What’s the story, morning glory?

Our approach to crafting the tale behind VERSUS is a simple one. Build the world, fit the tone of said world, and above all else, be fun.

As I was brought on a little later in the project (it’s been in development for over a year), there was already quite a bit of narrative headway made. Effectively, most of the gameplay mechanics, main story beats and character designs had been carved out, but needed a few extra pieces to tie things together. So, what did we end up doing? Using the loose story bits, I mapped out the placements of characters on our large colour maps. From there it was a matter of charting the movement of the main characters’ large armies (or factions, if you will) into a place it made sense for them to run into each other, facilitating the conflicts and ultimately, the game itself.

This, of course, came after a huge development of the worlds’ back story, complete with huge time gaps and characters you’ll never meet. Now that the movement of the large groups of characters is accounted for, it was time to build the individuals. The character ticks, mannerisms and speech patterns have gone through a myriad of changes, and to chart them all would take forever- but we decided to go for a more caricature oriented character lineup, and it’s pretty obvious we made the right choice. With each one of our main factions assigned an identifiable personality trait(s), we can now get down to the brass tacks.

From there we took the main characters, and we decided to give them all light, silly back stories. Using a variant of the heroes journey (that splits considerably from the formula at the end), we’ve given each character a neat little 3 act story arc that promises to be enjoyable and suit the game well. We’ve also made it a note to give each character their own sense of humour, which hopefully adds to the personas you’ll meet in the land of ‘Charloggia’. Sorry to have been so vague, I’ve yet to get clearance to reveal the final details, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it once I do.

At any rate, enjoy your weekend (in our case, a long weekend!).

-Charlie Ze Newbie

Can’t wait to get you another update! Don’t forget to follow us on social media!

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Wish you were here!

Some of you may have noticed our social media accounts occasionally post updated pieces of art (or at least you should have because you’re following them, right? …Right?).

In keeping with our new snowball of enthusiasm and commitment to getting more games out in 2017, we’re full swing into designing the user interface aspect of our tower defense title, VERSUS. Several members of our team have committed to themselves to a full time overhaul, which sees many new designs and art assets arrive on the scene. Not only that, we’ve separated a larger chunk of the team into developing the animation effects for characters as well as promotional art (we love our interns, and they do some amazing work on their own free time- check some of it out here onelink.to/f4xbv4).

At any rate, we’re at warp speed for getting this game out very soon! In case you’re in need of a visual update, take a peek at one of our promotional posters soon to be released on our campaign here:

Alright, so we’re a bit of a weird bunch, but let me explain some of what’s going on in here (there’s a lot, I know, but at least let me dispel some of the BDSM undertones).

Our game features playable factions who battle with each other for dominance over all the land. You may have guessed that certain factions (like, I don’t know… The ‘Circus Folk’) don’t always get along with everyone. They also may need to cross certain terrain and occasionally butt heads with the other factions when doing so. VERSUS Players will get the chance to vent their anger at other factions in silly and gratuitous ways; Not quite what you’re seeing here (in-game at least), but you get the idea.

We hope the art gets you psyched for the feel we’re going for. Silly, fun, and just a little cute. If this picture reminds you of a vacation postcard, you’ll see why once we’re in a full marketing swing! But that’s another story.

Charlie Ze Newbie

If you’d like to see more of our art, follow us on the social media!

 

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VERSUS: BIG UPDATE!

Greetings, ZeMind Game fans!

Alright, alright. I know you’ve been waiting on them, so take a peek at some of the new stuff we’re throwing into VERSUS!

Some of our early drafts of the menu for our next big release, VERSUS!

We’ve asked a few friends to join us and add a little extra art muscle around the studio. Everything from the characters to the level select menu is getting a fresh coat of paint, a little lip-gloss and their eyebrows on fleek looking very nice.

But seriously though, we’re adding a few extra features. It’s pretty cool seeing everything come together this quickly now that we’ve got a few extra hands on things. Right now we’re looking for an easy method of adding the game’s lighthearted story via text boxes (think the standard JRPG styled talking heads) into the pre-fight banter. There’s also quite a bit of evolution in terms of character design, with many playable and non-playable characters becoming more expressive in their faces and gestures. While the game will keep its cartoonish charm, we’ve amped up some of the tonal details and made sure some characters look more menacing than others.

Our preliminary draft for the character select screen in VERSUS!

We’ve also enlisted our interns (who are very talented) in bringing our art to life. They’ve begun to add key frames and effects to our more demanding animations, and everything is going smoothly. Don’t worry folks, VERSUS is high on the priority list and we’re pretty excited to show you what’s happening.

This game already includes over 3 different comics, as well as over 20 different levels for you to play in. While you may have noticed we often release smaller, pet project games from our interns/co-ops, rest assured that our next big release, VERSUS, is going to knock your socks off.

