The other day I posted about the new game by Dark Space Corp – Beyond the Gates of Antares – that’s currently on Kickstarter written by none other than wargaming legend Rick Priestly.
Well in an effort to find out more I got in touch with said legend and asked him a few questions. And this is what he had to say…
TSC: Rick, thank you so much for agreeing to have a chat. It’s a real privilege. You’re responsible for some of the most well-known games in the wargaming world including Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, Lord of the Ring SBG and Bolt Action (amongst others). What prompted you to set up DSC and launch Beyond Gates of Antares?
RP: Well I’ve been thinking about doing a new game for a while and I’d already got some ideas about the game system. I also had a fair idea about the overall style and feel – so getting away from the Gothic 40k universe – something different. Me and John – big chief of Warlord – knew we’d need more money than the Warlord business could afford to get the game going, let alone make the models, so we’d put it on the shelf whilst I got on with various historical projects – which is Warlord’s main business. We did look at kickstarter at one point – but as far as we could tell it was only used as a promotional tool by companies with existing ranges and games already for launch – and not as a way of generating cash for new ventures. So we dismissed the idea as out of our comfort zone. Then Rik – who I worked with way back when on a video games project – came up with the proposal to create DSC and pool our respective expertise – and it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss!
TSC: Well you must be doing something right as the campaign has been very well received thus far. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in getting the game and Dark Games Corp off the ground?
RP: Well raising the finance is the only issue we’re concerned with at the moment – and a good chunk of that will come from the kickstarter – so the biggest challenge right now is doing everything on a small budget. Fortunately lots of people have volunteered their efforts for free – come to think of it one of them is me! – so we’ve been able to do a huge amount all things considering.
TSC: From small acorns I guess… For those that haven’t come across the game what can you tell us about the background?
RP: Well it’s a far future setting – and humanity has spread throughout the stars by means of a series of wormholes that all thread through a nexus called the The Gates of Antares – in fact the star Antares which turns out to be a construct. Humans have evolved and changed as a result of transgenic implants to become a varied number of species, some created to fulfil specialist roles such as heat or radiation resistant asteroid miners.
The main force in this future civilisation is the Concord – which is a civilisation whose living inhabitants do nothing they do not wish to do – all work, decision-making, policy and innovation being developed through a process of gestalt intelligence that melds all living humans and all sentient machines by means of a nano-level cloud that permeates the air, food, water, living bodies and so on. This overwhelming utopia absorbs all independent worlds it comes into contact with, its nano-cloud technology simply integrates with other technology, so this happens without any intent – like a virus spreading wealth, happiness and utter passivity throughout space. Needless to say some independent and free-thinking worlds and planets don’t fancy being absorbed into this utopia, and form a loose association of free worlds called the Determinate – but these are in no way united and will happily fight amongst themselves when they get the chance. But they all fear absorption by the Concord.
TSC: The Concord sound like a right bunch of insidious bastards. One of the unique features of BtGaA is the Real Time Dynamic Gaming Universe. Or to put it another way, a living background that changes as gamers submit their results. How free will gamers be to influence the timeline? As they too free would they not have the potential to derail the background or take it in a direction you didn’t foresee?
RP: In principle, we’ll be running a number of campaigns which players can add their results to, and these will determine which of the rival factions captures zones within the campaign, and ultimately which achieves the overall objective. Depending upon the results, we will make available online upgrades – which may be temporary or context specific – some of which will represent tech captures, but others could be intelligence, resources, and so on. When we come to organising our model making schedules we will sculpt the various new technologies with the faction that captured or discovered it in the campaign, and then other factions will have to achieve success in subsequent campaigns to acquire the new tech. The campaigns will also drive the back story itself – so players have the chance to influence events and their forces will become part of the history of Antarean space. In some instances we will actually make models of player’s characters, and write them into the background, so there really is the chance to take part in the universe.
TSC: That sounds brilliant. And I love the idea of unique upgrade packs coming out as factions progress in what, I suppose, will be a community driven narrative. So, what can you tells us about how the game will play and the kind of features gamers can expect?
