There's a distinct advantage of having designers do paper prototyping as opposed to programming the functionality first, then testing it. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, paper prototyping gives us an immediate view on card and board mechanics. If something doesn't work or is to powerful, we can take a pencil and cross out a number and add a new one or write in a new ability. Then when it is all said and done we can give it to the programmers and they can make it work in engine.
Let me rephrase that, when we, the designers, create something new we need to be able to disect in a way that makes sense to a programmer. When we pitched the idea of Intercept, which forces the target enemy attacker to itself when adjacent to an allied defender, we not only game them the definition but we broke down what it did. We discussed the variables and conditions that need to met before the ability can be triggered. We discussed what the Intercepting minion can do during the effect of the ability and if other abilities (Counter) can be chained with it. Then we discussed what happens after the ability was used and if we could continously use the ability (at first you could and it was very over powered).
So after the disection, the programmers can give an honest evaluation of whether or not this ability is feasible and the decision was made to move ahead and use the ability. In a perfect world, this is how game development works but alas we do not live in such a world. The Intercept phenomena remains an enigma to us as the ability could get to a working state but then break after an engine update or some other unforeseeable disaster. The most common bug we would run into was during the ability was in play. The screen would lock up at the Attacker/Defender screen and the confirmation of dice to defend with would not activate. Programmers reviewing the code would look at it and question "why is this not working?" including engine scripters.
After many hours of Intercept failing us, we decided to essentially put the ability on hold. We don't want to get rid of it but we can't waste more time on it then we already have. So in our next blog post we will discuss what we did next and why just dropping the ability would not cut it.