Valve's Brad Muir answers your Shacknews Chatty questions about Artifact

The former Double Fine Productions staffer answers our queries about Valve's upcoming card game.

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Valve Software made waves last year during the Dota 2 International tournament by announcing Artifact, its first new game in more than five years by way of video teaser. The studio behind Half-Life, Portal, Team Fortress 2, and Left 4 Dead remains incredibly popular with PC gamers, despite the lack of new games. Artifact is an all-new card game that is being designed by Richard Garfield, the man who brought the world Magic: The Gathering. The Shacknews street team got a chance to speak with Valve Gameplay Programmer (and former Double Fine programmer) Brad Muir at Pax West 2018 and toss him some questions directly from the Shacknews Chatty.

Muir goes on to explain why Artifact offers opportunity and value to card gaming fanatics, the structure of the game’s business model, card variants, and more. He expressed optimism that the team hopes to have a solid, balanced game with a usable marketplace for end users. Muir also touches on the resurgence of board games in recent years and making sure Artifact is easily playable with your friends.

Valve expects to launch Artifact by the end of 2018. For more videos, including gameplay and interviews, visit the Shacknews and GamerHub.tv YouTube channels. You may also want to check out our 2018 video game release date guide for a list of upcoming games and the dates you can expect them to arrive.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

From The Chatty

  • reply
    September 17, 2018 12:45 PM

    Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Valve's Brad Muir answers your Shacknews Chatty questions about Artifact

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      September 17, 2018 1:00 PM

      This game seems like a blatant money grab. A digital card game where you have to buy all cards with real money, and the market place for selling/buying is also controlled by Valve, for which they charge a fee.

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        September 17, 2018 1:23 PM

        It is no different than most of the other card games. And the Steam market might actually end up saving people money depending on how common/expensive rare cards are.

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        September 17, 2018 1:27 PM

        You've just described Magic: The Gathering Online which has been going since 2002 and accounts for like 30-50% of all MTG card sales.

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        September 17, 2018 1:45 PM

        Your opinion bores me. The TCG community at large is excited for this game. It appears to have a high skill cap with tons of money on the line at the biggest tournaments. Can't wait!

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          September 17, 2018 1:55 PM

          If it gives you something to look forward to, and be excited about I'm happy for you (not being sarcastic).

          But I still think that this type of monetization model is predatory and disgusting.

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            September 17, 2018 2:31 PM

            Basically, people who play card games are used to buying packs.

            Artifact is actually quite generous by genre standards b/c they only have three levels of rarity: common/uncommon/rare, and a rare is guaranteed in every pack. MtG has Mythics, HearthStone has Legendaries, etc, and those extra rarities dramatically increase what it takes to build play sets, specific decks, etc. That combined with a single marketplace to dump your excess duplicates (and eventually trading!) will keep singles prices down. Artifact will be dramatically cheaper to play than most of it's competitors, which is a big part of why I am promoting the game so hard.

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              September 17, 2018 3:25 PM

              huh, that's interesting, I didnt know that.

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              September 17, 2018 3:44 PM

              That sounds pretty cool. I always wanted to get into a TCG, but I've always been put off by the amount of money that goes into it. I was definitely one of those groans when when I saw the reveal trailer, but I'm kinda getting on board with it.

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                September 17, 2018 7:27 PM

                For what it's worth, I'm close to having a complete 100% collection of cards in The Elder Scrolls Legends (across all expansions) and I only ever spent five bucks on the Starter Pack back in the beta days.

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            September 17, 2018 4:40 PM

            Predatory? How?

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            September 17, 2018 4:53 PM

            Degrees matter. Here's Richard Garfield's thoughts on the model:

            https://m.facebook.com/notes/richard-garfield/a-game-players-manifesto/1049168888532667

        • DM7
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          September 17, 2018 3:30 PM

          I play Magic and this doesn't interest me. Different strokes etc etc.

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            September 17, 2018 3:32 PM

            That's fine! I just took exception to it being labeled a cash grab.

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        September 17, 2018 2:20 PM

        What if I told you there was another game where you either bought packs with real money or thousands of hours for packs? Afterwards you could not redeem your cards for money and your money/time investment had zero value.

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        September 17, 2018 2:46 PM

        Even as a cash grab, it would impress me more if valve's weird collectable steam card thing was a bigger deal, as a sign that they know how to run promote and extract decent money from that kind of store.

        I'm not convinced that they can come in and just grab a chunk of blizzard's Hearthstone money and they just don’t seem to have the massive investment and focus and.. just the appearance that they're going to go all in and do absolutely everything possible to make it work at the maximum possible quality, like blizzard does. It's been too long since Valve launched a big product, so we can't guess what a "valve version of Hearthstone" or "valve version of MTGO" would be like.

        Once it's fully out and launched, we'll see where it REALLY sits compared to the existing ones and the new MTG title.. And it still could be great but die because it doesn't get people to play it instead of HS or MTGO...

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        September 17, 2018 8:04 PM

        Money Grab? You can actually sell your cards for Money. I'd say Hearthstone and TESL is more a a money grab than this game. Their Dust return rate is so terrible i refuse to play it.

