The Games that inspired Wagic
I was recently looking for good homebrew games on the PSP (I might start a subject on that in future posts…), which reminded me of games I used to play on the PSP when I started seriously thinking about Wagic.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but it is funny how these games inspired me when I started coding my game.
But before talking of PSP homebrews, I’ll start with the obvious inspirations. Of course, Wagic is inspired from Magic the Gathering, but more specifically, the two following games:
Shandalar is an old Microprose game that allowed to play quests in an heroic fantasy world, while fighting against other sorcerers with Magic cards. Although I never played the game, I was always impressed by the idea of “progressing” in a game, fulfill quests, visit shops to buy cards, and stuff like that. This game was much more than a MTG simulation, it was a real game relying on the rules of MTG with goals to achieve, which is why I think it was (and still is) succesful. The whole idea of the shop in Wagic (buying cards/unlocking sets) comes from this. Actually, the initial goal for Wagic was that you’d travel on a map and fight ennemies with your cards… I haven’t given up on this idea yet, but it clearly means creating a whole RPG, which is a huge task.
Shandalar was made to run on screens that didn’t have the cool resolutions we have nowadays. Keeping this in mind helped me work on the initial designs of Wagic. With the size of the PSP screen, we always have to have an interface that allows to show lots of information on a very limited space.
For those who don’t know, Shandalar is maintained by a group of fans, under the name Manalink. Manalink handles Momir Basic, which is where I got the idea of implementing it in Wagic as well 🙂
In 2007 when I started working on Wagic, Forge (it was called MTG Forge at the time) was the only “mainstream” open source game that allowed people to play MTG against an AI. Other solutions existed, such as MagMa – Magic Machine – but weren’t easy to access – at least the source. Forge is written in Java while other freeware programs were either closed source or not portable. My initial goal was to see if I could port an existing freeware game to the PSP. Forge doesn’t have the best interface or the cleanest code in the world of open source, but it was the proof that creating an AI to play MTG was doable. I quickly gave up on porting it though, as I needed to rewrite it in C, and I disagreed with most of the design choices mades in the code. In the last months, Forge has been getting lots of improvements. I must admit I haven’t played it in a while. The screenshot above is neither recent nor old. The version I played two years ago couldn’t show the card pictures on the board. Forge lacks eye candy, but it’s getting better, and it’s probably the most active open source MTG project currently.
Defense Station PSP
DSP was a PSP homebrew made by coder Danzel. Not only was it quite fun to play, it didn’t use any fancy 3d and was a full game with lots of customization. By “full game”, I mean it was more than a proof of concept. A problem with most homebrews on the PSP is that they only have one level. Or no end. Or no goal at all… which makes you play them for 10 minutes then throw them away. DSP wasn’t one of those. You could play it, play it again, download packs with different levels. It was extremely fun, and if you like tower defense I recommend it. (I also recommend Comet Crash on the PS3 if you’re into tower defense, by the way). When I saw lots of people contributing to DSP with maps and new graphics, I new I wanted Wagic to allow the same kind of customization
I’ve spent countless hours on this game. It made me realize that it was possible to do a fun game without any incredible graphic skills (which is my main issue). While playing this game I realized creating a card game on the PSP wouldn’t require me to draw anything but rectangles. Yet I wanted more strategy in my game, which is why I went with the concept of TCCG. The very simple gray tone was clearly the inspiration for the main menu in the first versions of Wagic (I can’t show them to you because they used copyrighted graphics, but people who played the early releases back in 2008 probably remember a gray gradient with mana icons. It was very sober and I loved it).