More Games Please: Art in Board Games Interviews

Please find excerpts from my blog 'Art in Board Games' where I talk to different board game designers and illustrators about their work. www.moregamesplease.com It's a companion piece to my IG: www.instagram.com/moregamesplease

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Ryan Laukat: Art in Board Games #41

Ross
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This week I interviewed illustrator, designer and co-founder of Red Raven Games, Ryan Laukat. Below is an excerpt of that interview and if you'd like to read the full thing with a ton of great artwork just follow this link RIGHT HERE!

Ryan Laukat: Art in Board Games #41

Hi Ryan, thanks for joining me! For our readers who aren't aware of your work could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Hello! I'm a board game designer and illustrator. I've been lucky enough to work in this industry for around ten years. I started as an illustrator and then founded Red Raven Games so that I could publish my own designs. Some of my games include Above and Below, Near and Far, and Eight-Minute Empire. I live with my wife, Malorie, in Salt Lake City, Utah, right up against some beautiful, snowy mountains, and within two miles of where I grew up! We have a daughter and two sons.

Red Raven Games has become synonymous in the industry for combining great art with captivating worlds and stories. When you're creating a game what is your general thought process? Where do you start?

My obsession with creating games started when I began inventing tabletop role-playing games as a teenager. I loved to create worlds to explore and creatures to inhabit them. So naturally, that influences how I approach most of my board game designs today. When creating a game, my motivation is usually to build a world and use the game mechanisms to allow players to explore it and experience it. I think about who the players will get to be in the game, and where they will go, and start there. I think it helps create a more immersive experience.



Last year you successfully kickstarted Empires of the Void 2 the follow up the 2012 original. What can you remember about that time (2012) and what made you want to return to this project?

I'd wanted to revisit the game for many years. I actually made many redesigns of the original game but never published any of them. I wanted another shot at the setting because I felt my skills as an illustrator and game designer had improved. Of course, Empires of the Void was my first published game. I'm proud of what I accomplished, but there certainly were things that I didn't do quite right. The rule book in that first game was not sufficiently clear and left too many things unexplained. The trading did not pan out as well as I had hoped. Some players left the game with a frustrated feeling because of a multiplayer direct conflict problem where two players can gang up against a third, leaving no way to catch up. I wanted to solve these and many other problems, and so I attempted it in Empires of the Void II.

In terms of the illustration, when you worked on Empires of the Void 2, how did you aim to develop the originals aesthetics into this sequel? What have you learned about graphic design and art since the original and how did that impact your choices?

My goal this time around was to create something a little more on the realistic side when compared with, say, Near and Far, and indeed, the original Empires of the Void. I wanted to make a beautiful space map like the original had, and of course many of the of the original aliens and planets, but with an updated vision that I felt would be more immersive. I looked at a lot of hard sci-fi art, especially the covers of books from the 60s and 70s. This meant painting with more subdued tones than usual and experimenting with new brushes.



You are arguably best known for your work on Above and Below and it's sequel, Near and Far. So starting with the original, how did you create this world and was there any inspiration you drew from in developing it?

When creating Above and Below, I actually sketched the cover before I even designed the game. That sketch worked as a compass for me, and I designed the rest of the look and the game mechanics around it. I was trying to pin down the feelings and memories that I had playing Super Nintendo games as a child, and that helped me build the friendly, colorful setting. At the time I was also very interested in making my games look as natural as possible, letting the art easily incorporate symbols or information...

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Thanks for reading the above, if you'd like to read the full interview with a ton of great artwork just follow this link RIGHT HERE!
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Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:08 pm
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Ian O'Toole: Art in Board Games #40

Ross
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Below is an excerpt from the interview with Ian O'Toole on MoreGamesPlease.com, you can read the full interview here.
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Ian O'Toole: Art in Board Games #40


Editors note: This week I'm joined by one of my favorites in the industry and in fact one of the first people I contacted when launching this site. He's been involved in some of the best looking games out there, proven when he grabbed the top 2 places of my Best Board Game Art of 2017 public vote. I hope you enjoy hearing more from the man himself and if you have any questions just drop them in the comments below.

