Granite Games Summit 2023

Every time I go to a convention, I promise myself I’m gonna write about everything I saw. And every time I get home, a bit overwhelmed, I cover 2-3 games, and then move onto the next thing.

So this time, I’ll write all it all up right now the bus ride home! But first…

The Non-Games part of the Event

This is a very small event compared to something PAX Unplugged. At its heart, Granite Games Summit is a bunch of folks in a hotel ballroom playing board games for four days straight.

It also has a very cozy feeling compared to other conventions I’ve gone to. The whole thing was very low-key, with plenty of of families and children. In terms of lodging, the Doubletree by Hilton is perfectly average. Still nicer than my apartment. For food, there’s enough stuff within walking or driving distance to be fine as well, but nothing special.

There’s very much an air of trust to the whole thing. One draw of the event is that attendees can bring their own board game collections to be borrowed from. And beyond that, the event organizers also provide an entire game library.

Overall, this is a low-intensity event, offering a chance to play a large number of games without buying them yourself. I don’t think anyone comes to an event like this for any reason other than to play board games. So let’s talk about those games!

The Playtests and Prototypes

Given that none of these games are out yet, I don’t want to say too much about them, and I won’t be saying anything I didn’t already say to the designers’ faces. Still, I spent a fair amount of time on them, so I’d like to talk about them a bit.

Cubism by Resonym
A very fun deck builder. The designer is a friend of mine. Still in the tweaking stages, but if you see it at another event, I highly encourage you to try it out. It has a very clever twist on resource generation that I’m not sure I should spoil here?

Cypher Sessions
Cypher Sessions is a beat-the-leader matching game about writing rap. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t have too much fun with it. I said as much in my feedback to the designer. I’d play it again if someone wanted to, but I don’t have any huge amount of interest in it. But it’s still in development, so maybe it will end up great!

The Armory
The Armory is a set collection buying game about trying assemble collections of weapons and armor. It’s in the early stages, but its core concept does feel fun. There were some lulls and weirdnesses, and the game itself doesn’t quite feel ready for prime time, but I’d be interested to see where it ends up.

A quick note: If you’re the dev of one of these games, and would like me to update this article to link to your twitter or blog, please just send me a message on Twitter.

The Fully Released Games

Here are the fully released games I played. So no punches pulled. I’ll be giving my quick thoughts, and ultimately, answering a single question: Would I play it again?

Dice Forge

Dice Forge is a game about Forging Dice. There are customizable dice that you can snap the sides off of, and snap back on. It’s a heavily produced affair where your goal is ultimately to Get The Most Victory Points, by customizing your dice, and using the resources they generate to buy cards that give you victory points and abilities.

Would I play it again? Yes. I generally enjoyed it, and I’d be curious to try different strategies if I got a rematch.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

Hogwarts Battle is deckbuilder with the Harry Potter license. I’ll talk about the game in a moment. First though, I would like to note two things unrelated to gameplay that drove me a bit nuts.

First off, it feels like every other name and item in the game has a trademark symbol on it, to the point of ridiculousness. In addition, all the game’s art has a tone of “on-file style guide movie images.”

Poor Harry Potter, emblazoned with the symbol of ownership by “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-On-Social-Media” for all eternity.

The end result is that the whole thing has the artistic feeling of licensed children’s valentines from Hallmark, and a tone of tackiness. Someone in the chain of command had a decision to make: was it more important that players be immersed in defending Hogwarts from its villains, or that they know that, should J.K. Rowling’s estate ever wish to make a Peter Pettigrew themed vacuum cleaner, they own the rights to do so. They chose the latter.

Editor’s note: You know, because Peter Pettigrew sucks.

Which is unfortunate, because this game doesn’t feel like it wants to be a cheap tie-in product. Whoever designed it seemed to really give some thought to the characters and items. One small standout function for me was that both Draco Malfoy and Lucius Malfoy have a similar effect, with the elder Malfoy being more powerful. The effect itself is “Not really doing anything bad on their own, but making bad things that happen worse.”

Which at least to me was a pretty good way to encapsulate those characters!

That said, this is not the strongest deckbuilder I’ve ever played, or even the best one I played this weekend. The game has 7 scenarios, all of which are additive as far as I can tell, and I played through 1-3 without being challenged. The lack of any deck-thinning mechanics or way to clear the row of items you can buy to add to your deck can quickly lead to a feeling of bloat with no mechanical remedy.

