December 24, 2017 17 min read 1 Comment
First of all, once again we are sorry for letting you with so little news for such a long time. This autumn has been crazy challenging to us. We already told you a bit about that in our previous quick update, but as when it rains it pours, the rest of the trimester has been very intense on the personal level. But anyway, we keep on going and we have a lot of stuff coming your way for 2018. So let's start by having us and Aleksandr Kurganov wishing you a Happy Christmas full of cool toys!!!
Well, there are 3 main things:
However, we were a bit short on time to assemble and photograph all the new accessories we've designed for you, and we didn't want to make you wait after Christmas for this update. So this is part 1 and we will post part 2 in early January with many more pictures of cool stuff.
So without further ado, let's jump right in and talk about what's up...
The biggest professional game convention is held in the German city of Essen. Every year, tons of game designers, publishers, retailers, suppliers fly to this event from all over the world.
Key game manufacturers are here to offer their services, whether they are printers, miniature or game accessories maker.
Think of it as the Festival de Cannes of boardgames, if you will.
Essen is a very crowded place
So it was the event we were waiting for to meet to prospective partners who could manufacture WarStages in the best possible way.
We met with some very interesting people here and have now selected two different manufacturers, one in eastern Europe and one in China, with whom we've been going deeper into the various technical aspects of the manufacturing process.
You may think : “It's just printing some stuff on cardboard, how technical can it be?”
Well, in fact, there is a lot more to it than one can imagine. There is brown and grey cardboard which have different properties. You have to know about the density on the glue in the cardboard, and what type of printing you will use. Then there is the die-cutting process and everything related to die-cut tools tolerance, etc., etc., etc.
Our previous experiences on some other technical jobs (not only in the miniature industry) have taught us that you need to become pretty fluent and knowledgeable in the field you are tackling if you don't want to be taken advantage off, choose a mediocre supplier, or just to discover a technical issue when it is too late.
Many things have to be explored and taken into account. And it looks like we have assessed pretty much all the parameters we need to know to have the job done properly. Which is good :)
Of course what's awesome with the PDF file is that you can manufacture as many elements as you want. You can also tweak them into an image editing software, add details, change colours, combine or rescale elements, etc.
In the next update, we will provide you with information on how to work with these files.
Like we said in the intro of this update, we haven't had the time to assemble all the elements we've created so here is only a sneak preview of a few of these things (freebies and PDF). We'll show you more pictures in January.
The Cistern Wrap in red.
You can see how it can also be used to make all kinds of walls, fortified doors, etc.
You will also get sarcophagus, pews, wooden tables...
A new skin for the large crate
Awesome concept art
When we starting thinking about WarStages, there was only one person we thought could create to kind of concept art we needed: Gérard Trignac
Just to give you and idea of the level of his skill and talent, Gérard turned down the job of set designer for The Name of the Rose in the 80's...
We worked with Gérard on a big film project at the end of the 90's, and today WarStages seems to be exactly in his alley.
Gérard is not a hobbyist or a gamer and when I explained to him that we were going to build scenery into which people would play with little toy soldiers, he was a bit puzzled.
At first, we tried to work from a very precise brief, explaining to him how tall the miniatures are and what space a game table should be, and how each building should connect and work with each other, and so on. It didn't really work out. Gérard needed to work in total freedom to really let his talent shine.
So we agreed that, based on our general needs and goals, he would draw whatever he would envision.
And he came up with some pretty crazy stuff...
This is way too big!
But most of it was on such large scale that now you would not need a 2 meter long table to play, but most likely a 15m (50 feet) one!
So we started reworking his concepts to change their scale while preserving the original shapes and proportions as much as we could. We also had to open a lot of the buildings so that their inside would be accessible and you could move your minis inside them. It was not easy and some of his designs could not be adapted fully, but overall his vision truly inspired us on many different levels.
We were able to preserve a good part of what he drew for the front of the cathedral.
We also worked together on “the Library”, the project for which he made the most complex drawings, a medieval labyrinth that truly puts The Name of the Rose's secret library to shame by its size and complexity.
But it quickly became obvious that this was a completely new project in itself! This means that you will see more Sisters buildings in a near future, We already have quite a few ready for battle...
