Hawgleg announces Draw! RPG
Mitchell said that there are a lot of RPG elements in Hawgleg's flagship product, Gutshot, and the owners had even discussed turning it into an RPG, but that those discussions didn't go very far.
"We talked about it, but decided that Gutshot should remain true to its roots and stay a solid miniatures game," Mitchell said, adding that they didn't want to confuse people by having two different game systems called Gutshot. "It has always been important to us that Gutshot stay true to its roots as a miniatures game."
Background: Starting down the trail in a new direction
Mike Mitchell met Kevin Nunn at OwlCon in Houston, Texas about four or five years ago. Kevin is a game designer and an Origins Award nominee for his card game, Nobody But Us Chickens. Kevin is very active in the Houston boardgame community, and has designed many games, including the recently released game, duck, duck, Go! Kevin is a prolific game designer with numerous games in various stages of development in both the U.S. and abroad.
"Kevin is an amazing talent and we're thrilled to be working with him," Mitchell said.
One of the games he had worked on was a Western RPG titled Draw! The game uses a poker mechanic to resolve combat and skill checks and was almost complete when he invited Mitchell to sit in on the final game of the initial playtest.
"I was asked to join the playtesters' last game as a guest-star to play the NPCs and the final showdown with the villain. It gave me a chance to play the game and get a feel for the mechanics. It was a very exhilarating game with a novel approach to resolving combat. It just really captures the mythic atmosphere of the Wild West," Mitchell said.
Informal talks continued between Kevin and Mitchell, who was also having informal talks with his partners at Hawgleg about whether they would pursue publishing this rule set.
"There was never any question about the quality of the game," said Hawgleg co-founder Mike Murphy. "It was simply a matter of internal resources and if we felt we could do a good job with Draw!"
Hawgleg partner Paul Mauer agreed, adding that the central game engine was very exciting.
"We like the game, and we like that it uses a poker mechanic. That just feels right in a Western game," Paul said. "It was always just a matter of being sure we could do it justice without hurting our work on Gutshot."
After discussing it at length, and after making some internal changes to the structure of the company to improve productivity, the partners decided to go forward with the project. They were going to announce it last year, but Hurricane Ike struck the company's Houston headquarters, shutting them down for almost two months and throwing their plans into disarray.
"After the hurricane, we seriously thought about benching the project for another year, but decided to just forge ahead with it," Mitchell said. "Conditions will never be perfect and there will always be something distracting us, so we might as well just forge on and try to keep the whole heard of projects moving ahead. We'll get them out when we can as best we can, and that's the best we can hope for."
Right now, the partners are hopeful they can conclude a second round of playtesting and get the book through production for a release in February 2010.
"That's our goal: 2010," Paul said. "We'll try to make it, but if we need more time to make this a better game, then we'll take that time. We'd rather be late and great than early and bad."
A New Website for a new Game
Hawgleg has launched a new Website to support the new game: www.drawrpg.com. The site is currently up and running, although it doesn't have much content… yet.
"Right now the site is little more than a placeholder for us," Mitchell said. "It looks nice, but there's not a lot of content. But that will change as time goes on."
The Hawgleg Posse is also still trying to decide if the site needs its own forums, or whether to combine them with the current forums over at Hawgleg.com. The three partners are torn on the issue, and may actually put it to a vote over at the forums and let the users decide which approach they would prefer. Until that decision is set in stone, there will be a separate discussion area at the Hawgleg Forums site to handle discussion about Draw! as it moves through development.
Additionally, news stories about Draw! will be duplicated at both sites. General stories about the company will, for the most part, remain at the main Hawgleg Website.
"We're very excited about this new game and can't wait to see it in print," Murphy said, adding that it's just one of several announcements this year that will dramatically change the face of Hawgleg Publishing for years to come. "The next two years are going to be very exciting for Hawgleg and our fans."
The next steps
The next step for Draw! includes doing more playtesting, collecting artwork, editing the existing text, and then prepping it (and support material, such as a GM's screen) for publication.
Playtests will be announced at both Websites. The next playtest will be held next weekend at OwlCon in Houston, Texas. Additional playtests and details will be released as the details are confirmed.
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