Interview with Alexandre Aboud, Co-Designer of Arena: The Contest

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Arena: The Contest

Designers: Alexandre Aboud, Danilo de Alcantara, Clayton Machado

Publisher: Dragori Games

Plays: 1-8 Players

Play Time: 45-90 minutes

Age: 14+

I’ve had my eye on Arena: The Contest for about six months. I’m a sucker for a good dungeon crawling game with sweet miniatures, but I’m not easily fooled by awesome artwork and cool miniatures (sometimes I am tho…). Luckily, I was able to speak with Co-Designer of Arena: The Contest, Alexandre Aboud, to find out more details about the game. I appreciate Alexandre for taking time out of his busy schedule to share his responses.

Interview

Jambalaya: Every gamer has an origin story. When did your love of games begin?

Alexandre: I love games probably since I was born. Like many board game enthusiasts, my involvement with them in my childhood boiled down to several Monopoly and Game of Life sessions. When I was 11 years old, I started to play Dungeons & Dragons. A bit later, Magic: The Gathering. I’ve never stopped playing since. I like all kinds of games.

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Jambalaya: Based on my research, this is your first time publishing a game. What does it feel like to launch a game of this magnitude? 

Alexandre: It’s a challenge and a pleasure. I have two partners (Clayton Machado and Danilo Alcantara), that, like me, are perfectionists and want an AAA game. We spent a lot of time paying attention to every single detail (from mechanics to artwork, miniatures, lore, components, etc.), to make sure the game was as good as possible.

 

Jambalaya: Arena: The Contest is equal parts PVP and dungeon crawler.  I assume potential backers want to know if one mode is more developed than the other.  Can you expand on the features of both modes?

Alexandre: They are both equally developed and balanced. We took five years to finish this game to make sure, through over a thousand play-test sessions, that both game modes were well designed, because we couldn’t allow one game mode to overshadow the other.

PvP: Here we have the thrill of a team competition, where human minds clash. With balanced and diverse heroes, no single choice is better than the other, but there are many hidden combos, synergies, strategies and possibilities to explore in the effort to assemble a good team and test your tactical ability.

PvP features drafting, teambuilding, customization (you can build countless different Arenas, making each match a distinct experience), team cooperation, and more.

Cooperative Mode: For those who enjoy dungeon crawling, there is the coop mode, which you can play with your friends or solo. Quests can be played as one-shot adventures, or in an Epic Campaign, in which, following a branching background story, your heroes have to progress through sequential quests while making tough decisions in situations that shape the fate of the world and determine your next objectives. We made an intense worldbuilding effort to create the rich world of Tanares, where your journey takes place.

Cooperative Mode features a solo mode, Epic Campaign mode, experience gaining and level up, potential for deep immersion and roleplaying, different endings, side objectives, item purchasing, automation of enemies, stories, puzzles, clues, DRAGONS (of course), and more.

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Jambalaya: What’s your favorite character in Arena: The Contest and why?

Alexandre: Taram, the Cleric. I played this character for years on a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, so I feel like, through him, a part of myself is in the game. I had to constantly fight the urge not to make him overpowered (lol). Based on my personal playstyle, though (“high damage power, don’t care about my defense”), I also deeply enjoy seeing Sedrik, the Werewolf, Myr, the Assassin and Juliet, the Ice Sorceress, fighting on the board.

Jambalaya: I noticed you’ve been very interactive with the board game community in multiple Facebook groups. Every piece of artwork and miniature design was thrown into the fire for feedback. You took the positive and negative feedback like a champion, which is commendable.  Do you feel like the feedback helped with the development of the game?

Alexandre: The board game community is one of the best anyone could ever hope to be part of. Their help and opinions are very honest, valuable and important. I actually enjoy getting negative feedback, especially if they manage to focus on specific points. Why wouldn’t I, if they improve the final quality of the art/miniature?

Our first instinct is to get feedback from our closest friends, but they are sometimes so excited about our project that they miss some bad details or cannot be brutal with the fear of hurting my feelings. But people who don’t know you can be very honest about they think, and when you put things in front of a lot of eyeballs, there’s always someone who manages to find something you missed.

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Jambalaya: Assuming the campaign is a successful one, how will you celebrate?

 Alexandre: We will celebrate by giving ourselves a day (ok, maybe a week)’s rest, to get back to work in full strength, because the Kickstarter campaign is only the “first boss” in our epic campaign. If people are happily surprised about the quality of the artwork and miniature sculpts, our goal is to get people even more excited about the quality of components and gameplay experience. When all boxes arrive at the backers’ doorsteps, then – maybe – it will be time for true celebration.

Jambalaya: Do you want to tease any details about the upcoming Kickstarter campaign? Maybe some stretch goals.

Alexandre: My partners and I have to frequently pull each other back from the impulse of making more stuff and never finishing the game, because every single day we get new ideas for more content, such as additional heroes, quests, bosses. I think the biggest revelation I could make is that we are preparing (though it is not certain) even MORE game modes (like a “one-vs-all Be a Dragon” game mode), but we will only do that if we are absolutely certain the game design is flawless and there will be no delays in manufacturing/shipping the game. Also, many people, after seeing the Emperor’s art work seem to be asking for his miniature… so… maybe… (wink, wink).

 

I hope you found this quick little Q & A informative heading into the Arena: The Contest Kickstarter campaign, which launches on March 27th. If you would like to find out more information about Arena: The Contest, head over to their Facebook page. Thank you for your time.

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