Arkrift Rebrand

8:01 PM Thursday, December 1, 2016

This is a big announcement, arkrift is now Atlas Break!

We've decided to make this change now and are in the process of switching over our site, assets, and social media.

Our mailing list for further announcements and access to the limited Alpha release will also be coming soon!

Thank you so much!


Dev Announcements

8:36 PM Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Getting ready to release the Alpha very soon, Everyone! For those that want early access to the alpha, we will be setting up a newsletter to keep players up to date on our dev. That sign up will be made available here on the blog soon.

We have new barrier cards and art coming through. Barrier cards act as both the bane and savior of player existence in Ark Rift. We are also building out the final touches for the base deck for the Assassin character.


Outlier Character: Rizza Vice

8:38 AM Thursday, September 15, 2016

Rizza Vice is one of the six playable characters of Ark Rift. She's the hard-hitting and merciless leader of the Outliers; the only humans left who stayed on Earth after the Rift.

These barbarians amuse themselves with games of death and destruction, using brute force and their numbers to defeat their enemies.

This is an image from our upcoming Ark Rift poster. We are really looking forward to its release!


Mechanics vs. UX: Culture Cards

9:30 AM Friday, August 19, 2016

There's a truly fascinating balancing act occurring right now between UX and game mechanics.

When I began designing Ark Rift, my primary concern was the game's story and mechanics. That's enough for the analog game we developed and still use, however, it's not enough for a seamless translation to a digital format.

Working with our creative director and UX designer, we are facing a myriad of new, exciting challenges including space availability and intuitive UI. Oh yes, "space availability," very exciting.

But it actually is. For example, Culture Cards are taking on a new identity to allow for visual logic, and ease of user experience. In order to increase visual appeal and understanding, we've cut some variables from culture cards.

Ancient Scales. Culture Card.

Culture cards in Ark Rift create turn over turn effects. They can be powerful structures, abilities, and items.

Working as neutral cards available to all characters, these culture cards inform both strategy and overall mood of  character. Once played, they are represented as an icon in one of the two structure card slots available.

These cards initially had 1 variable that was always present and a secondary variable that occurred sometimes, but often not at all.

Working through the visual design of Ark Rift, we can trim the fat to keep just what makes the most sense so we've cut the secondary variable completely to streamline the game. We have to build and rebuild the skeleton for rest of the structure. Fluff can always be added later.


Mechanics: Kill Points and Ideal Play Testing Environments

4:22 PM Saturday, July 30, 2016

We briefly discussed character powers before, but we haven't truly delved into these unique attributes.

Each character has three unique powers which require varying amounts of charge to use. In order to charge and use powers, Kill Points (KP) must be acquired.

Let's look at the Nature character's powers:

1. Immobilize: Target becomes unusable for 1 turn
2. Sap: Increases character health by 3
3. Pull: Draw an extra card

These powers are in order from least powerful and cheapest, to most powerful and expensive. The number corresponds with the cost in Kill Points.

So, how are Kill Points acquired? They are received by destroying enemy units and culture cards by direct damage. That is, opponent deaths caused by the player's units or abilities receive KP, while deaths caused by players destroying their own units and culture cards gives no KP.

1 KP is acquired per unit killed, 2 KP is acquired per culture card destroyed.

We are still toying with this mechanic. In the analog prototype, tracking this mechanic can be a bit tedious, which stunts my ability to be uninvolved in play testing.

The ideal method of play testing would be to have blind play testing. Even if I am truly seeking objective criticism, it is impossible to achieve if a player has met me and knows that I am involved in the production of the game. Not only is there bias on their side, but, inevitably, on my own as well.

Even if I were to pose as someone uninvolved (which would be so cool, right?!) I fear that I might have a desire to "help" them in a way that would skew the information received.

We wouldn't just want to test for the game's playability regarding mechanics, but the general cohesion overall. Does the interface make sense? Is as much of the game as possible intuitively expressed? What do players seem to take for granted and understand, and what is confusing and alien?

The digital prototype is progressing beautifully. I look forward to having players join us in the big wide world of "What if?"


Card Showcase: Return to the Earth

9:01 AM Thursday, July 14, 2016

Return to the Earth is a Nature ability card that instantly destroys the target unit by opening up the very ground and taking back its life force. Ark Rift limits units to 5 per player, making each unit incredibly valuable. Destroying even one is a brutal blow to the enemy.


Creating Character Identity: Hex and the Machine

8:36 PM Thursday, June 23, 2016

Clear character identities are so important in creating fun characters that have unique strengths and weaknesses.

The Engineer deck was the first deck to be created. It started with a powerful collection of skills like Overload, which clears the play field and Overclock, which increases damage and health points of all friendly units.

When this deck was being designed, we foresaw some potential crossover through development with another Ark character called the Machine, whose deck hadn't yet been developed.

So, now working with the Machine, some shuffling has occurred to create clear and individual character identities. The Machine has adopted Overclock, Overload, and a number of other cards that were formerly the Engineer's.