Hello Ian, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Firstly, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure! I was born in Ireland, where I grew up, received my education and met my wife, Sarah. We moved to Perth in Western Australia a little over a decade ago and have since had two children. I still have not acclimatized to the heat.

I read a lot of comics growing up, and my artistic development was always directed by that. I can’t remember entertaining the idea of doing anything else. When it came time to go to college I decided on Graphic Design because I knew there was a clear career path there, I could leave college and get a job. Fine Art was a little more nebulous, which didn’t entice me at all. I’ve worked as a graphic designer/illustrator for my entire professional life, in a wide variety of roles and industries, including marketing, advertising, packaging design, publication and spatial design.

For the past five years I’ve worked for myself, and board games have grown to occupy almost the entirety of my workload. This allows me to work at home which is ideal for me, giving me flexibility as well as the opportunity to see my kids more during the week.

I’ve always been a gamer to some degree, and played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons when I was a kid, as well as Games Workshop 40K games. I started playing modern board games about 9 years ago, when a friend bought me Catan, and shortly afterwards Dominion. I found a local gaming association and my interest in the hobby exploded from there.

As regards other hobbies, I really have very little time. I read when I can, and play guitar intermittently, but it’s mostly gaming.

So how did you first get involved in making board games?

When I decided to work for myself, I reached out to the community on Boardgamegeek.com in an effort to diversify my client base. At the time I was working mainly in designing exhibit booths for petroleum companies, so I was hoping for something a little more fulfilling to work on. That got a bit of interest, and I ended up working on a few games. Some were very small Kickstarters, like Mage Tower, for which I only created a small part of the artwork, and others were full board games such as Fool’s Gold.

I quickly realised that having skills as both a graphic designer and illustrator set me apart from a lot of others in the industry. Publishers were very happy to hear that I had years of experience working with printers and manufacturers, so I already knew all of the ins and outs of setting up punchboards, box dielines etc.



At some stage early on I wrote to Vital Lacerda, one of my favourite designers, about some of his upcoming games, as I was considering dabbling in publishing at the time. That didn’t work out but he did need artwork created quickly for The Gallerist, and asked if I’d like to take a look at it. The Gallerist ended up being one of the games that most people know me for, so that was really down to luck, and being proactive in trying to create opportunities. It has led to a very fruitful working relationship with Vital, and we are just now completing our fifth game together, Escape Plan.



Another such lucky opportunity was meeting Martin Wallace at PAX Australia, and joining him for a playtest of Ships. During the game we chatted and I told him about some of the work I’d been doing, and he asked if I’d be interested in working on the second edition of A Study in Emerald, to which I quickly said yes!

Working in games professionally also afforded me the opportunity to attend the Spiel in Essen in 2015, which would otherwise have been prohibitively expensive. That was the year that I got to see most of my games for the first time, as coincidence saw a few of them being released there. It was the first time I saw The Gallerist, A Study in Emerald and Fool’s Gold in the flesh, and also got the opportunity to meet a lot of designers and publishers, so that was a big year for me.

Having stepped into the board gaming industry from a different background, what do you think the key differences are in how the work is created?

From the perspective of the work that I produce, the gaming industry allows the rare opportunity for me to create a complete product. For most of the games I work on, everything in the box, and the box itself, is designed by me (apart from the game itself of course!), and that level of ownership is pretty rare. It’s also the perfect industry for my particular blend of skills, which have struggled to find equal footing in other projects. Here, graphic design and illustration are both of very high importance.

Looking more widely at the industry itself, there really are no standards of any sort because it’s so young. Every publisher handles things differently. This can be especially apparent when it comes to discussions about licensing and contracts. It very much feels like it’s driven by passion rather than profit at the moment, and I think there are some growing pains on the horizon as the mean profitability of the industry creeps upwards due to its growth.



What is your creative process when working on a board game? Can you talk us through it?

The first thing I always do is play the game. I’ll make a prototype, or sometimes the publisher will provide one, and I’ll get some people together and play it. During this I’m thinking about how the players interact with the pieces and the board. Is there a more elegant solution? Do we need all of those counters, or can we use a track instead? Is there a clearer way to present the information that will help players learn and play easier?