That's also why we are not showing you more of Gerard's work, because there is plenty of very epic stuff we are saving for our next few WarStages projects...
The Cardboard Plunge
When we printed Gérard's drawings at the size the final scenery should have, it was VERY encouraging. It dwarfed the miniatures in an awesome, epic way.
After that test, when we finally decided to go with high density cardboard, a good part of the cathedral had already been modeled and most of this model was used as a base for the cardboard version. We did many renders that we reworked in Photoshop to make it look even more detailed and more tri-dimensional.
Another type of building
We also knew that the Cathedral would be a big standalone building that would need some kind of extension to be even more modular and maze-like.
So tried additional types of structures and buildings. We did research based on references that were very far from traditional gothic stuff, such as Esher's work, or the creations of contemporary architects like Ricardo Boffil.
La Muralla Roja, an apartment complex in Spain by Ricardo Boffil
This resulted in many, many ideas. Many of them were not used in this first WarStages Kickstarter. They will be part of future projects. However, one of them gave birth to the Gothic Daedalus Kit: a set of platforms, stairs and pathways that would retain a strong gothic feel and a strong sense of verticality, which was key for the whole project.
Here are images of the very first cardboard version of several Daedalus Kit elements:
Once we had the basic shapes of our building, the next stage was texturing.
To be continued...
Since it is Christmas, it is the right time for stories and anecdotes about what goes behind the scenes on a Kickstarter project. This might have been more appropriate for Thanksgiving, but it's always good to say “thank you” to people who support you, right?
Many great people in the industry have given us some great testimonies about WarStages during the campaign. It's very rewarding to have your peers supporting your products and creative efforts and we are very thankful to them.
As we have often said, a Kickstarter is not a pre-order shop for ready-made products. It is a human adventure with many people embarking on a crazy project, artists, backers, manufacturers, the list goes on.
The human element is really key for us and so here is the opportunity of sharing with you some of the anecdotes that happen behind the scene during the making of the project.
These little simple moments are also what make these adventures worth it. Today is an opportunity to say “thank you” to all of them and to talk a bit more about a few of the ones with whom we had some special interactions or moments.
I was introduced to John by some of our foundry guys. John is probably the nicest person I have been in contact with in the industry. After he sent us a truly great testimony, we had a conversation on Messenger about our work. I was telling John how Chronopia, a game and a world that he has been heavily involved into, had a big impact on me.
If you don't know that game, you should check it out. Mostly illustrated by Adrian Smith, it is a wonderful creation that has a deep impact on the industry. John told me that this had also been an adventure and a project that is still very close to his heart.
This is when something came back to my mind:
As we were talking about making massive cardboard Cathedrals for miniature gaming and talking about one of the greatest wargame fantasy setting, I realized that about 20 years ago, I got out of the gigantic Beauvais cathedral in the north of France completely floored by this behemoth of a cathedral, just to get a second punch in the face as I saw my first ever Chronopia image: a poster taped on the glass door of a game shop next to the cathedral... Double whammy!
Talking about cathedrals and Chronopia with John 20 years later was really like going full circle, bringing great memories of a time when I would never have thought being at the helm of a thriving miniature company.
Anyway, check out John's work. He has an awesome project in the works that I can't tell you about, except that it is some pretty heavy and cool stuff...
The Beauvais Cathedral is so big that only half of it was ever constructed. In the XVI century, its 150m (nearly 500 foot) high tower collapsed, but at that time it was the tallest monument of the known world.
From the beginning of Raging Heroes, Paolo has been one of the most enthusiast heavy weight supporter of our work, and yet we've never had a chance to meet or even speak together. But Paolo has been consistently posting great comments on our Facebook posts for quite some time now.
The funny thing is that, when Chronopia came out, Paolo was working on its “brother” game Warzone. Chronopia was a fantasy game and Warzone was a SciFi game, both made by the same team.
Paolo's illustration style is a unique mix of American and European influences.
I remember being blown away by the very distinctive illustration styles of Paul Bonner and Paolo when they were both working on Warzone. Then both of them went to work on Confrontation and later, Paolo launched his own project Dust.
Paolo, I hope we'll have a chance to grab a beer together sometime!
