Big Update - Famous Games + Kickstarting the Apparatus

Hi everyone! Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated. =o) It's been eons since I updated the blog but it certainly hasn't been for lack of news. If anything, it's because so much has been going on at once that I've had to let Canadian Gamer take a back seat for a while.

So what's been going on, you say? Well here's a quick rundown:
  • After 14 years of developing HD games at BioWare/Electronic Arts, I've decided to leave the company and strike out on my own. Needless to say, it was a tough decision and I'm glad I took the time to wrap up pre-production on some special projects before I left.
  • Following my departure, I've been hanging around with the guys at StartupEdmonton and pouring my passion and energy into Famous Games Co., my game-related sports marketing startup that I quietly launched last year. That's involved a lot of effort on the website and, now that I have my card game samples from the manufacturer, I've been reaching out to the various related sports leagues and their major sponsors to build up some initial clientele. It's been a neat design challenge for me as it's involved building an entire line of card games capturing familiar subject matter (sport) yet using no more than 9 cards. It's been exciting to see it all finally coming together and taking shape as an actual business. In the meantime, the general gaming public will be able to order copies from the BoardGameGeek webstore starting in early August (special thanks to Derk, Aldie, Chad and the gang!) so keep your eyes peeled there.
  • Not to be outdone, the Toy Vault team has been hard at work on their Kickstarter program for my upcoming steampunk board game, "Apparatus". They've put together a great promo video and art assets and everything went live yesterday. Check it out and, while you're there, stop by some other Canadian gaming campaigns currently being Kickstarted and wish them luck on their journeys.


  1. Should've tried a Witch's Wake kickstarter instead. That would've funded at 300%.

    "Your search - witch's wake - did not match any documents."

    Why do people pull this sort of crap, anyway? They have an IP, they know it's a hit, they know there's an audience out there just waiting to throw money around, and ... they just sit on it. (Hey, where's Rick Burton? He needs to hear this too. And, hell, the entire Bioware management team while we're at it.)

    Is it because you don't know how the story should continue either?

    1. Hi Rollory,

      Yeah, going into a Kickstarter campaign, I think a lot of companies don't realize that it's really about the relationships they build over the course of those one or two month. In the case of Apparatus, the publisher put in the necessary effort up front to do prepare some great art assets and strong video but then made the mistake of thinking they were done (they actually sent their entire team on holidays, resulting in no communications, updates, or new marketing efforts over the course of the campaign). As such, it's sad but not terribly surprising that the game failed to achieve the backing it needed.

      As for Witch's Wake, that's another sad story that's very dear to my heart. That project fell victim to an unexpected policy at Wizards of the Coast (owners of the Dungeons & Dragons IP). After NWN launched, they advised BioWare that we could release whatever modules we wanted on the NWN platform as long as it didn't take place in the Forgotten Realms (or other official D&D settings). So I came up with the Witch's Wake story, a 6-part multiplayer mystery series about the remnants of a company of witch hunters who had survived a battle at the edge of the world.

      Unfortunately, after we launched the first module for Witch's Wake (alongside a handful of other non-Forgotten Realms series by other module authors), Wizards of the Coast reversed their decision and said that all of our modules from that point forward MUST be set in the Forgotten Realms. We were able to adapt the Kingmaker module to a Forgotten Realms setting but we were never able to do so with Witch's Wake so it ultimately had to be abandoned, much to my regret.

      As for how the story continues, Module 2 was going to be a flashback to the origin of the tale as the King returns home victorious from a mighty battle and the princess is kidnapped by her nanny amidst the revelry. Alternating modules were going to flash forward and back in time like that, revealing ever more about the Witch, the King's battles, and the Princess's abduction, and Prince's vengeance until the final module concludes in the cataclysmic battle from which the heroes awoke at the start of Module 1.

      What I was hoping to explore along the way were what I felt were interesting storytelling ideas within a multiplayer medium: I was deliberately separating the players, particularly using the death mechanic and the revelation of plot details within the limbo-like Realm of Shadows. And I was paying very close attention to what questions they asked and what answers they received. The goal was to slowly and subtly shape two very different tellings of the story over the course of those 6 modules. In one, the King is the hero and the Witch is the villain but, in the other telling, those roles swap. All of this would lead up to the climactic battle at the end of Module 6 where it isn't the Witch who destroys the company of Witch Hunters - they ultimately turn on each other (divided between those two different truths) and destroy themselves. So the entire story was a design experiment to see how players would react to me undermining and ultimately destroying their closeknit multiplayer adventuring party.

      It would have been a fun ride but, unfortunately, neither I nor BioWare own the rights to the Witch's Wake name or characters. Those lie forgotten within the depths of the Wizards of the Coast IP archives. If anyone wants to attempt a Witch's Wake spiritual successor on Kickstarter, I'm happy to consult and support but my hands are too full right now to truly drive it.

      I hope that helps,