How did it all begin?
Watching my first elaborate game come to life was an unreal experience for me, mostly because I first presented it to a jury panel who had the power to make a judgment on my eligibility to clear the course on the basis of the presentation I was about to make.
Well, putting the academic thrill aside, it was the first time I was in a position to think and handle the criticism from the creator’s point of view. All the while, while playing new games I was never in two minds before questioning the choices of the game designer and rule maker. This was the day they all escalated to a very high position in my eyes. It is always easy to tweak what exists, but a nightmare to bring to life what isn’t there.
The idea for Annexe had hit me while I was dragging myself from museum to museum, exploring the narrative of the plunder of Mexico by the Spaniards, at the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. It was the thought of converting this newly absorbed narrative into an environment for people to get a first-hand experience of being on either side of the negotiation, that kept me fueled to keep investigating. The story was too compelling to be ignored.
After returning back home, I remember surrounding myself with various stationery resources envisaging the construction of a shrine that would extract ideas out of my prodigious brain. In no time the whole idea of the setup came down into shambles with a graceful domino effect. I then had settled for taking one small step at a time than to expect a sudden eureka moment. The very first step was to frame the right brief.
“Brief: To come up with a strategy tabletop game that throws light on the nuances of colonization as a process and the hidden transactions that take place in the background”
Finally, a random trick worked. make a prototype of the first concept that hits the brain and immediately start play-testing it. It did wonders.
Just like the concept, the inputs were brutal. The only analogous situation I could think of is holding a cube of wood and coarse grain sandpaper, and aspire to make a swan out of it. But, the brutal the better. The second prototype was a calculated attempt at saving self-dignity. And to my surprise, it worked!
Then came the fear of deadline, which was above every other force. the frequency of play-test runs became ten folds. I had to almost develop a game library of my own to self-educate myself about the vast ocean of game mechanics because in this case theory and literature were of almost no help. This might not be the most astute way of acquiring knowledge, but for me it did wonders. besides getting hold of game mechanics, actions, possibilities, this became my gateway into the world I resolved never to leave.
The game was ready on time. Local carpenters, Aliexpress, and local printer suggestions came in extremely handy at the final stage. But all the anxiety and distress apart, I was full of pride. Withing no time the ordeal was over. I was left with a semi-perfected game and a handful of very worthy inputs by the jury panel, which were implemented in no time. After a few months, Annexe was showcased at the Nasscom Game Developer’s Conference at Hyderabad.