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Interview with Dungeon Crawler's Jey Legarie

Dungeon Crawler, the CCG of fantasy adventure, has gotten a lot of attention thanks to its original design mechanics which allow for solitaire or multi-player gaming that can be cooperative or competitive. Creating such a versatile game system was certainly not an easy task, so I pestered Dungeon Crawler's creator Jey Legarie of Gifted Vision to chat with us about what went into such an ambitious project.

Solo Nexus: Dungeon Crawler is one of those rare games that includes solo rules that are as robust as - and possibly even more fun than - its multi-player competitive rules. Clearly, this is no accident. So, which came first, the solo concepts or the competitive design?
Jey Legarie: Dungeon Crawler was designed as a solo game first, but we wanted to allow for group gaming. All four formats were always on the table, but after our hardcore testing sessions we discovered that each format required its own rule set to be entertaining.

SN: When creating a game with simultaneous solo and multi-player design objectives, regardless of the type of game that it is, what caveats must the designer heed to ensure that neither variant of the game suffers because of the other?
JL: Set balance. You need countermeasures for whatever you create without nullifying the usefulness of other cards in any given format. The power balance can be influenced on whether your are trying to just survive a dungeon in solo or cooperative, or collect as many points as possible each Round in Competitive or Multiplayer. In general we have more powerful cards with less versatility (can not be used against your opponent) and more versatile cards with lower power to force the players to make a choice when designing their decks. You also have to consider cards that are overpowered in reference to how they can be used or abused in each format.

SN: Did the CCG format make simultaneous design more manageable and flexible?
JL: Having DC as a CCG really helped to act as guidelines for which cards would be rare; and therefore which cards would be powerful but perhaps niche pieces like Reflect or cards you would want a limited number of such as Adventurers or Quests.

SN: Speaking of flexible, solitaire quests in Dungeon Crawler are categorized as "easy," "standard," or "hard." How were you able to distinguish one category from the other while keeping competitive game design in mind?
JL: In competitive there is no range of difficulty, more than likely these by default will be extremely difficult because of the nature of the format. In Solitaire, you can select your difficulty by tailoring your own dungeons (or creating them randomly). In terms of design, these two factors never really crossed over. We knew that people could put 4 of any one card in their decks, and kept this in mind to prevent overwhelming issues as best as possible.

SN: After a few months of player feedback, did you notice the need for rules tweaks because of the solo/competitive duality of Dungeon Crawler's design?
JL: As we went to print we knew there would be rule tweeks required, not because we didn't feel the rules were complete, but because we knew that no 2 players reads or interprets things the same way. Our research showed that even very large companies still required online FAQs, Errata & revisions, so we planned to use this as a fallback in delivering up-to-date information on any changes. We even caught some backlash for not having as many graphics as other rulebooks on the market. As feedback began to return to us we found that we had a particularly difficult learning curve and had to enhance our own terminology to get certain mechanics across to our new players with as little confusion as possible. Although nothing beats a personal demonstration, we are always working towards better ways to deliver our rules to new players via self-learning methods.

SN: Dungeon Crawler's fans have enthusiastically responded as much to the fantasy world of the game - as evidenced by the fan fiction submitted to the DC site - as they have to the game itself. In your opinion, does a deep solo-play experience facilitate improved engagement with a product or just a different sort of engagement than in a multi-player game?
JL: We feel that the back story and interaction with our customers can only enhance the DC experience. So definitely "improved" would be my answer to this. The fan-fiction actually gives us feedback as how people are viewing the game, and although DC has a specific mythos and chronology, it shows just how versatile it can be for any fantasy world.

SN: What's in store for the future of Dungeon Crawler?
JL: Oh the things I would like to tell you! But, of what I can tell you, our current focus is on two fronts. Primarily we are making a push to discontinue our randomized booster boxes and reconfigure them in to a new product which will be sorted small packs we're calling "Delve Packs". These products will be available directly from us only, and within the next couple months. We feel that this will allow us to close the gap between the price of a starter and the price of obtaining a completed collection. Speaking of expanding, we are also working on our first expansion set the "Mines of Khurgan", we have art orders coming in on a regular basis and we will be jumping in to the next phase of our testing of the set posthaste.We also have a few other things in the works which should help in teaching the game to newcomers and allow them to learn the game much quicker.

Thanks, Jey! 

For all you need to know about Dungeon Crawler, visit the official site HERE.

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