In 2012, bad news rang in the ears of card gaming and RPG fans, as, after 10 years, the original Ateil was being switched off, shut down and packaged up, along with its battle grids, ranged fighting and addictive gameplay. Now, in 2013, a star-studded group of the original game’s developers are teaming up to make Alteil: Horizons, the next best card-based RPG.
Introducing, Alteil: Horizons
What Alteil: Horizons is promising is something more than what you think you know about card gaming. It’s more than the left and right table view and it’s far more than the real life card gaming that’s used as a trope in every ‘nerd’ featuring television show on the air. Instead, Alteil: Horizons is promising fast-paced energetic gameplay that’s the very best part of card-gaming and RPG games combined. Alteil: Horizons is guaranteed to sap away your freetime as you willingly hand over hours to playing decks and taking on other players. Not only this, but the game uses classic RPG elements, such as HP, attack, defense and range stats, along with a battle grid, making it more like Final Fantasy than a traditional card-based game. These RPG elements also allow you to strategically take out your enemy and climb up the rankings like an NBA basketball team with a court full of LeBrons.
However, the teams, Apocoplay, which is based in America and a Japanese team who worked on the original Alteil game need our help to get this off the ground. Alteil: Horizons currently has a Kickstarter and both the game and the funding is near complete, being worked on by some of the biggest names in the business, including those who have worked on Final Fantasy X, Godzilla, Legend of Zelda and Tekken 5, just to name a few.
So, to explain just why Alteil: Horizons is worth it, we’ve interviewed the game’s project leader himself, Sean Molyneaux, to tell you more.
Interview – Alteil: Horizons Project Leader (and Apocoplay COO), Sean Molyneaux
J Station X: Why do you think card and RPG games are so unique in terms of their community?
Well, it’s been proven that card and RPG gamers are 11.3% more awesome by volume according to science(!), so there’s that. Seriously though, there a number of elements here. RPG gamers often are small-team tactics types, everything from Final Fantasy Tactics to traditional Fight/Run/Spell/Item RPG combat can be seen that way – but there are plenty of larger-scale strategy variants and the now venerable action/RPG. What they all have in common is they are games that reward thinking and planning, and of course are set in fantastical (not always fantasy) worlds designed to stimulate the imagination.
Of course, card games have all this as well, and they add a serious level of competition into the mix. So, there are your basic elements. An intelligent, imaginative, and competitive community. Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? I think any community built on those three pillars is guaranteed to be interesting and unique.
JSX: The card gaming and RPG genres can be hard for some to get into, how is Alteil: Horizons more accessible to players?
Well, first of all, this is turning into the year of the digital card game. One of the reasons we decided now was the perfect moment to re-launch Alteil, which has existed in some form for 10 years now. There are hundreds of recent games described as “part card game, part… board game, fighting game, puzzle game, matching game, social game, MMO game, etc.” Most people would call Alteil Horizons “part turn-based tactics game, part card game.” With players having so much exposure to genre variants and built up familiarity with some of the mechanics (I guess half the mechanics if you want to call everything a 50/50 split) I’m not sure we can call digital card games of any kind inaccessible anymore.
But, that aside, Alteil Horizons takes a cue from turn-based tactics games in that regard. If you look at games like Final Fantasy Tactics, the first arc of missions were always designed to ease you into the games mechanics. You didn’t have access to the dozens of spells and skills your units could use right away you slowly gain them. We’ll be introducing a single-player story mode where you will be introduced to the gameplay in much the same way, instead of clunky rulebooks or tutorials.
JSX: For the team, what are the most exciting or unique aspects of gameplay?
First of all, the deck-building and combo potential is very deep, like full blown TCG deep. There are over a 1000 cards, four spheres, and dozens of class, race and allegiance subtypes. Not that this is anything special in itself, it’s that foundation in the context of a game with tactical field play that’s really cool.
My top aspect or mechanic is hard to pin down, but I have a few favorites. The most basic one is the action menu. Each unit on the field has a turn, fastest unit goes first. On that unit’s turn an action menu pops up, offering Attack, Rest, Move and other options for the card’s unique skills or spells. As opposed to a lot of card games where you pick who blocks and who attacks and then let them all go, here the feeling is pure RPG.
When you play a card or unit in Alteil, you spend resources, called Spell Points. When that unit dies and goes to the cemetery, you get the SP back you spent on it. In practice, if you have a front-line tank your Rival finally beats down, you’re given the option to give him or her a nasty surprise. Heal that unit, and it costs you resources. Let it die and go to the cemetery, and you’ll get a big bump in resources that will let you play a big unit or use a big spell. In other words, it may seem counter intuitive to let your main blocker die, but that move could let you move the duel in a whole new direction.
[Editor’s note – watch the video above for more on Alteil: Horizons’ gameplay!]
JSX: Can you explain how the funding will help and why the team chose to go the crowdfunded route?
The money generously donated by our backers will be used to complete the game’s programming, and then setting up the servers and infrastructure needed to run the game. We’ve been working out of our bank accounts for about a year now, and reached the point where we needed funding. We decided to do crowdfunding, because we were worried that getting investors or publishers involved too early in the process would give them too much influence and turn our game down the dark road of “pay to win.”
JSX: One of the biggest draws to RPG games is that they give a player the ability to be whatever role or character they want, regardless of their real-life background or identity. How well do you think Alteil embodies that aspect?
This is where the “imagination” element comes in, and it will be a key aspect, especially in single-player story mode. A lot of digital card dueling games have some element on the other side of the field you’re trying to capture or destroy in order to win. Like, you need to clear out the enemy cards so you can charge his/her base or statues or gates or whatever. We don’t have that in Alteil. We went a little old school on this one. You’re trying to clear the enemy field so you can attack your rival summoner directly… and he’s trying to do the same to you. Your customizable Avatar is the final target of your enemy monsters, it represents your last Life Point and you don’t lose until a creature has slashed right across you.
[The team] were absolutely focused on making your side of the field closest to you – the bottom of the screen — and your rival’s opposite – at the top of the screen. The battle area is also a circle, suggesting you are playing against someone on the other side of the table. That personal touch, the feeling of being a participant in the duel, playing the role of a summoner (we call them Iczers) was something we felt was fundamental to the game.
Thanks Sean for a great interview!
Apocoplay will be releasing Alteil: Horizons on Windows, Android, iOS, HTLM5 and Linux, with hopes to bring the game to PS4 and Xbox One should they achieve their stretch goals.
You can chip in to the Alteil: Horizons kickstarter by clicking that link.