Would I play it again? Yes, BUT only to beat the game on the hardest difficulty, and see if it gets any more interesting/addresses any of the problems with the deck building elements.

This also would probably be a decent game to play with non-board gaming Harry Potter fans, or maybe your family.

Editor’s note: playing this game at a convention’s library is the best way to play it! You get to try it without giving JKR any more money.


KeyForge is yet another card game from Richard Garfield. I have to assume it was built around the question of “How can we remove deck-building, landscrew, and collecting cards, but still sell you blind box packs?” And thus was born the Unique Deck Game. Each deck is randomly generated in advance for you, and cannot be changed.

Snark aside, I generally like KeyForge. Did it disrupt the big 3? No. Do I only have the game because it’s mostly dead, and I bought a booster box of decks from a discounts bin for $40, when its MSRP is supposed to be about $120? Yes. It makes novel attempts to solve a bunch of problems in the card game space, even if they don’t all succeed.

Would I play it again? Yes. I find KeyForge entertaining, and the unconstructed nature lends to a lower power level than a lot of constructed TCGs. I might get bored at some point, but it hasn’t happened yet.

A Feast for Odin

Feast for Odin is a worker placement game about populating a Tetris grid. Is that an oversimplification? Yes. But this game took 30 minutes to sort components, 30 minutes to explain the rules, and 3 and half hours to play. Whatever I write here will be an oversimplification.

Analysis Paralysis: The Board Game

I would like to make a few quick observations, though. If games are art, and art is subjective, then I subject that I would like to never again be subjected to A Feast for Odin. The game has an 8.2 on Board Game Geek, a number would now be infinitesimally lower if I added my own rating. I found the game to be long, tedious, and I struggled to spot interesting mechanical interactions and failed to be engrossed the game’s theming.

This probably says more about me than A Feast for Odin, but it was my experience.

Would I play it again? No. I would rather do my taxes. It wouldn’t be more fun, but it would be shorter, and at the end at least my taxes would be finished.

Fun Fact: A Feast for Odin is a Euro-game, following the traditional Euro-game model of “Everyone should score about the same number of points at the end, despite the winner having a clearly better position.” I scored 30 points. Both my opponents scored OVER 90, and one of them had also never played before. I am very bad at this game.


Clank is the better deckbuilder I played this weekend. It’s still not great, but it does do some interesting things. The goal is to get into a dungeon, get loot, and get out. This is compounded slightly by fact that you need to do it without getting burnt to a crisp by the dragon living in the dungeon.

There are really three systems in Clank. There’s the deck builder, where the unique conceit is that you must play every single card in your hand each turn. There’s the board that you move around on. And there’s the Clank bag.

Some cards in your deck will generate clank tokens. These get added to the bag, and whenever various cards show up in the games buy row, the dragon attacks. You pull out a certain number of tokens from the bag, and take damage based on whose color they were. Things get more dangerous as players pick up the loot, giving the whole thing a feel of escalating tension.

Would I play it again? Yes. Each component of Clank is “just okay,” but as a whole, it feels like a much stronger game. Apparently the spinoffs also address issues with the game’s pacing.

Spirit Island

Spirit Island is a co-op settler construction game. Oh I’m sorry, I mispelled that. It’s a co-op settler destruction game. This game also took 3 hours to play, though the setup time was much faster.

I enjoyed Spirit Island far more than A Feast for Odin. At least part of this is due to the theming being far more interesting. “Drive out the invading settlers as a powerful nature spirit” excites me more than “Acquire a cow.”

That said, given that both my teammates had played before, I don’t know exactly how impactful I was to the group. There was also a lot of time just spent resolving various effects, as opposed to using my various powers.

Would I play it again? Yes. I liked Spirit Island, and I’d be curious play some of the more complex spirits, and the ones with different playstyles. It was fun!

Wrap Up

Granite Games Summit 2023 was a good time, and I’d attend a Granite Games Summit again. I do think this is an event best attended as some sort of group, or if you’re already local to try to keep the costs for a hotel/travel down.

The other benefit to attending with friends/family is that you already have a playgroup for most things, and can hopefully find people fill out slots should you need them.

