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Cardboard Utopia was started from the belief that the best, most cherished games are the ones that engage you through gameplay, story, and characters. Games that are not just flashy experiences that leave your thoughts once you put down the controller, but make you think, plan, question and discuss. These are the things that create memories for future years. These are the types of games we make.

Founded in Montreal, Quebec, the game development capital of Canada, we are currently developing a Tactical JRPG that plays off our love of classic games like Shining Force and Final Fantasy Tactics, but with a modern, boardgame twist.


All the news that fit to print!

The Ins and Outs of Character/Visual Design - Part 4

Erica Lahaie

Welcome back! If you missed the previous update in our five-part series on character/visual design for the Toran Empire in War of Zodiarcs, you can read it here.

Now we’re getting into some more final exploration so it’s time to shift focus a bit. We know what we want to do with the armor. We know what we’re looking to define here are: helmet, shawl, skirt, arm and leg armor. These will be the defining features of the base Toran armor.

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The Ins and Outs of Character/Visual Design - Part 3

Erica Lahaie

Hey hi! Welcome back to our weekly exploration of the Toran Empire's character/visual design in War of Zodiarcs. If you missed last week's post, you can read it here.

In the last exploration, I had the revelation that sheepskin jackets/Mongolian attire was exactly what I was looking for as a point of reference. Back to the reference board!

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The Ins and Outs of Character/Visual Design - Part 2

Erica Lahaie

Hey hi! This is a continuation on our character/visual design process for the Toran army and units in War of Zodiarcs. If you missed the last part, you can read it here!

The last exploration went well. We had some elements we thought were worth exploring, which was the goal. With all that in mind, I took to another round of explorations--this time much faster in iteration.

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The Ins and Outs of Character/Visual Design - Part 1

Erica Lahaie

Hello, hi! Your lovable chucklehead of an artist here at Cardboard Utopia is back to give you another glimpse into the process of making games. This time, I’m going to go over some character design stuff. I’ll be showing some explorations and designs of the Toran, one of War of Zodiarcs’ enemy factions, which includes both defining the look of a single unit and the army as a whole. I hope you guys like fashion~ This is a five-part series that we'll post once a week on Wednesday, so look forward to it!

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GDC & PAX East Adventures

Mariko McDonald

Hi all!

It's Community & Business Manager Mariko here with a recap of my recent adventures to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco & PAX East in Boston. It was very interesting going to two such different  gaming events so close together, so I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on both events with you below.

GDC - Pedicabs & Parties

It was hard not to get overwhelmed at GDC, especially since this was my first trip to the gigantic industry conference. GDC is definitely more business focused than PAX, with publishers and technology providers from all over the world converging on the Moscone Center in SF. Pretty much anyone who's anyone in video games was there: I got to shake hands with the amazing Leigh Alexander and I even spotted John and Brenda Romero out of the corner of my eye while having a meeting in the Marriott lobby.

I also got a free pedicab ride back to the convention center from an off-site publisher meeting. I know it seems silly, but being driven around in the California sun really made me feel like a million bucks. No word yet on the publisher front as we're still weighing all of our funding and distribution options, but we decided to take advantage of the access GDC (and Execution Labs) provided us to open as many doors as possible.

Sessions, as I'd been warned, were hit and miss. The best one I managed to attend was about hiring and retaining women in the games industry. Since this is something I hold very dear to my heart I knew I had to attend and it was just as inspirational as I'd hoped. Sexism isn't unique to video games, but the community in games is so close knit that we really have an opportunity to be leaders on this issue.


And of course, the highlight of any GDC were the parties. Since I had to leave early to make my PAX commitment, I only got to attend a few shindigs, but the coolest was definitely the Monday Night Mixer hosted by Sega. They even had Sonic themed bento boxes!

PAX East - Friends & Fans

PAX East, on the other hand, is a completely different beast. Created by fans, for fans, PAX is much more a celebration of all things game related, from video games to board games, to role-playing games and beyond. While War of Zodiarcs isn't quite ready to show off in a convention setting, I was actually there helping my friend Mo show off his game A.N.N.E., as I have for the past three years. However, every moment I wasn't in the booth was spent hyping our game to anyone who would listen.

It was a great occasion to reconnect with old friends, and make lots of new ones from all over the world. It was also just nice to soak up all the love and enthusiasm for games in general. Nothing is more inspiring than talking to people all day long that love games just as much as you do.

The a.n.n.e. 2015 crew

The a.n.n.e. 2015 crew

Thanks again to everyone who made my first GDC such a pleasant experience and hello again to all our new friends and fans. I can't wait to see you all at an event in the near future.

The Creative Process of Making a Logo

Erica Lahaie

Hello, hi! I'm Eric, one of the artists here at Cardboard Utopia. You might notice something pretty neat right now—which is that our logo has changed! Oh, boy!

You might be asking yourself some questions about it. Why that logo? What happened to the old one? Did you have any other ideas for a logo? Should I invest in a house right now? If not now, then when?

Firstly, don't buy a house. Rent forever and when that turns sour, transform one of your bookcases into a boat and sail the seven seas. If you don't have a bookcase, you can use your bed. Won't be as poetic, though.

Actually don't listen to my advice, I barely even know what a mortgage is. What I do know, however, is the process we took to make our new logo because I done drew that thing. I thought I'd give y'all a cool little insight into the process, see what goes on in the mind of a designer/artist personman when coming up with this stuff.

