Posts Tagged ‘Zomblobs’


For 2013, I hereby resolve to:

Play more games than I buy.  (HumbleBundle.com, IndieRoyale.com, IndieGala.com, GoG.com, Steam… sorry, guys.)

Play games I already have before getting new ones.

Get Guild Wars 2 working.  (I got a new nVidia card to make the framerate more than 10fps… and it hard freezes the computer now.)

Revise Zomblobs! and maybe even get the 3D models done and offered via Shapeways… and maybe work on a Kickstarter for it.

Take more screenshots.  (Thank you, Steam, for F12!)

Blog about stuff.  Maybe even interesting stuff.  Include screenshots.

Write more of the Project Khopesh story.  Lots more.

Explore a ghost town.  Take lots of photos.

Do more art, and make some stuff to sell on Zazzle.  (I’ve earned $2 so far, wooo!)

…and maybe, just maybe, sleep through the night.  With child #4 coming in June, I know it’s not likely, but these lists aren’t complete without one really outlandish resolution.

Tally ho!

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This.  This is what I want for Zomblobs!… someday.  I saw the trend, the potential, but I’m not sure that my timing will be sufficient.  Trying to chase new markets in game design isn’t something that’s easy to do when timing is a factor, and I can only put hobbyist time (and barely that) into the process.

3D Printed Open Source Game

Zomblobs! may never really happen as a product I can make money from, or even be as finalized as I’d like (real life is a beast sometimes) but it’s nice to see that it could have, and that I wasn’t the only one to see the potential there.  Yes, technically, that’s an open source game, not really a commercial product, but still… 3D printing can be a great tool for indie-scale game design.

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I’ve been busy working on… too many projects.  I’ll have a Zomblobs! “patch” up here closer to the weekend, though.  Remember, the beta is over thisaway, and I’m looking for feedback.  Please let me know what you think and ask me any questions you might have!

In the meantime, here’s an eeeeevil Death Kitty I drew and painted to, er… brighten your day.

Death Kitty

Oh, and this is the rune I plopped under his feet.  I’ve long loved constructing Celtic knots, and this was fun to work out.

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Zomblobs! is finally in a playable state!   It’s a tabletop tactical wargame, played on a map with hexagonal cells, miniatures (folded paper for this version) and six-sided dice.  It’s the beta, so it’s not yet precisely balanced or perfectly presentable, but it’s playable!  (If you print out the PDF and prepare some paper, anyway.)


I’ve worked long enough in the game industry to believe that game testers are the last line of defense between a working game and a broken one.  There’s definitely more polishing I want to do before I call Zomblobs! an alpha-release-worthy product, but it’s in a state where the game will benefit greatly from playtesting and experimentation.

Polishing can be pretty prickly

If you all have the time to at least read through the rules and give me some feedback, I’d greatly appreciate it.  If you have time to print out the game and play it for a while, I’d really love to hear what you think of it.

Many thanks for your interest!  I’ll be writing more articles on the game, especially if there’s something important to address that I haven’t yet covered in my previous articles.

Consume or be consumed!

For Science!


Now, in convenient just-under-19 MB size!  It’s a bit JPEGgy, but that’s just how the Zomblob crumbles.

Zomblobs Rules Beta Smaller

…and, because commenter “ironshield” down there has a very good point on printing, here’s the exact same data split into a “text” file and an “extras” file, just in case you want them that way.

Zomblobs Rules Beta Text

Zomblobs Rules Beta Extras (unit tokens, maps, map widgets, templates, that sort of thing)

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Just a little something I’ve been working on.  The Zomblobs are coming!

Zomblobs! Desktop 1

Happy weekend, all!

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I’ve nailed down the ruleset for Zomblobs!, and I’m making some final touches to the files so I can present it as a PDF file that anyone can print out and play with.  This means making a few maps, and a few map features for variety.  As it will be a public beta of the game, it will inevitably need a little tuning and a lot of playtesting, so I’m hoping to get it out to as many people as possible.  I’ll be making a big announcement about it here in a bit, once I get the presentation polished.

In the meantime, though, I’m left to think a little bit about filling the gaps.

Have you ever played the license plate game?  There are probably a few different ones, but the one I play involves looking at license plate on cars as you pass by them and try to make a word out of the letters that are on the plates.  It’s a bit of a cross between a literary Rorschach test and a vocabulary test.  Something like the following on a plate might produce a variety of results.

498 MNM

The first thing I thought of was Mmrnmhrm… showing my 90s gamer roots.  If I had a craving for chocolate, I might fudge the rules a little and think of M&Ms.  If I were a psychologist, I might think of monomaniacal.  If I were a monomaniac, I might think the rules don’t apply to me, and think of Mini Me.  If I were a Star Wars geek, I might think that license plates don’t apply to a galaxy long ago and far away and think of Mon Mothma.  If I were a historian, I might think of monuments.  If I were an anthropologist, I might think of manmade.  If I were a mathmetician, I might think of minimizing something.  If I were a zookeeper I might think of monotremes.