Charlie Ze Newbie

If you’d like to see what we get up to on a daily basis, follow us on social media! We promise you won’t be disappointed:

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We Are… VR!

Hello ZeMind blog fans!

It is I, Charlie Ze Newbie updating you on the latest in our studio. I know, I know. You’ve been dying to know when the next official game is coming out. We hear you, and we know it’s been a while since you’ve heard any news on VERSUS, our lovely RTS/Tower Defense game.

Good news! VERSUS hasn’t gone anywhere, It’s still very much in development. Our art department just needed a little more time in the oven to bake up our tray of assets.

Very soon we’ll have some extra screengrabs for you to take a peek at. Nothing huge, just a few menus, but it will give you a taste of the aesthetics we’re going for.

In other ZeMind game news, we’ve gone ahead and jumped on the VR bandwagon. Join us! There’s plenty of room. Earlier last week we picked up the well designed and incredibly comfortable MERGE VR headset. Light, made of a memory foam and featuring some soft straps around the head, we can’t recommend this headset strongly enough for game developers looking to make waves in the land of mobile VR. Heck, it even features an adaptable flap for all your AR (augmented reality) games.

We haven’t quite  pushed it to the limits yet, and as of late we’ve mostly just run stereoscopic 360 video, but all in all it seems like a pretty cool experience. Catching music videos where you’re part of the set as well as taking VR trips in flight seems like a great way to experience the medium.

That about wraps it up for us this week, follow us on social media for more updates!

Charlie Ze Newbie

We promise you won’t be disappointed:

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Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

Prototype for our card game!

Last week we were polishing up the core of our card game, when it dawns on me that there hasn’t been a game played in the office that I haven’t been a part of in some sense or another- and this is concerning.

What’s the deal?

The game ‘Mega Fighters’, (as it’s working title has come to be called,) is about reducing your opponent’s health to zero using a combination of cards representing punches, kicks, and grappling moves. Custom card games can be a bit complicated on their own, but when designed to simulate the gamesmanship of physical combat, nuance goes straight out the window.

Now that the solid foundations of the game has been laid, it’s time for a crucial part of any game development: The testing. Simultaneously the best and worst part of a game’s pre-launch sequence, the testing is days, weeks or even months long.

So to test effectively, we’ve printed out the hard copy board game edition of the rules and asked a test duo to play the game as intended without any interference. So far it’s turned out pretty well, although a fair amount questions do pop up. These questions have required quite a bit of explanation.

So what have we learned from that experience?

The game’s instructions (from a tabletop perspective) aren’t clear enough. As a bit of a self-horn toot, it’s easy to over explain things when you’re passionate about the projects you work on. This however can lead to excessive directions in the ‘Basic’ rule set and often extends the play time un-necessarily.

As a method of shortening the distance between starting and playing, the solution we’re up for trying will be the flow chart method. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy. No one wants to sift through pages and pages of instruction just to play a 20 minute game (even though most of this will happen automatically as a mobile app, we won’t close the door on the tabletop edition just yet).

We’ll let you know what the feedback is for our new flow-chart instructions! Maybe they’ll help the direction of your next title as well. Don’t forget, if you’ve got a method of letting us know the BEST way to convey card game instructions, we’d love to hear it.

Reach out to us on social media to do so!

Charlie Ze Newbie

We promise you won’t be disappointed:

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Bored games? I don’t think so!

Some of the local developers playing ‘Breathe’, our in-progress board game!

We, like many game development studios, like to play games.

Shocking, right?

Along with playing said games, we also like making them.

Mind  =  Blown.

Alright, i’ll stop. But for realsies though, we’re into all sorts of games, not just the digital variety. Over the last few weeks some of the game developers here have brushed off a prototype of an old board game from long ago (in an era before myself, henceforth known as ‘BC’).

The game (‘Breathe’) is a story about a desintegrating space ship with failing systems as all players move toward an escape pod located on the other end of the board. Not all of the pods work, however, and some pods may require players to search for additional parts before ejecting to safety.

The board itself is a tile set. The map tiles are unrevealed as players move from their starting point and as they (all 2-6 of them). Player turns are conducted in much a Dungeons and Dragons tabletop roleplaying style, with phases including ‘Actions’ and ‘Movement’. Each tile may reveal a hazard or reward within a given room and at the end of each turn, pow! An event happens. Usually catastrophic, often changing the board/item/hazard layout and altering player strategies.

The game feels like something made from the Battlestar Galactica tabletop game crossed with something out of a traditional Dungeons and Dragons campaign. It’s fun, takes about an hour to complete and more importantly, encourages varied dialogue between players.

By varied, I mean I get to talk a little trash, because that’s how I roll. Or not, there are no dice in this game. Yet.

