The moment you all have been waiting for! New World Magischola House Rivalry is now LIVE on Kickstarter! With your help, we can make it a reality!
We’re about 50% funded out the gate, with all of the “Your Likeness as a Playable Character” card rewards going quickly! We’re still a long way from our goal of $32,500, though, but with 28 days remaining and your help spreading the word, we believe we can get there!
Wondering How to Play? Check out this video to see how the game works:
And here’s a message from Dylan, the lead game designer:
This is continued from the Devlog posts 2, 3, 4, which catalogs the game’s design and development from 2013 to present! –by Dylan Grey, Game Designer
After playing in the game in the summer of 2016, I met with Ben Morrow and Maury Brown, designers and producers of the wildly successful blockbuster LARP, New World Magischola, and Maria, Maury’s bright, playful daughter. We tested my game (Maria won), and discussed the possibility of turning it into a Magischola game.
“You don’t need us to make this successful,” Ben said, “but we are thrilled to make this with you.”
That was in August 2016. Ben and Maury wanted to playtest the game at the game designers’ conference, Metatopia, during the first week of November. That meant we were on a fast-track to rewrite the game into the NWM canon. The game was dramatically improved simply by setting it in such a rich, complex universe. It began to simultaneously feel like a full immersion in an existing world, but also became infinitely more accessible to people unfamiliar with Harry Potter.
But…some pieces were working well and some weren’t. We added and later removed score tracks. We sorted out costs and later removed money from the game entirely. We made a great game–but it was still unbalanced.
Maury invited Mike Young (designer of Meteor and Igor: The Mad Scientist’s Lament, among others) to help balance the game. With his help, and a lot of playtesting over the next 7 months at many cons, the game’s mechanics became more streamlined and the gameplay tightened dramatically. His development of the game helped improve the overall player experience. His contributions to House Rivalry made it more accessible to new players, which was one of the best changes the game saw in the development process.
Cas Wormwood, the original artist I met at MISTI-Con and had used to make the only two drawings for my first prototype, is one of the artists for the final game. He is joined by Ffion Evans, who drew the magical creatures for New World Magischola, Lars Bundvad, who drew the House crests, and Dagmara Gąska, who drew the characters and the box art. The team of artists and developers working on this project have brought so much to make this project the fun, competitive, beautiful game it is today.
Ben was correct in that I could have made this game without Magischola. But it wouldn’t be the same. Magischola is the perfect world for House Rivalry–believe me, I’ve tried two others. And, like so many other lovely things in my life, third time’s the charm.
New World Magischola House Rivalry comes to Kickstarter on September 18th!
The journey from idea to finished game continues …
Written by Lead Game Designer, Dylan Grey
Within a few months, I had a Photoshop template for each of my card styles (at that point, there were other categories of cards: Action, Explore, House, Blood Status, and other variables that created lots of gameplay possibilities). I spent the next six months getting up early, working on House Rivalry, going to work, coming home, working on House Rivalry, and going to bed, just to repeat the process the next morning. I priced printers, looked at prototype material options, and built out Kickstarter pages to see how much I’d have to sell each copy of the game to recoup enough loss to print the game in the first place.
It was…a lot of math.
I realized quickly that, as motivated as I was to complete this project, I was going to need to save up for a few years to have enough startup capital to get the game off the ground. I was a little disheartened, but plowed forward to complete a beautiful, designed, playable demo. There were about 800 hours in this stage of the process. Looking back, I can tell you wholeheartedly and unabashedly that this project was a labor of love. No one spends that kind of time writing, designing, and self-producing something they know will likely never hit shelves without the passion and drive to see it completed.
I got the quotes. I got print-ready copies of each card and made individual .pdf’s by hand of each one in Photoshop (I didn’t know at the time that there was a different way to do this. I’m still not ashamed I did it all by hand). All the while, I’m playtesting and tweaking language for readability, adjusting card powers for balance, and paying an artist to make just a few example pieces for my game. When I finished the cards with Cas Johnstone’s art, I had myself my first good cry about this project. His whimsical, creature- and people-centric art style brought the feeling of the game to life. I was motivated, but without a huge windfall to pay for more art, this game was at its furthest point it would ever reach.
