How It All Began
2020. January 28.
Hi all, Viktor Peter here, one of the founders of Mindclash Games, where I wear two hats: I am the CEO of the company and as Head of Game Design I’m also heavily involved in the product concept and the mechanical design of all our titles. You may already know me as the designer of Trickerion and Cerebria together with Richard, my partner in both design and business.
I’m very happy to be writing the first of many regular blog posts in the series we are launching today. Leading up to the Kickstarter campaign this Spring, we will be periodically revealing more about our upcoming episodic board game saga, Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles. Today, to kick things off, let’s talk about how it all began!
It was the fall of 2016, and we were knee-deep into both finalizing Anachrony and developing Cerebria when David Turczi approached us with a new game idea. We’ve come far together since David’s original design of Anachrony, but according to him, this new game was actually designed to be a good fit for Mindclash right off the bat. The game’s working title was Thingvellir, and David had been working on it with Thomas Vande Ginste and Wolf Plancke, the two amazing designers of Yedo.
After several weeks of being teased with how awesome the game is (in true Turczi style :)), we finally got to try the prototype Saturday night at Essen Spiel 2016, probably the single most exhausting evening of the year for everyone working in the industry. Yet no matter how tired we were, we just wanted to go on and on even after the ‘demo’ rounds.
The game really had it all: dice placement with a touch of area majority (something we were really high on at the time because of Cerebria), and climatic “raids” with a semi-coop element that (to our greatest surprise) actually worked!
Thingvellir main board prototype (one of the last versions)
The only thing it didn’t have was a theme that we were fully happy with. As you may have guessed from the title and the raids, the original theme was Vikings, which just felt a bit overused at the time. The theme was actually pretty well implemented mechanically, so we tried to save it by spicing it up, but space raiders or undead Vikings didn’t quite cut it either - so we eventually decided to go for a full retheming.
What followed is probably my favorite part in every design process - when all bets are off and we can go crazy with brainstorming on theme ideas! We’ve had some pretty wild contenders like forest druids performing rituals and competing for the leadership of a druid grove, or Illuminati-style secret societies influencing world governments. Yet the craziest of the bunch ran by the working title ‘Meanwhile in Hell’, where rival demons were competing for supremacy over a quirky Dungeon Keeper-style Hell in Lucifer’s absence.
These themes were all a pretty good fit to the game’s dice placement/area majority core, but unfortunately, they all fell short for the aforementioned raids - so we took a different approach and started the retheming at those. This quickly led to the idea that still defines what Perseverance is: a Euro-style game with the feeling of adventure.
As soon as we started thinking of the raids as adventures, the framework of the current theme was born within weeks. Since the area majority mechanism represented voting/Leader election, we needed an isolated society, so shipwrecked survivors seemed like a good fit. It was all coming together, but there was still something missing: it didn’t feel like there was enough at stake during the adventures. Because of this (and because Richard is the biggest Jurassic Park fan there is), we came up with the wild idea of populating the island with dinosaurs who are not exactly happy about our arrival.
Somewhere between Thingvellir and Perseverance (main board prototype)
A very early main board prototype for Perseverance Episode 1
The last piece of the puzzle was adding a little Mindclash twist to the whole theme and placing it into a modern-day setting with a pinch of supernatural. This added even more mystery to the whole dinosaur island context - a mystery that you will actually be able to unveil as you play through the episodes...!
I’ll stop the story here today but in the upcoming installments of the series, I will tell you a little more about how the new theme influenced the existing mechanisms and how it all led to the birth of the episodic concept, while Richard will write about the artistic challenges of the modern-day theme, and share early and new concepts, too.
Until next time,
Find out more behind-the-scenes secrets from the Designer Diaries: