Keeps: Hitting All The Birds With One Stone

    • Keeps: Hitting All The Birds With One Stone

      Since we haven't heard of anything regarding Keeps for the past 4 years, I've been brainstorming which form of implementation would be the most fun and best for the game given the current state of the game and specifically the challenges the PvE side faces. I've talked about this before, but I wanted to combine all the thoughts and present it in a more cohesive way.

      1) Building a Keep
      At the core of it, building a keep encounter is like building any other type of deck. The only difference is there are some new slots for you to fill up besides equipment. These are divided into functional and cosmetic upgrades for this one Keep encounter you're creating. I present below what that could look like:



      For the functional upgrades, there would be 6 types of Keep items (similar to how there are 6 types of equipment items):

      1) Champion Power
      2) Champion Passive
      3) Cards That Start In Deck (eg: Cleric Blessing)
      4) Card That Start In Play (eg: Parrot on the AZ2 Boat)
      5) Champion Buff (eg: Extra Starting Life)
      6) Opponent Debuff (eg: Smaller Starting Hand)

      Each of these slots have their own items that drops across the game (from chests, to dungeons, to Kismet packs etc). You'll notice that besides the functional upgrades is a score out of 100. That is because each functional upgrade item has a score rating. The total of your 6 functional upgrade items must not pass 100 points. This is a way to have a wide variety of items of different power levels but still keep things balanced. If you wish you can spend your total 100 points on 2 items and leave the rest blank. The point system will give the devs an easy way to balance the different items without resorting to bans and rendering items useless. It should also give Keep encounter creators plenty of customization options to create the type of encounter they wish. These things already exist in-game on the PvE side, so in terms of implementation it's not totally new tech we're talking about (it's more about compartmentalizing them into item form).

      ----

      Let's move on to Cosmetic upgrades you can apply to your own Keep encounter. Again, this has 6 types of items (honestly v1 doesn't need this at all so this would be something to further monetize the mode further on). The goal of these is to let you give a suitable ambiance to your encounter, make it thematic, or just to show off the cool ultra-rare cosmetic items you have earned throughout your time in Entrath (or bought at the Chark Mart ;D) and instill fear on your opponent's the moment they enter your Keep:

      7) Battleboard (we already have this)
      8) Champion Portrait (in China they already have custom ones)
      9) Plinth (already implemented for ladder)
      10) Lucky Charm Prop (some little item that's in front of your cards...a relic from Entrath or perhaps a mini pet)
      11) Combat Phase Animation (currently it's always flames)
      12) Champion Start of Match Sound Bite (eg: Hearthstone does this)

      Besides these we already have things like Sleeves, AA, AAA, EA to give your Keep decks a more custom look. But the above cosmetic items helps the encounters stand out and since it has a player facing aspect, will be something players should be interested in investing into (meaning great monetization opportunity to sell and keep producing these for HxE).

      Once someone has added cards/equip/cosmetic/functional upgrades they can add a descriptive name to it and save and it can already be listed as a 1 encounter Keep challenge. There could be the possibility to string together 3 or 7 of these to create a more traditional Keep experience or perhaps even a mini-dungeon or mini-FRA experience. Doing so will allow you the option to build different types of decks to really catch a player off-guard if his strategy is too 1-dimensional.

      2) Keeps Quick Play (casual)
      If you're not into building your own encounters, then this section should be of more interest. Basically I imagine a section where you can filter ALL the available keeps (and there should be tens of thousands) to find the ones you're most interested in. This is largely done through a review system that is done at the victory/defeat screen at the end of the match where there could be a star rating system to rate a person's keep based on different criteria like fun/thematic/creative. Besides this, there will also be a difficulty setting which you wlll be able to choose (after several playthroughs, a Keep will automatically pickup a difficulty rating based on people's winrates against that encounter with maybe taking into account that player's keep defeat rate so its more accurately scored).

