Awaken Realms is a professional painting studio, focused on creating and painting miniature sculptures. The company is based in Poland, and in 2015 they are planning to launch a new game called The Edge, using their unique, high-detail miniatures and a newly developed gameplay. Today we are talking with Marcin, one of the founders of Awaken Realms and the mind behind The Edge.
Dear Marcin, let’s talk a little bit about Awaken Realms, the gaming industry in general, and The Edge in particular.
Who are the people behind Awaken Realms? Give us a short bio and a little detail on how you got where you are today.
Hi! My name is Marcin Świerkot, one of the founders of Awaken Realms and creator of The Edge. Awaken Realms was founded by me and Adrian (also known as Medows). We had been friends for quite a long time, and one day we decided we’d like to follow our passion and attempt to bring our vision to life. We both have degrees in business and I have spent 4 years of working in a corporate environment. So, when we started our company, we aimed at being a fully professional studio and bring some of the high standards you can normally see in large companies.
How did Awaken Realms came to be? How did the founders get together, and is this something you’d like to do for the rest of your life?
Well, it was kind of a leap of faith for both of us. I had a pretty nice corporate career, and Adrian was painting on his own, already getting vast recognition. But yeah, you know that feeling when you wake up in the morning, look in the mirror for a few days in a row and you feel that what you’re doing at work just does not feel like what you should be doing? I think that’s exactly what happened to me during my time at my previous job. I’ve always wanted to create something of my own, and Adrian shares the same values. I think of myself as very lucky from that perspective, as I strongly believe that one of the best things in life is being able to do what you love and create things out of passion. This is pretty much what we are doing right now. Is this something we will do for the rest of our lives? It’s really hard to say, but for now we are definitely feeling like we are in the right place at the right time.
Give us a few words about the Awaken Realms team in general (outside of the founders). What kind of talent are you harvesting and what is the type of art you are tackling and why? Do you see yourself branching out in other types of art as well?
With Awaken Realms our goal was to take miniature painting to the next level. This is very a “young” discipline comparing to more traditional art, though I deeply believe it can be more impressive than other forms of art. It makes sense: you have 3D objects giving you a lot more freedom and more possibilities, which enables you to provide people with a whole new experience. Our team is full of people who enjoy art at all levels. Some of them are miniature wargaming players, others are just purely artists. But I think we have a great chemistry together. You know, when you put bunch of creative people in one room it does not always work out well, but I really love the way it has turned out for us.
As for the other branches of art, well, doing The Edge is this kind of project. We are trying many new things, experimenting, working with concept art, miniature design, story and even some music and video composition (just shhh, it is a little secret for now ; ) ). We also love the idea of bringing dioramas to a wider audience. I think there is great potential in it.
What are the short-term and long-term goals for Awaken Realms?
Short term: become the biggest and best miniature painting company and successfully launch The Edge miniature game. Long term: create a complete miniature wargaming experience with The Edge, bring it to the next level, and become the biggest painting studio worldwide.
What is your general overview on the gaming industry today, then specifically wargames in the way that it relates to your work?
When it comes to the wargaming industry, I feel like a lot of exciting things are happening. Right now the biggest company out there, who practically created the miniature wargaming market from scratch, Games Workshop, started to have some serious competitors. I believe that this is a good sign, since competition always brings more effort to provide better products, and you can slowly see the changes in direction.
Looking strictly at miniatures: 3D print is a very exciting technology that begs to be exploited. Right now we can get detail levels of 0,016mm on the miniature, which is pretty amazing. I think this can change some standards in the industry.
Overall, looking at the gaming industry as a whole, I like to think that tabletop and board games are here to stay and will continue to be developed. At some point you realize that sometimes sitting around a table with your friends and playing some games face to face is a better option than playing another video game, even if you do it in a network.
What are some of your favorite games and how did they influence your work?
