Summoners Fate is a top-down adventure that combines exploration, card collecting and tactical combat. You control the fate of your Summoner and command an ever-changing band of companions. Defeat monstrous hordes and reap the rewards of treasures, allies, and powerful spells as you advance deeper into ever changing lands. Are these chance encounters or do they connect to a greater meaning?
The battlefield of Summoners Fate is a tabletop board game brought to life
Summoners Fate will be released on iOS, Android, PC and Mac. The game will be available free-to-download on the App Store, Google Play and Steam.
Our target release date is Q3 2018 and we have a closed beta planned for Q1 2018 or sooner. We plan to localize the game in 13 languages for world-wide enjoyment. Additionally, we have taken accessibility considerations for color blindness, left-handed players and one-handed play.
Spells destroy enemies and environment
Summoners Fate is inspired by our favorite tabletop, role playing, and collectible card games we played growing up. There's a satisfaction playing these games that goes beyond winning: the creative expression of building a team, devising a play style that's unique to you, and seeing your carefully planned strategy culminate in an epic experience shared with friends. Our goal is to capture this amazing feeling of creativity and strategic mastery in a modernized game that's fast and fun for those of us living in a world that often goes by too fast without it.
Use cards to transform terrifying monsters into tiny squirrels
Are you wondering about the unique top-down perspective of Summoners Fate? One of our goals is to capture the feeling of playing a classic, miniature-based tabletop board game. We want the game to feel both familiar to fans of this genre and approachable to new players. Additionally, there’s an important connection between the world perspective and the game story:
The world of Summoners Fate exists in a dimension parallel to ours. The screen of your device (whether your desktop monitor or your phone) represents your “looking glass” into this world. With simple gestures across your looking glass, you command your chosen characters, unveiling their destiny with each of your decisions.
Experience a unique perspective where characters look up at you
To the inhabitants of this world, you - the player - represent the concept of “Fate” personified as a deity-like entity. Characters seek your lead and literally “look up” at you to guide them. Special characters called Summoners are particularly attuned to your presence. They are your direct link, your conduit to their world. Through your Summoner, you can play the “hand of fate”, a literal hand of cards representing magical spells, equipment and characters you can bring into the world. But take care - should your Summoner perish in battle, your link to the world will sever and your heroes will be defeated.
The lands of Summoners Fate are boundless and continually grow and expand in ways that defy the natural laws of our own physical universe. To bridge this metaphysical barrier, your gaming device of choice interprets the world as a series of saga-style maps that you can use to traverse and explore with your characters. It’s this unique mechanism that also enables us, the developers, to continuously deliver unique adventures for you. It is our hope, our dream, that Summoners Fate is more than a game - it’s a continuing medium - a source that brings you enjoyment for decades to come.
The gameplay of Summoners Fate revolves around exploration, strategic management, tactical combat and planning. Each run through the cycle escalates your experience as you build your strategy and take on greater challenges.
On a macro level, your goal is to explore the word and experience its story. Exploration of the world takes place by interacting with simple, pirate-treasure-like maps called Prophecies.
Explore the world by interacting with simple yet inviting maps like this one.
Each prophecy map contains a series of colorful iconic landmarks representing dungeons to explore and a cryptic message that unfolds into a self contained, lightweight story. Dungeons are a series of seamlessly connected levels that can be tombs, outdoor wilderness or both.
Completion of a prophecy comes with rewards in the form of new cards and the reveal of additional prophecies to explore. It’s this system of one-small-map-at-a-time that allows the game to be both quickly accessible and possible for us to expand with continuous new content.
Your survival in Summoners Fate depends heavily on your ability to carefully manage the resources of your expeditions. These resources include your Summoner, your hero companions, and your deck of cards.
Summoners are your primary character and conduit to the game world. If your Summoner dies, you immediately lose the battle. Your deck of cards represents magical spells, enchantments, weapons, equipment and characters that you can call into battle. Cards are played with your Summoner, so any rules or constraints, such as line of sight or adjacent targets, use your Summoner as the point of reference on the board. Your hero companions are additional controllable characters that accompany you on the journey. New companions can be summoned by playing cards.
Dungeons are a series of seamlessly connected rooms and wilderness areas that you explore one screen at a time. Each room presents a variety of possible challenges including combat, puzzles, trap evasion and treasure rooms.
When you clear a room, you move on to explore the next. The challenge is that the resources you bring with you - your Summoner, your hero companions, and your deck of cards - are limited and carry over with you room to room. If you start as a lone Summoner, but summon a Barbarian to the fight and equip him with gear, he will follow you through to each room going forward (assuming he survives).
The strategic layer of Summoners Fate adds additional considerations to how you approach surviving the dungeon. Do you blast the mob of goblins with a fireball in the first room or save it for the boss fight and attack them directly with your warriors? But what if you lose your Cleric in the fight? You may be in trouble if you encounter poisonous snakes in the next room.
