Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Local game designer Matt Bromley keeps himself busy creating new games and building a miniature Legoland
By Christina Stock
Matt Bromley is well-known in Roswell and beyond, having attended in the past Galacticons during the UFO Festival and comic-cons statewide where he would introduce his newest games to the public. His brand name is Wildbird Games. When the pandemic shut down the world last year, all cons were either cancelled or went virtual in a much smaller format. This took a toll on cosplayers and artists who sell their products at these events. One of the few benefitting from the pandemic and social distancing regulations is the tabletop/board game industry, which doesn’t always include the individual game inventors.
According to the global market research company Technavio, based in London, England, the board games market is expected to grow by $5.81 billion during 2020-24 — one of the biggest trends being the game inventors and designers finding support through crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter.
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Kickstarter is the platform Bromley uses. He has at the moment several games in the works. One of his newest games has car racing as its theme. “I call it ‘Race Draft’ (working name) … You are building your racing strategy as you play. The basic game is for four players/four cars and kept simple, to where I am going to label it 10-plus. It’s simple mechanics, nothing too complicated, the rounds go really quick. Every player will have their own player board that will have your own deck of cards, which will contain a certain amount of maneuvers. So you’ll draw a certain amount and those are your maneuvers for the round. Each player lays down a card after another — no dice, total strategy. The only chance is what card you draw. Then you build your track with the cards. With turns, with hazards like oil slicks, repairs, pitstops, you play your cards one at a time, but there can be a car in your way, so you have to think your way around those cars to get into first place. Then you play your hand. When everybody is out of cards, the person in the lead gets a green flag. We move the cards back and rebuild the next checkpoint. Whoever gets to that one first gets again a green flag. When you get four green flags, you’re the winner. That is the typical length of the game,” Bromley said.
Bromley is working at the moment on a video presentation for the game, and he has high hopes to be able to find a toy/model company to join as sponsor and investor. “The new game I want to pitch to Hot Wheels,” he said. “I already had my photo-shoot of all the game components and photos I’ll use in the video, I just have to dub how it (the game) works over that.”
Bromley’s vision is to have four model cars in the game as well as on the game box, and that companies may see the benefit of having their product not only in the toy aisle of a store, but in the game aisle as well. There are also plans on expanding the game and including cards for a dirt track with jumps.
While “Race Draft” is a straight-forward game, Bromley has been working three years on a more detailed and elaborate game. “Pirates of Fortune” has been revised over and over and reprinted multiple times. It is an elaborate process turning the game into a rich world-building experience. Bromley said he was inspired when he encountered other complex games at cons that he enjoyed. “It has a lot of different things in it, but is basically a story game,” he said.
Also, the game is a collaboration with other artists. “The design is by Logan Pack, arrangement by me” Bromley said. “I told him years ago, we need to collaborate on something. And so, when I saw his Clint Eastwood in the poncho in sepia tone, I said, that’s the art I want for the pirate theme.”
Pack lives in Roswell and painted the cover for the game box with local “pirates,” using Bromley, his friends and family members as models, which include Eric Anopolsky, Alice Balderrama, Rafael Manchego and Peter Powell. These pirates also appear on the cards.
“I also had a writer come in to write the intro,” Bromley said. “Matt Kaiser is also a gamer. He’s written for ‘Dungeons & Dragons,’ he’s written for some companies.”
The game itself has no main board — instead the players use cards, including island cards and individual player ship boards, which is a trend at the moment, Bromley said. Each player, or “pirate,” gets to visit islands where adventures and treasures wait to be found. “Every other game feels the same because you are moving along in the same places,” Bromley said. “This one, I use cards for islands, so every game is different. You draw these cards, the cards move like the ocean. If you complete a mission on those cards, you can collect it for its value and draw a new card in.”
“Pirates of Fortune” is a strategic resource game, with goals to achieve, such as gold, drinks and food. Decisions have to be made by the players. They can be aggressive and attack islands and towns; attack each other and fight monsters. However, there are consequences. Not every island has peaceful locals, monsters may win the day and even a kraken can appear out of the depths of the ocean.
“You have to collect certain things to be able to go on missions,” Bromley said. “The point is to get the most points at the end of the game and, of course, you also go for treasure you hunt for.”
He created the cards with the island shapes as well as the mission cards. “I had a lot of fun learning to do this stuff on Photoshop and illustration,” he said.
Bromley would have liked to have the game created and assembled in the U.S., but the cost would have been way over $100 per game and nobody would buy it. That is why he is planning to have it made in China. The game pieces that represent the pirates and crew are not yet designed.
“It is intense,” Bromley said. “That’s why I have four to five things going on at the same time, because I can then go back to it and get re-inspired. I got burnt out by this, thinking of China and everything I have to deal with — during a pandemic.”
To relax, Bromley picked up a hobby he had since he was a child, building with Lego. For this, he took advantage of his wife’s dance studio being empty when New Mexico shut down and social distancing regulations were put in place last year. “It’s great just to be away from the screen, do something tangible with your hands, create something, use your imagination and spend time with the people that you love instead just staring at the screen,” he said. The scenes that are spread out on the floor are from Star Wars, sports and other scenes such as, of course, a gaming area where you can see tiny figures playing board games.
Asked who had more fun with his creation, adults or children, Bromley chuckled and said, “I could just see my nieces imagination running wild, their happiness. I can just imagine at that age coming into a (Lego) city this large. It is a mini Legoland. I am going to have a population count soon. I am sure it is above 500.
“When I start taking pictures for Instagram it will focus on certain neighborhoods. I’ll heavily decorate that with population, vehicles, landscaped areas and just make it really lively and put a mouse in there, Whiskerstache. I’ll put a little mustache on it and you have to find Whiskerstache in every photo as a game on Instagram. What I am planning on doing is revealing one neighborhood at the time and maybe, in the course of a year, after all pictures are out, reveal the entire city in one picture,” Bromley said.
For more information, visit wildbirdgames.weebly.com.