Philosophy of Bindstone

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Bindstone is a real time competitive game that you can play on your phone or on your computer. It is a game you can play casually if that is your inclination, but which encourages learning and mastery. It has been in development for over 2 years.

It can most succinctly be described as a member of the genre “Tug of War” defined by Castle Fight and later refined by Nexus Wars. These games pit two teams (either one or two players each) against each other on opposing sides of a map. Each team has a base, which, if destroyed, signals the end of the match and a loss for the team overrun. Each player can build structures which regularly spawn non-controllable allied units of different kinds (depending on the building). The units walk down the lane towards the opponent’s base and attack enemy units or use special abilities according to their individual AI.

Tug of war games have a sort of back and forth nature by which you choose units to counter your opponent and attempt to over-run their defenses. When you are doing well, the lane pushes towards their base, when you are being countered it can swing back towards you. It is pure strategy of the build order, reaction to the enemy strategy, and management of resources balancing late and early game goals which defines a good player.

Bindstone is similar to other games in its genre in many respects, and different in as many others. We are not making a clone.

League of Legends draws heavy influence from the original Warcraft 3 map DOTA, with an emphasis on streamlined gameplay and additional objective depth. It is with this spirit that Bindstone seeks to streamline and improve upon its genre, while also migrating to mobile.

A typical match may play out in this fashion:

  1. Before the game even begins, you customize your strategy by selecting 8 buildings in the same way you select your champion in a MOBA.
  2. Each building will start inactive on your side of the map around your goal “well”. Your buildings will not be attacked by enemy units.
  3. You and your opponent start with 100 mana (in game currency), as time passes that mana passively increases based on your income. Building upgrades can increase this passive income.
  4. You can spend mana to activate buildings. Activated buildings typically spawn units on a set interval, but each building has a unique function. Some may affect economy, or provide buffs, or cast spells instead.
  5. Once active, two additional upgrades for that building become available; you can only choose to invest in one. Upgrading a second time will spawn additional, or more powerful units.
  6. As buildings spawn units, and units fight against each-other, inevitably they will reach their goal. When a unit reaches an enemy well it will descend (leaving the playing field) and deal damage to the well’s owner.
  7. When enough of your units enter the enemy well you win! The round ends, the two players go their separate ways. Your account gets credited with experience, and you can tune your strategy and play again!

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I want to end with a ramble about monetization because I think mobile gaming is unfortunately synonymous with some frankly shitty business practices.

We’re a humble two person indie team.

Bindstone is a game without pay to win mechanics. You cannot buy stats or power-ups. Your Void building will be identical to every other person’s Void building. Like chess pieces, a pawn is a pawn, a knight is a knight. They do not level up or gain experience, they do not fuse. There are still collection elements, but the game itself is meant to be balanced such that you can play the weekly available buildings on rotation and still succeed at the highest level. You will not be handicapped or enhanced by paying money.

You can pay for visual upgrades to your buildings (skins). You can pay to permanently add a building to your collection, but you can also permanently unlock every building through regular play in a reasonable amount of time.

All too often when playing mobile games players are squeezed for money at the most frustrating points during gameplay. In decoration games this is often in the form of paying to advance a timer, or skip it entirely. Sometimes you are forced to purchase lives or wait for them to refill. Sometimes it’s nearly mandatory spamming of Facebook friends to progress.

These kinds of dissatisfying payment points are called “friction” and are ruthlessly balanced behind the scenes to be just annoying enough to make you consider paying, but hopefully not annoying enough to drive you to quit. There are entire network infrastructures and data scientists employed to ensure the level of player dissatisfaction is more helpful than harmful to the bottom line.

Bindstone represents our desire to present a game without artificially annoying friction. We hope to strike a good balance between funding our efforts, keeping servers up and running, and entertaining our players! Bindstone should be a game that people feel like sharing on their own rather than because you can’t play until you “message 10 friends about us”.

I want players to feel delight when they buy a building, or a skin. It should feel like buying a toy.

So that is the ambition of Bindstone. We have months of work to go before a demo. In the interim you can expect updates and game development articles on this site. If you’re excited about this game, please join our mailing list for exclusive beta access, skins, and details about our upcoming Kickstarter.

2 thoughts on “Philosophy of Bindstone

  1. Project X593

    This sounds like a much better approach to monetization than what you find everywhere in the mobile space. I rarely spend money on microtransactions, and when I do I only do it if I’m genuinely having fun with the game. I’ much rather see more people approach money like this! I’m also really looking forward to seeing more details on the game in the future!

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  2. Pingback: Bindstone: From 2D to 3D and Back Again! – Bindstone

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