Game tuning & playtesting

crazier evolution2Tuning a game requires that you try to improve it through an update. It is important to tune a game several times. I also recommend game designers make multiple significantly different versions of a game to check what works best. How much should a card game be playtested and updated? There is no easy answer,  but I can talk a bit about how much Crazier Eights has been updated over the years.

Significantly different versions

I made a game similar to Crazier Eights starting back around 2004. Then a new version in late 2004, 2007, and 2013. That’s four significantly different versions that were all using the same main inspiration.

crazier evolution

The early versions of Crazier Eights didn’t require you to draw a card. You just used the card abilities when the cards are discarded. Some other differences:

  • 2005 — The 2005 version had more powerful cards, but the card abilities wouldn’t always work. For example, Poker only works when you have at least five cards in hand. Permanents or assets had card types, such as characters. That way a death card would only destroy characters.
  • 2007 — The cards were simplified a bit and there was one card of every rank a regular card deck would have.
  • 2013 — You drew a card every turn. Cards you discard are thrown away rather than using their abilities.

Similar main versions

The version that became Camelot was an evolved version of the 2013 version and it is one of four main versions over a span of five years:

camelot evolution

These four similar versions are not small tuning updates. Camelot had at least nineteen main updates when you include all four versions spanning five years.

I think the game was really quite good even after working on it for six months or so, but every updated improvement is a good thing.

Timeshift was actually in all the main versions, but I decided it was so powerful that it should be an eight after working on the game for some years.

One Thousand & One Nights

I investigated how much Crazier Eights: One Thousand & One Nights has been updated as well. I have been updating it for over two years. It’s had at least twenty four main updates.

1001 nights

In the case of One Thousand & One Nights, I was having a harder time getting it to work as well. I wasn’t just trying to tune it, I was trying to get it to function properly. The problem was not so much that individual cards weren’t functioning, but how those cards functioned as a whole with all the rest of the cards. There were two main problems:

  1. The games often took too long.
  2. Assets often became too abundant.

To fix the first problem, I mostly needed more ways to discard extra cards, such as Secluded Sanctuary above. To fix the second problem, I mostly used counter-balance, as I discussed here.

The art for Invasion of the Saucer Men is from the movie.

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