Artifact - EricTams


We’ve sent out the first round of invites! All invited players should immediately see Artifact Beta 2.0 on their accounts. We will keep you updated on additional invites (no timeline yet!), and will continue to work to support more people.

Our localization team is hard at work and non-English languages will become available over the course of the Beta.

Our first two areas of focus are Usability and Bugs. Feedback on other topics is welcome, but fixing these types of issues will let us grow the beta more quickly. There is an in-game tool to report any issues, and you can use the feedback email for anything that requires a discussion.

Have Fun!
Artifact - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Natalie Clayton)

Did you miss it? Artifact‘s back, and it’s not quite how you remember it. After a year of tinkering following that disastrous 2018 debut, Valve are ready to re-introduce the Dota 2 card game to the world. This week’s brief demonstration runs through some of the promising changes arriving with Artifact 2.0 – and if you’re lucky, you may be able to try the beta yourself starting next week.

(more…)

Artifact - EricTams


We are happy to announce that we are moving to the next phase of the Beta!

The Beta for the original game started too late and was too short. We’ve decided to approach things a bit differently this time around by gradually inviting people to join us while we are still “Under Construction”.

Here’s the updated road-map:
  1. Test boring stuff
  2. Trickle out invites, starting with players of the original release <- We are here
  3. Work on the Beta, eventually transitioning to an open beta
  4. Leave Beta
We will be sending an email to all players with the original game on their Steam Account (it doesn’t need to be installed). Emails will appear by NEXT WEEK. Follow the instructions in the email to sign up for the Beta.

We will use a lottery system to invite people who have opted in. Access to the Beta will remain closed until we’ve worked though the signups from players of the original. Communication about the game will remain open for the duration of the Beta.

FAQ:
What are we testing?
Gameplay, Balance, Hero Identity, Color Identity, Social Features, Card Unlocks, Ranked Play, Replays, Spectating and the Campaign.

What aren’t we testing?
Some gameplay modes will be locked. Tournaments and draft modes, other than Hero Draft, won’t be available until we add more players. The tutorial is disabled since we are only inviting players of the original game - the campaign should be a good refresher if you haven’t played in a while.

Who should join?
There will be bugs, temp art, and data may be reset early in the beta. Some players may wish to wait until the game is further along to start playing, but there is no harm in signing up early.

How do I get in?
If you played Artifact 1.0, and would like to help us test, check your email for a sign-up link. Slots are limited- but we will be gradually adding more and more people to the beta, so don’t worry if you don’t get in right away!

But I’m a member of the press/an influencer/etc. Can I get in?
Selection for invites will be randomly generated. So… absolutely maybe!

If I get in, are there any restrictions on what I'm allowed to say/stream/share?
There are no restrictions. Due to the slow ramp in beta invites, professional streamers may want to wait until Open Beta where there will be a more significant player base.

I didn’t play the original. If I buy the original game now, will I be able to get in?
Not yet. We are prioritizing people who purchased before March 30, 2020.

Will my stats, cards, decks, etc. be transferred from the original game?
In the new version cards are unlocked through play. Individual cards are likely to have been changed, removed, or brand new; so old decks and stats wouldn’t be valid.

Can I buy cards/packs in the Beta?
We have some ideas about what we’d like to sell, but none of them are cards/packs.
Artifact - EricTams


Welcome back to another round of shop talk! After our last blog post we received a lot of email which made it clear that people still had questions about the specific functioning of the new shop. A lack of clarity in our previous discussion also caused some confusion. Let's start by trying to clear up some misconceptions, then we'll give some more details on the new shop's current implementation, and finally show some updated cards.

Clarifying The UI
Our tasteful placeholder art muddied the waters a bit. The title "Secret Shop" in the new shop interface implied that it was somehow separate from the old shop in Artifact or a replacement for the Secret Shop slot, when really it is just a reimagining of the old shop.

People also found the "Invest" option confusing, because it created the expectation of giving money in the future, rather than right away. In response, we've renamed the options from "Purchase" and "Invest" to "Shop" and "Earn" to make them more specific. The reroll button has been removed in favor of immediately replacing any purchased items, like in the original shop.

Here's a sketch of the current iteration of the shop from one of our UI artists.



