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Conversations with Craig

Posted August 17th, 2006 at 03:55 PM by Buddy Lee

All right peeps. You fellow 'Scapers and addicts. You want the scoop? You want the poop (Hee, hee. He said "poop")? Well, I'm gonna laydown the lowdown in your part of town. Read on intrepid adventurer.

After all the events were finished on Saturday I decided to roam the Exhibit Hall at Gen Con in my never ending quest to free... wait, scratch that. Anyways, as I wondered around I was magically summoned to the realm of Valhalla (Okay, I walked over to the HeroScape display). It was there that I met with the man, the master, the great designer himself, Mr. Craig VanNess. Let me first say that he is a great guy. A gamer's game designer. I truly believe that he wants to not only design good games, but design them to be played in a manner that will always instill a sense of joy for the players. Ladies and Gentlemen we could not ask for a more dedicated or competent individual to be involved with this game.

To be perfectly honest my conversations didn't ask a lot of the big questions that you all want to know. I was more interested in the methodology, the process behind HeroScape. I did ask a few and I will cover those in due coarse. But, what I really wanted to know was how HeroScape had evolved, and what it was going to evolve into. The first thing I wanted to know is how they came up with the characters. Craig said that he had an artist who he gave an idea to and that artist would come up with a rendering of the figure. The design team would then take the drawings and create stats and abilities to make the units we all know and love. That brought into the discussion [color="#333333" lang="EN"]Kee-Mo-Shi. I wanted to know what it was about this idea that caught the designers attention. Craig said that it was the fact that she was different from the other offerings. A female Marro. Even more than that Hannah Richard provided such a degree of detail and information that the character became more than a rendering on paper.[/color]

[color="#333333" lang="EN"]I then wanted to know how he came up with the various worlds of HeroScape. He said that they had[/color][color="#333333" lang="EN"][/color][color="#333333" lang="EN"][/color][color="#333333" lang="EN"] definate ideas about all the worlds (Marr, Icaria, Earth, etc.) except for Feylund. He said that if they couldn't fit a race into one of the other worlds it ended up on Feylund. The design process appearantly takes up to two years before things hit the shelves, so they are working on all of next year now with an eye towards the future.[/color]
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[color="#333333" lang="EN"]We then started talking about the new units and developments in this game we all enjoy. I asked him specifically about pirates. He said that the one problem with pirates was that they would require a ship, and that would be difficult to incorporate into the game, but he did mention longboats. He never implied that anything specific was being developed, but he also said that nothing was ruled out if it would enhance game play. I then mentioned that I see they now have a dwarf in Wave six. His reply was, "That's not a dwarf. It's a short Viking." I laughed and we moved on.[/color]
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[color="#333333" lang="EN"]A few minutes later the topic turned to the online community and HeroScapers. You know the website your reading now. Anywhatsits, Craig stated that he did get to the site on occasion but he deliberately stayed away from the customs area. He didn't want to be thought of as taking anyone's ideas. He specifically mentioned that he used some of the resources here (such as "The Unofficial Guide to HeroScape" developed by Annerios) to maintain the consistancy of the game. He mentioned something about it saving him the need to hire an intern. Eventually the talk turned to Taelord. Yes I asked the question. Craig deftly turned the conversation to Ultradoug's, "I don't cost that much", and he got a chuckle out of that. He did mention that with the new castle he felt that Tealord's cost was justified by using him to backup ranged units on the walls.[/color]
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[color="#333333" lang="EN"]Now I was interested in MarvelScape and the evolution of the game. He said MarvelScape was definitely geared toward the younger end of the market spectrum. They are well aware of the older demographic involved in HeroScape. The Flagbearers are an attempt to evolve the game to appeal to that market. I understood the Flagbearers, as is typical in mini-games, are an inspiration unit that enhances command, movement, and other game mechanics among an army. But, he reminded me that he still had to stay within the simplicity of the game mechanics or it would lose some of its appeal. I definitely got the impression that he not only cared about the game, but the players (young and old alike) as well. MarvelScape may be an attempt to maintain and grow the younger players, but the quality of the pieces will appeal to the older players as well. I have to say the photos I saw from the ComicCon did not do them justice. The detailing and colorization of the walls and ruins is phenominal.[/color]

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[color="#333333" lang="EN"]Next up was a discussion on the castles. I got the distinct impression that they are looking at developing different castles for each general. I stated my belief that, that might be difficult as I hoped the pieces would work together mechanically, architecturally, and maybe even thematically. He understood the lack of desire that people would want to spend a great deal of money on getting multiple types of castles. He again made it clear that the player was always a consideration. Infact the packaging of the Zombies as two squads per package was a lesson learned from the Drones and Minions of Wave 2. He then asked, "What about just changing the battlements?" I thought that was a great idea. I also said that I would not have a problem with a new castle design as long as I could make it work with my existing castles in terms of appearance. For example my idea was to use the same basic walls we now have for Ullar, but mottle them with moss or ivy. He appeared receptive to this thought.[/color]

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[color="#333333" lang="EN"]While castles are cool and fascinating I still wanted to know more about MarvelScape. Craig said that the characters being used had been carefully chosen for recognition, variety, and playability. He said that they were balanced within MarvelScape and every effort had been made to do so in the grander scheme of things, but that the two (HeroScape and MarvelScape) had not been designed to readily intermix. He also said that there were no plans to bring in squads into MarvelScape because it was designed for quick play with limited figures, but that nothing had been ruled out. He said, "We are looking at a lot of thing and nothing has been ruled out," a lot. This brought up a quick discussion of tournaments. It seems that Hasbro is trying to work out a tournament system, and if they did then HeroScape and MarvelScape would NOT be mixing in that environment.[/color]
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[color="#333333" lang="EN"]Finally we talked about the future. He wanted to know what two things I would like to see brought into HeroScape. My reply was that I thought vehicles (Chariots, ballista, seige vehicles) would make a wonderful addition. However, developing the game mechanics would be complicated and may not allow this (my thoughts not his). I also said that I thought a series of small buildings, simular to the ruins in size and scope, would be good. Things that could block terrain that you could also move figures into and would be one piece units with removable roofs. But the third thing (I know he said only two) that I thought of was a small expansion of just blocking terrain. This would be boulders, fences, hedges, bushes, and the like. These are things that could easily be molded and would not be demanding of any new rules. There are definate plans and themes for each general now and in the future. Each general will develop and grow along a path that will make the game better. Craig seemed excited about the future of HeroScape and gave every indication that it would continue to develop and grow.[/color]
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[color="#333333" lang="EN"]That's about it folks. Trust me when I say the future of[/color][color="#333333" lang="EN"][/color][color="#333333" lang="EN"] HeroScape is in good hands. Craig and his entire[/color][color="#333333" lang="EN"][/color][color="#333333" lang="EN"][/color][color="#333333" lang="EN"][/color][color="#333333" lang="EN"] crew are quite capable. I am confident that they will produce a quality product that will not only excite the[/color][color="#333333" lang="EN"][/color][color="#333333" lang="EN"] youngsters among us, but keep the older players interested as well.[/color]
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[color="#333333" lang="EN"]Good bye and happy Scaping.[/color]
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[color="#333333" lang="EN"]Buddy Lee[/color]
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