The newly-formed Blue Manchu Games is something of a pet project for Irrational Games co-founder Jon Chey, according to a recent interview by Gamasutra. The studio is entirely funded by Chey, and has today announced its first project.

Card Hunter is a fantasy-themed board/card/roleplaying game hybrid. It runs in your browser and is free to play, funded by microtransactions. Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield and his business partner Skaff Elias are on board to help with the design of the game, along with indie developer Jarrad "Farbs" Woods (ROM CHECK FAIL), Freedom Force art director Ben Lee, System Shock designer Dorian Hart and several others. That's quite a pedigree right there.

But what exactly is a board/card/roleplaying game hybrid?

"The best way to describe it is, imagine I take an MMO, and every time you fight a monster, instead of playing a timer game with pull-downs and buttons that you click, you're playing a turn-based strategy game," explained Chey to Gamasutra. "You have little pieces on a board, and you play cards to move those pieces around, and that's the battle you fight."

The plan is to release the game so it is compatible with all modern browsers. Chey is also very keen on an iPad version, too, as he believes the iPad to be an excellent platform for card and board games. He's very conscious of the stigma surrounding some free to play games, though -- particularly those which are browser-based.

"It's very important that it will be perfectly fine to play it without paying for it," he explains. "Definitely, these free to play things come with kind of the bad taste of 'you must pay to actually be competitive in this game,' but I think we're starting to get people get that balance right."

In-game transactions will be limited to vanity items and the means to accelerate player progression, but all the cards which power character abilities will be winnable through gameplay rather than having to purchase them.

Card Hunter sounds like one to watch, particularly for fans of board and card games. Watch out for more news on it soon.

Thanks, Gamasutra.

This article originally appeared on as Irrational Games Co-Founder Forms 'Niche' Studio, Announces First Project