Stages of a Game's Lifecycle

Stages of a Game's Lifecycle

It may be surprising to learn that every publisher has their own way of tackling the complete process game publishing. It seems like the work of a designer is fairly diverse, while publishers follow a fixed map of steps. But that’s not the case at all! The process a publisher takes to bring a game to press can have just as much art and personality to it as the process of designing the game in the first place.

There is a lot of room to carve your own path and processes in the world of publishing, and the path to creating a final, finished product is quite diverse. Here’s what ours looks like!

Announcing Professor Treasure's Sequel!

Announcing Professor Treasure's Sequel!

The original game, Professor Treasure’s Secret Sky Castle, was originally a head-to-head puzzle game where teams of adventurers were competing to take as much treasure from the eponymous castle.

Due to the immense popularity of the first game, we have decided that it’s about time we gave the people what the want by releasing a sequel! Enter: Professor Treasure’s 1080 Snowboarding.

Balancing Argent's Setup by Stephen Venters

Balancing Argent's Setup by Stephen Venters

Hey, everyone! We have a special treat for you today! Stephen Venters (AKA ClimberStephen) likes Argent and by that we mean he REALLY loves Argent. So much so that he’s actually made an Argent Setup Helper web app. You can see it HERE!

Needless to say, the web app is definitely useful, especially with it’s “balanced configuration” feature! And that is what the following article (written by Stephen) talks about: How can the app randomize while maintaining fun and balanced play experiences? Read on to find out!

Millennium Blades Design Manual

Millennium Blades Design Manual

Over the past few weeks, as our team has been designing and developing Collusion, I’ve been working on a “Design Manual” for the game. This is the first in a series of Design Manuals that I hope to write for each of our ongoing games. My hope is that it will be of use to playtesters, fellow designers, and fans who want to extend the game with their own content.

Critical Transform - Season Mechanics in EXCEED

Critical Transform - Season Mechanics in EXCEED

Hello, everyone! It’s Marco again and I’m back with another article on EXCEED. By this point, Street Fighter EXCEED should either be on its way to you or in your hands right now! This means that many of you will have at least seen the cards or played a couple of games.

I’d like to, therefore, take this opportunity to talk about something unique to the Street Fighter EXCEED game: Criticals. Specifically, I want to explore season mechanics and how they further sell you on the fantasy of the worlds tied to that season. So, without much else, let’s get into it, shall we?

Cleanup Sustained! – Introduction to Our New Keywords!

Cleanup Sustained! – Introduction to Our New Keywords!

Hey, everyone! It’s-a-me, Marco and I’m here to talk a little bit more about some keywords that you might have seen in some of our Street Fighter EXCEED character reveals, which you can read by CLICKING THIS!

Regardless, I feel that it is important to give you all a little more context regarding these keywords. Many people seem to think they are new. I’m here to blow your minds and debunk that notion!

Normals and Neutral - Understanding EXCEED's Basic Options

Normals and Neutral - Understanding EXCEED's Basic Options

Normals are, for the most part, a set of cards that every character in EXCEED has access to. Much like “normals” in actual fighting games, these cards are meant to represent attacks and options that any character can do such as blocking or sweeping. It is, therefore, important that you understand how Normals work. You’re gonna be seeing them often, after all!

Player Archetypes - Deques, Shur, Cardine, and Morrey

Player Archetypes - Deques, Shur, Cardine, and Morrey

Many of us are familiar with the classic Johnny/Timmy/Spike archetypes shared by Mark Rosewater in his now-famous article for Wizards of the Coast. While these archetypes work great for Magic, every company is a bit different. One of the exciting truths about being game designers is that we get to choose who we serve and who we build our games to attract.

Most of Level 99 Games’ fans fall into one of these archetypes, or are split across two of them. Aside from the three main archetypes, there is one additional meta-archetype, for a total of four. To describe them, I’ve used familiar characters from Millennium Blades, who were designed with these motivations in mind. Unlike the Rosewater archetypes, our archetypes are less about what players engage with in the games, and instead focus on why they engage with the games in the first place. And of course, we have a bit more ground to cover, since we’re designing entire game experiences and not just cards and expansions.

A Legacy Question - and some game pitches for you!

A Legacy Question - and some game pitches for you!

In my recent games of Stonemaier Games's Charterstone, I've been thinking about what kind of Legacy game (if any) would be a good fit for the Level 99 Games line. I've thought about a few possibilities for a game like this since the genre got started, but I'm curious what you think, and maybe if you have any suggestions for me...

Empyreal: Spells & Steam - Specialist Preview

Empyreal: Spells & Steam is a rail-building game set in Level 99 Games's World of Indines (BattleCON, Pixel Tactics, Argent), and the next major design from Trey Chambers (Argent: the Consortium).

Check out previous articles on Empyreal: Spells & Steam here!


Specialists are powerful allies who will join your company as permanent staff. There are 4 kinds of Specialists, and you can get one of each type during the game. Once a specialist joins you, you can't fire them, so make sure you're ready to commit to a certain path when you draft one!

The four outlined slots at the top of the board are where specialists will be placed once hired.

The four outlined slots at the top of the board are where specialists will be placed once hired.

Specialists are hired via a secret draft. When you gain an opportunity to hire one, choose a class of specialist, then look at the face-down pile of that type. You can pick one of these to join your company, then return the rest for other players to sort through when their opportunity comes.