That said, this is a very focused event. It’s about playing board games for up to 4 days straight in a reasonable hotel in New Hampshire, and not doing much else. If that sounds fantastic, awesome. Go follow the convention’s account on Twitter, so you can find out when to buy tickets for next year (they sell out very fast).

Alternately, if you’re looking for more stuff to read about board games, why not check out my PAX Unplugged Writeups? I wrote about some Indie TCGs, board games adapted from video games, and some other stuff.

James Marriott, who hurt you?

This rant is a response to this opinion piece in the New York Times. You can read it if you want context, but your life is likely richer for not doing so.

There, I’ve fixed your writeup for you.

In his piece “AI spells trouble for creatives — about time too” James Marriott includes a quote from Daisy Christodoulou: “ChatGPT sometimes produces superficially plausible essays that fall apart under closer scrutiny. But plenty of humans write essays like that too. In fact, it is one of the criticisms of PPE graduates.”

There’s something ironic in including a quote about things being superficial and falling apart under scrutiny, in an article that feels incredibly superficial, and falls apart under scrutiny. I’d quote more of his article in this response, but that means more people might have the misfortune of reading his 8 disconnected and unclear paragraphs.

Because I’m not James Marriott, and I value the time of people who read my pieces, let me offer my quick conclusion:

Mr. Marriott, you do not have a problem with artists or “creatives.”Nor do your lawyer friends, who have people roll their eyes at them, or ignore them at parties. You have a problem with assholes.

The fact that every artist you’ve ever met fits this profile does say something about the company you’ve chosen to keep.

Anyway, let’s get back to your opinion piece. I’m not 100% sure what your opinion is, which is bad, given that I’ve read your article 7 or so times now. Perhaps it’s that “Artists are a bit too full of themselves, and need to be taken down a peg.” Have I got that right? Have I summarized in one sentence what took you eight paragraphs?

Of course, you’re a professional journalist, and I’m not. Actually, my day job is working for a software company that sells what, at least on some level, amounts to automation software. This is likely why you were able to craft such a wonderful headline that grabbed hands, and filled those “creatives” you wish to see humbled with such rage.

James Marriott’s writeup addresses none of the actual issues many artists and writers have with the current generation of what I’ll lump as “content generation technologies.” He doesn’t talk about how their underlying training data may have been taken and used without compensation. He doesn’t cover how many of these models can be flawed backboxes. He just seem happy that this makes artist artists upset.

And so I must ask, Mr. Marriott, why? Why does it give you such glee that so many might be put out of work? Why is it, that when given space in a publication that more people read in a day than will read anything I ever write in my lifetime, you take that space to make perhaps the most petty argument that can be comprehended in favor of AI generated art and writing?

This is barely an opinion. It’s not even a rant. It’s a whiny self-centered hope that an emerging technology will “make some people who annoy me unhappy.”

I wanted to close this rant out by making some more ad hominem attacks, but unfortunately I can’t. You see, I can’t find any more of his work. When you google Mr. Marriott’s name, you find a comedy YouTuber/musician, with 2 million subscribers, and a few hundred thousand views on each video, and no other articles or writing by the one being ripped on in this article.

A Brief Statement

Gametrodon condemns the behavior of the abusers at Activision-Blizzard, and the management that enabled them.

The next several months will likely determine if the company has any chance for reform, or will just act to save public face without making any actual commitment to demolishing a culture of sexism and abuse.

California Department of Fair Employment & Housing Complaint

NPR Coverage of the Complaint

An Open Letter from Blizzard Employees to Management

Jason Schreier’s Twitter – Writer for Bloomberg, and coverage of the unfolding events.

We encourage our readers to review the links above for more information and context.

The most valuable voices to listen to at this time are those who have had to endure this discrimination and abuse.

Assassin – 10 Years Later

One tradition my High School had was a game played by the seniors called Assassin. I’m sure this is a pretty common thing, but like most traditional games, I suspect it goes by a billion different names and variation, so here’s an what ours looked like.

For each team who wanted to play, they had to pay an entry fee of $20. Teams could have up to four people on them. The game itself was a water gun fight, where if you got hit with water, you were out. At the start of each week, each team was given another team to be their opponents. Your goal was to take out more folks on the opposing side than they took out on your side. There were also a series of rules based around when and where you were allowed to shoot people with your water guns (you couldn’t enter buildings without permission, couldn’t do stuff during school hours, and couldn’t do it on school grounds). In general though, the game should have been pretty simple.

