This article originally appeared in Pyramid #11
The INWO Story
By Steve Jackson
It's almost done. Really.
As I write this, the last 50 "regular" INWO cards are being double-checked. The Syquest disk goes out the door in a few hours.
All of the rulebooks, card boxes and POP displays are not only designed, but printed.
All that leaves is the nine Illuminati cards and the three "specials" for magazine distribution (two for Pyramid #12, one for an upcoming Duellist.) Then we're done.
The game is still on schedule, though various snafus have now eaten up all our slack. It should be in the stores by the time you get this magazine.
Making A List, Checking It Twice
As I think I may have said once or twice, this is the biggest project we've ever done, and we're doing everything we can think of to make it right. That's included:
- Playtest, playtest, playtest. Scott Haring was in charge of our in-house playtest, which involved giving out tokens as a reward for each game played. The only way to get "booster packs" to improve your decks was to spend your tokens . . . Hey, it worked!
- Proofreading till our eyes crossed. Monica Stephens has taken the brunt of this job. If I hear "Did you really mean to say this?" one more time, I may lose my mind. Especially if she's right.
- A last-minute addition to the Plot cards. We noticed in playtest that some people, accidentally or accidentally-on-purpose, were playing Plot cards that required actions as "fuel" — and not burning those actions. Monica insisted that we had to do something to make it obvious, both to the user and to the player across the table, that the card came with a "condition." and Derek came up with the solution: "Requires Action," or whatever else the card requires, printed in larger type at the bottom. Problem solved.
- Sending both Derek Pearcy and our print buyer, Andrew Hartsock, to watch the presses as the first cards came off. (And we'll probably send our Traffic Manager, Brenda Hurst, to supervise the drop-shipping from the plant. It would be very embarrassing if something went wrong at that point.)
- Checking every piece of art over and over. Is it appropriate? Is it either funny, or scary/spiky, or such a perfect illustration of the card that it doesn't have to be funny or scary? Does it look either pretty, or neat? (A few of the illustrations went back four times to our long-suffering artists; several were re-colored from scratch when the first effort wasn't right.)
Art Is The Noise A Seal Makes
We should have been frightened by the sheer mass of art needed to finish the game. Not knowing it was impossible, we charged blithely ahead and did it.
Unlike all the other major trading-card games, we didn't use paintings. Instead, the artists prepared black-and-white art, which was colored in-house by our Mac wizards — Derek, Jeff Koke, and Rick Martin. The result was a unified "graphic novel" style that fits the game perfectly.
Three artists carried the load: Dan Smith, Shea Ryan, and John Kovalic. We also picked up a few pieces that we had on hand, just because they were too neat not to use. That means that Gary Washington, Rick Harris and Ruth Thompson drew one card each.
NOT Politically Correct
This whole game is satire, and the art is essentially political cartooning. We know we're going to get mail . . . from the Right, the Left, and all kinds of special interest groups. We did our best to mock everyone; we are equal-opportunity satirists.
So there's probably at least one card with a snide, unfair parody of something you deeply believe in. I hope so! If not, then you don't believe in much.
But INWO is intended to make you laugh (and to think . . . but mostly to laugh). It holds up a mirror to society . . . a dark, cracked mirror. Not everybody can take it. Just watch as people go through the cards, laughing hysterically . . . until they turn up something dear to their own hearts, and say "That's not funny!"
Now, that is funny.
While we haven't yet granted any licenses for other languages, it seems likely that INWO will go into several other editions. We've already gotten serious interest from established publishers in Brazil, Germany, France and Spain.
It will be important that each foreign edition be an idiomatic rendition of the game . . . not just a one-for-one translation of the words. Many of the groups in the original edition, and even some of the Plots, will be meaningless to gamers in other nations. That will mean that each country will need some new cards, so it can mock its own leaders and cherished institutions.
All of the first printing is already spoken for, and we're having to turn down requests from distributors who want to increase their orders. So it looks like the game will be reprinted in March. This will be an Unlimited Edition run . . . we'll change the card faces to distinguish them from the original, Limited edition. Of course, we'll fix any errata that we know about at that point. We won't add or replace any of the actual cards unless we discover something incredibly unbalancing.
We still want to do a Factory Set; right now that looks like an April release. Current plans are to include 3 of each Illuminati, one of every other card, around 20 blank cards, and a rulebook. That way the Factory Set will not just be a collector's item — it will be a game.
I also want to do an INWO Book. I don't know when that might come out. April? We have some other projects to get finished around here, like In Nomine . . . We may do a short run of blank cards, for those who like to make their own. Sometime . . .
And supplements are still a strong possibility, if people want them. We will probably start illustrating some of our best ideas for new cards, even before you read this, just to get a jump on it. What would the supplements be about? How many cards in a pack? Ahh, that would be telling.
Article publication date: January 1, 1995
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