PAX 07: The Eye of Judgment Interview of Judgment

The Eye of Judgment is coming. I played Sony Computer Entertainment Japan's card/video-game holographic mashup at PAX, and I'm somewhat ashamed to say I had a good time. It's foolish, but if someone were to walk in on me playing The Eye of Judgment by myself, I would be less embarrassed to be caught with my pants down, looking at some horrible Internet obscenity. Is that what Eye of Judgment means?

Regardless, Hasbro marketing director Christy Newton agreed to give me the details on the game, even after a grueling hour-long match in which I reclaimed some of the Shack's dignity editor-in-chief Chris Remo destroyed with five consecutive losses during his Comic-Con preview. Hasbro is a partner with SCEJ on the game, along with CCG giant Wizards of the Coast.

Shack: Who specifically is being targeted by this game? Are you aiming more for video gamers or card gamers?

Christy Newton: It really has two targets to go after and there's an appeal for both of them. For the trading card gamer, we've been to a lot of shows lately, and there's so much of a "wow" for them that they're loving it. I think a lot of them have fantasized this since they saw the Star Wars Chess game bringing that to life.

But the video gamers have a big appeal for this as well. We're seeing, one: they love the strategy play because there's not as much sort of strategy type video games out there. But it's also a completely new way to interact with their platform.

It's a little similar to Guitar Hero. It's not chasing, it's not shooting, it's not a twitch kind of factor. It's a completely new way to interface with your PS3, so that has huge appeal.

Shack: With the PS3 being the most expensive console already, and collectible card games being a fairly heavy investment for avid players, are you worried you won't be able to touch anyone outside of the wealthy-PS3-owner-and-CCG-player demographic?

Christy Newton: The price on the cards are already determined and they're right in line with what other trading cards would cost. There are only 110 cards in the first set, and every single one of them is either a creature or a spell. And your library being only 30 cards--the cost of entry on the cards is actually kind of less than half to play a game than what you would find on some of the other card games.

Shack: Do you have an estimate for the whole package including the game and Eye?

Christy Newton: So the bundled product--with the software that comes with the PlayStation Eye, the stand, the mat, the starter deck of 30 cards and a booster pack--the price hasn't been made public yet. We are hearing from Sony that it's going to have a slight premium on a PS3 title. Those have been standard for $60.

We're expecting it to be a really great value because not only are you getting $20 worth of cards in that bundle, but you're getting the PlayStation Eye, which will be sold standalone and will work with tons of other games going forward.

Shack: Could you explain exactly how online deck registration works?

Christy Newton: You actually have to take your 30 cards after you decide which cards you want in your deck. You're going to go into a deck-builder mode. It works really quickly--you just lay your cards down in front of the eye and you're going to register that deck.

Shack: Is there any mechanism keeping players from registering the same powerful card multiple times to increase the likelihood they'll draw it during the game?

Christy Newton: If your opponent was trying to cheat and take a rare card and say, "Oh look, I've got it once, I've got it twice, I've got it three times," it's not going to work. Any duplicates you have in your deck--and you could theoretically have three of anything unless you have a deck limit on it--you actually have to show those three cards all at the same time, and they'd register all at once.

And another thing they've done to make sure that your opponent wouldn't cheat is when you get into the game itself, the PS3 will actually tell you what you draw into your hand. So there's no stacking the deck.

Click to page 2 for info on deck limits, counterfeit cards, expansion distribution, and tournament play.

_PAGE_BREAK_ Shack: Are there actual deck limits for cards, or can you do 30 of a single card in a deck?

Christy Newton: There are a couple of cards that do have deck limits. I think we played today with the Cubics, which allow you to sacrifice the Cubic to summon anything. Those have a deck limit. There's only one Cubic per deck of 30 cards that you can play.

Otherwise there's a deck limitation of all creatures that you can only have three of the same card in your hand.

Shack: How does the Eye distinguish between a true card and say an illegitimate color copy of one on thick paper?

Christy Newton: You cannot color photocopy the cards and have them read. It has to do with the technology and how they're printed both. And that's really all I want to say about that in terms of that end of it.

I can promise you that on the Wizards of the Coast side of the business, obviously one of the first things we did was try to play around and break things. Ultimately, there's probably nothing in the world that can't be accomplished if someone wants to spend enough time to go break something down. I think the goal of it is, let's make it difficult enough that it prohibits people from cheating.

And truthfully, card games tend to be very social in nature. And we know that essentially shame keeps people from cheating. You show up with a photocopied card--I'm guessing your opponent's gonna have a little bit to say about that.

Shack: There's a little less shame when it's online. Actually a lot less shame. Look at Xbox Live.

Christy Newton: There is a little less shame, except that I think you'll find that it's going to be cumbersome enough and the card prices are low enough--for somebody to make the effort, it doesn't tend to be worth it.

Shack: How will you distribute expansions? Will you be able to download the new rules through PlayStation Network then buy booster packs separately?

Christy Newton: There's a couple of ways we'll see that happening. I think for sure you're going to find the expansion set data will be downloadable. Ultimately you're probably going to find--as we go forward--there will be sets that come out where you're going to want to get the disc again, just so it has all the data collected. And then cards will always be actually physical cards because you actually always have to have the physical cards to make the game work.

Shack: Do you mean there will be instances where you have to buy an Eye of Judgment expansion as a disc?

Christy Newton: There may be long-term. I'm looking story arcs later, where you're going to want--because there's so much data on it--you're probably going to want the disc. Obviously that isn't going to be priced as a full game. You'd always find that much more reasonably.

Shack: During Comic-Con, we were told Sony is looking into tournament support online. Are there any further plans in that area?

Christy Newton: For card games to get rolling, one of the things that's really important is to have a way to build community, and so we're looking at lots of way to leverage the technology to build community.

Tournaments are one way to build the sense of community, but it's not the only way. And I think we're going to find with global online play from day one, you're going to be able to find someone to play and have those relationships online as a big part of it. Whether there are tournaments as we know them today with say Magic: The Gathering--to be determined. But definitely there will be that sense of community. There will be a lot of stuff at EyeOfJudgment.com that will sort of help them build that going forward.

Shack: Shacknews editor-in-chief Chris Remo had some difficulty distinguishing the different alignments and many indicators and numbers. Is there a possibility of cleaning up what's on the screen?

Christy Newton: I think once somebody explains to you what that is or you learn that in the startup rules, it tends to be really intuitive and simple. I think it's just a matter of kind of learning it once, and then you have enough cues as its written there. It's possible if no one explained what it was, it surely would be hard. You can actually always go back and look at the card, and you'll know how it plays.

Shack: Thank you.

Christy Newton: Sure.