Interview: Developers Of ScreenPlay CCG Focused On Making A Humor Relatable Card Game

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ScreenPlay CCG - via Comico Games

ScreenPlay CCG is an ultimate Trading Card game, heavily inspired by movies. Despite being an early-access game, ScreenPlay CCG offers a unique experience by allowing players to pick their favorite character from a movie and utilize it in action-packed combat. 

The main aspect that makes ScreenPlay CCG stand out among others is the simultaneous turns, which raise the bar of challenge and ensure an adrenaline-filled gameplay. These aspects combined with the the VS fighting game mechanics help deliver dramatic action gameplay. To learn more about the mechanics and development phase, we interviewed Comico Games, the developers behind ScreenPlay CCG, over an email. 

ScreenPlay CCG - via Comico Games
ScreenPlay CCG – via Comico Games

Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work on ScreenPlay CCG.

Comico Games: Hi, we’re Comico Games—a mix of stand-up comedians, cinephiles, game developers, and card game enthusiasts. Kirthy and Saqib have been doing stand-up comedy for over 10 years. Peter used to run a local MTG competitive scene in their town. As a small team, we all wear many hats.

Kirthy is our Creative Director, and Peter is our Core Game Designer, setting the vision and design direction, respectively. However, it truly is a collaborative effort, with the rest of the team—including Vishnya, Mitya, Tok, MusNik, Kaycee, Lendo, Mardis, Saqib, Ridho, and Nexonium—playing integral roles in everything from coding, server implementation, and illustration to user interface design, writing, testing, marketing content, and much more. Each member’s contribution is essential to bringing our vision to life.

How does ScreenPlay differentiate itself from other digital collectible card games in terms of gameplay mechanics and overall experience?

Comico Games: ScreenPlay is set in a whimsical movie-making universe, inspired by ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, where wacky characters on screen also create movies offscreen with real humans. Players take on the roles of two competing directors, each managing three lead characters, each with their own unique win conditions.

Players build their decks around these leads and input actions simultaneously during the filming phase, which are then played out in the directing phase. This dynamic setup makes the gameplay exciting as you focus on your win conditions while ensuring you’re not inadvertently aiding your opponent’s strategies.

Since you won’t know which leads your opponent has chosen until the match begins, each game unfolds uniquely. Additionally, the ability to switch leads constantly keeps the path to victory flexible and engaging.

Card Trading
ScreenPlay CCG – via Comico Games

Could you elaborate on the process of designing new cards and expansions for the game? What factors are considered to ensure each addition maintains balance and adds value to the gameplay experience?

Comico Games: We adopted a process of refining new card mechanics, in which new ideas are initially added to the bottom of a long list, which we constantly review. Ideas proven to be still interesting and fitting over a period of time are gradually promoted towards the top of the list, while constantly evolving and merging with others.

Finally, several top ideas become the next batch of cards and abilities. Our internal team then tests new cards in many gameplay scenarios to ensure they are fun and balanced.

When designing new cards, Peter conceptualizes the mechanics, and then Kirthy and Tok brainstorm the humorous elements that best fit. Since ScreenPlay isn’t tied to any existing IP, we have the freedom to invent new characters, tropes, and crew members that fit the mechanics.

Each new card goes through a design phase where initial sketches are created before moving to the color stages. Humor plays a significant role, as we aim to make each card relatable and possibly make players laugh at the absurdity. Good examples are Tractor Beam Surfer and Inspector Incognito.

Could you explain how the VS fighting game mechanics inspired the gameplay of ScreenPlay, and how this influences player strategy and engagement?

Comico Games: The secret sauce of ScreenPlay’s core mechanic is the fact that it’s subtly similar to real-time fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Tekken while it still inherits the depth of strategic CCGs like Hearthstone and MTG. Fighting card games with simultaneous actions usually allow for one action per turn; in ScreenPlay, players can perform multiple actions, each costing a particular amount of frames on the “Film Reel,” which serves as both a resource and a time track.