Then I start sketching ideas for each element, all rough thumbnails on paper. This is time for all of the big ideas. Do we need a board at all? Should the layout be portrait instead?

Depending on the game, there is sometimes a period of research involved at this point. For historical games I’ll look into the style of visual communication that was prevalent at the time, things like fabric patterns, building materials, costumes etc. Lisboa is a good example of this, as the artwork is very much rooted in the time period. Nemo’s War is another example of a game that needed a LOT of research, as I decided to find a reference for all 100+ ships depicted in the game.

After that I start to make....

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This is an excerpt from the interview with Ian O'Toole on MoreGamesPlease.com, you can read the full interview here.
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Mon Jul 2, 2018 1:49 pm
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Christine Alcouffe: Art in Board Games #39

Ross
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Nottingham
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Christine Alcouffe: Art in Board Games #39

Editors Note: This week I am joined by the talented Christine Alcouffe, an artist who worked on the gorgeous Paper Tales board games from Catch Up Games. You can read an excerpt of that interview below and the full one with more images on More Games Please

Hi Christine, thanks for joining me! For our readers who aren't aware of your work could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Hi Ross! Thanks for suggesting that we do this interview. I’m an illustrator in Lyon, France and for those who don’t know, Lyon is a city where people LOVE food. There’s a ludicrous number restaurants. Also there’s an art school, called Émile Cohl, where I graduated in 2010. I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator since then for various clients. I worked on 2D art for video games, a whole bunch of activity books for children (with stickers, coloring pages, games and the like), some school books recently, and also the board game, Paper Tales.




Paper Tales, was your first board game project so how did you get involved and what can you remember about it?


It’s a combination of various factors really. I’ve known Sébastien (who is one half of Catch Up Games) for some time, and a while back I ended up spending an evening with him, Clément (the other half) and my boyfriend Maël playing Vorpals, which is the original Japanese version of Paper Tales.

I really liked the game, and later that night we started talking about how it could be adapted to the French and European markets. I also ended up mentioning how it can be difficult to get work proposals with enough ‘creative wiggle room’ for me to experiment new things or just shake my habits. They must have liked the ideas we’d come up with that night because they contacted me a few days later to see if I could send them some tests for the game.



Read the full interview with a whole heap more images on More Games Please.
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Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:52 pm
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Fantastic Factories: The Art in Kickstarter #3

Ross
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Fantastic Factories: The Art in Kickstarter #3


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This is an excerpt of the interview you can read it in full on MORE GAMES PLEASE.
=========================

Editors note: Fantastic Factories is on Kickstarter until June 29th, 2018. It's already nearly at 500% of its initial funding goal after only the first few days, so if you are curious then go check out the campaign. The interview below is with Joseph Z Chen the designer and Artist on this project (co-designed with Justin Faulkner) who was kind enough to drop by to tell me more about it all.

Hello Joseph, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Firstly, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I live in Seattle and have lived in this area for my whole life. I've always been a gamer at heart, although not a big tabletop gamer until right after college. During that time I really got into some of the classic gateway games like Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and 7 Wonders. I had a couple of really competitive roommates and we would play the same games over and over again. Just to give you an idea of how dedicated we were, sometimes we would set up Catan and discuss what the optimal placement of all the starting settlements were for half an hour. Once we agreed, we would reset the board and do it all over again.

Eventually, a group of us decided that we wanted to make a board game, combining the mechanics of some of our favorite games. My particular design took off, and I kept working on it week after week with the help of others. At one point I decided I was tired of staring at blank cards so I started making placeholder art, which turned out pretty good. My only prior experience with art was dabbling in graphic design in high school, but with the help of my wife and other graphic design mentors, I was able to create the art for Fantastic Factories!

Like many game designers, I work as a software engineer for my day job.

So, can you describe your Kickstarter game to us and what makes it interesting?

In Fantastic Factories, players race to build the most efficient set of factories. You must carefully manage your blueprints, train your workers, and manufacture as many goods as possible in order to achieve industrial dominance! It's a dice-placement engine-building game. It's all about trying to find the best combinations of factories and figuring out the puzzle of where and how to place all your workers.

