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The Essen files: Andrew Harman Interview 2014

October 24th, 2014 by Legendgerry Comments

Andrew Harman, author of many sci-fi/fantasy novels including the Firkin series has launched a board game, we caught up with him at Essen and discussed his game Frankenstein’s Bodies.

“You have been invited by Baron Victor Frankenstein – Master of Surgery, Pioneer of Science – to show your surgical skills. Can you create the finest body ever seen? One impressive enough to amaze a world audience?

You are not alone in trying. Other surgeons are aiming to impress.

Time is short, body parts are few and reputations are fragile. Can you build the finest body using your surgical skills alone? Or will you have to resort to stealing body parts from others?

Surgery or sabotage – it’s your choice. Frankenstein’s labs await.”

Frankenstein’s Bodies is a board based card game for 2-6 players and lasts about an hour.”

FTN: So how did you get into game design?

A.H.: Well I just am creative, I used to be a writer, (I’ll probably still come back to that), writing science fiction and fantasy. I met a guy called Ian Lowson, who created a role-pleaying game called Dark Harvest: The legacy of Frankenstein, which has won awards, it’s doing really really well, the second edition is going to come out via Kickstarter hopefully next year so that’s all exciting stuff.

I was involved in that right from the start with some of the short stories and flavour fiction which went into it. Then after a little while Ian decided what he wanted to do was as well as supplements and short stories was to expand into Apps and into games.

Jenny, my wife, and I have a history of about 40 years of playing games, we have hundreds of them at home, typical gamers and Iain said

“The right person to write this game is you Andrew”

Which was fantastic I just went

“Yeah? Go on then”

How little did I know! No it was great, 3 years on from that original conversation, it’s been a ridiculously silly journey, where I’ve ended up doing all the artwork! I had to learn how to do layouts and all this kind of stuff because I had never intended to do any of the artwork, it just kind of happened, my game swallowed me whole!

FTN: So how did you about bringing it to market, did you Kickstart it or just self publish?

A.H. Well a bit of both, we Kickstarted it across April, May and part of June earlier this year. It was a long one, deliberately because we wanted to go on the Kickstater tour, starting in Edinburgh with Conpulsion at the tail end of Easter, we started there, day one, bang 10 o’ clock, we were there because we love it, we’ve been there loads of times, then we went round to all sorts of places like Eclectic Games in Reading, like Rules of Play in Cardiff, playing all the games finally culminating at UK Games Expo demoing there which was fantastic, left it a week to run after that,

Since June the 6th when that (The Kickstarter) closed we redid a lot of the artwork and got the game into production.

Sounds easy really!

FTN: Were you always planning on bringing it to Essen? Setting up a trade stand here seems to be a bit of an investment especially with a first game.

A.H: Yes, It’s a lot of an investment, when the Kickstarter was set up we aimed for about half the print run costs and we got a little over that, we’ve put a lot of our own money into it because we certainly believe in it and that’s working now, a lot of stuff is flying of the shelves which is fantastic.

We’ve, Jenny and I, have now set up a company called YAY GAMES! Because during this design process there’s been loads and loads of ideas coming out, that’s the creative route I want to follow now as much as i can.

We’re play testing our second game already! We’d like it, we’ll see what happens, but an annual, Kickstart-Essen- launch flow would be stunning if we could keep that pace up, yeah, watch this space!

FTN: So tell us about this second game

A.H: So the second game is called Sandcastles, so we started using some of the mechanisms from Frankenstein’s Body, we particularly liked the way the game was so interactive, the fact you could steal body parts from other players, people were really getting into that so we wanted to make a younger version of that, less grotesque, a little more fluffy and acceptable for families.

We started working on how to steal sandcastle parts from other players but then mechanisms that fitted from Frankesteins Bodies didn’t fit with that so they changed and metamorphosed so now the game is: probably 2-6 players, we’d like to keep that if we can and it plays in like 15 minutes.

So you are building a Sandcastle, your taking that Sandcastle once it’s finished and banking that but along the way you’ve got different things that can be taken away by things you find on a beach.

So crabs can steal some Sandcastle parts, buckets can steal some Sandcastle parts and Seagulls can steal the flags from them but there is sort of a rock paper scissors thing going on.

So if someone tries to steal part of your sandcastle with a crab, you can block them with a bucket and you get some victory points so an attack can go horribly wrong, because you lose the points and the Sandcastle part stays where it is.

We’re play testing it now and it’s doing really well.

FTN: So when can we expect Sandcastles to hit Kickstarter?

A.H: Hopefully a similar time of year so May/June, we’re hoping to get so it ties in a week after Expo (UK GAMES EXPO.ed) We’ve already got our stand booked, we’re already going there, we’re going to have a similarly sized stand there, so more investment that we need to recoup *Laughs

FTN: Well this one seems to be going quite well, it’s racing up the buzz charts so I expect to see more of you in the future, Where can people follow your adventures?

A.H: Well right now you can visit and sometime soon we’ll have a YAY Games.UK set up. The Game is currently available to buy on Amazon

Andrew will be at Dragonmeet London on December 6th, stand 23 with Frankensteins Bodies and if space is available a play test version of the Sandcastles game he mentioned above.

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An Irish Actor, Tai Chi practitioner, Gamer (both video and Tabletop) and writer, does other things too. Prone to doing crazy things for charity. You can follow his misadventures on twitter @legendgerry.

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