Ark Worlds: MOBA Inspired Hero Engagements Game (Canceled)
Former video game developer turned board game designer creates a strategy game. It plays in 45mins for 2 or 4 players.
Ark Worlds is a strategy card game for 2 or 4 players. Inspired by games the like of Overwatch, League of Legend, and Paragon, Ark Worlds has you selecting 6 heroes from a selection of fighters, tanks, casters, supports and healers to do battle. Efficient use of abilities and team composition will be strong factors in play. With hundreds of thousands of possible team compositions, You'll be able to get many hours of play out of one small box.
While there is a degree of luck in Ark Worlds, skill and learning play the biggest part. Ark Worlds is built around a core set of mechanics that are very easy to pick up, but learning to apply those mechanics will be the challenge. A player may have trouble with a tough opposing team only to find that switching out one character was all that was needed to bring balance to their team and plug a critical weakness. With each play, you will find opportunity to learn the subtle details of the game. Are you up to the challenge?
We didn't lean on review videos, instead we would like you to just play the game for yourself. Download the rules and then head over to Tabletopia and give it a play. You can also download a print and play here, which is enough to play a skirmish game. If you have any questions about the game, leave a comment on the BGG page.
Ark Worlds usually appeals to people who like strategy games like Magic: The Gathering, or Android: Net Runner. If you like the idea of playing a game like that but with a very small foot print, this may be the game for you. The core rules can be learned in 10 minutes, but with 24 different characters, there's a lot of room to explore different team composition and configurations.
Two things that were important to me when translating a video game into a board game were visuals and hero design. For Ark World, I choose an art style that is reminiscent of well known MOBA games. I took a lot of inspiration from League of Legends, Vain Glory, and Overwatch for the art direction. Character designs were influenced from games, movies, and literature. Some notable influences are The Way of Kings Books, Paragon, Lots of Anime, and a sprinkle of Dark Tower. Basically anything I've been exposed to over the last year has made it's way into the visual language.
Each character goes through a long process on the way to completion, starting with simple silhouette studies to explore the expression, shape, and design language of the characters. These were done by artist Emily So.
From there, a rough sketch is created, before value rendering. In this phase, we are just refining the silhouettes, in attempt to define some shapes and detail that can be built on in the next phase.
The next phase is value rendering. In this phase the sketch is handed of to an artist who creates a 2D drawing of just the lighting values of the character. This rendering was done by EJ Dela Cruz.
At this point, the character is starting to look pretty spectacular already. From here, the character will go into coloring, and be placed into an environment. Each character is given a base color set that can be re-skinned for color variations. Then a detail pass is added to incorporate the character with their environment. This is how the characters will be rendered into the final game. In this piece, the environment was painted and colored by EJ Dela Cruz, and the character was colored by Orion McClelland
Almost done. All that's left from here is to import the character into Photoshop to lay over the final graphics and game play information.
Overall the process of creating a card's design can take roughly 30 hours across 2 or 3 individuals and a few weeks. All of that is also just accounting for the look of the card. Creating a character's final ability set is an additional phase of the process.
The process for designing the game play of each character is also an iterative one. It starts with the reference characters. Ark World is designed with a baseline meta of playing one of each of the four hero classes. The reference characters were designed to play good and close matches with little influence from abilities.
When designing a new hero, one of several reference characters is chosen from offense, support, carry, assassin, tank, off tank, and a few more. This will form the backbone of the characters.
From here, abilities are chosen that fill certain roles. The core box set is designed to explore the basic systems of Ark World. Most of the basic abilities appear in at least three characters. From there, I tried to make sure that various roles were filled. For example some characters make use of heavy passives, while others (called casters) require lots of mana to be effective. Some characters counter styles of play. Some punish tanks, some punish supports. A lot of thought was put into the base line set of characters. This is something I'm looking to get into more detail about as the campaign continues.
Once the role is chosen now the fun part begins. In this phase creative ideas for expressing game play concepts are explored. This process is more art than science, and characters are tweaked until they "feel right". This is the phase where a hero's personality really starts to come to life, and the reason why so many players develop a feeling of "my guy," as they gravitate towards the various play styles. It's not uncommon in this phase to go through multiple iterations of a hero's kit. Take Hain for instance.
Hain's basic concept as a demon who jungles and harasses has been the same since the beginning. The card on the right was a near final kit for Hain. It had a few issues in that it was difficult to use well, but potentially devastating if it was. This created a situation that could allow for a bad feeling play experience as it was a bit of a noob trap while also being inconsistent.