There are a few unique aspects to the game. Much of the game is played with players taking their turns simultaneously, which cuts down heavily on player down time. The game also has a lot of interesting options and different strategies. Often in games with dice, a larger roll is better. However in Fantastic Factories, every roll has its advantage in the right situation so the game is less about depending on hitting certain rolls and more about how you can leverage those rolls to your advantage. A huge feature of the game is the many ways you can manipulate the dice rolls in your favor, so each turn is a satisfying puzzle of how to alter and assign your workers.

I also think the art and overall aesthetic is really quite fantastic! So many games are fantasy or space themed and use serious and monotonous colors. I wanted to make a game with bright colorful art. I aimed for simplicity and elegance throughout the art, graphic design, and game design. Together, I think it makes the whole package stand out and feel approachable.



How long have you been working on this game? What made you launch the campaign now?

My team and I have been working on Fantastic Factories for about 2 and half years at this point. It's been a slow and steady process with a lot of playtesting. I would say that under normal circumstances, it wouldn't need as much time as it has had, but we underwent a couple major redesigns to really nail down and tighten up the gameplay. One of those redesigns came after we won a regional game design competition (NW LUCI Award) that was judged by industry experts. At the time we felt the design was complete and while we did win, they had plenty of constructive criticisms for us. This challenged us to do better and revisit parts of the design. After the redesign, it meant a whole new round of playtesting. It really is a labor of love.

Over those 2 and a half years it was a continuous iterative process of design, playtest, prepare for a convention, and then starting all over again with all the new feedback. All the while, working on the art and graphic design as well. Things take a little longer when you have to split your time between game design, art, and community building. Oh, and my wife and I had our first kid in the middle of it all that!

I'd like to say we had some grand plan with the timing of the campaign launch, but really we just gave the game as much time and love as we felt was necessary. Once we felt the game design was complete and the majority of the art was complete, we set a date a few months away in order to prepare review copies, figure out manufacturing/logistics, and plan our Kickstarter campaign.

Having taken the game through a few redesigns what are some of the biggest changes you've implemented? What do you think you've learned from this feedback loop creative process?

With any game design, before making a big change, you have to understand what the problems are that you are solving. My process is to find what's fun about the game and design everything else around it in support of that fun. With that in mind, it's unsurprising to see that the soul of the game has remained consistent and largely unchanged since the very beginning. For Fantastic Factories, that core fun comes from two angles -- discovering cool combinations of factories that work well together and solving the puzzle of where to place all your dice to maximize your output.

One problem I had was the way buildings were built. Building a blueprint used to require two matching dice......

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Continue reading the full interview on MORE GAMES PLEASE.
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Wed Jun 6, 2018 3:15 pm
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Medusa Dollmaker: Art in Board Games #38

Ross
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Medusa Dollmaker: Art in Board Games #38


This week I spoke to the supremely talented Medusa Dollmaker, artist on Osprey Games new version of auction game and Reiner Knizia classic High Society.

We talk diversity, her process and client mistakes. More art and more words THROUGH THIS LINK!




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Tue May 29, 2018 2:02 pm
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More Games Please Turns One Today

Ross
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Here's today's post from my websites Patreon page:

"Today is technically the 1 year anniversary of my website. When I decided to purchase the domain I didn't have a solid idea of what it was going to be yet, I knew I wanted to interview artists but everything you saw in those early days came together pretty fast after this point.

I've always been an ideas person, someone who has a burning desire to do a thing and if I don't act fast that spark can easily fade away. In this case I grabbed that spark and threw money at it, igniting it into a domain name and hosting via Squarespace. More Games Please the site was born.

Once that had happened, well I had to do something with it really, I'd just paid for a years hosting after all. I'd bought a website but what now?

Over the next week I started coming up with my initial site questions. What did I want to ask the artists and would they even answer? I wasn't so sure. I intentionally kept my questions quite broad, hoping that would both give the interviewee space to answer easily but also increase the likelihood they'd get back in touch. Sometimes all you can do is try and see what happens.

