Alderthe: The Card Game – Vivisection II (First Blood)

As I’ve described in the first part of this blog series, I had just began building my first prototype for Alderthe: The Card Game. And, like any half-decent game designer knows, you better test early. So I slapped together some factions, wrote info on a bunch of cropped post-it notes, and found a willing victim to play against: fellow Game Baker Tony Fial of Sfinx Games.

Soon, I’d have a better understanding of what worked, and what definitely didn’t.

I hastily created an Orc and a Human faction, based on my preliminary ideas on how these factions would function in the greater picture. Humans focus on coastal units and mounted combat. Orcs ravage and pillage, and gain control over the opposing units’ actions.

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Eloquence at the Leftfield Collection (EGX 2019)

Eloquence was given the opportunity to exhibit at the EGX 2019’s Leftfield Collection. In this post, I want to share a few of the lessons we learned from letting EGX attendees play our prototype of Eloquence!

First, let’s start with some pictures!

So what have we learned from this experience? Good question!

  • Players love saying ‘hello’ to every and any Non-Player Character. They’ll say hello even before paying attention to what the NPC is actually trying to say to them.
  • Parents and children have a unique dynamic when playing Eloquence together. We believe this is due to the fact that both parent and child are at the same language level at the start of the game, so they are equal partners. At least, for a while.
  • In fact, some kids found the answers before their parents did! We suspect that kids are open to a wider range of possible symbol interpretations, whereas their parents may be limited by a lifetime of semantic assumptions and cultural patterns.  
  • Reinforcing what we already knew: people who think out loud and those who voice their theories or hypotheses can crack symbols at a much faster rate that those who remain silent throughout the play session.
  • We found it remarkable how many players were able to complete the demo on their own, without any instruction from either Thomas or Gerben, your friendly booth attendants. Some of these tenacious players requested to be given no introduction or guidance. Others were let loose on the demo without any support intentionally, just to see what happened. Even with our broken User Interface, we’re amazed that quite a large percentage of players found their way to the end screen. Well done to you!
  • Our custom wall art drew very little attention. But that’s fine! We’ll recycle the phrases we composed for the booth wall and will feed them to our audience in other forms further down the road – for your entertainment!

We think these insights are pretty cool, and we’ll design the proper game keeping these findings in mind.

Ready for more pictures?

Thomas and I had a blast connecting to the excellent attendees at EGX 2019. We were very surprised by the incredibly positive response from those who tried the game. Our current version of the game was originally built to be presented, not to be played hands-on – but we’re quite satisfied with its playability (after several tweaks).

But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s a couple of tweets that got us excited!

And that concludes our little wrap-up!

This was likely the last time we’re using the GDC Experimental Gameplay Workshop demo to showcase. The demo has served us well, in diverse ways. It’s been built and rebuilt to be fit for GDC, Casual Connect, Gamescom, and now EGX. But it’s time to look forward and anticipate the improved vertical slice we are currently building.

More on our progress in that regard will be shared soon!

Alderthe: The Card Game – Vivisection I

This is not a Post Mortem. In my spare time, I design and develop my personal card game project called Alderthe. That’s why I’m calling this series of articles a Vivisection: cutting into a living organism to see how (well) it functions.

shallow focus photography of magnifying glass with black frame

Please don’t do an image search for ‘vivisection’ – Photo by Shane Aldendorff via

In this first entry of the series, I’m going to give some background concerning the setting. It has very little to do with the game mechanics or any of the design, but I suppose it does serve as some context for the rest of the series. For those among you who appreciate mythology or fantasy lore, you may find it interesting. Just don’t expect any strong narrative design insights from this text.

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