Former iOS game, Card Dungeon, was recently released on PC. We had a chat with the artist/designer and former Swede behind the game: Frederik Skarstedt.
The tactical strategy game Card Dungeon was originally made out of love of Frederik Skarstedt’s infatuation with boardgames and tabletop card games. “I have always loved board and card games and I am a big fan of the dungeon crawler games such as Descent and Heroquest. In those board games you always have your powers and loot on little cards, hence the use of cards in Card Dungeon”, Skarstedt says, as he explains that this is what constitutes half of the Card Dungeon concept.
“A few of those games are very hard and when you die you start over, so I figured that adding the classic rogue-like systems on top of that type of board game would work pretty well”, Skarstedt elaborates.
But for the PC release, the team behind Card Dungeon chose to streamline the concept, both because it was initially released as a game for iOS, but also because it would create a nicer experience for the user.
“We did strive to simplify those rogue systems, though. Not everyone wants to juggle a huge inventory or create potions, etc, so we have tried to make it as simple to use while keeping all the strategy of the classic rogue-like.”, Frederik Skarstedt explains.
The idea of streamlining the game was present during the entirety of the development phase. Skarstedt and his team strived to make the game accessible for a wide audience, without losing the depth and strategy of the initial concept. Something that turned out to not be as easy as initially thought.
“In the beginning, we wanted to have a Dungeon and Dragons kind of system where the player would have three types of actions (free, standard, daily). Each one of these actions would have 3 types of cards, but as we play-tested, we realized it was just too complex for players that were not experienced with DnD [Dungons & Dragons].”, Skarstedt tells us, and continues to explain:
“They kept asking why they couldn’t use the standard actions more than once, etc. As we progressed through the design, we narrowed it down to the three cards for simplicity and when we hit upon the idea that the cards deteriorate, we found a great way of keeping things tense and interesting long term.”.
While Card Dungeon was recently released on Steam, it has been available for mobile devices for a while. But Frederik Skarstedt is positive about the recent release on PC, and he feels that releasing on Steam has been beneficial to the project.
“Things have been good! Steam’s systems are incredibly powerful and easy to use for developers. People seem to like the game even though it launched with a few bugs which we sorted out with a couple of day 1 patches.”, Skarstedt says.
“We can do things on PC that mobile can’t do yet such as more particles, anti aliasing, SSAO, bloom, etc. without running the risk of the game crashing or the device running out of memory, which was the constant threat when we developed the mobile version.”.
But it isn´t just a question of developing for more powerful hardware. Skarstedt is also under the impression that Steam is a better place to get exposure than the vast ocean of mobile devices. While the audience is larger on mobile devices, an almost endless amount of games is released every day, making it hard to compete, he says.
“You can’t beat the exposure of being on the front page of Steam for a few days. On mobile, there are so many new games released every day that you quickly fall off the charts. On steam, Card Dungeon will have a chance to live on for a while thanks to the summer and winter sales.”.
Frederik Skarstedt moved to the US back in the late 90’s. At the time, it seemed like a smart move. Especially because the Swedish games industry was virtually non-existing, Skarstedt says.
“I moved to the US for personal reasons in the late 90’s. At that time the video game industry was basically a few guys in a garage. There were no companies (at least to my knowledge at the time) that did video games in Sweden. There are, as you know, quite a few amazing companies in Sweden now so my timing, job wise, couldn’t have been worse!”