On a micro-level, the smallest segment of gameplay is clearing a single room. Rooms are designed to take an average of 3 minutes to complete and chain together seamlessly. This means you can choose to play in bite-sized chunks (ideal for mobile) or play longer, sit-down sessions (ideal for PC). The most common room encounter is tactical combat.
Combat is turn-based, alternating from your turn to the enemy turn. On your turn, you are able to issue one command to each of your characters on the board and play as many cards as you have available. Each of these actions can be performed in any order that you wish.
The Ice Queen freezes a Yeti
To accelerate the pace of combat and make commanding characters intuitive and fun, each character's movement and action are combined into a single gesture.
To issue an attack, drag your character to the target.
There are no submenus or ability buttons in Summoners Fate. Instead, characters automatically perform the appropriate action for the target you select. For example, Paladins have a melee attack and a healing ability. When you select your Paladin, all possible targets will light up with reticles (red for enemies, green for allies). Drag to an enemy to attack, or drag to an injured ally to heal them. Casting spells, equipping items, and summoning characters are also intuitive: just take the card you want to play and drag it from your hand onto the battlefield.
Card mechanics follow a few rules: You need mana to play a card equal to the number shown on the card. Cards range in cost from 0-5. You generate 3 mana each turn and can store up to 5 mana. You hold three cards in your hand and draw new cards at the end of your turn until you have three cards.
Terrain in Summoners Fate has tactical significance. Large rocks, trees and other structures block movement and line of sight. Hazardous terrain such as lava and spikes cause damage, while swamps slow you down. Furniture can be looted for cards.
On a meta-level, you’re on a quest to collect more characters and more cards so you can expand your strategic diversity and take on bigger challenges. We say “strategic diversity” rather than “power” as it best represents the spirit of our card collection mechanic. While some card games are are about obtaining the most powerful cards to win, our goal for collecting cards is driven by a desire to experiment with new and creative ways to win. The balance we are aiming for should create a feeling of rock-paper-scissors, meaning there isn’t a silver bullet set of cards or strategies that are most powerful. Rather, choosing the right card, the right strategy at the right timing to counter your opponent’s tactics leads to a victory filled with surprise and excitement.
Everything in Summoners Fate is represented as a card including the characters, spells, items, environment - even the Prophecy maps! With your cards, you can build a team consisting of a Summoner, heroic companions, and deck of 20 cards representing spells, items, and summonable characters.
Every card in the game can be collected overtime through gameplay, making Summoners Fate a true free-to-play title and not a premium, pay-to-win title. We will offer card packs for sale, which is our how game will generate revenue and enable us to continue funding development and service of the game.
Our content target for launch will have over 400 cards including over 200 unique playable characters. Here’s a just small sample of our playable characters so far:
And that list is just a piece of what we have made so far! Post launch, our goal is regular content updates for Summoners Fate, including new maps, characters and spells.
Breadth of content is part of the equation, the other is quality. Characters are carefully designed to not only look unique and distinctive, but to play strategically different. Characters have natural strengths and weaknesses that complement each other to create strategies where the sum is greater than the whole. For example, the presence of a Skeleton Captain on the board enhances the power of all ally skeletons. Build a team of all animals, and you can guarantee that all of your characters are going to benefit from spells like Animal Overrun or the Breed card:
There are multitudes of factions: Orcs, Skeletons, Dreadnoughts, Ironclads, Animals, Insects, Dragons… Additionally, you’ve got card color to consider. Build a deck of all Arcane spells and enjoy a cost discount to everything in your deck when using a Wizard as a your Summoner.
The moment you boot up, you’ll be having fun blasting away enemies with all kinds of spells. As you advance to harder levels, the game will present challenges that require you to build strategically focused teams. There’s no right or wrong strategy. Some players like the raw power of destruction spells and blowing things up. Some like to swarm the board with hordes of squirrels. Others still like the cunning approach of holding back and manipulating your opponent to the brink of madness. If we haven’t added enough choices to build your dream strategy, we will listen to you and make it happen.
Beyond single player adventures and card collecting, Summoners Fate opens up to multiplayer matches where you get the chance to put your strategies to the test against other players from around the world. For the worldwide launch, we’ll support 1v1 head-to-head matches in Real-time, Asynchronous, and what we’re calling on-demand, “Desynchronous”.
In on-demand, “Desynchronous” mode, you’ll play against the constructed team and deck of other players controlled by the game’s AI. We’re also planning an option where you can “download” a queue of opponents and play them in sequence offline.
The camaraderie and brotherhood shared among fellow indie devs at events like PAX East never ceases to lift my spirit. Indie game development is the gem of the games industry where your market competitors passionately root for each others success. It’s a badge of honor to share our experiences with each other, openly and honestly, to solve our paramount problem of discoverability: what works and what doesn’t work to capture an audience? Who do we need to be speaking with to secure funding or publishing support? What crazy new ideas haven’t we tried yet?
