Since monsterz was first released on the App Store, we’ve been getting questions from friends asking how we made the game. We realized that these thoughts 💬 might be fun to read for people who want to create their own games!

This is the story of how dots on index cards became a monsterz-filled puzzle game.

🌩️ Where it all began


Set is one of our favorite games. It’s a simple game where you find sets of cards based on their patterns. We wanted to create our own game that was inspired by Set with animated illustrations.

📝 Paper prototyping

Paper prototype

Before we coded 💻, we colored 🖍️ ! To test the concept, we created a simple prototype with paper and colored pencils to make sure the game was fun before we jumped straight into creating it. When it became a game that we wanted to play, we fired 🔥 up our laptops and we were off to the races 🏃‍!

♻️ Iterating

This is where we started.

At this stage, the game lacked character, so we decided to draw some expressions on the dots to add some personality 💃

Now we’re talkin’! At this point, the game was lacking pressure. We didn’t want to invest in leaderboards yet, so we decided to make the clock ⏲️ the opponent. That’s when we came up with Arcade mode.

We were finally ready to start sharing our app with friends & family. We realized that the game was too hard! We had been playing for so long that we had learned the ins and outs, but everyone else was left clueless. To satisfy all skill levels, we added different difficulties and a tutorial to get people going.

On left: tutorial, On right: different levels

While testing the game, we would frequently get stuck on just one board. In Set, when this happens, the dealer puts out 3 more cards. We didn’t want to add more cards to the board, so instead we added Hints and a Shuffle feature.

Here are some iterations of how the frame around the cards changed over time.

After many iterations, here’s where we landed! You’ll notice that we changed the visual language of the game to be more light & friendly with the color palette 🎨.

On the left, we have our initial exploration of the Home & Victory screens. On the right are the versions of those screens that we shipped.

Wahoo! Now, let’s chat about the design of the monsterz.

👩‍🎨 Designing the monsterz

Before drawing the monsterz, we drew inspo from some of our famous animated monsters!

We especially loved the art from Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University! Each monster had unique characteristics.We wanted each monster to have a different personality. Because each monster had to be a different color, we designed their personalities based upon their color.

Orange clashed with the other monsterz, so we decided to leave him out for now. Maybe he’ll make an appearance in the future 😉

⭐ What’s coming next?

We’re improving the game based upon your feedback! Here are some of the things we’re thinking about

Thanks for reading and please ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ in the app store!

(We’re also planning to write about how we developed in React Native and the efficient binary representation we used!)