I can finally play Yu-Gi-Oh against humans. They have the technology. And the epic background music. This is because of the community that grew around the game online. I mostly grew up watching the anime and playing the video games. I remember that Eternal Duelist Soul was one of the first cartridges I bought for my Game Boy Advance. It served me well for maybe a hundred hours. I couldn’t believe I was battling the characters I’ve seen from the anime myself.
As with any large strategy franchise, players will naturally come together to discuss everything about the game. It attracts people from all walks of life, and with the power of the Internet: from all around the world. It’s no longer about just you and your friends around recess time at school. With all these players together, they are also itching to play games among themselves. Konami wouldn’t let us do that, though. There has been no official video game that mirrors the card game’s updates for the multiplayer audience. I think that they wouldn’t do that because they make all their sales mainly through physical packs of the cards. What they would sell us are video games based on the anime that wouldn’t be updated when new cards come out… so you can buy another one later.
Enter the YGOPro simulators. They are fully working video games that recreate the card game’s rules. Yes, that’s around 8000 of the playable cards in the clients. This is all thanks to the hard work of the community. They did everything from scripting each card and playtesting. The technology advanced from manually doing every card action yourself to having the computer manage listing out every possible option in a given situation. There are servers that let players across the world duel, complete with match making and ranking systems. This is a passion project with no gimmicks such as player progression, grinding, or random packs. They aren’t trying to sell you anything. Every card is available to you to put in a deck you want to play. There is even an open AI scripting tool that let’s you make your own bots to play with. It’s some serious business. I took a peek and saw about a thousand lines of code for each.
Some might say this just makes the gameplay as stale as piloting some deck list off the internet, but it’s not. A good deck has many options to choose from based on the board state and it takes practice to know these. From my experience, duelists also have their own tastes in tech cards. A skilled player knows when the best times are for activations, negations, and searches. An AI can’t have everything programmed into it. It is still a genuine experience to duel another person.
I like how customizing your own YGOPro client is so archaic… but it’s kind of rewarding. It feels like making your own duel disk. This is especially evident in the Youtuber community that likes to share their replay videos. A lot of customization is seen from the music, backgrounds, and user interface.
This isn’t to say that Konami is OK with this setup. I’ve heard that they are actively trying to take down the client downloads when they can. But until we have an official client to play on, this is where the players are gathering for duels.