Well, I used to be a total video game addict in my early life. I’ve always enjoyed games that could immerse you into their world, strong characters and interesting plots that keep you thinking long after you’ve finished the game. There was a huge influence from the Warhammer 40 000, obviously. I love the whole universe behind it and the diversity of races. As I said earlier, Games Workshop practically created the market for miniature wargaming from scratch, putting tons of effort into their products. People often look at these miniatures and wonder what is all this fuss about. But hardcore hobbyists see or imagine the amazing stories behind those miniatures, and that is what makes them special.
I think there is one very important thing to mention: I used to play a lot of Magic The Gathering, the card game, and I can say that its creators are masters when it comes to introducing interesting mechanics into the game. I’d like want to get a little of that awesome complexity and Aha! moments into The Edge. They’ve also done an amazing job in creating all those worlds, designs, and stories behind them.
What is The Edge? Give us an overview.
The Edge is our game project. We want to first introduce it in the form of a short skirmish game, and later develop it into a full tabletop wargame. What we want to do is to provide the highest quality miniatures and connect them with gameplay that will be a combination of the best in war, board, and card games. We also are developing a whole story behind this world, basically creating our own universe from scratch.
How did you get the idea, what was the inspiration?
There are actually a lot of different sources of inspiration. Every faction is based on a different set of aesthetics. Being from Poland and other Slavic countries, we tend to love post-apocalyptic and epic settings. We are generally fans of those kinds of harsh environments.
I personally always loved the idea behind steampunk, but I feel like it’s never treated seriously. So we wanted to connect somehow the steampunk idea with the post-apocalyptic feel to create the world of The Edge: grim and dark, but also beautiful in some strange way.
Give us a feel of the gameplay, some general guidelines, length of play, difficulty, etc.
We are working on the rule set so I am not yet fully sure of the end result, but there are few things I know I want to get an emphasis on.
First of all, the rule we want to implement is “easy to learn, hard to master.” What we want to do is create very simple overall rules, and add complexity and difficulty to the game with cards and special abilities.
Our idea is to do have a crystal-based mana pool-you will be able to collect crystals on the battlefield and they will increase your “mana pool,” resetting each turn. With this mana you will be able to cast special abilities to units, as well as cards that can drastically change the flow of the game. With this strategy for gameplay, we want to make the situation on the battlefield more interesting than just “kill your enemy” or go here and there.
Will you build any extensibility into the game? Do you see a future in add-ons?
Yes! What we want to do with The Edge is to create a full universe and a gaming system. I realize that most of the projects that are being featured on Kickstarter right now are mostly created to be done, shipped and forgot. We want a totally different thing-we are not focusing on the short term profits, but rather on a long term universe and system.
Therefore to answer your question-yes, I would love to see a lot of additions to The Edge universe in a lot of forms-game extensions, story books, comics perhaps. We shall see what the future brings.
What makes this game different and unique?
First of all, we have an enormous focus on the miniatures’ details, which already creates a different and unique experience. We know how to do that-we are painters and we have spent tons of time with models from other companies.
Another thing is the gameplay idea. We want to make this game very dynamic and dramatic, through the power of special cards and abilities. I think adding collecting crystals on the board will make for a very interesting feel of a wargame and a card game packed into one.
Last thing I would like to mention is The Edge’s aesthetic and universe-I think we are making something unique out there, because every miniature, every piece that we do is in itself unique.
The marketing materials show some really cool figurines, but do you see a future in taking this game online as well? Is that also a market you are after?
It’s definitely too soon to make any serious comments about that. Right now we need to be 100% certain we can provide the best skirmish game before we will move on to any other ideas.
Any projections about availability dates and locations?
We are aiming to launch our Kickstarter by March 2015 with an almost complete product, ready to ship within 6 months.
As said before, we want this beginning to be a trailer, allowing us to learn how people would react to The Edge.
Where can we find you online?
Right now the best place to follow our work is our Facebook fanpage at: www.facebook.com/intotheedge
We are posting there a lot of work in progress and we really appreciate all the feedback. We believe this is the best way to create things. We are surrounded by a great community and not once they have proved to be really helpful critics of our work. So be sure to follow us and speak your mind!
Website will be soon up at www.intotheedge.com (right now in the making)
Our products will be available for online in March of 2015.
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