As soon as the question “What was your favorite episode?” was posed I immediately shouted “ICONICA!”
Iconica was my first foray into tabletop gaming, and it was the perfect introduction. Iconica is a card and dice game with a few other elements thrown in, creator Eric Torres gave me an opportunity to pick his brain after we recorded our episode and gives an excellent explanation on how the game was created:
Q: What inspired the gameplay format for Iconica?
A: I enjoy games, films, and stories that focus on a group of people on a journey, whether that journey is metaphorical or physical. The idea of questing and traveling are underlying themes in much of our creations. Iconica was inspired by such ideas and positions the player as the leader of a questing party.
Right now, Iconica is primarily a contest between two groups of characters who face off against each other. There are plans to boost the RPG side of Iconica further, which we’re really excited to share. Basically, Iconica characters will be able to be used in a variety of scenario modules which feature places and story lines on Rynaga. The rules of Iconica won’t change, only there will be added variables and missions to complete during play.
Q: How did you balance the characters and gameplay?
A: This is a complex process involving lots of math. While this mechanic provides structure, we also allow for individuality in the characters we create. The game would be pretty boring without a balance between the two. A good friend of mine named Ryan assisted tremendously with the math mechanic and we refined it to allow for both structure and flexibility.
To me, great character based table top games are built on a solid mechanic that allows for surprise and novelty as well. It’s important to our team to release characters that feel like individuals. Each character is capable of greatness, just as every person is in real life. This means a Juggler could face off against and Assassin and come out victorious by using the right actions at the right time.
Q: When did you start on the project?
A: I started working seriously on World of Rynaga stories and art in 2000. Iconica was released in 2008 and took a little over two years to develop. So, I guess that means I started working on Iconica in 2005 or so. (I’m bad with dates.)
Q: How many people were involved?
Creating Iconica is something I can’t do alone. I work with several guys and girls who are part of an Iconica Development Team. We have conversations about the game’s growth. We test cards and debate their actions, always with the idea of individuality in mind. We imagine each character’s role in the World of Rynaga setting and think about the possibilities for future RPG application.
Q: What was the testing process like?
A: It depends on the character. Some characters, such as Disruptive Class characters, tend to involve lots of scrutiny because they have a tendency to impact the pace and flow of the game. In general, testing usually involves several players play-testing the character in different party structures. With as many combinations of characters that are possible, it’s not realistic to test every single combination.
In the end, we rely on principles of character creation to guide what actions and skills a character has. In most cases testing characters happens over the course of a few weeks. Character development in a game like Iconica is not always perfect. We’ve made mistakes which led to scrapping a few characters and starting over, but that’s the nature of small press publishing and creating original content.
Q: Is there an overarching storyline for the world?
A: Yes. The backdrop for Iconica is really about the people of Rynaga. Most of these people live out their day to day lives in search of adventure, fortune, and fame. They’re explorers, wanderers, and freelancers. Yet, there is a growing tension between two idealistic factions – an alien race known as Sarion (Legion faction) and some of the native races of Rynaga (Protectorate faction).
The aliens, who were stranded on Rynaga ages ago, consider themselves of higher intellect and seek to gain power and influence over others. The Protectorate is a group who resist Sarion domination. Both sides have their good and bad, but it’s this conflict that will eventually define Rynaga’s place in the universe.
Iconica players are a different lot. They’re looking for a connection they can be involved in between a game and its setting. This is something we take seriously. Anyone can submit suggestions, ideas, and comments to us and we’re small enough to take them seriously. As we continue our quest to share original fiction and design, storylines will continue to drive our game experiences.
A big thank you to Eric Torres for taking the time to give us a little more insight into Iconica!
Make sure you listen to the episode and pay attention for some of my favorite moments (besides playing the game itself):
- 4:35, 25:00 & 46:25 We mention Pokemon (pretty much every twenty minutes)
- 8:52 Alice explains the gameplay of Iconica
- 12:35 Vicious gameplay strategies are discussed
- 30:25 Cassie can’t get over the fact it takes YEARS to play DND
- 38:38 I like characters with staffs and I’m not scared to admit it
- 41:33 Andrea is adorable
- 51:00 Drinking game rules!
- 55:58 We all express our feelings on Megan’s favorite character
- 57:58 We discuss Megan’s husband’s dice strategy