The emphasis here is of course, on the word, “Should.”

In practice, the game tended to turn rapidly into a complete clusterfuck, in part because of the rules, and in part because of how the game was judged. Notable moments over the years included a player purchasing and using a ghillie suit, a car chase (no, really), the use of what I think was converted fire-fighting equipment as water dispersing item, and the head judge acting like a dumbass. I also heard a truck mounted pressure washer was involved one year, but I don’t know how true that was.

Let’s talk about the problems with judging for a moment, though. So, who was the judge? Which absolute fucking idiot decided that it was both a good idea to help run this thing, and to put them themself in a position where they would have to make calls about rules and behavior to a bunch of their peers competing for several hundred dollars?

Oh right. That was me.

To say the game of Assassin I ran went poorly would be an understatement. It would be like saying that there was a fire-related event at Notre Dame, or that people might currently be taking trading cards a bit too seriously.

The phrase “Unmitigated Fucking Disaster” comes to mind.

But it’s been almost 10 years (Jesus Christ it’s been almost 10 years, what the fuck), which strikes me as a good time to revisit this tradition, examine it, and try to figure out what I would do differently if I was to run it again, now that I’m 10 years older. And theoretically wiser. But mostly just older.

So if I could run the game again, what would I do differently?

  1. Take out the entry fee and prize.
    If I could only make one change to the game, this would be it. I’m not going to say that money is the root of all evil or any hippie bullshit like that, but it absolutely corrupts this game in particular. The entry fee means that pretty much however you make your ruling, someone is going to hate you, and it screws good sportsmanship over in a massive way. Talking of sportsmanship, this brings up the second problem…
  2. Remove the elimination aspect of the game.
    The bracket-based elimination is something that I look back on and die a little bit inside, purely from a game design standpoint. It’s one of the worst aspects of the ruleset. If you get eliminated early, you no longer get to play the game, which feels bad, and again, leads to folks wanting to argue hits and knockouts. Removing players is almost always bad design. Instead, it would make more sense to give each team a weekly score based on the number of members of the enemy team that they eliminated. That way the game could run for a series of weeks, and everyone would get to… y’know. Actually play the game. Which brings us to…
  3. Move combat exclusively to the weekend.
    Among all of the clusterfucks and problems in the game, the biggest one was the issue of legal knockouts. Is the parking lot school ground? What about the pavement? If you get shot coming into the school, but it’s before 8:00, does that count? If you’re at a “protected” school event, and you leave to kill somebody, is your kill legitimate? These are all questions that are up for debate based on your interpretation of the rules, and frankly, they’re not worth it.

    Instead, I’d want to move the game to remove all those restrictions, but played exclusively on the weekend, from 6:00 PM Friday, to 6:00 PM Sunday. If nothing else, it would probably make the teachers hate the game a bit less.

So, if all these changes were made, would the game be perfect? Would peace reign supreme? Well, not really. There were a lot of other problems, too, like rampant kingmaking, shooting people in cars, and how the game itself encouraged hiding in your house and waiting for the week to end.

And this brings me to the real problem: how the game was formed. The rules were cruddy because they were a stew of rules invented by a variety of people, including the people running and playing the game, the teachers who hated it, the parents who wanted kids to stop hiding outside their house at 4:00 AM, and the coaches who would have liked it if their student athletes brought water bottles instead Super Soakers to practice. The end result was a system where a variety of people had input, but no one actually had complete power over the rules, and as a result, they kind of sucked.

Especially if your judge is an idiot.

So instead of making minor rules changes, what if we tore the whole thing down? What if we started from scratch, and tried to design an event that would capture the fun tension, but without the actual occasional risk of physical harm, and complete disruption to everyday life? What would that look like?

Well, I have an idea. It’s called Secret Agent. And it’ll be in a post that goes up later next week.

The Case of the Missing Publisher or How Ammobox Studios got their game back.

An Interview with Jeremy Choo, CEO of Ammobox Studios.