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Good News Everybody!

Mariko McDonald

Execution Labs Logo

First off I wanted to apologize for the lack of updates recently. We've had a lot of very exciting things happening, but we had to keep them secret until just now. Specifically, as of January 26, 2015 we are officially part of the Execution Labs accelerator program!

What does this mean?

Well, mostly it means that we are getting help with securing funding and building Cardboard Utopia into a sustainable studio, as well as office space and access to mentors for the next three months. It's an intense program and we've had to hit the ground running, but we are both super excited to have been chosen and honoured to be working with the other amazing teams in our cohort, including teams from Romania and Slovenia. You can find more details about Execution Labs and the other teams with us in the pre-production program on their website.

Being accepted into the program has also prompted us to rethink our schedule and funding plans somewhat, meaning that we've decided to push back our crowdfunding campaign to this fall. Choosing to do this later in our development schedule means that we'll have a lot more game to show when we get there and also that we won't have to interrupt development for a whole month to run the campaign.

As far as where we are in the development process, we're using our time at Execution Labs to put together a vertical combat slice that will allow us to do some closed playtesting and make sure the card-based combat system is as balanced and fun as it needs to be. We still have a ways to go before we'll be ready to show things off in public, but here's a little SUPER-ROUGH, UNFINISHED, NOT PRODUCTION, glimpse at what we're going for at the moment.

Seriously guys, this is not an in-game image. 

Seriously guys, this is not an in-game image. 

Finally, we're gonna be hitting the road. I'll be attending GDC and PAX East this year while our artist, Eric, will also be at PAX East showing off the combat system we're hard at work on. We'll have more details about both these trips as the approach, but we'd love to see you and chat about where we are with WoZ.

Quebec Kickstarters!

Jason Kim - Dev

A couple of cool and interesting projects from Montreal and Quebec City up on Kickstarter: Moon Hunters (Kitfox Games) and Kona (Parabole).

Moon Hunters, a Myth-Weaving RPG

Build your mythology! An action RPG for 1-4 players about earning a legendary reputation in an ancient, occult world.

Kôna - A Survival Adventure Game

Explore, investigate and survive in this VR-powered interactive tale, which takes place in the 1970's wild and cold Northern Quebec.

Game Announcement on Paper Droids

Jason Kim - Dev

The fine folks over at Paper Droids have posted our announcement for WAR OF ZODIARCS! It's a pretty good write-up. Also, she seems to love Nahmi's design. Awesome!

War Of The Zodiarcs Is Bringing Back The Tactical JRPG

Paper Droids is an online magazine dedicated to geeky girls. It was founded in October 2011 by a group of publishing students who were dissatisfied by the lack of non-commercial, geeky outlets for women. Paper Droids is a place where writers and readers can come together to geek out over their passions, support women in non-traditional or “geeky dude” roles, decry systems that far too often ignore or exclude female audiences, and learn about ladies who are making a difference every day in the world they love.
We publish articles daily on a broad spectrum of topics in nerd culture, focusing on women’s issues and experiences. Our geeky categories include Art & Literature, Entertainment, Lifestyle, Science & Technology, and Style. Topics range from blockbuster movies to indie comics, from hardcore gaming to history geekery, with a healthy dash of literary criticism and fashion tips on the side – all from a female perspective.
Paper Droids readers (and writers!) are smart, motivated, fun-loving individuals who can appreciate but also critically analyze geek culture as it embraces and rejects its female fans.

Toran Conquerers Concept Art

Jason Kim - Dev

When the Toran Empire conquers an area, they erect a fortress to show they've claimed ownership of the area. These fortresses are massive structures that cast a shadow over the land to always remind the people that they belong to the Toran.

Hand of Fate Releasing Soon!

Jason Kim - Dev

Hand of Fate, a game from good friend and Aussie dev Defiant Development, is coming soon to Steam Early Access in the next couple of weeks. Check out their Steam Greenlight page when you have a chance!

Also, check out their website if you're interested to learn more about them.

Hand of Fate is a card based roguelike, in which the player builds a collection of cards into a deck, which is then used to deal out the dungeon floors through which they adventure. Upon entering a combat, all of the cards the player has collected fly into their character's hands as fully modeled 3D assets, and combat begins. Hand of Fate will bring card driven action as a PC download in the first quarter of 2014.

World War Machines

Jason Kim - Dev

Congrats to our fellow Montreal indie dev, Tuque Games. In conjunction with the Square Enix Collective, they've launched their IndieGogo crowdfunding campaign for World War Machines!

A supremely customizable, highly advanced technological marvel of destruction.

Locate prized items and gather Materials to Craft crippling Weapons, upgrade with ruinous hardware Components and make critical moment-to-moment tactical choices as you campaign through an unforgiving cityscape. A fast-paced, modern Action-RPG, World War Machine lets you adventure solo or party-up to survive the hordes of remorseless enemies.

Concepting a Thief and Best Friend

Jason Kim - Dev

Nahmi was a child stolen from a far away land and brought to Torus. After escaping and joining a street gang, she was eventually aided by Weiss' father and brought to his village in Gilden to try and live a normal life.

Since she's not from Gilden or Torus, she's trying to rediscover her culture and identity, and find a place to fit in.