Populating The Shop
Before a match begins you assemble an item deck, which currently consists of 10 cards. There are no tier restrictions on the items. Once you enter a match, your item deck is supplemented with extra items drawn from the whole set of items available in the game. You can see which items have been added via the in-game deck tracker. This recreates some of the varied gameplay of the old Secret Shop and ensures that the shop will initially contain items of each tier. Currently the number of items added per tier is:

Tier 1: 4
Tier 2: 3
Tier 3: 2
Tier 4: 1
Tier 5: 1

In the shopping phase, each of the three slots in the shop is populated from this combined item deck, so roughly half of the items available at any time will be from the deck you constructed, up from a third in the original shop. As mentioned, when you purchase an item it is immediately replaced with a new item drawn from the deck.

The items in the shop are drawn from the cards remaining in the combined item deck whose tier is at or below the shop level. If you’ve already bought all those cards, you will see a random Tier 1 card instead.

Item Reworks
You may have noticed how the rarity icons look different. These icons represent the general order that cards can be unlocked instead of traditional card rarity. Players start with the first group unlocked (cards with a grey icon) and some of the second group (the green icon). Cards in higher tiers aren't necessarily more powerful, but tend to use more advanced game concepts and require more finesse to be used at their full potential.

Let’s take a look at some of the changes to items.



Phase Boots
  • These boots are still a strong option for forcing or dodging match-ups in a lane.
  • The switch from swapping with an ally to swapping with any slot gives more options.



Claszureme Hourglass
  • The old version of this card had the most requests for change since it could feel so suffocating.
  • The new version is mostly good for use against heavy card draw strategies.



Nyctasha's Guard
  • This item clearly follows the old adage that the best defense is a good offense.
  • Equipping this item makes a hero a huge target. Make sure to bait out your opponent's counters before equipping it.

Hero Reworks
It doesn't seem fair to cover the same topic twice, so we wanted to share a few hero reworks as well!




Prellex
  • When Prellex enters the lane, she converts one of the Melee Creeps to a Mega Creep for an instant hit of extra power on the board.
  • Deploying creeps on the right gives you a few tactical options when deploying. Outside of round 1 you can easily get a strong blocker in the 4th or 5th slot.
  • Barracks helps empower many of the weak creeps blue tends to rely on by keeping them healthy and able to use their powerful effects more often.




Axe
  • While Axe is no longer the stat juggernaut he once was, he's still extremely durable with great deployment options.
  • With some setup, and the fact that it's repeatable, Culling Blade lets you lop the heads off several heroes in one round (repeatable cards are added back to your hand when cast, but are discarded at the end of the round). It's also fun to bluff holding so you can bait reactions from your opponent.
  • Berserker's Call is still a beast and makes itemization for Axe extra powerful. It's a good idea to control initiative when Axe enters the board with it off cooldown.




Ogre Magi
  • Ogre has become a popular hero to build around, just make sure you have enough Mana to cast both copies of your spell this round or you've wasted the cooldown.
  • Repeatable cards are discarded at the end of the round, so you can't build card advantage the way you could with Multicast in the original version of Artifact. The increased level of predictability makes this version easier to use though.
  • The Multicast ability doesn't modify the base card. Unlike cards which are innately repeatable, Multicast only returns the card to your hand one time. Normally repeatable cards can be cast until you run out of Mana or valid targets.
  • While two armor makes Ogre a good option for offlane deployment, you may want to keep him in the safe lane instead to trigger Multicast frequently.
  • Due to lower unit stats, Ignite is a great way to clear out small units from a lane.

We are looking forward to your feedback.
May 4
Artifact - EricTams


Before we get into the blog, we wanted to share the results of last week’s poll. Arc Warden was the front-runner right out of the gate – his lead seemed insurmountable. Slow and steady, though, Nyx started to creep up. Then, right before were going to close the poll, he almost overtook the front spot. In the end it was close enough that we figured why not add both!

Now on to the shop!

Feedback about the shop has been a bit more scattered compared to other parts of the game and the suggestions have ranged far, from tiny tweaks to a huge Dota-scale item shop with item recipes. We've found we also have a mixed mind about the shop. We liked some parts and had other parts we thought needed improvement. There are some side effects of the original implementation that pushed optimal item-deck building into a narrow space.

It's a topic that we think would be good to delve into together. Let's break down what we did and didn't like, the goals we should have for the new version, and talk about the design trying to accomplish those goals. Remember to email us at ArtifactBetaFeedback@Valvesoftware.com to contribute to the discussion.

