The earliest playing cards are believed to have originated in Central Asia. The documented history of card playing began in the 10th century when the Chinese began using paper dominoes by shuffling and dealing them in new games. Four-suited decks with court cards evolved in the Muslim world and were imported by Europeans before 1370. In those days, cards were hand-painted and only the very wealthy could afford them, but with the invention of woodcuts in the 14th century, Europeans began mass-production. It is from French designs that the cards we use today are derived. France gave us the suits of spades, clubs, diamonds, and hearts, and the use of simple shapes and flat colors helped facilitate manufacture. French cards soon flooded the market and were exported in all directions. They became the standard in England first, and then in the British Colonies of America.
One of the strongest and most straightforward interests of playing cards for designers is that they represent a cheap and very widely distributed form of applied art. They can combine the satisfaction of getting one’s illustrations to a large audience with a sound commercial project. Other applied arts – glass, pottery, fabrics, fashion clothes, even furniture – only reach a relatively small audience. Playing cards are items which people want to use, rather than having to be persuaded of their cultural importance, and which even in the more sumptuous packs are relatively inexpensive.
Trionfi was the earlier or original name of Trump Cards and that evolved over time with the idea of ‘cards to win’ that is, Trionfi, Triumph, and eventually Trump. Edmund Hoyle, the first systematizer of the laws of whist, and author of a book on games, and his rules on card games helped me get a kick start on framing the rules for my game. His sample card game rules were a good way of starting with a rule set to help prototype.
Understanding popular card games
Looking at Amazon.com’s best-seller card games today you will notice that the gameplay, the ‘fun’ quotient and the expansions all lie in the content of the card and not particularly in the rule set or the gameplay itself. All these games come loaded with hundreds of cards without which the game cannot survive. This is my view is a step back of the better game design, when traditionally, the 52 playing cards deck has shown us that with just so many, we can have a game of fun, thrill, cunning, strategy and play for hours together. Hence by this, I wish to limit my card size, and keep the focus on the gameplay and the rule set to generate the true game experience than to focus of the content of the cards itself.
Other Research Sources
I studied the chapters of the iterative game design process from John and Colleen’s ‘Game, Design and Play’ Book and Valve’s Playtest Principles. I will elaborate more on them in the further posts through my process.