Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tesla: The Announcement Agenda

Hello again, everyone! Wow, yesterday had a big announcement from Wizards of the Coast - Kaladesh is an actual set coming out in September! Seeing as our own custom set creation project, Tesla, is based on Kaladesh, this means we've got a big robot elephant in the room to discuss.

Said elephant can be seen in the bottom left.
Art by Adam Paquette
With the announcement of an official Kaladesh set coming out soon, Tesla is under the closest thing we've ever had to a time crunch. The goal of this project, from the very beginning, was to "finish when we finish", in order to ensure we had a quality project and came out of this whole thing with a greater understanding of set design, and that still holds true. If we aren't finished by the time the WotC-designed Kaladesh comes out, that's fine - but I think it's a great goal to shoot for!

For this reason, I think we should try to have our final draft of Kaladesh ready by September. This is a completely reasonable timeframe, I think! We have approximately four months before Kaladesh spoilers begin, which is plenty of time, considering that we already have a solid line-up of mechanics, and an initial draft of the set skeleton, with most every common filled in.

Over the next four months, we should strive to accomplish the following:

  • Finish experimenting with our mechanics. While each of our mechanics is doing good work in design, and filling their roles admirably, we need to put them through their paces and verify their design space. A few example commons isn't enough - we need to produce a lot of commons, and pick the cream of the crop.
  • Finalize our archetypes. Some of our archetypes are still facing problems. {G}{W} has been moving away from tokens due to their distribution in the set, and {U}{B} no longer has a mechanic at common to support it. We need to find new direction for these archetypes.
  • Finalize our commons. We have a rough draft of most every common, and no slots are empty, though some have multiple possibilities. The sooner we can finish our commons, the faster we can get to serious playtesting.
  • Playtest. Our commons need to produce a fun and interesting environment, and the only way to know if they're doing that is to playtest them.
  • Playtest. Our archetypes need to be diverse, yet synergistic - they want to each play differently from each other, yet share common links and parts, and interact intriguingly. This requires playtesting.
  • Fill in, then finalize, the rest of the set. Once we have the mechanics, the archetypes, and the 'feel' of the format that comes with the commons, the rest of the set will follow much more naturally. In addition, Develop is only at higher rarities, so that'll help fill in the higher rarities as well.
  • Playtest. Once we have the whole set filled in, we need to make sure it all plays well.
  • Ship it! Once it plays well as a whole, the design is done! We can start some rigorous development, finding art, and finalizing flavor, but our role as designers is complete.

I would consider step 1 - locking in the mechanics - almost complete at this point. Most everyone seems satisfied with Justice, Raid, Revolution, Develop, and Thopters and Canisters. (If you aren't, let me know in the comments!) Raid and Thopters are WotC-approved, Justice and Revolution seem to have plenty of design space, and Develop has been doing fantastic work so far. Justice, Canisters, and Revolution may face issues in playtesting, but I'm fully confident we can work out the kinks.

What that means is, we need to finish finalizing the commons for each mechanic, and then move on to seriously playtesting our commons. We'll discuss this more later this week, but for now, I've put up some updated goals on the Multiverse. For now, let's work on making 'home-runs' for each mechanic at common. Later this week, we'll discuss playtesting in more detail - suffice to say, my plan is to arrange more playtesting between Artisans across a variety of programs.

Until next time, have a great week, everybody!

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