      So you would be able to filter between:

      a) difficulty ratings
      b) fun/thematic/creative ratings
      c) 1 encounter "Node", 3 encounter "Keep", or 7 encounter "dungeon"

      and eventually the cream will rise to the crop and everyone will be able to play exactly the type of content they like. Keep creators could be rewarded with some gold based on meeting certain rating thresholds on their keep (eg: > 50 people gave it a 5 star rating in some criteria).

      3) Keeps Gauntlet (challenge)
      The above was a good option for a casual player or perhaps a streamer looking to fool around with wacky keeps but there's also an option to take all these generated keeps and create a challenge out of it. Depending on difficulty you choose for the gauntlet, you will face up to 7 random encounters selected from that difficulty level (and perhaps above a certain threshold in the fun ratings) or until you have 3 defeats. The further you go along the more gold you will win. This mode will have a gold entry fee and give a proportion of entry fees to the Keeps that defeat the players.

      4) Keeps Leaderboard (competitive)
      One of the tabs will present the leaderboards. This will allow you to see the highest rated keeps (for each category), winningest keeps and their creators, as well as most effective keep raiders. This gives an MMO feel as players in the community (and in the PvE side no less) are able to become recognized across the Hex playerbase regardless of the device they play in. Each 2 months (= a season) this leaderboard is cleared, and people who are in top x get some very fancy award (for example some unique Keep cosmetic upgrade item).

      5) Further Opportunities (down the line)
      -The replay function would ideally allow Keep owners the ability to view the past X matches against their keep.
      -Some of the highest rated encounters could be exported into the FRA or even Campaign (with some lore tweaks by the HxE team), lessening burden of maintaining those modes.
      -Allow players to 'follow' Keep creators, being notified when that person creates a new Keep challenge.
      -Keep 'duels': challenge someone to a keep vs keep battle where each side needs to defeat the others' keep. Gold could be wagered on the outcome.
      -Some kind of visual representation of the players the keep has defeated on the Keeps' gameboard for others to see (adding some MMO spice). Perhaps your guildmate down the line is notified when you avenge their death to a certain keep.
      -Eventually when this system is built, there could be a separate "Keep builder" but for multiplayer/co-op/raids so that when multiplayer arrives people have a ton of content to play with their friends and even do gauntlet runs together.
      ----------
      The reason why I present this all now is that Cory and the team don't necessarily seem happy with the PvE direction headed by the anchor that is outdated and perhaps illogical KS promises. There's some PvE problems that's always repeated like:

      -Hard/resource-intenseive to keep creating PvE content (encounter creation doesn't scale the current way its done)
      -PvE monetization isn't great (cosmetics don't sell great if no way to show off / no need to spend money on PvE with current setup as content is stale and rewards are lackluster and competitiveness is lacking)
      -No MMO elements in PvE (its more of a single player RPG currently)
      -Hard to balance encounters and not lead to a "best" deck that leads to grinding (whether its a dungeon, node, or FRA...the static nature leads to meta decks)
      -Hard to create content for all the player profiles and the different types of players, especially difficulty rating.

      The thing is Keeps solves all of the above problems in one fell swoop, and it doesn't just solve it for a few weeks like a new dungeon or AZ, it solves it indefinitely and any new update (like lets say a new series of champion powers for players to collect) only amplifies the permutations and creative depth at players' fingertips.

      The nature of TCGs is that old decks don't just get power creeped out (like for example a traditional MMO where old items become worthless in an xpac) and even the most expensive deck can be beaten by a quirky strategy that catches it off guard. That means that there is a self-balancing self-rejuvenating aspect to this type of mode where Keep creators and raiders can constantly keep each other in check. Let's say everyone is using their cheesy Terrormill deck (like is the case now with FRA), well pack your Keep with anti-mill passive or put some Walking Calamitys in your deck.

      This type of asynch playmode has had a lot of success in the mobile/console world and could be a great way to help Hex reach the masses in a relatable/accessible way. It helps shine a light on the PvE side of the game which is this game's single greatest innovation and what sets it apart all other card games...doubt anyone could even try to replicate this so its a case of a blue ocean strategy.

