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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > Issue Nine – Apr/May '17 > OUT OF THE DARK

OUT OF THE DARK

In two short years, Steamforged went from unknown newcomer to crowdfunding millions for its grand reworking of one of the most exalted video game series ever made. As Dark Souls emerges into the light, MD and co-founder Rich Loxam retraces the publisher’s journey and looks ahead at what’s to come
Dark Souls™, Dark Souls™ II, Dark Souls™ III & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©FromSoftware, Inc.

Aniche Japanese video game and fresh-faced tabletop publisher from Manchester may seem an unlikely couple at first, but Dark Souls and Steamforged Games have proved to be the perfect partnership.

The idea of Steamforged first arose in 2013 as the passion project of two committed gamers determined to make their dream of a spiritual successor to fantasy football miniatures title Blood Bowl a reality.

“It started off with myself and Mat Hart,” co-founder and MD Rich Loxam recounts. “We were sat at a tournament one day and we were kind of lamenting our lives – we’d both been knocked out at this point – and looking around. We enjoyed the games we were playing but there seemed to be a realm for something new.

“At the time we were playing a lot of Blood Bowl online and we were kind of going: ‘It would be great if we could get our nostalgia kick of a sports game but maybe more in an open format.’ Yhat was the first musings of Guild Ball. Between myself and Mat we had a lot of skills – Mat from the production side and me on the design side – and weirdly we kind of swapped roles as we went along a little bit. We had good access to all the information to actually start a company. We had a few ideas for games, one of them being Guild Ball – we felt that was the first one to get us into the industry and our toe in the water.”

The pair began work on Guild Ball at the start of 2013, developing the game for 12 months before launching it on crowdfunding site Kickstarter in February 2014. It took off, smashing its initial goal in under 24 hours and ultimately gathering close to £100,000 from nearly 900 supporters. Spurred by the success and already expanding their ambitions, Loxam and Hart incorporated Steamforged Games Ltd that summer. (They had initially registered on Kickstarter as simply ‘Guild Ball’.)

“We went to Kickstarter, it went crazy on Kickstarter, we didn’t realise how big it was going to be,” Loxam admits. “Then it hit retail and went even bigger. Our intro game, as such, turned into a very big game very quickly. It was never meant to be such a big entity that it is. Which is exciting, because it means we’ve got quite a few ideas that we’ve been working on the last year or so.”

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