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          September 18, 2018 6:35 AM

          Im skeptical any of the cards will hold value over a few pennies expect top tier rare cards. Itll be interesting to see though

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      September 17, 2018 1:42 PM

      A solid seven minutes of that consisted of just my questions, including the joke question I didn't expect you to read! Glad you got a laugh out of it though, Asif. :)

    • Zek
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      September 17, 2018 1:46 PM

      I don't think their business approach is necessarily any more exploitative than the competition. It's just a saturated market, and there's a broader trend going on of backlash against lootbox-style monetization in general. It's really not a good time to be releasing a new CCG.

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      September 17, 2018 2:17 PM

      Artifact looks genuinely marvelous from a strategic perspective. So many top CCG players are gushing about the depth offered by the game.

      I've watched beta testers do replay analyses from games at PAX, and the most striking part is how often they feel there isn't a single correct move on any given turn.

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        September 17, 2018 2:40 PM

        It's going to be glorious. :)

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        September 17, 2018 3:07 PM

        I saw it at PAX live, it was interesting to see that valve is trying to add depth via "laning" and what not. it definitely is adding some new layers to CCG.

        one night I was watching good ol' kripp play hearthstone. I didn't know there's overlays that effectively automate the game. I wonder what/how valve will deal with that.

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          September 17, 2018 3:10 PM

          It has lots of tabletop game aspects to it. Its not quite like Summoner Wars but it is bringing in some of that tactical board game element

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      September 17, 2018 3:01 PM

      In other Artifact news, Valve has started doing daily card reveals in the run up to the beta and game release.

      https://twitter.com/PlayArtifact/status/1041795476956180481

      People in the beta say Duel is one of the best cards in the game, and Gank looks to be similarly powerful. Anything that lets you engage in combat prior to the combat phase is extremely powerful. The best case scenario with Gank is you execute a 2-for-1 trade in a single round, eliminating an enemy hero from another lane before your opponent can react. That means when the game shifts over to that lane, they may be completely locked out of playing any spells.

      https://twitter.com/Savjz/status/1041022668282068993

      Tidehunter's signature spell, Kraken Shell, is the first card we've seen that manipulates initiative. This card sort of breaks the rules of the game. Initiative is a system wherein after you play a card, you pass initiative to your opponent. If they play a card in return, you regain initiative. You can then pass and guarantee you play a card first in the next lane. Kraken Shell makes it so you can both be the last player to play a card in your lane and the first in the next lane. Initiative can be game deciding as it lets you play removal spells like Gank or board wipes like Annihilation before your opponent can reacct.

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      September 17, 2018 3:05 PM

      when did Brad Muir end up at Valve? THREE YEARS AGO? whelp, I clearly missed that memo. Good on you Brad.

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        September 17, 2018 3:08 PM

        And Richard Garfield joined them in 2014. They've been hashing out Artifact for a while now

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          September 17, 2018 3:12 PM

          isn't he just a contractor? I don't think he's an FTE for anyone, he's got another new physical card game coming out this winter

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            September 17, 2018 3:44 PM

            Started contracting for them in 2014

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        September 17, 2018 3:11 PM

        <3 Brad. He's a class act human being

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      September 17, 2018 3:46 PM

      Wasn’t Brad Muir with Double Fine? Didn’t know he’s at Valve now.

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      September 17, 2018 5:09 PM

      Great interview, nice to hear from Valve.

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      September 17, 2018 5:28 PM

      Honestly I think the biggest gripe I have with this game is the actual "structure" of it.

      - When the camera zooms out, it's just three squares. Why not have the game be played on a map of Dota? Like, when the camera zooms out, it's a rotated-square of the Dota map, and the three sections where cards meet are where the river crosses the lanes. Just seems so stale when it's 3 hearthstone-arenas stitched together.

      - The fact that the little goblin picks up the deck and moves it from arena to arena is awkward. I get that it's there to communicate to the player "Hey dummy, this is the same deck of cards." but why have the deck be "in world" in the first place? The deck could be intangible in the UI? I don't know. Just seems... weird.

      - I don't really like Hearthstone--tried it twice and couldn't get past the tutorials without cringing from the chatty humor or just being bored--so I don't... um... see why this is a game that needs to exist? Like, at least Adventure Time: Card Wars is both simpler and cuter than Hearthstone, and feels *different* yet offers a similar dueling TCG format. This game tho... ehhhhhhh

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        September 17, 2018 5:43 PM

        "so I don't... um... see why this is a game that needs to exist?"

        This is one of the most tiresome arguments on the internet.

        Not everything is made for everyone. If something popular isn't for you then whatever, move on. Twilight isn't my thing but I don't begrudge the Twihards at all for their fandom, whatever. "I don't like a thing so I don't see why it should exist" is such a narcissistic view of products.

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        September 18, 2018 5:47 AM

        There’s an adventure time card game?

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      September 17, 2018 7:55 PM

      "Whats Half-Life?"

      Nice little off the cuff ribbing there. Well done!

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      September 17, 2018 10:23 PM

      Thanks for asking my question!