Interview with Burning Games: Creators of FAITH RPG

So today we bring you a lovely chat we had with the guys at Burning Games! You all know them, don’t you? I mean you probably have been eyes-wide open looking out for their new Kickstarter: the Faith RPG core book!! In case you didn’t know, and you are new to this, then let me give you a pointer…
In any case, the team at Burning Games took some time out of their super busy schedule to share some stuff with us so we could share it with you. So here it is. We hope you enjoy it, and we hope that you support them in their next amazing enterprise, because it’s gonna rock! 🙂
-This may sound like a bizarre question, but what was first, the egg or the chicken? And with that I mean FAITH or Ether Wars? We are all aware that obviously FAITH came out first. But during the creation process, while you guys were working things out, were there things that perhaps have actually become part of Ether Wars that you originally designed for FAITH or vice versa? We appreciate circumstances sometimes do not allow for projects to work at the speed one would like them to. Was Ether Wars in that case very much a spin-off FAITH, or was there some overlap/parallel creation, or even backwards creative process.
Actually the story in this one is a bit different. Ether Wars is published by us, but we are not the game designers. Such honor belongs to Álvaro and Javier, two friends who tried to fund Ether Wars on Kickstarter on 2015, but sadly didn’t make it. We met them at a local convention in Santander, Spain, and fell in love with the game. We thought it would be a great idea to try to bring it to crowdfunding again, and take advantage of everything we had learnt with our past experience. Thus, Ether Wars and Faith have nothing in common lore-wise.

We did entertain the idea of making the game canon, changing its lore to make it fit within the Faith universe, but we abandoned the proposition. There will be board games based on Faith, but they will be custom-made. Corball will likely be the first one.

-How does one jump from and RPG to a board game? For many of us perhaps the connection is obvious, and many board game players are also into RPGs, but it is not necessarily a natural connection. So what actually drove you to want to make first and rpg, then a board game? And did the experience of your first project help to create a clearer path for the later? Are there any specific issues you had with FAITH that you tried to avoid at all costs with Ether Wars?

When we first entertained the idea of creating a games company some years ago, it was crystal clear for us that we wanted to do all sorts of games: board games, roleplaying games, and even video games. FAITH happened to be the idea that was most developed and in which we saw the highest potential, and decided it would be our first project. That’s why Ether Wars was a very important Kickstarter campaign for us: if it were successful, it would bring us a step closer to being a real game publisher, and not just “the guys who did FAITH.”
The two Faith Kickstarters had a big impact on how we handled the Ether Wars campaign. We’ve learnt how to communicate with our backers, how to contact the press, and how to deal with manufacturers. And yet we did so many things that we’d like to improve! It’s an ongoing learning process, and one that we are immensely enjoying.
There’s one thing that we keep struggling with: currency exchange rates. Twice in a row we’ve been hit by drastic shifts in the currency markets, the latest one thanks to the Brexit. With a very delicate political situation everywhere, it seems that we’ll have to include these potential issues in our plans. You can’t be too careful!

-Now Ether Wars is just becoming a thing, and you are already on to Dragons Conquer America. What can you tell us about your new game? It is a big thematic change from the FAITH universe. Did you guys needed a break, or was it a creative decision to expand your horizons? Oh, and I take it that doesn’t mean you are done with the FAITH universe, right? (We want them Corvos! We needs Them!).

Once in a while, our in-house game designer, Carlos Gómez Quintana, delivers a line we are always looking forward to: “I’ve come up with a new idea for a game”. From that point on we just can’t help it: we HAVE to move strings to make the idea a reality. They are always very exciting ideas with tons of potential, like Dragons Conquer America.
Here, Carlos’ thinking process was the following: we have this new and very interesting card based mechanic (still called by its development name, RPC54; we look forward to suggestions name it properly) we want to expand to other genres. Fantasy is the next logical step, but we couldn’t just make another goblin slasher… so what could we do to bring something new and exciting to the table? Our answer was fantasy in the Age of Discovery. 

The mid 16th Century is a period of astonishing impact for the human species. It was an age of discovery and invention that broadened our horizons, and yet it includes some of the most heartbreaking events in history, namely the bloody conquest of America and the decimation of their native inhabitants. We won’t shy away from developing both sides of the coin. Quite the opposite: we want to bring the complex morality of the period to the forefront. We hope we’ll make justice to it.
And of course Faith will keep expanding, just like the Universe. After the core book, we plan to create at least four more adventures like A Garden in Hell, which delved deeper into the background of the Ravager… one for each of the remaining species. 
-With some many diverse and rich projects going on, where do you guys draw inspiration from? Are you materialising the stuff out of dreams? Are you trying to fit in a specific niche?
We think both ways. One the one hand, what kind of genres have not been explored in-depth? On the other hand, what do we want to do? Happily, we’ve been able to merge both and make things we are proud of. Inspiration comes from all kinds of media: history, books, movies, video games, the news… but yes, every time one of our illustrators sends their latest work, it does feel like materializing the stuff of dreams.

