Along with our interview with the Senior Producer on Assassin’s Creed IV, we made another stop at the Ubisoft booth at PAX Aus to interview Stephane Jankowski, the Producer on the free to play online card game Might & Magic: Duel of Champions at Ubisoft Quebec. Stephane took us through the process of turning the Might & Magic universe into a card game, keeping the game balanced and what’s next for Duel of Champions.
Q: For those out there who might not know about Might & Magic: Duel of Champions, would you mind explaining a bit about what the game is and how it is played ?
Might & Magic: Duel of Champions is an online free to play card game. It’s happening on PC and on iPad and is actually a cross platform game so when you are on one platform you can play against players from the other and vice versa. Your account also follows you so you can play on PC and carry on later on the iPad if you want. It’s really a traditional card game set within the Might & Magic universe. So you have your hero trying to defeat the opponent’s hero using different creatures and spells that you can strategically place on the battlefield.
Q: Did you find the Might & Magic universe easy to transition into a card game ?
That was the beginning of the story. We had some card players who were big fans of the Might & Magic universe. We figured it would be a good idea so we started prototyping and we developed a good concept, pitched it to the top management at Ubisoft and they were like let’s do it, let’s create the game.
Q: Do you have a favourite card or strategy you like to use in the game ?
(Laughs) Personally I’m a sanctuary player. So it’s a control strategy so you play slow paced and you outmanuever the other player. You move the other player’s cards directly during your turn, it’s an enraging strategy and the other player hates playing against that.
Q: Do you monitor the online play to ensure there are no dominant strategies or cards that players begin to abuse ?
Yes we have many different steps here. So we have a pool of players that are really passionate about the games. We give them access to new cards before they are released so they can help us balance the game, give their insight etc. Then when we release the cards, we monitor the game using data analytics. We have full insight into how the game is being played, who is winning against who, are any cards dominating etc. That helps us alot to bring balance to the game, if we see that there is a huge inbalance we can do some live changes.
Q: Have you found the free to play model to be successeful for duel of champions ?
Yeah it’s really successful for everyone. For us at Ubisoft the model is working, for the players it’s really interesting because there is no limitation. We don’t have an energy system or play five times in a day and come back tomorrow, it’s really accessible for everyone and all the content is actually accessible for free. So you can get all the cards if you don’t want to pay. You still have a chance to get all the cards if you are lucky enough or spend enough time in the game. For us it’s a balance that works and makes alot of sense.
Q: The game has been made available on the iPad, will be seeing an Android version in the near future?
Well we are working on the technical details for that. Programming and development for the Android world is alot different than the iPad stuff so we are looking into that. If things are going well we will have good news on that.
Q: The Road to Paris championships was just announced. What do we have to look forward to with that and what goes into making a worldwide event like that happen ?
Oh my God, yeah as you say it’s a big event. So what we are doing is some live events like here at PAX Australia where we are doing some live qualifications. The tournament happened yesterday, we had a big, big, big final with the two finalists fighting very, very closely. It ended up being one card that made the difference in the end in the final game so it was a really cool final. The finalists will be flying to Paris this Fall to play in the Paris Games Week event at the big final with the eight best players in the world. We are also doing some online qualifications. You can go to Road2Paris.com, you can register and if you are good enough after one month of qualification you can also qualify to compete in the Road to Paris.
Q: Thank you for your time Stephane. What’s next for Duel of Champions in terms of incoming content? Will we be seeing new expansion packs ?
We are always releasing new content. Every three months or so we are adding new cards. Right now we already have about 400 cards in the game and we are announcing the next expansion very soon for September. We are always aiming to add new content, new game modes and as we discussed we are going to look into new platforms. Competition is also a big, big thing so we are doing alot of tournaments around the world so there is a good chance you are going to see us around.
If this interview has peaked your interest and you want to give Might & Magic: Duel Of Champions a go yourself, you can play right now online for free (the game is also available on iPad from the iTunes store).
If you like the game and fancy your chances as a master dueler, you may be able to compete in the Road to Paris Championships that will be held during Paris Games Week from October 30 to November 3. Jesse Coad, known to gamers as ‘Jezilla’, triumphed over 32 other contestants at the qualifier held at PAX Aus over the weekend and earned himself a spot to compete in the Championships later in the year. He will go up against other contestants that have already qualified or will qualify at various tournaments that will be held at a number of future gaming conventions. If you wish to learn more about the Road to Paris Tournament Series, please click here.