Captains represent the leaders of your company. Each Captain has a unique, distinct, and potent ability. These were shown off a bit in earlier posts, though some are still getting a few balance updates as we continue development. Captains are used by flipping them face-down at the start of your turns to activate their effects. You can flip your Captain face-up again when you administrate, or through some other engine effects.


Rayleigh can move her conductor pawn for free, while Seth can activate all the engines in an entire column without spending any mana.


Engineers are a bit less powerful than Captains, but still quite useful. They work the same way–activate their powers by flipping them over, and they refresh when you administrate, or use other means, such as the Gilt Runner engine shown in our previous article.


Engineers can be used multiple times throughout the game. Their powers are often flexible, though not game-changing on their own. Candide lets you build onto other players' tracks for more aggressive tactics, while Garek allows you to rearrange your engines to play adaptively.


Surveyors are the strongest specialists available, but they can be used only once during the entire game. When you use a Surveyor, they are flipped face-down, and will never be turned face-up again. However, this one special ability can easily change the course of the entire game when used well!


Surveyors provide an ability that you will only be able to use once per game, but it's very powerful. Anya lets you move 4 of your tracks into adjacent spaces, while Cin will gather all the resources from adjacent spaces into one space you own.

Station Masters

Station Masters provide an always-on ability. Most of these abilities give cost discounts or special actions that can be used once per turn. They never flip down, allowing you to use the ability they provide over and over.


Some Station Masters give you background powers, like Clive's ability to recover 1 mana at the start of each of your turns. Others provide an extra action. Darios allows you to destroy 2 goods in your network to get a new Mana crystal, up to once per turn.

Choose your specialists and engines wisely to solidify your company's strengths or to diversify your strategic opportunities.

Specialist Art Note

The specialists in this article feature placeholder art from some of our older games. However, all art in Empyreal: Spells & Steam, is going to be originally created just for this game!

Here's a quick look at Nokomento's sketchbook:


You may recognize a few faces from Argent and BattleCON, while others are new additions to this game. Many of the students at Argent University are now a bit more grown up. It's nice to see that they found gainful employment after graduation! :D

If you want to be notified as soon as Empyreal: Spells and Steam goes live, you can sign up for our mailing list!

And now a special message from our sponsors: the Caterpillar Conveyance Consortium!

Spring is here! A time of renewal! A time to get back to nature!

Experience spring in scenic Druid's Point, the historic landing that links Indines with the Amalao subcontinent! Frolic in crystal clear waters untouched by civilization! Camp under the stars and watch the rising and setting of the sun! And of course, travel in style and luxury with the help of the Caterpillar Conveyance Consortium!

Complete spring tour packages are available at your nearest travel agency.


Empyreal: Spells & Steam - Engine Preview

Empyreal: Spells & Steam - Engine Preview

This week, we showcase Engines–one of the key components to building your railway company! 

Empyreal: Spells & Steam is a rail-building game set in Level 99 Games's World of Indines (BattleCON, Pixel Tactics, Argent), and the next major design from Trey Chambers (Argent: the Consortium). Follow this series for weekly previews as we prepare to launch the game in late April!

Exceed Season 2 - Unboxing Preview

Exceed Season 2 - Unboxing Preview

Last year, we funded the second season of Exceed on Kickstarter! Now at last, we have the physical production copy of the big collector's box–the most impressive fighting card game we've created yet, perhaps the most impressive production that we've ever created in the history of Level 99 Games!

Seventh Cross v33-35 - Locking Down Mechanics

Seventh Cross v33-35 - Locking Down Mechanics

With the combat and exploration mechanics for Seventh Cross locked down at last, we begin working on content and gameplay. In this update, I talk about scoping out the game and organizing all this data, as well how combat stages work.

Empyreal: Spells and Steam Train Preview!

Work is underway for our next big project

Empyreal: Spells and Steam!

Here's a look at what's happening in December to prepare us for the new project!


What is Empyreal: Spells & Steam?

Empyreal: Spells & Steam is a rail-building game set in Level 99 Games's World of Indines (BattleCON, Pixel Tactics, Argent), and the next major design from Trey Chambers (Argent: the Consortium).

As a captain of industry, it's your job to bring the industrial age to this world of magic. Build railways to connect key resources to your network, then supply them to cities around the world. Each magical resource you harvest will enable new technological developments that improve your capabilities. Each contract you fulfill will build up your infrastructure, leading to the development of new company-specific powers. Mine mana from the land to enable the construction of more lines, balancing the opportunities of the moment against the depleting environment and the machinations of your competitors.

Only the savviest and most creative industrialist will be able to lead the World of Indines into the modern era!

Where are we now?

With the game design for Empyreal finished up, we're now working on components and graphic designs.

Fábio Fontes has put together 8 train cars to represent the 8 companies that are playable within the World of Indines. Each of these companies has their own disposition and powers, providing a different game experience each time you play. The train cars are roughly one inch in length. Here's a list of the different companies, together with their cars!


Here are the original concept sketches for the 8 different train cars! Each company has a unique car, and Fábio has created 3D versions of those cars so that we can create miniatures to put in the game box! You can click on the cars to zoom up and get a better look!

Above, you can see rendered versions of the individual trains, as well as 'painted' renders (also kindly created by Fábio) that show what these train cars might look like if you painted them yourself!

We'll post a more formal introduction of each of the industry captains and the companies they lead in a few weeks! By that time, we should also have some visuals of the cards and game board ready to show you!