Say what you will about Facebook, but I certainly appreciate the thing. Without it, I wouldn’t be writing this article.
One day, I beheld a status in Facebook. One of my contacts was asking if anyone knew any game designers who would be interested in making a card game. His friend’s friend (or somesuch) had apparently heard that Guy Windsor, a modern swordmaster, was scouting out game designers for a swordfighting card game project. I tossed a message at him, introduced myself and asked for a chance at a face-to-face meeting. One train voyage to Swordschool at Helsinki later, I was selected for the job.
When I went to meet Guy for the first time, I knew pretty much nothing of real swordfighting. Most of my nearly nonexistent sword experience came from boffer-fighting, which has very little to do with Fiore’s art, and from couple of my acquaintances who have had taken his lessons. Having grown up with lighsabers and video games, I found the idea of realistic swordfighting dull. So I was a bit afraid of what I was going in to.
But my fears were unfounded. Guy was a very jovial person, and we got along very well. And the art itself was a game unto itself. All the elements were already in place; The four Virtues were just begging to become resources to be managed, the seven basic blows of the sword were instant cards, and the logic of swordfighting became quickly clear. Well, quickly and quickly.
The first thing I requested from the swordmaster himself was a simple summary on how a typical duel, or ”bout”, goes. What I got was several emails worth of descriptions and a flowchart. After that, I spent about a month learning theoretical swordsmanship. I kept polishing and pruning the flowchart, and compressed concepts such as parries, attacks, binds and such until I had a fair understanding in what happens when two competent people wish to hit each other with sharpened steel.
Then came the first prototype. Forged in the flames of Openoffice Writer, I condensed Fiore’s art into a handful of keywords and 5-page flowchart. The prototype was ugly as hell, and confusing to boot. But thankfully I had Cryo, the gaming club of Oulu University, and their keen gamers to help me playtest the thing. After a couple of playtests I got confirmation; The system was logical.
After the first playtests, I pretty much just polished the system, listening to feedback, asking questions about authenticity and doing other things (such as designing Salvage Team). And just before Ropecon we got the prototype art ready. But since our artist was already working above and beyond original call of duty, I sneaked off with the prototype assets and printed out the second prototype, which was easier on the eye, easier to read, and just plain better.
So here is the history of Audatia from the perspective of the game designer. Be a dear and purchase it from Indiegogo so I can finish the fight.
Also, hello! I’m still not dead, despite what my posting frequency would indicate.