Shocks and Focus

1st February 2022

We have now made enough improvements to Zeno that a new set of test cards is required and these have been ordered. Prior to doing this we made two adjustments in response to test feedback.

Firstly, we made the game more positive. While Zeno is a horror game there needed to be more ways to escape the dire straits your characters can get into. So the game now has a focus mechanic. Focus tokens are earned when your Survivors are inspired. These boost die rolls and can be spent to discard some conditions or to achieve special successes. They can also be traded to less fortunate Survivors. This reflects encouragement, as one survivor takes a moment to buck another one up.

Secondly, we diversified the damage model. While fire and fuel still play a central role, they were too dominant. We have therefore replaced some plasma conduits with power conduits. When these leak they add electrical charge to the affected area. When charge maxes out the result is a huge electric shock. This wounds any Survivors in the area, damages systems and starts fires.

Happy New Year

2nd January 2022

We did not allow the festive season to slow the testing down much and we are currently trying out some new improvements.
 
Chief among these are 40 personal objectives; one for each potential starting Survivor. The benefit of objectives is that players begin the game equipped with a clearer idea of what they need to achieve in order to progress. They also make the game more personal and every time that happens the game seems to get better. Objectives really tell you something about a Survivor. Some are dark secrets. Others are political or religious aims. If a Survivor fails to complete an objective it is thrown open to all players and anyone can try to complete it. They also tie in with completed missions, enabling factions to pursue an agenda and gain additional successes when compatible missions are completed.
 
If successful personal objectives will replace clues and investigations. As matters stand I suspect they will, but the testing will tell!

Rulebook Uploaded

2nd December 2021

The rulebook has been uploaded to the website. Long a work in progress, we now feel the game rules are unlikely to change very much. We therefore invested a lot of time this month into making them presentable and digestible. A full quality digital copy and a preview copy can be found on the Development page of the website.

Click here to read, download or preview the game rules.

In addition, all of the amended materials have now arrived and the second phase of testing can begin, using everything we learned from the first phase. The cards and materials are now leaner, clearer and a lot more user friendly.

We will be taking some photos shortly and uploading them. It is exciting to see how far we have come with Zeno already and more is in store.

Second Print

30th October 2021

What a lot of improvements we have made! Testing has been really helpful. Indeed, we have now amassed enough changes to merit a second prototype print of the game. To accompany this we have created a new area of the website to showcase the changes; the Development page.
 
Visit the Development page to see the latest version of the boards, cards and other game materials. Almost all materials have benefited from feedback in one way or another, especially the boards and some of the key card types.
 
When the materials from the second physical print arrives we will continue testing, but we anticipate more minor changes will be needed going forward. When we can foresee no further improvements from test feedback the time will have come to expand the testing to more groups, conventions and the like. Until then we will continue to focus on only one thing; making everything about Zeno as good as it can possibly be.

Testing

2nd September 2021

The beta test is underway and we are testing the game. Most of the feedback so far relates to visible complexity so we are reducing this on many cards to make them easier to read. There are some redundant tokens and game effects too.
 
There are also some rule and board changes. We have reduced the number of divisions to 4, for example and are experimenting with eliminating tiles in favour of sectors, which does not have a big impact on the game but is more convenient for play. It also adds some space to the main part of the board, making it easier to navigate.
 
Testing will continue now until the launch of the game. Until then everything is realistically subject to change. However the overall nature of the game is unlikely to alter much. When we are confident that the game is in an almost stable state we will upload previews of the rules and game materials to the website. Until then, the testing continues!

First Photos!

11th August 2021

As promised, a first look at the Zeno beta prototype all set up and ready to play. Cards and tokens and standees aplenty!
 
The main board does not have final art yet because the layout is subject to change.
 
We have added a page to the Galleries section to accommodate the photos we will upload to support and record the Beta test. There are some photos there already so feel free to take a look! Click here to go right there. The next task is to finish editing the rulebook and upload it and we are working on that now.