I remember our very first convention as Raging Heroes, where we met Leonidas. We had just launched Raging Heroes in 2009, and were very timidly roaming the alleys of a French game event. Leonidas was managing the French magazine Ravage and had agreed to meet us to talk about the few sculpts we had just launched.
When we met, he greeted us with is usual enthusiasm and friendliness. At that time we were really a very, very small company but he was 200% supportive of our work and projects. Back then internet was not what it is today, and so he gave us a great exposure through his magazine even if we didn't have the resources to buy advertising.
Now a few years later he has been key to the success of some of the biggest miniature game Kickstarters with Conan, Mythic Battles and Times of Legend: Joan of Arc.
And yet, he is still the same nice, friendly and enthusiastic person who was instantly on board to support WarStages.
So a very big thank you to him :)
Colin at Battlesystems
I also wanted to give a special thank you to Colin of Battlesystems with whom we had some conversations just a few days before launching WarStages. Please go and check his current Kickstarter. This is his company's first game and it makes a very effective use of their great scenery line. The campaign is now over, but I'm pretty sure you can still late pledge.
Things are heating up about the TGG game! We've been very ambitious from the very beginning. We wanted to offer you a new type of experience in terms of Miniature Gaming. We wanted to make you feel closer to the action, closer to the characters and to the background. We also wanted to immerse you in a movie-like adventure during the game, and even go for a “meta-game” experience that would mean that the adventure would continue even after your game is over.
As most adventures, it's been a long and challenging road, with many tests and re-tests and updates and changes and rewrites, but we are very excited about what we came up with!
Relying on simple but rich game mechanics, the TGG game delivers a unique level of fun while providing at the same time a high level of strategic challenges that will be perfect for tournaments.
We have put a lot of work into creating a totally unique game experience that truly immerses/absorbs/engages you in your miniatures' actions and in the events of the scenario.
We want the TGG game to feel as badass as the minis themselves.
Here are a few highlights of what you'll find in the game: At every turn of the creative process, we decided to challenge what is common knowledge... In fact, one of the way we developed our game was for us to put a question mark at the end of common assumptions.
Assumption: The deployment phase is a boring if necessary evil?
Oh? Well, what if the deployment phases became one of the best parts of the game?
Impossible! Crazy! Well, we feel that the deployment phase should be as exciting as the first big action scene at the beginning of a movie. So we came up with an ultra dynamic, high action system of deployment through which you are sure to live the epic moments that create awesome game memories!
Assumption: There is no way around the fact that some aspect of combat resolution take you out of the action and you cannot get a physical sensation of combat by playing on a table?
Well, what if the combat sequences were fast and furious and would give you chills?
It's always fun to roll the dices for a combat: you get the anticipation of seeing the dice tumble on the game mat, hoping that you will score a success. But then, in most games, the excitement of combat ends here because then you have to resolve the action, compute the bonuses, etc. It might be cool, but it's not an experience that is as immersive as it could be. And in some cases, it totally cuts the flow of the game.
In the TGG game we've come up with a combat system that really amps you up. Based on a card system, it is a real joust with your opponent. You've got to be on edge, take lightning-fast decision and react to your opponent choices, all in real time. You even get to throw one of your heroine's punchline in the mix (see below). All this makes for a super thrilling and lively yet very strategic and balanced combat system.
Assumption: The only way you can express the characters' personality in a miniature game is through a few skills and maybe some specific mission objectives?
Wouldn't it be cool if your minis felt like real characters, full of persona and badass attitude?
In the TGG game, each heroine has her own skills that reflect her persona, of course. But it doesn't stop here, far from it! Like in good old 80's movies, each heroine has her own “punchlines”, one-liners like “I'll be back!” or “Yippee-ki-yay, Motherfucker!”. And it's not just something written on your card as the description of a “you get +1 to damage”. No, it is something that when the other player hears you say it, it means something and he might have to answer back in the right badass way. And the system is built up so that you'll often feel like your miniature is reading your mind and allows you to tell to your opponent how you REALLY feel at that time. But the cool thing is that it is truly part of the game and has a direct impact on it.
