Category Archives : Origins

Prismata Ranked Play: The Final Stretch (part 2 of 2) 1

In my last post, I discussed how it’s essential that we lock down a number of core Prismata unit designs for the purposes of developing our single player content, and called out to everyone in our community to help point out any remaining sore points in unit design that are deserving of our attention. The response was great, and a ton of suggestions popped up in our inbox.

Most of the discussion thus far has focused on a small set of 5-10 units. In many cases, these were units that we already had an eye on; nevertheless, hearing the community’s input is very important as we decide which actions to take.

You can read many of my responses regarding specific units in this reddit thread, which contains dozens of posts on the topic. (I will be continuing to monitor and respond to this and other threads on the Prismata subreddit if you have anything to add.)

Today, I want to discuss a different facet of ranked play balance—all of the other Prismata gameplay aspects we’ve been investigating, beyond individual unit designs.

This post contains an announcement that may have some big implications for ranked play!

This mysterious item of questionable value made its appearance in the last event. What is it?

All will be explained today.


A Bit of a Blast from the Prismata Past

Just a few items of news:

  • New single player content is available on the Prismata alpha server, if you haven’t check it out already.
  • Animated skins are launching next week.
  • Today’s event, which launches at 4PM Eastern, is CLASSIC PRISMATA, featuring an archaic Prismata base set and a selection of overpowered 2nd tab units from back before they were nerfed!
What is going on here?

What is going on here?


Oh, the good old days. A few of our alpha testers might remember when Shadowfang was 6RRR and Antima Comet had 4 supply, but fewer will remember the days when Wall was 6B and had 4HP. Prismata sure was a different game back then!


Shalev’s Rule in Prismata

Hi everyone!

First, a small item: We have a brand new Prismata unit balance survey available. If you’re interested in providing feedback on the latest Prismata unit balance changes, we’d really appreciate it! It should only take about 5-10 minutes, though you could spend more time on it if you want.

On with today’s topic: I figured it was about time that I explain one of the design concepts that has existed in Prismata since very early on in its development—the so-called “Shalev’s Rule”. There have been a number of questions posted on the topic (such as this one) and there’s actually quite a bit of misinformation floating around on the definitions involved. So I’m here to set the record straight, and explain a little about why the design rule exists, and how it influences our decisions in creating new Prismata units.

Truth be told, we’ve never really discussed Shalev’s Rule much in public. Public knowledge has mostly leaked out through small mentionings here and there, which led to gradual (and rather incomplete) dissemination of the concept through the Prismata community. The rough idea is essentially “stuff that’s supposed to be good is never bad”, but the rule actually goes much deeper than that, and its implications in Prismata’s design induce a lot of really cool emergent properties.

Obligatory random image that has nothing to do with the article's contents...

Obligatory random image that has nothing to do with the article’s contents… but it’s pretty awesome, agree? Coming soon!


Prismata pretty much owes its entire existence to reddit. And here are the numbers to prove it…

I’ve mentioned before that Prismata would be completely dead in the water without reddit. And it’s 100% true. But until now, I’ve never divulged any actual statistics on just how much of an effect reddit truly had.

To be honest, it’s because I’m pretty embarrassed about it.

For one thing, the Prismata Kickstarter just hit 100% funding with about 35 hours to go. We *barely* made it. And as it turns out, every single splke in our Kickstarter pledge activity actually coincides with a day we did well on reddit, meaning that we literally wouldn’t even have come close to our goal without the support of redditors. I feel bad admitting it, but reddit pretty much saved my career as a game developer. I truly have no words to express how grateful I am.

Let’s start with the worst… this graphic really puts a knot in my throat:

Screenshot from Prismata's page on

Prismata’s Kickstarter pledges over time. Like most Kickstarters, we got an initial bump of funding when our campaign first went live. But every single subsequent bump has coincided with a reddit-related event.

Outside of the initial spike when we first went live, the day-to-day interest in our Kickstarter was actually pretty terrible (more on that later). This graph highlights the fact that we were way too ambitious in setting a goal of $140,000; take away those big green reddit spkies, and we’d be tens of thousands of dollars short. The fact that we hit $140k feels miraculous.

But actually, this wasn’t the first time reddit came to our aid.



What’s in a name? The 5 steps that led to “Prismata” 20

Prismata is the gaming love of my life. My obsession with Prismata is so great that I literally dropped out of school to work on it. In this article, at long last, I’m going to address a question that I’ve received countless times, but have never spoken publicly about:

Why is the game called “Prismata?”

Honestly, there is no short answer. Naming Prismata was probably the hardest decision we ever had to make. I imagine that it might feel similar to naming a first child, except there are lawyers involved.

I’m pretty embarassed to post this; it was a doodle I made in MS Paint (mostly for comic relief purposes) during one of many stressful “name the game” meetings with other devs. I was really hoping something would just “feel right”. Nothing did. That red one in the middle was close, though.

It took us almost 4 years to name our game. The process had me adding the US Patent and Trademark Search to my browser bar, and murmuring awful name ideas like “Savant Horizon” in my sleep. I don’t know the optimal way to name a video game, or how to decide which of the million options suck the least, but these are the steps that led us to choose the name “Prismata”:


Origins, Part 1: Why I quit my PhD at MIT to start a gaming studio 1436

[This article contains actual instant message conversations from the founders’ Google chat histories]

It was 6:52 pm on Tuesday, September 28, 2010. I had just sent my good friend Will Ma the following message over Google Talk:

me: current temperature in waterloo according to if it’s odd, I’m black.

For the next several hours, Will and I exchanged a series of cryptic alphanumeric messages resembling this:

Will: W9: hhebcy ns 13plg 3f2aw

These incomprehensible strings of characters were punctuated only by occasional, marginally less cryptic messages like the following:

me: B11: gg wp
me: re?

It was the beginning of a 4-year-long obsession with the game that would eventually be known as Prismata, though at the time, we referred to it only by the codename MCDS (in honour of 4 other strategy games that inspired its creation that we stopped playing in favour of it). Prismata was, and still is, the most addictive strategy game I have ever played. But my choice to throw away my promising academic career in favour of full-time game development wasn’t an impulsive gamble fueled by obsession. Rather, it was a calculated, market-driven decision born from a series of remarkable coincidences.

In the Origins series, we’ll share some anecdotes from the early days of Prismata: the fierce arguments we had over the game’s design, the insane development choices we made when building the game, and the highly unconventional ways we went about building our studio from scratch and funding the game’s development. This article shall give a brief overview of the game’s history, with a focus on the factors that convinced us to withdraw from our PhD studies at MIT to found a full commercial game development studio. ]