Community Connection: Joseph Norris and the Nightlancer Interview
JF: Tell us about Nightlancer.
JN: Nightlancer is a competitive cyberpunk game. You become a Nightlancer, a struggling underdog trying to survive in the crumbling dystopia of 2099 Birmingham. You must survive the dangers of the slums, take on underworld missions, get hardware on the black market and use your connections. As you battle to survive, beating out the opposition, you need to choose if you will try to hold on to your ideals or risk them for an extra payday.
JF: What inspired you to create Nightlancer?
JN: I’ve been a huge fan of the cyberpunk genre and a gamer for most of my life. Nightlancer evolved from the original concept of taking a cyberpunk-themed roleplaying campaign and turning it into a board game that you can play in one session. You get all those key decisions – what missions to take, which friends and enemies you make, what implants you get and whether you try to build up a life and community in the slums or focus on your own survival and independence.
JF: Can you walk us through the development of Nightlancer?
JN: Nightlancer began with a lot more components and mechanics and a lot of the development work was identifying which features worsen (or at least, don’t add to) the playing experience. There were lots of ideas that were “cool” in the original design but made it a bad game, so they needed to go. Some were changed and some were removed outright.
JF: What was the most enjoyable moment you had in developing Nightlancer?
JN: I still remember sitting down with my first hand-made copy of Nightlancer with my dad - the first person I could convince to try it.
JF: As an independent publisher, you wear many hats. What is your favorite hat to wear when you’re developing a game?
JN: Designer. I like developing, demoing and all the project management. But the design stage – the original conceptualisation and creation of the first playable prototype is the part I find most exciting.
JF: Nightlancer has had a long development process and has been on Kickstarter twice before. What has changed to the game over this time, and what did you do differently to make this Kickstarter successful?
JN: The game has changed but not in massive ways. Some rules have been improved to clarify the gameplay and make the game easier to understand and there were a few balance changes along the way. The biggest change which was pivotal in the success was taking a hard look at the game and identifying that it was bloated and had far more components than it needed to be a good game.
As far as making the Kickstarter more successful is concerned, beside the lower funding target and pledge level I could offer by streamlining the game, was planning. I had a much stronger plan and preparation behind this launch, as well as a big improvement in how the page is presented.
JF: What has been the most difficult aspect in getting your game to fund on Kickstarter?
JN: Getting the funding target down to a realistic target and getting enough people aware of the launch and willing to support.
JF: What advice would you give to aspiring designers looking to self-publish a game on Kickstarter?
JN: You need to have design, development, graphics and supporters. Neglect any of these and you’ll make it much harder or impossible. You need to take a long hard look at each of these aspects, get feedback from people with real experience, and identify which ones you need help with.
JF: How can we learn more about Nightlancer and Adversity Games?
JN: The Kickstarter is live and ends on midnight 27th March. It’s already over 140% funded with a stretch goal unlocked!