Today’s guest is Thorin Thompson, who has co-designed Fortress Moon – a retro futuristic area control game – with his father. Fortress Moon is currently on Kickstarter
GDC: Give us an overview of your game and how it’s played.
Thorin: FORTRESS MOON is a strategic wargame set in a 1950′s Retro Future. 1 Player Assumes the role of the Lunar Colonists (a faction whom previously revolted and took over the Mine-bases on the Moon;) the other 3 Players assume the roles of the Greatest Nations of the Time (Republic of China, USA, & USSR.) Their goal is to reclaim 16 of the 30 Mine-bases within a 6 Turn Limit. The Lunar Colonists must hold at least 15 of the 30.
GDC: What innovative mechanic or creative idea distinguishes your game from others?
Thorin: Like most games of this type there are Miniatures and Dice rolls that control the flow of battle; however with FORTRESS MOON we’ve introduced “Transmissions” which are Cards that can be drawn and played during specific Phases of the game. (Resource, Movement, Combat, Anytime)
There is also a Unit called the Supply Unit that has no combat ability, but is very important when traveling out on the open surface of the Moon. If you lose a Supply Unit during a Turn you could lose other important Units as they would die out in the open without their Supply.
We also have a First Attack/Defense Round for every Combat session in the game. If you have specific Units they can Attack or Defend and possibly Eliminated other Units before they even fire.
GDC: Tell us about the spark or inspiration for this game.
Thorin: My Father, Alan Thompson, was the one who decided to we should make the game. He had been reading some Dime Store Novel from the 60′s (I can’t remember the name,) and like books will do set is imagination running! So we set down and started talking about and that’s really how it all began!
GDC: Let’s talk about the design process. Tell us a bit about the iterations the game has gone through and the refinements you’ve made along the way.
Thorin: The first couple months were slow. Neither of us have made a game like this before and so we shooting ideas back and forth a lot. I remember we had several meeting at coffee shops just talking about the units and the board and the mechanics. Eventually I begin designing the board in Photoshop and we brought along Jordyn Boci to design are Units for us.
When we first started designing the game, the Units look more modern day SciFi and we had drawn a lot, but eventually scrapped them all and started from scratch with the new Retro designs that are now apart of the games ascetic.
The game board has gone through major re-designs as we kept playtesting and figuring out just what worked and what didn’t.
But from the very beginning we knew this was going to be a miniature heavy game, focusing on capture and hold spaces, and featuring cards. It was just a matter of refining all the ideas.
You can see the evolution of our designs on our facebook page
GDC: What has been your biggest challenge in designing this game?
Thorin: Designing the game? Haha! This being our first game we had to learn a lot along the way. I mean we all played games like this and knew what we wanted. I personally have learned a lot more “tricks” in Photoshop than I previously knew, just from trail and error designing the board and card layouts. From talking to manufacturers to getting people together to playtest it, there were challenges all the way, but that’s what makes fun!
GDC: Let’s shift gears and talk about you. How did you get into game design?
Thorin: I grew up in my Father’s Comic/Game Shop and so I feel like it’s in my blood. He had been wanting to design a game for well… eons. I remember growing up he had come up with a cool idea for a WWI game, and had made all the paper pieces, etc, but it wasn’t until a couple years after I had returned from college that we started talking about it again. We started making up a Gangster game, which we scrapped and then a little more time went by as I doing my own thing in the Film Industry and then he approached me with this idea for a game which eventually became FORTRESS MOON!
GDC: What is your greatest moment as a game designer?
Thorin: So far it’s been playtesting with friends and strangers and see them really focus on the strategic and having fun with a game I designed. That’s been really awesome to watch! Also seeing our designs come to life. For example, Jordyn’s concept art of the Units were used to make the Sculpts and once we got those in and could touch them and see what they will look like in the game we we’re like, “Wow! This is really happening!”
GDC: Tell us a little bit about your life outside of game design and gaming: family? work? other interests?
Thorin: I work in the Film/Television Industry in North Carolina. I’ve also produced a couple of videos. One is called Oil & Blood, about a painter who begins obsessing over this portrait she began in her sleep and her husband unravels a mystery spanning 200 years. That can be found by searching Vimeo.com and the best part is that my Father plays a character in it, but I won’t say who! No spoilers here! I also just do a lot of writing in general, stories, screenplays, all sorts of stuff. I love telling stories and hopefully we be able to get a couple of these “off the ground” as they say and onto to the big screen.
GDC: Do you have any works-in-progress or game ideas you would like to share?
Thorin: We have so many ideas, it’s like every other day, one us tells the other, “Oh! I just thought of this cool game!” FORTRESS MOON is just the beginning and we hope that through a successful Kickstarter campaign we can get the ball rolling and start up a gaming company.
GDC: What games have you been playing lately? What have you liked, what have you disliked, and why?
Thorin: The only game I’ve been playing lately is Dungeons & Dragons, and not that 3rd or 4th Edition crap either, this is pure 1st Edition AD&D. My Father is running an epic campaign currently so that’s been the main source of gaming for a couple months now.
GDC: One word of advice to your fellow game designers?
Thorin: Patience is KEY! Especially if it’s your first game like this is ours. We’ve been designing this game now for well over a year and half and we are just launching a Kickstarter. It’s been a long time coming with many ups and downs, but if your patience and you just keeping pushing and dreaming anything is possible. I know that sounds like something from Carebears, but it’s true.
GDC: Anyone you’d like to give a shout out to? (playtesters, design mentors, your friendly local game store, etc.)
Thorin: I’d like to thank Parker, Banner, Kent & Wayne Comic Shop for letting us come and playtest the game in there store for hours! Brandon Boci and Caleb Mault our the two people who helped us out the most during playtests and helping us refine the game and cards.
GDC: Tell us how (and where) we can find you (social networks, BGG username, website, cons you plan to attend).
Official Site: www.fortressmoon.com
Design Videos and Soon Gameplay Videos on Youtube.