Meet the authors of Pathfinder Arena, Giorgio Serafini (left), Flavio Anzidei (center) Roberto Tibuzzi (right). The interview has been made and published by Cultura Pop. You can find here the original in Italian
Pathfinder Arena campaign will kick off on Kickstarter on November 23rd. Follow now the project!
Pathfinder Arena – Meet the Authors: Origins
Q: Hello, first of all, thank you for giving us some of your time, given the period we imagine it is hard to find a moment.
Let’s talk about (and with) the authors (Roberto Tibuzzi, Flavio Anzidei, Giorgio Serafini) and let’s start with the typical questions: who are you, what do you do and which are your previous experiences in the field of gaming? In short, give us an identikit!
Authors Hi, thank you. First things first, we are three longtime friends sharing the same gaming interests for over 20 years by now. All three of us are new board game authors. Pathfinder Arena is the first board game we’ve made.
Roberto: For many years I have been attending the world of games in many of its forms. In 2006 I obtained a master’s degree as a PC videogame developer where I held the role of game designer. At the time it didn’t take me anywhere, but in the world of board games it turned out to be a fundamental experience! For some years I have been dedicating myself to the study of literature on game design, with particular attention to the MDA framework, to the patterns and insights at an anthropological level.
Giorgio: I was the owner of a board game café. Since I was 15, I have been passionate about RPGs and board games. This has allowed me to learn many mechanics and to gain a critical sense on certain PFA regulatory choices.
Flavio: Part of my background is IT and mathematical so I am intrigued by logic problems, optimization, game theory, neural networks. With PFA, of course, between computer simulations, spreadsheets, statistics in balancing, etc. I immediately found what’s right up my alley! :). An example above all: at the very beginning the game was supposed to have just 7 cards. Nonetheless, when it came to the third reassessment of the graphic, we went haywire! So, the challenge was to devise a little program (and with “little” I mean more than 10.000 code lines) which, by automating the process, would make it possible to create and manage the hundreds of cards that Pathfinder Arena now happily disposes of. Put this kind of approach and the great enthusiasm for the games, which started when I was 10 with the legendary D&D at his dawn (the very first edition, the one with the four colored boxes), and you have the mix that brought me here today, still dedicating myself to the amazing world of gaming with passion, curiosity and fun.
Q: We are familiar with the idea of a game that originates from just one author, occasionally two: here we have even three of you! How does teamwork perform? What kind of added value gave to the making of PathfinderArena?
Authors: Working in three offers many advantages. In our specific case, we never formally defined our roles. The different nature of each one of us automatically brought us to focus more on some field instead of others and then to come up with a solution shared by the whole team. Of course, working together allows you to speed up the whole process of realization. In fact, besides the very distribution of the workload, it allows you to discard weaker or poorly functioning ideas and improve the proposals of each one through continuous brainstorming. At last, all playtesting activity undergoes a boost in speed and accuracy.
On the other hand, having three quite defined personalities, not having a professional defined role and “just” being united by a friendship, caused a number of disputes over some matters … but if you see us here present, in the end, we survived, even if a bit more white-haired…
However, if you want to give a definition to our team, we can say that Roberto mostly took care of the adaptation of the mechanics to the world of Pathfinder. Giorgio has mainly kept the attention on the part of the amusement, in order to avoid that we got lost in too mechanical and inappropriate solutions. Flavio was particularly involved in automating and managing the process of making all the material, providing the structure that, behind the scenes, gives us the chance to coordinate and cooperate in a creatively fluid way.
Q: Having at your disposal three authors at once is too good an opportunity not to ask: which advice would you give to the ones who want to start this career?
We started for fun, even if, since the first moment, we had the ambition to make out of this the best game we always wanted to play. At the base of all this, perseverance, patience and always questioning one’s ideas are the keys.
Q: Broadening the horizons a little: which game you would have liked to create and why?
Authors: The game that immediately came to our mind, even if it is a card game, is Magic The Gathering, a game that has been lasting for almost 30 years … it appeared to players as something simple but with a devastating playful impact. The deck-building offers unprecedented freedom and satisfaction to fans of this type of game.
Q: What are your favorite (board and non-board) games? How did these affect you as authors?
Roberto: my favorite games are Carcassonne, Terra Mystica, Root, and The Castles of Burgundy.
Giorgio: Carcassonne, Roleplaying games and Magic The Gathering.
Flavio: to me the atmosphere and the setting [at the gaming table] are important. That’s why I would say classics and surely my heart goes to role-playing games and Magic. With large groups, I always enjoyed party games like Lupus or Avalon where the emotional components play a fundamental role. Certainly, the hits like Terra Mystica and Carcassonne, but I also like the sense of scarcity that a game like Agricola gives you or the goliardic cooperation of Zombicide. The main game that inspired PFA is a game that we have all played in the past … it’s the game of 15.
