What's New, What's Different
We're currently actively working together with the players, mostly via the Sanctum CCG Facebook Group, to figure out how we can make the game more interesting and sustainable than it has been in the past. Please join the effort if you have any interest in helping Sanctum stay active and stick around for the long term. We're hoping to come up with a format that will engage previous players and interest them enough to stay around and make Sanctum an active game community again. We're also hoping to come up with a friendlier introduction to and experience of the game for new players to hopefully convert more of them into active long term players.
We have several advantages for this effort over NIOGA's effort to keep the game going, the primary being developing a low-cost hosting solution that makes maintenance costs much cheaper. Those are being met just through minimal donations from the player community, in the form of buying the in-game currency of "Dracha" that they can then trade for new cards. That frees us somewhat from the "buy cards to play and compete" model Sanctum has always had, giving us the option to focus mostly on making the gameplay as interesting and challenging as we can, hopefully keeping the player base active and perhaps even grow it. One way we're doing that is allowing users to earn cards through gameplay, in an attempt to keep the site active and helping users progress towards their "suitcase" collections without the expense previously required. In addition, all donating supporters have access to a "suitcase mode" where they can play unranked games with all the cards, except for the newly released A&T set.
Primary efforts to engage players:
- Make the new player experience as friendly and rewarding as possible
- Develop incentives for old players to keep playing
- Integrate with Facebook
- Present and Future development opportunities
Sanctum is overwhelming to new players for a variety of reasons, which we're hoping to reduce to convert more players to long term players. When they first start we will give new players a fixed starter set of cards, different for each house, that is actually an entire preconstructed new-player-friendly deck. This will get them up and playing without having to worry about whether the random cards they ended up with are worth anything or how to use them, or forcing them to play around in the deckbuilder. There's a strategy guide, written by Kn1gHtMaRe, detailing the primary design and gameplay scenarios for each deck, that introduces new players to the primary concepts they'll need to understand to progress in the game. In addition, their gameplay will be rewarded by being able to unlock new houses and new preconstructed decks, to quickly add to their collections and introduce them to all the houses and a solid base of spells and spell types.
Old players will only be allowed to play against new players using decks that draw from the same sets of spells new players have access to. Hopefully this won't discourage new players as much as when old players could throw their entire suitcase at them before they barely had any experience with or mastery of the spells they have access to, much less the ones they hadn't seen or couldn't have without much expense. Currently we're restricting new players to just the Classic and Bloodlines sets to reduce the complexity and learning curve.
We're looking at various ways to make ongoing play interesting for old players as well. We've implemented an in-game currency and a rewards system that rewards players for playing and allows them to earn cards to complete or fill out their collections. We added new formats of gameplay and categories of rating so players can compete in different formats for the honor of being number one. Finally releasing the Allies & Traitors set will hopefully reinvigorate game play as well.
The Sanctum CCG Facebook Group is, unfortunately for some of you, the primary forum where remaining players talk about the game. If you don't have a Facebook account, it really is worth it to sign up a completely anonymous account just to participate in discussions in the group and get updates. That's what I did, as I had no Facebook account before taking on this project, and only use it to interact with the group. We've tried to add mailing lists and other forums, but they just didn't get any traffic. In the future there may be various ways we can tie the game to Facebook to make it easier for users to interact with each other, track the status of the game, and publish and share in-game achievements and awards. Eventually we may be able to use Facebook as another Gate, and launch games directly from within Facebook only using your Facebook login.
If you have software development experience and are interested in volunteering your time on this project to develop minor, or not so minor, new features, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or hop into the Facebook Group and let us know. The current game has a Linux server running a modified IRC daemon, Apache web server with PHP and Perl scripts, a MySQL database, and a few Perl server daemons. The client is written in C++ using Visual Studio. In addition to working on the current version of Sanctum, there are many players that would like to be talking about and building a 2.0 version of the game to run in a browser on any platform. Assuming we get this site working and stable the Sanctum 2.0 effort will probably start getting more attention.