Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 is finally out - so we were delighted to have the opportunity to interview Worth Wollpert,
director of the Magic Digital Studio at Wizards of the Coast and executive
producer for Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012.
Techday: Magic: The Gathering
has a huge following, how difficult was it to create a video game which will both please the fans of the original card game, and be open to new players
that have never played the original version?
Wollpert: It was definitely a challenge, but we have some of the best gaming
minds in the world working here in R&D, as well as a great partner in
Stainless Games over in the UK. So between my team, our R&D folks and
Stainless, I think we got to a place that delivers on everything you’ve
mentioned. There are a lot of folks out there with a box of cards under their
bed, in their attic, at their parents’ house, and we wanted to make sure the
initial pull of the game was strong enough to attract those people and that the
first 10 minutes in the experience was accessible enough to not intimidate new
players. Once players give Duels 2012 a try, I’m convinced they’ll stay. Magic
itself does the heavy lifting for us there in that regard, and one of the
reasons I love my job is because I just know that Magic as a game is an
unmatched battle of wits in the strategy gaming area, and for that reason alone
sometimes people are drawn to it.
TD: What are some of
the challenges you faced in converting such a popular card game to a digital format?
The user interface and user experience are always the frontline challenge in
converting a mainly analog gaming property over to the digital world.
Fortunately we had a lot of experience and lessons to draw from on the original
and successful Duels of the Planeswalkers game, as well as our own Magic Online
product that’s been out for many years now. Again the UI/UX folks we have on
staff here combined with the talented folks at Stainless really knocked it out
of the park on the user experience I think. One of the things that was very
important for me to stress to my team this time around was to learn everything
we could from the previous game, and I think we’ve taken a really solid
foundation and built on that well.
TD: Players of the
Magic: The Gathering card game will no doubt be wondering why there is no
option for creating a totally custom deck from the decks you have unlocked in
the campaign setting rather than adding cards to the themed deck itself. Why
was this feature not included in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012?
It was important to us to stress accessibility, as I mentioned above. Finding
the right line between giving engaged users enough without giving the new
players too much is always very challenging, in any digital application,
especially games. It was important to us that the experience be relatively
stress-free and that the playing field remain pretty level. That said, we did
open up the deck customization in Duels 2012. Now you can edit the core decks
once you’ve got some options in your deck manager after you’ve played, won, and
unlocked some additional cards. Basically, we just wanted to be 100% sure that
new players’ first steps into head-to-head play were as fair and balanced as
possible. If full customization is what you’re looking for once you’ve played a
bunch of Duels 2012, we have several reasons in-game to encourage users to head
to their local game store, the first and most obvious being to redeem your
promo code at the store for the free-while-supplies-last alternate art foil
promo Titan cards from the Magic 2012 Core Set. The other big nudge to go to
your store is a little bit of a secret, and you’ll need to play through the
game to find out, but I think Gideon will be in touch with some directions.
TD: Will there be
downloadable content planned for the game and will it be available on all
platforms? Are there any plans to release expansion packs that tie in with the
new card sets as they come out?
For DLC our plans are not public yet, but I can say we definitely plan to offer
it. As of this writing, the game is live on XBLA and PSN America, with PSN
Europe and Steam coming later today assuming all goes well. PSN Japan will be
available late this month as well on June 30th. As far as plans to
tie into new card sets, I can’t say too much about that yet other than the
notion certainly makes a lot of sense.
TD: What is your favourite deck or card of the game?, do you have any
insider hints or tips to pass on to readers?
WW: My favourite deck is definitely
Gideon’s. I like equipment, so his deck fully unlocked is a blast to play with.
As far as insider hints, I unfortunately don’t have much to give you other than
to mention as I said before, once you get far enough along the ladder, Gideon
is going to show up with some news for you about a special Planeswalker
gathering, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled once you start climbing your
way up the ladder. And lastly, make sure you try the new multiplayer mode
Archenemy, especially with friends since our new enhanced co-op means you guys
can all be in different locations to get together online and team up against
the archenemy. That’s probably my favourite game mode.
TD: Thanks for taking
the time to talk to us, Duels 2012 sounds really exciting.
WW: Thanks for
letting me talk with you guys! Early reviews are really positive, so hopefully
you guys have as much fun playing it as we did making it.
More information on Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers can be found here.
Techday will have a full review soon!