Airship Ambassador: Hi Dennis, it’s great to catch up with you and talk about your projects.
Dennis Consorte: Thanks for having me – I’m really excited about this interview!
AA: Before we talk about the game, tell us a bit about Galliant Games. You are the director; who are the people involved on the team, and how did the group and company come about?
DC: In the world of small businesses, we’re a small group. But in the world of tabletop games, we’re actually a pretty big team. Galliant Games started as an offshoot of our steampunk business, where we sell steampunk goggles on our website, SteampunkGoggles.com. We formed Galliant Games as a new company after we had much success with our first entry into crowdfunding, the deck of cards we printed after our Kickstarter campaign where we recruited roughly 700 backers. We realized the need to separate our games and crowdfunding projects from the other companies we run.
Our steampunk company began as an offshoot of my web design and online marketing business, Consorte Marketing aka SHIFT1. I wanted a creative outlet for my team (and myself), where we weren’t limited by project requirements and client budgets. SteampunkGoggles.com was the product of this aspiration and we’ve had a lot of fun with it. With Galliant Games, we’re looking to broaden our reach to both the steampunk and the gamer communities. My team consists of all sorts of people, including fulltime employees here in New Jersey, and freelancers from around the world.
Jonathan Pack and Ben Froiken are responsible for most of the game mechanics for the projects we’re working on right now. Mike Lees did the artwork for our last Kickstarter, as well as most of the artwork for Scrapyard Empire, with support from Joemel Requeza. Vinyas Rao created the 3D renderings and videos of our game miniatures. We were originally planning to 3D print our masters for casting into miniatures, but we are also evaluating two master sculptors for a more analog interpretation of the renderings as an option.
The graphic design team included Andrea Mateus, Kaitlyn Harris, Alex Bradbury Wallad and Luana Taveres. Julia Ann Moore manages much of the marketing and content for our Kickstarter projects with help from Jenelle Sosa, who also happens to be an accomplished actor and my resident expert in all things Victorian. The fantastical inventions we chose for this game came from the creative mind of Mike Patierno, who’s also an actor, and the designer behind some of the goggles I carry on my website.
And of course our awesome video was crafted from the script and pile of images I provided to Pete Romano, Elliot Hawk and the creative minds behind The Joey Creative Agency. There were another 5 or 6 people who helped with this project directly, as well as scores of play-testers, Meet-up groups, cafes, bloggers, reviewers and stores around the US and Canada. And of course, there are the hundreds of Kickstarter backers who are making all of this possible. I’m thankful to everyone involved!
AA: That sounds like a great group of people with excellent skills. You’re right, too, it sounds like a big group for what you are doing, too. There’s a blog on the Galliant Games site – what kind of information and topics are being covered there?
DC: That blog is a work-in-progress, but the vision is to post articles related to our projects, as well as general thoughts about tabletop games and the industry as a whole. We’ll probably also post some thoughts about our experiences with Kickstarter, in terms of what worked, what didn’t work, what stressed us out, and what put a smile on my face. I love the fact that Kickstarter is such a collaborative community, and I like to know that I’m doing my part to give back however I can, as my way of saying thank you.
AA: Hearing more about your experiences with Kickstarter will be helpful to backers and new project campaigns, too. What is the premise of Scrapyard Empire?
DC: Sir Winston Derbyshire, an eccentric estate owner and inventor extraordinaire has met his end. With no heir, his dying wish was to hold a public contest to bring his extraordinary machines to life, with the grand prize being his entire estate, including his scrapyard full of priceless treasures. The contest attracted people from all walks of life who are ready to do whatever it takes to win the prize and the notoriety.
On the surface, this means collecting parts from the scrapyard, and turning those parts into machines, then combining those machines into inventions. But it goes much deeper than that, where negotiating skills, theft, spying on other players, building the right machines to give you special abilities that you can use against other contestants, and just as in real life, a touch of luck all come into play.
AA: What was the motivation for creating Scrapyard Empire? How did it all come about?
DC: My Kickstarter strategy has some very long-term goals. When we unleashed our first deck of cards, it was a “simple” project to see if our skills as a design and marketing agency could transfer to the crowdfunding space. The “safe” aspect of that project was that it was also done to promote our goggles, so that in the event it didn’t fund, we’d still gain some exposure for that line of products. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the results and it inspired me to accelerate our plans to delve into tabletop games.
A steampunk theme made perfect sense, because it’s something that we all enjoy and are knowledgeable in. Plus, we felt that at least some of the backers of our previous project would be interested in this one due to the similar theme and artwork. The deck of cards was our training ground for this much more robust tabletop game.
AA: Sounds like a reasonable and well-thought out plan. Why a card game for Scrapyard Empire?
DC: Those who know me well understand that I’m a very methodical person. I like to do things incrementally while I improve my knowledge of a particular subject, so that I’m armed with the right information when projects become much larger in scope. We’ve been tinkering with a number of different types of games for the past year. With our experience producing a standard deck of playing cards, it was only natural to expand upon that concept with cards such as these. We’re also big fans of dice and so those naturally made their way into the game.
Our next project is focused on dice games, and we’ve got a worker placement game in the works that is far more robust than anything we’ve ever done before. That game is quite a challenge to produce because it has so many elements that affect gameplay. Our first Kickstarter project was a deck of cards that I am very proud of. That gave us the experience to build the foundation for a unique card game that I am very excited about producing. This card game, and the dice games we’re releasing soon will serve as the foundation for our bigger projects like the worker placement game. It’s all part of my small plan to take over the world!
AA: Why use steampunk as the game’s aesthetic?
DC: Besides the logistical reasons for steampunk as a theme that matches our other business and previous project, and the fact that I enjoy the aesthetic immensely, there really was no other choice in the matter. A game with an invention theme to it just begs to be steampunk’d. I grew up on Jules Verne and other science fiction authors who were ahead of their times. They imagined devices that have yet to be created, and those devices are at the core of Scrapyard Empire. Inventions, tinkering, and beautiful artwork – those words belong in the dictionary next to the word, Steampunk.
We’ll take our first break here in this four part interview with Dennis Consorte.
Join us for part two where Dennis talks more about creating the game itself.