Last week, a really interesting Reddit post caught my eye. It was by a smaller game development studio from Malaysia called Ammobox Studios. The post was a warning about how their game had almost been stolen by their publisher, and how the fraudulent publisher was potentially back in business. 

While everyone has heard stories about shitty publishers, one of the surprising things for me was that Ammobox was able to actually recover their game, and continue development. I wanted to know more, so I reached out to Ammobox, and was able to talk to Jeremy Choo, their CEO and Founder. 

(F) John “Fritz” Wallace: Hi Jeremy, just wanted to say thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. To start, can you tell us a bit about yourself and about Ammobox Studios?

(J) Jeremy Choo: Well, I’m Jeremy Choo and I’m the founder and CEO of Ammobox Studios. Ammobox was started back in 2008. My game development background actually started with modding, with stuff like Warcraft and Starcraft. When we were first founded, we started with doing some outsourcing work, and this project [Eximius: Seize the Frontline] has always been a bit of a passion project for us.

It’s a garage project, something we’ve done in our spare time and I’d say we’ve been thinking about it for almost 10 years. Development actually started in an entirely different engine. We started full time production in 2018. And as part of this, we started looking for a publisher. 

So, this is where Eduardo Monteiro and his company, TheGameWallStudios comes into the picture. How did you meet him, and end up publishing with him? 

(J) When TheGameWallStudios first approached us, they weren’t the type of publisher we were looking for. Another member of the team, our business developer, an experienced guy who had worked in industry, was handling our publisher discussions. And one of the people he brought up was TheGameWallStudios and Eduardo Monteiro. 

Our business developer came to me and said, “Look, I’ve found someone we might be able to work with. He’s really keen, he’s got a publishing background, he worked with big companies before, and you can check out his background, his LinkedIn looks good. He’s got funding, they’re doing things bespoke, one title at a time.” It sounded very convincing! But even at the end of his pitch, some of the other co-founders didn’t really like it. So, GameWallStudios was not the type of publisher we wanted to go to. 

Sometimes, because of what happened, I think people will take the wrong message from our experience, which is to never go for a small publisher. I want to go on record and say “That’s not the case!” 

There are small publishers that do really well, even with small teams. I have several friends with teams about that size who do well. I want to mention this because the moral of this story isn’t “Small Publishers are Bad.”

In either case, at the end of the day, I ended up letting our business developer make the call. The thought was, “Since we don’t have another publisher, and this guy is promising a lot, but doesn’t necessarily have the reputation to prove it, let’s structure the contract so if he doesn’t keep his end of the bargain, the contract automatically terminates.” So we got what is called a performance-based contract, and drafted it out with a lawyer over here in Malaysia.

So the lawyer comes back and says “This looks pretty standard”, and we go forward with it. 

It never really occurred to us to think about the ultimate end: “What if this guy just doesn’t care about the contract? What if he just vanishes?”

You’d been careful: talked with lawyers, drafted a contract that would protect, but had trouble finding a publisher. So at this point, you decided to take a risk with TheGameWallStudios. 

(J) In our mind, we had nothing to lose, right? We didn’t have a publisher, and if things go wrong, he takes his cut, we go our separate ways.

This next bit is sort of personal for me, but at this point we’d been rejected by a lot of big publishers. Most big publishers will never really want to take a chance on a first time team. They say things like “there’s too much risk” or “you’ll never be able to execute.” And even if they are interested, they’ll want to wait and see how the game does in Early Access.

So we thought, if big publishers aren’t interested, let’s go after the small guys, let’s find an underdog. Someone like us. We didn’t really tell him that, but we were thinking about it. We thought, “He’s small, but so are we.” 

We were a four man team trying to build a first person shooter/real time strategy hybrid. We were trying to punch above our weight class. And it felt like Eduardo was the same way, in trying to publish and work with these smaller indie games. He was like us. 

In hindsight, we definitely made the wrong choice there. 

Just as a quick aside, do you have any idea why you might have had such a hard time finding a publisher?

(J) So, Eximius was our first major title. We’d published smaller stuff before, but when we met with publishers, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. And I think that was kind of a turn off. What we did know is we wanted our publisher to get more copies of the game out and get the word out. What wanted strong Esports support, strong influencer marketing, and tie-ins, people to do write ups on sites like Kotaku, Destructoid, stuff like that. Very cliche stuff and regular stuff. 