This is essentially similar to real-time fighting games, where each move takes several frames of a locked 30- or 60-frame second. Since opponents’ actions are not reactable, players should mostly rely on prediction to secure the biggest rewards.

Action Sequence
ScreenPlay CCG – via Comico Games

How does the idea of simultaneous turns for eliminating waiting time for players originate? How does this contribute to the fast-paced nature of ScreenPlay and enhance the gaming experience?

Comico Games: The idea of simultaneous turns originated from Kirthy’s initial concept, spurred by his frustration with online CCG sessions with his friends where having better cards could dominate gameplay. We wanted to emphasize skill and strategy, mirroring real-world scenarios where you don’t wait for your opponent but anticipate their moves.

Peter and the team refined this into the film reel mechanics. The cost of the cards are frames of a film reel and also define what frame they play. The game picks up pace as you familiarize yourself with the cards and begin to anticipate your opponent’s moves. For example, you might think, ‘Oh, he’s likely to dodge, so I should perform.

But wait, he might realize I know that, so he’ll probably attack instead. In that case, I’ll dodge.’ The only real downtime occurs when there’s a skill mismatch in PvP, or when new players are still learning the ropes.

One of the most surprising and attractive aspects for us was the multiple paths to victory. Can you elaborate on the importance of strategic decision-making in the game and how it impacts gameplay?

Comico Games: It’s thrilling to hear you appreciate the multiple paths to victory. The game focuses on fulfilling the story arcs of your lead characters rather than simply defeating your opponent. Players must adapt their strategies based on the evolving conditions of the match, turning potential setbacks into advantages and exploring the synergies between different leads.

For example, if your opponent starts taking out your characters on set, it’s a good strategy to switch to characters like Queenpin or Lizard, who thrive on on-set deaths. Essentially, you’re turning a disadvantage into an advantage. Alternatively, if the focus is on performance, bring in Jaw-Z, who benefits greatly from performance scenarios.

ScreenPlay CCG - via Comico Games
ScreenPlay CCG – via Comico Games

The focus on lead characters and their character arcs is another unique aspect of ScreenPlay. How do these characters from different movie genres contribute to the overall narrative and gameplay?

Comico Games: The focus on lead characters and their arcs is integral to the strategic depth of ScreenPlay. Each character brings their own genre influences to the gameplay, enhancing the narrative and requiring players to think critically about how to build their deck and adapt to their opponent’s strategies. Also, consider the potential synergies between different leads.

For example, the Pro-Profit Centurion summons two legionaries, totaling three story points for Godfish. For Illuminati Lizard, these three characters can die, yielding three story points for Lizard or Queenpin as well.

How has the feedback on demo and playtests been so far, and how have they shaped the upcoming Early Access release?

Comico Games: Feedback from our playtests has been crucial in refining ScreenPlay. Engaging with players has allowed us to identify and address issues, leading to significant improvements, especially in our tutorial.

Many community ideas also end up on our long list and frequently make their way into the final game, helping us to constantly improve it. Their support has been instrumental in shaping the game into a fun and engaging experience.

ScreenPlay CCG - via Comico Games
ScreenPlay CCG – via Comico Games

How long the game have been under development and how many developers actively worked on it?

Comico Games: ScreenPlay has been in development since 2019, starting with only Kirthy and Peter. Since 2022, our team has grown to a steady eleven members.

Is there any additional information, special features, or upcoming events that you would like to share with players of ScreenPlay CCG?

Comico Games: We’re excited about the launch of our early access and eagerly anticipating player feedback to refine the game further. We’re planning to introduce a PvE campaign for one of our movies—a highly requested feature—along with more movies and game modes. The more support we receive, the easier it will be to achieve these milestones. We’re grateful for the support thus far and hope everyone can feel the passion and hard work we’ve put into making this game.

ScreenPlay CCG is a PvP Trading Card video game, developed and published by Comico Games. It was released on May 13, 2024, for PC.

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