We had a chance to chat with Jim McClure, creator of the RPG project Reflections, which is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. Here’s what he had to say.
Reflections: A Game of Dueling Samurai
What is Reflections all about? What’s the elevator pitch?
Reflections is a two-player RPG that plays in about an hour. It is designed as a heavy emotional experience as two samurai are going to come and have a duel to the death, and one or both are guaranteed to die.
Reflections is inspired by a game called A Single Moment, created by Tobie Abad. He is actually working on Reflections with you. How did you meet and decide to work with Tobie?
It was a long process. I met with Tobie because when he launched his game A Single Moment, one of my other friends in the RPG community was like “hey, this game just came out. You really like samurai, why don’t you check out this game?” I looked it up and was really interested and intrigued with it. I actually run a podcast for the tabletop community where I interview game designers and notable people, so I had him on my show to talk to him. Tobie is just a super great guy, and we got into a conversation about doing a relaunch or a second edition of A Single Moment. After about two months of conversation, the end result was saying “what if we both have A Single Moment, his original game, and we have Reflections, and these things can co-exist together?”
Third Act Publishing
You have started a company called Third Act Publishing with your partner Jim Merritt, and Reflections is the first game under that banner. Do you have big plans for Third Act beyond Reflections?
Yes. Beyond Reflections, we have a couple different projects in the works. One is RPG Solitaire, which is essentially a card game that is designed to emulate the tabletop experience, like what you would get from Dungeons and Dragons, but something that you can do yourself as a one-player game. I feel like that’s something I’ve always wanted and never been able to have, so I really want to make that.
The other upcoming project is called Reach of Titan, which is a tabletop roleplaying game that is designed to emulate the feel of Shadow of Colossus (for the video game players), or Attack on Titan (for the anime fans).
Tell us about your art team for Reflections.
My art director is Paulomi Pratap, and she’s done the art direction for actually a couple different Kickstarters and small press type games. She’s doing the art direction as well as the layout for the book. Pavonis Giron is our fantastic illustrator, and has actually worked with us previously. They are both just amazingly talented individuals. I’ve got an understanding of game mechanics, story structure, and the business side of things, but when it comes to making pretty things appear and making a book look like something that an actual human being would want to read, I have no idea how all that wonderful magic works. All I know is how to slap words into a Word document.
A Passion for Creating Games
How did you get started creating games? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
That’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. So I was homeschooled my entire life growing up, and I didn’t have a lot of games to play with. So from about ten years old on, what I would do is I would sit in my room and just work on little games. Most of them would be something I would get exposed to, like early computer games. One of the first games I made was after we went to an aunt or uncle’s house, and they put us on the computer and introduced us to Hugo III: Jungle of Doom, which was just such a terrible and fantastic old game. It’s not quite a text-based adventure, it has graphics that move about the screen, but you have to solve all the problems in a text-based adventure style. The first thing I did when I got home from that vacation was design my own version of Hugo III using paper. So I’ve been designing games since I was ten years old, but just recently in the last year have I taken the full on step of doing it right, getting people together, and spending the money that you have to spend to really take a stab at this thing.
What is your all-time favorite RPG?
My all-time favorite RPG is Legend of the Five Rings. It is the single greatest game that mankind has ever produced. It is fantastic. The emotion that it captures, the feel it captures, the use of time mechanics in gameplay is brilliant in that game. I love it top to bottom.
If you had just one piece of advice for GMs, what would it be?
Hmmm… If I was only allowed to give one piece of advice and not ramble on for 16 hours… I think my one piece of advice would be: understand the experience you’re trying to bring to your players. If you want to facilitate an experience that is just a bunch of friends coming together and hanging out and playing a game, great, do that. If you want to facilitate an experience that is, “let’s have a deep emotional connection with our characters,” do that. But if you don’t know what you want to do, then there is no way to achieve it and no way to know if you have achieved it. So if I had to limit it to one piece of advice, it would be understand what you’re trying to do through your game, because there is a bunch of different things you could be trying to do.
Reflections is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. You can find out more about the project and back it by visiting the Kickstarter page here. You can also check out some of Jim McClure’s other upcoming RPG projects at the Third Act Publishing website here.