Creature Cards discussion
I've noticed there's been a lot of mixed feedback on the creature cards concept. I thought I would share a few ideas.
When I was in elementary school, Nintendo introduced the E-Reader for Gameboy Advance games. You could scan Pokemon cards through it to get little bonuses in the game. But it never really took off for a few reasons. People did not want to pay for an expensive single function add-on for the GBA, and we did not want to risk damaging our Pokemon cards by running them through the device. With trading cards in general, I find that unless they're specifically meant for playing a game (such as Pokemon or Digimon TCG), they just tend to sit around in binders and look nice because you're afraid to touch them or do anything with them (like baseball cards). If these creature cards are going to be rare or in limited numbers, I think that's what's going to happen.
Maybe instead of or in addition to creature cards, you could implement a different way to unlock creatures in the game. What comes to mind is the Monster Rancher games. The MR games are built around the gimmick that you can insert a CD/DVD, which the console then scans and gives you data for a new monster. People loved it because you could spend all day popping discs in and out, trying to find your favourite or new monsters. The player was encouraged to scan discs because it was the only way the ultimate monster, the Phoenix, could be unlocked. I ended up finding mine from a music CD out of a cereal box.
Maybe instead of the creature cards, you could use something similar to the Monster Rancher games, like scanning data off a SD card (maybe MP3s) to unlock new creatures. The MR game creators made exclusive bonuses for certain discs, like if you put in a certain Dragon Ball Z game you would get a special monkey monster. So maybe if the Big Blue scanned data from one of the Ecco soundtracks it could unlock a special creature.
I'm just not convinced that using actual cards is something that people want do. I mean, who still collects cards? I'm also really not interested in the micro-transactions. I don't want to buy or sell creatures for real money. If humanity is extinct then I don't see the point in adding a price tag to the creatures. Diablo 3's auction house was a disaster, the devs themselves said that wish they hadn't implemented it, because it became the main motivator for people to play the game. And the creature cards remind me of that. To this day I've yet to see a game where I thought micro-transactions were well implemented. While Ed may argue it's more fun to chase valuable creatures, I can only think of how disruptive that is to the game's immersion.
It's not that I dislike the idea of learning more about the creatures in the game. But that can be integrated into the actual game. Catching all the creatures in the game and by doing so adding them to an in-game encyclopedia is fun. But where's the fun if you know that those creatures can be bought? But that's just my opinion. It would probably be best to run a poll here (not sure if this forum supports those) to see where people stand on this topic.
I don't mind if the creature cards are a collectable pack-in with the game in some form. But like "bromides" with Japanese games, they'll probably just sit around and look nice. I am fine with it so long as I can still get the full experience out of the game. Some people who like to 100% a game might not like the idea though.
I actually liked the idea Ed put out about the "Big Blue Atlas" and Creature Guide. I think a full artbook (or artbooks) would be really cool for this game, and I'd pledge money if it was included in the rewards (provided it's not something like $500).
Personally I'm not much into the card idea. Cards are a great idea but I feel there are better ways to achieve it. I'd rather spend 3 hours searching Antarctica to find an hourglass dolphin than have to go to the nearest store to find an hourglass card (which isn't nowhere near as fun or immersing in the game).
Then again, I'd be all for special cards that had codes on for unlocking certain creatures that will not appear in the game otherwise, but still I'd like a little side-quest to find a sea dragon than picking up a card.
Ed said he's not into "pay not to play" games, so I think he would find another way to incorporate them into the game.
I also have doubts about the idea of them having monetary value. I have a hard time believing anyone would pay $1000 for someone's captured digital monster in a video game.
Like pre-order exclusive costume packs and other kinds of DLC, people will eventually find a way to hack the game and get that content for themselves which will render the value null. Though that's not to say we should worry about a small group of people souring the game for everyone else.
I think we need to hear more details on how the creature cards will work, because right now it sounds like they'll work sort of like digital gift cards, in terms of moving stuff on and off them.
Another concern is that someone could happen to guess the code on a creature card, and then someone who actually paid for the physical card wouldn't be able to use that content.
Ed's idea about 'all life being information' sounds fascinating and I would be interested to see how they incorporate the cards into the fiction of the game. Like, if this were an Ecco game they could give out little Glyph things with codes in them, because the Glyphs containing information are an important part of the Ecco universe and people would understand it right away.
Maybe the best way to include the creature cards in the game would be to tie them somehow to the extinct human society in the game, then you find out later what their purpose was. Then again, people would probably just think the card idea is generic and ridicule it like the need to use keycards in Jaws Unleashed.
I have slightly different thoughts on the matter now but I follow the same side.
I don't think cards really have any benefits. They are just extra pieces of paper, so to speak, which take up real life space and take the toll of the other consequences suggested in this discussion.
I feel that if there is any other way to achieve this, then take it. I liked what Metroid Prime series did with their scanner-type thing. There was an encyclopedia of sorts where you could view the 3D model and information of all creatures and environmental phenomena that you read with the scanner. Delphine sonar is the most obvious paraphrase of this, but the ampullae of sharks, etc. could function similarly.
I think if they want to have a physical gimmick of some sort, they could go with "orbs" (a subtle Ecco reference) or something else. Sure they'd just be cheap plastic toys with a slip of paper with a code inside, but you could incorporate them into the fiction of the game and at least they could look nice on a shelf, unlike cards which just sit in binders.
They face the same issue though, I never like having to carry extra things. I like having game content all in one place (i.e. disc) rather than superfluous objects in real life.
But if you only need them once for like a code (after which point they will not need to interact with the game) then that would be alright with me.
James, I agree with you on the creature cards. I think they could get rid of the idea for now or try to think of some interesting alternative.
Related to your scanner idea, one of the fun little features of DBZ Legacy of Goku 2 was that it lets you use the Scouter to scan any NPC or creature in the game, then their data and profile is sent to a computer that you can look at later.
I was really big on the card concept, but I am a person who plays a lot of card games. Not everyone does that.
I think the Monster Rancher thing is a solid idea. I had alot of fun reading discs and finding new creatures in those games.
I would still like to see the cards. I was all amped to put them in sleeves in a binder.