Sure, this site is no longer about all of the different elements it used to be, but it’s also not one to not be aware of what’s going on elsewhere. And what SolForge is doing is something special – it’s taking a delivery medium that has a traditional paper and cardboard – something that is more of a physical, tactile experience – and embracing where technology is going to move forward. Does that sound familiar?
As I said, I’m not someone who plays a lot of games - Angry Birds Star Wars and a game called Jetpack Joyride are the only 2 that I routinely play on my phone. That said, games that take technology in new and interesting ways most definitely interest me, partly because of my love for technology but also because an idea focusing in one area can lead to sparking inspiration and taking concepts to another quite easily. SolForge has taken the idea of individuals carrying around binders full of cards to carrying around something they generally already have with them: their phone. It’s so simple a concept, and yet I had not heard of a system like this being done as a digital first initiative. Video Game Rebellion told you all about the game, but I love the idea of delivering this experience on your phone for a few reasons:
- Convenience. How many people go anywhere without their phone these days? Not many.
- System agnostic. What I mean is that the game is available on PC, iOS and Android. No one is left out; it’s available to anyone.
- Language agnostic. OK, so right now everything is probably just in English, but a language pack for the system of your choice would be a great way to expand the reach digitally and increase usability. If I have a physical card that has all the writing in ancient Gaelic will that have the same feeling for me? Probably not. But I could see this as to how the game increases functionality in future. And last, but not least…
- The phone form factor is the perfect size. Everything has its niche area and bigger is not always better. When it’s based on a card game and perhaps the target audience are those who play card games, you want the experience to be what they are used to but made digital. A phone is perfect for this – the screen size of a smartphone is generally in the same realm as that of one of the playing cards and so the experience of what the user has done with those other games can be more effectively transferred over.
So I’ve talked about a game… why is that important to me as a comic book guy? Because things like SolForge and the amazing comic stuff from Madefire are redefining what it means to take advantage of technology in new and exciting ways. They aren’t redefining the medium; they are evolving it. Sure, I’ll probably always love the print copies of my comics, but I can truly understand how nice it is to be able to take these things with you wherever you go. I, personally, use comics as a means to escape from a lot of the day-to-day, and I have for over 30 years. When I travel, I’d love to be able to take comics with me, but airlines frown on long boxes taking up the overhead bin. The same would go for the trading card games – you always want to be able to play when you want to, but it’s a pain to carry around the binders of content. (OK, it may build up your muscles depending on how many cards you have, but when you’re running for the bus or a train they can also be a hindrance.) Finding a way to evolve the game and allow for continued experiences which keeps your “users” coming back for more… For those companies who can make this happen, that’s the next step.
When it comes to comics, maybe I am a purist – I love the tactile sensation of the comic between my fingers and the comic book readers I have had for my phone and my iPod Touch have left me with a sour taste – the zooming to read the comic removed me from the enjoyment of the book. The tablet experience I have renewed some of the energy I had in reading digitally, especially when I consider travelling long distances I love the convenience of having my comics with me to read. And I can see how the TCG players will delight in the experience of using SolForge and what is bound to be its successors in the space as a way to evolve the game play.
This is the age of re-envisioning where we’re going and how we experience our passions. These guys get it. Some others do too, but I think in each of the mediums these guys are the pack leaders. And it’s exciting to see what comes next.