Interviews

Games with AI Avatars and Self-written Narratives with Parallel Studios

An exclusive interview with Kohji Nagata who is Head Of Game Design at Parallel Studios, building Parallel.

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Eliza Crichton-Stuart

Head of Operations

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In our most recent exclusive interview, we sat down with Kohji Nagata (also known as Mr. Gone) who is Head Of Game Design at Parallel Studios, building Parallel. In this article, we dive into the intricacies of Parallel's flagship TCG and its groundbreaking AI-powered simulation game, Parallel Colony.

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A Unique TCG Experience

Parallel, as described by Mr. Gone, is a competitive Trading Card Game (TCG) that takes inspiration from beloved classics like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Hearthstone, Magic: The Gathering, and Pokemon. In Parallel, players craft their decks, select a faction known as a "parallel," and choose a "paragon" to lead their deck into thrilling 1v1 battles. The objective? Reduce your opponent's life total to zero using your custom-built deck.

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What sets Parallel apart from its counterparts is its intricate complexity, designed to appeal to traditional card game enthusiasts. Our team wanted to create a game that combines depth with accessibility, resonating with players who appreciate the intricacies of gameplay.

A Unique Twist on Card Game Mechanics

The mechanics of Parallel introduce a breath of fresh air into the TCG genre. Players start by selecting one of five factions, each offering its distinct flavor. These factions are further enhanced by the choice of a "paragon" that provides both passive and active abilities, adding depth and strategy to gameplay.

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What's particularly captivating is Parallel's universal card pool, a gray area that spans across factions and includes intriguing cards like gun runners, pirates, and profiteers. Players craft their decks by combining cards from their chosen parallel and the universal card pool, allowing for diverse and unpredictable gameplay experiences.

The Birth of the Banking System

Mr. Gone shared interesting insights into the game's development. The innovative banking system, a core feature of Parallel, was not an afterthought but the initial spark that ignited the game's creation. This system allows players to utilize any card in their deck as energy, revolutionizing the traditional mana systems seen in other TCGs and adding a layer of strategic depth.

The approach of the team at Parallel was to create a game they themselves would love to play without compromising on complexity. This philosophy has struck a chord with players seeking depth and originality in their card game experiences.

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The banking system was actually the first idea that came to me. I was presented with the opportunity to design a game for Parallel, and I had a very tight timeframe. The idea for the banking system came to me in the middle of the night, just days before the presentation. It felt like the right starting point, and I built the game around that concept. While other games have adopted similar ideas since, we were among the first to implement it, so I'm proud of our innovation.

Balancing Patches and Asset Ownership

Balancing patches are a crucial aspect of any card game, especially those involving NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). Mr. Gone emphasized the importance of maintaining a fair and enjoyable game while respecting player ownership of their assets. Parallel's approach leans toward buffing cards rather than devaluing them, with a strong commitment to the game's integrity. This approach aligns with the idea of keeping the game competitive and engaging.

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Balancing patches are indeed crucial. Fortunately, our community has been understanding when it comes to balance changes. We aim to err on the side of buffing cards rather than devaluing them, as it feels better for players. However, the game's integrity is our top priority. While it may not always be pleasant for players who've invested heavily in certain cards, we believe that ensuring the game remains enjoyable and competitive is crucial. It's similar to the concept of banning cards in physical card games like Magic: The Gathering. We'd rather adjust cards to keep them playable than let the game become unbalanced.

Esports and Community-Driven Growth

Parallel envisions a future where esports and competitive play thrive within its community. While they plan to hold their own tournaments with prize pools, Mr. Gone emphasized that the growth of esports should primarily stem from the community's initiative. Parallel aims to support grassroots events, provide prizes, and enhance the competitive experience with features like a spectator mode and 3v3 competitive play.

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We're going to hold our own tournaments with prize pools. However, I don't think we should be the sole driving force behind the esports side of things. What we'd like to do is, when we see communities hosting esports events, we want to help, add prizes, and boost awareness. If a school or some collegiate organization wants to get involved, we'll support them in any way possible. We're also adding a spectator mode, and working on a 3v3 mode for competitive play. 

Parallel Colony and AI 

Parallel's future looks promising, with several exciting features in the pipeline. The introduction of automated tournaments, similar to those in games like Rocket League, will provide players with competitive avenues to showcase their skills. A spectator mode will make it easier for esports enthusiasts to follow the action. Monthly card releases through the battle pass will keep the meta fresh and dynamic.

Additionally, Parallel Colony, the AI-powered game within the Parallel ecosystem, is something to keep tabs on. Players will navigate survival challenges in a parallel colony with an AI companion, forming unique and unpredictable outcomes based on their decisions and interactions with the AI.

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I'd describe it as a mix of Black & White, The Sims, and Among Us. You don't have direct control over the AI colonists, and they may not always follow your instructions. The goal is to earn their trust. If you fail collectively as a colony, it gets destroyed, and you start anew. There's an attachment to these characters, which is exciting. We'd love to see it evolve into something akin to RimWorld, with a larger, expansive world. But for now, it's contained, and we're watching it like a fishbowl, adjusting as needed.

In Parallel Colony the longer your colony thrives, the rarer the items you find, which are also NFTs. But you don't control the colonists directly; you guide them like a superego, influencing their decisions. It's about building a relationship with your AI, and the outcomes will be fascinating.

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Right now, we have separate colonies, each with its own Dungeon Master AI governing them. Periodically, we push changes to all the colonies, allowing us to observe how the game reacts. It's like a controlled experiment. We check if items created by the AI are balanced and make adjustments if necessary. Keeping it contained helps us study and adjust before expanding. The AI's response is unpredictable, and we want to see how it plays out. It's an exciting exercise in uncharted territory.

Interoperability and Asset Ownership

Parallel envisions a world where assets can crossover between different games within its ecosystem. The concept of replication allows players to create echoes of their cards for trading and use in various games. 

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There will definitely be crossover. However, keep in mind that these are early days. We've introduced the concept of replication in our TCG. If you own a special edition or first edition card and accumulate enough experience on it, along with some prime (our ERC-20 token), you can create a copy of that card, an "echo," to buy, sell, or trade on the open market.

For instance, players can choose to replicate a card for play in Parallel or replicate an associated item for use in Parallel Colony. This cross-game asset system represents a core principle in the NFT space, promoting flexibility and ownership.

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In the case of Colony, we've created corresponding 3D assets for each card. So, when you replicate a card, you might have the option to choose whether to replicate the card as an echo for play in Parallel or use the experience and prime to replicate the associated item for use in Colony. 

Final Thoughts 

In the coming months, Parallel enthusiasts can look forward to automated tournaments, a spectator mode, and monthly card releases through the battle pass. The AI-powered game, Parallel Colony, will continue its playtesting phase, offering players exciting experiences with their AI companions. 

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Parallel is carving a unique path in the world of web3 gaming, offering players a complex yet accessible card game experience while pushing the boundaries of innovation with AI in Parallel Colony. With a commitment to balancing gameplay and respecting player ownership, Parallel is poised to become a standout in the world of web3 gaming. Don't miss out on the exciting journey ahead make sure to stay up to date by checking out the Parallel game page on our website.


InterviewsExclusive

updated:

October 12th 2023

posted:

October 3rd 2023

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