Today I was contacted by a developer to take a look at his game called Speedy Card Game 3D / AR. I actually was really excited because I was waiting to play some card games in augmented reality.
I do think that those type of table-top games with long gameplay session is best played with AR glasses, but until those come, this is the only way to play it.
This isn’t the Classic Speed Card Game
When I first visited the official game’s page on the App Store, I thought it’s the classic Speed card game. However, after playing it a bit, the gameplay didn’t completely resemble the classic game rules of the original speed game. I contacted the developer to ask him about it, only to find out that both the gameplay and the name are similar to classic Speed card game totally by accident. So if you are like me, expecting for the game to be exactly like “Speed”, just so you know that although it’s quite similar, it doesn’t follow the same original game rules.
The game rules are simple. The goal of the game is to lose all cards. Each player gets five card stacks with the card facing up. The player needs to stack cards with the same values, either on his side or move cards from his side and stack them on his opponents.
The game takes place simultaneously, and the faster player always makes the move. So if you the first to put your card on to of his card, your move counts and his move canceled.
When you remove a card from your stack, you need to tap the card below it to flip it faces up. You can move a top card from a current stack to an empty card stack.
There are three red/green indicators on the right side which show if a player can make a move. If not player can make a move, you need to click the middle0right card stack to reveal a card—that card is then placed in the middle. The middle stack is different, in such way that any player can put card which one value higher or lower than the top card’s value.
The game continues until one player is left without any cards, and he or she is the winner. Just note, you can move more than one card at the same time. The game is all about a fast reading of the available cards and moving them as fast as possible before your opponent does.
Let’s check out some AR gameplay.
The game looks great both in standard mobile mode and AR mode. I really liked the relaxing atmospheric look of the standard game mode. However, the augmented reality mode was really interesting to look at. It really resembles a real card game, The cards do float a bit, but I actually liked it, because it doesn’t make the game look too flat. I also liked the fact that the card doesn’t perfectly align when they are stacked up, so you can see how many cards are stacked up and it made it look like a real person playing it, not a computer, so not everything is pixel perfect in terms of alignment.
At the left side, you have a nice candle and am monkey character on the right. First of all, I think that it would look much better with an animated flame instead of a hallo effect. I mean, those small additional items in a scene, especially for this type of table-top AR game can make all the difference in the world. It creates a unique atmosphere in which the game is taking place at. I don’t know about the monkey. I mean, I don’t mind having a character there, but without any humoristic behavior or a positive feedback behavior based on the user’s gameplay, it just feels unrelated to the game.
I really liked the smooth animation that moves the card like they were enchanted by a spell like in a Harry Potter movie. Actually, this is a great idea to create a card game with such sparkling vibrant light following the card with magical sound effects and beautiful animations of the cards traveling in the air and laying down on the table’s surface. This can supplement a unique atmospheric vibe to the card game and make it more visually appealing in augmented reality. I would also add some nice atmospheric music and I’m sure this would all add up to look fantastic!
Speed Card Game can be played against an AI, vs the same player on the same device or watch 2 AI playing against each other.
The gameplay mechanics are fun and the controls felt good in both game modes. Having said that, I did have some issues with the game. First of all, and I did report this to the developer, that sometimes positioning a card on to of another doesn’t always trigger a placement action where it should have.
Second, when the second player passes a card, it’s not rotated, so a 9-card appears like a 6 and a 6- card appears like a nine. The developer uses a circle to represent each one, where an empty circle represents a six and a full circle represents a nice, but this is just making things even more confusing. I just recommended making a rotation animation either when the card is sent or placed so the number will appear in the right orientation. This is very important for a fast-paced real-time (not turn-based) card game.
In general, I liked the game controls in AR. You need to move the card so part of it covers the other card. So you are not just going to make a fast swipe gesture and hope the action registers, you need to spend time tapping, holding and dragging it until the card is placed on top of the other card. It’s a good choice for a game that is designed around fast action gameplay and you feel that tension as you quickly drag a card and hope to make it before your opponent does. That mechanic still needs to optimized to work well. It does work well in the standard game mode, but in AR it needs more work.
At the end of the match, you can see the total games played, total won, total lost, total aborted, Fastest round, stack combo, score and ratio for both won/lost/aborted.
One last thing about the controls. One of the problems that I had with the game is that it wasn’t comfortable for long session gameplay, especially on my iPad. Because the game requires one hand to always move cards in short intervals, I found myself holding my iPad with the second hand most of the time. Obviously, that leads to hand fatigue quite quickly. It probably won’t be a problem with an iPhone, but it was so with the iPad.
Speedy is a fun card game, I really enjoy playing it. I would be even more excited to play it versus online players. It can also benefit from having local multiplayer using two separate devices, which will be possible to make once ARKit 2.0 is out. Of course, it’s up to the developer whether to add it in a future update or not. Playing against a local player on the same device is not a fun experience.
The thing about this game is that the developer did a good job in terms of presentation. I think this is very important to nail this right in AR for this particular type of game. I also do think that this game could have easily got much more exposure by utilizing a unique theme (I personally recommend “Harry Potter” style theme), followed by cool visual and sound effects and maybe an interactive character that reacts to success and failures as you play.
I really liked the beautiful card animations, this really made an impact on the gameplay and elevated the fun factor for me. It also makes you feel like a real player is playing the game with you, compared to just straight and flat card movement animation like we see in many other card games.
The AR mode still feels unpolished and buggy and has some issues that need to be solved. For example, the card orientation is a very annoying problem that, especially for a fast-paced game like this. I do hope that the developer will fix those issues and I would be glad to revisit this game at a later date and update my review.
The game was released while back. the update history goes back to December 9, 2016. However, Augmented Reality (AR) support only been added in version 4.0.0 on January 28, 2018. The developer has continuously worked to improve the game and solve bugs with the last update released just yesterday (as of the time of writing).
With such a good dedication to making his game better, I felt a commitment to, first of all, spread the word about his game, and second, try my best to help by giving improvement suggestions.
One last note, the game was developed using ARKit 1.5 via Unity ARKit plugin with an Android ARCore version planned for a later release this year.
The game is free and I do recommend checking it out. You can download it from the App Store here.