For today’s Studio Showcase, I had a chance to ask the man behind Kingdom Death some questions. That’s right, Adam Poots consented to talk to us!
Kingdom Death has been a landslide within the hobby industry. Their stock sells out nearly instantly and the kickstarted board game Monster raised over two million dollars and is due to deliver fairly soon.
For people who aren’t aware, you’re the man behind Kingdom Death. As I understand it you’re not a professional sculptor or painter, so can you tell us what your background is?
My background is primarily web design. I’ve worked for several start up companies in NYC and more often then not, my role was the look and feel of the website and any visual components and end user would see or have to interact with. I am a self taught front end web coder and I learned flash up to flash 5, but that stopped being cool long long ago. When i was a kid, I wanted to make cartoons! That led to flash, web design and finally jobs with cash money! My last full time job before Kingdom Death, was the first wherein I actually had a budget and some minor control over the team, as we were navigating the project, its code base and graphic design from a user and flow stand point. Sadly, the higher ups had some issues with their investors and the project closed shortly after I had already left for KD.
I believe you have a fantastically supportive wife. How did she react when you put the concept of full-time KD to her?
Thank you! Anna is not actually my wife ( not yet! ), what she is, is a fantastic life partner! She has been amazingly supportive both emotionally and helping with the work load. Anna is a big time believer in my shenanigans, I think she knew what she was getting into when we first started to spend all our time together. She says, “it was incredible news and you had worked really hard to get there. I am super proud of you, you never cease to amaze me.” Anna is the best ;_;
You have a fantastic (and well-deserved) reputation for quality. Just how much of the QA goes through you?
Thank you! Everything. Everything that someone see’s, I have to ( obsessively so ) analyze, over think and feel my way through it. I’ve stopped packing customer orders and personally checking very single miniature that goes out… since I just don’t have that time any more. But that’s about it, otherwise everything that we see I either do, or manage.
Do your sculptors generally work from 3d concept renders, or sketches?
We have two sculpting processes that are nearly identical, with the exception being the tools the individual sculptor uses. Both of the hand sculptors and digital sculptors work from 2D concept art. Depending on their feedback or questions, we will create multiple angles or draw up specific details of the concept that were not shown in the original. There is one artist I work with, that really needs a full turn around of the character in order to “see” it all in his head before he starts work. Many of the sculptors though, seem to enjoy feeling in the blanks and brining some of their own personality into the character. This is something, I feel is very important.
Any chance you can take us through the general process of a model, start to finish?
Some people may be aware (id hope most) of the awesomely successful kickstarter for Kingdom Death: Monster. Monster is a very unique concept in its gameplay function. How long have you been working on it?
Thank you again! About… 5 years on and off? The game evolved and changed many times before finally running the kickstarter. Then based on the overwhelming amount raised and the huge number of expansions we had to go in again and sort of prepare the entire system for something beyond just a single box. The initial concept for monster was a smaller game that was focused around BIG monsters because I really wanted to make big monsters and they are difficult to fund! It was meant to be a pre-curser to a dungeon-hack style game that focused on hero classes. At this point, I’ve decided to see how monster is received by gamers before finalizing anything new. It’s entirely possible that the monster system will be well loved and flexible enough to roll the next game into it, as opposed to making an entire new system. But, being someone that is obsessed with game flow, from a rules to graphic perspective, I can say for sure I would not force anything. If a new game calls for new rules to impart the right feeling, well then so be it!
Was Monster always the idea when you started launching the range?
Nope! Originally the range was intended to be used for a dungeon hack game that followed heroes, not the regular people surviving in the world. Monster has grown into being a precursor, almost like a big stage that people can build as they play and have their own experiences in it. I am unsure exactly what will follow it up at this point, but I am a long ways away from being finished with Kingdom Death!
I would wager KD is almost unique in the way you have a significant fan base, and a huge following in what is obviously a well-developed world. That no-one knows anything about. Are you planning to release more fluff for the world with the Monster release?
Ah fluff! My perspective on fluff going into world building was pretty simple. I like stories and lore, but I do not like facts or long winded chains of events and so decided that part of the way we describe things in the world would be more “folk-like” and less of a definition. The blurring of the edges and focusing more on “showing” and not telling” was far more interesting to me. I want to keep exploring more less conventional ways to tell about the world and its inhabitants. So while I can confidently answer your question with a yes, the “fluff” most likely won’t be pretend in the form we are used to. Inter-mixed as passages that break up a gaming rule book. For me the fluff is what happens to a unique group of players survivors, the amazing accomplishments did they manage and finally how they met their end.
I understand the last twelve months have been pretty well a whirlwind for you with getting Monster underway. What have been the least and most enjoyable parts of this?
The least enjoyable by far has been having to work with outside vendors and the sheer stress of having to man up and manage such a titanic project. A huge core game, 11 game expansions and around 24 single releases is huge. It’s huge even compared to major game company standards and it takes a big effort to stay on top of it all. I went from working 5-10 hour days, taking it easy and really taking my sweet time on everything, to working from the moment I wake up, until the second I pass out. Usually around 18 hours / day. It is intense and while I am enjoying it… it’s sad to watch life just flash by! I don’t get out much, don’t get the chance to play games anymore and I don’t think I’ve seen a movie in quite a while. My plan is once I get thru this, to really slow things down and force myself to approach things in a more time efficient way. Learning that seems pretty damn essential and trial by fire seems to be the way!
What is your favourite model in the KD range and why?
Dung Beetle Knight. Because he is a baller!
Do you remember when and why you got into miniatures in the first place?
Heroquest. Thank you Milton Bradly for ruining my child hood and NOW adult life!
And, finally, what’s coming for KD?