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Floppy Knights – Designing an Approachable Tactics Game

Hi! My name is Chrstian Scandariato. I’m the lead game designer on Floppy Knights, a tactical card battler developed by Rose City Games. The original concepts for Floppy Knights were rooted in games we grew up on, but we wanted to make something new and different that would help the game stand on its own by combining tactical gameplay with card strategy elements. Let’s take a look at how that turned out!

“What If We Made Advance Wars, but with Cards?”

Our starting point was riffing on our favorite retro games, like Advance Wars and Final Fantasy Tactics, with a bit of newer design from Into the Breach. A key feature in Advance Wars is having all of the information at your fingertips, easily viewing the entire battlefield, and reinforcing your army to win battles. Drawing a hand of cards is random, so the challenge behind the genre blend is what interested me the most.

The goal for Floppy Knights became allowing a player to plan a perfect turn with a random set of actions. This prevents players from planning more than two turns ahead, which in turn, ends up making the game more approachable and exciting! We also knew we wanted the visuals to be a big draw for the game, taking the strong character designs from creative director Marlowe Dobbe to deliver the personalities of the armies.

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Drawing from our inspirations, I settled on our first combination: having a party of unique, individual characters with their own skill sets, plus the ability to reinforce your army. Keeping on approachability, we took the idea of a simple army that uses powerful buffs and upgrade cards to introduce the player to the game. This was the focus for our very first army: the Plants Deck.

The Paper Prototype

This is where the cards come in! If everything from actions to commanders consist of cards, then we can attach unique abilities to each unit card, which will generate further action cards. My biggest goal when making games is to always design for things only video games can do. Generating cards from cards would be really difficult in a physical card game, but easily handled in digital form.

people gaming

The best thing about making a card game is you can test almost all of its core parts without having to code anything. So, I took the core concept (play units, get cards, play more cards) and presented it as a paper version to the team. After a few months of paper prototyping the floppiest that Floppy Knights has ever been, we solidified the core mechanics and took to code.

Revising the Mix

Mixing genres came with many strengths, as well as concepts that didn’t make the final cut. Our focus wasn’t to evenly mix the genres together, but to deliver on the concepts that showed off the strengths of the game. We wanted to make sure Floppy Knights had enough flexibility to make fun decks that encourage individual playstyles, but not so complicated as to confuse players with too many options.

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Being able to consistently move units was the primary concern throughout over two years of development. Playtesters were consistently reporting that they felt their movement options were limited, or that they were drawing entire hands of cards with no movement. The easy answer was always to just allow each unit to move once during their turn, but we felt this would make playing actions from cards feel less important each turn, and wanted to avoid it.

After months of playtests, we landed on creating a system for our leader units, Commanders, to generate a card into the player’s hand each turn that allowed for a unique movement. This gives the player the option of a very powerful card per turn and again brings back the focus on personal, unique units. After testing, we finally got a playtest round with no feedback on movement. Success!

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By focusing on our core mechanics and always coming back to our original inspirations, we strived to create something unique that will hopefully serve as the first tactical game for younger players, and a refreshing look for experienced veterans.

Floppy Knights is out now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S (via backwards compatibility), Xbox and PC Game Pass! I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed working on it.

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Floppy Knights

Rose City Games, wiip

109
$19.99 $17.99
PC Game Pass
Xbox Game Pass
Meet the Floppy Knights: tangible projections summoned from floppy disks! Tactics fuse with card game mechanics as Phoebe and Carlton, a brilliant young inventor & her robot-arm bestie, square off in turn-based battles. Select your Knights, hone your deck, and execute your strategy for victory!