Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Community in the Making

Kickstartingyour own game is an adventure: a wonderful, taxing, exhilarating adventure, which does not stop to amaze me – a person looking at their dream coming true. And although there are many aspects that make the whole endeavour truly awesome, there is one that makes it both a memory to cherish, and a great opportunity for the future.

On last Tuesday I shared some of my thoughts on Kickstarting Mistfall – my first published game, and a bit of a labour of love. It is a truly uplifting experience to see so much work – my work, and the work of other wonderful folks here and around NSKN Games – and a vision of the game draw more and more people, making all of the nights and days spent on Mistfall a small sacrifice for all the great things the game’s creator was given – by all backing the game.

Mistfall on the BGG Hotness
Mistfall is an idea of a game made real in slow, sometimes gruelling steps. Now, being over 400% funded it is fast becoming an awesome reality. A reality that sparked so much interest and discussion that it had occupied the very top of BoardGameGeek’s Hotness list for a solid week, put me as a designer in a truly magnificent company, and urged people to write over 1100 comments on Mistfall’s Kickstarterpage.

The Kickstarter campaign started over two weeks ago, and since then we’ve all answered many questions, but also simply exchanged opinions with people who were inclined to share their thoughts on the game, to offer suggestions, to help with editing the final rules, to create playmats, to spread the word of Mistfall to others – and to start creating a community of like-minded individuals gathered around a game that started as one person’s dream.

If there is anything truly amazing, anything astonishingly humbling about Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general, it is the connection established between the people who create, and the people who support creating. But in doing so it also elevates us all, making everyone a significant part of the process of crafting something that we will all enjoy, and giving everyone a voice that is important for me personally, for us (as NSKN Games) and for everyone else involved.

A True Fellowship indeed!
So, if you already are a backer – and much more than a backer, by being a part of this amazing journey – I thank you again. I thank you once again for your support and for your involvement. And if you are not a backer yet, consider becoming one not only to receive an awesome game, not only to be part of the process of making it, but also to be on the ground floor of building an absolutely awesome community.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Mistfall Adventure

Mistfall has been on Kickstarter since March 10th, 15:40 CET. My game needed only 5 hours and 20 minutes to fully fund and now, two days after the middle of the campaign, it’s still going strong, unlocking a new Stretch Goal every day and sitting on a little over 390% of its initial funding goal. And let me tell you, it has been quite a ride.

If by any chance you’ve not yet seen what Mistfall is about, let me offer you a very detailed introduction. The video is over an hour long, but don’t worry – if you don’t have that much time, it also includes a link to a shorter overview, which will tell you in a more condensed form what you can expect from NSKN’s first Fantasy Adventure Game.

When we set out to fund Mistfall, we knew it was a game that will garner a lot of attention, but we (I the designer specifically) were amazed at how great the response to the game was, an how energetic and helpful our fans and backers turned out to be yet again. Although we’ve seen they can be really amazing, we’ve been surprised once again.

We’ve gone through different discussions over the last twelve days, received many suggestions at how to make the game even better – and we listened, because that’s what we do, and because we really want each of our games be as great as it can be.

We’ve gone through an almost absurdly long list of Stretch Goals, each of them pre-prepared and tested. We thought that the long list we’d prepared will keep us covered for the whole campaign and more. Well, it seems we might actually run out before the end, and if we do, we will just tell our backers, that this is all we had. And yes, maybe others would have conjured up something on the fly, but it is simply not the NSKN way. We’re gamers, we’ve always been gamers, and we’re not adding half-baked stuff just to make a few quick bucks – because we’d hate it if someone did that to a game any of us supported.

Mistfall has been quite a ride, and knowing what usually happens on the last few days of a Kickstarter campaign, more amazing craziness will ensue. And I can say from a personal perspective, that kickstarting this adventure game turned out to be quite an adventure in itself. The question now is, will you join in?

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Resolve of Mistfall

A few months ago one of my playtesters, after performing a very impressive combo that led to his Shieldbearer eliminating two rather nasty enemies, stated that it’s a shame there are no individual rewards for monster slaying – and asked if I could modify that rule, so that there is an incentive for players to do more killing. I shook my head and told him what I am about to tell you.

Art by Enggar Adirasa.
Mistfall is a game of management. You manage your hand, you manage your deck, you manage your discard pile. You try to manage the level of Enemy Focus you are forced to put on your Hero whenever you’re doing some doing heroic stuff. You also manage Resolve, a resource generated mostly by eliminating Enemies, that allows you to develop your Hero – and that is stored in one common pool, for any player to draw from and use to buy new Feats.

So why is there a common pool, if the Mage does more killing than the Cleric? The question actually includes the answer: because the Mage does more killing than the Cleric. And the Cleric is protecting and healing the Mage, making sure that the exhausted spellcaster does not fall victim to a new wave of fresh Enemies, or to the main villain (like Karnas the Betrayer depicted here).

