Interview with Philip Loyer
An Interview with Philip Loyer of Wyvern Gaming
This is an interview with Philip Loyer, of Wyvern Gaming, the designer behind the new card game, Sojourn, a tense game of time traveling peril. I recently did a review of Wyvern Gaming’s upcoming title Sojourn and I decided to ask him a few questions about it. Thank you sir for taking the time to answer them!
Josh: Please tell us a bit about your background.
Philip: For a day job, I am a software engineer, I’ve been doing that for about 20 years. I have 3 different degrees, 2 bachelors and a masters. I am also currently in school to get a Doctorate of Science in Computer Science. I’ve been creating board games for about 4 years now. Previously to Sojourn, we have had 3 successful Kickstarter for board games.
What got you into tabletop gaming, and designing tabletop games?
I’ve been playing tabletop RPG’s like D&D and Pathfinder since I was about 12. I’ve been really into board games for the last 10 years or so. One of my goals in life has been to create a game that other people would enjoy and have fun playing it. About 4 years ago I had an idea for our first game Cthulhu: A Deck Building Game in the middle of the night. I woke my wife up at about 2 am and told her my idea. At the time she said whatever and went back to sleep. However, the next day we went over my idea and she got really excited about it. The next couple of months I worked on the rules for the game and created a prototype of the game. From there I brought in one of my best friends Brad, and then we brought in another one of our best friends Wes. From there we formed Wyvern Gaming, with a loan we were able to get the art created for the game and from there we put it up on Kickstarter. We pulled in about 30k for that game, which was almost double the funding goal. We had a few hiccups in the production process, but we learned from it.
What kind of games do you play/like most?
I have a very wide range of games that I enjoy playing, as mentioned previously I love tabletop RPGs. I also really enjoy Deck Builders, tabletop war games, and just about any other type of board games. I probably have about 200 different board games in my board game closet. Also, I enjoy Video Games a great deal as well, I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XV lately quite a bit. If I had to pick a specific type of game that I enjoy the most it would be tabletop RPGs. I’m sure this probably raises the question of why haven’t we made a tabletop RPG yet? The answer to that is we are waiting for the right 3rd party license on which to base an RPG off of. Back in November, we were in talks with a company to license a large Sci-Fi property, but unfortunately, that fell through. We have also discussed creating a tactical RPG like, D&D 5th Edition, and use a Cthulhu setting since we really enjoy Lovecraft’s work. I spend some time working on it every week but creating an RPG takes an incredible amount of work.
Your new game, Sojourn, is coming to Kickstarter soon. Please give us an idea of what it is about.
Sojourn is a solitaire card game which is themed around a time traveler who is lost in time and is trying to get home.
What is unique about Sojourn?
Well when designing Sojourn, I started with two things in mind, one that it was based around the concept of time travel, which is a theme that I’m a sucker for. I love everything to do with time travel and it’s the superpower that I would want if I was ever given that opportunity! The second thing I based the game around was that I wanted to create a solitaire card game. The reason I did this was because I often find myself wanting to play a board game, but I don’t have anyone to play a board game with. So, I wanted to create a exclusively solitaire experience.
What do you think players will like the most about Sojourn?
I think Sojourn will be a great filler game that players can play in between sessions of longer and larger board games. I also think it will provide a bit of a history lesson to players as all of the destinations in the game correspond to real events that happened in history. All the dates are accurate or at least are in the time range that historians have attached to the events. For example, The Crusades don’t have a specific month and day associated to them, but it does have specific years attached to them.
What is the experience you want players to have as they play Sojourn?
I want players to have a sense of tension with every game they play of Sojourn. The first design of the game had the time fragments in the time stream deck instead of tying them directly to destinations as it is currently. I believe that change really gave players a reason to risk their lives and to go to the destinations which are very dangerous and will likely incur heavy penalties of the player.
Who is Sojourn for? Who will get the most enjoyment out of Sojourn?
When designing any game, I always tackle it with the approach of making a game that I would want to play. One of the things I love about Sojourn is it is very easy to setup and you can play a game quickly. However, no matter how many times you play the game each playthrough feels like a unique experience.