And it goes even deeper than that ! The heroines' persona will infuse some aspects of the game in very subtle ways trough the game engine. You might not notice it at first, but as you become more experienced, you'll realize that... Well, let's keep it a surprise for now ;)
Assumption: in all games, some phases are necessarily about upkeep, calculations or organization?
Wouldn't it be great if the game had no downtime and just be pure fun all the way?
As you've seen, we've already taken care of the dreaded deployment phase by turning it into something epic and cool. And so we have taken the same approach on all the aspects of the game: movement, action resolution, special skills, everything has been designed so that is will not slow down the game or take you away from the mood. The game is fast, lean, with little to no downtime.
Assumption: the way that you need to put technical information on game cards and other game accessories mean that it is never possible to make that info feel “transparent”and fully integrated into the card illustrations and layout?
Don't you like goodies that feel like they come right out of your favorite movie or gaming universe?
In the TGG game, there are no “cards” or “tokens” but military identity papers, dogtags, propaganda flyers and more that are used as gaming components. Everything feels like it's right out of the TGG world. You are going to like them so much, we are pretty sure you will ask us to make them as postcards, posters and real collectibles ;)
Assumption: the only way to live a real story through a miniature game is by playing in campaign mode?
Wouldn't it be nice if each game would tell a rich and exciting story full of twists, turns and epic moments, without having to play a full-length campaign?
We have created a truly unique Story Engine thanks to which the simplest “capture the flag” game become as rich as a real TV episode. In just minutes, each player takes part in the creation of a scenario that will be telling a story full of twists and turns and revelations. The specific input of the players added to other components of the scenario engine also means that the replay-ability of the scenario will be massive.
Assumption: Once a game is over, there's not many ways to prolong the experience apart from reading the background book while waiting for the next game?
Haven't you ever wanted for your game to extend beyond the battlefield of your dinning room table?
The mechanics of the Story Engine will also let you slowly discover the darkest secrets of the TGG universe and expand your TGG experience way beyond the gaming table if you feel like it. Every time you play a game, the Story Engine will allow you to unearth clues about your enemy's main character and her links to various secret societies, political conspiracies, personal ethics and hidden ambitions, etc. You'll then be able to compare your findings with other TGG gamers on the internet to understand more about what is truly going on beyond the battlefield, who is plotting against whom, who is an undercover agent, what secret organization is really pulling the strings, etc.
So of course, the TGG game will come with a Background book that will contain tons of info on the TGG characters and their world, but it will only be the beginning of something bigger. If you really want to dig deeper, we thought that the best way to discover well kept secrets would be like when playing a video game or watching a movie and thus, discovering hidden information and truths as you go along and even after your game ends.
Assumption: Creating cool themed gaming tables takes a lot of effort, time, money, usually all three combined?
Do you want your gaming table to look great but never have the time or the resources to build something truly unique?
If you've followed our WarStages Kickstarter this summer, you know that we've started exploring some crazy options regarding scenery. The work on WarStages made us learn A LOT about what we could do with scenery. The TGG game will come with a complete set of super-dense cardboard tri-dimensional scenery to build many types of KST (the Kurganovas) environment. As we release new extensions, we will add to this scenery range so that all our armies have proper settings to fight in.
Our first WarStages was about a truly insanely big cathedral. It might have been too big or too expensive for your taste. We learned from that and what we will publish for the game will be split in smaller kits, while retaining a unique design quality that will be very different for each army but yet with the same unique lushness intricacy than our Gothic Cathedral.
The KST environments were an obvious choice because we already have some Sisters scenery in our range and a KST settlement can be home for both KSTs and their Jailbirds prisoners. So get ready for some very cool looking dieselpunk, soviet propaganda style scenery!
You might find it hard to believe that we have managed to cram so much in a game and yet kept it fast to learn and easy to play, but yes, we truly made it! And we are far from having covered everything here, there is definitely more to come, so stay tuned!
Get ready to see new video teasers on Facebook like this one we did on the Daughters of the Crucible:
These videos will remind you of some of your favourite action or sci-fi movies. Through these videos, we want to start conveying the general “movie-like” feel you'll get while playing the TGG game. We hope they will inspire you and will make you want to ready your TGG minis for their first TGG game.
While I realize that this game outline does not substitute for a description of the game mechanics, do give us your feedback so far in the comments below!
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