Read Part One here
Airship Ambassador: After all these teasing questions, what is the actual game play?
Jim Trent: The game is played with two decks that all players draw cards from. Each player has a card which represents their airship, tells them how many crew members they can have in play and how many upgrades they add to their airship. In a turn each player gets to put Steampunks into play to man their ship and these cards are used to complete Mission cards which award Victory points. When a player has accumulated the victory total determined by their airship card they win the game. Along the way players may play cards known as Interrupts to assist or hinder the progress of other players with things like changing play order, skipping turns, shuffling discard piles back in the decks, and of course assaulting the other players Steampunks with all manner of adversaries including zombies, ninjas, pirates, and genetically altered ape men in battle armor. Player each turn receive an opportunity to trade cards with each other or barter for assistance with Missions. This bartering and trading part of the game is very popular and creates a very fun and social experience.
AA: What kind of attention has Twisted Skies generated overall??
JT: It’s been well received regionally (around Texas) and we have big plans to get it shown in other parts of the country in 2014. Every time we sit down and just play to pass the time we always attract questions and interest even from non Steampunks. Once familiar with the game just about everyone wants to know how they can get their Steampunk characters included in an upcoming expansion.
AA: Every author, artist, and creative person I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their work come to fruition. What was your experience like?
JT: There were certainly some surprises. I was shocked at the highly competitive nature other Steampunk game creators had with each other given how few of us there were when I started. I also was disappointed to see the poor attitude the greater Steampunk community had towards game design as an art form and craft. Even to this day game design and gaming is very much shoved to the side or ignored in Steampunk by traditional makers. This has been something I’ve had to work very hard to overcome as there are many in Steampunk who treat gaming as an afterthought and don’t recognize the immense amount of effort that game design or even just game planning for a convention takes. At times it really got me down but mostly it inspired me to work even harder to develop a game that celebrated Steampunk and hopefully turned people to seeing game design as a fellow and equal craft in Steampunk.
AA: The kind of treatment can be very disheartening. For the aspiring game creator, what lessons did you learn along the way?
JT: The most important lesson is “Stick with it”. There is no shortage of people who will tell you what you are doing is frivolous and will amount to nothing. There will be times when your art schedule is behind, your printer isn’t answering your phone calls, and your play test group has quit on you. There will be times when the only person who believes in what you are doing is you. There will be a lot of people who say what you do isn’t art, or writing, or a craft; when in fact it’s all of these. Ignore these difficulties, draw strength from them, and carry on. If even one person plays and enjoys your game, you’re successful. Game Designers harness the imagination of strangers to give them a couple hours of interactive enjoyment, that is a amazing gift. Stick with it.
AA: If you weren’t creating steampunk games, what else would you be doing now?
JT: Most likely I’d be simply enjoying Steampunk and helping my wife with her vending. I’m very active as a convention volunteer and have served on committees for the same. I’ve always been flattered to be asked to serve as a community organizer with the local Steampunk community and have helped with the foundation of city, state, and multi-state Steampunk associations. In that vein I try to help encourage the growth of Steampunk and settle differences when they arise in the community. I always love talking to new Steampunks and giving the “what is Steampunk” speech.
AA: What do you do to keep a balance between game creation and the rest of your life?
JT: I work from home and mostly late in the evenings when it’s nice and quiet. My daughters are home schooled so I get to spend a lot of time with them. My dog is very insistent when he wants to play and that usually gets me to look up from my work and take a break. Plus all the cool people we get to feature in the game are very much my friends and family. As such it’s hard to see this as work. It’s hard work and somewhat detail intensive but when you’re working with people you love and respect it seems like just a great time. My beautiful wife is also a gamer and very supportive of my work even consulting on themes and artwork.
AA: Having a supportive and encouraging family, and friends, can make all the difference in what we do. Do you get to talk much with other creators to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?
JT: Well, game designers like most artists tend to be very self assured (chuckle). We all seem to think our own work is the best in the craft. However I’ve been able to sit around with some of them and share ideas and notes over drinks. It’s not terribly common as we’re all very busy promoting our games and traveling a lot. The best critiques and feedback I get is always is form the players who have my games. In fact some of the new additions and themes for Twisted Skies came from players themselves.
This is a fast moving interview, but we’ll stop for the moment in chatting with Jim.
Check in next time for the conclusion when he talks about life in Texas, influences, and other interests.
Until then, get your copy of , Twisted Skies today!