I think the Esports support is probably the most unusual thing there. And of course Eduardo did mention that he was very much into Esports competitive gaming, that he knew how to get this and that. It’s all a bunch of lies at the end of the day, but we thought it would all work out.

Back to the story at hand. You have your contract, you’re getting ready to launch into Early Access on Steam. When did it start to feel like something was wrong?

(J) So we were going to try to get a write up from Destructoid, and we were going to reach out to some specific influencers. So, the game launches, we’re expecting to see a write up, some ads, something. And none of these promises are followed through! 

I reached out to the Destructoid employee we were in contact with to ask if Eduardo ever followed up, and he says “No, he never did.” So the game launches, and I find that we have no write ups, no marketing, no ads. And this was when we realized that something is really wrong here. Then all of a sudden, Eduardo starts becoming harder to contact, and starts to disappear.

What do you mean by started to disappear?

(J) Well, I say he disappeared, but it was actually a pretty long time before he fully vanished. So right after we launch, we ask him where the marketing is. And he goes “Don’t worry, it’s coming, it’s coming.” And around the same time, we had a tournament planned with a company called Triforce Tokens, that does some crypto-currency stuff. So we were putting a lot of effort into the tournament, recruiting teams, putting up marketing.

So about two months after release, we’re talking with him, asking for the money, asking for money from sales of the game. He keeps buying time until he can’t anymore. He keeps making up excuses. First he tells us there was a problem with the bank, then he tells us he was in a car accident. At some point I went to my co-founders and said “What’s the contingency if he just disappears?” And then finally, right in the middle of the tournament, he vanishes. 

That sounds pretty rough, to say the least.

(J) When this whole thing took off, it was very chaotic for us. We had a larger team, we were backed up on salaries that we weren’t paying, and we were thinking “Okay, well if we don’t get the money out, we’re gonna be dead.” Like, in a month. We’re still in active development on the game, we’re still running this tournament that we have to pay out prizes for, and we haven’t told the community anything. It was just too much going on all at once. 

And people are still buying the game! But we’re not getting a cent. We’re supporting the game, we’re pushing out bug fixes. People are asking about the price and such, when the game will be on sale, and we’re thinking “We don’t actually have any control over this!” So we had to keep our game faces on.

So at this point, he’s dropped off the face of the earth. You’re in the middle of a tournament, you don’t have access to any of the money from your game. How did you go about getting your game back?

(J) First thing we did was find an indie friendly lawyer in the UK. [Ed Note: Eduardo Monteiro and his company, the TheGameWallStudios does business out of the UK, which is why Ammobox had to do this.] This person tells us to wait for the termination clause in our contract to kick in, and when it does, we’ll send him a letter to terminate the contract. He also gave us examples on how things could go if Eduardo responded. So for a pretty nominal fee we had him send that letter. 

At the same time, we had been reaching out to Steam. We were lucky enough to have had a contact at Steam that we had just met. Steam had just come to Malaysia around the time we launched. So we met some of them and asked “Hypothetically, let’s say all this is happening, what could we do?”

They told us “Well, we can’t actually just take the game from his account and give it back to you, we can only do it if we get a court order.” 

But they did tell us that we could put out a DMCA so that he couldn’t sell the game anymore. Because at this point, not only is he stealing the game, he’s also stealing the money from the game sales. So this Steam contact told us “If you can’t get the money, don’t let him have it.” So that’s what we did. 

A DMCA is pretty easy to do. The content owners are obligated to take the offending content down, and then decide what to do with it. It’s shoot first, ask questions later. It can definitely be abused, but in our situation it was a bit of a lifesaver. Steam had to take the game down immediately. We sent the letter on the 23rd of December, and they took it down from sale at the start of the new year. 

Then I realize that I can see his strategy. He’s trying to get as much money out while he can, so he has the game on sale at other storefronts as well. We had to DMCA them too. And finally we were able to get everyone to stop selling the game. 

Honestly, a lot of the law stuff felt very pay-to-win. If we had the money, we could have gotten an injunction and gotten the bank accounts that the various digital storefronts were sending money to locked. If we had won the case, we would have gotten him to have to pay our lawyers fees. And because he was using his home address as the address for his company, I think it would have been possible for us to seize his assets or something, even if he declared bankruptcy. All the clauses in the contact say he’s in the wrong. He can’t argue his way out. This isn’t a case of “Well, we got screwed by the contract” or something. He just took the money and ran.

