Chaoblog (The Blog) for June 19, 2007:
Delay of Launch; Licensing International Expo, Online Portal, I Played the Game
Whew, there is a lot of stuff to report today, the delay of the Chaotic launch, Chaotic and 4Kids appearing at the Licensing International Expo where I was able to see a real-time battle on the ONline portal and to top it off I played a six-card battle with one of the demonstrators.
Delay of Launch
I had heard one or two rumors last week about a delay, but I did not put 2 and 2 together. A retailer I know had some strange answers for me when I asked about the game. My sources from within Chaotic USA were very silent over the last 1-2 weeks. Something just did not feel right - sometimes the rumors are true. Because of a few technical issues and to ensure that the game is 100% effective regardless of the number of visitors that login, they pushed back the launch date. No matter how I tried, and I talked to some people in-the-know, they would not provide me with an exact date. However, there is some good news -- when they launch the game in late summer, it will also be launched in CANADA!. If I find out anything else - like an exact date, I will let you know.
Licensing International Expo
I was invited to attend a demonstration of Chaotic, both the card game and the Online Portal. It was held at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center in New York City. There were hundreds of exhibitors at the expo showing off their products (including some stuff that is not yet being sold). The place was huge. I walked around before the Chaotic demonstration began to check out the other booths. Many of the much larger companies like Disney did not have a lot of stuff to show off. However, there were also some large companies that did have a good amount of stuff to show. For instance, some had celebrities and stars at their booths to meet the attendees. When I visited the Nickelodeon booth, I found out that I missed the Naked Brothers Band, but I got a free CD of their music, I got to meet the clown from the Big Comfy Couch and I almost met Carlito from the WWE (unfortanately, by the time I found out he was there, I had to go to the Chaotic demo), however, I did get an autograph from the driver of Grave Digger. All the TV and video game companies were there, and some provided game consoles you could play with.
The booth for 4Kids was really large and compared to many of the other exhibitors there seemed to be a lot more going on there. They closed off their booth section from 3 to 5 PM for those that were invited to the event. They had many sales people going around to talk to you, they had game tables with demonstrators, there were also a lot of tables and monitors all around the booth. The 4Kids section also had a bar for drinks and waiters/waitresses were bringing around appetizers. Obviously all this wasn't for me, but for the people that will spend thousands of dollars licensing the Chaotic brand.
I Did Battle and Played Chaotic For the First Time
The first thing I did was look for one of my contacts, who happened to be standing right behind me when I heard one of them say their name to someone (this was a stroke of luck, since I was trying to read everyone's tag because I had never seen them in person before). Anyway, as soon as I introduced myself, we talked and they brought me over to a table to play the card game. The deck was already set up and all the cards were on the mat for a 3 character battle. First of all, this is so much different than other games where you add monsters/characters as you go. Here, all the monsters begin face up. So your opponent knows who you are bringing to the table, but you get to see their monster army as well. What you do not get to see is the battle gear for each character, nor the locations. This already adds another layer of strategy to the existing games. Then the demonstrator (I am sorry , I forgot his name), was really nice and patiently went though how to play the game, one card at a time and explained the different characterists/stats of each individual card and then explained the different types of cards (attack, mugic, location, etc). Oh, by the way, I was given an Overworld deck to play and he was playing the Underword. Looking at the other tables, it looks like all the demonstrators were setting themselves up as the Underworld cards. I was also given a Maxxor and he had a Chaor - of course it was set up this way for the demo. I was a little shakey at first trying to get my hands around the rules. However, as the game progressed, I started getting into it. There was another attendee who sat next to me and watched the battle. I was able to answer some of the basic questions she had about the game based on my knowledge of other games I had played. After I won the battle between our first two characters (I know he was letting me win) and began doing melee a second time, I started getting into the game. It was at this point that I knew the game could probably get addicting if I played it long enough. I subsequently won the second matchup, but lost the third. That is when I brought out Maxxor to do battle against his only character left - Chaor. We both got down to 5 points (but I used my mugic to add another 20 to my health), and just before I was about to strike my final blow, the online portal demonstration began, so I turned to face the speaker.
Demonstration of the Online Portal
The first speaker was Al Kahn, the CEO of 4Kids who talked about what a great product this was and how, unlike the other card games they only licensed, this was one that they developed themselves (it was originally created in Denmark) and actually own. Then he intoduced Bryan Gannon, a name we are all familiar with -- he is the big man for Chaotic. Bryan spoke a little bit about the game and talked about: how the online game was free (with purchase of the cards); how the online portal was being set up so it could be played from anywhere - even from a cell-phone that has browser technology; and about how it is "parent friendly and kid safe" meaning that the site is set up for kids to have an enjoyable experience meant for kids and parents do not have to worry about their safety because it meets all of COPA's requirements (a law created to make the Internet safe for kids).
