Collectible card game Duelyst’s mystery crates look like some combination of layer cake and wedding ring. They come in tiers: common, rare and epic, each garnished with the requisite amount of gold. “We wanted them to look like nice, futuristic Pandora’s boxes,” Counterplay Games co-founder Emil Anticevic told me. The “Intricate metalwork, hyper-stylized” look was originally drawn by hand, and then rendered in 3D. The sound design, which Anticevic describes as “a lightly-shaking silver spoon,” adds to their tinkery, jewel-like feel. “There’s a physicality to they key and the crate opening, but once the items are revealed one by one, you hear a subtle chime that feels close, but not assertive,” Anticevic explained.


Unlike games like FIFA 17, Duelyst wanted a quick opening experience. There’s no reveal animation. The anticipation mostly rests in the crates’ design, which Anticevic says he crafted to look valuable. “The crate blows open, each side flies off, and we shoot off some wisps of light that carry into the cosmetics [items],” Anticevic said. He emphasized that the design isn’t aimed at players who want to open several crates—they steered clear of “gacha” design decisions.

Halo 5 REQ Packs

YouTubers are obsessed with opening Halo 5 REQ packs in long, rushed strings, sometimes over a hundred at a time. That’s because they feel a little like potato chips—perfectly understated and best consumed in bulk. The packs are plain, Spartan card designs that, when opened, burst into about a dozen other cards displaying won items. Confetti and a small tinkling sound or cheer accompany their opening, but essentially, the design is totally downplayed, even for higher-tier packs.


“We never give anybody everything they want right away,” Halo 5 lead progression designer Christopher Bloom told me. “We designed from a place of empathy. We wanted it to be this festive Christmas experience. You’re waiting for your kid to open a package, but you can’t do it all the time or you lose the specialness.”

Bloom didn’t want to the REQ packs to be too ornate or the opening experience to be too drawn-out, or it could take away from the rush of opening several at once. His team didn’t want to “distract the player too much,” he said. “You don’t want to make anything too long because some users open multiple in a row. You don’t want to frustrate them too much.”


Bloom explained that the packs’ pulsating opening can feel a little like slot machines or a dealt poker hand. “It’s the possibility you might get extremely lucky. Ideally there’s value in everything you open. You like what you get but there’s always something else you kind of want to get.”

What are your favorite mystery mechanics and why? Tell us in the comments.