At this years EGX, we sat down to talk to Andy Griffiths from Freejam Games, currently working on CardLife. The game has just launched on Steam. In the lead up to this we’ve discussed their community focused approach to developing games. CardLife is a creativity driven title that is aiming to evolve along with it’s player base.
Cliqist: What is CardLife?
Andy Griffiths: Fundamentally, it’s a survival game like Ark or Minecraft. You are spawning in the world with nothing, exploring, gaining new tools, hunting creatures. What we do at Freejam is, we release super early. We get feedback and then kind of iterate as we go, we released CardLife really early. We Developed it for about six months, and then we released it.
The big selling point is the connect the dots system. That editor is used to create weapons, tools, buildings. Create everything. As our game is online, we like to think that everything you see has been personalised. You’re drawing with a mouse. So if you want to make Barney the Dinosaur, the way the mouse movement works means you do things a bit differently. It won’t be the same as another Barney.
Are you aiming for a community based game, like Robocraft?
Yeah, 100%. Robocraft came out in 2014, about 6 of us made it. We released it really early, and we developed with the community. We have 30 million registered players of Robocraft. We’re aiming for the same for CardLife. Fundamentally at Freejam when we develop games, we like to think we’re jamming with the community. We’re collaborating with them. With Robocraft we did that to a reasonable amount of success, but with CardLife we want to go further.
With Robocraft you couldn’t mod at all. We couldn’t have anyone making things for it, because why would you buy a cosmetic when someone could make a cooler one for free? CardLife is not free to play, so we can be much freer. All of our game properties are exposed. We are trying to make a survival mod platform as well as making a survival game.
The Card Sky is Falling
What sort of thing will the “world changing events” be?
Events actually came from an idea from our lead designer, Rich. He always liked it in MMOS when you had like world ending events that would mark the transition from one era to another. At the moment in CardLife we have so many different buildings made by players. One guy made this giant domineering statue. Another makes inverted Pyramids. We didn’t really understand how, apparently he did it with scaffolding. Anyway, we’ll do a server reset before the Steam launch and then we aren’t doing anymore. But we will be doing world ending events, probably in time with updates. Marking new eras.
Will these separate eras be on separate servers or as a sort of progression?
We haven’t decided yet! We have multiple ideas. One is “hey there’s a portal in this island, so you can go through to another island”. Or we have thought of another, where biomes are orbiting this big central structure that you can see.
We’ve got quite a few bugs in the game that we want to fix first. We just took the game off sale over the last month. We told them “Hey were going to be taking the game down for a few weeks, we’re really sorry but we’ve got to do it.” They were super, super, happy about it. Which is bizarre cause we are restricting access, but they know we’re doing it to make the game better.
Griefing for Important Purposes
What will the single player experience be?
You will still need to have an active internet connection whenever you play. That’s a DRM thing. The game is quite cheap, so we have to make sure we’re protecting ourselves. You can play on your own dedicated server, single player, never talk to anyone else if you want.
We’ll be adding PVP and PVE servers. One of our lead producers is one of the biggest griefers in CardLife at the moment. I try to tell him not, and he still does it. We did an experiment. We told Louie, to go into the game and try and kill as many people as you can and see what their response was.
After it had happened we told people who he was. It was just to gauge the response. To see how people react to others deliberately griefing them. We found the response was actually quite good. They didn’t like the relentlessness of it, but they did want interactions like that. So that led us to say, let’s do PVP servers.
The Ultimate Cardboard Sandbox
With griefers running around in the servers, will there be a creative mode outside that?
Yes, there will be! The creative mode allows you to create whatever you want with unlimited resources. Use the game as the ultimate sandbox, a cardboard sandbox.
Are there some limits to the Connect the Dots system? Weird Shapes that break it?
There’s defiantly not enough primitive shapes in there at the moment. We do want to add more complexity. Because it is, I wouldn’t say it’s restrictive, but it is a little buggy. There will be times where you’ve done a complete house. You’ve got one wall to place but for some reason it won’t let you. There’s things like that that we want to fix and be upfront with people about the quality of the game.
It is early access, it is alpha. If you’re looking for a 100% polished experience like you’d get on the PS4. Like Destiny 2, that game is incredibly polished but it’s really restrictive. CardLife isn’t anywhere near as polished as that, but you have so much more freedom to do whatever you want. I think early access gives us that flexibility.
Is there a mac version coming?
What I will tell you is that our CEO has a mac and he usually gets what he wants. So at some point we will do it, but we have other development priorities at the moment. Getting rid of all those bugs, adding other features.
We’re trying to add Raids, traps and Dungeons in the future. The way that we work is really really fluid. We’re a really small development team, there’s 5 of us. So we always have to think about the best way to use our resources.
It’s early days?
Yeah. It’s definitely early days.
CardLife is available now on Steam