The game features both a competitive and cooperative mode with many different types of characters, which, as you guessed, all have abilities which may be of help or hindrance depending on situation. Originally developed to be a mobile app, the game is a whole lot of fun on a tabletop and we can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

That’s it for updates this week! If you like what we’re up to here at the studio, give our Facebook page a like and don’t forget to follow us on the other social media pages.

Thanks for reading!

-Charlie Ze Newbie


We promise you won’t be disappointed!

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ZeMind’s Favourite Games of 2016

Greetings, blog readers!

What were your New Year’s resolutions? Ours was to make more games in 2017. Games you’ll play, and more importantly enjoy. We intend on keeping it. In the spirit of internet trends of making fancy lists and giving them labels, here are the top 5 ZeMind Game Studio games we played in 2016.

5) The Jackbox games… All of them.

It’s easy to see why these games make an appearance on this list. We’re a pretty relaxed studio so during the dying hours of the workweek we occasionally indulge ourselves in a few rounds of ‘Drawful’ or ‘Fibbage’ to help unwind. It’s a great package of party games that help break the ice when meeting new people. It’s also an awesome way to get to know your new employees as well!

4) Rocket League

It’s car soccer, what’s not to enjoy? This game frequently settled debates here at the studio, as well as provided bragging rights for many of the developers. Got a beef with someone who won’t clean up your code? Settle it in the thunderdome, folks. Two cars enter, one car leaves!

3) League of Legends

We’re power nerds, there, I said it. Teaming up to smash people online while our team screams obscenities at each other is sort of the ultimate game developer experience, is it not? Many of our staff also cross over into  anime fandoms which line up pretty well with much of the LOL community.

Just putting it out there, any of you #GameDev teams wanna throw down, we’re up for it!

2) Overwatch

Because the most popular game of 2016 is popular. Also, we like tanks. Not much of a support team here (speaks nothing about our customer service!) but we can cap a point if needed.

It’s a team based shooter that we’d use to settle arguments here if there were only a way to turn friendly fire on…

1)  Ultimate Chicken Horse

There’s not much to be said here that can do this game justice. It’s well designed, has awesome art assets as well as an easy to learn/hard to master arsenal of tools used that are best described as a ‘Sadistic way to playfully lose friends’.

As far as we’re concerned, this is one of the best ways to build a comradery between team members. The games are fast, easy and frequently require all parties to work together just before inevitably causing ruin to fall to all other players. It may very well be the best of both the group building/burning worlds.

So that was our list of the top 5 games we play here at the office, what do ya’ll think?
-Charlie Ze Newbie


If you like the ZeMind Games Blog, feel free to follow us on social media for an inside look at what we do here at the studio. We promise you won’t be disappointed!

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Dice to Meet You!

Happy New Year, Internet!

It looks like we’re off and running! So far the response to playing the card prototype has been positive, but it’s shown a strong tendency to end unexpectedly, along with a few awkward card interactions that disrupt the flow and pacing of the game.

Still, it’s looking like a project that’s got some legs and would transfer well into the mobile gaming space, so off we go.

After extensive testing using dice to measure randomness in terms of effective strategy and mitigating variance (which is the fancy way of saying dice didn’t feel like a component in a fighting game), we’ve forgone our six sided pals for a less chance/more strategy oriented approach; A ‘Rock/Paper/Scissors inspired combat system. While we were trying to emulate the chaos and unpredictability of a mixed martial arts fight, it seemed a touch unfair to rely solely on the rolling of dice in order to do it.

So what does switching from dice to Rock/Paper/Scissors actually do? Originally we had planned to use the dice to emulate the success of strikes, for example a more consistent, low damage card can roll everything up to 5 on the die and be successful. This would contrast to rolling a high damage, low success card that would have a much smaller (2 or lower) rate of succeeding.

This greatly reduces the degree of ‘Variance’ (or as some would call it, luck) that influences the game, and greatly increases the consistency of most of our attacks while at the same time dissuading the idea of the fight changing with a single move (however true that reality may be).

We’ve also decided to reward the more strategy oriented players by slanting the abilities of the fighters into using a more predictable set of cards. This way, defending players will have a better idea of what to expect in certain match ups, and the more likely it is they will pick a strategy (or, in some cases, counter strategy) accordingly.

While part of me will miss the anticipation and somewhat torturous dice rolling method, it’s more likely that this change (as big as it was to the core mechanics and feel of the game) will result in an overall richer experience for those willing to put the time in to learn the ins and outs of the game.

Ah well, that’s just the way the game rolls, I guess.

-Charlie Ze Newbie


If you like the ZeMind Games Blog, feel free to follow us on social media for an inside look at what we do here at the studio. We promise you won’t be disappointed!

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Happy Holidays from ZeMind!

