The More You Know: Creating an Expansion

We’ve been asked what goes into making a digital expansion pack for Sentinels of the Multiverse. Surely it must be just scanning the cards in, making a ZIP file, and slapping it up on a file server? Turns out that it’s a bit more involved!

The Text

The process starts with the text of the cards. If you think about it, that’s really all there is to the game. The rest looks cool and definitely adds to the fun, but without the card text, there would be no game at all. We take the text (and related properties, like hit points) of all the cards and build a data file that fully describes a deck. This data file has everything the game needs to know about the cards except what they look like, and importantly, the actual logic of what they do.


The Engine

Our programming wizards take the card text and build it into logic that the game uses for each card. Some cards are straightforward (like a simple damage dealing one-shot), and we have a library of code to quickly implement those. Others can require us to make sweeping modifications, or build out entirely new aspects of the system to support them. When this occurs, our library of unit tests help to ensure that all of the previous cards and their interactions continue to work properly. The programming of the cards is a large portion of the work for an expansion pack, and it’s the most important. The cards & rules need to work correctly!

With just the card text and programming, one can actually play the game. At this point, as each deck is completed, our Mega Computer alpha testers begin to test them out by playing games in a text-mode interface. This process helps turn up unexpected problem interactions and ensures that the final product is technically sound.

The Look and Sound

However, the work is not done yet! There’s a lot more we need to do to make the expansion pack content really playable and engaging in the digital version. We’re planning some blog posts to go into each of these areas in more detail, but here’s an abbreviated list:

  • We modify and convert the original card artwork files into our asset pipeline.

  • Adam Rebottaro draws several brand new character portraits for each hero & villain, and we integrate them into the game.

  • Our environmental artist, Jennifer Greene, builds a 3D world for each environment, which we carefully capture and integrate into the game.

  • Each environment and villain has original music composed by our in-house maestro, Jean-Marc Giffin.

  • There are all kinds of small tasks to do relating to build scripts, packaging, app store back-end configuration, and more.

  • All of it is thoroughly tested in-house and by our wonderful team of beta testers on 4 stores and 5 platforms.

Not to mention, along with each expansion pack we release bug fixes and new features that are in the free update, whether or not you get the pack. It all adds up to a lot of work, but we’re happy to do it to bring you a quality product!

Posted on February 27, 2015 and filed under The More You Know.