Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Fresh Coast Gaming Interview with Rick Priestley, Creator of Beyond the Gates of Antares - Part Two

Welcome to part two of our interview with Rick Priestley – creator of the recently launched Beyond the Gates of Antares! Today we’ll be focusing on the design process for Antares.

Q. Can you explain some of the process for the launch of this game? How did it work with you and Warlord Games? How did the sculpting process, media, and rules work out? Did you have your hand in everything?

A. I worked with the team at Warlord to put the model range together and helped work out how the promote and launch the game – given the resources available of course. Warlord are a relatively small company and we can’t hope to do everything at once – but it’s a good start.

Q. I was very interested in your Kickstarter when it was live. I don’t think it was a failure, as it has definitely spawned this venture with Warlord Games and now we have this amazing game with awesome models – but what was it like after that first venture into Gates? How did you get yourself back to the project and push on despite the setback? Do you think if the Kickstarter had funded you would be in the same place with the game?

A. I am of the same view – the KS was a very useful way of actually getting the project moving – but thank goodness the KS didn’t fund because I don’t think it would have given us the chance needed to develop the game properly. KS is a terrible way to actually kick start a venture like this because the developmental time scales are too long and few people are really happy to support a venture that is an actual ‘start-up’. KS is a great way of reaching a market if you have the work ready to go but no regular sales channel – which is exactly the opposite of where we were!
Boromite Lavamites
Q. How has the process for developing Antares been compared to your recent projects or your time at GW?

A. A lot slower and in many ways harder too, because at GW there was always a team of other designers to help out, people like Jervis Johnson –a very skilled designer able to look at something and offer solutions and ideas very quickly. Unfortunately, all my regular gaming buddies and collaborators were either working on their own projects, or only interested in historical subjects, so it was a case of gathering as many players and play testers together to help out – some of whom were marvellously helpful and I really couldn’t have got everything done without them. Nick Simmerson in particular gave generously of his time and energy, and very much deserves the credit for game development in the book – Wojciech [Wojciech Flis, Sculptor] and Ches [Andrew Chesney, Events Manager]  also contributed significantly – they work for Warlord of course J

Q. What were some of the most important ideas for Beyond the Gates of Antares that really drove development? 

A. I think using the BA system suggested the development path – and after that the decision to use D10s – those elements really laid out the agenda for development.

Concord drop troops
Q. How did you use Bolt Action when it comes to Gates of Antares? When I first looked at the Beta, I flipped through the first few pages and thought “Oh this will be easy, it is a lot like Bolt Action”. When I picked it up again and looked at my Algoryn, there is so much more to the game, and it is a lot more complex – where did decide to make changes, and how did you decide to do that?

A. Yes – although I started off with BA – which is a great game in its own right! – I didn’t want the game to be just ‘BA in space’. An Sf game demands wider parameters and needs a bit of elbow room for innovation – which suggests a more RPG style statline too. BA is very rooted in WW2 and in company level actions – it’s quite ‘broad brush’ when it comes to armour, artillery and anti-tanks guns – and that’s partly driven by the brief for the game (infantry based) and partly by the mechanics of the D6. So, shifting to a D10 and systematising the reactions opened up the possibilities a lot and allowed me to introduce more complex interactions. Most of those things were objectives from the start – others were possibilities explored during the developmental process.

Preview of an Algoryn skimmer
Q. Can you talk a little about the dice activation system – sort of a random alternating activation system – and why you chose to use it? 

A. That’s just straight from Bolt Action – each player has an distinctly coloured ‘order dice’ for each unit in his force – say red or one player and blue for another. You put all the dice in a bag at the start of the turn and draw one at random – hand it to the player whose dice it is – he picks one of his units and ‘activates it’ by making one of the actions permitted: Fire, Advance, Run, Rally, Ambush, Down. Each dice face shows one of these actions – just place the dice by the unit showing the action taken. Work out the action (e.g. if you Fire work out the unit’s shooting). Once that’s done you pull another dice – and so on until there’s no dice left. Then pick ‘em up and start again for another turn. There are a few wrinkles and special considerations – but that’s basically it. Again – you can see me explain all this in the You Tube videos on the Warlord website J I chose it because it’s a great way of sequencing the game whilst keeping an element of tension from one ‘go’ to the next – it does away with the IGOUGO problem of one player being inactive for a length of time – and I also think it’s actually more realistic in terms of generating a narrative of action.

Check back later this week for the conclusion of our awesome interview with Rick Priestley!

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