Jeremy, thanks for joining us. First of all, would you take a second and introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, I’m Jeremy, I’m a game designer living in London, UK. I work as a designer in the video game industry and make board games the rest of the time!
Can you tell us a little bit about The Secret Games Company?
The Secret Games Company is a group of people in London, and further afield, who love to make games around our other, better-paid jobs! We set it up to release our two games,; one is Dreaming Spires, and the other is Rise, which is a board game-inspired video game that will be ready next year.
So, Dreaming Spires, an old school game… And by “old school” we’re, of course, talking about Oxford… Where did you get the idea to theme a game around Oxford?
I studied at Oxford, and while I was there I kept hearing these amazing stories from its history. It’s so old—900 years—that it has seen so much of English history and produced some extraordinary people along the way. When I was sitting down to begin a new game project, I decided I wanted to do something with a really strong theme and a lot of research and writing in it, as I felt this was an area where we could do a good job. Oxford was the obvious choice as I knew a lot about it already, so I looked into it and there has never been a board game about Oxford’s history, so we felt like we’d struck gold!
How would you summarize the game play and “feel” of Dreaming Spires?
Dreaming Spires is a building game using tile placement like Carcassonne, with two card systems layered on top, which allow the player to accrue reputation in different areas, which is then crunched by our innovative scoring system to determine the winner in the end. The Scholar cards allow the players to use a lot of different special abilities, which are based on the person in question. For example, Adam Smith’s is called ‘Wealth of Nations’ and lets the player spend any money coin (1, 2 or 3) to draw two more randomly. The Scholar cards each also have beautiful illustrations and their own quotes on, so they bring a lot of theme. The Event cards have stories on them recounting a famous event from Oxford’s history and initiate a quick auction or other type of activity that the colleges compete in for a reputation boost in an appropriate area.
How did you land with Game Salute, and how has the game changed since they’ve come alongside you to get it ready for market?
Game Salute have been really supportive but they have left us to get the game ready and focused their efforts on helping us to promote it and prepare it for production with Panda GM, who are our manufacturers.
So, why tabletop games? And what got you into game design?
I have always been crazy about games. I played a lot of cards with my Grandmother as a kid—she was a real card shark! I also played chess with my Dad and used to start crying as soon as I could see I was going to lose, so he would switch the board round at that point so I could play with his pieces; that cheered me up! My Grandfather and I played Mah Jong with a beautiful old set of his, so all my family have played their part in my ending up as a game designer!
Which type of gamer are you going after with this game? The casual player? The Family Game Night players? The "in-it-up-to-their-eyeballs" heavy player?
As you can probably tell, the game is really thematic. It’s a medium weight with simple systems, so anyone can play and have a good time, but there’s a lot of variety and interesting decisions so seasoned gamers will still be honing their strategy after loads of plays. We have had good reports back from testers at all points on the gaming spectrum!
What's the timeline for release of the game?
We are doing our final pass on the art files now, so we hope to submit them to Panda in the next couple weeks. Then there are a few steps to the production process before the games are put onto boats and shipped to the US and UK. We hope they will arrive in early May next year, but we have said June in our Kickstarter to give ourselves an extra month in case of any delays.
We also have our video game project Rise, which you can check out on our website: www.secretgamecompany.com. As for Dreaming Spires expansions, we have a lot of ideas. We would only do one, but we’d put everything in there including a 2 player variant. It all depends on how well the game does next year; our fingers are firmly crossed!
Ok, the rapid-fire section! We ask the questions; you answer them with one word (or super-short phrase)! And, GO!
Have you ever not "minded the gap"?
I am the gap.
Every time you call someone in the States, do they answer singing "London's Calling"?
It’s more like: “Awww, say that again, you sound so cute! So do you know the queen?”
Favorite Monty Python member?
Michael Palin because he is in Dreaming Spires!
We heard you crashed the Royal Wedding; is that true?
My lawyers have asked me not to comment on an ongoing criminal investigation.
Are you terribly annoyed at the narrow scope of the last four questions?
Not at all, I wish I could answer all interview questions this way!
Jeremy, thanks so much for joining us today, we wish you the best of luck with Dreaming Spires and your further endeavors with The Secret Games Company!
You can find Dreaming Spires on Kickstarter until November 30, 2013.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to subscribe over on the right --->