Design

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The Design team is one of several teams within Magic R&D. Design creates the vision for a set, while development upholds that vision even if it has to make some changes to get it there.[1]

Description[edit | edit source]

The designers create new cards, mechanics and themes for Magic sets. Every set should do something innovative that hasn't been done before. It also should bring back something from the past and present it in a new light, it should add new elements to old ideas. [2] Every set should make players have to shift their thinking about the game in some way, while creating a moment that is uniquely its own. [3] [4] By definition, also some bad cards have to exist, even at rare. [5] [6] [7] The rules of design provide four major functions: structure, clarity, consistency and focus. [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13][14] [15][16]

Design can be bottom-up or top-down. [17] [18] [19] [20] It can also be linear or modular. [21]

Exploratory design[edit | edit source]

Also known as pre-design, advanced design or advanced planning, exploratory design was an innovation in 2014 in how Magic sets were designed. Long before design starts, exploratory design begins. The concerns itself with the needs of the block and loops in the development and creative teams. The team can talk about mechanics and how each color plays out, but is not concerned with an actual card file. [22]

Main design[edit | edit source]

Mark Rosewater distinguishes three distinctly different stages in the main design phase: the vision stage (6 months), the integration stage (3 months), and the refinement stage (3 months). [23] [24] Apart from the Head Designer (Rosewater), each design team nowadays ideally consists of a lead designer, a "strong second", a development representative, a creative representative, fresh blood and a filekeeper. Roles are sometimes combined in one person. [25]

Play design[edit | edit source]

Play Design is a team introduced in 2017, after R&D had missed the Copy cat combo. The team is solely dedicated to the health of tournament environments, to make sure that playing Magic in structured settings is as enjoyable as possible. Dan Burdick was hired to run this team, which also includes Melissa DeTora and Andrew Brown.[26]

Devign[edit | edit source]

"Devign" or "Structural Development" is the space in between design and development. Design still has control of the file but is addressing notes from the developers. [27] During these early times, Development tries out cards that feel risky, but could also add something cool and interesting to the game. Early playtesting is for taking the big swings. Many of the cards design hands over in the initial handoff will not make the final version of the set, and many more will get tweaks, such as to casting cost, power and toughness, or activation cost. Still others will get cut from the set entirely to make room for new cards that either fill a specific role that is missing or are just independently cool cards. On the opposite site, some fun cards are made stronger. [28]

Historical stages of design[edit | edit source]

Head designer Mark Rosewater distinguishes six stages of Magic design, and corresponding dynasties of Magic designers. [29] [30] [31]

First Stage (the Golden Age)[edit | edit source]

Alpha through Alliances. This stage was about the focus on individual card design. Design decisions tended to be made on a card-by-card basis.

Second Stage (the Silver Age)[edit | edit source]

Mirage through Prophecy. Richard Garfield left to explore other games, and Joel Mick took over as head designer. This stage was the introduction of the block and the focus of design in thinking of Magic in terms of a year. This was also the era of the psychographics with Timmy, Johnny, and Spike getting defined and a cleaning up of the rules.

Third Stage (the Bronze Age)[edit | edit source]

Invasion through Saviors of Kamigawa. Joel Mick became brand manager, and Bill Rose took over as head designer. This stage was the introduction of block themes. Blocks were no longer just a collection of mechanics, but contained specific things chosen to highlight the block's theme.

Fourth Stage[edit | edit source]

Ravnica through Rise of the Eldrazi. Bill Rose had become Vice-President, thus Mark Rosewater became Head Designer and Brian Schneider became Head Developer. This stage was the introduction of block planning. Instead of picking a theme and continuing it through the block, design now planned out how exactly the block was going to evolve. This planning allowed for themes to be better set up and paid off. Members of the fourth generation includes several participants of The Great Designer Search (GDS) 2006, Wizards of the Coast's historic search for R&D's for a Magic design intern. [35]

Fifth Stage[edit | edit source]

From Scars of Mirrodin through Journey into Nyx. How mechanical themes are looked at and used was radically changed. In the previous two stages, themes had been used as the foundation to build the block on. Starting with Scars of Mirrodin, mechanical themes were thought of as tools used to put a block together and to evoke an emotional resonance. Metaphorically, themes were no longer the canvas, but the paint. The fifth generation included participants of The Great Designer Search 2 (2010). [36]