Mr. Gannon then handed the microphone over to one of the developers who walked us through a demo of the game which we watched on a large monitor. The first screen of the portal displays a picture of the logo with a wilderness background. When they began the demo, a login pop-up was was shown which they call "pods" (I guess that sounds better than calling it a pop-up). He said that the pod interface will be fully customizable for each user. Next, he showed us an oversized card with a unique code that Mr. Kahn gave to one of the two people people battling (there were two developers each behind a computer console that were acting as the two adversaries). One of the people at the console entered it the numbers from the card and then tried to validate the code. This code checked out, so it was able to be validated. If it did not match one of the billions of codes in its database, then it would tell you so (so if you were to purchase a Maxxxor at a card shop, you would be able to quickly verify that this card shop was the true owner by simply plugging in the numbers). Once the code validates you are given the option to upload it to your account. When you do this it your digital card gets uploaded to your Card Managment Sector (more about this later).
There are nine areas of the portal called Sectors (displayed on the top left hand side of the screen) and all of the sectors are displayed with cryptic symbols. When you press on any of the sector icons/symbols the screen moves to the next sector, which is kind of cool because it all looks interconnected. Oh yes, on the first screen there is also a "noise channel" where a player can listen to music, watch a video, or get notifications from Chaotic about cool stuff like upcoming tournaments. There are different playlists on the noise channel for you to choose from.
Another sector we saw was the Card Managment Sector where you will probably spend most of your time. This is where your online cards will be stored. It is also here that you can create the "armies" as he called them, from all the cards you have available and set up your deck. This way you can be ready for battle whenever someone challenges you. You can also arrange and sort the cards (creatures, battle gear, location, magic and attach) in many ways to help you mix and match your deck more effectively to get ready for battle.
Then when it is time for battle, you can either accept a challenge or challenge someone else from a long list of other players in the ??Challenge Sector??. The list includes the players' stats so you can match yourself up against other players in the same skill level as you. The stats show your won/lost record and as you gain more wins and have better win percentages, you will be advanced to higher levels of play. As we already know, there will be seven levels. I also heard elsewhere that as your level goes up, the rules are modified/scalable for the higher levels, however, they did not mention anything about this at the demo. You can make a challenge to someone that is currently not online and have it accepted days later (note, the challenger gets two "start game" prompts because of this). When you make the challenge you enter your username and also include a "battle quote" to send to your opponent.
The battles are played in the Battle Sector which is a screen that is set up just like the mat for the physical cards. You see all of your cards in a 3D type of view and as you play, and the character for the card you are playing appears boldly appears on your side of the screen. The stats and life bar are also prominently displayed and easy to see (actually a lot more easy than the off-line cards). As you deal your attacks, the life line for your opponent moves to show that their points are decreasing.
A cool feature about the online battle is that while the other player is making his/her move, you can go to the Portal of Perim Sector and look at information about all the characters, locations, battle gear, etc., in the world of Perim - this is a good chance to check up on the character you are battling against. Not only that, if you go there while you are battling, your opponent cannot see you do it. They think you are still in the Battle Sector. When you return to the battle, your opponent will not even know you left.
After the battle, he quickly discussed the other portals and then gave the microphone back up to Mr. Kahn.
Al Kahn gave a rah-rah speech and told the visitors why they should liscense the Chaotic brand. Without noting that the launch was pushed back, he stated that the release would be in "Late Summer." He mentioned that the game was in the "second phase of beta testing" with more testers and they are trying to ensure the reliability of the system with a larger number of vistors to the portal. Another intersting thing he mentioned was that they have already given away 1.5 million digital cards I think to the Beta Testers. That may seem like a lot, but think about the billions of cards that will be on the sysstem when it fully goes live.
After the speech, I met up with the person from 4Kids who introduced me to some other members of the team and I was able to finally put faces to some of the voices I have heard on the phone. No, I did not get to talk to Bryan Gannon, but he was busy talking to potential clients, but that is okay, since we were promised a follow-up interview with him in a "few months" after the first interview we conducted with him. I was also able to meet my contact from EA, who was only a voice or an email until today. Before I left, I was given a little take-away bag with a cool Chaotic T-Shirt and an info sheet. I will give you the info on the sheet in m next blog (I did not realize how long I have been writing) because it is getting late and I am heading to sleep
Because of the time, I'll go into further details about my own opinions on the game and the portal in subsequent blog postings this week, but here are a few quick observations I had.
[note: this post was modified slightly (for spelling and some grammar on 6/20/07]
From: Owen S.
I don't think it's a good idea to push the cards back with the website or people will lose interest
------------>LED: Yeah, that is true, but it might also cause more interest because you and other people are waiting longer for it. It will also be at the same time or after season 2 begins of the TV show, so interest may rise again because of that.
HOW DO I PLAYA @ http://www.chaoticgame.com I NEVER GOT MY PASSWORD OR USERNAME
------------>LED: I need more
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