What we didn't like:
  • Players often felt compelled to stuff their decks with cheap items with the intent to buy them out so they had more control over the selection they saw.
  • It was easy to jump to top-tier items, limiting how cool those items could be.
  • Consumables could have a huge impact, but you could be unlucky with your selection.
  • Some of the items felt too important (Blink Dagger, Town Portal Scroll, etc.)
  • The wacky item prices required more math than needed.
  • Three different slot types caused confusion for new players.
  • It felt weird when the shop opened with no good options for the player.
  • The "hold" option wasn't well utilized.

What we did like:
  • Building up powerful heroes feels great.
  • The flow of adding abilities to your hero over the course of the game, ending with an exciting final board state without starting off overwhelming.
  • It was fun when players were able to adapt to their situation and make creative use of an item in the secret shop.
  • You could evaluate what to purchase fairly quickly.

The shop is one of the last things we've worked on, so it might see some dramatic changes still. The details of the implementation may be completely different in the end, but our goals should remain the same.

Goals for the new version:
  • We’d like you to have better access to your items compared to the original game.
  • Items, in general, should have their cost reflect when they are useful in the game. Early items should help build small advantages and late game items should help close the game out.
  • We’d like to keep the ability to find a random item that could help you out.
  • No class of items, early or late, should be too powerful as to skew the selection one way or another.
  • Less math.
  • Required tools (Town Portal Scrolls) shouldn't be available based on luck.

In the current implementation we've normalized item costs to 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30. If they seem too expensive it's due to the faster rate that gold is earned now. Items are grouped based on their tier and the shop is populated to have one or more items at each tier, plus your item deck. All slots in the shop follow the same rules for how the item for sale there is selected.



At the first shopping phase you have access to the 10-cost item tier plus a few other options. If you have some extra money, and don't like the items presented, you can re-roll for 2 gold. If you are a little light on cash you can choose to skip shopping and earn a little extra gold. The gold earned this way starts at 3 and increases by 1 each time you upgrade the shop. Finally you can upgrade the shop for 5 gold. This upgrade cost goes down to 3 then to 1 in subsequent turns and resets to 5 when you upgrade. When you upgrade the shop the next tier of items is added to the pool and you get a free re-roll.

Most consumables, including Town Portal Scrolls, have been removed from the game completely. You now get a similar item, the Blink Scroll, the first time you bring each enemy tower to half health. Blink Scrolls work like a Blink Dagger but are consumed on use (each let you move a hero to a slot in an adjacent lane).

Let's take a look at some of the new items from the first three tiers.



Force Staff
  • Displace is one of the few "random" effects we've added to the game. It pushes a unit randomly left or right 1 slot, but can only push into an unoccupied slot.
  • Since you can displace enemy units as well as your own, you can often work out favorable match-ups with a little creativity.
  • A few of our favorites are pushing a unit with a strong aura towards one of the edges of a lane, sliding any strong tower attacker into slot 1, or just pushing a blocker out of the way so you can smash a tower.



Necronomicon
  • With its strong health buff this item can keep a fragile hero in lane for a long time.
  • Demonic Archers are a great way to build up a creep imbalance in a lane. Only one is needed to start the ball rolling.
  • Left unchecked, a lane full of Demonic Archers will make deploying heroes into a lane a painful experience.



Root Boots
  • The 20-gold item tier has several items that immediately change the texture of a lane, either by making strong localized effects, or providing a large stat boost.
  • Root Boots are great for deploying into a hero with mobility and exchanging favorably.
  • Decay effects ignore armor, so they are great at cleaning out a lane clogged by armor buffed creeps.
  • Root Boots are a great way to stop late-game lane hopping shenanigans.

Don't forget to send us your feedback!
Artifact - EricTams


This week we wanted to talk a bit more about the heroes in Artifact. These have been viewed as one of the strengths in the original game, but also as one of the missed opportunities. The most common concerns we hear are about underwhelming signature cards, lack of abilities, or heroes that fictionally don’t fit with their kit.

Our philosophy this time around is different, so we’d like to go over some of the factors we use when evaluating hero designs.

  • All heroes should have at least one ability.
  • You should be excited to draw a hero’s signature cards.
  • Signature cards should avoid being situational.
  • Signature cards should generally be at their best when their corresponding hero uses them.
  • Bonus if a hero has a small self-synergy.
  • It’s fine to have two abilities on a hero if at least one of them is a passive.
  • It’s fine to have strong active and passive abilities on the board. They create interesting threats to play around.

Let’s take a look at the basic heroes and see how they’ve changed.




Keefe the Bold
  • This big body can absorb a lot of punishment.
  • Reckless Charge can put this bulk to use, letting him redirect damage from soft targets.
  • His active ability, Stop Hittin’ Yourself, lets him turn his attackers' strengths against them.
  • Notes: His health was recently increased, and might be a bit too high.