It's interesting and important to ask, "If this character were real, what would they do?" Not just that but what would they think, what would they want, and what would hurt them?

With those questions in mind, we're re-engineering Hex Holcomb's deck (pun intended, deal with it) to include more ability cards such as Repair, which adds health to a damaged unit, and Construct Turret, which adds damage ability to structures. His focus will be on construction, building, and re-building and the Machine will be primarily focused on powers that alter electronics and program.

Thanks for reading, everyone! We're very excited to continue bringing you updates on our project.


Upgrade Mechanic in Art

6:19 PM Saturday, June 4, 2016

Most unit cards are linked to a respective upgrade card in Ark Rift. That comes through in the team's art:

Homunculus (left) upgrades into Humegalus (right)

Once a unit is on the field for three turns, it automatically upgrades. This means more individual units but fewer actual cards. I hope that this mechanic not only creates a logical progression, but also a lot of anticipatory excitement.

The only problem with expectation, is that you're bound to be met with a bit of disappointment. Players will have to think on their toes as opponents counter their plans. Fluid movement between a variety of potential strategies is key.

The cards Homunculus, and its upgraded unit Humegalus, are examples of that fluid strategy. Depending on your need, you can have Homunculus upgrade into one of three different types of higher units whether you need a hard hitter, a buff, or tank.


Top 5 Ways to Start your Game Project

7:41 AM Monday, May 23, 2016

1. Trademark
If you already know the name of your game or what you would like it to be, checking to see if it already exists goes without saying. Once you do, to the best of your knowledge, recognize your name as unique, submit it to be trademarked. The sooner the better since once your paperwork is filed, the process can take 6 months to a year or even longer.

2. Make a Website and Blog
This is going to be the primary resource for many to know about your game. What it's about and all of the pertinent information about how to get access to play it, etc. So take some time to make it look polished. Use other game websites as examples.

2. Social Media and Community Outreach
It's never too late to start marketing your game and getting the word out. Tumblr, Instagram, reddit, Twitter, and gaming forums are just a few places where a little bit of regular effort can build buzz for your project. Connecting with other game developers on indie game forums is another great way to let yourself be known among your peers.

3. Define Roles
Depending on the size of your team, the roles of individuals may overlap. However, it's important that each person knows what their role entails and has an outline for how to achieve the goals within that defined role.

4. Talk about your Project
This means getting comfortable speaking about your project not only to your team but to your friends, to potential players, to press and supporters. Know what makes your game unique and fun to play.

5. Art.
Don't skimp on art. The art of your game sets the mood and will tell the story more than any other element is able. The art of a game can be a defining reason why someone picks or passes on your project so prepare to invest in it.

Artist are also freaking awesome. It's not a hobby, it's hard work and their skills takes years of practice to develop. Value them appropriately.


Don't be Afraid of Change

11:54 AM Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hello, Everybody!

Been doing a bit of play testing lately and it's revealed a lot of great information. For example, Engineer powers and cards are changing! Not a lot, but in very important ways.

If you've kept up with our development then you already know that in addition to each character having a deck, each character also has powers. Here is a breakdown of the Engineer's.

His previous powers:
+1 damage point to structure (Cost: 1 KP)
       Allows a structure to have +1 attack (stackable)

Combine bots (Cost: 2 KP)
       Combines two bots into one bot

Destroy target structure (Cost: 3 KP)
Very few cards can remove structures once placed so this is advantageous if this player has no more culture card slots available

Play testing has revealed some of these to be dumb, useless, and/or nonsensical. Isn't learning fun? But, mini revelations like this only improve the game. Don't be afraid of learning things aren't great. That's the stuff you need to know the most because the first step to being not being great at all.

His current powers:
Make bot (Cost: 1 KP)
Creates a 1/1 bot creature. The Engineer focuses primarily on buffing buildings. Because of this focus, the Engineer can have too few creatures. This solves that issue.

+1 damage point to structure (Cost: 2 KP)
This power was a bit too easy to farm since its cost was too low. We'll see how it does here for a bit.

Destroy target structure (Cost: 3 KP)
This power seems just right. At 3 KP cost, it's a bit expensive to just go around bashing buildings but is worth the cost for well-timed attacks or personal building replacement.

So, learn as much as you can about your own project whenever you can. You're going to catch more and more mistakes. And guess what? Even after you catch a bunch, there will still be more. Even after you fix a bunch, having fixed one may create more problems.

Constant movement forward. This is what we're looking for at this stage and all stages.


New Assassin Art!

9:19 PM Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Splash art incoming! Each character is getting not only their in-game portrait but a splash piece is in the works. Check out the assassin!

More splash pieces and character portraits to come!


The Upgrade Mechanic

8:48 AM Thursday, March 17, 2016

One of the unique mechanics in Ark Rift is the ability for cards to grow, gain experience, and ultimately change into something greater than their original form.