So, I printed a beautiful, completed, high-quality prototype, boxed it in a treasure chest, and pulled it out for playtests at every opportunity. I have notebooks full of playtesting notes. And House Rivalry started getting a small following of folks after phenomenally successful playtesting at MISTI-Con 2015.
I’d been pouring almost full-time hours into this project for two years at this point. Then, suddenly, some real life happened and I had to shelve it for a while. Most of the capital I’d built was whisked away for more pressing concerns.
But, it was beautiful, and even if the world didn’t have their own copy of it, *I* did. It looked polished and played well.
I’d created something lovely, and my desire to bring it to others never went away.
Enter one Melissa Kennedy.
After dating for a while, and telling her about this project, she finally convinced me to share it with her.
While designing what would become House Rivalry, I knew I wanted to include some elements of chance, some elements of choice, and potential for strategy play. After all, going to magic school feels like it shouldn’t be a one-style experience since there’s so much variability in play.
I spent countless hours designing cards and how they would interact with each other and set up mock games on the coffee table. At this point, nothing made sense to anyone who happened to see this process. I *lived* this game, for months, and trusted a few friends to help me with the process by “playing” with me–which mostly looked like well-intentioned, confused folks with a flurry of lightning behind them as I tried to explain to them what their scribbles and chicken scratch and really, really bad drawings might represent.
But the feedback was clear.
My friend Pat Jarrett was the first to tell me, “You have to get this out of copyright.” And, he was right. I couldn’t possibly expect to have a game in the universe of The Boy Who Lived. The hoops I’d have to jump through, as a brand new designer, would be a nightmare.
So, with hundreds of hours already in this game, I went back to the drawing board. I mapped all of my characters, spells, items, events, and houses in a spreadsheet and quickly realized that there was nothing about this game’s premise that mandated it be in any particular magical school setting, so long as there was magic, evil forces at work, and a school with a mind of its own.
With my fully created game in hand, I began the painstaking process of rebranding every card into an entirely original world. My world swam with magical artifacts and dark wizards and the constant rush to complete my game….again.
A little while later, I had a new version of my game–shiny, partially typed bits of paper glued to playing cards this time–and was able to sit back and watch folks give it a whirl.
It was still overly complicated for what I wanted it to be, but it worked.
I shut my mouth and watched four folks I knew play this game from start to finish and have fun doing it. I didn’t have to explain how to play or describe what I was thinking or watch someone break the game–everything was (relatively) balanced and it *worked*.
I didn’t need a Harry Potter game, as much as I loved that universe. I just needed a magic school game–with hijinks and mayhem and boring professors and house rivalry and so much magic.
At a little under one year from my start of this project, I began self-teaching Photoshop (I’d touched it in high school journalism and never since) to design and lay out the Foxcroft School of Sorcery cards for printing.
If you’ve ever been to a convention, you probably know the delicious feeling of sitting around with new and old friends, laughing and enjoying getting to know each other. Lots of times, you’re just chilling, but sometimes, you’re playing games, sharing stories, or crafting together. At MISTI-Con 2013, my very first convention, I was thrilled at the prospect of playing a game with my new found friends….until I realized, the game I wanted to play didn’t exist. This beautiful Harry Potter convention, perfect and immersive and wonderful, had every Harry Potter board game on the market–and none of them were what I wanted. Checkers. A couple puzzles. Wizard’s Chess. Scene it. But no role-playing game, no tabletop game, no have a couple drinks and duke it out for house points to prove once and for all which house is the best (Ravenclaw, obviously).
Flippantly, and perhaps after a few drinks, I announced that I was going to make the game I wanted. I’d designed a few games, and brought several to a playable, playtestable state before. It wasn’t going to be that tough to get what I want.
