Backyard Battles, an upcoming strategy game for iOS, Android and web browsers from independent studio Naked Sky, is merging the tactical gameplay of collectible card games with streamlined game design to offer an experience that is both deep and accessible.
The premise of the game looks at what happens when kids who have been raised on action movies and video games go outside to play. They build their own forts, they fire up their imagination, pretend they're superheroes and monsters and they start pretend-fighting. And that's when the strategy begins.
Players will be able to build a squad of characters (all of whom are children dressed in various costumes constructed from backyard scraps), equip them with imaginary weapons and go up against their opponent in turn-based, asynchronous matches. Players will have to defend their own forts while attacking the opponent's fort and squad.
The game draws inspiration from collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering, Duels of Champions and Yu-Gi-Oh, and players will have to approach the game with strategy and tact like they would in traditional card games. But the developers also wanted to make it more approachable.
"Part of our vision is we want to evolve the CCG so it's more approachable to more people."
"Part of our vision is we want to evolve the CCG so it's more approachable to more people," said designer and lead programmer Charles Morton during PAX Prime. "We think the mechanics in those games are amazing and really fun, but we've definitely seen people come up to our booth who probably would have never done so if it had said 'CCG' up the top.
"We want to evolve it into something that has broader appeal to people and potentially reach a whole new group of players."
Part of this evolution involves doing away with the cards themselves. According to Morton, traditional collectible cards tend to deal in abstract ideas. Cards can represent anything from objects to magic spells to terrain to actions. Backyard Battles deals with concrete objects that can be presented in the game as things the squad heroes can hold and use. For example, every turn a player will receive coins to spend on items. These items include a water soaker, which becomes a laser rifle in the child's imagination. Players can equip their squad with toys and objects found in the backyard by tapping on the object icons, and they can use their turn to attack, defend or repair their fort. The game retains the spirit of the collectible card game, but presents these concepts through animations and a simplified user interface.
There are currently upward of 20 heroes in the game, with each hero having different abilities. Co-founder and CTO of Naked Sky, Joshua Glazer told Polygon that the game currently has the robot hero class (which is represented by a kid in a cardboard box), a pirate, knight, sniper, fairy, dragon, fireman, businessman and hacker. Players will be able to build their squads from any combination of heroes, and they will also be able to build different forts to match different squads.
The game will launch later this year and players will be able to play asynchronously across all three launch platforms.