Hatchlings Games

Web Gaming 2.0 Revolution

The Evolution of Quasr’s Design

Game Profile

Game Name: Quasr

Old Name: Battle Chess, Card Chess, Encephalon

Platform: Web

Genre: Trading Card, Board, Multi-player

Key Features:

  • A mix of developer and user generated content
  • Free to play
  • No additional client download required

Inspirations: Trading card games, chess, board games, turn-based strategy games, web 2.0, social networking, World of Warcraft, Raph Koster‘s a Theory of Fun

Quasr is a web 2.0 trading card / board game. The game is like chess but you play with custom pieces that you collect and customize. These customizable pieces are similar to cards of those trading card games. Quasr.com is a web 2.0 application that is light-weight, features user-generated content, developed with an agile programming methodology, and is about radical trust.

How it started?

no.wing first had the idea to combine Magic: the Gathering (he is an avid player) with Chess (his ex-roommate is an avid player). The result of that is BattleChess, whose features are briefly displayed below.

Time: Sometime Year 2004
Game Name: BattleChess
Dev. Team: no.wing
Key Features
  • There is already a 8×8 board in this first version.
  • Cards: Creature, Fields, Spell
  • Platform: Online Client
  • Technology: Java

 

 

no.wing sent an e-mail with the design doc draft to slade, who was not that close to him at that time. Slade played it (on paper) with his brother and did not find it special or fun. However, no.wing’s game design documentation, conceptual thinking skill and practical imagination made an impression.

Out of Projects

At one time, we were out of projects and needed a direction to restart the company. Slade and jarod suggested that no.wing work on elaborating BattleChess’s design.

BattleChess v0.5

Time: Mid Year 2006
Game Name: BattleChess
Dev. Team: no.wing, slade, jarod
Key Features
  • There is already a 8×8 board in this first version.
  • Cards: Creature, Fields, Spell
  • Platform: Online Client
  • Technology: Java

 

 

With the v0.5 of the game design document, slade and no.wing had a meeting to discuss its gameplay and business model. The result of the discussion was to make the game an online game similar to those found in http://www.miniclip.com. Using two days, Slade wrote and submitted an application for the Cradle Investment Project grant.

Project: Card Chess

Time: June 2006
Game Name: CardChess
Dev. Team: no.wing, slade, jarod
Key Features
  • Platform: Online Web-Based
  • Technology: Flash/.NET/AJAX

 

 

During the submission of the Cradle grant, Slade thought it would be wise to name the application Card Chess to make it easier for the readers to paint a picture of the game in their minds. While waiting for the approval of the CIP application, Slade started experimenting with web design and development. He started realizing and appreciating the major movements in Web Applications design and development.

The article that made the biggest impression on him was the original Web 2.0 article by technology giant Tim O’Reilly.

Project: Card Chess – Design Doc v1.38

Time: August 2006
Game Name: CardChess
Dev. Team: no.wing, slade, jarod, kuan
Key Features
  • Cards: Creature, Fields, Spell, Portal
  • Technology: Flash/PHP/AJAX

 

Slade began prototyping the game in Macromedia Flash. Inspired by articles on object-oriented design patterns, Slade who was a hardcore C++ programmer with no design pattern experience started designing the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture for the prototype. The architecture will serve as the basis of further development.

nowing made some key design changes including the addition of a Chess king-like “portal” card. Eventually the portal card was named the Aspect. Instead of using Creatures to attack the opponent’s starting row, the game is won by eliminating the opponent’s Aspect.

Kuan join the production team to add-on to Slade’s single player prototype.

Project: Card Chess – Design Doc v1.45

Time: September 2006
Game Name: CardChess
Dev. Team: no.wing, slade, jarod, kuan
Key Features
  • Technology: Flash/SmartFoxServer/PHP/AJAX

 

Among the Flash socket servers that we evaluated, we chose SmartFoxServer PRO. It has the necessary extensibility features, is relatively easy to use, is well maintained, and has an overall clean design. The only problem would be pricing – so we needed the Cradle grant.

Also at this stage, Slade formatted the vanilla design document into a more presentable document.

While Kuan worked on the single player prototype, Slade started developing the web application prototype (in PHP), including the database (MySQL). Both are not used in final production when Sufiyan eventually joined us.

Encephalon

Time: October 2006
Game Name: Encephalon
Dev. Team: no.wing, slade, jarod, kuan, kwang
Key Features
  • Platform: Online Web-Based
  • Technology: Flash/SmartFoxServer/PHP/JavaScript

 

The announcement of MDeC’s Game Pitch came just in time. Kwang started helping nowing with concepting the setting of the game. Also, we started thinking of a name for the game. Although there were many names that came out of our late night discussions, Kwang’s Encephalon stuck.

For the game pitch, we needed to submit many design documents so we started working on them:

  1. Web Application Requirements
  2. Concept Document
  3. Business Plan
  4. Revised Design Document.

Encephalon v2.0

Time: December 2006
Game Name: Encephalon
Dev. Team: no.wing, slade, jarod, kuan, kwang, iris, moy
Key Features
  • Platform: Online Web-Based
  • Technology: Flash/SmartFoxServer/Ruby on Rails

 

Just before the day of the Pitch (20th December 2006), we were told that our Cradle Investment Project application was approved by the judging committee. This means we have the first RM50,000 for the project. We were well aware of the time the government takes to pay us cash so we were not that enthusiastic. Evidently, at the time of writing this article, not even the funds allocated for mobilization (advances) of the project has been transferred to our bank account.

While working on the concept document, nowing needed some help with the art. Although an artist himself, he has trouble drawing landscapes. Moy (who was already a member of the studio) helped nowing with his realistic speed-painting skills. Their deviant art galleries can be found here: nowing / moy.

