Designer Interview: Nicolas Fournier
Racing around a track in fantastically futuristic cars took up a lot of my childhood. I loved playing video games like Mario kart, F-Zero, and Wipeout. If your like me and love all these games but also love board games then Nicolas Founier's Megapulse will tick all those boxes and present you with a fast paced sci-fi racing game that nods to those video games while presenting you a unique game. I Interviewed Nicolas about his design process for Megapulse witch is set to hit kickstarter on November 9th.
What brought you into game design?
I have been doing game design my whole life. It was the thing I did at school and brought back home. When I entered adulthood I started to design seriously. I haven't an epiphany or a moment where I was compelled to do design.I entered some game Jams in Montreal and won three times. I was hired by one of the judges to do game design. What is currently your favorite game to play? Paleo, I just bought it at Essen. Klank has been our go to game for months It's been fun to play and easy. Its very elegantly designed. What is your favorite mechanic in Megapulse?
That's a tough one. I have two. The first is how the curves are handled every time you move forward through the curve you move out and if you hit the wall you take damage. so Its more of a timing thing rather than slowing down thing like other games. You can play a sidethrust card and move sideways away from the wall.
Hand building is the next mechanic I love. As you pass checkpoints and the start/finish line you gain cards but sometimes you need to discard a card for these upgrades. It keeps the game fresh as you move through the game. Some cards are replacements and some are new so there is a lot a variation there.
How much have you changed the game from your original concept? It changed quite a lot. The initial idea was centered around the curve mechanic.We had a bidding mechanic where you could bid on the winner. The game took place over 3 races and took 3 hours. It was simple: you had only the car and your hand of cards. So every turn you only moved or had an action. Every card now makes you move now. We made the upgrades more fun and it doesn't matter much if it is much stronger than the original as every game is close. The game still has the same feel especially in the curves and it plays faster and is more intuitive now.
What did you find was the most difficult part of the design process?
I think it was the rival system. In Megapulse you can get rewards for damaging players. This was to tie the combat system into the racing aspect of the game. The first iteration kept track of how much damage you did to other vehicles this allowed you to move faster. It was annoying to track all these. It was to many manipulations for each time you lost health. So rather than using a bunch of tracks to follow it all. Now it is token based and much easier to track. Also now you no longer have to lose a turn when you lose all the health. We went through about 8 different versions.
What was your favorite part about the design process?
Designing the upgrades. We made the game modular so it is more of a system. The pilot and Overcars are separate as are all of the track parts. We wanted to emulate memories from our childhood into the game and we took a bunch of inspiration from our childhood and the playtesters. There were a lot of different places to add in upgrades. Because the Balance is not a big issue in the game and every game is very tight in the end no matter what upgrades people picked it was fun to come up with these upgrades and add them in. Describe how fun or not fun the crowdfunding process has been for you. It has been a bit of both. Its been really fun to talk to content reviewers and people at Essen and Gencon. Preparing the webpage has been fun. The images GIFs and videos are fun to make. Its not fun to prepare the files for the prototypes. We had some bad experiences with the original prototypes; they were hand crafted and it did not turn out as we expected. The overall costs have been higher than expected and As we get close to launch all the emotions kind of go away and I am just proud of what we are doing. We are not going to push this into next year to see if costs change. I want to take care of myself mentaly and physically. I am happy where I am at now with megapulse.
I shelved Megapulse and designed 10 games after that, then my friends wanted to play Megapulse 12 months after they first played. This is when I knew I had something good.
Do you have any advice for up and coming designers?
Yea TONS of advice! First I would say design/playtest lots of games. Designers have one design that is their baby and develop it over years. The more games you design, test and scrap or shelf the better. I shelved megapulse and designed 10 games after that, then my friends wanted to play Megapulse 12 months after they first played. This is when I knew I had something good. Widen your horizon and fail faster. Don't be afraid to shelf your designs and start something new; you can always go back to them. What's next after megapulse? I met Devon Mettlin by playtesting his game Punch Kick Block. It's a game about sports mascots fighting and it has a simple take that mechanic. He’s been my marketing guy basically. He has been the sole reason the email list is where its at. I am going to help him with game design, graphic design and manufacturing with everything I learned on megapulse.
What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?
Depends on if it is a European swallow…. Google tells me 50km per hour