Grab a cup of water and have a seat. This is going to be hard, but we’ve got to start somewhere, and you probably want to be sitting down.
No, stop, don’t drink it yet. We’ll get to that, all in good time.
See Quin began as a gem of an idea, a flicker of a flutter of inspiration, Taeleen Woodard almost flicked off of her eyelash thinking it was dust, way back in the future in 2009. Imagine, if you will, the twilight zone of a suburb outside Denver, in a time before Instagram, when the Black Eyed Peas owned the airwaves, the iPhone was only 2 years old, and the alien bodysnatchers of Hollywood hadn’t yet revealed themselves to the world (taking a leap of faith on that one). Taeleen was making sandwiches for a living, and Brian Rooney (that’s me) thought he was a cool guy running a local record store and talking about himself in the 3rd person. Anyway, she had this vision for a game that took place on a series of concentric circles, with these little alien symbols defining the different pieces. We didn’t really have any gameplay concepts beyond that for a while, but amazingly, that very first visionary series of sketches are almost identical to the game we are now producing. If I can talk her into it, you might even see them at some point. But they fell by the wayside, the creative diversions of a couple of young artists who drew up alien diagrams from time to time, without really knowing how to bring them to fruit.
Zip forward a couple years. In the meantime we bought our first house, and Taeleen got a job doing actual design work for a little firm that was on the big come-up. Barack Obama taught us all how to be disillusioned about change, Amazon took over the world, and Elon Musk turned out to be more than just “that weird paypal guy.” Taeleen and I ended up in the back yard, one sublime spring afternoon, surrounded by green and light, cutting up construction paper pieces and playing around with the ideas for Quin again, so very randomly, bridging it into a synthesis of concepts borrowed from Stratego, Chess, and the alien netherworld. In that afternoon, by whatever forces were at play in our subconscious, the modern conception of Quin was born. We knew we were onto something real this time, and painted out a life-size version of the board, with a full set of interchangeable paper pieces. This was the first time Quin was ever played, in our back yard, on that strangely momentous, random day in spring. There weren’t ever dice involved, and the feeling was that we didn’t want to borrow the racist connotations from Chess, so when it came time to decide who would go first, Taeleen did like she often does and reached into the heavens, plucking a star, and said, “I’ll race you to drink that cup of water.”
But things weren’t yet to be. Not what they would eventually become, anyway. The turtles in our hearts were content to take the slow route, and to be honest, modern economics insisted we spend years working for absolutely anyone else for every ten minutes we were allowed to work for ourselves. Like I said, this was before the bodysnatchers liberated the world with zero-point energy (or FTL pizza delivery, as you like). So Quin remained our premature alien lovechild, showing up here and there over the course of nearly a decade, incubating. I started a publishing company. Taeleen became one of the most established Concessions Branding creatives in Colorado. We adopted these two unbelievably cute lab-pit mixes that are totally worthy of a blog of their own. Then, sometime in early 2020, the planets did in fact enter a rare 20-year alignment, sending a rain of cosmic rays our way, escapees from god’s own prism, I’m sure. Our solar panels probably reflected some of them, I don’t know the science, but as the story goes, enough got through that suddenly the genesis of Quin was restarted, with a fire and a battlecry that could only mean this baby’s time was finally upon us for real.
And that basically brings us up to speed. We completely updated the board and logo designs, adding these sweet Mayan calendar-esque flourishes, and teamed up with an awesome local 3D designer and printer, fleshing out the pieces in all of their modern magnetic glory. Currently we’re plowing through alpha prototyping and playtesting, which has resulted in some of the best rule tweaks in the entire history of this development, blowing away our own expectations as Quin blossoms, despite us, into herself as a unique, creative and maybe even fun game, unlike anything we ever knew we could have created. But that’s how alien-babies are, right? You smash yourselves together and hope for the best, but what you get is really up to the gods, in the end.
So I guess the moral of this story is something about following your dreams. Never forget your visions, even if they show up initially before their time. The world is made of turtles, and aliens, wizards and record stores, and nobody ever knows what is going to happen when the planets align. Until they do.
We hope you’ll come with us for the next leg of this journey, sure to not be the last, as we finalize the game and bring it to Kickstarter later this year. I promise not every blog entry will be this long or mythologized. We’ll get into actual play mechanics and the design process, promotional development and beta reviews, as they become things. Anyway, thanks for looking at our baby. I know she’s got all sorts of alien tattoos and came out of the womb speaking a different tongue, but still we hope you think she’s pretty.
Ok, you can drink that water now. Feel it lubricate your eyes, and your brain, from the inside. That’s how you start a proper game of Quin, believe it or not. And it’s not nearly as random as it may at first seem.