Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Alessio Cavatore


TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
I was born in Turin, Italy, forty years ago. My highschool was classic-oriented (Greek, Latin, history and philosophy...). The I changed to science, getting a degree in biology, which I finished in the UK with the Open University, after moving to Nottingham in 1996 to work for Games Workshop as a translator. After a year or so, my job at GW changed to games designer. Fifteen years later, in 2010, I went self-employed, making my own company to create my own games and sell my sword out as a mercenary games designer to other companies that make wargames. I'm married and I have a four-years old daughter.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO GAMING?
I started writing rules when I was about eight, to play games with plastic HO-scale toy soldiers on the chequred wooden floor of my bedroom. And the house cat normnally won those games, crushing entire armies with his gigantic paws.
Then, at fifteen or so, I discovered D&D in a club in ton and role-played for quite a few years, and then, a few years later I saw these people playing a game of something that looked awesome: Warhammer! I started a Skaven army, won the Italian tournament (it was still very small...), and that shaped my future career.

WHAT IS IT YOU FIND SO APPEALING ABOUT GAMING?
Like all geeks, I have a vivid imagination, and when I play something, it's easy for me to identify with whatever characters/armies I am in control of, from my Elf in Lord of the Rings Online, to the Captain commanding my platoon in Bolt Action.

SHARE A FAVOURITE GAMING MOMENT WITH US
Oh, dear, there are so many! Maybe that all-encompassing experience of playing a single game of "Empires in arms" that lasted months and months. The banter and some of the betrayals that happened during that campaign still have repercussions today. People still attack other players to avenge events that happened now ten years ago!

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY PLAYING?
I'm playing lots of war games (Kings of War, Warpath, Bolt Action, Fanticide, Deus Vult, and some more that I cannot name yet), but this is playtesting more than playing for fun, which counts as work!
I'm playing a lot of Shuuro, Wrath of the Elements on facebook – that's a free, online, fantasy version of my game Shuuro that allows you to play your friends and players all over the world. We have recently added a campaign mode, where you conquer the world of Loka by defeating opponents in game of Shuuro. But I guess you could say that it also counts as work.
So, to relax I play computer games (like LOTRO) and board games (Galactica, Small World). One day I'll find the time to resume role-play!

CAN YOU TELL US WHAT YOUR FAVOURITE GAMES ARE?
Excluding any game I wrote or co-wrote (that would seem weird):
War games: Warhammer 5th edition. Blackpowder.
Role Play games: Serenity/Firefly
Board Games: Empires in arms, Fortress America, Axis & Allies Pacific, Smallworld, Battlestar Galactica, Condottiere

WHAT WAS THE LAST GAME YOU PLAYED?
Shuuro, Wrath of the elements, just a few minutes ago... it's just too addictive!

WHICH PRODUCTS HAVE YOU HAD YOUR WORK PUBLISHED IN?
The list is quite long. It's easier to check my portfolio here:

ARE YOU WORKING ON ANY GAMING-RELATED PROJECTS AT THE MOMENT?
Oh yes! River Horse is engaged in making eight different game systems for five different companies around the world. Exciting times ahead. Sadly, I cannot disclose more about quite a few of these upcoming games, and if I did, then I'd have to kill ya.     ;-)



TELL US A BIT ABOUT SHUURO AND HOW IT CAME TO BE.

One day, many years ago, I remembered that when they teach you to play chess, they tell you that a bishop or a knight is worth three pawns, and a rook is worth five pawns, while a queen is worth nine pawns... (it's called realtive value of chess pieces, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_piece_relative_value ). As a wargame designers, it occurred to me that it is just a simple points values system, where a pawn is worth 1, a bishop/knight is worth 3, a rook 5 and queen 9. The next question was of course: if you could exchane chess pieces for points and use the points to buy different chess pieces, what would you do? Or indeed, if you had different amount of points on different size boards, what would you buy? 

There and then, Shuuro was conceived. The plinths were an early attempt to balance out the decreased value of Knights on the big 12x12 board, but soon it was clear that they were nothing more than pieces of terrain (a bit like fortified positions). So, it made more and more sense to develop an 'abstract wargame' system, that uses chess as the rules and chess pieces as playing pieces, making the game easily accessible to people (most people know the rules of chess), but sets the games in different size battlefields (i.e. boards), with variable terrain on!

After a few years of experience, I realise now that some people are a bit afraid of chess, as they think "I'm not good at chess", and they won't give Shuuro a go because of this 'chess phobia'. The ones that do soon realise that Shuuro is a lot more chaotic than chess and enjoy it. However, to appease those fears, I think I'll move Shuuro one step closer to wargame in its next expansion, making the combat not as straightforward as chess ('the piece that attacks, wins'), but rather resolved by an opposed dice roll, modified by the value of the pieces and the support of other pieces... stay tuned for those rules to be released soon!

 

WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING AT GAMES WORKSHOP, AND WHICH PRODUCTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF WORKING ON DURING YOUR TIME THERE?

It was a great experience, which taught all I know about writing games and working in this business. I worked alongside and learnt from some of the finest games designers in the world, men that I am proud of calling my friends and mentors. I am thinking in particular of Rick Priestley and Jervis Johnson. 
As far as products, I am most proud of 40K fifth edition and The Lord of the Rings strategy battle game, both of which have a lot of me in them.    

DO YOU HAVE ANY WEBPAGES OR SOCIAL NETWORK ACCOUNTS WHERE FANS CAN FIND YOU?
Absolutely! I'm on facebook and on LinkedIn, and of course here: http://www.riverhorse.eu/about.htm

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