May 29, 2015 by deltagamegirl22
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Sebastian Archer, of Demented Games, about his exciting steampunk, storybook miniature game, Twisted! Read on to discover more about the world of Twisted, where they are with the game development and release plan as well as their decision to hold back on taking the game to Kickstarter recently.
BoW: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came into game design/sculpting?
Sebastian Archer: I’ve loved painting ever since I received some paints, brushes and a box of miniatures for Christmas when I was 10 years old – as I’m now 31 I guess it means I’ve been doing it for more than 20 years! I first discovered the wider gaming/miniatures community in 2005 after having some very unexpected success at my first Golden Demon painting competition, so I spent the next few years on the ‘circuit’ attending overseas events (both competing and as a guest judge) and doing some work as a commission display painter.
In 2008 I launched the Guild of Harmony miniature range as a way to develop my sculpting and I worked as a full-time freelance miniature sculptor from 2008-2013. In 2013 when we had the idea for Twisted and formed our team, I decided to devote all of my attention to the project and I’ve been completely focused on Twisted ever since!
Working with other people on a project and overseeing the work of other artists and sculptors has been a real learning experience for me. This is my first time working as a creative director for a project and I’m having a fantastic time – I have always dreamed of being part of a project like this!
For those people who may be unfamiliar with Twisted, can you tell us a little bit about the world?
Twisted is an immersive, character-driven world that is focused around the pervasive power of the mysterious Engine. The Engine is a powerful steampunk-world-generating device with a consciousness that seeks to transform the world around it according to its own designs, but a jealous ego that refuses to share this power. To this end the Engine seeks to carry out its vision without being discovered, and this forms the crux of our narrative.
Rumours and legends of the Engine’s influence have pervaded the world of Twisted, and a power struggle has ensued as warring factions seek to discover the Nodes, the Engine’s secret access points buried deep within long-forgotten locations throughout our steampunk world. The player’s job is to take control of one of these factions and compete for the right to take control of the power of the Engine!
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the fluff inspire the minis, or did the minis inspire the fluff?
Definitely the fluff first! The most important part of Twisted is the characters. We didn’t just want to make beautiful miniatures, but fully-fledged characters with their own personalities, stories and motivations. With that in mind, each of our characters goes through a lot of discussion and development long before we think about the design of the miniature itself. We need to determine who the character is, as a person; how they will fit into the story of our world; which faction they belong to and why; what their motivations are for doing what they do; who they will get along with and who they will antagonise.
Some of our characters even have a planned narrative arc for how they may grow and change as Twisted develops. We’ve found it useful to write a series of short stories taking place in the world of Twisted, as a way to ‘discover’ the different personalities of our characters. Some of these stories we’ve shared already on our Facebook Page – others will be published in our upcoming rulebook.
How long does the average miniature take to come to life from its conceptual idea to reality?
Creating a professional, high-quality miniature for Twisted is quite an involved process! After we’ve decided on the character we want and fleshed-out their personality and backstory Peter often does some preliminary sketches to explore some basic ideas. We then draw up a character brief with character information, ideas and inspiration pictures then take this to one of our concept artists who works closely with us to develop the visual design, pose, costuming and equipment for our character with a view to creating a 3D miniature.
We often explore several iterations of each character before deciding on a final design. Once we have the final concept, it’s time to hand the character to the sculptor (either myself, or one of our other talented sculptors that are part of our project). I then work with the sculptor to make sure we create a miniature that both captures the character, will work for production, and looks really cool!
Once the sculpt is complete, the miniature is sent to the caster for mould-making and test casting, at which point some small tweaks may be made to ensure the final production version will cast smoothly and reliably. Then we can finally make real production casts and the miniature can become a reality! So, as you can see, there is quite a lot of work involved and the whole process can take 3-4 months.
Let’s talk about the decision not to take Twisted to Kickstarter. What made you decide not to bring the game forward in that venue?
We want to build Twisted from the ground up and get the community involved from the start as it grows and develops. With this in mind, we decided to take the proactive step of releasing the first miniatures right now and building things gradually, rather than launching with a major Kickstarter campaign that might cause a delay of a year or more before anyone can actually get hold of any miniatures or product. We have a bunch of great miniatures ready, so we want to get our characters out there and engage with the community now rather than wait!
We see that as a healthier way to develop Twisted as we want it to be a long-term project rather than a flash-in-the-pan Kickstarter phenomenon. Having said that, we certainly haven’t abandoned the idea of a Kickstarter and we are certainly looking to concurrently run some crowdfunding campaigns to help us create or launch certain products in the future!
