Why Three Arenas?
Fighting on Three Fronts
We sat down recently to talk with lead designer David Eckelberry to ask him how the three Arenas became the concept that created the trading card game today.
Web: What was the original concept behind the Arenas and how early did that enter the development of the game.
David: I remember early on discussing the game with Richard Garfield and thinking about the concept of what a Star Wars card game should feel like. I remember thinking about the climactic battles at the end of Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace. I felt that a Star Wars game should try to capture the feeling of the end of those movies because that was the signature Star Wars conflict.
Web: What was it about the end of those movies that you felt would translate into the game?
David: If you go back and watch the end of those movies, you'll see that there are really three smaller conflicts that were interconnected. First you would see a massive iconic space battle that represented the great conflict. On the other end of the spectrum you have the very personal duel between the Jedi and the struggle between light and dark. In between you have all of the support characters fighting to help their side of the conflict tip the scales. So the concept of the Arenas was to capture those three struggles as part of the whole conflict.
Web: Did you ever consider alternate game directions besides the three Arenas?
David: At one point early in development, we considered making a game based solely on character battles, but it just made it very difficult to capture the entire scope of a Star Wars conflict.
Web: Once you decided to base the game on the three Arenas, did you set rules for how each would work?
David: What we really tried to do was define what each of the Arenas represented. The Character Arena would represent the main Characters with their flashy skills and tricks. The Space Arena would be the showcase for the larger dark side ships, versus the smaller, yet more unique, light side ships. The Ground Arena would be a place where support units could help turn the tide of the other Arenas.
Web: It would seem that because the Character Arena has all the flashy Characters, it has the highest level of complexity in the game. Do you intead to add more complexity to the other Arenas as well?
David: Well our goal with the Character Arena is to say that it will most likely always be the most complex simply for the fact that you are dealing with Characters with very different abilities. However, we are starting to introduce more strategic mechanics into the other Arenas in order to help them represent their flavor. For example, Accuracy, while great on characters, was really meant to boost the flavor of the smaller light side spacecraft. Intercept was also a concept born out of a need for more interesting Space mechanics.
Web: Do you feel that the Character Arena is the most important Arena then?
David: I would say that the Character Arena is important in that it allows you to fight those amazing duels between your favorite characters. With that said, we've found that the best strategy in winning the game revolves around a close synergy between your Space and Ground forces.
Web: What can we look forward to in the future?
David: Ah.. you'll just have to wait until January when we start showing preview cards. Until then, I can say that we're working towards adding new features and really fleshing out some of the things we've introduced with A New Hope. Meanwhile, I have a little poll for the players! (see below)
Web: Thanks for your time!
David: My pleasure.
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