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.
And then, after we attended New World Magischola, she finally convinced me to share it with them.