BRUNO CATHALA & MR. JACK
I am a BIG-TIME player of Mr. Jack, my favorite game. Recently I played several games of Cleopatra And The Society Of Architects and discovered it was designed by the same dynamic duo, Bruno Cathala & Ludovic Maublanc. Who are these geniuses? I was intrigued....how did these guys come up with the characters, ideas, and themes for Mr. Jack?
I contacted Bruno Cathala and requested an exclusive BGG interview. I asked him ten questions whose answers were doubly intriguing. Here is that interview!
Thank you very much for your enthusiasm and the attention you have for our game
now.. let's answer your questions !!
1. How did the two of you decide to create these fantastic board games for a career and how did you get your start?
Well.. Ludo was in Cannes for the French Game Convention, which takes place every year in February (it's the time to discern the French Game Award). And after an all-night-er playing prototypes, we had some difficulties going to sleep. It was about 4 o'clock a.m. and Ludo just asked me if I would be interested in working with him on a new game. He had a general concept: he wanted to do a game with "light and darkness"... with something you could do into the light, but not into the dark.. but... he said he didn't know what to do with this idea !
I immediately accepted to work with him on this concept, because I found it very exciting !!
2.Why did you choose the theme of Inspector versus Jack for the game?
We immediately began a brainstorming session... first thing was to find the theme. We first thought about a vampire history, but we didn't want too much blood into our game. The idea about a hide and seek theme came naturally and the Jack the Ripper mystery came about as evidence of that theme
3. Sir William Gull was a real suspect of the Whitechapel crimes. Why include him and not the other suspects in the case?
We never tried to make an historical reconstruction. We just wanted to "immerse" players into the specific atmosphere of Victorian London, with fog, with suspects, with shadows, and with well known characters.. Gull was one of them.
4. Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade of course are well known in literature.
What about Jeremy Bert, John Smith, & Seargeant Goodley. Are they based on historical figures?
Jeremy Bert comes from... Jeremy Brett, who was an English actor famous for interpreting Sherlock Holmes in a TV series between 1980 and 1990.
John Smith comes also from Conan Doyle... his first book (not published), was named " The Narrative of John Smith"
And Sergeant Goodley comes from..... From Hell !!... in this movie, Godley was the assistant of Abberline.
5. I am an avid chess player....Mr. Jack has so much depth, it reminds me of a chess match with the strategic moves and powers of the characters. How did you choose their powers to match the characters?
In my opinion, the game is more tactical that strategical... and the "small" luck factor leads to a game more fun than chess (even if I'm also a chess player, and love playing chess.. with a bad level !)
Powers were chosen because of their interesting effect on the game. It was very important to give each character a specific ability, to put players in front of a dilemma... "Do I have to choose this character because of his position on the board... or this one because of his specific ability...?"
6. The graphics are awesome...especially the board design....how did Ludo come up with them?
This is another long story... but you make a mistake.. Ludo didn't make the graphics... They are from "piero", a young french BD illustrator.
Lets explain the story.. At the beginning, piero was a gamer, impressed by "Shadows Over Camelot". He liked the game so much, that he wrote me by mail to ask if he was allowed to make caricatures of his friend for the Knights. I said "yes" and he was so happy that he sent me his work.. and I was impressed by the quality of his graphics.
At this time, I was contacted by "Neuroludic". He was looking for a game for a "self-hand made-edition". With Ludo, we were so disappointed that every "big" publisher refused to publish Mr Jack. We decided to attempt this adventure: We made only 250 samples of the game and with no money in it for us... but it was the way to put the game into the light !!
Neuroludic had no money for illustrations and I decided to ask piero if he would be interested to work for free.... and he accepted !!
Now.. we all know it was a winning deal.. the game is published on the real market, Ludo and I are getting our royalties, and piero has been paid for his really nice work.
7. Do you and Ludo each have a favorite character to play as Jack and a favorite character as the inspector?
I can't answer for Ludo.. but on my side, when playing Jack, I like to be Smith, because he's not the more suspected character (experimented players take care about Stealthy, Lestrade and Bert...)
When playing on the inspector side, I like when Jack is Watson. I think it's most difficult for him...
But.... I'm sure this feeling will change in the near future because of the expansion set with the 5 next characters (coming in Essen)
8. Mr. Jack is dramatically moving towards the top 100 on BGG (it should be in the top ten !!) It is currently at #88 on BGG. How do you guys feel now that Mr. Jack is getting the well-deserved recognition as a masterpiece?
It's a real pleasure.. we are proud of that. You know, every body is looking for recognition, and with BGG we have a way to measure it...
And it's so satisfying to see that we were right.. remember, that at first, nobody wanted to take the risk of publishing Mr. Jack !!
9. What is your favorite game besides Mr. Jack...or is Mr. Jack your favorite game?
Mr. Jack is the game I have most played, along with Magic !!
I think that Magic The Gathering is my favorite game, even if I've stopped playing for 5 years... but what a fantastic game concept !!
10. Please discuss your strategies as the Inspector or Jack or is this TOP SECRET?
It's not top secret but....it would be a long topic itself !! My proposal is to tell gamers to join the Mr.Jack community on:
They will find an interface to play online, and forums to discuss strategy....
Thank you one more time
all the best
And thank you Bruno....we look forward to you and Ludo's next masterpiece !!! Chezzilla
- Last edited Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:21 am (Total Number of Edits: 4)
- Posted Sat Sep 8, 2007 7:32 am
Nice interview. I've never played Mr. Jack, but I am very interested now that it's readily available.
I do find it amusing/odd that they stayed away from a vampire theme to avoid all the blood and then chose a serial killer as the replacement theme.
st pierre en faucigny
Re: Mr. Jack Co-designer Bruno Cathala BGG Exclusive Intervi
You're right, kane...
replacing vampire by serial killer could look strange...
but concerning Jack, we only focuse on him trying to escape whitechapel, not doing more victims... and we choosed graphics without any agressivity...
i think it has been one of the reasons for the success of the game