It’s Never Dark Enough (INDE)
recently finished a very successful Kickstarter campaign for Shattered, their new dark steampunk RPG game. They have created a world which was shattered 3000 years ago; from the rubble a new world is born. You take on the role of a hardened adventurer. You can choose from seven unique races and build your character as you see fit. No classes, no restrictions.
CGSociety talked to INDE’s CEO Josh Pietrzykowski and Art Director, Derek Poole about their Shattered: A Dark Steampunk Tabletop RPG
Can you tell us about I.N.D.E, the creators of Shattered?
Josh: We started this almost 5 years ago now. What we really wanted, more than anything else, was for those who came in contact with Shattered to fall in love with it and want it to succeed. So to help that happen, our perspective as a writing team and as a company has been that of inclusion; everyone can have good ideas and everyone can contribute if they want to.
Derek: Working with INDE has been awesome! The project has been ultra-collaborative and I really feel like part of a team. So far everyone has been nice, thoughtful, and passionate.
Can you tell us a little about the Shattered universe? What’s the story in a nutshell?
Derek: Oh man. The universe is so cool. The race selection alone is one of the most intriguing things about the game. You can play as a human, robot drone, or a vampire, as well as some really awesome new races like the mutant Wretched, the serpentine Alypse, the telepathic Shade, or the reincarnated Rekindled. Additionally, many of the cities and points of interest in the game are very original and conceptually very dark and beautiful. I think it will be a fantastic world for players to explore.
Josh: Shattered is a big conglomeration of ideas, themes and tropes from a myriad of genres. The story, as players experience it, starts at the dawn of an industrial revolution. The splintered face of humanity has managed to create a world-ending apocalypse and the 3,000 year winter that followed in its wake. Now that the planet is beginning to stabilize again, mankind has resettled into a handful of city-states; trade, a renewed interest in knowledge, and the introduction of magic have ushered in an era of change and progress.
Who are the key members of the team, and what are their roles?
Derek: My name is Derek Poole and I am the art director. I started out designing weapons, but now my role has expanded into steering the visuals of the game in a cohesive direction. In addition to weapons, so far I’ve made race portraits, character sheets, core book layouts, and other graphic elements, and I’m also responsible for helping hire new artists to work on the game.
Josh: We’re a pretty diverse group. All of us are writers, first and foremost, but each of us has our own specialties.
Cody and Alex are our numbers guys -- as we call them -- they run statistics on all of our game systems which allow us to maintain game balance quickly and without simply guessing at the right answers to mathematical problems.
James and I are system builders. We work heavily with the actual game mechanics, which sometimes crosses over into other areas like mathematics or world building.
Philip is our primary world builder. A good amount of the backstory of our cities and a number of our playable races can be attributed to his ideas.
Cory is our head editor. He has a good grasp on the English language and generally understands what just reads well. He also has a good eye for catching systems or ideas that need balancing and has been the driving force behind a lot of our more recent development.
Derek discussed his role pretty well, but he has been heavily influential in our art direction and has a good sense of quality, which has helped us maintain a fairly unified “style” across all of our artists.
Where did the idea for Shattered come from?
Josh: That’s hard to put into a few sentences, but when we sat down and started this project we knew that we wanted something dark and bleak; what better grounds for that than an apocalypse? Personally, I have been heavily influenced by the works of HP Lovecraft and Clive Barker, which not only influenced some of my ideas for the backstory of the game but some of our monsters as well.
Was it inspired by anything?
Derek: For me personally, after I was given descriptions from INDE, I did research on real-world antique weapons that I thought would help inspire the weapon design. I also spent time looking at Sears & Roebuck catalogs and learning a bit about Victorian-age typography. One reason you see so many typefaces used is because during the industrial revolution, there was a surge in typography along with everything else. So, an absurd amount of type would be used on a single advertisement to grab people’s attention. My hope was that the weapon catalog feels slightly familiar, but also new and unique to Shattered.
For the book design, we want everything to feel raw, gritty, and dirty. The book should echo the world that the players experience. Expect lots of cogs, machinery, wires, ink splatters, and stuff like that.
Why the Steampunk genre?
