E3 2013: Taking another look at HEX

E3 2013 Hex, an MMOwith trading cards!
HEX. It's a difficult concept to grasp: a massively multiplayer online trading card game, combining elements of roleplaying goodness and the thrill of building a deck of powerful cards to combat the next evil underlord monster.

At this year's E3, Massively sat down with Cory Jones, president of Cryptozoic Studios, to get the skinny on what HEX is all about.

"With a TCG, the big stumbling block has always been finding someone to play with," Jones started off. "People start to drop out of a group, your friends lose interest, you lose interest... that's where online becomes this great aggregator of people so that you can always have someone to play with." The library of TCGs online is incredibly limited, so Jones' goal with HEX and Cryptozoic is to combine the accessibility of the online community with a type of game that almost every gamer enjoys to play. "If you take these things and put them together, it opens up so much potential for this sort of chocolate-and-peanut-butter invention," Jones explained.

E3 2013 Hex, an MMOwith trading cards!
The strength of HEX is in the powerful engine used to create the in-game cards. There's a strong balance set in place for card creation, so no card combination will overpower what's in the rotation library. "What we're trying to do is make sure we're not making any unbalanced cards. We're very good at that. We're not going to change cards on-the-fly or nerf them," Jones vowed. "The only time they'll be banned would be for PvP play, never for PvE." Moreover, cards are under rotation blocks, but the team hasn't decided how often the rotations should occur.

So what game mechanics might have to be cut in order to fit a TCG into an MMO or vice-versa? A lot of the exploration aspects you'd find in a traditional MMO have been cut; there's a higher emphasis on card trading and playing. The actual roleplaying aspect of the game is slightly limited in order to focus on pure card play, and the graphics aren't nearly what you'd expect to find from the latest next-gen titles. The visuals were built with a mobile interface in mind, and since Cryptozoic has surpassed its original Kickstarter goal of 300,000 (with nearly a whopping 2.5 million!), a mobile port looks highly likely. Cryptozoic will be bringing in another team in order to migrate to mobile, hopefully as early as September.

E3 2013 Hex, an MMOwith trading cards!
Since it's an MMO, there's certainly going to be an auction house for cards. However, there's a lot of speculation about how card value will be altered with the auction house. Jones told me, "One of the things we have to be very careful about is the secondary market. Companies that make collectibles cannot engage in any behavior that has impact on the secondary market. Nothing that we are going to do is going to affect the secondary market; that's for the players to decide."

Looking for more perspective on the game? Massively freelancer Andrew Ross had a hands-on with the game earlier in the week.

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-13, bringing you all the best news from E3 2013. We're covering everything from WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online and ArcheAge to FFXIV's inbound revamp and TERA's latest update, so stay tuned!
This article was originally published on Massively.