'Idle Champions' Creator on Clickers, D&D and Dungeon Mastering
Idle Champions is a brand new clicker game set in the D&D universe. We talked to the game's creator about what we can expect and also why he loves D&D.
Eric Jordan: Idle clickers is a genre. It's a relatively new genre. In Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms, what you do is you manage a whole group of champions, so it's not like you're playing an MMO where you're like one character. It's a little bit more like Lords of Waterdeep where you're like recruiting all of these different characters and they'll go complete quests for you and get you more powerful. The base set of characters that you'll have, the champions, there are sort of older characters like Bruenor all the way through to the new season of Force Grey. All five of those characters are also in the game. There will be lots of more characters coming out, a whole cadence of characters planned out. A whole bunch of content, so new content comes out regularly in the game so there will be two of annihilation content plus other storyline content and a bunch of new characters.
Eric Jordan: The focus of Idle clicker is that you are recruiting characters, you're placing the characters down, your characters are actually like killing the bad guys and completing the quest so you're not doing that piece. What you're focusing on is managing those characters, so when are you leveling them up, and in particular, where are you placing them. Our game has formation strategy and so, a big part of the meta of the game is where do I put my characters relative to other characters in order to maximize my ability to progress in the game?
Eric Jordan: You see how far they progress, what quests they've done for you and then, you do all of the active action of leveling them up and getting their upgrades and you'll see what upgrades they've got. There's also a boss fight so you end up going through and so each of the characters, you unlock ultimates for those that have cooldowns and so you'll go use all those cooldowns in order to actually beat the boss and move on to the next area. When you come back, you'll sort of see where you are in terms of like, “I was able to progress to area 100 finally and I've been trying to do this round and finally, I got to area 100.” You'll sort of see that.
Todd Kenreck: What happens if you don't check in?
Eric Jordan: They just keep going. Let’s say time travel is invented, you fast forward 100 years in the future and then you load up your Steam account because of course, Steam will still be there a hundred years in the future and you check in and you will have amassed a large amount of gold. What's been interesting about Idle clickers is a lot of people tend to think of them as these casual experiences because when they see them and they go, “Oh, you mean I don't have to be doing twitch reflexes so it must be a pretty casual thing,” but what really draws people into those games is like the amount of depth in terms of the systems and all of the management decisions that you're making and it's really choosing the most optimal management decisions that become the really interesting part of those games.
Eric Jordan: I've been playing D&D since I was like 12 years old, so I mean I just I absolutely love D&D and I've loved it for a bazillion years. When I was playing a lot of fourth edition, I wasn't working in the games industry. My kids had just hit the age where you could start playing with your kids which is just like such a lovely time and so, we were playing a huge amount of fourth edition because fourth edition sort of just come out. I was also working and for my work, I was doing travel and stuff like that and so I'd be kind of wanting to enter into this space of interacting with the D&D world but I didn't … I always DM.
Eric Jordan: I didn't want to kind of like be planning a mission or a game at that point but I also didn't want to be reading a novel and I wanted to find kind of an in-between space that I could be interacting with that world and so then, fast forward to coming to run a code game and I was doing Idle games and me thinking about like, “Oh, yeah. I really wanted that ability to sort of touch into this world and interact with these characters but do it in a sort of a bite-sized way and then go back into all these other pieces that I have. For me, the fit that made a lot of sense, just as for me as a player has been, how do I kind of touch the thin edge of the wedge of D&D that can go into all these other things and then kind of come out of that really quickly.
Todd Kenreck: Is there a character class you gravitate towards yourself?
Eric Jordan: Dungeon Master. No, I mean. I say it facetiously. I've only honestly only played like a handful of times. I either would play, tend to be a wizard or if I don't want to think a lot, then sort of a barbarian kind of like, “I'll just go in and tank and kill stuff,” but when I was a little kid and first played as I was a player the very first time and then I came home from that. I'm like, “This is the best thing ever. I must DM.” I DM-ed forever and I remember thinking like why don't all these people want to be players like surely they're missing the most fun role which is DMing which I always really, really enjoyed.
Eric Jordan: Actually, if you fast forward several years to when I was graduating from university and I started my first company, I remember thinking that like I should write a book like everything I learned about managing people, I learned from DMing people in Dungeons and Dragons which I think actually may have been written by this point but I mean it's just such a great way of honing your skills.
Eric Jordan: For me, well, I think it's … It's that mixture of creating a structure for your players and then your players entering into that and then bringing their own ideas and sort of that kind of the shared storytelling kind of that comes out of that but I have to say I'd use storytelling with kind of an asterisk. It's like more like shared improv that I really enjoy about it and then what I find amazing about it is how listening to the players afterwards, they all construct these narratives thinking back and each time they're talking about their narrative, they're always the hero. You see, hear like four different players talk and each one of them was the hero in different ways and they highlight different parts of the adventure and so, that kind of collective building of this world that's always really struck me.