PAX East 2019 marks my third major event showcase of Summoners Fate, and my second time showcasing as part of the Indie MEGABOOTH. I continue to learn from others with each experience and pay it forward by sharing here. So, here’s three things we did different to stand out as an indie at PAX East this year and the data we have so far on how it compared to our previous showcases:
A key take-away I learned from showcasing last year at PAX West with the MINIBOOTH is that a single screen demo heavily bottlenecks potential plays. Space at the MINIBOOTH is limited to a single monitor kiosk, but exhibitors are allowed to embellish it with decor provided it respects the space of your fellow miniboothers. So, I expanded on the existing idea of lateral signage by substituting mounts that could support tablets and phones. Each of the devices connects to a 15 foot braided charge cord which allowed us to extend our reach into crowds that would gather to play and simultaneously keep everyone engaged and entertained.
The Summoners Fate “Demo Hydra”. Cut off one head, two grow in its place!
I lovingly named this concept the “Demo Hydra” for its likeness to the mythological beast of many serpent heads. In total, we had 8 screens with us including our personal phones which we handed out as needed to keep the hydra fed. It should be considered a scientific fact that “success breeds success” and likewise “a crowd brings a crowd”. Whereas folks previously breezed past the MINIBOOTH, our perpetual crowd pulled them in, curious to discover what all the fuss was about. By virtue, this had the collective effect of drawing more audience for our fellow indie MINIBOOTH showcasers as well, allowing us all to share in the success.
Our demo tracks telemetry so that we can learn and improve from our experiences.
All in total, we had 149 sessions and 42 total email registrations for a total budget under $2660(including booth, hotel, travel, food and marketing materials). By comparison, our PAX West showcasehad 76 sessions, 37 email sign-ups, so the hydra had the effect of doubling our total sessions. Our conversions are more similar to our Dreamhack showcase. There we had 142 sessions and 49 sign-ups, but with a 10x10 foot booth over 3 days instead of 2. My theory is that a more crowded booth creates a less intimate experience where folks are less inclined to register their email. However, I prefer to let the game speak for itself. Time spent with us is an investment that raises brand awareness and breeds familiarity and likeness with our game. In aggregate of all three showcases, I believe our data may also suggest our demo is about 2 levels too long and that we could increase completion and conversion by shortening the experience and adjusting the difficulty on the earlier levels.
Not unlike the vast ocean of games released daily on Steam, the waters of PAX are overloaded with games all competing to get prospective player attention. Showcasing with the Indie MEGABOOTH supports the first step of marketing by putting us in a school of fish strong enough to have a presence from afar and allowing folks to find us. The second step is creating a memorable impression that stands out and will last with players following the conference. Our previous showcases taught us that players respond well to a mix of familiarity and weird, and our signature hook became “Would you like to throw a squirrel at some orcs?”
We don’t want to be typecast as a game just about squirrels, though, so we expanded our marketing with a broader theme of “WE LIKE WEIRD.” and showing how our game connects emotionally to the characters and cool things you can do in the game. Varieties of these messages were looped constantly on a dedicated screen in the hydra. Here’s some examples:
My teammate, Peter, took the concept a step further by devising a way to make an immediate personal connection to passerbys. Honestly, I was hesitant when he first shared his plan… “Hmm, that might be perceived as offensive, no?” but the real shocker was that it was actually extremely effective. Peter casually approached folks walking past the booth and said “Hey, you look weird.” ...pause… “We like weird.” … smile… Players considered it an honor to be recognized for their weirdness, and why not, right? What is PAX if not a celebration of the weirdness in all of us? Bonus tip: Bring a new teammate with you to showcase. Their perspective may lead to the discovery of the most effective way to connect with your audience.
A key benefit of showcasing with Indie MEGABOOTH is their Mixer event where you get to party and network with key industry folks including reps from Sony, Microsoft, Kongregate and more. One of the most interesting folks I had the pleasure of meeting that night was Alex Engel, a product manager with vast experience releasing AAA games in the industry. Word of advice: If you ever have the opportunity to strike up a conversation with a PM, listen carefully and absorb everything. They are among the most brilliant minds in the industry.
I asked Alex about how to make a wave connecting with our audience and a key piece of advice he shared was to use the convention as an opportunity to give our players a voice: let them communicate what excited them about the experience. That is what will excite new players, and that is what you should focus on. Real simple: Ask them what they enjoyed, then, create a compilation of their responses. So, the next day we did just that:
If you’re using Google Photos, you can create a clip like this in about an hour using your phone. Select the all the clips, then use the auto-assist to make a movie. Then, adjust the clips so they reflect the most interesting parts of the interviews. To improve this in the future, I would bring personal mics to help filter out the background noise of the convention and have the voices be more clear. Even with just basic phone audio capture, though, I think this is a powerful takeaway of our experience.
Regardless of the tips, tricks and luck we all hope for, one sentiment was constant throughout all the fellow indies I spoke to: we “go all in” giving every ounce of strength and energy we have. Failure never deters us. We never consider the consequence of “What if this game doesn’t succeed?” because we perceive every opportunity we have as a gift from which we can learn and grow. Perseverance is the standout character trait of those who ultimately succeed because every moment of life is lived passionately to its full potential.
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