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Feature: 'Designing Kongai'

As part of his in-depth design article, game designer and balancer (Street Fighter II HD Remix) David Sirlin explains his methodology in designing intrigu

Eric Caoili

May 23, 2008

2 Min Read

As part of his in-depth design article, game designer and balancer (Street Fighter II HD Remix) David Sirlin explains his methodology in designing intriguing achievement-based 'metagame' CCG Kongai for Flash game site Kongregate. When approached by Kongregate CEO and co-founder Jim Greer to design Kongregate's Kongai metagame, Sirlin responded that there were at least one hundred ways they could go wrong with the idea's execution. Greer then asked how it could be done right: "The first thing that came to mind was avoiding the style of game where we have artificial rarity for a few very powerful cards. There are going to be some players who get caught up in the fun of collecting cards, and there will be others who actually want to play this metagame. For that second group, I want them to have relatively easy access to all the cards. This doesn't conflict with Kongregate's business plan because the challenges aren't meant to be incredibly hard - they're meant to be interesting enough to bring the average player back to the site. We could make some cards extremely hard to get, but only if they have no gameplay differences from the easier-to-get version. For example, a very difficult challenge might get you a different border on the card, or different art, or a different icon for the edition of the card." This design choice differs greatly from the standards set by popular collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, as did another decision Sirlin took to make Kongai more approachable. "Another thing I wanted to avoid was a game that required a lot of cards to play. So-called constructed decks in Magic: The Gathering have 60 cards, but winning 60 challenges on Kongregate.com just so you can try a new deck would be way too hardcore. Even if we gave you 60 to start, winning 60 ore to make a totally different deck is way too many. I wanted a game that could be played with relatively few cards. With these ideas in mind--not too hard to get cards, no intentionally bad cards, and small deck size--I needed to actually create a game. I had several candidates, not to mention three other card games I was already working on for my own amusement, but one idea rose to the top: Pokemon Netbattle." You can now read the full in-depth feature on Kongai and the metagame's design (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

About the Author(s)

Eric Caoili


Eric Caoili currently serves as a news editor for Gamasutra, and has helmed numerous other UBM Techweb Game Network sites all now long-dead, including GameSetWatch. He is also co-editor for beloved handheld gaming blog Tiny Cartridge, and has contributed to Joystiq, Winamp, GamePro, and 4 Color Rebellion.

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