August production update: Expansion playtests, rules complete, and editing to layout phase!
9 days ago
– Tue, Aug 07, 2018 at 07:20:56 PM
July and August have by far been the busiest months for GDBZ. Here’s what we’ve been up to, and here’s what’s coming next:
Custom Dog Art
Fox has been hard at work on custom dog art and has completed an illustration of almost every backer pup that will be included in the game! We’re thrilled to start previewing these with backers so we can share them with you in the next update.
Here’s another peek at the process:
With every illustration nearly complete, Evan will be working with Fox to do a final pass on the art so all pieces look and feel consistent. Then, Evan will go through and add background art to each energy card. Finally, the cards will go into layout with flavor text and an effect (like Herd 2 or Run 3) for each pup!
GDBZ rules are complete and the rules have been passed to our editor, Joshua Yearsley, for a round of iterative, player-focused editing. Josh uses rulebook read-throughs with folks of all ages to identify places where the rules could be more clear, where additional diagrams may be helpful, and to do one last round of playtesting on the game. Josh has already hosted two sit-downs and we’re now flowing the rulebook into layout so he can test the laid out rules with the next group of players!
Evan is back in Chicago with Brian for a week of intensive design and playtesting for the Weird Smells and Unlikely Allies expansions.
The two expansions have been a blast to work on! They’re allowing us to engage with the game in fresh ways after developing it for around four years. The Weird Smells expansion, in particular, will bring some new ideas we weren’t able to fit into the base game. As much as we love the base game, it’s also exciting to be mixing things up. In Weird Smells, you'll go on missions to help Hoomans who aren't ready to join you in Hooman Town - but who want your help finding the source of the zombie outbreak, escaping the city, uncovering a lost relative, or just having some fun for the first time since the apocalypse broke out. In return, they'll teach your dogs new tricks, which give huge bonuses to your pack. It's been a joy to write the storylines and craft the mechanics for these missions!
After Evan returns, we’ll switch from the rules design phase of the expansions to the final playtesting and layout phase.
Custom Dog Cards
One huge project we’re undertaking for August is collating the data from over 1,000 custom dog cards into a single spreadsheet, that can then be flowed into an InDesign document. The process involves a lot of Excel formulas, error-checking, and data-merging all your pup info into a final formatted card template.
This has been one of the most challenging parts of the project. We’re excited to share a peek at what that process looks like when we’ve started flowing the data!
If you haven’t filled out your survey and you backed at a level with custom rewards ($75 and above) you have until the end of this week, Friday August 10th, to complete your survey and upload your custom dog photos. After this, we’ll be exporting all backer data and prepping custom dog cards for our printer!
If you’re having trouble completing your survey or uploading photos, just let us know! We know the surveys have been finicky and we’re happy to manually upload your pup photos or plug in answers.
If you can’t complete your survey by August 10th, you will still get the game and your custom dog card, but the printing quality of the cards may vary from the first printing. Our printer is offsetting all the cards in a huge batch on a giant press sheet—a printing process that isn’t possible for smaller batches.
Any cards that don’t make it into their offset batch will be produced print-on-demand at a later date. We’ll make sure we’re satisfied with the quality, but because these will be going through a different printer, the color processing and paper stock may be different from the pieces printed with the base game.
Note: If you've already reached out to us about switching out or manually uploading photos and your survey still isn't locked down, don't fret! We received a lot of these requests and we're processing through them all by the 10th.
Summer is flying by! It’s hard to stay cool with all the heat waves passing through New England. Here are some backer pups who know how to chill out and enjoy the fun and the sun.
How do your pups stay cool in the heat? We could use some tips!
Your Canine Assembly Line,
Hannah, Brian, and Evan
Lessons learned from designing GDBZ. Plus, production updates and dog pictures!
about 1 month ago
– Mon, Jul 16, 2018 at 10:47:28 PM
Hello backers! We hope summer is treating you well.
We've got a fun update for you! We're going to dive into some lessons we've learned from creating Good Dog, Bad Zombie; give you an overview of how production has progressed; and share some of your dog pictures!
Lessons Learned from Designing Good Dog, Bad Zombie: Letting Go of Mechanics You Love that Aren't Working
While the game design is nearly complete for GDBZ, we thought it would be interesting to share our designer diaries for developing the game in the form of a retrospective. We will share these in occasional updates!
Here’s an example that I encountered while designing Good Dog, Bad Zombie: about two and a half years ago, there was a version of the game that used a mechanic we were calling “Call of the Pack.” I thought it was a great feature that would inspire cooperation in the game in a unique way. To summarize, the way it worked was that every single card had a “Pack” symbol on it. On your turn, when you played a card, every other player could “hear” your “call” and immediately play any card in their hand with the matching Pack symbol. This would allow stacks of effects that would inspire teamwork and involve people in the game even when it wasn’t their turn. Neat.
