The Once and Future KeyForge
THEN AND NOW
We’re excited to provide you with news about KeyForge and our thoughts on its future. First, we hope you’ll forgive us for bringing you along for a stroll into the recent past.
When the comet that was KeyForge hit gaming orbit in the Fall of 2018, it seemed nothing could stop it.
The first printing of the initial KeyForge set Call of the Archons sold out in record time, and new printings and sets were quickly put into motion. Age of Ascension arrived in early summer ’19, to be followed by Worlds Collide, Mass Mutations, and finally Dark Tidings in the spring of ’21.
The game system was beloved, and the unique-deck concept was fun and novel. Soon, more than one million decks would be registered online, and major tournaments popped up at conventions everywhere.
Yet, two dramatic events would extinguish KeyForge’s momentum.
First was the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic that began in early ’20. A young game like KeyForge needs a thriving and growing community of in-person play and tournaments, all of which suddenly were lost to pandemic lock-downs and other restrictions.
Second was the excruciating loss in ’21 of the software engine that made it impossible for FFG/Asmodee to render new KeyForge decks.
Unlike other games, KeyForge’s cards (and decks) are procedurally generated and then rendered for digital printing. The systems and algorithms needed to accomplish these tasks are complex to make, as were the tools needed by developers and designers to make new cards for the game. During his last year with FFG/Asmodee, Ghost Galaxy founder Christian T. Petersen, wrote this article that explains many of the concepts and challenges behind creating procedurally-generated games.
Creating the software behind KeyForge took years to build, then it was suddenly gone.
A grey fog of uncertainty and silence rose over The Crucible, just as the real world faced its own miasma of disruption and tragedy that was COVID-19.
Concerned for KeyForge and its players, Asmodee approached Ghost Galaxy in late ’21 about acquiring the IP and game. This was not an easy decision for Asmodee, and it was not a foregone conclusion for us. Ghost Galaxy had been quietly working on its own software suite that would power the next generation of procedurally-generated card games, but it was not ready, and a mature game like KeyForge was not what we had in mind for its first voyage. Also, we were not sure what the long release delay had done to the KeyForge playerbase. Was this complex and ambitious game viable for continued publishing?
Yet, we could not help to be impressed by the continued strong fan-support for the game, and by the wonderful product development that FFG has already undertaken for unreleased KeyForge products, such as the Winds of Exchange set. That is not to speak of the gobsmacking 2.7 Million registered KeyForge decks! Ultimately, we decided it was worth taking the chance.
The acquisition of KeyForge closed in early June ’22, and today we are announcing it to the world. Yay!
We now enter an important period of listening to the players, the marketplace, and in making a series of decisions related to the KeyForge publishing plans.
Specifically, the following areas will occupy our time in the weeks ahead:
Our team of software engineers will work to complete the logic and rendering modules required for KeyForge to live again. This work has already started, but will take a number of months to be complete.
Commercial Release Plan
Given the long hiatus of the game, we need to make some big decisions about how we intend to bring this game back to market, and (provided the software engine is ready) timing and composition of releases. This includes the timing of Winds of Exchange.
The ability to enjoy KeyForge in-person, and in context of a fun competitive scene, will be a critical priority for us. Many felt the former organized play program was confusing and spread across too many game variants. We will be looking to streamline and condense competitive KeyForge play.
We will also be working on transitioning to a new version of the GEM tournament software used by Asmodee to handle deck registrations and result reporting. Lots to do.
Under Asmodee, KeyForge was published in a great number of languages. We’ll be meeting with the distributors and co-publishers that made such language editions possible, to gauge interest and viability of continuing any given localization. We can tell you that with our small team, it is almost certain that some (if not all) localizations may be discontinued. In any case, our focus will be on English-language releases.
Deck Registration and Player Accounts
The current deck registration software will continue to reside at www.keyforgegame.com for the next six months until we have the software ready to transition the decks and player accounts. Please continue to register new decks there.
If you have an Asmodee.net account related to KeyForge, you will likely receive emails from us the coming months to facilitate an opt-in account transition to the Ghost Galaxy service.
We will be working to provide players with frequent communications related to our KeyForge plans, including previews of new products such as Winds of Exchange, game rules updates, and other information. We hope to create an FAQ for the KeyForge transition in the days to come.
To help us with the above-mentioned FAQ, or if you have questions related to KeyForge of any kind, we kindly request that you send us your questions, comments, and concerns by using our message tool located here.
Be sure to check our site in the days to come. More to follow.
– Your Friends at Ghost Galaxy