GDS2, Episode 3: Design Challenge Elimination

Posted in Feature on December 8, 2010

By Mark Rosewater

Working in R&D since '95, Mark became Magic head designer in '03. His hobbies: spending time with family, writing about Magic in all mediums, and creating short bios.

It's time again to eliminate a candidate. After today, there will only be six designers remaining. I will list each designer's name. If you click on it you will see whether they are in or out. Candidates that are in will have a green CONTINUE PLAYING. The candidate that is eliminated will have a red GAME OVER. I will then give a short summary of where I feel they stand or why they were eliminated.

Ethan Fleischer


You are the winner of the second design Challenge. You came out of the Design Test with an awesome block idea but a lack of focus. You listened to the judges and found a center for your set both in mechanics and flavor. Not only did your new cards shine, but in our playtesting they had the best synergy with your cards from the previous Challenge. Your set is definitely starting to jell and it's exciting to see what you're coming up with. Great job!

Shawn Main


Your second Design Challenge did not shine as brightly as your first but it did further the execution of your world. You made a few choices that some of the judges didn't agree with but the means by how you supported those choices was impressive. In other words, while your design had issues, your design skills looked sharp. You have a lot of work ahead of you, but you've created a world that is compelling and has potential to be great.

Devon Rule


Each of your Design Challenges has been good in isolation. The problem is that your set doesn't have the luxury of each working in its own little box. You have great ideas and your overall execution has been strong, but you have to start figuring out the mechanical synergy of your set. Magic sets have to work no matter what colors you throw together. I believe you have the ability to start weaving everything together. Let's start seeing it.

Scott Van Essen


Once again you end up in the middle. Your problem this week is that you spent more time making things that fit your theme than you did cards that care about that theme. The two parts have to exist in the right numbers. Also, you have an intricate world mapped out. I feel like I only have a sense of what that world is. You need to use your mechanics to better define your world. There are prisoners and guards and natives. What your world lacks is subtext. What is your conflict really about? What does each side represent? How does that come out in game play? Stop just making cards that work and start making cards that matter.

Daniel Williams


I'm sorry to say, Daniel, that this week I have to eliminate you. I love your world idea and truly believe that a fantasy Western holds great promise. You tried your hardest to find ways to bring the tropes of the Western genre to life and there were glimmers of promise, but in the end, your mechanics never quite meshed. I really liked that you listened to what the judges had to say and you were very willing to explore different areas of design. Finding a fit for a world such as yours is very difficult. In the real world, it might take us months to find it. You just had weeks. Hold your head up high. You made a noble effort and definitely demonstrated that you have the ability to tap into great ideas. I wish you the best of luck.

Jonathan Woodward


You were too complex last Challenge and the judges dinged you for it. You listened and this submission was much better in that regard. The problem you have now is one of focus. Your set clearly has a strong Aura theme but the other facets seem to be all over the board. There are hints of great ideas but you have to start making hard choices and cut the fat from the meat. You need to commit to what you think are your best ideas and start giving your set more mechanical cohesion.

Jonathon Loucks


You had the most complex submission for the first Design Challenge. The judges hammered this point home all last episode. This submission, while much simpler than the first one, is still the most complex of any submission turned in this time. You not only kept illuminate, but you kept the most complex part of it. The reason you're still here after two weeks is that your designs show great promise. I believe you have the makings of an awesome Magic card designer, but in order to stay in the competition you have to show that you can listen to us and do what we ask of you. One of the most important qualities of a Magic design intern is the ability to listen to feedback and react to it. Today's feedback: Stop making the cards you enjoy and start making cards that the majority of Magic players can enjoy. I'm not sure that these two things overlap. Finally, do not be the most complex design for this next challenge!

And then there were six ...

Six applicants who need to read the next Design Challenge.

Click here for Design Challenge #3.

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