Friday, September 2, 2016

Interview - Jamie Keddie - Designer of Random Encounter

Tyler was very excited when I showed him the kickstarter for this game and we backed it almost immediately and watched it just miss the funding goal. Alas like a phoenix...errr Troll King, IDW games picked up Random Encounter and the rest, as they say, is history. Today I sit down with Jamie Keddie and talk about the game and the rollercoaster that is kickstarter


I was an original backer for the kickstarter campaign. Can you tell us about how the game went from an just missing the kickstarter goal to a published game?

You were a Random Encounter backer? That's awesome! I loved that we built up a strong little community over on Kickstarter. That, for me, is what Kickstarter is really great for. Regardless of whether you ultimately hit your goal you build some great hype and let people know about cool projects that you want to make! You put yourself 'out there' for the world to see, and judge accordingly. That's also where IDW Games entered the picture!
I was still working at 4J Studios on Minecraft: Console Edition when I was building up to the campaign launch. I spent a bunch of time promoting the game and letting people know it was going to go live on Kickstarter soon. Twitter, Facebook, BoardGameGeek, Reddit and some other smaller forums too. We launched the campaign on the weekend of UK Games Expo which we were also attending and over that weekend we fired up to 20 or 30% of our £10k goal, which was amazing to me. Within a few days we were given a Kickstarter 'Staff Pick' and I was hugely positive we would hit our goal. 

Then, things started to slow down. I had previous experience with Kickstarter, so I wasn't surprised, but it's hard to keep the momentum going. I continually improved the campaign according to feedback given by the community and the support kept pouring in but it looked like we were going to fall just short if things kept going the way they were. Around about now is when IDW games came along. Nate Murray (amazing guy) came to me and said that IDW would love me to pitch the game to them if we didn't hit the goal as they thought it would work great for them.

We just missed the funding goal by about 10%, which was heartbreaking, but I followed up with IDW Games on the off chance they would like to help out. We talked, back and fourth, for a while and I pitched the idea to Nate. They loved the product and the potential for expanding into the future so I licensed the game to them and we are still working together right now to continue bringing top quality games to the market. Random Encounter: Plains of the Troll King is the first of these! 

In the original campaign there were going to be 4 different decks. Will there be 3 more decks down the road for the game?

Yes! I can't say too much now, as we are still in late development for Random Encounter:
Set 2, but the plan is to keep going I believe. As long as people love the game we will keep providing them with new content I'm sure! The plan is slightly different to what we had in the original campaign however. Each Random Encounter set will be a stand-alone game, which plays in a slightly different way from each of the other sets, and has a varying focus each time. Random Encounter: Plains of the Troll King focused on battle outcomes and tricks. Our next set has a much more heavy focus on ways to gain or steal loot. Here's the exciting thing: All of the sets can be mixed together, if the player wants to do that, creating another brand new experience too. The cards all work together in super cool ways but they also work as great standalone experiences. 

Was there ever talk of having two separate decks in the initial game?

Early on, yes. I quickly moved away from that idea in favour of a more focused experience that we can expand upon. I was very aware that not everyone had Plains as their main choice during the campaign (Seas and Space were hugely popular) and I wanted to cater to these people too. But, I think giving each set the individual attention it deserves and then creating more exciting set X vs set Y experiences in future gives us much more scope to listen to feedback and keep building on the game in ways will allow more people to enjoy each set individually and not just for the art variance.

Tyler and I will be posting a do-over of the gameplay since we misinterpreted the rules. We played what me and Ty now call "Ultimate Random Rule". As a designer how do you feel when you see this happen?

Writing rules for board and card games is hard. Let's be honest here. You can test with groups of different people for weeks and there can still be single words or rules that large numbers of people can potentially misinterpret when the game actually gets released into the wild. We don't have the luxury that digital games have of creating day one patches, DLC or making erratas. A whole print run has to be exhausted before we can make any changes to future copies and even then there are a huge number of games out there that will never receive that update. It's always hard for me, as a designer, when this happens because you want people to experience the game in the way that you, as the creator, envisioned it or worked on for a long time to perfect (if there is such a thing).

However, I love seeing people making rules of their own. If people are enjoying the game in the way that they want to play it then that is still a success in my book. We are giving players cards, boards and/or dice which have been designed in a certain way so that they act as tools for play. If people are playing and enjoying the game then we have done our job. Granted, if people can't play the game because the rules are too hard to understand or the tools we provide are too niche or complex - then we have failed. But, if players are adding rules to make the game more fun for them or in a way which gives them a new experience then I 100% support that!

I just watched 'Akronasia'. Would this be a world you would explore for a future game?

Haha! Wow! That's a blast from the past. I worked with a small team of people during my university years to create that film and it is still actually very influential to me. Its not a great piece of film or anything but it had a lovely feel and atmosphere to it. For those of you who don't know, I studied animation and have my roots in film and artwork before I moved into the games industry. Funnily enough, Akronasia inspired another film (set in the same world) which I worked on, called 'D'Ark', which then went on to inspire many of the character designs for my first game, 'Jackpot!'. It is a world we could potentially explore in a future game, steampunk and airships are super popular themes in geek culture. Anything is possible I guess!

Finally, what is a game that you love that we may have not heard of?

A great 1-2 player game which inspired me to create the Solo Adventure Mode for Random Encounter was Sylvion by Shadi Torbey. In the game you play as a forest which is fighting back against an ever advancing waves of flame elementals which, if they reach the forest, will burn it down. It sounds crazy in theory (and some of the artwork is even crazier) but it is a great game with an ever advancing difficulty and multiple game modes that kept me entertained for a very long time. Even though the difficulty can be backbreaking at times. I suggest giving it a try for sure!

No comments:

Post a Comment