The initial user interface designs was sketched by Iris and Kwang. nowing designed the initial card layout. Slade worked on writing the other documents and researching on the new web development environment, Ruby on Rails. We also started to recruit additional staff.

On the day of the Pitch, we prepared a flash presentation with DKoC, the Dark King of Cosmos introducing Slade and nowing as the presenters. Our objective was to amuse the audience but alas, no noise were allowed in the pitching hall.

The winners of the pitch was announced on the same day. We were the forth winner to be announced. So it was rather exciting. For more on the pitch, please read these older posts:

Another RM50,000 of grant money.

Additional Investment

Time: December 2006
Game Name: Encephalon
Dev. Team: no.wing, slade, jarod, kuan, kwang, iris, moy, wong ya ping, wong yek chi
Key Features
  • Platform: Online Web-Based
  • Technology: Flash/SmartFoxServer/Ruby on Rails

 

Mr. Wong Ya Ping, a friend and former university lecturer of Slade (and many of the others) introduced
an old friend, Mr. Wong Yek Chi who was contemplating to enter into the online software business. At the end of a week discussion, Mr. Wong Yek Chi became an investor of Hatchlings Games with Mr. Wong Ya Ping as acting Director.

Both Mr. Wongs will not play an active role in operations but their experience as well as investment will be very important in the establishment of the company.

Encephalon v2.1

Time: January 2007
Game Name: Encephalon
Dev. Team: no.wing, slade, jarod, kuan, kwang, iris, moy, wong ya ping, wong yek chi, roshan, sufiyan, vincent
Key Features
  • Redesigned gameplay
  • Platform: Online Web-Based
  • Technology: Flash/SmartFoxServer/Ruby on Rails

 

After the pitch, we re-evaluated the game’s gameplay, setting, had plenty of discussion dramas and started this blog. You can browse our blog archive of this month for more interesting reads.

Roshan was hired as an associate producer to assist Slade. Roshan’s first task was to maintain the new blog as well as recruit additional staffs for production. During this time, Jarod also helped in recruitment and continued attending various business networking events.

We redesigned much of the gameplay. First of all, a core game design group of nowing, iris and Slade was formed. Their first change was the removal of the “movement stats” for creature cards and the inclusion of the aspect’s “plow” ability – with its subsequent effects on creatures and field laying.

Field card size was reduced to one unit and has a completely different mechanics. Field cards can now be placed on the board in such a way to form shapes. When in particular shapes, it becomes a creature’s ability-granting mechanism.

At the end of the month, we recruited two key individuals:

  • Sufiyan, a superb Programmer who eventually played a huge part in this project, in the team as well as the establishment of the studio.
  • Vincent, a very enthuasic Ruby on Rails developer from Vancouver, Canada.

If you want to know more about what happened during this period, do browse our blog archive for this month.

Quasr.com

Time: March 2007
Game Name: Quasr
Dev. Team: no.wing, slade, jarod, kuan, kwang, iris, moy, wong ya ping, wong yek chi, roshan, sufiyan, vincent, din
Key Features
  • Redesigned gameplay
  • Platform: Online Web-Based
  • Technology: Flash/SmartFoxServer/Ruby on Rails

 

At this stage:

  • The name of the game has been finalized to quasr.com.
  • The domain as well as the first month of Virtual Dedicated Hosting has been purchased.
  • The game server codes is almost complete.
  • Game server can be loaded into SmartFoxServer as a Java library extension.
  • Connection can be established between the game clients and SmartFoxServer
  • A web staging server has been in production

What’s left to be done?

  • More work needs to be done on the game’s setting.
  • The game client needs to re-planned and designed.
  • A temporary Alpha Launch web application should be designed and developed.

*Phew* that was long.


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March 25, 2007 - Posted by | Encephalon, Game Design, Hatchlings Games

8 Comments »

  1. Very comprehensive history, perhaps we could write more about the little stories in between next time 🙂

    Comment by nowing | March 25, 2007 | Reply

  2. And you forget to add my name…
    Virion is the one who watched the project growing since the early beginning of this project. =P

    Comment by Virion | March 25, 2007 | Reply

  3. I think “superb programmer” was suppose to be “senile programmer”?

    Comment by cinod | March 25, 2007 | Reply

  4. Especially the earlier ones.

    Yeah, we forgot Virion. I am sure Virion will have even a bigger part to play, especially during Alpha testing.

    Comment by Slade | March 26, 2007 | Reply

  5. […] I came back, feeling confident but still arrogant and was given a chance to be part of the game design team in Quasr. It is around this time that we started to lay the foundation of Quasr’ gameplay. You can read about The Evolution of Quasr’s Design here. […]

    Pingback by Hatchlings? How? « Breaking Through | June 10, 2007 | Reply

  6. […] I came back, feeling confident but still arrogant and was given a chance to be part of the game design team in Quasr. It is around this time that we started to lay the foundation of Quasr’ gameplay. You can read about The Evolution of Quasr’s Design here. […]

    Pingback by How did Iris became one of us? « Hatchlings Games | June 11, 2007 | Reply

  7. […] on Quasr for more than 6 months now. If you want to know what is the game all about, read it here. In short, Quasr is actually a Multiplayer User Created Trading Card/Board Game. Complicated? Not […]

    Pingback by Second or Secondary Life? « Breaking Through | October 10, 2007 | Reply

  8. Are there any pictures of this game that I can see. So I see how does it look like, because it seem nice and exciting game.

    I’m tired of this computer games and think of switching back to board and deck games.

    Comment by I gamer | June 7, 2008 | Reply


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