Card Hunter, is a free to play collectible card game meets table-top strategy, playable in your browser. We scored an interview with their creator, Blue Manchu, a group of industry vets trying something new and different. Card Hunter has been met with a large critical acclaim and we at Capsule Computers haven’t been able to stop talking about it; so without further adieu, here’s the interview.
Your team has a lot of experience in the industry; including Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: the Gathering. How’d all this talent get together? What was the energy while working on Card Hunter? What led to the development of Card Hunter?
After selling Irrational Games to Take Two, Jon retired. He got bored very quickly and so he decided to work on something he really wanted to make. He was a big Magic: The Gathering fan and he decided to experiment with merging a CCG with a more traditional dungeon crawler, to make something new. We decided to get Richard Garfield involved because there’s a yawning abyss between playing a game and making one. We’d never made a CCG in our lives. So we asked Richard to help us out. Plus, we wanted to work with Richard Garfield.
How long of a process was it to refine the art-style in Card Hunter? Did you always have a certain look in mind?
It took a long time. We went through lots of different iterations. At one stage we experimented with using real lead figures. These things always take a lot of iteration to get right.
How big of a part did mechanics play while designing Card Hunter? Did you always have an idea on how the system would work? Or did you go through a few revisions?
It was the entire focus of development. We went through many different versions before getting it right. The toughest challenge was to create a deep battle system that was accessible and quick. This is a very tough balance to strike.
Why’d you choose to make Card Hunters browser based? How long into the process were you before you decided that? has it worked out how you intended?
We decided to go with a browser because we felt it was the easiest way to get the game to the widest audience. We made this decision early on. It’s been both good and bad. It’s been good in that people use browsers everyday. It’s been tough in that there’s a lot of stigma around browser-based games.
Are you planning on adding more classes? Or are you sticking with the holly trinity; warrior, priest, and wizard?
Yes that’s something we’d love to do. Obviously we want to make sure that what we have is working well before adding any new content.
I’ve noticed a queue forming here and there to get onto the Card Hunter server, were you expecting this large of a turn out? have plans to expand your server?
We were surprised by how popular the game is. We’re working right now on increasing server capacity and adding more servers. It’s a problem, but it’s a good problem.
Micro-transactions are all over Card Hunters; how do you balance the game so that it’s both fair and fun for those who participate in micro-transactions and those who don’t?
By not trying to squeeze money out of people at every turn. Really, the monetization in Card Hunter relies on people giving us money because they love the game and want to support what we’re doing. Most of the game is free. The pay-walls are minimal. And you can’t really buy an advantage over other people in multiplayer. It has to be like this because the basic requirement is a fun and balanced game.
Obviously table-top games of yore have been a large influence on Card Hunter, will we be seeing more of the table-top tropes sneaking in? Any specific table-top and card games you took inspiration from? What are some of your other influences?
Obviously first edition D&D was a huge inspiration for us. But really it draws upon all the first generation of pen and paper RPGs, like Tunnel and Trolls and Runequest.
After developing Card Hunters for so long, do you still play for enjoyment? What are some of your favorite tactics? Any tips you can give us noobs?
Yes, absolutely, which is surprising, given how much we’ve played it at this point. The most important tip is to rebuild your deck for every battle. Unlike a traditional RPG, that has a linear power progression, Card Hunter is about building your deck to face every challenge.
Now that Card Hunter is out, what’s next for Blue Manchu? Anything in the works or are you just planning to support Card Hunter, for now?
We’re really focused on bug fixing and then adding new stuff to Card Hunter. It’s a 24 hour, seven day a week operation at the moment!
What advice would you give to those looking to get into the industry or make games of their own?
My advice would be start making! There are lots of games out there you can mod. And middleware engines like Unity are relatively easy to pick up and start using.
We’d like to give our thanks to Blue Manchu for giving us their time for this interview. What are you waiting for? Now that you’ve got the inside scoop, go check out Card Hunter here.