Farvhan the Dreamer
  • Green units tend to stick around in lane, so don’t be surprised if you see Farvhan getting up to a big bonus from Pack Leadership.
  • Prowler Vanguard makes it easy to create a creep imbalance, keeping your tower safe.
  • Placing Prowler Vanguard in slot 2 with Farvhan in slot 3 is an easy way to build pressure in a lane.
  • Prowler Vanguard has been feeling a little too expensive, and is likely to decrease to 3 Mana.




J’Muy
  • Runic Instigation has been a fan favorite. One of our favorites was watching Mirana leap in, get refreshed, then leap back to her original slot!
  • Runic Instigation lets you refresh creeps and also items on heroes. This makes J’Muy great to splash with any color.
  • Wisdom of the Elders can keep your hand full, and is a nice choice for an early runic instigation to start getting the cooldown to 1.
  • J’Muy is pretty hefty for a blue hero, giving you good deployment options.

Our feedback alias also had many requests for new heroes. We hashed out a few designs based on these requests and figured we would let you decide which one we add to the beta. Note that the color or abilities might change from those listed here based on testing. Anyway, here’s the list we have so far.

Huskar, Red
Active: Life Break
Passive: Berserker’s Blood
Signature: Inner Fire

Snapfire, Green
Active: Mortimer Kisses
Signature: Snapfire Cookie

Arc Warden, Blue
Active: Tempest Double
Signature: Spark Wraith

Nyx Assassin, Black
Active: Vendetta
Signature: Spiked Carapace

Please select the one you want from This Poll.

We’ll close the poll on Thursday, then get to work on that sweet temp art!
Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Matt Cox)

Valve have been drip-feeding us details about the return of Artifact, but now they’ve opened the flood gates. The latest blog post about their card ’em up digs into all sorts of nuances, from revamped mana curves to fiddly initiative rules. They’re also muttering about a ranked progression system similar to Dota Underlords‘, and a singleplayer campaign that will continue the story from the Call To Arms comic.

(more…)

Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Matt Cox)

Valve have been drip-feeding us details about the return of Artifact, but now they’ve opened the flood gates. The latest blog post about their card ’em up digs into all sorts of nuances, from revamped mana curves to fiddly initiative rules. They’re also muttering about a ranked progression system similar to Dota Underlords‘, and a singleplayer campaign that will continue the story from the Call To Arms comic.

(more…)

Apr 20
Artifact - EricTams


This one came in hot so please forgive any gram badder, who would have guessed that doing all this remotely would be so hard? Anyway, let’s get to it!

Initiative
The initiative rules haven't changed much, but the implications are different due to the round being shared across lanes. Players still take turns performing actions until both players pass in a row, and then you go to combat. This sequence continues across rounds, so while you can't control initiative across lanes you can still do so across rounds. There are more rounds per game, although each round is shorter. And "Get Initiative" spells still exist, although they have been renamed to "Quick."

Mana
There is now a single Mana pool that starts at 3 and increases by 1 per turn. Some cards and abilities are crosslane, but in general cards only affect the lane that they’re being cast from and you need a hero in lane to cast a card of their color.

Mana costs have been reduced for low-end and mid-tier cards, but high-end cards remain expensive. If you want to blow up a lane it might be the only thing you do in a round. Balance in the original game with these high impact spells was tricky – you had some decks that went from casting zero big spells to a big spell in every lane.

Initiative + Mana = Harmony?
Each action costs at least 1 mana, so without things like a refresh from CM, you can no longer delay turns for free - you need to weigh the costs of waiting to respond VS saving enough mana for your high impact spells.

The combination of one shared mana pool and adding a mana cost for all actions has taken some of the weight from the initiative system in the original game. The initiative system was something that experienced players enjoyed immensely, but had a steep learning curve for new players and had some really negative side effects if it caught you off guard.

Some players ignored initiative. Other players felt that controlling initiative was the main strategic concern, so we don't think this is a change that should be taken lightly. This disconnect may be responsible for the communication breakdown we see playing out in the community.

We think that the current system gets to a similar place where the actions you take, and the order you take them are both very important without the big downsides of the learning cliff and the resulting struggles with lockout.

New Defaults
We’ve been trying to move away the very technically-worded cards from the past. They were always very accurate, but sometimes it felt like you needed to be a programmer to work out what actually was going to happen.