I went home at the end of MISTI-Con and broke out the markers, some bits of tape, and a handful of dice. In a little under a week, I had an extremely rough copy of what would eventually become New World Magischola: House Rivalry. At that time, it was full of mischief, the boy who lived, and a whole lot of unflattering house stereotypes. It was clunky, it was long, it was ugly….but it was mine. I loved it fiercely. It didn’t have a name, but shortly, I had friends vying for the chance to play “That Harry Potter game.” I knew that I was onto something, and made myself an ambitious goal of bringing a polished, playable version of this game to the table–quite literally–for MISTI 2015.
We’ve been working on House Rivalry as something other than handmade cards for almost a year now. We’ve gone from one set of designs and templates and one graphic designer, to a completely new set of designs and templates and another graphic designer.
We’ve gone from ink drawings and line art on the first prototype, to full-color versions on this one. We’ve gone from a hand of 5 action cards that each player had to keep and play, to a playmat with the actions noted on it. Through all the changes in points and mechanics, and wording and rules, one of the biggest things I’ve had to worry about as the Publisher, is the art.
Let’s face it: art sells games.
A game that looks really good is likely to get purchased, but that doesn’t mean it will get played, or replayed. And it especially doesn’t mean that a consumer who bought your pretty but unplayable or unenjoyable game will buy your next title. So you have to be careful, too. You want beautiful art, but you also want a good game.
I am blessed to work with four amazing artists on House Rivalry: Cas Wormwood, Lars Bundvad, Ffion Evans, and Dagmara Gaska. They are each awesome, and they each bring something to the game. They have different styles, though, so we challenged our super graphic designer, Dan Blanchett, with figuring out how to integrate the different art styles into a cohesive design. He did it, though!
As you can see from the various artwork on this page, Cas and Ffion have a whimsical, comic style that we like for its humor. The game is fun and light, and let’s face it, magic is unpredictable. We like that their drawings make you chuckle, and often are plays on words or the card’s effects. I’m a fan of Munchkin and will enjoy looking at the art on those cards to see the cleverness. Ffion and Cas’s work is more polished than Munchkin, which I wanted, but it has a cartoony feel that I think is right for a game that appeals to ages 10 and up. Game Designer Dylan Grey has known Cas for years, and really wanted to use his art in the game. That style hearkened back to his first versions of the game, and we wanted to support Dylan and Cas on this. We had already been working with Ffion as our primary artist for our cryptids and creatures, so continuing with her was a natural fit. Each artist has different specialties, so we were able to divide the work between them and use their strengths.
We already had the House crests, drawn by Lars Bundvad, and the House Founder portraits, which he also did. We wanted to use those in the game, but as you can see, Lars’ work is quite different from Cas’s or Ffion’s. We love it too, but for different reasons. The Founders look regal and important and powerful, as the Founders of a magical college should. The crests are heraldic and inspire pride, as they should. They’re detailed and shaded and awesome, and anything but cartoony. The crests only appear on the playmats, but that means they are visible throughout the entire game. The House Founders are only on 5 cards, one each, but the remainder of the cards have artwork by Cas and Ffion, and they might be next to each other in a hand or on the tableau.
We brought Dagmara in on Dan’s suggestion, and boy, are we glad we did. She is an amazing talent who is versatile, creative, skilled, and speedy. Quite the combination in an artist, I know! Dagmara is doing the 10 characters for the game, up to 6 of which will be drawn from photographs of actual people who purchase that reward on the Kickstarter (2 of them are the Game Designer, Dylan, and his fiancée, Melissa, as their wizard school characters: Neptune Klindt and Juniper Williams). Dagmara’s art is closer to Lars’ style, so the characters help integrate the look of the crests, especially as they go near them on the playmat.
We’re very happy with all the artwork in the game, and we think a lot of it will make you say “wow.” Others will make you laugh. That’s magic: both awe-inspiring and hilarious.