With the minis (which are gorgeous, by the way) being released little by little, when can we expect to see a rulebook for the game become available?
We’ve had some great feedback from our playtesters recently regarding the rules, and we’ve been working with Jake Thornton to develop an exciting, balanced and professional game system that is fun above all! The basic alpha ruleset is in place, it’s now just a matter of making a few tweaks to ensure the game runs smoothly. We’re working hard to get things finalised and the game rules should be available later this year.
Roughly how many minis would a player need to have for a typical game? With this in mind, and miniatures coming out gradually, what kind of time frame are you estimating until there are enough out to start playing the game?
A typical game of Twisted might have between 6-10 characters on each side. Our release schedule has been planned so that when the rules are released, there should also be enough miniatures available in order for two factions to face off and play the game! We’ll be releasing metal ‘Gamer’s Edition’ miniatures to support the rules alongside the ‘Collector’s Edition’ resin characters, so there should be plenty of miniatures available to play.
Are the miniatures viewed as individual characters in the game, or are they going to be part of factions? If factions, can you tell us a little about who they are?
Both! Our characters are certainly individuals and each have their own story, motivation, and personality. However, each character is also part of a faction bonded together by a common goal (though between some characters these bonds are looser than in others!). A player controls a faction and needs to balance their choice of characters to get the most out of them.
The individuality of each character is expressed by the fact that they don’t always get along with the others, even within their own faction; there are personality clashes between characters and animosity can play a role in gameplay. For this reason a player must be considerate of their characters’ sensibilities and ensure they don’t antagonise each other through their actions, or they just might start to become uncooperative!
The first two factions we’ve introduced are the Dickensians and the Servants of the Engine. The Dickensians are a gang of pickpockets lead by the demonic Bill Psyches, hell bent on exploiting the power of the Engine for their own nefarious purposes. Feygin and Dodger still seek a means to save Ollyver from the raging monstrosity he has become, and both fear what should become of them should Nancy attain the level of alchemantic power she seeks.
The Servants of the Engine are a disparate collection of characters from throughout time, drawn together by the Engine itself and compelled to protect its interest in remaining unsullied by the attentions of the other factions. From the inscrutable and deadly Nouveau to the righteous but violent Launcelot, the Engine uses these pawns to counter those it perceives as threatening its own designs. The Servants retain some measure of free will, however, as the Engine has not the resources to dominate them completely. Whilst they work for a common goal the Servants do not always agree on the best manner to achieve these ends.
The next two Twisted factions are already in development, and there will be lots more to come!
Judging by the heavy influence of the story line, it seems like the games would be objective driven. Is this the case? How would a typical game of Twisted play?
For casual gamers Twisted will be playable as a stand alone session game where you can nominate a points value for the battle, set some objectives from the rulebook, and just have fun. For those interested in immersing themselves in the world of Twisted, we have developed a series of story-driven missions that can be played individually or linked together to form a narrative campaign.
Typically Twisted plays as an objective-driven skirmish game with detailed and exciting combat and lots for you to do as a player. It typically runs on a 3′x3′ table that will be covered with plenty of terrain – the back alleyways, twisting passages and hidden chambers of the Twisted world are an important part of the interactive feel of the game.
Characters can climb, jump (and even fall!) so we encourage inventive, creative terrain that can add to the narrative flavour of a game. We are currently working on some solutions for this terrain (still top secret!) so keep an eye on our Facebook page in the coming months!
What can we tell wargamers about Twisted that makes it different from other steampunk games on the market?
That’s simple: the Engine! Not only is it the focal point for the world of Twisted, but the Engine plays an integral, unique role in the gameplay itself which brings an exciting element to every encounter. It’s almost like an additional character that players have to deal with successfully in order to succeed!
The Engine defines the world of Twisted: it has a direct influence on every turn of the game. The will of the Engine is represented by The Eye of The Engine cards, which reveal its influence on how events play out to the tabletop. Some of these cards are good for you as a player; some most certainly are not; and some serve to illustrate the capricious nature of the Engine by throwing best-laid plans into disarray!
Whichever player can best adapt to the will of the Engine will have the advantage, and quick-thinking can often be rewarded. But beware; the Engine’s plans often aren’t as they first appear, and its fickle nature may catch even the most prepared player unawares!
Thanks so much for chatting with us! We can’t wait to see the world of Twisted come to life and we’re looking forward to following it’s success.
Are you excited about seeing more Twisted? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
"Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the fluff inspire the minis, or did the minis inspire the fluff?"
"We want to build Twisted from the ground up and get the community involved from the start as it grows and develops."