      I know this is probably not the direction they're taking with Keeps but I just wanted to properly share this vision that I believe could help the game a lot. I don't really care how long this takes, I just want to be able to play something like this ONE DAY...hopefully I'm not the only one.
    • I kept hearing "keeps" for a long time here and there but never questioned what exactly they are. I was just thinking, patience, you'll see them when they are ready.
      With your explaining above I get it now. Keeps will benefit the game like A LOT. And all those things you mention above...man...you really are a true visionary.
      For all I can think now, you may have given a really good solution. We'll done. :)
      -WE WANT KEEPS, WE WANT KEEPS!!! (the crowd roads) :P
      The Wardens of Entrath is a large, open to public community of Hex enthusiasts with a mission to help and support Hex players and content creators alike!

      Find us on our Discord server or website!
    • The problem is once Hex is providing rewards for player created content... people will find a way to abuse it - it's unavoidable. We have a lot of smart people with a lot of free time who will find a way, unless the possible rewards are so low that nobody's interested.

      The only real way to make this work is if the players offer 100% of the rewards themselves(ie. if I create a keep, I can put a 'bet' on it, and other players can 'bet' that they'll win, and if my keep wins, I keep 50% of their bet and the remaining 50% goes to the 'pot'... but if the player wins, they take the entire pot)

      That's really the only way I see a reward structure not being abusable... if players are providing 100% of the rewards on both ends themselves.
      Gamer. Streamer. Photographer. Writer. Anime Lover. Possessor of Stuffed Animals.

      Also... I'm terrible at this game.
    • Eraia wrote:

      The problem is once Hex is providing rewards for player created content... people will find a way to abuse it - it's unavoidable. We have a lot of smart people with a lot of free time who will find a way, unless the possible rewards are so low that nobody's interested.

      The only real way to make this work is if the players offer 100% of the rewards themselves(ie. if I create a keep, I can put a 'bet' on it, and other players can 'bet' that they'll win, and if my keep wins, I keep 50% of their bet and the remaining 50% goes to the 'pot'... but if the player wins, they take the entire pot)

      That's really the only way I see a reward structure not being abusable... if players are providing 100% of the rewards on both ends themselves.
      I don't think that's the only way.
      If reward was just for clearing it, yes, people would try making easy keeps with big rewards.
      But there can be other incentives for making a strong keep than betting, for example:
      1. Base rewards on W/L ratio and time of completion for other players.
      2. You can't challenge any keep you want, one is randomly selected for you, and defender gets rewards for successful defense.
      3. Keeps passively generate gold (or more likely some new third currency) everyday, if they get beaten, the conquering player gets them, if they don't get defeated all day, their owner gets them. (or just any "collect your resources or someone can steal them" system in clash of clans and similar games).

      P.S. Since keeps use AI, anyone has any explanation on how hex AI works? I guess they have a general AI, not one for each encounter. Would it be possible to teach your AI to play your cards in some specific order, or in specific situations?

      The post was edited 2 times, last by cyberutopia ().

    • cyberutopia wrote:

      I don't think that's the only way.
      If reward was just for clearing it, yes, people would try making easy keeps with big rewards.
      But there can be other incentives for making a strong keep than betting, for example:
      1. Base rewards on W/L ratio and time of completion for other players.
      2. You can't challenge any keep you want, one is randomly selected for you, and defender gets rewards for successful defense.
      3. Keeps passively generate gold (or more likely some new third currency) everyday, if they get beaten, the conquering player gets them, if they don't get defeated all day, their owner gets them. (or just any "collect your resources or someone can steal them" system in clash of clans and similar games)
      You're underestimating the cleverness of gamers, I assure you. People will find a way to game the system. The question is whether that's a concern... to me it would be, but maybe not to others or Hex. But it will happen, and it will happen quick.
      Gamer. Streamer. Photographer. Writer. Anime Lover. Possessor of Stuffed Animals.

