We caught up with Mark Killey, the senior producer of Chronicle: RuneScape Legends, to find out more about the game...
STARBURST: Why did you develop a card game?
Mark Killey: We actually started out by making a variety of different game prototypes based on RuneScape, some of which were focused on questing and the idea of a game where you created adventures that could be automatically played out. For one of those prototypes we tried using cards as a delivery method for the quests and that’s how Chronicle: RuneScape Legends was born. We then proved the concept with a physical card game before making a digital version.
How is it different from Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone?
At its core, Chronicle has a unique mechanic that we’ve not seen in a card game before. Players fight up to four of their own cards at a time across five chapters in a magical chronicle, which resembles a pop-up book of sorts. The game behaves more like an RPG where the cards have drops or associated costs. The unknown element is provided by the actions of your opponent, as they might play cards that trigger effects that directly impact yourself, such as stealing gold or modifying some of your cards’ stats. The game is built around sophisticated card synergies, but your opponent’s actions layer a level of risk/reward on top of that because whatever you have planned could be interrupted by your opponent, ruining all your best laid tactics.
The competitive side is handled in a novel and clever way. Why this approach?
We only wanted to make a card game if we could do something new with the genre. Focusing on what we feel is an innovative, new core mechanic for a strategy card game gives us the best chance to stand out from the crowd.
How will the playable characters expand as the game develops?
We’ve already revealed our next two characters (or ‘Legends’), a vampire and slayer master, and our goal is to add new Legends and maps on a regular basis that will be thematically linked. Each will have a particular play style and lots of specific cards related to those mechanics. We feel that we’ve only really scratched the surface of what can be achieved with the game’s core systems.
You really get a feel for the different play styles of the heroes. What was the biggest challenge in making this happen?
Balance! Balancing a game like Chronicle is a massive challenge. The Legends all have the same base stats so their variety comes from their custom cards and these tend to have multiple associated values. When you then factor in the way that the card synergies occur within Chronicle, everything gets very complicated. We have been playing the game in our studio now for a number of months, and whenever we thought the game’s balance was settling down, a new deck style would emerge that exploited specific card synergies in unexpected ways. This is going to keep happening in the closed beta too and is something we’re looking forward to working with the community on.
How will the booster decks work?
Booster decks can be purchased with the game’s soft currency system or (if you’re really lucky) as a reward for winning a match. There are five cards in each booster pack, split between those that are character specific and those that can be used by anyone. Chronicle also has a sophisticated crafting system, in which cards can be dissolved into precious gems that are representative of their rarity level. The different types of gems can also be exchanged with each other to help you craft the cards you want.
What’s to stop players with the most cash getting the best advantages?
Chronicle is an extremely tactical and psychological game. Having the best cards is no guarantee of victory if your opponent outwits you. From my own experience, since launch I’ve lost many a game to new players with the basic decks, despite having custom decks myself, purely because they outsmarted me!
RuneScape has always had the crunchiest and most entertaining rules systems. How is this reflected in Chronicle?
We feel that RuneScape is, at its core, quite a cerebral game that requires a good degree of planning and strategy from a player in order to get the most out of it. Chronicle is hewn from the same stone and requires a similarly thoughtful approach before you are able to master it.
The character models look lovely. Will we ever get physical versions of these pieces?
Funny you ask that - we had a 3D model of one of the characters printed as an experiment. It’s certainly something we’d look into if there was demand from the players.
Will this new game expand the ongoing story? What should we expect to see next?
The two games do not share anything in a narrative sense, but they both obviously contribute to the broader RuneScape family of games.
To find out more about CHRONICLE:RUNESCAPE LEGENDS or to register for the beta, go to www.rschronicle.com