Q: Pathfinder Arena obviously takes inspiration from the almost homonymous RPG: are you RPGs? and, if so, has this in any way influenced your business and in particular the development of this project?
We have been role players for over 20 years. This in terms of setting and ideal of the game has greatly affected the way of thinking and developing this project.
The challenge between heroes and monsters and the labyrinth comes from the world of role-playing games.
Pathfinder Arena – Meet the Authors: the game
Q: Tell us: what is PF Arena?
Pathfinder Arena is a game with very original mechanics, a mix between an american and a german game.
It’s a game of strategy in which each match is completely different from the other. A game that allows you to implement different tactics to win and it is not monothematic. Above all, the more you play it, the more exciting it gets.
Q:This question goes both to the publishing house and to the authors: what changes have this new financing instrument brought to the world of board games?
Authors: A crowdfunding platform allows you to reach within a short time a lot of the players in the world who like a certain type of board game. It is not certain that some games would ever have crossed the national borders through the traditional methods.
Q:The world of board games is getting more competitive every day and many new products lack something that makes them stand out from the rest: what makes Pathfinder Arena unique in your opinion?
Authors: Pathfinder Arena has a well-tested game system:
it is the result of a development process of several years and is designed to offer a satisfying challenge to players.
Unlike many games, you must not only defeat the monsters but understand when comes the right moment to take advantage of the monsters’ attacks against opponents. The strong point of the mechanics is the mobile arena, which allows each game to be always exciting and different. We never got bored.
Q: We know that the base box will include 4 iconic heroes (Valeros, Kyra, Ezren and Merisiel), can you give us some info about it? Class, specific powers, curiosity etc.
Authors: The classes are the warrior, clerk, wizard and rogue. Each hero has a unique set of cards divided into items, feats and spells. Valeros and Merisiel use feats’ cards in addition to the typical items of their class. While Kyra and Ezren, being spellcasters, only use spell cards in addition to their own set of items. Generally speaking, warrior and rogue prefer the use of weapons to defeat monsters and enhance their actions with feats. The wizard has many offensive and useful spells to move smoothly in the labyrinth, while the cleric has the most balanced set of spells. In short, during the game players will have the feeling of managing their favorite hero equipped with the abilities they expect from the correspondent RPG class, even if in a simplified and adapted way to the board game.
Q: A characteristic element of pathfinder is the level-up of the characters: is there a system of hero growth in PF Arena? what will be the maximum achievable level? How does the increase in power come into play?
Authors: There is a level-up phase each time all monsters of a level have been defeated; the maximum achievable level is the 4th, equal to the game’s rounds. Such level of both heroes and monsters differs from the corresponding in the role-playing game. The growth of power is also represented by the abilities and items that players will gradually collect in the Arena. Players will also choose new feats or spells at the end of each round,
Q: Given the role-playing game that inspired this game, we were amazed to see that heroes will have to compete with each other instead of acting as a team, can we ask you what prompted the designers to this radical change of approach?
Authors: Let’s say the heroes are in competition but they don’t hate each other… in fact, heroes can never attack each other directly in the game. they are aware that the Arena is one of the many challenges they have been subjected to during their adventures and, most importantly, that it cannot lead to their death. Like a game of a competitive nature, it came naturally to us from the very beginning to never think too much about collaboration.
Q: The gameplay requires that heroes cannot attack directly, will it be possible in some way to influence the opponent’s performances?
Authors: Even if heroes cannot directly attack each other, it is possible to strongly affect the opponent’s performance by moving and changing the layout of the Arena. Each player can change the Arena’s structure during his/her turn and this also allows him to interfere with the position of other heroes as well as monsters. So, for example, it is possible to move away a hero from a monster, or from certain resources, or to hinder the future movement of a player, or to bring a hero in the range of a monster to trigger an attack to score points.
Pathfinder Arena – Meet the Authors: Insights
Q: It is said that parents love all children equally … but one in a special way: of the four heroes, who is your favorite? And why?
Roberto: Merisiel is a character not oriented to inflict a lot of damage, but I love the versatility of her inside the Arena..
Giorgio: Ezren, like all wizards, can build a variety of strategies to win the game, from direct attack to making the most of the ever-changing Arena.
Flavio: to purely personal taste, Ezren. In my opinion, the wizard is the most iconic hero of fantasy settings, being the one that least of all could exist in real life. This in my eyes makes him interesting to explore and fun to play with.