      Also... I'm terrible at this game.
    • You don't necessarily have to prevent gaming the system entirely. Things like "I play the same keep 100 times, always forfeiting immediately, and then I play it once for real to get a big bonus" are going to be very obvious exploits to HxE, and they've shown they will react to stuff like that based on the ladder forfeiting schemes. They can also discourage exploits like this by making it impossible to play against the same keep multiple times within a certain time period. Sure, some level of exploiting is always going to be possible, but you can keep it under control and monitor it without spoiling the fun for everyone that is trying to play legitimately.
    • Eraia wrote:

      cyberutopia wrote:

      I don't think that's the only way.
      If reward was just for clearing it, yes, people would try making easy keeps with big rewards.
      But there can be other incentives for making a strong keep than betting, for example:
      1. Base rewards on W/L ratio and time of completion for other players.
      2. You can't challenge any keep you want, one is randomly selected for you, and defender gets rewards for successful defense.
      3. Keeps passively generate gold (or more likely some new third currency) everyday, if they get beaten, the conquering player gets them, if they don't get defeated all day, their owner gets them. (or just any "collect your resources or someone can steal them" system in clash of clans and similar games)
      You're underestimating the cleverness of gamers, I assure you. People will find a way to game the system. The question is whether that's a concern... to me it would be, but maybe not to others or Hex. But it will happen, and it will happen quick.
      How? If you don't choose the keep you attack, and the keep owner is incentivized to make it hard, i don't see any way of abusing them in a significant way.
    • Honestly, I'm not the type of person who tries to find ways to game the system, so I'm not 100% sure the method that'll be used. I just know that every time I've ever seen a system of this sort where player generated content generates real rewards not provided by the player, the developer has to spend so much money monitoring it for abuse... that it's probably not worth implementing.
      Gamer. Streamer. Photographer. Writer. Anime Lover. Possessor of Stuffed Animals.

      Also... I'm terrible at this game.
    • Eraia wrote:

      Honestly, I'm not the type of person who tries to find ways to game the system, so I'm not 100% sure the method that'll be used. I just know that every time I've ever seen a system of this sort where player generated content generates real rewards not provided by the player, the developer has to spend so much money monitoring it for abuse... that it's probably not worth implementing.
      Just to name two examples, I've recently played the MtG Puzzle Quest and the Elder Scrolls card game on my iPad. Both of them have prominent features where you put up a deck and then play matches against decks that have been submitted by other players and are controlled by the AI, earning rewards in the process. Neither game has imploded due to abuse that I am aware of.
    • Mystery wrote:

      Just to name two examples, I've recently played the MtG Puzzle Quest and the Elder Scrolls card game on my iPad. Both of them have prominent features where you put up a deck and then play matches against decks that have been submitted by other players and are controlled by the AI, earning rewards in the process. Neither game has imploded due to abuse that I am aware of.
      Do either of those games have any sort of trading or economic component?

      Abuse of rewards generally doesn't matter in single player systems with no economy... I know some reliable glitches/exploits to get near-infinite money and exp in certain FF games... but nobody cares because all I'm doing is trivializing it for myself.

      But if it happened in, say, ffxiv... suddenly there's a problem because it's affecting others.
      Gamer. Streamer. Photographer. Writer. Anime Lover. Possessor of Stuffed Animals.

      Also... I'm terrible at this game.
    • Many a great suggestions here. Also, great work on structuring your thoughts on it!

      To me, what is most important from your idea is first to provide a way for PVE players to interact with each others. Once we have that, than flashy cosmetics becomes a thing which leads to great monetization venues. The second is having some kind of leaderboard to switch the competitive PVE players from having only one outlet (gold farming) to a new and more healthy one (being on the top of the leaderboard).

      Keeps could certainly be tied to it and I hope we get these two needs fulfilled for PVE in the not too distant future.

      The Wardens of Entrath is a large, open to public community of Hex enthusiasts with a mission to help and support Hex players and content creators alike!

      Find us on our Discord server or website!