Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Grand Vision or Foolish Quest?

A Legendary Encounter Goes Badly

I had the opportune chance to sit down with an industry legend today and show him Chess Heroes.

It did not go well.

First, he correctly assumed I chose chess because the pieces don't need amazing art and animation. So I felt he and I were on the same page for a bit. Then he hit me with the same argument I often use to take down crazy mashups: the Venn diagram intersection.

What that means is one "idea" has a group of fans, and another "idea" has its own group. People intuit that putting the ideas together means getting both groups of people, when in fact you're only getting the intersection of the two. And in the case of Chess Heroes, he felt the slice was infinitesimally small.

So, one reason I chose chess was to lower the barrier to entry to a turn-based strategy game. I'd then layer mechanics on top of that to increase depth for the game I was trying to make.

His responses to that were:

  1. People who don't play chess will be put off because chess is intimidating.
  2. People who do play chess will be upset that I'm trying to "improve" it.
  3. You can't really deepen a game that's been unchanged for hundreds of years.
  4. Therefore, the game concept is unviable and not worth pursuing.
This left me in a precarious situation. I respected his opinion and knew that, from a certain perspective, it was correct. At the same time, I've received thrilling feedback on the pre-alpha build, and deeply believe it can succeed given another perspective.

The Other Perspective

That "other perspective" is fairly straightforward: As a game designer who lives and breathes it as an art, I'm experimenting with the playspace defined by chess. I'm taking it back to its roots as a strategy wargame, then bringing it up a separate evolutionary branch that sprouted right around the time Final Fantasy Tactics came into being.

I'm not trying to appeal to hardcore chess players. They are not my target market. Nor am I trying to improve chess. I'm playing around with the rules and making something different. Is it better? That's not for me to say. But it's interesting, and it's fun, and that's what I'm all about.

Now the question is: am I right? Is this a good idea that I have, and I'm acting the part of the visionary before his time? Or is it a grandiose fallacy, and I'm playing the fool ignoring his naysayers?

Time will tell. But I have nothing to lose by finishing it and releasing it. At the end of our lives, the things we regret most are not the mistakes we make, but the chances we didn't take. Chess Heroes is one of those chances. Let's go.

No comments:

Post a Comment