RP: The game play is based on an activation system where players take turns to activate one unit at a time according to an activation pool – the Combat Intensity Level (CIL). A unit can be activated any number of times, but it’s effectiveness drops if its Combat Status is affected, in which case actions then have to be expended just to keep the unit from becoming exhausted. When units take actions enemy units can make reactions, and in some cases reactions happen automatically – such as firefights and close quarter fighting. This means both players are active all the time, and play proceeds between the two sides quite rapidly. This was one of the things I wanted to get across in the game from the start – constant involvement by both sides.
TSC: So rapid combat and maximum carnage. Works for me. There’s some pretty diverse factions in the game including some sentient robots and the rather gribbly Vorl. How do the factions differ in terms of background and playing style?
RP: Well – even within the factions there are different ways of honing the force depending on whether you want a high-tech base or a lower one, so exactly what kind of force you have can be adjusted depending upon the scenario. There are out-and-out battle scenarios, but there are also more role-play style skirmishers, raids, and exploratory missions where a heavily equipped military force wouldn’t always be the best option.
TSC: So gamers will essentially have the options of tailoring their faction to the style of game they want to play rather than just the type of scenario. Beyond the Gates of Antares is currently on Kickstarter and has had a very positive response. What would a fully funded campaign mean for the project?
RP: It means everything to the project. And it also means that the hard work will have only just begun.
TSC: So what do you have planned for the future the game? Can we expect more factions?
RP: Oh yes – the Determnate is set up to be infinitely expandable in that way – and you can always add more aliens too.
TSC: Being the game developer of legend that you are, was developing BtGoA any easier to create than Necromunda or the truly awesome Space Marine?
RP: I’ll let you know when it’s done!
TSC: Fair enough. One last thing; there are more than a few gamers out there wanting to put their own game out there. What advice could an oracle such as yourself give?
RP: Games are not about what you put in but what you leave out! Well I always say that – and it’s true – you have to decide what the game is about and focus on that. Otherwise – be open and appreciative of suggestions – listen – and when you’re playtesting just watch the players and don’t correct them – often they will arrive at the right response instinctively and when they do write it down!
TSC: Rick it’s been an absolute delight. Thanks so much for taking the time and good luck with the project.
If you want to support the Beyond of the Gates of Antares project then you can check out the Kickstarter page here.
That’s right ladies and #warmongers, Ichiban Studio has taken the leap into producing wargaming crack, God love em, and has launched an Indiegogo campaign.
Firm friend of The Shell Case and all round top #warmonger Hugo has done a video explaining the method behind his brand of madness which you can view below.
And here’s some info from their page:
Yes yet another indigogo/kickstarter campaing for Wargaming related miniatures and accessories, but unlike many other we aren’t a big lucrative company trying to piggy back on crowed funding just because its cool or because it “free money with no interests. No! We are a real start-up company trying to make it in this world. You must ask your self if you don’t know us already who are those crazy guys? Well let me introduce our selves to you!
Ichiban studio is a collaboration between Hugo Matte and Dennis Zarnowski.
- Hugo Matte is an accomplished painter and also youtuber, he won 2 golden demons and also many other famous painting contest. He holds a pretty impressive rating on coolminiornot
- Dennis Zarnowski is the talented sculpter behinds all the wonderful miniature and accessories we will offer. He’s also holding a very impressive rating on coolminiornot.
Now let’s talk about the real things! Yes why are we using a crowd funding website. The reality of it is pretty easy. Although Hugo and Dennis are working hard developing new products amid the ones that we already have, doing this isn’t first an easy thing and also producing a decent amount of them for you to enjoy is a real challenge. So we are resorting on crow funding to help us launch the line. Think of this campaign as a pre launch with cool discounts!
- First with the funds we will collect here we will buy resin! A lot of it to be able to produce the cool minis that you see in the perk section and also for the future models that are in the concept phase.
- Other things we will acquire with the funds from this campaign are hopefully a 3D printer and also a die cut cutter which will allow use to design more cool products and accessories for wargaming.
- Last is pretty easy Me and Dennis have to eat
If you count yourself amongst the #warmongers and you like what you see then give what you can. You know it’ll be money well spent. And if it wasn’t enough to support an effort set-up by members of our own community, just look at some to the perks on offer…
Back in June I wrote about Kickstarters and how good it is for the community because wargame development is, for most people, is prohibitively expensive. Kickstart campaigns gives those people the opportunity to pitch their ideas to the community and gain their support. It’s a very very good thing.
