An Origin Story

(Mitch is in a cabin in the woods somewhere, so he will be absent from the blog this week.)

Losing is winning.

It all started with a conversation about how losing a game would be a fun way to win. I took the idea to Mitch and we started brainstorming all the different ways you could make a game where you wanted to lose. Sadly everything we did just turned into winning a different way. We tried the Apples to Apples formula of handing creative control to the players. We discussed some dark concepts that are best left forgotten. It took awhile, but eventually we came up with an idea we liked that fit the theme well - Martyrdom.

At that point we had far off dreams that maybe someday this could be a real thing. In truth though we were just happy to be making something to play. We came up with a loose set of rules, a quick play-test deck, and ran with it. The first few games ended within the first two to three turns. We would start to play, realize how terrible a certain card was, or how a rule didn’t work, and have to start over. Despite how many different games we had played through our lives, as it turns out, it didn’t mean we knew how to balance anything. We would have 30 cards on the table at one time, lost in our own creation. With all that in mind though, it was fun. That simple fact kept us going. So we played the game over and over and realized the most important thing: Martyrdom was a mess.

There were a lot of good concepts, and we kept some of them for Renown, but as a whole the game was all over the place. Just because we called it Martyrdom didn’t actually mean losing was winning. It didn’t have the feeling needed to pull it off.

So Mitch and I met up at Steak and Shake in Bloomington, Illinois and had a long heart to heart about where the game was going. At this point we had decided that we wanted to get it published in some form. The game was fun, but cluttered and too confusing. We had a few mechanics that were working. There were funny references and cool ideas. The important question loomed: How could we fix it?

So over cheese fries and chicken fingers we broke down Martyrdom and said our final goodbyes. No longer were you trying to be remembered post-mortem. Instead you wanted to be known for who you are, not who you were. We cleaned up the base mechanics and formulated some new cards. A ton of rules went out the window, to be replaced with something that worked. Martyrdom sacrificed itself so that we could instead have Renown.

We have learned a ton of lessons along the way, some of which we actually used. Now we are ready to take the next step and see how it goes. Is the world ready for Renown? We shall find out.

  • Drew