I think he probably knew we couldn’t afford the legal fees. 15,000 pounds (Just under 20,000 USD) may not sound like a lot, but it’s two years’ salary for a single artist in Malaysia. 

So, you finally get your game back after talking to Steam, and using the DMCA to block sales of it. This was a while ago at this point. Where is the game now, and what brought all of this back up?

(J) So since then, we’ve gotten much farther. We were lucky to be able to move on. It wasn’t a natural position, I think he expected us to be dead and buried. He tried to crush us to get away with maybe… $100,000? It’s unbelievable to me. But we got out, because of some lucky decisions, and some helpful parties. We got a lot of support from our community, we had some influencers cover it, people bought the game to support us. We did try to run a gofundme to sue him, but we didn’t raise enough money to have it go forward. I think it came in a bit too late, after interest in what was going on died down. 

Alright. So, that’s all the mildly depressing stuff, but the story has at least a bit of a happy ending with you getting the game back. I actually wanted to try Eximius, but it wasn’t for sale on Steam. When is it coming out?

(J) Right now we’re close to our launch date, and we’re aiming for Q1 2021. Hopefully, we’ll finish the game in time. No more sleep for us! [Laughs] But I’m feeling confident we’ll hit our schedule. We wanted to release at the tail end 2021, but I think we’ll have a higher quality product if we release it early next year. Right now we’re focused on getting it to 1.0. We’ve restructured our marketing strategies, to get better results. We want a successful launch, and to put this behind us. 

Few quick questions, and then I think we’ll be done. What sort of game is it, and given your background, do you have any plans for mod support for Eximius?

(J) Eximius is what I would call an FPS+. It’s a first person shooter, with a real time strategy game also added on.

Regarding mod support, we want to, but it will be post 1.0 if it happens. Right now our systems are constantly changing, and every time it changes, it would break any mods that existed. I want to make sure stuff is really solid before we work on that, I don’t want to break peoples mods. And Steam auto-updates means you break stuff easily. We’re all really big into modding, and if it becomes something we can do, we want to. But right now, we aren’t planning for it. 

What are your goals for the game, like after all of this struggle and work, what will make you feel like it was all worth it? 

(J) We want to make something that is timeless. Something like CSGO 1.6, Renegade, or Natural Selection. Something that people will be playing for years. Something that there is nothing else like. 

How much will the game cost?

(J) Releasing at around the same price, maybe a bit higher. I don’t have an exact price yet, but what for 1.0 is more than double what we have in EA [Early Access] now. Our 1.0 is actually on a separate branch that we aren’t pulling into EA, because it’s a semi-separate game where a lot of systems are rewritten. We’ve released maps/weapons, and 1.0 has double the content of EA. Customizations, squad mechanics, etc, stuff people have been asking for. 

Just one last question, one I like to end these interviews with. Anything you want to say to your players?

(J) I would want to say thank you. The games industry and gamers can be harsh these days. 

It’s very easy for someone to just buy the game, decide they don’t like it, leave a bad review, and refund it. But our community hasn’t done that, even as we have struggled. So I’m grateful to the people who bought our game and didn’t just refund it. To everyone who has stuck with us as we’ve been on this journey to 1.0 release. We keep these people in mind, and we want to make a high quality product and not disappoint them.

In addition, there were a lot of people who bought the game just to support us, back when this whole thing started to come out, and when people learned what had happened to us. We had hundreds of people buying it just to support us, not even to play the game. We wish they would play it! But we’re still very thankful for them, and want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts. 

Thanks a ton for your time, and best of luck with Eximius. I’m looking forward to seeing it when it comes out!

Editor’s Postscript – Eduardo Fernando Teixeira Monteiro is the full name of the scammer mentioned in this article. If you do a few searches, you’ll find that he’s been up to this sort of bullshit since about 2014, and Ammobox isn’t the first group of people he’s done this to. Like any scam artist, he operates at his best when people don’t talk about him, his tactics and what he’s done, so I want to give a huge shoutout to Ammobox for sharing their story, and hopefully making it harder in the future for him to do business.