Building the Prototype

1st August 2021

The majority of the game materials have now arrived and are being turned into the beta test prototype. We have prepared the boards and most of the tokens. The standees are progressing and the cards should arrive early this week. We therefore expect to have a fully playable prototype version of Zeno by the end of the week. At that time we will take some photographs and post them. Then the beta testing can begin!

Playtesting will initially be focused in London and the South East of the UK and then be expanded to a wider audience using a virtual platform. If you are interested in playtesting Zeno please contact us at sargassogames@gmail.com.

 

Cards on the way

20th July 2021

Just a short update to say that the beta test cards have been ordered. All the image files were sent to the printers this afternoon.

The beta version of the game consists of 432 cards of which 430 are unique. It took a long time to create this many unique cards, but it is this kind of attention to detail that Zeno is made of.

The board and tokens are next. We already have many of the tokens and the board design is finished for the beta, so these materials should be ready before the cards arrive.

Until then we will continue to finalize the rule book. This is complete but requires some final edits. It will be uploaded to the website when the testing begins.

Survivors, Rules & August Testing

30th June 2021

Click here to read our latest tutorial on Survivors. This describes how survivors work and stop working, crippled as they sometimes are by injury, alien parasites, psychological conditions and very dark (or sometimes nice!) thoughts about each other.

In other news the rule book is now written. We are therefore in a position to get the beta materials printed and a printed copy of the beta game should be in our possession by the end of July, with testing commencing in August.

We ended up generating more art than originally planned for the beta and we have completely refreshed the Scene Gallery to bring you some of this. In addition, we have made as much art as possible clickable throughout the website. Most images can now be clicked to enlarge them and bring out the detail.

Tutorials Go Live

31st May 2021

Our new Tutorials page is now live. Click here to check it out. The Induction tutorial is available and more will be added soon. You can also access it from the Zeno menu.

The Induction is a beginners introduction to the game rules and features the board design. The art for the board remains in a prototype state, since the outcome of the beta test could result in alterations. However, the general concept is unlikely to change. When the beta test ends we will commission an artist to draw the final version.

We anticipate that Tutorials will enable the game rules and environment to be showcased in a digestible, user friendly fashion. Meanwhile, work continues on the complete rule book and game materials. If you want to see what the Zeno prototype consists of, check out the Induction.

Art Upgrade

30th April 2021

Most of the prototype art has now been upgraded to the beta test standard. We plan to use 108 core images for the test and 93 of these are ready. This means we can now show you a selection of the upgraded images in their beta test format.

Head over to the galleries to see the many improved survivorsrobots and scenes.

Why upgrade the art at all? The answer is that our techniques have improved during the design process and much of the early art needed an overhaul to meet our current standards. So if you were familiar with the early art, expect to see some changes. Almost everything should look sharper and more realistic, with photographic depth of field. There will be approximately 250 core images in the finished game.

Scene Art

18th April 2021

The production of beta test materials continues. This means, for the most part, finalizing the cards and the card art we will be showcasing. Finalized vector templates for the cards now exist, which means finished graphic files can be combined with art and generated quickly.

The upshot of this is that we can upload more scene art to the galleries to show you. Click here to visit the Scene Gallery. Scene art is different to the character art. It reflects events in the game, as well as missions, items, flashbacks and more.

While we will keep working on materials, we will also set aside time to spruce up the rule book. This needs some neatening, adjustment and eye candy. It will be uploaded when the beta test begins.

Prepping for Beta Test

31st March 2021

With the slow easing of the UK lock down we are starting to finalize and render prototype art and materials. This will enable us to order prototype game supplies. At this stage not all cards will have art, though approximately 100 will. We have focused this art on the parts of the game least likely to change during the beta test, in order to avoid wasted effort.

