Shadowverse Update 1.2 Interview w/ Executive Director Yuito Kimura
Name: Yuito Kimura
Job Title: Game Producer and Executive Director at Cygames
Background: He also produced Rage of Bahamut and Granblue Fantasy, amongst other titles. He’s behind almost every hit Cygames has had.
Roughly a month ago I had a chance to talk to Yuito Kimura about my thoughts on Shadowverse, a high fantasy anime visual styled hero CCG that has been in English alpha/beta testing since roughly April. As an avid player, though in no way hardcore (I’m mid C2 range currently with a pretty balanced win rate across all my decks) I wanted to express my thoughts on the game mechanics and get a feel for the direction the game was heading leading up to launch.
As the interview panned out, many of my concerns and comments seemed to be touching on elements that arrived in yesterday’s update 1.2. As such Cygames asked me to withhold sharing the interview until now. With its features now live and the cat out of the bag, we’re now free to discuss them. Enjoy!
DizzyPW: Currently there are seven decks in Shadowverse with diverse strategies allowing players to either focus on earlier rush strategies/stall decks or late game power decks. Based on your metrics gathered so far, do you see all decks as equal or are some in need of toning down or buffing up?
Kimura: We’re always keeping an eye on the data, but currently everything is within acceptable parameters :)
We balanced the game with the idea that each class should be able to win at the highest competitive level. Our design philosophy is to constantly go over the latest data from our players and perform numerous matchup tests to ensure that no one class is outperforming the others.
Win rates for every matchup can be difficult to balance. When you tip the scales in one direction – even slightly – it can have drastic effects on different matchups. Therefore, during development we decided to hold two closed beta tests which provided us with lots of very valuable information. Before release, we made some final adjustments to over 70 cards based on this data. As a result, we were able to balance each class appropriately to make sure win rates for every matchup are in an acceptable range.
DizzyPW: Are certain heroes suited for taking down other heroes or are there strategies you can use to make each deck equal against others?
Kimura: Each class has a variety of decks that are viable. Players generally do best when they match their heroes and decks to their personality and playstyle – in the right hands, any deck can be super powerful! As mentioned, on a mechanical level, through our beta testing and game updates we’ve made sure that each hero is well-balanced overall.
DizzyPW: Currently you offer more custom deck slots than heroes in the game. Would you ever consider offering ranked players the ability to choose between pre-built decks (from the same hero they chose) after identifying which hero they have been matched against?
Kimura: That specific implementation is not currently in our current roadmap, but upcoming competitions will allow a player to choose two classes for use in a best-of-three format. Players will need to consider how their classes may match up against any given opponent.
DizzyPW: When last we spoke, you mentioned introducing new heroes as avatar variations on the existing deck archetypes. Have you pushed forward with these intentions?
Kimura: We plan to include this feature in the 1.2.0 update which is slated for an August release.
DizzyPW: Certain neutral and deck specific cards offer incredibly powerful tactical options without necessarily even tying into the unique deck strategies each hero is known for. Some examples of this are the eight energy neutral card Gilgamesh offering a super hard hitting attack if evolved on the same turn it’s played (via storm). Essentially without randomly having a ward card on the field, Gilgamesh could end your match without warning should you fall to 7 hit points. Satan which basically makes your entire deck irrelevant as it is replaced with completely overpowered cards. Mordecai the Duelist of Shadowcraft who comes back to life endlessly unless you banish him, completely ignoring the typical shadow based requirements of all powerful card effects in the deck.
Kimura: We wanted these high-cost cards to act like an ace, no matter which hero you are playing with. If your opponent doesn’t know the best strategy with which they can fight back, the match will quickly come to an end. We designed the game this way so that matches wouldn’t be drawn out endlessly.
DizzyPW: On that note, Shadowverse is notorious for allowing players to battle it out with known OP cards as they recognize that each deck has similarly OP strategies that will butt heads with it. What is your design philosophy to choose to include cards like the double turn Runecraft card, Dimension Shift?
Kimura: We wanted each class to feel powerful in its own unique way. Players are able to experiment with their favorite class and deck style and then battle it out with others from around the world. Of course, with such powerful cards we have to rigorously playtest each card and deck combination and constantly track the latest data to ensure that no one card is overwhelming the others.
DizzyPW: Let’s take a step back for a minute and look at the competitive scene. You choose to have a single rank score for an account, but an RPG style leveling system for individual decks. Do you factor both when matchmaking? Does one have higher priority?
Kimura: In terms of determining fair match-ups, only a player’s rank is considered when matchmaking against another player.
DizzyPW: Have you found the reduction of one evolution orb and giving the second player the ability to evolve first an ample balance mechanic in exchange for having second move?
Kimura: Through our playtesting over the past few months, we did see data suggesting that giving the second player the ability to evolve first is not quite enough. With the latest 1.2.0 update, we’re making another tweak: players who go second will draw 2 cards on their first turn.
DizzyPW: On that note, have you considered deck power limitations? Currently you can stuff a deck with as many legendaries as possible. What are your thoughts on limiting the amount of power a deck has to force use of bronze cards with new strategies?
Kimura: We like the current freedom that players have when creating their decks, and the strategy that goes along with that. Players have to consider how they’d be able to counter powerful cards as they build their decks, and that’s part of the fun. We’re not currently considering any additional limitations.
DizzyPW: How about a competitive draft mode?
Kimura: I’m glad you asked! In the upcoming 1.2.0 update, we will be launching a new mode called “Take Two.” Players will choose a total of 15 pairs to build a 30-card deck and then fight up to five matches to win rewards. It’s a unique take on competitive draft modes and we think players will have a lot of fun with it.
DizzyPW: On a similar note, have you considered offering a ban phase pre-match to let players self-balance the game between balance patches?
Kimura: We are not considering a ban phase at this time.
DizzyPW: Thanks for this look behind the scenes at your development choices. One final inquiry. The Cygames team has been spotted at a few eSports events recently. What have you learned from watching other games that you’d like to incorporate into promoting or improving competitive play in Shadowverse?
Kimura: We have enjoyed our experience at tournaments and hope to organize similar events in the future for Shadowverse. Our goal is to capture that sense of community and excitement and bring it to our own events.
Thank you for the interview. We hope you will enjoy the latest features now available in Shadowverse!
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