-Could you give us a walk through your experiences of the last few years with games conventions: how is it from the point of view of the game dev? It is very easy for any of us to go and have a look at some games, but what does it mean for you? Is it a very demanding task? Has it caused issues? Or has it all been a smooth ride?

Conventions require a huge effort on our part, both financial and physical (we drive a van for 14 hours from Santander to Essen each year!), but I can’t stress enough how much we like doing it. It pays off immensely. The first time we attended Spiel we were in a very small table devoted to prototypes. You could say that with so many games on show, we would be ignored by the masses, but no! We didn’t stop playing Faith for the duration of the event, and many of the people we met there then still come by our stand to say hello and give their best wishes. The last year was pretty good too, as we were able to meet with a few european and american distributors and we are hoping we can take our market reach to the next level… We also go to Dragonmeet and UK Games Expo every year, and the experience is excellent too. 
To sum up, it’s a ton of work and a ton of money, but it is totally worth it for the exposure, the contacts and the sheer amount of fun we have.

-On that note, could you give us the highlights of the most recent conventions, or perhaps the corner-stone moments from each (if any) convention, and why?

The most beautiful thing, as I said in the previous question, is when a long time friend appears in the stand to say hi. We try to stop everything we are doing to chat with him or her and it’s just very emotional. The humane side of the tabletop industry is amazing.
Another high point of Spiel ’16 was playing Ether Wars with very different kinds of people, from experienced aficionados to teenagers looking for some fun. All of them had a great time and so did we!
-One thing that we all have noticed about Burning Games is that you are all very engaged with your fans and supporters. Is that something you think has come as a consequence of the project being supported via Kickstarter? I mean, you are all nice and pretty likeable, but many other companies have friendly staff, yet their customers are not treated in the same way. What makes you so special?
This is something people sometimes tell us, but we have to wonder: how do other developers communicate with their audience? It’s not something we deliberately do, it just comes very naturally for us. We try to treat people the way we’d like to be treated, that’s all.
-What advice would you give to new game devs who may want to follow your footsteps?
Save a couple thousand dollars/pounds/euros to invest in art and graphic design, play test your game to death, create a cool prototype, send it to as many reviewers as you possibly can, make a great looking Kickstarter landing page and believe in your project; others will follow. Also do not spend year upon years perfecting your game: it’s easy to stay on the development limbo for years without noticing. Play test the game seriously during some months but then follow your instincts and finalize the rule set. It will never be perfect, so you will have to make some hard decisions about what to leave in or out and stick to them, and just get things done.
-What is ultimately the fate of Burning Games? What would you like to achieve as a company? Will we be seeing your name in the credits for a different platform, say video games or else?
We want to keep creating great content that appeals to more and more people, in whatever forms it takes: board games, role-playing games, video games, books, graphic novels… This is our dream job, so will keep working to make it bigger and bigger every day. Right now the focus is on roleplaying and a little of board games too, but we won’t shy away from anything when given the opportunity 🙂

-And finally, as you guys may know, are readers are pretty geeky, and would love to hear about your geekness too. So could you please share your uttermost geek passion – apart from Burning Games as a whole! Obviously!

We are pretty geeky ourselves too, and I think it’d be quite difficult to make such games otherwise. We love playing board games, and have been doing so since we were little kids. When we couldn’t find an interesting game, or didn’t have the money to buy a new game, we used to create our own games… Specifically, FAITH was born because we wanted to pull our boarding friends into roleplaying and we couldn’t find a good gateway game that did everything we wanted… so we just made it!
More specifically, we are currently loving/playing Netrunner, Bloodrage, Chaos in the Old World, Republic of Rome… we like meaty games that have replay value and ample room for strategizing. Our favourite books are the Geralt of Rivia saga, A Song of Ice and Fire, Remembrance of Earth’s Past, Prince of Nothing… As for video games, we tend to differ more internally. For instance, Carlos likes meaty games such as The Witcher, anything Total War, etc. Mauricio has played centuries worth of DOTA and LOL. Jon is more of a Nintendo fan and now, while waiting for the Switch, he is enjoying The Last Guardian tremendously. Whereas for Helio, he doesn’t seem to have time for video games these days: there are just too many unpainted miniatures on his desk and unexplored hobbies in the world yet… In the movie department, in recent weeks we’ve loved Hacksaw Ridge but also La La Land. So, as you can see, we like a bit of everything!
The ManaBurnt team would very much like to say a big thanks to Burning Games for their precious time. Sending massive amounts of encouragement your way! And, if you are one of those people who still does not know what FAITH and its creators are all about, then check this out:

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