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Gabe / on Fri, Aug 22 2014 at 10:46 am

Thornwatch design

The Thornwatch “design team” is really just five people. There’s me obviously but I’ve got help from Kiko, Jamie, Fehlauer, and Kenneth. It’s still sort of a side project so a lot of the work we do on it happens over lunch. We pick a restaurant near the office and work out whatever design issues need to get resolved. I did not plan it this way when assembling my team but they are all very different types of gamers and so we end up getting a lot of really great points of view. Kiko and Kenneth are all about clear and concise rules and mechanics while Jamie and Feh tend to be more interested in the “feel” of the game and the story elements. I usually end up listening to both sides and then make a final decision. I have my own ideas about how the game should work but I honestly really love being convinced of a better solution.

The stuff we “fight” about tends to be ridiculous. We had a lunch a couple months ago at a local Mexican restaurant that got pretty heated. There is a type of card in your deck that once powered stays in play and provides an ongoing effect. At the time they were called “Powers” but there was a movement to rename them “Abilities”. The act of attaching Skill Cards to your cards was at the time called “Powering”. It’s similar to the way you attach energy to a pokemon card so that it can attack but instead you’re attaching Dexterity skill cards to your Backstab attack so that you can use it. Anyway, the idea of “powering” a “power” really bothered some folks and so obviously we had to yell at each other over tacos.

So we’re all arguing our points and suggesting alternate names and telling other people that the names they thought of are stupid and I think at one point I may have gestured at Kiko with a butter knife. Anyway we finally settle it and decide it’s time to head back to the office. As we’re leaving the restaurant a woman sitting at the table next to us grabs my shirt as I am passing by and says “excuse me”. I’m a little surprised but I stop, “Yes?” I ask. She looks at me and says “Your friends are scared of you. They are terrified of telling you what they really think.”

I was super confused now. The reality is that I was fighting to hang onto the “Powers” name while they all wanted it changed. It’s true I was arguing with them but that’s because I wanted a good reason to change it. I needed them to convince me and they did.

I said “ yeah well that’s probably because I beat them if they displease me.”

She was not amused and continued “I was studying their body language and yours and I could see you intimidating them.”

What the fuck was this lady talking about? I thought back to the butter knife I waved at Kiko. Hmm I can see how that might have looked bad.

I nod slowly and say “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’m going to go have a talk with them now.” I said this while punching my palm with a closed fist.

I told the Thornwatch team a couple days ago after another heated debate over diagonal vs. cardinal movement that “there isn’t another group of people in the world that I would rather fight with about ridiculous bullshit.” The reason we fight about this stuff is because we’re passionate about the game. I want Jamie to fight and fight for more story and RP elements. I want Kiko to push for more tactical mechanics and strict rules. The resulting game is better for it.

TLDR, I love my friends and they are really smart and creative and I could not make this game without them.

In other Thornwatch news the adventure for PAX Prime is pretty much ready to go. I think we’ve got all the bugs worked out at this point and I’m really excited to show it off. There’s a lot of new artwork debuting at Prime as well including new character art so you can choose between two versions of each class as well as tons of new map art.  Here’s a little peek:


Alternate art for the Guard class.


Thornwatch adventures all start with someone tying a wreath of thorns around a birch tree. This is how a person summons the Thornwatch. In this case it’s a young Lookout.


The Ebb is an evil force in Eyrewood. It’s a sort of sentient creeping rot. It’s a thick ooze that taints whatever it comes in contact with. Here is an Ebb Golem, one of the new monsters you’ll face.

That’s all I have for now. Remember to sign up for the Thornwatch mailing list if you’d like to be kept up to date on the latest developments. You can sign up by hitting the official page and scrolling down to the bottom.

-Gabe out


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