The early days were a total experiment and I remember just emailing people telling them what my site WOULD be about with absolutely no idea if they'd agree to talk to me or tell me politely to go away. I was leaning towards the latter. I mean if you got an email from a stranger, without a website, asking you to answer questions and provide you with images, would you do it?

Needless to say that people did. They had a little trust in the idea and on this almost anniversary of the site (7th June is when I posted my first interview) I am proud to have posted 40 interviews with some of the best creators in the industry.

When I started I had no expectations but as I continued I began to ask more of myself and what the site should be. After 6 months online when it was almost Christmas I created a vote for the Best Art of 2017 because no one else was doing it. I wanted to give people the chance to share what art they'd loved and it was way more work than I'd ever anticipated, completely dominating my whole holidays. Another experiment in action.

In the new year I thought more about what I should do and one thing that I decided upon was improving the format of the interviews to make them more personal. This is something that I am and will continue to work on and I hope you enjoy the results as I learn along the way.

So one year in and I'm excited about the future, I really feel like I've begun to find a place in this community and you my Patreons are a big part of that. When I started my Patreon, again I didn't known what to expect and had low expectations but I'm greatful you've helped me keep the site online by covering it's funding moving forwards.

So here's to a year of More Games Please and experiments that can work, if you just throw yourself into them."
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Wed May 23, 2018 12:53 am
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Victoria Ying: Art in Board Games #37

Ross
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This week I was lucky to speak to Victoria Ying artist on the fantastic recent release, Bargain Quest.

With experience working for Disney on films such as Tangled, Wreck it Ralph, Big Hero 6, Frozen and Moana she has now gone on to focus on her own projects.

Bargain Quest is a collaborative project with her brother Jonathan Ying and has been getting rave reviews.

Here's a quote from the interview with Victoria:
"Although we were using a lot of fantasy tropes, I always found it odd how so much of fantasy was so white. It made sense in Tolkien's days, but being persons of color ourselves we felt like why not create a world where our heroes could be from other backgrounds?"


You can read the full interview with more images here: https://www.moregamesplease.com/art-in-boardgames/2018/5/22/...



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Tue May 22, 2018 2:54 pm
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Jesse Gillespie: Art in Board Games #36

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This week I was lucky enough to talk to Jesse Gillespie, one of the artists on the upcoming HAND OF FATE: ORDEALS.

We talk about his work on the original videogames, making the transition to tabletop and his own journey along the way.

Here's a few quotes:
"I look back on the work from those years and it seems like every brush stroke and ink spatter holds some little story of personal struggle, tragedy, or triumph."
"That the game looks so atmospheric and sumptuous, though, is all due to Ian's amazing graphic design work. I've learned a LOT working with him, Allen and Michael. It's felt like a real "level-up" life moment."

For artwork, sketches and the full interview follow the link here

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Mon May 7, 2018 1:53 pm
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Ben Bauchau: Art in Board Games #35

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THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE INTERVIEW WITH BEN ON MOREGAMESPLEASE.COM TO READ THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH BEHIND THE SCENES ART AND ILLUSTRATIONS PLEASE CLICK THE LINK.

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Ben Bauchau: Art in Board Games #35

Editors Note: This week I've been joined by a brand new illustrator to the board game industry. So new in fact, the game he's working on, Until Daylight isn't even out yet!
This game will be the second release from Flyos Games, after KIWETIN which I covered on the site last year, so go check that out after reading this.


Hi Ben, thanks for joining me! For our readers who aren't aware of your work could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Hey! I come from Brussels, Belgium and I work as a freelance illustrator, primarily for animation and video-games, but also anything related to illustration that I find exciting. I love comics and Japanese woodprints, and I have a dog named Akira.

Your work spans quite a number of fields, from animation to video game pre-production, has this experience changed how you approach each new project and what have you learned along the way?

It took me a lot of time before I realized I simply wanted to be an illustrator, so as a student I went for a bachelor in 2d animation and then a masters in 3d animation. I soon realized I didn't want to work on a technical level in these types of productions, but the studies helped me understand the industry and the pre-production aspect of these productions which I found exciting.

