Developer’s Diary #1 – The Roots of Sudden Conflict

What is Sudden Conflict? Who are you? Why did you make a game?” – These have been the common questions we’ve faced over the past four years. As Sudden Conflict approaches its release date, it seems like a fitting time to offer insight into our journey, introducing ourselves and detailing the path that led us here.
This story may take a few posts, and it will very likely be a rambling narrative talking through why this game came to be, the lessons learned, and some of the pivotal decisions that we struggled through while trying to work out how to bring Sudden Conflict to life.

As we started working on Sudden Conflict – which at the time was known to us as “Supreme Victory” – we wrestled with a number of questions about how to make this happen. There were a few blogs and creators who helped us a lot; notably, we owe a debt of gratitude to Jamey Stegmaier and his blog for Stonemaier Games (some articles we found to be a great resource were his playtesting & development guide and his guide to board game illustration). His blog was one of the very few resources that could answer some of the questions we had throughout our journey trying to create this game, and surely saved us a lot of time in answering them ourselves.

Four years ago, Jack and I met at a local gaming haven & bar, Games Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia. Drawn in for promises of Friday Night Magic, our visits often devolved into heated discussions at their basement bar, talking nonsense about games and experimenting with our own brews of Magic: the Gathering formats. We would often envy the 40k players and their pretty, pretty miniatures, but were always scared off by the investment of time, money, and energy required for games like that. To put it simply, we were just a bit too lazy & unwilling to fork out the cash needed to build our armies.

Occasionally, Jack and I would meet at his apartment to have some drinks, talk nonsense and play “Jones in the Fast Lane” (a masterpiece of 90s game design) amongst other things, and in the small hours of one of these nights, I turned to Jack and fatefully whispered into his ear: “I have an idea for a game.”

With a history of running D&D campaigns since primary school and an eventual stint writing adventures for Dungeon Magazine, I had wanted a game of my own. Don’t we all? But I always knew I’d need a partner to fill in for my massive skill gaps. Following a somewhat unhinged whiteboard monologue, I asked Jack the question: “What if a miniatures game mirrored the dynamics of Magic: the Gathering?” The idea stuck in my head, and the next morning I’d begun some crude designs.

That afternoon Jack came around to my flat and I showed him the rudimentary game pieces. Shortly after, he demanded a prototype that we could play before he left that night. Two hours later, unrefined and far from visually appealing, the prototype looked pretty rubbish. Yet, when he sat down to play it with our friend Dim, something resonated with them. The subtle game interactions, swift pace and ridiculous manoeuvres on the battlefield caught their attention.

“You know what.. It’s not bad”… a great compliment from Jack. He’d seen through the rough graph paper and makeshift character cards thrown together in Microsoft Word with random character art that we’d pinched from the internet and wanted more.

And so it began, Sudden Conflict was born in a shoebox crammed with old D&D minis, dice, graph paper, and makeshift character cards. But already I was refining the rules in my head, and the two of us were already diving down the rabbit hole of learning how to make it a reality.

Next time, I’ll talk about our early rules and how we dug around the internet searching for information on game publishing.

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