Derek: It’s really a blend of genres, but Steampunk is perhaps the closest that people will identify with. The world really is different from Steampunk settings you’ve seen in the past. There’s elements of post-apocalyptic, horror, Cthulu mythos, etc. The writers, developers, and artists are all striving to establish Shattered as an RPG that will stand out. But to answer your question, I think Steampunk is an interesting genre, but one that I haven’t see done terribly well in the past. INDE’s version of Steampunk was something I hadn’t seen before, so that had great appeal to me, and it’s what drew me to the project.
Josh: I had always loved the steampunk aesthetic and the grittiness that you sometimes see in other steampunk fiction really seemed to mesh well with the post-apocalyptic setting that we had decided upon. Lately I’ve been calling it “Industrial Fantasy” because I feel it more appropriately covers some of the other themes at play in Shattered. In addition to just Steampunk we have elements of many other “punk” genres such as biopunk and dieselpunk; and of course horror.
Who is the game for?
Derek: Roleplayers who are looking for a system and a world that is new and fresh, and also anyone who enjoys attention to design, writing, and artwork. It is our goal to make the game as immersive and unique as possible, as well as pleasing to the eye.
Josh: Shattered is for anyone looking for a new experience in terms of both role play and roll play.
The artwork is stunning – from the weaponry to the environments to the characters. Can you tell us about the artists you've got working with you?
Derek: Thanks! So far we’ve had Giorgio Grecu, Marvin Herbring, and Jeff Brown on environments, Alex Chaudret on races, and I’ve been handling graphic design and weapons, among other things. We’re really happy to announce that we now have Crystal Sully designing creatures, and Brian Moyer working on vehicles. Now that we’ve been funded, we also plan to bring a few more artists on board to help visualize the world. Our goal is to keep the quality high, with an emphasis on the dark, strange, and grotesque.
You had a very successful kickstarter campaign. Your original goal was $16,000, but you ended up smashing that with over $26,000! Can you tell me about your experience with Kickstarter? What made you decide to go for crowd funding? Why do you think so many people contributed? How did you market it?
Josh: Yes there was a lot of excitement. Personally I’m very humbled by our success. I was always optimistic, but I never envisioned that we would get as much support as we did.
When we started writing Shattered, getting it published was something that we talked about wanting to do; but when you’re writing the first pages that goal seems really far off. When we decided that we wanted to pursue publishing, Kickstarter seemed to be an obvious choice for us. We were a small team that wanted to bring our product to the masses without sacrificing creative control or going into debt as you traditionally think of it.
This was our very first time doing anything like this, so our marketing strategy was managed on-the-fly. Our skype chat was the busiest it’s been in a while; everyone was talking about developments on social media, posts on our forums, and messages on Kickstarter. As things came up, we acted.
In the end, we exceeded the goal and started to grow a small community, which is more than we could have imagined. I don’t think I fully grasped why people got so invested until last night. A few of our backers were streaming a game on Twitch, using the early playtest that we released during the campaign. I was listening in and the GM said that he had been waiting for a game that was this different and exciting for 15 years; then proceeded to compare Shattered to a story about the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons being written via typewriter then mailed back and forth between the original developers.
When will it be available to buy?
Any plans to create a computer version in the future?
Derek: I’m not sure how much we can talk about this, but I’d love to make some kind of companion mobile app for the game...for players and the GM. I think it would also be cool to do a RPG/adventure game that is based on the player interacting with various scenes (like Monkey Island). My vision would be to keep it simple, but give it depth with great music, writing, lore, design, and random generation. However, our #1 priority right is the core book and we can’t get distracted from that. Once it’s ready to ship, we can start moving forward on other projects. I can say that INDE does plan to have IP’s other than Shattered, and that they want to branch out when the time is right.
Josh: Aside from what Derek said, Shattered will be available as a PDF when it is released.
What one thing that you know now, do you wish you had known when you were starting out?
Josh: From a development perspective, I have no regrets. But I do wish we would have invested more time in preparing for the Kickstarter campaign. Even though we were successful, there are a lot of things that I would have done differently if I could do it again. Just to name a couple I would have simplified our tiers and had some of our add-ons made ahead of time to show backers what the final product was going to look like.
Thanks guys,I'm looking forward to playing this!