One thing that will be apparent as we go forward is that the finalized prototype art is of better quality than the initial art which has been posted to date. The early art on the site will gradually be replaced by these superior quality images. In most cases the structure of the image remains, but with improved textures, lighting and models. This is especially noticeable in the special effects. You can see the improved fire effects for yourself. Stay tuned, because there is much more of this to come.

Materials

15th March 2021

“I brought the briefcase”.

“Yes. Yes, you did”.

We have almost completed the prototype mission art. The next step is to return our focus to the game materials, such as the character standees and tokens. This will enable us to be better placed to begin the beta testing when society begins to open up again.

Missions

28th February 2021

We have long looked forward to tackling the Mission prototype art, so this month has been something of a pleasure. It has been a lot of fun fleshing out the mission paths.

In Zeno you will need to complete one or more missions to achieve your evacuation target. Almost all missions are associated with a selfless and a selfish path. Selfless paths are low risk/low reward affairs that are unlikely to aggravate your team mates. They may even help. Selfish paths are something else. You can earn a lot of successes with selfish paths. However, they have consequences.

When you choose a selfish path, a survivor belonging to another player automatically finds out. This can happen in a variety of ways. Maybe they saw you on a security camera. Or maybe what you are doing is just too conspicuous to conceal. Warning sirens are something of a giveaway!

In any case, they draw the associated negative judgment. From that moment on they can do something about it. A survivor with a negative judgment can attack the bearer of the suspicious mission. However, they can also be attacked by the mission bearer. You know they know, and you can get them first. This is the only way survivors can attack each other directly.

Some missions are so suspicious looking they generate a judgment before you choose the path. If you subsequently decide to be selfless, the judgment is discarded. Others are so outrageous the judgment is retained even when the mission has concluded.

If you hold a negative judgment for a survivor and that survivor dies, you score a success.

Zeno also contains positive judgments. These are people who deserve to live, above and beyond their peers. If one of your survivors witnesses a heroic deed, discovers someone is carrying antibodies to the alien plague, learns they are related or falls in love, you will be draw a positive judgment.

If you hold a positive judgment for a survivor and that survivor dies, you suffer a failure. If they are still alive at the end of the game, you score a success.

Love, betrayal, justice, revenge.. all the best ingredients for your Zeno moments!

Website Upgraded

31st January 2021

The website has been hugely expanded and improved, with a lot more detail on the game play and setting of Zeno. Explore the Zeno section in the main menu or follow these links to learn more about how the game works, where it is set and/or what the prototype art looks like.

Click here to read the introduction and learn about the gameplay concepts and key features of Zeno.

Visit here to read about the history, structure and unstable present of the Earthly Imperium.

Go here to explore the three galleries of prototype game art.

Our next step is to produce beta test materials, to permit open testing when local restrictions are eased.

Robots, equipment and more

3rd December 2020

With the Survivor art completed we have moved onto other graphic aspects. Zeno is a game of few words, which means lots of art! While some of this is not required for the prototype, some aspects of the game are represented chiefly by depiction.

Robots are very much a part the Zeno universe. From simple utility robots to artificial people, they serve a variety of functions. Some operate in environments where humans cannot venture. Others complement human functions in medicine or battle. A few perform tasks people cannot be trusted with at all.

Here we see a Repairbot cheerfully attending to the consequences of a navigation error. Doubtless the Docbot is also busy in the medical bay.

Website update and second fix art

6th November 2020

The website has been updated with some new pages which will explain more about how Zeno works. The Projects link in the menu has been changed to Zeno is now a drop down and this is where all the new pages live. We have uploaded some introductory material and information about the game play experience, as well as a gallery. There is more to come regarding the setting, rules and game materials.

We have also been working on the second fix art. All of the existing art has been re-rendered and improved, with additional detail and more common standards. There is a constant review process going on here. The art needs to work in a CMYK environment in order to be used on game materials. 

You can see this bearing fruit with Johana Sokolova, a member of the security detail on the Riga. Here she is on the firing range, testing out the new model energy pistol.