News about the upcoming competitive multiplayer city-builder Zero Sum Future

The Particle and SFX Overhaul: What's it All About?

In Zero Sum Future, there are lot of things you need to be successful: a plan of action, a willingness to take risks, the cunning to see an opportunity, and – perhaps most importantly – the flexibility to capitalize on that opportunity.

That flexibility is only possible if you have the most vital resource of all at your fingertips: information.

Since the Early Access launch of Zero Sum Future in January, we’ve gotten a lot of good data from players about what they like and where the pain points are. Overwhelmingly, we hear that players are missing key notifications and gameplay events because they aren’t clearly communicated. Some of this we can chalk up to the game’s learning curve, but we’ve also taken a careful look at the current implementation of the game’s notification systems and we believe there’s a lot of space to improve it. This is the logic behind Zero Sum Future’s upcoming VFX and SFX updates, which will introduce a slew of graphical and audio reminders to make key gameplay elements pop.

The list of places where these updates will take effect is really too long to list in a summary blog post, but we want to give you some visual examples of what this will look like. Consider the Burger Joint, which delivers tasty burgers to adjacent buildings (enemy or allied). Right now, the only indication you receive that a building is buying hamburgers is a tiny little icon of the product hovering over that building. There are two problems with this presentation. The icon isn’t especially exciting or easily distinguishable in the cityscape that surrounds the planet, and the cash you make from each sale doesn’t stand out in a way that makes it easy to see how often you’re selling hamburgers at-a-glance.

Forget the old way of doing things. It’s time to launch your lunch!


Look at the majestic hamburger. See it sail through the atmosphere, arcing gracefully through a trail of tasty condiments, on its way to feed the hungry workers of your planet. Now that is hard to miss, and you’ll easily be able to tell what’s happening as you scroll around the planet to manage your assets. It’s also easier to tell now exactly how often burgers are being sold, so you can slam down a few more Burger Joints if business is good.

The Burger Joint isn’t the only proximity-based structure in Zero Sum Future. The Reactor will also be getting a new particle to indicate that it’s providing additional energy efficiency to adjacent buildings (it’s a work in progress, but we’ll share pictures soon!) You should now be able to see at a glance how efficiently you’ve woven Reactors throughout your colony to maximize coverage and minimize hydrogen consumption.

While building visibility upgrades should do a lot to help you see these interactions, there are some other pretty important gameplay moments we want to spruce up. In particular, Carrier Powers will be receiving brand new particles and associated sound effects so you’ll know that you’ve been Commandeered or Monopolized instantly. While it’s fun to prey on other players who aren’t paying close attention and stab them in the back with their own resources, currently it’s a bit too difficult to notice and too punishing to miss. All of this is subject to review in the future, and we’re committed to making sure the balance of subterfuge and audio-visual impact is right.

We hope you’ve got a better picture of the main project on our plates right now to improve Zero Sum Future, and don’t forget to check back this week for another blog entry on the upcoming Map Editor mode and what that will ultimately entail for the game!

Until next time, may your profits soar and your competition crumble.


by Ryan