Given time, even plants like Budding Brambles (left) can flourish and grow into Cursed Brambles (right). Generally, after 3 turns of being on the playing field, creatures gain enough xp to upgrade.

What's excellent about new mechanics is that they breed more novel mechanics. Suddenly we are able to create ability cards that alter this advancement. Cards can slow or advance the speed at which a card upgrades or even stop it all together.

A card like Abominate can even change what that creature card turns into once it upgrades. Instead of new and more powerful card, Abominate forces that card to mutate into an Abomination, a weak, damaged, and quite ugly's kind of gross actually. Gross...and AWESOME.


The Outliers

7:30 PM Monday, February 29, 2016

The Outliers are a group of Earth-dwelling warriors. After the reterraformer accident hundreds of years ago, the planet changed. Flora and fauna mutated and the world became an unstable stream of death and horrors. Humans, too, changed into something inhuman, abominations. It was only the very few, the Outliers, those far enough way from the reterraformer locations, and somehow resistant to radiation, who maintained their genetic integrity to continue humanity.

And they did. Crude settlements of survivors developed into thriving communities. Communities gave way to villages and towns, and through their success over time, the Outliers began to feel the Earth asking to be held by the hand of man once more.

No doubt one of the keys to their success was the enslavement of lower creatures.  Mutated humans...creatures with powers whose very existence mocked the purity of what humanity once was. Those that couldn't be used had to be killed and the creativity of the human spirit had never spoken more true than in the methods the Outliers devised to carry out the task.

The Game of Bones. A carnival of death, both entertaining and integral to Outlier culture. Every year, marking the day the world changed, the Game of Bones commences. A collection of the Earth's most pitiful mutants and most menacing creatures brought to their knees by Outlier warriors.

The most dangerous collection of fiends is reserved for the Outlier leader. Rizza Vice. May she ever dominate the masses of evil brought before her.


Limitations: Deck Construction and Decks of Efficacy

12:27 PM Wednesday, February 10, 2016

As Ark Rift's mechanics continue to develop, varying limitations emerge. Limitations are a core part of game play and not only create a challenge for players, but may lend themselves to a thematic logic as well. As constrictive as a word like "limitations" is, they are what make a game fun.

The first limitation you'll encounter in Ark Rift lies in deck construction. Players initially choose if they will be Ark dwellers or Earth dwellers. From there, classes are chosen. Three classes are currently available per faction.

Choosing a class determine the powers and abilities available to the player, and even some culture and creature cards will be class-specific.

Generally, creature cards are faction-specific, allowing access from all classes within that faction. These are our deck construction limitations.

As I've probably said before, one of the major appeals of a card game is layered complexity. You can begin with simple core rules and build a million cards to break them. In deck construction, we've developed a simple convention, and now are expanding upon limitations via decks of efficacy.

A deck limitation by efficacy refers to how well groups of cards work together. For example, an Ark Rift bug deck. A bug deck is simply any deck (any class and any faction) that includes a lot of bug/insect creature cards.

Let's look at one example from such a deck:

Harrowing Brood
This card, when destroyed, has a high chance of summoning Broodmother.
It has a low chance of summoning Sivaltha.

Harrowing Brood's mama, and she wants revenge.

A rare and very powerful creature card.
The more bug cards that have been played, the higher the chance of summoning Sivaltha. 

So, Harrowing Brood, grouped with many other bug cards (like Deck Crawlers, Noctilla Swarm, etc) could bring a lot to the table, including Sivaltha.

Some decks that we create as designers will be apparent, some more subtle. Some will be unintentional and discovered by players, and some, may never be used or discovered at all.


Ark Rift Updates and...The Machine!

10:39 AM Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hey, Everybody!

We've broken 100 followers on our Twitter page! Thank you to all for supporting our little project by following and checking out our stuff.

We've added a new team member to the fold in the past month and are just beginning a new round of artist hunting. That means we are growing and open to portfolio submissions once again. Huzzah! Got a hankering to get your art into a game? Email Us!

Analog prototyping is continuing but now in conjunction with the beginning of its digital incarnation and I couldn't be more excited!

In other news, another character is in. Meet, the Machine!


Terminology Change: Structure --> Culture Card

4:34 PM Monday, January 4, 2016

Hello, Everybody and Happy New Year!

We're starting this year off with some good changes. One of which is some terminology changes to expand card type variety.

Formerly called "Structures" will now be known as "Culture Cards." I was having some trouble with the thematic reasoning behind having structures that could be placed by individual players. It made sense that these cards (which have an effect that occurs each turn) would have a sense of permanence, like a building. Yurts, incinerators, and factories, oh my! However, why just buildings?

By expanding the title, we also expand the cards available to players. No longer just structures, players can now look forward to using artifacts, cults, philosophies, government, and more. We also have a lot more to play with regarding faction personalities.

So far, factions have really been defined by their environment and general strategies. Culture cards should pump some much needed lifeblood into each faction.

Very excited to be opening this part of the game up, hope you guys like it!