It did make the process rather stressful, though.

On Wednesday, I narrowed my colors down to blue or black. On Thursday, I invented the Gold counter mechanic and shifted my focus towards black. I came up with the idea of life-payment Mercenaries late Friday and powered through the submission itself over the weekend. There was not as much time for playtesting or direction changes as I might have liked.

The end result is far from perfect, but I'm very satisfied with it. The mechanics are somewhat questionable, but they show my ability to adapt with feedback and convey a unified flavor. I made good use of collaboration with the online community, and I think it shows. I have no idea whether I will be eliminated this week, but I hope that I have demonstrated enough potential that some questionable mechanical decisions will be excused.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

GDS2 Chronicles: Finalist and Input

October was not a good month for this blog. I spent two weeks pouring all of my energy into my Great Designer Search 2 submission, a week recovering, and then a week banned from talking about the search.

The good news is that after all that, I am one of the 8 finalists. My full submission is on the Wizards page here and I've revamped my Wiki page here.

Up to this point, I've pretty much done all the creative and mechanical work on Utopia myself. My big theme for this week is trying to change that. As proud as I am of the work I've done, I know that I can't brainstorm an entire set's worth of mechanics on my own.

I still want to show off my vision for the set, but I need to demonstrate that I can do that by taking suggestions and accepting other people's ideas. So give me all the input that you can, and I will make Utopia as awesome as it can be.