Mistfall is a game about managing, but it’s also a game about sharing. It’s about deciding that the Resolve generated by the Seeker’s killing blow will be immediately used up by the Shieldbearer, allowing him to protect the Mage from a crippling blow in a moment of weakness. Or it will be used by the Cleric, who used to be focused on healing, but with a new Advanced Feat will now suddenly be ready to deal with some of the undead threatening the whole party.

So, there are no individual Resolve rewards – all goes into a single pool. All the tokens stay there until you, as a group, decide that it it’s the time for one of you to acquire the card that will allow you all to overcome a previously insurmountable obstacle – and persevere. This allows every individual player to make their own propositions on which character to improve and how. This also allows everyone to participate in the overall party development, building a feeling of a fellowship and creating an option to synergize even beyond combinations of cards, actions and in-game effect – making Mistfall a truly cooperative experience.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mistfall Rogues Gallery: The Living Dead

Today we continue the story of the Mistfall enemies and evildoers - adding just a small reminder that the game is right now being funded on Kickstarter.

When the first news of the dead rising reached the more civilized human lands, they were disregarded as mere tales spun by those, who would seek to profit from spreading fear – or those deeply traumatized by their first encounter with the Mists. The truth turned out to be more horrifying, and soon humanity had to face an enemy unlike any of the ones that had stood against it before.

Art by Enggar Adirasa
The Mindless and the Malicious

All those who met the undead know that the backbone of their hordes comprises of skeletal warriors and zombies – slow walking corpses, easy to run away from, but not as easy to kill. But believing that all the undead are exactly that: methodical but slow and shambling could be a mistake that would lead a careless adventurer to eventually joining their ranks.

As the Mists seem to be able to raise any man and any creature from the dead, their reanimated servants range in scope and abilities. Those who would face this scourge on a regular basis know very well, that skeletal hands can handle a bow and that the slow approach of the rotting walkers is often preceded by a vicious attack of a pack of vampiric hounds.

As creatures of the Mists, some undead are able to wield bagic, and whoever glanced at least once into the eye sockets of a skeletal mage knows, that an inhuman, malicious intelligence is also a gift the Mists would bestow upon its once dead servants.

Undead in the Game

Some of the undead enemies are surprisingly tough for their skeletal or rotting frame – and it should come as no surprise, as those who had once died are now animated by the power of the Mists and not by vital organs that can be targeted to deal more damage. For that reason, it is always good to find a way to make use of their primal weakness – as almost all undead will be easier to overcome using fire or divine powers.

The undead are not only tough, but can also be surprisingly diverse, able to strike fast, call upon the power of a dark rage or heal their wounds after successfully dealing out punishment to Heroes. For that reason, players should never disregard the slower undead or those that deal less damage, as they have a tendency to slowly but inevitably swarm the Heroes to deprive them of their lives.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mistfall: Not a Zombie

I’ve been a long standing fan of JourneyQuest, an independently created video web series about a group of somewhat unlikely adventurers trying to complete a heroic quest of utmost important. I like to come back to some of the episodes now and again, which usually ends in me watching the whole series start to finish

JourneyQuest is a deeply amusing indulgence, and some say that you will get the most of it if you are or have been a gamer – specifically: a role player – because it uses a lot of the tropes most often observed in role playing games. From the cast of characters and villains, through the main plot to some of the absurd but endearing quirks of its world, all seems to be borrowed from a role playing game.

Most certainly a zombie by Enggar Adirasa
When designing Mistfall (a game we are currently Kickstarting), I would also borrow – and I would borrow a lot, since I have been and partly still am a role player. I built the characters thinking about the well known classes and roles they would fill within a party of adventurers. I made them “handle” similarly. I made sure that if you like casting spells – from powerful blasts to small tricks – you will feel right at home with the Arcane Mage. I made the Shieldbearer a simple to use warrior. I made the Dawnbreaker Cleric a healer and destroyer of the undead. The Seeker - your basic rogue if you like - is sneaky and handy with the dagger. You probably get the gist now.

What I also did, was make sure that Mistfall plays well with people who did not or would not have anything to do with role playing games. Every building block added to the game, every Enemy or Feat, was crafted both with theme and playability in mind. It was supposed to invoke a specific feeling, but still remain a cerebral experience which (with the addition of fully deterministic combat and despite all the trappings of Dungeons and Dragons or Warhammer) would first and foremost build a board game a board game. And a damn good one, if I may say so myself.

I’ve seen people who would not be caught dead playing an RPG have fun with Mistfall – just as much as those who spent years crawling through dungeons. So, Mistfall is not an RPG. JourneyQuest is not a game. And Carrow is not a zombie.

And yet, it’s all so much fun.

Oh, one more thing: if you’ve not seen JourneyQuest yet, do yourself a favour and go watch it now. If this can get a chuckle out of Andrei (the least probable person to play an RPG in this century), it can sure as hell get a chuckle out of you.
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