After that I started working as a 2d artist and concept artist for animation and video games. I wouldn't say these projects have changed my approach but they have taught me a lot. You'll often have to be able to produce many different things in a short amount of time, usually have to follow art direction and be able to stick to visual guidelines.

Since my last year of studies, I took my passion for drawing to another level by practicing daily and trying to develop a workflow and an identity in my work. This led me to all kinds of illustration jobs but at first lots of them were not really related to what I do as an illustrator. Now that my personal work is more defined, I realize how that has an impact on the possible opportunities that are more in line with what I love to draw. That's what happened with Flyos!

So before we go on could you tell us a bit more about the identity you have tried to develop in your style and what has influenced your work?

I always loved ink drawings, and I wanted to put some distance between my personal style and digital painting. My illustrations have slowly become an inbetween, ink linework on paper and digital colouring with Photoshop. I've recently started working on these colours with my girlfriend actually, so she is becoming an important part of the colour process, and has done a lot for Until Daylight.

In today's world there is too much inspiration. It's an amazing thing and I feel like I'm unconsciously inspired by what I see everyday, but I do have some artists I'll always go back to such as Moebius, Otomo, Miyazaki, Brüno, Schiele, Audubon, Frazetta. Also, Japanese woodprints are the thing I'm the most attracted to. There's a mystery to these pieces that instantly draws me to them, and I love the stylised characters and their movement.

You're currently working with Flyos Games on a new game called 'Until Daylight'. What can you tell us about the game and how did you get involved?

Flyos reached out at the end of 2017, telling me they liked my behance profile a lot and asking if I'd be interested in a board game project they thought would fit my profile perfectly. I was very impressed by their first game KIWETIN and the art of it (editor: you can read my interview with the artist and designer of KIWETIN over here), and I’d wanted to work on a board game for some time but hadn't had the opportunity, so this is was very exciting for me. We quickly got along and came to an agreement soon enough after they briefed me on the game.

The production of Until Daylight started in January and I am now almost done with the artwork. Basically, the game consists of a team of people gathering for the night and having to survive hordes of zombies. You'll be able to find, use or exchange objects, combine others in
order to defend yourself, help or even betray your partners. The zombie hordes will be filled with zombies, brutes and a few bosses, but also raiders that will fight you with weapons, and survivors you'll have to try and save.

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THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE INTERVIEW WITH BEN ON MOREGAMESPLEASE.COM TO READ THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH BEHIND THE SCENES ART AND ILLUSTRATIONS PLEASE CLICK THE LINK.

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Sat May 5, 2018 12:14 pm
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Mobster Metropolis: The Art in Kickstarter #2

Ross
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Here is an excerpt of the most recent interview on More Games Please, to read the full interview with more art and insight into the game then please head here.

=======================================================

Mobster Metropolis: The Art in Kickstarter #2

Editors note: Mobster Metropolis is currently live (and funded) on Kickstarter. The campaign ends Thu, April 26 2018 5:56 PM BST.

Hi Joel and Karl, thanks for joining me for this Kickstarter interview. Firstly, can you just tell us a bit about who you are and how you've come to work with each other?

Joel: Our company, STORMAKTEN Production, was essentially founded by three childhood friends; Carl, Karl, and I. We’ve known each other for about 26 years, a somewhat disturbing amount of time. We all grew up in the same area and went to school and started playing games together. Since then, we’ve competed in everything from soccer to Counter-Strike. We’ve also played a lot of board games and card games like Magic the Gathering.

For a while, we all studied in various parts of Sweden but then ended up quite close to one another again in Stockholm, the capital in Sweden. Today Carl is a producer at an advertising agency, Karl is an art and director at a digital agency, and I work with communications and PR at an international company. We are all married to beautiful women. Karl and I are fathers to one kid each, while Carl has recently pledged for one but fulfillment isn’t done yet.

We started to play board games together again and realized that we combined a number of skills that would allow us to create something ourselves. We’ve all been part of (or managed) a large number of campaigns, productions and such. As a result, an embryo to Mobster Metropolis was born about four years ago. We’ve poured an enormous amount of time and energy into it since then and now we’re finally live (and funded!) on Kickstarter.

Mobster Metropolis is live on Kickstarter at the moment, so what makes this game special and why did you go with this theme?

