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Jordan Weisman: "If you're not scared, then you didn't push yourself enough"

After the success of Shadowrun Returns, Harebrained Schemes goes back to Kickstarter for tabletop/video game hybrid Golem Arcana

After Shadowrun Returns, Jordan Weisman should be looking at his next Kickstarter campaign with all the confidence of a competitive swimmer looking down a familiar pool. On the eve of launch for his next one, Golem Arcana, at times he sounds more like a kid staring down a murky pond on the first day of camp. 

"I'm very scared but we'll see," Jordan says in an interview just before launching his campaign. "Anytime you're trying a new property and a new dynamic, it's always a little scary. If you're not scared, then you didn't push yourself enough."

Golem Arcana's Kickstarter launched this past Tuesday. Based on how it's trending, things are going swimmingly.

Golem Arcana is new on a couple of fronts. It's a brand new IP for Weisman and his studio, Harebrained Schemes. That part of it is old hat for Weisman. He has a string of original properties to his name going back to Shadowrun and Battle Tech at his first studio, FASA. That has continued through his most recent ventures with WizKids, Smith and Tinker, and now Harebrained, which have all been pretty much focused on creating new IP. The part that's probably scaring him the most is the new gameplay dynamic Golem Arcana is introducing, which Harebrained describes as a digitally enhanced miniatures game.

Golem Arcana combines a miniatures table top game with a software app and a device where the two interact digitally. That concept of enhancing a board game with a digital component isn't new. Golem Arcana is just doing it in such a polished, smartly organized way, and for one of the most complex kinds of physical games. 

"I've always loved table top games," said Weisman. "There's just an energy in the theme, a visual dynamic, and a tactile dynamic. I'm always looking for ways to make table top games more accessible, and yet at the same time richer and deeper."

As Weisman put it, that crossing of table top meets video game opens the door for a lot of mechanics that gamers of all types have become accustomed to.

"What's cool is that because it's digitizing the game as you play it, there are all of these kinds of features that were only available to video games [that] are now available to table top games. Things like you have information flow for leaderboards seamlessly so you can do all sorts of fun tournament leagues or organized play."

The concept seems promising enough that Harebrained could have gone the outside investor route or even opted to back it themselves, assuming they had the funds. Weisman sees benefits outside of just monetary backing by going the crowd funding route.

"I think the part and parcel of it is that it's an effective way to talk to our audience and see if this is something they're interested in. This is a brand new property, it's a brand new way to play. From that perspective it's certainly a higher risk in a sense."

Weisman said he hopes their legacy on Kickstarter with Shadowrun Returns helps this campaign, but then added, "Frankly, if people don't express a lot of interest in it, well then we're glad we didn't just spend a year in development."

Weisman also reflected on the changing landscape game makers are dealing with once it's time to bring their products to market.

"It's such a fractured marketing landscape now because of a decentralization of our audience," he said. "That means it takes a lot more effort to find all the nooks and crannies where your audience is lurking, and then figure out an effective media strategy and marketing strategy for how to reach them.

Read the full interview at the [a]list daily.