Blood Magic is a 2D Unity game that I started simply with the hope of making a deck building game. It was then developed further over the course of a Manchester Metropolitan University lockdown game jam. The entire game took around a weeks time over the course of around two and a half weeks in late April 2020, and can be found on my itch.io page.

In many ways Blood Magic it’s a fairly standard deck building game, with a few twists that make it feel a little more unique. One such element is that cards themselves have a life, and as such will burn up after a set amount of uses, making using them a choice between saving them for future rounds or finishing off your current enemy.

One of the most notable points of interest however, is that cards are not created and given out by the game itself. Instead, defeating enemies, or trading in your own health through “blood letting” provides the player with various types of ingredients. Ingredients can then be used in the summoning page of “The Beginner’s Guide To Blood Magic”, where the player combines ingredients in what is essentially a shapeless crafting system.

Fun not only comes from testing out new combinations of ingredients (each ingredient changes what effects cards have, affects their life and their base power level), but coming up with the card name and card art yourself, with a purposefully terrible drawing tool, allowing for some creative and silly cards, that could end up doing something completely different to what you had intended.

Players also have to draw their own player character which is always fun.

I had a lot of fun making the demo for Blood Magic, I started by knowing that I really wanted to make a deck building game, but knowing that would also involve making a lot of card art, effects, descriptions etc. So I thought “Is there a way to make that procedural?”, this eventually morphed into giving the player the ability to create their own card art, name and effects and I had to learn a lot about how best to handle textures that could be manipulated and saved appropriately without creating a million memory leaks.

I also fully took hold of the power of coroutines with this game, realising how allowing them to wait for each other meant that the game could flow really nicely with less code to handle it. I understand drawbacks to this method and can appreciate that this approach will not work for all games, but for this game it worked really well.

It was also a really fun experiment in how to make an art style that the player would have to contribute to. The majority of players will want to create funny cards that are poorly drawn both in character and through the fact that the game is controlled through a mouse, so I played into this. The entire game (bar ingredients) is pure black and white, and has a shader I created to mimic the flickery style of some hand drawn animations. I also created all the art for the game in the same style that my drawing tools would allow for. Making the entirety of the game look like it was very simply made and hand drawn really tied players card art into the rest of the art style in a way that I think paid off.

If I put more time into Blood Magic I may make the enemies that come up be a little more varied. I really liked the enemies I added that can add temporary filler cards to your deck, so I think I’d also like to add more ways that enemies can interact with the player, other than simply casting damage and effects.