Sojourn is listed as a game for ages 16 and older. While I was playing Sojourn for my review I felt the rules were simple enough for younger teens and tweens to learn without much difficulty. What was behind the decision to list Sojourn as a 16+ game?
Well, it was more due to a financial reason than being a game too complex for younger players. When stating that a game is say 8+ as opposed to say 16+. You have to pay for product testing through various governments agencies and it is not an inexpensive thing to have done. Also, Sojourn deals with some very serious and horrible events that have occurred in history, such as 9/11. If there was no product testing required I believe 10+ would be an appropriate age range to play the game.
What inspiration did you draw upon while you were designing Sojourn?
As I stated earlier, I’m a sucker for anything dealing with time travel. Some designers create a game and then pick a theme to go with it. However, I work in the opposite manner, I will pick a theme and a story and then create game mechanics that I believe will fit the best with the theme. I was watching the show Timeless when I create the first draft of the game and it gave me the thought of a time traveler lost in time and trying to get home.
How did you decide which Destinations you were going to include in Sojourn?
Well, I used the almighty google when trying to decide what destinations to include in the game. Some of them, however, were points in history that I believe were very important to society in general. Also, I tried my best to include some destinations that were very negative such as 9/11 and the Russian Revolution. Then I went to the other end of the spectrum and included destinations that were important but not negative such as First Flight which is when the Wright brothers created the first airplane.
Do you have a favorite Destination in Sojourn?
I’m not sure I have a specific favorite destination in the game, however saying that my favorite art of a destination is The Crusades, I just really love the art associated to it.
Were there some Destinations you wanted to include that just didn’t make the cut?
Not exactly, there are a few more destinations I want to include such as the Assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand. That event is what is known as the Lynch Pin or the cause behind World War I. While we currently do not have art for this destination we will include this destination and others as stretch goals for the Kickstarter campaign. There was also a internal debate about a possible stretch goal destination that was simply a way to give a nod to our first game Cthulhu: A Deck Building Game which was a crazy destination where you find Cthulhu waiting for you. However, the question was brought up that are we disrespecting all these other events that really did happen.
When you were designing Sojourn what were some challenges you faced?
Balance is always something that is a difficulty when designing any game. I will usually come up a loose concept for how a specific mechanic will work and I will play with the numbers associated with the card to see how it works. Once I do that I work out a mathematical formula that will help me keep cards positive and negative attributes balanced and consistent. I will then go through the cards and make sure that every card is using the formula. In this game, it was the cost and danger associated with a destination vs the reward in time stream cards you get for traveling to a destination based on how difficult it is to get through that location.
Did you have to cut somethings that you really wanted to keep in the game?
We did, there was a specific destination we had that is frowned upon in the country that is going to manufacture our game. So, we had to cut that specific destination. We wanted to keep a good relationship with our manufacturing partners, so we do our best to avoid such things.
If so could you describe a few?
Out of respect, I’d rather not say.
Do you still want to explore any of these later? Say in a future expansion or another game?
I believe this will be unlikely, but it’s not 100% out of the realm of possibility.
What do you want the Player to take away from a session of Sojourn?
I want the player to walk away from the game feeling that it was a intense experience and for them to have possibly learned something new about history. Also, I want them to already be looking forward to the next game of Sojourn that they play.
Do you have any advice for aspiring tabletop designers or publishers?
Don’t give up. Making a game and then getting it funded on Kickstarter or another crowdfunding platform is not an easy process. If it were everyone would be doing it! If it first you don’t succeed, try again. There is no limit to how many times you can attempt to get a project funded.
Do you have a Kickstarter Preview page yet?
We do, the page is not complete yet by a long shot. We still need to fill out stretch goals and of course the main Kickstarter video associated with the campaign.
What is your goal for this campaign?
$5000 is the goal for the campaign. That is the amount needed to get the game manufactured and shipped out to the world.
What is the minimum pledge level to get a copy of Sojourn?
$20 dollars will get you the game and it includes free shipping!
When does your campaign go live?
We are currently shooting for mid to late April to launch our campaign.