Hi everyone, and welcome to our first developer diary for Star Crusade: War for the Expanse – our digital collectible card game in beta on Steam Early Access and coming soon to iOS and Android. I thought we’d take this opportunity to give you a sneak peek into our development process and how we originally conceived of the game, the universe, and the lore.
For starters, some quick background on the creative forces behind the game. Myself and my brother Alex (the lead producer) have been huge fans of all types of gaming, particularly strategy games, ever since we were kids. We were fanatically into Magic: The Gathering (we started back in 5th Edition) and became huge fans of collectible card games (CCGs) in general. We’ve also been big into sci-fi for as long as we can remember – recent favorites include the reborn Battlestar Galactica TV series and all-time favorites include Warhammer: 40,000. We found both universes appealing because they not only had interesting characters and social constructs, but also because they were very deep in lore.
Believe it or not, lore is a big part of Star Crusade – it informs the way we have designed our six different sci-fi factions, how each one plays, how different card powers work, and how the game will evolve in the future. We’ve created a universe which, according to our back-story, is at war – with a struggle for control between factions that each have their own unique motivations.
For example, the Terran faction – also known as the Terran Sol Alliance - believes itself to be the steward of humanity’s future, having fought back the cyborgs of the Hierarchy faction in the First Encounter War. Meanwhile, the mercantile Consortium faction - a group of shadowy human power brokers and mercenaries – quietly rebel against the Terrans, looking for loopholes and fine print to seize and consolidate as much power as possible – in secret, of course. Each faction has its own goals, which it pursues with a variety of different troops and methods, which we’ll be expanding on greatly in our upcoming single-player campaign (which is coming soon!).
Lore also informs how we design each faction’s gameplay and abilities. The Shan’Ti, for instance, are aliens with bizarre mutation powers. At first glance, they seem to be ugly, menacing invaders, but exploring their backstory reveals a race of aliens that barely survived planetary extinction, and have adopted mutation a survival vehicle to colonize and conquer new worlds. This is why so many of their abilities are keyed off of latent mutations that can be triggered in their bizarre aberration units.
Likewise, the Hair-Gog are a brutal race of aliens that were genetically engineered by the Shan’Ti to be miners before they eventually rebelled and formed their own tribe. However, this race, which was born and bred for menial labor, are poorly organized and lack finesse or formal military training, which is reflected in their brutal, all-out approach to combat. Their abilities are among the most damaging in the entire game, but some of their deadliest abilities damage their own units in the process.
As I mentioned, we’ll be exploring the lore and backstory for each faction much more deeply in our soon-to-be released single-player campaign. Stay tuned – there’s much more ground for us to cover in the development process, including the challenges of game balance (which are not easy to deal with, given that players can build a deck belonging to any of six factions, anywhere from 25 to 40 cards, and with one, two, or three different Commander Modules from a pool of more than 40!), tournaments, and future features such as team-based play, epic quests, and many more. For now, please join us in game by grabbing it from Steam Early Access and let us know what you think – my brother and I are always looking for feedback and new ideas! Thanks and until next time, see you in orbit!