|Birthday:||June 28, 1981|
Mike Zaimont, better known as “Mike Z”, was the lead design director and a programmer at Lab Zero Games. He and Alex Ahad, together with Reverge Labs, developed the captivating and forward-minded 2D fighting game Skullgirls. He is also on the Autism spectrum.
Mike Z took computer science in high school, majored in it in college, and got his start in game development the same way many people did back before Digipen and game-focused education programs existed: as a tester. The job gave him much experience with the development process, as well as getting to know the dev team, all while being slightly underpaid and vastly overworked but mostly enjoying it.
Mike's game development career began when his parents bought him an Amiga as a bribe to stop him from doing dangerous things on his dirt bike. Eventually this led to a 6-year tenure as programmer/combat designer at Pandemic Studios. Highlights of this time at Pandemic include designing and scripting all of the Jedi and heroes for Star Wars Battlefront II, creating a groundbreaking animation system for next-gen games, and leading a triage team for the combat in Lord of the Rings: Conquest. An EVO tournament champion, his passion for fighting games led to several extracurricular opportunities, including helping balance BlazBlue: Continuum Shift and improving Marvel vs. Capcom 2 for PS3/360, ultimately culminating in the creation of Skullgirls. In 2009, Zaimont was programming his own fan-made fighter when a friend suggested he meet with Ahad. The two found that Ahad’s designs and Zaimont’s engine complemented each other, and that by working together, they could focus on their individual strengths.
- Star Wars Battlefront II - programmer/combat designer (2003 – 2009)
- Skullgirls - Project Lead and Designer (2012 - 2019)
- Indivisible - Project Lead and Design Director (2019-2020)
In June 2020, multiple allegations of misconduct were made against Zaimont. Two individuals claimed that Zaimont made inappropriate sexual comments towards them, which triggered an internal investigation of Zaimont's behavior within Lab Zero Games. A decision was reached by Lab Zero's board to request Zaimont's resignation. According to Lab Zero senior art producer Brian Jun, Zaimont refused to resign unless a series of demands were met, of which Jun deemed "unrealistically high and potentially illegal". Zaimont's demands were rejected by the board. In response, Zaimont disbanded the board and assumed sole ownership of Lab Zero Games. Jonathan Kim, Lab Zero's senior animator, claimed that Zaimont delivered an ultimatum wherein he gave all unsatisfied employees until August 31st to leave the company. In late August, Kim, Jun, and Mariel Cartwright, Lab Zero's lead animator, resigned from Lab Zero Games and individually issued statements denouncing Zaimont's actions.
Within a day of the series of resignations, Hidden Variable and Autumn Games severed their ties with Mike Zaimont and Lab Zero Games in a joint statement. In the statement, both parties expressed intent to work with the employees who resigned from Lab Zero Games on the continued development of Skullgirls.
- Mike Z is a fighting game champion, and one of the best BlazBlue players in the country. He attends the Evolution Fighting Game (EVO) Tournament every year and has participated in Japan's Super Battle Opera.
- Due to Mike Z’s harassment towards his former employers, Arc System Works also severed ties with him and banned from getting involved with any Arc System’s projects, such as rollback netcode fixes.
- On December 3rd, 2020 Mike made a Blogspot post explaining that he was "relatively recently" diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and how it has affected his life.
- When Cerebella connects with her Lock n' Load special move, there's a .02% chance of a random, poorly-drawn cat popping out of nowhere and skittering across the stage. As detailed on the main page, an animator sketched a cat in one frame but forgot to take it out, and Mike Z said he wanted to keep it in as part of an Easter egg. The rest of the dev team agreed - but only if Mike animated it himself.