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  Mechanic #132 - Cardcraft
Posted: 10/06/11

A combination of card metroidvania and Minecraft. An open world, made of cards, that you can mine for resources and build how you please.

  It's Minecraft, But With Cards



Fig 132.1 - A world made up of cards.


The world is a rectangular grid of cards, with each card representing a "room". You can move your character between cards, where reasonable. You can move left or right between open rooms, but you can't move up unless there is a staircase or if you are outside and can fly.



Fig 132.2 - A zoomed out view of the map.


The basic premise is that you can modify the world by adding and removing cards from on top of other cards. This is how you gather resources and build structures. The rules for these actions are dependent on the card.

  Gathering Resources

Resource gathering is the process of removing a card on top and collecting it. However, the rules for doing this are different for each type of card.



Fig 132.3 - Resources stacked on top of each other.


In this example, the block next to the player character has three "dirt" resource cards on top. In order to harvest "dirt" cards, the player must have a pickaxe and must be in the card/room immediately adjacent. Harvesting takes a certain amount of time (like 3 seconds), and the player then takes the top card off the stack. If the stack only has one card in it, it can not be harvested.

Digging does not create tunnels. Those are created through the crafting/building component.

When you pop a card off the stack, you collect the resources listed on the card. For example, you get 2 stone for every "dirt" card featuring stones on it that you harvest.




Fig 132.4 - Use resources to buy cards.


There's not really a crafting mechanic. Instead, you use the resources that you've collected to purchase cards from different decks. Each deck will be themed to a specific purpose. For instance, there might be a mining pick deck which is just filled with mining picks - but also the occasional rare special pick cards are in the deck. You spend the resources and get a random card, which might be exactly what you want or it might be better or even worse.

Each deck is considered a "crafting recipe" and is usually only a few cards deep, but there are a huge variety of decks. When you use up an item (like when a pickaxe randomly breaks), it just goes to the bottom of the recipe deck.

There should be some sort of way to search cards. Perhaps if you spend double the resource cost, you can look at the top five cards and pick the one you want, reshuffling the rest back into the deck.


In addition to tools and items, there are also crafting decks for rooms, where each crafting deck may contain all the types of rooms from a particular type. For instance, a castle deck would have a bunch of castle themed rooms (gothic staircases, dungeons, throne rooms, treasure rooms), while an underwater base deck would have scifi base stuff (control room, sick bay, diving suit room, etc). The simplest deck is a tunnel deck, which trades dirt for tunnel cards that can be used to build underground pathways.



Fig 132.5 - Placing a room sometimes has limited options.


To build a room once you have its card, you simply place it on top of an adjacent location. However, like harvesting, each card will have rules that dictate where it can be placed. For instance, a castle room might say:

  • Must be placed next to another castle room.
  • May not be built on top of empty sky.
  • May not be placed next to water.
  • May be placed above a castle room with a staircase in it.

You'll notice that you can place a castle room without already having a castle room placed. For castles and other contiguous structures, there will be an entrance way room which can be placed down first, from which you can add on new rooms. Similarly, you can not start the second floor until you first find a staircase room and place it.

Finally, room cards are considered resources too and can be harvested with the proper tools. If the rules are met for harvesting, pop the top card off the stack and collect the resources stated on the card. However, there might be explicit harvesting rules for rooms. For instance, castle rooms can not be harvested if there is a castle room either below it or on both sides of it (if it is the last card in a stack). So, to harvest a castle room, you need to start top down, outside in. No removing rooms in the middle of a castle, leaving a big hole.

However, you don't have to remove a room. You can simply build over it. You can remove castle rooms from anywhere if it isn't the only castle room on the stack.


Rather than just being scenery, many rooms actually provide some service. For instance, in order to access certain crafting decks, you may need to be in a specific room (a weapon shop room allows you to access various weapon crafting decks, while an architect's office allows you to access building craft decks). Storage rooms allow you to keep cards you aren't currently using in storage. A sauna room may heal your character over time. Teleporter rooms allow you to move between other tele porter rooms. And so on.

Some cards will spawn resource cards on top of them randomly. For instance, a dirt patch may occasionally spawn stone resource cards on the stack. Some stacks move in a predictable order. For instance, a forest clearing may spawn a forest clearing with one tree on it. Then, some time later, if that card is still there, spawn a forest clearing with two trees on it. Harvesting the stack will pop off the top card, returning the forest clearing to having only one tree. These farm cards can be collected and placed to manage resources without searching high and low for them.

Some rooms can be upgraded by having more powerful versions built on top. For instance, a large blacksmith room can only be placed on top of an already existing small blacksmith room, and it will open up new crafting decks. An even more powerful "Master Blacksmith" can be built on top of large blacksmith rooms as well.



Copyright 2007-2014 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.