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Interview: Vladimir Teneslav

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There’s a funny thing about the future; no one knows what it will be like. There nearly infinite variations on what might be, which makes the future ripe for setting a whole slew of exciting board games.

MIND: The Fall of Paradise is one such board game, now on Kickstarter. I had a chance to set down virtually with designer Vladimir Teneslav to talk about the game, and hopefully convince you to become a backer. Without further ado, THE QUESTIONS!

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your background in the gaming community?

My name is Vladimir Teneslav and I am a professional 3D artist. I do games for IOS for a living and I play games as a hobby. Working in such creative environment is a great source of inspiration and I am thankful everyday for getting paid to do what I love. MIND – The Fall of Paradise is my leap into boardgame design and I’ve put the last couple of years into it and most of my resources.…

Give us the elevator pitch – what is MIND all about?

MIND is about a future where Earth is divided between 15 districts that are at war with each other. As things get worse, and worse one district, called Lyanon, gives up hope and in a desperation attempt they give their ruling authority to MIND, this great artificial intelligence. This creates a counter force called the Rebellion, that does not agree with mankind obeying an A.I. and they make it their goal to destroy MIND.

During the game one player becomes MIND and up to 3 other players take the roles of rebel leaders, named Andrew, Bruno and Irene. While they deeply fight each other they have a common goal of delaying the destruction of Earth that can make them all lose the game.

The rebel leaders manage their character and their party, they equip cards and move inside colonies and spaceships to operate structures and interact with other citizens. MIND plays more of a strategy game where he builds and researches things, while also ordering his units.…

It's definitely in space, so that's cool
It’s definitely in space, so that’s cool

 

Wow, sounds pretty epic. Does the war between the 15 districts come into play in the game, or is it just the rebels vs. the MIND?

The war between the 15 districts has grave impact as it is what destroys Earth in the game. There’s a board that keeps track of all 15 districts and the bonuses that they offer, and one by one they are eradicated by conflict cards. When the last districts is destroyed Earth is lost and if by that time the players didn’t complete their common tasks they all lose. If they did complete them then the game continues, with Earth being destroyed.

Is this a team game, where the 3 commanders are against MIND? Or are all players against each other, but some of them just happen to be more against MIND?

This is scenario based, there may be scenarios where everyone is free for all, or teamed. Usually, the Rebellion is united and it allies itself with MIND only on occasion, to get past some common tasks.…

So how does this come into play in game? How does the asymmetry work?

Well firstly, MIND has no body representation in the game. To compensate for this he is given power of what it is built, what researches are made, what colonies are created etc. The leaders take part of this expanding world and wander in the colonies and spaceships that MIND creates. While both sides need to persuade citizens to join their side, the leaders want to make them rebels and MIND wants to upload them inside the Paradise.

The leaders manage themselves, their party, equip items and operate structures. MIND plays more of a strategy game where he manages resources, citizens, unlocks researches and builds structures and machines.…

So, it’s a scenario based game. How many scenarios are there? Can you give us an example of a scenario?

The game currently comes with 3 scenarios, one solo and 2 multiplayer. The multiplayer scenarios require one player to become MIND and between 1-3 players to play as rebel leaders. Scenarios let players know what are theirs initial resources, units and controlling colonies and spaceships.

The multiplayer scenarios, for example, are very different, one having all players start on Earth and having to deal with the expansion in the Solar System, while the other puts the rebellion against MIND from the get go as it gives them starting colonies for them to manage.

What sort of mechanisms are involved in this game? How do players accomplish things? Is there anything unique about the way the game is played?

The interaction between the players is unique, that’s for sure. Regarding mechanisms, there’s hand management, character management (role playing), party management. Combat is done with a combination of special cards and dice, made in such way that you feel that you are in control but that there is also a surprise factor to make it spicey.

Rebels move inside colonies and interact with structures and citizens. MIND is the authority and, theoretically, the leaders need to obey him. He gives construction orders, moving orders and manages event and conflict cards. But there is a lot more to it.…

The art looks pretty neat, I'll admit
The art looks pretty neat, I’ll admit

Where did the idea for the game come from?

The main source of inspiration was Natural Selection 2, a PC game, where one player becomes a Commander and the other team plays a First Person shooting game. Together they need to build things and coordinate to defeat the alien team. The feeling of cooperating and respecting the orders of the Commander took the co-op experience for me to a next level. I just expanded this idea and added other thematic things to the game.
The theme is about an universe I’ve been thinking and writing about for a long time, so I had lots of ideas when going in and designing the game. Overall, I really wanted players to feel immersed in the game and the universe so theme and mechanics blend together really well to make sense.

Did anything unexpected or surprising pop up in the design process? Did you work and think through everything, or did anything come as pure inspiration?

The game was playtested 2-3 times a week for about 10 months with 2 different gaming groups. Being such an open game with many options some people really broke the game and found exploits. That was interesting to see. MIND was also underpowered for a while but then his ability cards changed.

About the second question, some ideas came to me by just looking at how the game is played. I would just sit down and watch how players played the game and imagine new fun things that would go hand in hand with what there was already in the game. For instance, this is how I added the bribery and stealing from citizens actions, or some structures. They felt like a real natural addition to the already existing ideas. I did not plan for them.…

What is the most interesting aspect of the game in your opinion?

The layered conflict. You have the rebellion side fighting MIND but both sides also have to take care of Earth and evacuate citizens. This trio creates very nice situations and dilemmas. I also personally love how the leaders manage their party members.…

Does the game require 4 players, or can it be played with more or fewer?  And, approximately how long does a game of MIND take to play?

Yes, the game can be played between 1 and 4 players and it takes about 3 hours once you know what you are doing and understand the rules.

Why should people back this game on Kickstarter?

As Tom Vasel recently stated, heavy games are rare. So if you like sci fi, great components and interesting mechanics with lots of decisions and possible outcomes and scenarios then you should back this project now. There will be no next year as I do not have the resources to make it myself.…

How about all these cool minis? Does that convince you?
How about all these cool minis? Does that convince you?

Do you have any cool stretch goals or unlockables?

Oh boy, don’t even get me started. I have SO MUCH prepared, from spaceships to cards. We just need to get there.

Is there any last thoughts you’d like to share with our readers? This is your last chance to pitch your game and convince everyone to go back it!

I am very confident that MIND – The Fall of Paradise is a boardgame made at the highest standards of the industry so all I need people to do is to just check it out. The boardgame will do the rest and convince everyone who likes sc-fi, 4x and heavier games that this is a must have. Unfortunately, kickstarter drifted from its initial goal and companies took the market and set very high standards for backers with pre-order campaigns. So if you now try to kickstart your dream you need to bring your “A” game and invest just as much as a company would. It’s a bit unrealistic and unfair to compete this way, but I live and adapt. But I want people to know that if they like the boardgame they need to remember that there may be no next year for MIND – The Fall of Paradise as I am just a man with a dream…and a prototype.

MIND is current running and gunning for funding on kickstarter.  If it sounds as cool to you as it does to me, head on over to their kickstarter page and give it the ol’ backer treatment!

This article was a paid promotion.

Futurewolfie loves epic games, space, and epic games set in space. You'll find him rolling fistfuls of dice, reveling in thematic goodness, and giving Farmerlenny a hard time for liking boring stuff.

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