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He better not…!

episode I: About Michiel, the guy who had a strong gut feeling...
episode II: The Needle in a Haystack or How I Came to Find a Publisher
episode III: Does eurogame need a theme?
episode IV: Theme and Logic
episode V: It's all about trust

He better not…!
Michiel Hendriks

Some games require a more confrontational approach. I am generally not a fan of such games, but there you have it, it's true. I am thinking of games like Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) or Diplomacy, games in which if you don't make it clear immediately what the cause and effect of certain actions are, you will come to wish you had at a later point.

'Alright, now I have made a deal with you, I am going to count on you sticking to it. If you attack me, you know I will be coming after you for the rest of the game!' I don't like these kind of threats, and it is one of the reasons I am not a big fan of such games, but sometimes it's important to make it clear to the other what the consequences are of their actions.

Similarly, Ignacy’s bold statement that once I signed the contract the game was his, and he could (and would!) do with it what he wanted to (or rather, felt was right) was incredibly confrontational. In my face, in fact. Of course, he did explain himself a bit right after that, so I knew where he was coming from, but still…

Let us first take a look at who Ignacy is. You all know him as the funny Polish dude who talks about games with a passion. The guy who has Vlaada Chvatil playtest his games. But there is another side to Ignacy that you don't know about. One in which he is a business man, who is meticulous, thorough and incredibly hard working. Someone who has an agenda when you have a 10-minute skype meeting with him, that he meticulously discusses, point for point, systematically. Someone who goes on holidays, and then you find out he's still playtesting the game, and you think, 'wow', but then you find out he's actually pre-selling the game as well at local game stores!

Still, I don't like confrontation. So the first thoughts that went through my head, were thoughts of resistance. Remember the time when Ignacy wrote about the Steel Police? Go back and read that excellent post, if you haven't. For those who have and have forgotten – it is about a game author whose game is being criticized, and he defends it and tells everyone else they're crazy. He is proven right at the end of the story. This is what I had envisioned for myself. This is why I had a good feeling about Ignacy, and here he was telling me he would take my game to pieces! He better not…!

From gallery of Mr Mjeh

Then he explained how in the past he had received a game from game designer and had improved it – to such an extent, in fact, that the designer wasn't happy with the result and withdrew the game. There was Ignacy, with months of hard work put into this project, and nothing to show for it. This was the reason he needed me to understand that once I signed, that was that – I couldn't hard veto anything. Obviously I understood.

I knew I had a great game, but I also knew it needed development. Not just a layer of varnish, no, real development to make it perfect. To make it successful. Ignacy could offer that, and his enthusiasm for the game showed me that indeed he would be able to improve the game, yet keep its core elements. In fact it was his enthusiasm for the game that convinced, not his portfolio (which is great, but so is this game!). I did not entrust Ignacy with my game blindly – I only signed because I was guaranteed that the core mechanics and the theme and what made this game unique, would remain the same. Why did Ignacy agree to this? Because he loved those elements – that is what made him fall in love with my game in the first place! And it was that enthusiasm that made me trust him - I was happy to accept.

So here we are. The game has not changed much at all – it still is very much my game. I have been part of the essential parts of the development, and I feel very comfortable having my name on it at Essen. It has improved considerably, with a better game engine and aspects that needed development fleshed out and improved, with some rough edges removed, but it is, ultimately, still its original self – a legacy.
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