Awesome concept art
When we starting thinking about WarStages, there was only one person we thought could create to kind of concept art we needed: Gérard Trignac
Just to give you and idea of the level of his skill and talent, Gérard turned down the job of set designer for The Name of the Rose in the 80's...
We worked with Gérard on a big film project at the end of the 90's, and today WarStages seems to be exactly in his alley.
Gérard is not a hobbyist or a gamer and when I explained to him that we were going to build scenery into which people would play with little toy soldiers, he was a bit puzzled.
At first, we tried to work from a very precise brief, explaining to him how tall the miniatures are and what space a game table should be, and how each building should connect and work with each other, and so on. It didn't really work out. Gérard needed to work in total freedom to really let his talent shine.
So we agreed that, based on our general needs and goals, he would draw whatever he would envision.
And he came up with some pretty crazy stuff...
This is way too big!
But most of it was on such large scale that now you would not need a 2 meter long table to play, but most likely a 15m (50 feet) one!
So we started reworking his concepts to change their scale while preserving the original shapes and proportions as much as we could. We also had to open a lot of the buildings so that their inside would be accessible and you could move your minis inside them. It was not easy and some of his designs could not be adapted fully, but overall his vision truly inspired us on many different levels.
We were able to preserve a good part of what he drew for the front of the cathedral.
We also worked together on “the Library”, the project for which he made the most complex drawings, a medieval labyrinth that truly puts The Name of the Rose's secret library to shame by its size and complexity.
But it quickly became obvious that this was a completely new project in itself! This means that you will see more Sisters buildings in a near future, We already have quite a few ready for battle...
That's also why we are not showing you more of Gerard's work, because there is plenty of very epic stuff we are saving for our next few WarStages projects...
The Cardboard Plunge
When we printed Gérard's drawings at the size the final scenery should have, it was VERY encouraging. It dwarfed the miniatures in an awesome, epic way.
After that test, when we finally decided to go with high density cardboard, a good part of the cathedral had already been modeled and most of this model was used as a base for the cardboard version. We did many renders that we reworked in Photoshop to make it look even more detailed and more tri-dimensional.
Another type of building
We also knew that the Cathedral would be a big standalone building that would need some kind of extension to be even more modular and maze-like.
So tried additional types of structures and buildings. We did research based on references that were very far from traditional gothic stuff, such as Esher's work, or the creations of contemporary architects like Ricardo Boffil.
La Muralla Roja, an apartment complex in Spain by Ricardo Boffil
This resulted in many, many ideas. Many of them were not used in this first WarStages Kickstarter. They will be part of future projects. However, one of them gave birth to the Gothic Daedalus Kit: a set of platforms, stairs and pathways that would retain a strong gothic feel and a strong sense of verticality, which was key for the whole project.
Here are images of the very first cardboard version of several Daedalus Kit elements:
Once we had the basic shapes of our building, the next stage was texturing.
To be continued...
Little Christmas Stories
Since it is Christmas, it is the right time for stories and anecdotes about what goes behind the scenes on a Kickstarter project. This might have been more appropriate for Thanksgiving, but it's always good to say “thank you” to people who support you, right?
Many great people in the industry have given us some great testimonies about WarStages during the campaign. It's very rewarding to have your peers supporting your products and creative efforts and we are very thankful to them.
As we have often said, a Kickstarter is not a pre-order shop for ready-made products. It is a human adventure with many people embarking on a crazy project, artists, backers, manufacturers, the list goes on.
The human element is really key for us and so here is the opportunity of sharing with you some of the anecdotes that happen behind the scene during the making of the project.
These little simple moments are also what make these adventures worth it. Today is an opportunity to say “thank you” to all of them and to talk a bit more about a few of the ones with whom we had some special interactions or moments.
I was introduced to John by some of our foundry guys. John is probably the nicest person I have been in contact with in the industry. After he sent us a truly great testimony, we had a conversation on Messenger about our work. I was telling John how Chronopia, a game and a world that he has been heavily involved into, had a big impact on me.
If you don't know that game, you should check it out. Mostly illustrated by Adrian Smith, it is a wonderful creation that has a deep impact on the industry. John told me that this had also been an adventure and a project that is still very close to his heart.
This is when something came back to my mind:
As we were talking about making massive cardboard Cathedrals for miniature gaming and talking about one of the greatest wargame fantasy setting, I realized that about 20 years ago, I got out of the gigantic Beauvais cathedral in the north of France completely floored by this behemoth of a cathedral, just to get a second punch in the face as I saw my first ever Chronopia image: a poster taped on the glass door of a game shop next to the cathedral... Double whammy!
Talking about cathedrals and Chronopia with John 20 years later was really like going full circle, bringing great memories of a time when I would never have thought being at the helm of a thriving miniature company.
Anyway, check out John's work. He has an awesome project in the works that I can't tell you about, except that it is some pretty heavy and cool stuff...
The Beauvais Cathedral is so big that only half of it was ever constructed. In the XVI century, its 150m (nearly 500 foot) high tower collapsed, but at that time it was the tallest monument of the known world.
From the beginning of Raging Heroes, Paolo has been one of the most enthusiast heavy weight supporter of our work, and yet we've never had a chance to meet or even speak together. But Paolo has been consistently posting great comments on our Facebook posts for quite some time now.
The funny thing is that, when Chronopia came out, Paolo was working on its “brother” game Warzone. Chronopia was a fantasy game and Warzone was a SciFi game, both made by the same team.
Paolo's illustration style is a unique mix of American and European influences.
I remember being blown away by the very distinctive illustration styles of Paul Bonner and Paolo when they were both working on Warzone. Then both of them went to work on Confrontation and later, Paolo launched his own project Dust.
Paolo, I hope we'll have a chance to grab a beer together sometime!
I remember our very first convention as Raging Heroes, where we met Leonidas. We had just launched Raging Heroes in 2009, and were very timidly roaming the alleys of a French game event. Leonidas was managing the French magazine Ravage and had agreed to meet us to talk about the few sculpts we had just launched.
When we met, he greeted us with is usual enthusiasm and friendliness. At that time we were really a very, very small company but he was 200% supportive of our work and projects. Back then internet was not what it is today, and so he gave us a great exposure through his magazine even if we didn't have the resources to buy advertising.
Now a few years later he has been key to the success of some of the biggest miniature game Kickstarters with Conan, Mythic Battles and Times of Legend: Joan of Arc.
And yet, he is still the same nice, friendly and enthusiastic person who was instantly on board to support WarStages.
So a very big thank you to him :)
Colin at Battlesystems
I also wanted to give a special thank you to Colin of Battlesystems with whom we had some conversations just a few days before launching WarStages. Please go and check his current Kickstarter. This is his company's first game and it makes a very effective use of their great scenery line. The campaign is now over, but I'm pretty sure you can still late pledge.