Monthly Archives: December 2014

Prismata pretty much owes its entire existence to reddit. And here are the numbers to prove it…

I’ve mentioned before that Prismata would be completely dead in the water without reddit. And it’s 100% true. But until now, I’ve never divulged any actual statistics on just how much of an effect reddit truly had.

To be honest, it’s because I’m pretty embarrassed about it.

For one thing, the Prismata Kickstarter just hit 100% funding with about 35 hours to go. We *barely* made it. And as it turns out, every single splke in our Kickstarter pledge activity actually coincides with a day we did well on reddit, meaning that we literally wouldn’t even have come close to our goal without the support of redditors. I feel bad admitting it, but reddit pretty much saved my career as a game developer. I truly have no words to express how grateful I am.

Let’s start with the worst… this graphic really puts a knot in my throat:

Screenshot from Prismata's page on

Prismata’s Kickstarter pledges over time. Like most Kickstarters, we got an initial bump of funding when our campaign first went live. But every single subsequent bump has coincided with a reddit-related event.

Outside of the initial spike when we first went live, the day-to-day interest in our Kickstarter was actually pretty terrible (more on that later). This graph highlights the fact that we were way too ambitious in setting a goal of $140,000; take away those big green reddit spkies, and we’d be tens of thousands of dollars short. The fact that we hit $140k feels miraculous.

But actually, this wasn’t the first time reddit came to our aid.



The Prismata AI: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bots 1

Hey Everyone! I’m Dave Churchill, lead AI programmer on Prismata. While working for Lunarch I’m also finishing up my PhD in video game AI at the University of Alberta. In 2013 my StarCraft AI bot UAlbertaBot won the AIIDE StarCraft AI Competition, which we have been hosting at UofA since 2010. There are a lot of similarities between the AI for StarCraft and for Prismata, and we’ve been able to use some state-of-the-art RTS AI research techniques with new twists. For those not familiar with it, Prismata is a hybrid strategy game that combines ideas from RTS games, card games, and tabletop strategy games. A “how to play” video is available here. Some people describe Prismata as a “real-time strategy game without the real-time”. However, Prismata presents many new and unique challenges that make it different from a traditional RTS in terms of AI design. Let’s dive into an overview of the AI in Prismata: from initial motivations all the way to implementation details. (more…)

Removing RNG: how eliminating luck can benefit strategy card games 1

This article originally appeared as a guest feature on


What if a card game like Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone had no luck? Would it be playable? Exciting? Balanced? Skill-testing? When I ask people this question, most of them seem to think that it would introduce a huge number of problems, crippling the experience for players. But I’m here to make a bold counter-claim: If done right, removing randomness can actually make a card game better.


My justification for this statement is effectively a case in point. For many years, I’ve been working on a game called Prismata with a group of friends from MIT. Prismata is, effectively, an online competitive card game without randomness—a seemingly impossible game that shouldn’t exist. In reality, Prismata borrows a lot of ideas from real-time strategy games and tabletop board games to make the concept work. However, blending these ideas in a usable way was no simple task; Prismata required years of testing and iteration, and the entire project was scrapped and restarted from scratch over a dozen times.