Not nearly the entire ZeMind team, just the ones who showed up on picture day 🙂

 

So, we’re a pretty culturally diverse bunch here at the studio. Now, that might sound like a humble brag, but it is not. It’s an all-out brag.

It’s pretty easy to say a studio like ours needs more “____”, and you might be right, but at the rate that I’ve seen our studio grow and develop I’m proud to say I’m a part of this team. As far as young start-ups are concerned, we’re making progress towards having a total grab-bag of team members (although we could always use a few more to help share the load!)

The holidays are a funny thing. They are often full of panic, uncertainty, and a whole lot of sad bank accounts (let’s be honest here, we’ve all gone diving into the cash hole a little bit this December). They are also, however, packed to the rafters with awkward social interaction between friends and relatives that you potentially haven’t seen a lot of in a very long time.

Offices can be very much the same, but all year round. We, like many, have an open concept office with a few rows of computers lined up with each other. Despite what you may think about communication in these kinds of settings, places like this can be difficult to traverse as the boundaries between the app teams and the gaming development teams are often nebulous. We’re constantly shifting personnel and focus across many different projects on the go, and I like to think it keeps us all mentally fresh and stops the staff from burning out while on a single task.

In simple terms, we share.

That, as well as our communications, relationships and interactions with each other are what make this studio so special.

Over the last few months we’ve gone axe throwing, game-jammed, exchanged presents and participated in much of each other’s workload. We’ve gotten to get to know each other pretty well, to the point now where team deathmatches with dart guns (plastic, thank you very much) have become commonplace between the senior staff and the newbies during the downtime. There’s something to be said about the trust that has to be developed between team members when switching from an in-house cartoon-influenced tower defense game to a high-profile clients’ mobile app, and I think it’s positive.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is a wonderful place to work and everyone is happy to be here. While not every employer may be as fortunate as ours, it’s always important to take stock in the holiday season of the people who add a positive influence in your life, whether they’re your friends, family, or game studio.

So spread a little holiday happiness, and tell the people who make you happy that they do so, even if it means hijacking the company blog to say it.

From our family to yours, we wish you the happiest of holidays.

Charlie Ze Holiday Elf


If you like the ZeMind Games Blog, feel free to follow us on social media for an inside look at what we do here at the studio. We promise you won’t be disappointed!

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Making our games: From Concept to Creation

ZeMind has quite a few ideas brewing, in terms of 2017’s releases. Along with our Tower Defense game (Working title: “Project: Versus”) we’re currently brewing up ideas for a new TCG/CCG mobile game (Yes, we know what it sounds like, but it’s got nothing to do with swords, sandals, sorcery or sandwiches) for you all to enjoy at some point in the future.

That’s right, we’re thinking of jumping into the world of Mobile Card Games.

From a blog standpoint, This is a great opportunity to give you the step by step process of what could be our next mobile title. As opposed to Project: Versus, I’ll have been around for the entire creation of the project, which give me (social media extraordinaire) the opportunity to walk you through exactly what we’re up to, step by step.

So, what is our new game? Where it is at right now is essentially an MMA fighting game played with cards, complete with submissions on the ground, heavy wrestling and great kickboxing/Muay Thai strikes. Currently revolving around a two player (1V1, bruh) combat system, it’s a strategy deckbuilding TCG/CCG that involves reducing your opponent’s HP to zero using card based strikes and submissions that mesh with the player of your choosing.

As with many fighting video games, the first point of order is to select a fighter. Some fighters will excel at striking while standing, others will have an advantage wrestling or grappling on the ground. It’s up to the player to decide what goes into their deck to help take advantage of their fighters’ abilities while covering their weaknesses. The game itself revolves around creating a deck that excels where your opponent does not, and, much like the sport of MMA itself, has several different win conditions that don’t all necessarily favour punching and kicking.

For example:
Fighter A-
Excels at combat on the ground, struggles while standing

Fighter B-
Struggles while on the ground, excellent standing striking

A player using either of these fighters would have to fill their deck with the appropriate cards to get the fight where they need it to go in order to win. That’s not all, however. A crafty player can concoct a strategy that revolves around winning points and making it to a judging decision. Players plan their attacks/defending cards against each other at the same time all the while choosing to either ‘Play it safe’ with high percentage/Low damage cards or ‘Go Big/Go Home’ strategies that can end the fight in a heartbeat but require more luck.

How are we calculating percentages? Dice, at the moment. Will it stay that way? Probably not.

So far it’s in a preliminary ‘Paper Prototype’, wherein we’ve printed out some makeshift cards and played through it a few times. Can’t wait to see where this goes!

-Charlie Ze Newbie


If you like the ZeMind Games Blog, feel free to follow us on social media for an inside look at what we do here at the studio. We promise you won’t be disappointed!

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