So you want to sell a card game…

With ‘Mega Fighters’ (working title of our MMA fighting card game) hopefully coming out sometime this year (we’re thinking fall-summer), the time has come to try and solve the logistic issues between getting the game made and getting the game out there.

Hold on to your butts.

With only a projected few months to go, we’re buckling down and making the most of our precious play testing time as our self-imposed deadline draws near. We’re testing. A lot. The first thing we’re hoping to do is release a starter pack containing the basics of what two people would need to play a basic game of Mega Fighters (includes an awesome introduction to the game as well as a few rare cards to get their collection going).

The second thing we hope to do is release another ‘Deluxe Edition’, complete with several more playable characters, un-lockable abilities as well as a plethora of moves you won’t find in any other card game. These extra cards will of course be available in booster packs we plan to release as well, keeping in tradition with many of your favourite childhood (or adulthood) trading card games such as Magic: The Gathering.

We’re also hoping to include a few accessories (such as dials and score cards) to keep track of certain statistics like hand size, health totals, etc. We feel like these add to the speed and overall enjoyment when included but don’t detract from the experience when playing without them.

As with any fighting game, the level itself will provide much of the flavour. What we’re aiming for is a cage-like play mat that simulates the circular ring you’d find in many MMA fights both on TV and at the amateur level. Speaking of flavour, we’re now on the prowl for local (Toronto) artists looking to get out there and design a few cards (with compensation, of course). It should be noted though, that we’re on the hunt for something along the current Marvel Comics style and that we’re looking to review portfolios in the upcoming weeks.

Got any hot tips on an artist looking to get in on a card game? Shoot them our way!

-Charlie Ze Newbie

If you want to keep tabs on us don’t forget to follow Zemind Games on social media!

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Nerf This! A Mega-Fighters Update

When it comes to balanced games, chances are you’re not thinking of fighting games. Chances are even better, that you cringe at the idea of a fighting game being ‘Balanced’. For the average person catching a high level eSport or watching a competitive fighter, it’s essentially a blur of movement, rapid framerates, endless combos and an audience/broadcaster commentary track using what is effectively an alien language.

To an extent, these things are part of the experience- The ‘Alien’ language of a fighting game commentary is part of the community, and the endless combos with an obsessive counting of framerates is what separates contenders from pretenders. However, when designing our own fighting card game (with a digital expansion in mind) it became plainly obvious that many of these things can be entry barriers for new players, or, in our case, players in a new game.

As a bit of background, our card game (currently in early development) is a mixed martial arts fighting card game sitting the line somewhere between the Street Fighter series and the EA Sports UFC franchise. Using punch and kick cards, as well as submission and wrestling cards, you’ll also need a solid gameplan to reduce your opponent’s HP to 0.

This is what the team looks like when designing games.

One of the advantages to a paper-prototype is that it inherently strips away frame rates by slowing the game down. For future fighting game developers, I would strongly recommend breaking down your game down into a card game for the sake of understanding how fighting commands (and their interactions with each other) work. In doing so, we’ve discovered what moves could be considered over powered and what needs a little extra heat behind it to keep its usage up.

As a personal note, when it comes to balancing the game out, I’ve always erred on the side of nerfing, as opposed to buffing attacks (in both fighting and card games) so as not to provide any potential game-breaking strategies. This however, has changed over the course of balancing the games as buffing cards increases the game’s pace and overall excitement. When trying to emulate the chaotic feel of an MMA fight, it should always feel like any fighter could win at any moment, conversely, it should also go without saying that the more skilled combatant should win more often than not. Essentially, what we’re going for is the feeling of a potential upset victory but reward those putting the time in to learn the game’s intricacies and strategies. It’s definitely been eye-opening going from player to designer, but overall it’s easy to say I’ve gained an entire mountain of respect for everyone in the testing department.

We’ve actually just printed out a new set of cards to expand our original 16 card lineup, and we can’t wait to test them. This game is going to be awesome.

If you want to keep tabs on us don’t forget to follow Zemind Games on social media!

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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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