Have you ever fallen so hard for a game that you wanted to start a company just to release a sequel?
That’s what happened to Sean Molyneaux and the team from Boston-based Apocoplay. Now, they’re Kickstarting their way to making the dream a reality with Alteil: Horizons.
Back in 2006, Molyneaux caught wind of “unit tactics game” Alteil. The online game, where players can battle with an extensive selection of beautifully designed cards, had launched in Japan a few years prior to that. Molyneaux and his colleagues were brought in to localize Alteil for the U.S. Mostly, that meant translation duties and handling the new group of Stateside gamers after Alteil launched in 2008.
“We were on the front lines seeing how the game worked,” says Molyneaux. Alteil became more than work for the team. They had become fans too. “It’s a tactical game and a strategy type came that’s pretty hardcore,” Molyneaux explains. “I’m one of those people who loves those games.”
Like true fans, the U.S. team could not only identify what captivated them about the game, but what could improve it. Five years after the game was first developed, Alteil had started to show its age. The U.S. team offered their advice to the Japanese team and, ultimately, took charge of making new cards and updates for the American market. “We became close friends with the Japanese team,” says Molyneaux. “We were deeply involved in the game.”
But companies merged and Alteil got lost in the shuffle. Eventually, a decision was made to end the U.S. version of Alteil. Molyneaux and the team were already invested in Alteil in a way that might only happen when you really love what you do. They made a bid to license the game for the U.S. market. It worked.
“At the time that the opportunity came up, I was no longer working for the licensing company. I was just a freelancer,” says Molyneaux. “Most of the team quit our jobs to live the dream and start a game company, so to speak. It was a jump for us.”
Alteil has a pretty good following of serious fans, but, it’s also very much a cult game. To give the fans something more while trying to bring in new players, the group decided to make a sequel. With Alteil: Horizons, they can fix the outdated aspects of the game, as well as things that might not have translated well as Alteil hit the U.S. They can also bring in a lot of interesting art.
It’s the art that Molyneaux says helps Alteil stand out in the gaming world. He explains that, in games, a popular artist might create the look of the game, but that’s going to be filtered through the lenses of everyone else who works on the project. “By using card art, each piece is a unique piece of art directly from the imagination of the artist,” says Molyneaux. There are some high-profile artists involved with the game, like Katsuya Terada (Legend of Zelda), Shunya Yamashito (Marvel Bishoujo) and Hitoshi Yoneda (Phantasy Star). They’ve also brought in a slew of cool artists to contribute card designs that are exclusive to Kickstarter backers. On Thursday, they announced that Tim Buckley of Ctrl+Alt+Del produced a Kickstarter exclusive card.
With Alteil, Molyneaux and the team had the chance to work on something they truly believed was special. “We loved the game so much, we wanted to show it to everybody,” says Molyneaux. With Alteil: Horizons, they have a rare opportunity to take the game they love and turn it into something bigger.