Two local game designers are in the process of creating four new games which they will showcase to the public on Nov. 18 at Pegasus Games.
This is the third time the duo, Jacob Schenk and Naomi Bielefeldt-Schenk, has collaborated with Pegasus, in hopes of increasing publicity for their projects and their Kickstarter campaign. The campaign, which ends on Nov. 20, would allow for the mass production of the games and get them in stores in early 2018. The games are “Dragoonium,” a fantasy card game, “Stellar Express,” a pick up and delivery game where players try to hit a target, “Corruption,” a political satire game and “Wacky Willy’s Word House,” which is similar to “Mad Libs” or “Apples to Apples.”
The couple have always been game players, but it wasn’t until they were rained out during a camping trip that they started to form ideas for their own game. After 10 hours of playing the card game “Rummy,” things started to get boring, so the couple thought of ways to make the game different.
“We created one game, ‘Dragoonium,’ on the camping trip,” Jacob Schenk, one of the game developers, said. “A lot of it was us just sitting down and going, ‘Well this is fun, but what if?’ Eventually, when you’ve added enough what ifs, you realize that this is a totally different game.”
The game developers carry a notepad with them so they can write down their thoughts and begin the creative process of creating a new game. Though their company, Thorny Wench, was only established on Jul. 20, the duo has been making great progress in creating prototypes of the games. Their backgrounds help with this — Schenk has a background in product development and sourcing while Bielefeldt-Schenk has a background in marketing and publishing.
Bielefeldt-Schenk also has a background in art, which allows her to create the theme and art for most of the projects. This process takes place after a test-run has been made on card stock paper. The couple creates their games on card stock and plays with their friends to get feedback, and then the art process begins.
Once a prototype is created, the couple can make small changes and get ready for full-production, but this is only possible if the Kickstarter campaign is successful. If enough funds aren’t raised, the process of distributing the games on a large scale is delayed. The games will hit retail stores late 2019 or early 2020 if the Kickstarter fails, Schenk said.
If someone supports the campaign, they will receive a subsequent reward. Pledges to Thorny Wench can range from $25-145, and rewards depend on how much someone pledges, Schenk said. The couple is enticing people to donate by offering donors a game before the general public gets access. The Kickstarter prices are also between 30-50 percent off retail value.
“If the Kickstarter is unsuccessful, nobody’s money gets taken out, so we also don’t get anything either,” Bielefeldt-Schenk said. “So then we have to try to find other ways to get a mass inventory. There’s a lot of steps involved.”
The couple hopes that the event at Pegasus will also create buzz about their business endeavor. Attendees will get the chance to play all four games with the designers. The couple will answer questions about the games and show people how to play.
The game designers are putting a lot of energy into their four games, but they’re planning for the future too. One goal of the company is to release extension packs for the games. This includes updated cards and characters. About three extensions will be added each year. An entirely new game will also be released every year. The couple has about five or six new game ideas in mind, but the current four games are the priority, Bielefeldt-Schenk said.
Dragoonium is the first game the couple created and may hold some favoritism because of this. In this two-nine player game, players play as either a champion of the realms or a dragon. The deck is different depending on what character someone is playing as, Schenk said. The main objective is to collect as much gold as possible. Players can accomplish this by getting three-of-a-kind or straight flushes, Schenk said.
“Stellar Express” is the largest game there is. This game board is the size of four “Monopoly” sized boards pushed together. The objective of this game is to move objects across the board.
“You’re basically taking stuff from one place on the map to another place, but you’re always trying to hit a moving target, so it makes it a little more complex,” Schenk said. “Each person has a ship that they’re using to haul the cargo and that will have different stats based off of how they’ve modified the ship and what crew they’ve hired.”
A completely different game is “Corruption,” where players play a corporation and try to influence politicians to vote, Bielefeldt-Schenk said. The couple realizes that their games are all different from one another, but this allows them to reach a wider audience.
Finally, there is Wacky Willy’s Word Warehouse. Players use a “wordagram” and select the best choice card to earn points and win.
These games can be in Madison stores and on the internet if the Kickstarter campaign reaches the goal of $12,000. Even if the campaign fails, the couple will continue working until their products can go public.