This article is part of a continuing series on Millennium Blades, a game in development from Level 99 Games. You can read more about the game’s conception and development here and here.
Game Development — Beyond Design
Once we decide that we’re going to do a game, the next step is to start thinking about the execution. Even while the design is ongoing, we know enough about the final game to get our artists started on creating the game elements and to get working on the graphic design and planning portions of the game.
After deciding that Millennium Blades was something that we definitely wanted to do, I had a discussion with Fábio Fontes on what kind of style would be economical for the game, and what would enable us to get it done in a reasonable time frame. We had already decided that this game was going to be a parody of other well-known collectible card games (how could it be anything else?), so we had plenty of source material to draw from. Pokémon, YuGiOh, Magic the Gathering, and Cardfight Vanguard (along with other less well-known Japanese TCGs) have been major inspirations for the art style and design of the game.
We determined that Millennium Blades would have a number of ‘sets’ and that these sets would be much like the card packs in Dominion–each could be shuffled into the game to create a variable setup. However, unlike Dominion, which features identical sets, the sets in millennium blades would feature between 3 and 5 different kinds of cards each.
I sat down with my notebooks and built a list of all the possible kinds of creatures and card sets we might want to include.
This list went over to Fábio, and after some discussion, we settled on the general style of the game and how many illustrations we would want for each set of cards. Then Fábio was given the freedom to pick out his favorite sets and decide how he would parody the different characters. A few of the illustrations he’s come up with so far are below…
The Face(s) of Millennium Blades
There are people who play card games, and then there are games about the people who play card games. YuGiOh has been the primary inspiration for the characters of Millennium Blades. It was important that the characters on the cards themselves be silly, but we also wanted to create a kind of ‘meta game’–a world in which Millennium Blades was a real thing. In addition to making these characters more relatable to the players, they would also serve as strong faces that could be associated with the game on posters and such.
We wanted the lead characters to be two middle-to-high school aged kids who would capture the spirit of the game. With these ideas in mind, Fábio created the first two “characters” in the game, Deques Applenti and Cardine Kolleka.
While Fontes was working on the artwork, I was building up the card templates. While the game’s final rules are still in flux, we have enough of the core game nailed down to know what the general placement of text, numbers, and illustrations on the card will be. Even if we add an extra number or symbol somewhere, the majority of the card’s look and feel will stay intact.
For laying out the cards in Millennium Blades, I use Adobe Photoshop and store each card as a separate .PSD file. For now, I just have the master card layouts, as I want to finalize the game rules before making a large quantity of cards.
For the back of the cards, I went with a ‘booster pack’ motif. For the front, we combined the sword graphics from the logo with some creative commons textures and filter effects to create a nice card layout. The card box has four hard borders, and is set up so that we can cut an image on any number of these borders, making ‘frame breaks’ a common feature of the sets. Usually on large games, I create templates for Magic Set Editor and use that program to manage my card lists. However, Millennium Blades has relatively few ‘unique cards’, so it’s easier to manage them in photoshop than to use Magic Set Editor templates, which can take a bit of work to get running.
As soon as the first pieces of art start coming in, we begin promoting the game at conventions and online with posters and preview banners. When you promote, you want to give the viewer some kind of immediate available action, so they can sign on for the experience. Since we haven’t opened the kickstarter project yet and we definitely don’t have a game for them to buy yet, we direct people to our mailing list, where they can be the first to hear about the game when it comes out.
With a large portion of our fans aware of the game and signed up for our email list, we hope to have a big group already excited about Millennium Blades the minute it is ready to go live. Having a bunch of fans early will allow us to reach lots of stretch goals and make the game even more awesome, so it’s a win both for us and for the fans that are excited about it! ^_^
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