Walking the floor of Ohayocon 2018, I made a beeline for their Indie Alley. While the small room was filled with interesting indie titles and their developers, Luckless Seven and Deckpoint Studios definitely took the cake. I spent way too much time talking their ear off about Persona 5, writing, and their project, but Jesse, Brandon, and Tyler were more than willing to oblige. I didn’t get the chance to meet the whole team, but its obvious Deckpoint oozes passion and humor, and once you play their game, you’ll totally see it for yourself!
Development for Luckless Seven began in 2014 when Jesse Kooner, lead developer, was heavily inspired by the card game Pazaak from Knights of the Old Republic. But he wanted to do something more. Playing with a bit of genre-bending, the team at Deckpoint studios have blended the elements of an RPG with a card game to create something truly special. Like most of us, Mark Vesco has a dream. He dreams of breaking away from his normal life to fulfill his dream of professionally playing cards. As he travels Arithia, playing cards and creating relationships, the narrative changes based on decisions you make
Like most of us, Mark Vesco has a dream. He dreams of breaking away from his normal life to fulfill his dream of professionally playing cards. As he travels Arithia playing cards and creating relationships, the world is open to endless possibilities. The choices you make and the relationships you foster will greatly affect Mark’s life and success. A fast-paced card game with an exciting story to match? What more could you want!
While I don’t usually include the interview itself, I’m going to make an exception for Luckless Seven. Basically, the guys read the same on paper as they do in real life, making jokes and even poking fun at each other in the interview responses. So, just this once, I’m going to let the development team speak for themselves. But first, a quick round of Introductions. Jesse Kooner, Lead Developer, and Jonathan (Jonny) Lee, Community Manager, are the founders of Deckpoint Studios. Tyler Clementi joined the team in 2015 as the game’s lead writer. To round out the team, Emma Salamanca is the game’s main artist while Brandon Ledbetter worked on the sound design.
Tell me about your Kickstarter experience?
Jesse & Jonny: We’re very grateful that Kickstarter (and other crowdfunding) platforms exist. It’s definitely given indie developers the opportunity to pursue their dream projects in a way that pretty much did not exist 15 years ago. Although Kickstarter was incredibly time-consuming, it was a fantastic opportunity to showcase our game and interact with the community. Planning for the Kickstarter started many months before we clicked the launch button, and the work we put into our campaign taught us a great deal about marketing, outreach, and making our game as presentable as possible.
Tyler: For me, the Luckless Seven Kickstarter was a bit of whirlwind. It was like boarding a train while it was in motion and then redesigning the thing.
I came on the Deckpoint team in summer 2015 to help retool the story before the Kickstarter launch. The game was already a very public, tangible, and somewhat-polished product. My job was to make the story more accessible and to make the opening segment of gameplay a kind of catchy start.
It was a fun challenge to acquire a cast of seven already-defined characters, rework/flesh them out, and find the kind of short story made sense for them in a period of around a month.
They launched the Kickstarter for their project back in the summer of 2015 and succeeded with 57 backers and surpassing their goal of $15,000. A concrete release date has yet to be announced, but Deckpoint is hoping that Luckless Seven will be ready for release sometime in Winter 2018.
What has been the most challenging and the most rewarding parts of this process?
Jesse & Jonny: For me, the most challenging aspect of working on the game is deciding when something is done. We’ve been working on the game for over 4 years now, and our skillset his improved dramatically over that period of time. Work that we created in 2014 isn’t always up to our 2018 standards.
One of the most rewarding aspects of game design is showcasing your work to others, particularly a live audience. We’ve gotten some tremendous feedback at conventions and developer expos. Sometimes we see the same people, and it’s always a special treat to hear what they think regarding the changes we’ve made based on their input.
Tyler: But game development is often a private affair. When you’re by yourself, agonizing over the minute details of your work — for me, grammar, phrasing, quest structure; for Jesse, level design, lighting, pathfinding — it can feel like a slog. What do you mean we spent hours revising that dialogue? We need at least 6 more dialogues to finish all the quests for that Day! And there are 7 more Days to write!
Anyway, the beginning’s fun, but the middle can feel infinite. Fighting that sensation requires communication. Fortunately, Deckpoint is a team, not just one of us working alone.
And, on top of being fun to talk to, Deckpoint has created something that is incredibly fun to play. For someone who isn’t really into card games, I was sucked into Luckless Seven pretty quickly. It’s easy to pick up and the game’s atmosphere makes it almost impossible to put down. If you want to experience it for yourself, there is a demo available on their website!
This indie development team is one you will definitely want to keep an eye on. From their genre-bending, sense of humor, and ability to think outside of the box, Deckpoint has nothing but a bright future ahead of them, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.