Q: It would be unfair not to ask the same question for the other side: which one of the monstrous creatures included is your favorite? and why?
Roberto: The chimera because of its diagonal attack that allows players to attack even opponents who consider themselves safe.
Giorgio: Demon Babau for its attack that makes him teleport, thus being able to generate countless attacks in games of 3 or 4 players and causing panic in the labyrinth.
Flavio: Giò [Giorgio ndr], how do you end copying me even when you write before me? 🙂 I also find the Demon Babau funny, especially in a four players’ game it could easily mess up someone’s plans and … luck is blind, don’t get mad! 🙂
Q:Is there any anecdote related to the game’s development and playtest that you would like to share with readers?
Authors: From the beginning of development, we had already oriented the setting and design choices on a fantasy setting game, with heroes as protagonists and monsters as antagonists. However, one evening I don’t remember which of us proposed: “guys, let’s do something different!” let’s set the game in the world of bureaucracy!”You will not believe it but we got so excited about such idea that we had already started converting the game (including the creation of new materials) to the new setting and changed the title of the game to Bureaucracy. Fortunately, later we came back to our fantasy origins. And do you want to know how this whole adventure started? On the beach 6 years ago, when Giorgio said: “why don’t we create a board game?” and Roberto and Flavio together replied: “do you know that I was thinking about it too?” … It was clear that it was the right thing to do!
And do you want to know how this whole adventure started? On the beach 6 years ago, when Giorgio said: “why don’t we create a board game?” and Roberto and Flavio together replied: “do you know that I was thinking about it too?” … It was clear that it was the right thing to do!
It’s beyond doubt that the last two years have been definitively unusual: do you think there will be big changes in the way we will be called to live the passion for the board game?
Authors: Being back at the fair is a good sign for the world of board games, the pandemic has forced many of us to take refuge in online gaming platforms, but this has made us understand even more the importance of the experience and the sharing at the game table.
Final question: is there any “secret” project you are working on in this period and you want to talk to us about?
Authors: Something is brewing, a project started years ago and then, due to some difficulties, left to marinate … it is also well advanced, who knows that one day we will not even be able to serve it on the table 🙂
Pathfinder Arena – Meet the Authors: Giochi Uniti
Giochi Uniti and Kickstarter, are there any other projects undergoing this form of financing and sale?
Giochi Uniti: Crowdfunding is a financing system that has found great application in many sectors in recent years. Among them, the board game proved to be particularly fertile. Therefore, as international publishers, we are pleased to face this new challenge, which we have already experimented it to finance some localizations. Should it prove successful, we will be happy to continue this path; we have many projects in progress.
Has Giochi Uniti other role-playing games in its catalog, are projects similar to PF Arena to be expected for those too?
The first thing we look at while developing a game are the mechanics.
Once the central structure is established, we focus on which setting is best suited, let’s say “the dress”. Role-playing games generally offer a lot of material to draw from. However, we don’t always have the right mechanics to work on.
What prompted you to choose to use Kickstarter to launch pathfinder Arena? And, if we’re not inappropriate, can we ask you what the exact start date of the fundraiser will be?
Giochi Uniti: We believe Pathfinder Arena and Kickstarter are a perfect match.
Through the mechanisms of crowdfunding, we have been able to include more miniatures and many other elements that are difficult to achieve in any other way.
In fact, we have prepared several add-ons and many extra stretch goals, which we hope will be appreciated by our community, and which we can’t wait to show you. The Kickstarter will be live on November 23rd at 10 AM EST time.
Pathfinder, the role-playing game, was created by Paizo: was the American publishing house somehow involved in the conception and development of PF Arena?
Giochi Uniti: Paizo family is really jealous of his own universe, which is really vast and detailed. Therefore, the whole work has gone through meticulous analysis. Also, Jason Bulmahn, after playing the game, gave us several inputs to work on. Knowing that they appreciated our work is already a source of pride for us.
In addition to the basic box, what can we “get our hands on”?
We went wild. For the moment, in addition to the basic box, there are 5 add-on and more than 30 bonuses, which will be unlocked during the campaign.
We understand that PF Arena will allow you to play, in a different way, Age of Ashes (the first adventure path for Pathfinder 2nd edition): what changes did it take to transform a collaborative adventure into a competitive project?
Giochi Uniti: Among the add-on, we have prepared, there is an expansion that includes a hero and 4 additional monsters, all from the universe in which the Age of Ashes campaign takes place. This means 5 new miniatures, to be used not only for playing Pathfinder Arena, but also for the role-playing game.
Pathfinder Arena campaign will kick off on Kickstarter on November 23rd. Follow now the project!