Game Front 1-on-1: ‘Telepath Tactics’ Creator Craig Stern

Game Front 1-on-1 is a continuing series featuring interviews with and personality profiles on a variety of people in the vast and diverse community of gaming, including creative fans, passionate players, amateur developers and everyone in between.

Telepath Tactics is a turn-based tactical RPG in which you play through a single-player campaign that consists of a main storyline and a host of supporting characters. Like the Fire Emblem and Tactics Ogre series, much of the narrative focus is on the characters, and the player’s actions throughout the game. Telepath Tactics was recently the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign, which was launched several months after a previous campaign failed to garner significant attention from the public.

I spoke with the game’s creator, Craig Stern, to talk about the game and how it came about, and what his plans are moving forward. I also queried him for some insight on his views of Kickstarter as a platform, and how he plans to contribute to helping make the game industry more inclusive to women.

First off, congratulations on running a successful Kickstarter! The funding for Telepath Tactics looked a bit touch-and-go for a while there. How’d you manage to pull it through in the final days?

Thanks! We actually hit our base funding goal three days into the campaign; the touch-and-go part was in the three months after our first campaign failed, when I was retooling things in anticipation of giving it a second try. If the second campaign didn’t pan out, I was not going to try a third time.

As for how I managed to make it work: I basically just listened to the feedback I got from the first campaign. I added in new graphical assets; I refocused development on single player and mod support (which people were really enthusiastic about) in lieu of multiplayer (which people were less excited about); I tightened up my Kickstarter pitch; I adjusted my pledge tiers; I revised funding priorities to get a leaner base funding goal; I polled my backers about what stretch goals they wanted to see; and I was more proactive about reaching out to various strategy RPG enthusiast communities online.

Being able to email all of my backers from the first campaign didn’t hurt either.

For our readers who are unfamiliar with the game, can you tell us a little about Telepath Tactics?

Telepath Tactics is a turn-based tactical RPG with a Fire Emblem style single player campaign, 2-to-6 player local multiplayer, mod support, a robust map editor, destructible battlefields, environmental hazards, and the ability to build bridges and barricades.

Did I mention that it has mod support? You can create your own campaigns and download other peoples’. It’s pretty awesome. I’m developing it for Windows, Mac and Linux.

What was your inspiration for designing Telepath Tactics?

I originally got the idea for Telepath Tactics as a head-to-head multiplayer turn-based tactics game, a little like Fire Emblem meets Super Smash Brothers. Super Smash Brothers, incidentally, is where I got the idea to make it so you could throw enemies off of cliffs and into water or lava; from there, letting the player build bridges and barricades just seemed like the natural next step.

Beyond that, I’ve drawn inspiration from a lot of different strategy RPGs, from Disgaea to Final Fantasy Tactics, from Fire Emblem to Eternal Poison.

Now that the Kickstarter’s successful, where do things go from here?

There’s a little over a week left until Amazon payments releases the Kickstarter funds; once those come in, I’m going to spend them on getting all of the art and music this game needs. On my end, I’m now finalizing a few remaining features for the engine, then writing the main campaign.

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