Karl: The theme actually came first – there are just way too few gangster games! When we started, Eric Langs Godfather: Corleone’s Empire, hadn’t even been announced. But even after a successful game like that, you still don’t see many gangster games. However now you at least see an increased number of crime-solving games. For Mobster Metropolis, we’ve decided to go with a quite classic gangster theme, with our own twist on the look and feel. However, the gangster theme can be varied and presented in many other ways as well!

When the theme was set, we started to explore mechanics that would fit the theme but also make up a great game together. First of all, we wanted players to be able to build their own gangster syndicates and earn money through shady businesses. Second, we wanted to combine classic euro empire building aspects with aggressive player interaction and take that elements. Perhaps we were influenced by all the great strategy computer games we played as kids (such as Warcraft and Starcraft). Many computer games successfully combine those kinds of aspects, while board games often can be put in either the euro or take that category.

We’ve added and removed a lot of aspects during the years of playtesting, but really ended up with something quite unique. Many of our mechanics have been seen before, but we believe we’ve combined them in a really interesting way that not only goes hand in hand with the theme but also results in very enjoyable games. Mobster Metropolis includes popular mechanics like bidding and card drafting as well as investments and tile placement. But there’s also secret deployments of resources and defense, as well as hidden movement programming with our quite exceptional Drive-by Selectors. All in all, it’s a great game!



This is Mobster Metropolis's second campaign on Kickstarter after falling short of funding on the first try. What do you think you learned from this experience and how did you put these lessons into action for this campaign?

Joel: Yes, we made the first attempt almost two years ago. We really thought we were ready, but afterwards realized that we had been quite naive. We’d been playing board games for long and backed a few on Kickstarter but did not realize how different the board game category is compared to some other crowdfunding categories. The board game section is not about presenting ideas or concept, like some other categories. No, it’s all about presenting an almost 100% finished product, with reviews and everything. I truly believe we had a great campaign page but had still not finalized design and art completely. Furthermore, we lacked some crucial parts like reviews and clear shipping prices. Backers demand more from a new producer with a fairly complex and expensive game, which is totally understandable. Especially with the extreme competition out there.

So we said to ourselves, let’s slow down for a while and make sure we really get it done right next time. Now we’ve improved the game, involved even more people in playtesting, procured better production and shipping, included reviews from well-known Youtube profiles, and present more art and components. Now we’re funded and reach several new Stretch Goals each week! I wake up every morning to a 6 a.m. email from Kickstarter telling me how many new backers we have. A bit surreal to be honest.

How long has the game taken from that first seed of an idea to where we are now? What for you were the most memorable moments on that journey?

Joel: Well as mentioned, we’ve worked on Mobster Metropolis for four years, but also have other commitments. That being said, creating a game is an extremely time demanding project. Especially if you choose to make a rather heavy game with over 700 components. Most time demanding is, of course, all the playtesting, changes, more playtesting, some adjustments, external playtesting, some more changes, even more external playtesting, etc. etc. If you’re not careful, that process can go on and on forever, as there’s always something new to try or introduce.

Karl: One very memorable moment was when we finally were satisfied with the symbols, icons and text ‘system’ that are used on most components – the way we display different aspects like costs and income, or when you’re allowed to play a specific card. We love how Wizards of the Coast has manages to always make cards in new Magic the Gathering sets easy to read for anyone who’s played Magic before. But at the same time, we wanted something even more intuitive, as Mobster Metropolis will be a new experience for anyone. Now we have a ‘system’ that is easy to grasp for any gamer, but at the same time does not come at the cost of the art or the strategy and complexity we value.

Joel: Another memorable moment was our last round of external playtesting, which included a number of quite well-known profiles within the Swedish board game community. We received a lot of feedback, which is always great. But this time, the feedback from the experienced players were really similar and pointed at the same aspects. That made it clear that although we still needed to conduct some adjustments, we actually were close to having developed a very good game, otherwise the feedback would’ve been much more varied and extensive.

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This is an excerpt of the most recent interview on More Games Please, to read the full interview with more art and insight into the game then please head here.
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Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:08 am
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