However of late I’ve noticed that there are more and more instances of established companies that actually have capital using kickstart campaigns to fund their latest projects. I have a problem with this because businesses are supposed to work on the following principle:
Independents that don’t have that initial investment benefit from kickstarter campaigns because otherwise it would require an extraordinary long period of saving or a business loan which, especially in these times of austerity, they probably wouldn’t get.
Established companies have to make money before they develop new projects in the same way as a shop has to make money to buy more stock. It’s called economics. No money, no reinvestment. It’s not right for established companies to use kickstarter campaigns to fund projects when, seeing as they’ve already made money out of the community, they should be using capital.
There’s an argument that pledges equate to pre-orders and this is partly true however for a company to be able to fund the project and give pledges their rewards their paying an inflated cost. Let’s take a look at Mantic as an example. A company that has been kicking around for a while now. Their releasing an ever-expanding range of models for their Warpath game which suggests capital investment, yet they’re holding their hands out for community money for Kings of War and, more recently Dread Ball to the total sum of $562,845. And what do you get for your money? Well not a butt load. $80 gets you a copy of the game. Which won’t cost $80 dollars and it won’t cost $80 to produce. More over, as the retail price already has the cost price built into it you’re actually paying twice. But wait, that’s not all, you get a print of the cover art which costs pennies to produce beyond the salary of the artist, and a digital copy of the rules, which have already been written. Beats working for a living I guess.
Kickstarters for established companies boils down to this – profit. Kickstarter schemes to them are essentially a loan they never had to pay back. It’s free capital. So when the game launches and sells, any money they make goes straight into the bank. More or less anyway, I accept there are distribution costs etc but I’m willing to bet much of that is added into the cost of production.
The difficult thing is that there are lots of very cool kickstarter schemes out there, like Soda Pop’s Relic Knights, and some companies like them, such as Avatars of War, genuinely needed community money to take their development to the next level. There’s an argument that these companies are too super niche and found them in a position they couldn’t get out of but that’s the beauty of kickstarter campaigns; the community decides what’s worth funding and what’s not. And, realistically, like Membraine with their Exodus Wars game, if they hadn’t got any money they would have found the money themselves eventually.
Where crowd funding comes unstuck, however, is when a company can use their reputation and a marketing budget to promote their campaign above struggling independents. The obvious counter point is that free trade is a bitch and it’s a dog eat dog world out there. And that’s true. However, in a niche market where goodwill is as important a currency as the coin of the realm it’s a risky business to be so blatant in their profiteering. The conversation may as well go something like this:
Gaming company: Hey, fancy giving us some money to fund our new game?
Gamer: Don’t you have money of your own?
GC: Oh yes, but if you give us your money then we’ll give you a copy of that game and some other tat and you get to say you helped!
G: Hey that’s a great idea! I buy a game at an inflated price for no real reward.
GC: Yes, and when the game’s out we’ll make sure you get an inconsequential mention and then forget all about you, all the while profiting wildly from a game we had to make zero investment in ourselves.
Yes I’m a cynic but it’s also true.
I have very little hope this is going to change opinions as the fact that Reaper, one of the most established model companies in the world, raised almost $3.5 million for their BONES project. So people are clearly happy pledging. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say something as kickstarter campaigns are meant for those that can’t do it on their own, not for those looking to do things on the cheap.
It’s been brought to my attention that a plucky group of gamers are attempting to build the largest diorama ever depicting the last days of the Blood Angels chapter at the hands of the Tyranids centuries from now, entitled Last Days of the Angels. Personally I think they should drop ‘the’ from the title because it’s more poetic but that’s just me. Now never let it be said that I’m one to discourage the killing Blood Angels I thought I’d tell you all about it. Below is a trailer of the first part of this epic endeavour but to see it come to fruition they need the community’s help so they’ve set up an Indiegogo crowd funding page. Go here for more information.
You can find out more of what the guys have in store over on Ramblings from the Trenches.
Membraine Studios have released a new video showcasing some gameplay for Exodus Wars: Fractured Empire. It shows lots of shooty things shooting lots of other shooty things. Shootiness is good.
It’s a work in progress so expect things to get shinier and shooter with time.
Membraine Studios has made the decision to develop EW:FE come what may but the crowd funding page they’re running will help them develop the game much faster and as a full and complete product.
If you want to support the project then click here.