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E3 2013 - Defining the MMOTCG

Michael Bitton Posted:
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The market is seemingly flooded with digital TCGs as of late and this is especially true for the mobile platform. But Cryptozoic CEO Cory Jones argues that most of these TCGs aren’t really designed well or with the expertise he and his team are bringing to HEX, the first ever MMOTCG.

Members of the Cryptozoic team have done some great work in gaming, including the likes of Chris Woods and Kevin Jordan (who designed the class system for World of Warcraft), but they are most renowned for the World of Warcraft TCG that remains as one of the most successful TCG products out there. It’s this expertise and more that the team brings to HEX and for Cory Jones HEX represents the project he’s always wanted to develop. If you’re wondering what MMOs and TCGs have in common, Cory tells us it’s the community. It makes sense. Both MMOs and TCGs live or die based on whether or not they can foster a vibrant, thriving, and most importantly, invested community.

HEX has been in development for more or less two years and the team recently concluded a wildly successful Kickstarter drive. Cryptozoic was only looking for $300,000 to make HEX a reality – but enthusiasm for the project was so strong that the team ended up with a cool $2.5 million at the end of it, making the project the ninth largest Kickstarter project to date.

What exactly makes HEX an MMO? Cory tells us it comes down to the social features and character development. In HEX, you’ll create your own character, develop that character along a progression path, explore the world, and even take part in story-driven quests and dungeons. In these dungeons you’ll encounter all manner of creatures to fight, including boss battles, and triumphing over your enemies will reward you with the requisite phat lewt (yes, even cards for your decks!) we all expect. You’ll also have access to guilds, crafting, and other social functions, including auction houses.  The difference is that instead of being in a traditional third-person MMO perspective, it’s all in a TCG format.

Cryptozoic also decided early on in development that HEX would never be a physical TCG product and it turns out that going exclusively digital has opened up some interesting options in terms of game design. For one, you’ll be able to get cards that you can socket with crafted gems and you’ll even be able to create your own cards using the game’s robust deck editor. The progression we mentioned earlier will also tie into how cards work. Having certain talent specs or gear on your chosen champion can alter the way individual cards play.  There are other neat things you can do with an all-digital TCG, too. As Cory played through a match, we were shown booby trap cards that place trapped cards into the enemy player’s deck. If these cards are then drawn by your enemy they can have any number of detrimental effects play out and potentially turn the tide of battle for you.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see most of the MMO stuff in action, but the notion has certainly piqued my interest. I’m a bit of a TCG newbie, having only played the Star Wars Galaxies TCG back in the day (coincidentally, a title Cryptozoic’s Chris Woods also worked on), but I did enjoy that experience. While the SWG TCG was associated with an MMO, it didn’t quite bring with it the sorts of MMO features Cryptozoic is looking to layer on with HEX, but it’s easy for me to see the appeal. If you’re a TCG aficionado or someone like me who has only dabbled with MMO companion TCGs, you’ll want to keep your eye on this one.

HEX is a free-to-play title currently in pre-alpha with beta testing set to start this September.

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB