I have never found customizable card games such as Magic: The Gathering all that compelling. I’ve played it a bit and still have some cards lying around somewhere but was never that impressed by them.
Now along comes an interesting experiment — a CCG where you can design your own cards on a web site and then print them out and include them in your deck. The game is called DragonElves and is being produced by Lester Smith, who wrote the Dark Conspiracy role playing game, and Jim Ward, who worked on the Dragonball Z CCG.
Here is how the game works: you buy a game collector’s tin that comes with 32 cards, a rulebook and a scratch-off coupon. The coupon contains a code worth anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 points. Take the code and go to the DragonElves web site, where you enter the code and the points are then added to your account.
From the web site, you can design your own cards with different images, text, and abilities, with each of the cards costing points — the more powerful the card, the more points it costs. Then just print the cards out on your printer and you are good to go.
While this is an interesting experiment, there are a couple problems that have to be overcome (and no indication how they will be overcome).
The obvious question is how will DragonElves prevent people from mocking up their own cards using Photoshop? Who needs points when you can just import the cards and images into a graphics program and make your own? (Sounds like a good market — how about a free online CCG a la some of the free RPGs out on the net).
The card design tools also need to be much improved. Maybe it is just because it’s in beta testing, but the tools used on the DragonElves site are very unfriendly at the moment.
Third, I wonder if the current crop of color printers are up to the task, especially since most color inkjet ink runs on contact with water, which might be a big problem around the gaming table. Whether or not people are willing to print their own cards is another issue — something cool that DragonElves (or anyone) might do is mock up and sell blank CCG card-style paper for inkjets and/or color lasers. Now that would be cool.