Whatever my background, whatever my vocabulary, it would inform my selection.  With minimal information to start with, and a few simple rules, there are a lot of paths to try.

That’s what I’m angling for with Zomblobs!  Some simple rules, some simple actions, some relatively simple units, some simple state tracking, all brewing up a nice storm of gameplay options to make tactics interesting.  Time and testing will tell if I manage it well, but that’s my goal.  It may well require players to bring something of their own to the table, or at least, the willingness to read the rules and try things out.  They may need to fill in the gaps a little bit and play nice when the rules don’t quite cover all possible corner cases.

Maybe I’m just making excuses, but then, even the most tenured of tabletop wargames have disclaimers in their rulebooks that suggest players use their own judgement when the rules prove insufficient to curious situations.  I have tried diligently to compose a playable ruleset that should answer most questions, but I simply don’t know all the weird things that can happen as players try to break the rules.

It’s actually a good thing for the players to try to break the game.  That’s the point of beta testing.  I’m relying on testing situations to fill in the gaps where I just didn’t foresee everything.  I’ve mapped things out as well as I can, but exploration is necessary for the rest.

So thank you for your interest!  I still have a lot of things going on at the moment, but the light at the end of the pre-beta tunnel is getting brighter.

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I wrote a fair bit about the dice-based combat system I’m using in my Zomblobs! game last time, but I wanted to add this smaller coda about criticals and what I see as an “underdog” mechanic within my system.

Variety is the spice of life

Many games use the idea of “critical” strikes (sometimes called “crits”) to spice up combat a little.  As the theory goes, these critical strikes do some extra bit of damage or cause some bonus, representing the “lucky strike” of hitting a foe’s funny bone or artery.  The WoWPedia has a good definition of how criticals work in World of Warcraft for a little more detail, noting that each game does things a little differently.

If variable damage and hit accuracy rates are the salt that makes games a bit more interesting by dodging perfectly deterministic combat resolution, criticals are the cayenne pepper that makes the occasional bite something really special.  In practical terms, they not only serve the purpose of instilling variety, but they also give game designers another handle to tweak as they fiddle around with balance and even the game’s flavor/feel.  They give players more chances to have memorable “lucky rolls” that turn the tide of an otherwise unwinnable game… or more reasons to curse their luck.

This balance between luck and tactical decisions can be a tricky one.  I really want Zomblobs! to have a very strong tactical element, and for luck to be minimal, though I see some gameplay value in dice rolling and simulating the chaos of combat that actually does wind up being somewhat less than perfectly controlled.  The core dice rolling system of “successes” on attack and defense cover most of what I want to do with randomness.  Each point of attack or defense has a 2/3 chance of succeeding, which is enough to make attack decisions somewhat risky without being too crazily uncontrolled.  (It might actually be too big of a chance of failure, but 5/6 chance of success might be too small a chance of failure, and I’m trying to stick with common six-sided dice.  As ever, playtesting will be crucial to nailing down the right feel.)

Criticals are layered on top of this thusly:

Criticals in Zomblobs! happen when all of the dice you roll show the same number.  If that happens, you are considered to have rolled an extra successful die for the combat.  This means one more attack point added to your attack total, or one more defense point added to your defense total.  This also means rolling all 1s or all 2s, which would otherwise leave you with a 0 attack or defense total, will actually give you a total of 1 for attack or defense.  Consider this the “lucky unlucky strike”.

Most curiously, these criticals are easier to score the fewer dice you roll.  Weaker attacks have greater potential to hit a little bigger.  This particular “crit” design is therefore more of an “underdog” mechanism, rather than a “win more” mechanism.  Instead of harder hits probably hitting even harder, it’s the weak hits that are most likely to slip in a little extra punch.  It’s not quite the “slow blade” that can win a Dune-flavored shield knife fight, but it’s another tactical consideration that should keep someone from always just using their biggest attacks.

At least, that’s the theory.  Playtesting will hammer this all out, and the design may need to change.  Still, for now, I like the core combat chances, and I think criticals will add the occasional spike of fun, while boosting the “underdog” attacks ever so slightly.  This should also have the effect of speeding up the game a little bit, as the lower attack value Actions (which usually are also faster, with a lower Time Tick cost, meaning units who use them will act more frequently) gain a little extra potential punch.

It should also make some tactical decisions more interesting:  do you go for the 3-Power attack and hope you roll well for the basic successes or go for the 2-Power attack and hope for doubles?  This sort of decision, where there’s a good statistical case to be made, but it’s beyond casual calculation, is an opportunity for players to play “by their gut” or do some number crunching on the side and really min-max their game… or maybe just bring some lucky dice.

Whatever the case, it’s an implementation of criticals that seems unique to me, so I want to see it work.  Designing Zomblobs! is itself a bit of a game, or at least a puzzle.  That’s the fun of game design in my book.  Wiring all the variables together into an enjoyable machine is great fun.

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