The team at Spiritwalk Games are all members of the unique social landscape that is Twitch’s streaming community. For their new project, Shardbound, they knew they wanted to design something that would give Twitch Streamers and their viewers a way to experience the game together. They dubbed this unique social metagame, the Shardfall System.
Shardbound’s core gameplay focuses on tactical, collectible card battle mechanics. Players engage in competitive 1v1 matches, utilizing a deck of minions and spells. When played, the cards summon a 3D character onto the map. The 3D battlefield adds tactical considerations such as line-of-sight, cover, high ground, and map layout for additional combat depth.
The Shardfall System takes typical PvP matchmaking aspects a step further. Players can select different online streamers to interact with to complete special objectives. The overworld view of Sharbound allows players to explore a collection of floating islands, each one representing a different Twitch Streamer. These Twitch Shardfall’s have special objectives and content crafted specifically for viewer interaction.
Getting All Up In Your Stream
Some of the potential objectives include; submitting a deck for the streamer to use in battle, entering streamer hosted tournaments, helping a streamer conquer another Shardfall, or even a chance to go head to head in a match against the streamer.
Competitive collectible card games (Hearthstone for example) are a major draw online. It’s really no wonder Spiritwalk chose this genre for Twitch integration. The 3D characters and maps look great and keep the game fast paced and fun to watch.
How Much Do You Wanna Win?
Since a large part of gameplay revolves around collecting units, some of this has been monetized. Namely, you can collect resources by raiding Shardfalls which you then use to recruit new units. Conversely, you could just purchase “Boxes” and be granted a random unit or spell. Worth mentioning since this could potentially shift the competitive nature of the game to the benefit of those willing to shell out more money on boxes.
It’s interesting to see gaming returning to a more social experience through streaming and online play. Still, I’m a bit confused about some of the ways Shardbound has integrated these interactions. Some of the Twitch objectives feel a little forced. At the very least they are highly dependent on gaining a streamer’s favor so they interact with you, allowing you to complete the mission. Sure, it’s in a streamer’s best interest to interact with their audience, but this feels less like an interaction and more like an obligation. To be fair, I might just not be hip enough to understand the allure.
The Shardbound Kickstarter had already crushed its $50,000 funding goal, and the campaign only started yesterday. The funding allows the devs to bring the game to “a true public alpha phase” via Steam Early Access. All backers will be granted access to the ongoing, private pre-alpha version as well. Even if (like me) you don’t fully understand or appreciate the Twitch integration, the strategic aspects of the base game could still be worth a look.