For some reason, I became stuck on this mechanic. Even when I’d break the game down and rebuild it in between playtests, I always kept the Call of the Pack feature in the game out of dog-like loyalty. For some obsessive reason, I thought it was the best part of the game. And I’m not the only game designer who has had this kind of problem. I’ve noticed similar issues occur a lot in the game community. I read posts on message boards with people wrestling with this conundrum, posting questions like: “I really like this mechanic in my game but I’m not sure it’s working… should I keep it? How do I make it better?”
We get glued to these ideas that we think are great, until the ideas own us, rather than us owning them. The game design process then becomes fixated on these particular mechanics that we think define the game, rather than examining the game as a wholistic experience.
We continue to roll on the production of the game! Fox is taking all of your amazingly adorable submitted dog pictures and drawing them into amazing hooman-rescuing pictures. We are about to begin work with Joshua Yearsley and Kate Unrau, our editing team, to make sure the rulebook and the rest of the game are as easy to understand as possible. Presently, Hannah is working on the scent deck - she had a meeting with author Rebecca Slitt to help come up with more event ideas, in order to make the game's storyline unique for each time you play. In the next couple of weeks, we will be receiving the die-lines from Community Printers, which we will begin filling out with all of the designed game components. Our plan is to get Community Printers the complete game by the start of September, so they can use the fall to print and assemble the game.
At the start of August, Brian and Evan will meet up in Chicago for one last dog-powered game design meeting. We'll use this retreat to put the final touches on the base game as well as finishing the Weird Smells and Unlikely Allies expansion packs!
Some of your good dogs!
Welp, we should have known it would be an incredibly popular thing to ask if we can share pictures of your dogs. (I mean, we did make a game that features our dogs in it...) And we love seeing this enthusiasm. After all, it's what made this game possible. So, we will occasionally feature a couple dogs - picked at random - in future updates. Thank you for sharing your doggos with us and with this game!
The Dog Days of Summer
about 2 months ago
– Fri, Jun 29, 2018 at 02:18:35 AM
Hello hoomans, and happy summer!
Since the Kickstarter finished we’ve been hard at work on Backerkit support. Now that the Backerkit has closed, production on the game is accelerating!
If you know someone who missed out on the game, let them know the Good Dog, Bad Zombie BackerKit will remain open for pre-orders through the summer. Friends and family can still order the game, the expansions, or take a look at our back catalog of roleplaying games!
Our final counts came in around 1,000 custom dogs! Because we’ve already begun the work of processing through custom dogs and hoomans, those rewards are now locked and no new pups or hoomans can be added. If you need to make any edits to your pup or hooman cards, please get in touch with us. We may be able to accommodate small edits if we hear from you in the next week, and we’re happy to work with you to get your cards right. :)
One of our biggest joys this past month has been going through photos from backers who will be having their pups illustrated into an Energy or Sniff card in every copy of the game. It’s a lot of work and a lot of fun, so we wanted to give you a better sense of what that process looks like.
After downloading your pup’s photo from Backerkit, Hannah adds the pup’s name to a spreadsheet matched with its owners name, a description of the photo, suggested flavor text for the card, and a suggestion for the pup’s power (run, herd, chew, bark, or "good doggo!").
Evan then references the spreadsheet and the original photo to create a sketch with art notes about the pup’s pose, accessories, and foreground/background elements.
From there, Fox creates a draft of the final artwork. Finally, Evan will go through and add the background and other layout elements to finish the card.
We won’t be showing finished art yet - that’s still going through approvals. Backers whose dogs will be featured in the game will get a chance to preview the artwork first, then we'll share sneak peeks of those cards later this summer!
Playtesting and Production
In June, Brian started playtesting the Weird Smells expansion with his playtesting group at the Second Shift co-working space in Chicago!
Weird Smells introduced missions to the game, which adds another layer of strategy and complexity to the base rules. It also adds some other new characters and components, like a Mission Hooman and a Zombie Slayer - a new hooman ally that you can Bark and Herd around the board to take out massive swaths of zombies at once.
The Weird Smells expansion adds a new victory condition to the game: In addition to filling up Hooman Town with rescued hoomans, you have to help Mission Hoomans complete their goals. This might include searching for a cure, reuniting with a lost child, or just having a fun day of playing fetch on the beach.
We’ll have more updates about the expansions to share in coming months! In the meantime, we’ve also started preparing for production. While Brian playtests and refines the expansion, Hannah works on layout, and Evan and Fox work on the game’s art, we’re also having meetings with Community Printers about packing, materials, printing, and creating the best design possible for this game.
Welcoming a new playtester to the pack!
On June 12th, Brian and his wife Lydia welcomed our newest playtester to the pack: Baby Simon!
Lupin has already begun to show Simon the ropes, and what it means to be a good dog, a good hooman, and a good playtester!
That’s it for now! Our next update will continue to cover our production work, expansion progress, and general fondness for dogs. We’d love to feature dogs that you’ve shared with us in future updates! Let us know in a comment if it’s okay to share a photo of your pup, and you may see them in a future production post! :)
In the meantime, we’d love if you stayed in touch with us.