The rework on the left accomplishes the same goals, and in fact is largely the same kit, but it's easier to understand, easier to play, and makes for less swingy play. Hain is a personal favorite of mine, and now he feels even better to play.
This is the give and take that goes into creating a character in Ark Worlds. Heroes are then run through simulations with potentially problematic companions to test for balance. Counters are found for any problematic sets of heroes that are identified, and if counters are either too few or are too reliant on random dice rolls, the offending heroes are tapped gently with the nerf hammer, and the process continues.
Again, this is more art than strict science, but this crafted approach is the reason that when you find heroes that suit you, they feel so good to play.
I started UGL because I love games and game design. Over 10 years ago, I entered the video game development world (as a graphics programmer) because I love the game space. While ultimately I ended up moving out of the video game industry, I've been able to reignite my passion for gaming via table top.
I've spent the past 2 years backing projects, following creators, studying campaigns, and interacting with the table top community, learning. After following roughly 130 campaigns as a backer (and amassing more games than I have time to play anymore), finally, I feel I'm ready to release one of my own creations. I'm an experienced product developer and I'm confident in my ability to release a good game, so most of my time over the last few years has been learning the business and operations side of the board game industry. That's kind of a boring story, I know, but my priority really has been on delivering great games over trying to be the next "big designer" in the industry. Sorry guys, no miniatures this time around :)
Let me just start by saying that I love Kickstarter. I love the autonomy it gives to creators and the democracy it brings to industries. I think that the growing boardgame community on Kickstarter is amazing and I love the energy.
Coming to Kickstarter will allow me to create the games I want to create, and more importantly own my own creations. I could shop my designs to publishers, but really, I want to be around in the industry for a long time, and for me, that means owning my work and being the captain of my vision. By backing this project you will enable me to follow this dream while getting a pretty cool game in the process.
In this industry, nothing can ever be 100% mistake free, but we feel that by working with experienced partners, we can recover quickly if/when the road gets bumpy.
Note we are not planning to use a pledge manager for this campaign for simplicity.
Panda Game Manufacturing
We're partnering with Panda because they are a leader in providing high quality game components. We wanted to work with a company that would do the job right and we think that Panda will deliver a great final product.
We're partnering with Ship Naked for fulfillment because of their excellent customer service and commitment to backers. We think they will do an excellent job getting games into backer's hands in a timely manner. In my experiences as a backer, Ship Naked has done a great job getting packages to me, so naturally I wanted to work with them to deliver my own products.
While we are shipping all rewards from the US to keep logistics simple, we would like to be friendly to the rest of the world. This means that we will try to keep rates as fair as possible. Further, if you have issues with customs in the following areas: US, Canada, the UK, the EU, Australia, and New Zealand, please email us at email@example.com including a copy of your customs receipt and we will reimburse you via PayPal.
Final shipping costs will be based on the final product specs after stretch goals are unlocked. We're estimating around $4 for US shipping and around $10 for rest of world, but those numbers are subject to change.
Risks and challenges
Backing a new creator can always be a daunting decision, but let me assure you, this project was designed and created with the highest priority being shipping a quality product. I've done a few things to ensure that.
We're partnering with the incredible manufacturing company that is Panda Games. Panda is by no means the cheapest manufacturer, but they are one of the best. I chose a manufacturing partner that I thought would be most likely to get the product into the hands of backers, with a level of fit and finish that a high quality product deserves.
We're partnering with Ship Naked to deliver this product. Again, we wanted to make sure that the product got into the hands of our backers with a high level of service. If you're a frequent backer of projects you'll probably have come across a ship naked project. Hopefully, you've had as good of an experience as I have in the past.
I'm a part of the New York City / Jersey City design scene. This community collectively represents decades of experience designing, publishing, making, and testing games. I've been very well supported through the process, and really value the feedback that I've gotten from this group.
When I'm not making board games, I'm programming software. Just like in software, Ark Worlds was created in a way that it is very testable. Most balance play testing has come in the form of running through scenarios. Many tests have been run to work out a very tight balancing for this game. The result has been a game that many, even those that don't necessarily like this genre, can enjoy. Balance has always been a top priority in Ark Worlds, and we think we have a really solid core set. If you play these types of games, then you will know that companies the like of Riot and Blizzard spend time constantly tweaking their characters. We want to have that level of commitment to our product, following the Ark Worlds meta as it evolves, and tweaking/balancing characters over time.
- (33 days)