New members:

Sixth Stage[edit | edit source]

From Khans of Tarkir on. The Sixth Stage was heralded by the introduction of exploratory design.[37] The elements of a set and block are now mapped out, before the actual design of the cards and mechanics start. This stage also features exploratory world building, which leads to a earlier and more extensive integration of flavor and design. The sixth age also features the Council of Colors, six members of the design team who are responsible for protecting the integrity of the color pie: Ken Nagle (green), Ethan Fleischer (blue), Shawn Main (red), Gavin Verhey (black), Jackie Lee (white) and intern Jules Robins (Colorless).[38]

New members:

Creature type[edit | edit source]

Designer is an Unglued creature type which was eliminated from the Comprehensive Rules list during the Grand Creature Type Update (Richard Garfield, Ph.D.).

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater. (January 16, 2017.) "I think there is a lot of confusion between the difference in responsibilities of designers and developers. Could you clarify?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  2. Mark Rosewater. (April 1, 2002.) "Tweak in Review", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  3. Mark Rosewater. (May 03, 2010.) "The Ten Principles for Good Design, Part 1", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  4. Mark Rosewater. (May 17, 2010.) "The Ten Principles for Good Design, Part 2", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  5. Mark Rosewater. (January 28, 2002.) "When Cards Go Bad", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  6. Tom LaPille. (October 14, 2011.) "When Cards Go Bad, Part 2", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  7. Mark Rosewater. (July 18, 2005.) "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Truth", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  8. Mark Rosewater. (April 07, 2003.) "Rules of the Game", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  9. Mark Rosewater. (July 12, 2004.) "Design 101", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  10. Mark Rosewater. (April 21, 2003.) "Design 102", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  11. Mark Rosewater. (November 06, 2006.) "Design 103", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  12. Mark Rosewater. (August 19, 2013.) "Design 104", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  13. Mark Rosewater. (June 13, 2005.) "Saving Space", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  14. Mark Rosewater. (August 01, 2005.) "Once More With Feeling", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  15. Mark Rosewater. (July 24, 2006.) "Talking Tech", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  16. Mark Rosewater. (June 15, 2009.) "Design Seminar: The 10 Mental Locks", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  17. Mark Rosewater. (June 09, 2003.) "Top Down and Goal", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  18. Mark Rosewater. (September 15, 2008.) "A View From the Top", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  19. Ken Nagle. (June 15, 2009.) "Convertible Design", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  20. Mark Rosewater. (January 28, 2017.) "The distinction between top-down and bottom-up design", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  21. Mark Rosewater. (October 06, 2003.) "Come Together", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  22. Mark Rosewater. (January 06, 2014.) "Advanced Planning", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  23. Mark Rosewater. (March 30, 2015.) “Nuts & Bolts: The Three Stages of Design”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  24. Mark Rosewater. (September 06, 2015.) "Vision phase? What is that?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  25. Mark Rosewater. (November 30, 2015.) “Team Player”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  26. Mark Rosewater. (May 17, 2017.) "Play Design", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  27. Mark Rosewater. (January 14, 2013.) "Gatecrashing the Party, Part 3", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  28. Sam Stoddard. (March 21, 2014.) "Playtesting Constructed", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast. [dead link]
  29. Mark Rosewater. (August 29, 2005.) “State of Design 2005”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  30. Mark Rosewater. (August 26, 2011.) “State of Design 2011”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  31. Mark Rosewater. (November 28, 2011.) “Eighteen Years”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  32. Mark Rosewater. (July 6, 2003.) “Of Ice and Men”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  33. Mark Rosewater. (March 22, 2010.) “Working Draft”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  34. Steve Conard. (December 24, 2002.) “The History of Legends”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  35. Wizards of the Coast. (August 21, 2006.) “The Great Designer Search”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  36. Mark Rosewater. (November 03, 2010.) “The Great Designer Search 2 – Meet the Finalists”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  37. Mark Rosewater (September 30, 2016.) "Six Stages of Magic Design", Drive to Work #371
  38. Mark Rosewater. (August 22, 2016.) “The Council of Colors”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.