Listen to Design Doc, a podcast run by Hannah and Evan, about their design process on Questlandia 2 - our next big project!
Bark ya later,
Hannah, Evan, and Brian (and Simon, Lupin, and Waine)
Surveys close June 5th! Bring on the pups!
3 months ago
– Fri, Jun 01, 2018 at 08:56:12 PM
We’ve reached 90% completion on the GDBZ surveys! Thank you everyone for filling out your surveys. We’re excited to dive into the work ahead after the Backerkit closes June 5th. Here’s a quick update with what to expect and what you need to know.
Backerkit closes: Tuesday June 5th
Cards charged: By Friday June 8th
Your Backerkit surveys are how we get you your rewards! Choosing add-ons and additional components for the game is optional, but filling out your survey lets us keep track of your address and any information we need to track your shipments, create custom dog cards, etc.
If you’ve lost track of the Backerkit link, you can always return here to log into your survey:
If you’re having trouble uploading your pup’s photo and that’s preventing you from completing your survey, please use the Backerkit support function to send us a message! We think all the simultaneous submissions may be overworking Backerkit’s system, but we can re-size and upload your photos manually so you won’t get stuck!
This survey deadline is just to lock in your rewards. You’ll have the opportunity to change or update your mailing address as we get closer to our estimated ship date!
Custom dog cards and illustrated dog cards
It’s especially important to fill out your survey if you’ve chosen custom rewards! If you’ve backed at a level where you’ll be getting your dog illustrated into the game, we’ll need photos of your sweet pups by June 5th! We’ll be passing your photos along to our art team immediately so they can get started on that work. :)
We’ll have a more in-depth production update later this month, after the Backerkit has closed.
Thanks again for your kind, patient, and enthusiastic support! We can’t wait to share our progress with you along the way!
Brian, Evan, & Hannah
One week left to fill out Backerkit surveys, and FAQs!
3 months ago
– Fri, May 25, 2018 at 05:42:17 PM
Congratulations on the momentous task you’ve taken on. We’ve reached 70% completion on the GDBZ surveys, which is preposterously expedient (or is that pupposterously dogfeedient?).
We wanted to write to cheer you on, to say thanks, and to answer some frequently asked questions!
Thank you and troubleshooting
Thanks to everyone who has finished their surveys! As a reminder, these are not optional. You must fill out your survey or we can’t ship your rewards!
If you backed at a level that includes custom dogs, especially the 4 custom dogs and 12 hoomans levels, we know these surveys take a bit of effort! Thank you for filling them out, and we appreciate those of you who have reached out for help.
There are some common hiccups with the surveys. Depending on the add-ons you select, you may get stuck and not be able to move past certain questions. Here are some common issues we’ve identified:
Stuck in a survey loop or can’t submit my photos
If you’re stuck in a loop where the survey keeps taking you back to the beginning, it may be because you haven’t proceeded to the add-ons section. The prompts to upload dog photos may appear AFTER the add-ons. If this is the case, you’ll want to advance through the add-ons and click “next,” even if you’re not selecting any add-ons, so you can upload those photos and complete your survey.
If that’s not the case, or if you’re having unrelated troubles uploading dog photos, just drop us a Backerkit support request. We’re able to upload photos manually, so we can identify where you’re stuck in the survey and help you out!
Can’t purchase an additional custom dog add-on
We’ve capped this add-on at one per backer to keep the survey section as clear as possible. If you’d really like to get around this limit, you can use Backerkit’s pledge-switching function to up your pledge to a level that includes additional custom dogs.
Additional photo questions
Is my photo’s height & width the proper ratio? We’ll be cutting out your pup from the background to put them on a watercolor landscape, so any photo proportions are fine!
Is my photo a high enough resolution?
Because of the filtering process, we can work with even fairly low-resolution pictures. That said, if your photo is at least 800x800 pixels, that helps us make the result as good as possible!
I’m not sure how to rename my photo to my dog’s name!
Don’t sweat it. We can link up your photos using BackerKit’s tools; naming your photo just gives us a way to double-check our work. Feel free to submit without renaming if you’re having trouble.
Does my dog look okay in this photo?
Yes! Your dog is adorable!
Backerkit closes: Tuesday June 5th
Cards charged: By Friday June 8th
Remember, you must fill out your survey before the Backerkit closes on June 5th to receive your rewards for pledging to this campaign. If you’d like any help walking through the process reach out to us. That’s what we’re here for! Well, that AND delivering a fun game to your doorstep. :)
While the Backerkit is open, answering support requests and processing through surveys is a full-time job. We’ll have a rough production timeline for you in early June, after the Backerkit closes. In the meantime, we’ve already hit the ground running with expansion work and putting the final bit of polish on the game’s mechanics. Here’s a shot of Brian and Evan meeting in Chicago for a mini design retreat!
Thanks again for your kind, patient, enthusiastic support requests. We’re happy to help and we’re so excited to see all your pups!