Cards and abilities will affect a lane unless stated otherwise. Any verb (stun, disarm, etc) lasts until the end of the round unless another duration is set. All cards with persistent effects are labeled as an enchantments, and last until dispelled. All permanent modifications are labeled as such.

Arrows point forward by default but can be modified temporarily. At the end of the turn, or if you move the unit, its arrows reset.

Keyword Changes

Armor
Armor in the old game caused some issues – early in development we ended up doubling all stat values to compensate for how dramatic the impact of a single point of armor was. It also added a lot of math when you had multiple damage sources. Now each point of armor can block one point of damage and is refreshed at the beginning of the round.

Cleave/Siege
These used to be dependent on the unit being blocked to function. Now they are active all of the time.

Feeble
Feeble is new to the game, but we wanted to talk about it anyway so we could show off one of the basic hero reworks! Each unit attacking a feeble unit will deal excess damage to the tower instead. For example, if Debbi (4/3) is blocked by a unit (1/3), and uses "No Accident" leaving it with 1 remaining health, 3 damage will be dealt to the tower and her passive ability will trigger.




Card Unlocks
All players will unlock cards playing in any mode. The pace should be such that players are excited by getting fun cards to play with, but aren’t overwhelmed when they see too many new cards being played by an opponent.

Players that are new to the game, enjoy casual play, like to learn by doing instead of reading, or just enjoy a sense of progression would start in general matchmaking. They can grow their card pools while matching against opponents with a similar number of card unlocks, giving them a controlled environment to learn in. Hero Draft even pulls from the combined set of cards that you and your opponent have unlocked to keep things extra fair. Eventually these players can switch to Ranked mode and automated tournaments if they want to experience a more competitive environment.

There will also be the option to jump right in to scrimmages and custom tournaments, these will let players set rules or allow any card sets they see fit. All players will probably enjoy these from time to time, but advanced players can start playing these immediately.

Your Feedback
After our call for suggestions about how to improve the game, we were overwhelmed by the responses, both in the quantity (it took us a week to catch up on reading them all and they're still coming!) and also the quality. The community took the task seriously and wrote in with a wide range of suggestions, from gameplay changes and features through to feedback on localization and possible founder benefits. We aren't able to respond individually to every submission, but we were able to compile a list of promising ideas from the community and get a sense of where people most wanted the team to spend their attention. Luckily that lined up well with the teams internal plans. Here's a taste of some of the things people asked for, and our current plans.

Progression
The most popular request outside of gameplay changes was for more robust progression systems. People wanted to feel like their time spent with the game was being rewarded, and also wanted a better measure of their competitive strength so they could see themselves improving. We would like people to be able to feel a sense of progression in the game through unlocking cards and other collectables in the normal course of play, without being forced to spend money, but we're still experimenting with different reward structures.

For competitive play, we are working on a design similar to the Underlords ranked system, which we hope will provide people with goals to aim for, a clear path to get there, and a meaningful way to measure yourself against other players. We're also thinking through ways we might be able to connect these systems with Artifact's robust tournament support.

Quality of Life Features
Tracking your competitive rank is just one aspect of giving people the tools to improve at the game. We're also fleshing out player profiles, letting people track statistics about the games they've played, view match histories, and watch replays.

Additionally, we're looking at frequently requested quality of life and social features, such as chat history, the ability to spectate friends, access to more game modes when challenging friends, and saving templates for tournament settings.

Also in this odds and ends category is feedback that we got from many non-English speaking communities (sometimes read via machine translation!) that they would like to see a different approach to localizing hero names, preferring a transliteration of the English name, rather than literal translations of their names. We'll be talking to our localization team about this.

Single Player
A lot of you recognized the potential for telling stories about the DOTA world through Artifact and loved what we'd already done through comics and flavor text. We are doubling down on that effort through a single-player campaign which will both teach new players the game and continue the story that began with A Call To Arms. Tying in to our progressions systems, we want people to feel rewarded no matter which way they choose to play the game, whether it be in competitive play or the campaign.

Looking forward to your thoughts!
Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Matt Cox)

I’m enjoying how all the headlines around Artifact‘s upcoming comeback are about what it won’t do. It won’t sell you cards, and it won’t make you play on one lane at a time. ‘It won’t die in a fire like it did before’, promise.

We now know a lot more about how the revamped game will actually work. Random deployment is gone, with creeps spawning in predictable positions while Heroes can be plopped wherever you like. The infinite board is gone, too, as each of the three lanes can now only fit five units. This seems… promising?

(more…)

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