introducing mabeopsa

solo deckbuilding magic

Since finishing the expanded version of Anoxic Depths (and I've just released an updated version fixing the dive-line rendering bug), I've started working on a new single-player deckbuilding game, Mabeopsa.

Playing a Water mabeopsa against an inactive opponent.

Mabeopsa players start with a small deck of cards with spells from five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) divided into two aspects (ying and yang). Successfully winning a match against an NPC-partner lets players either increase a permanent statistic such as health or hand size or add another card to their deck; the next match then begins.

Ideally, playing will feel more like a magical duel or dance to become victorious instead of pummelling your opponent. This was in part inspired by Andrew Doull's essays on designing a magic system, in particular his concepts of shape and locks. The games Deck de Dungeon, Kongai, and Yomi have also proved to be a source of inspiration; I'd be happy if Mabeopsa captures at least some of their play experience.

As for language, this time I'm experimenting with selective localization, primarily between card names and descriptions. Many years ago, I had a conversation with a friend also interested in second language acquisition, and at the time I argued that providing a compelling game system (Magic: the Gathering was my example at the time) with support for language learning would be a valuable addition. This is roughly similar to Ravi Purushotma's discussion of using The Sims for language learning, with the primary difference being that the game would be designed for such an experience from the outset.

In Mabeopsa, the card titles and titles + descriptions will be togglable between English and Korean with the goal of players learning the titles at least. While the architecture is in place for this, all of the development is currently using the English version of the cards because they're still in-development. I'll share more about them next time.