Interview Tabletop

Talking Infinities: Defiance of Fate with Creator, Steven Berry

A game of merging worlds and warring realities.

Dimensional rifts have opened up and two worlds have begun to aggressively collide. The Lightbearers exist in a reality ruled by magic and pyromancing pangolin-like creatures wander the desert wastelands. Opposite them is the DEVA Network, a race of machines living in domes under the watch of an omnipresent time-defying computer god. Though once the same, these worlds have diverged and are now colliding through the existence of rifts. In the debut of Infinities: Defiance of Fate, it’s up to you to choose your faction and fight for your reality.

Aside from its eye-catching appearance, Infinities: Defiance of Fate is a game loaded with possibilities. With ever evolving strategy, a board that generates as you play, and two distinctly different methods of play, Infinities: Defiance of Fate has plenty to discover. The game is designed for two to four players who will play against one another as either the DEVA Network or Lightbringers through two different modes of play.

In Story mode, players will explore a branching narrative with story based objectives for each chapter. Your choices will dictate how the story evolves, giving Infinities: Defiance of Fate plenty of replay value once you’ve completed the story. Infinities: Defiance of Fate also includes a Skirmish Mode for players who want to dive right in, experiment with new strategies, or just introduce a friend to a new game. For more details on how to play and the structure of each round, check out the instructional video below from Vatal Entertainment.

 

Steven Berry of Vatal Entertainment Studios set aside some time to talk with us and tell us more about Infinities: Defiance of Fate and it’s ongoing Kickstarter campaign.

What’s your background in gaming and what inspired you to pursue game design?

I’ve been a gamer since childhood, mostly with video games and tabletop RPGs. When World of Warcraft arrived on the scene, I met my co-designer, Jordan. We played the game for several years and always were thinking of what could make the game better. Ultimately, we began hashing out our own ideas and creating a world around those concepts. We did this on and off for a few years before we sat down and said, “Let’s try this for real in a medium that we could actually put out a product on our own.” From there, we transitioned to board gaming. As we played more and more modern board games, we absorbed a myriad of implementations of mechanics and storytelling in successful games and, similar to the past, tried to devise ways to improve upon what we saw in the ecosystem. Personally, I admire the capacity for interactive storytelling in tabletop games. By playing through a story versus reading one, the player’s mind is engaged at an intersection of imagination and invention. It’s a compelling narrative design space.

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I’m really enjoying the art direction. The game components are just stunning. What were your inspirations?

Thank you! We wanted our art style to stand out and have a lasting quality to it. To this end, we sought to avoid the trappings of going with a purely “painterly” illustration style. That style, to our minds, does not scale well and can draw easy comparisons to the hundreds of card and tabletop games in existence. Instead, we aimed at a blend of vector and cel-shaded/pixel art (some may call it vexel) to create a recognizable appearance. I suppose the answer here is somewhat opposite from the design in question. Rather than wishing to borrow and improve on ideas from other games, our concept was to move away from them. Of course, I can’t take full credit for our art direction. Our art team has done amazing work and created beautiful pieces worthy of anyone’s wall.

 

Give us some background on the world of Infinities.

Infinities is a multiverse setting where we explore the infinite possibilities of infinite decision points in time. So, in essence it is indeed a time travel game. As you encounter cards, make dice rolls, and build worlds with tiles, our intention is that these represent all manner of possible realities. For Defiance of Fate, we’re witnessing two worlds in very different states: one is a barren planet with civilization primarily living under domes and worshipping a computer god displaced in time, while the other is a world where magic exists and mortals have long since evolved into various forms appropriate to their elemental attunements. These worlds were once the same, and were connected a millennia ago by the mortals of one reality banishing a god to the other. Even now, that connection will manifest as rifts open between the worlds and blend two realities together. Passing through rifts might result in shifts of time, place, or existence itself.

 

 

How does play vary between the two factions?

Many of the action types are mirrored between the factions in the interest of balance. Though asymmetry is important to us, so is making sure that no matter who a player selects, they should have certain capacities such as simple card destroys, chain plays, and tile controls. Each faction does have a bit of a specialty, however. The Lightbearers tend to be a bit more straightforward and aggressive and will often take the “burn it down and let the strong survive” approach. In fact, they have multiple action cards which can result in collateral damage. Those who live without fear of pain themselves are truly a terrifying sight on the battlefield. On the other side, the DEVA Network have several actions which represent their capacity of omnipresence and mind control. This includes tile teleportation and card stealing actions along with actions which allow them to play cards in opponents’ play areas to debuff them.

 

What are some of the more unique combination strategies you’ve come across during play testing?

It’s funny you should mention combinations. We have actions in the game which require two dice to play. These are often quite powerful, but cost you half of your turn. These are what one might call “baked-in” combos, and they are great ways to spend what might be an undesirable Boost (+) die. The beauty of Infinities, though, comes in creating your own combos with single die actions that are hard to read. When I use the word “read” here, I use it in a fighting game sense. For instance, if you lock in two Power in this game, the basic attack action requires a 3-space reach on your opponent. If they read that and move away, your Power dice might be wasted. But you can read that read and put out a unit or leader action that spends Power dice on something other than attacking, such as the Agent of DEVA card to control tiles. Combinations, then, are built on short-term tactics, longer-term strategy, and mindgames with your opponents. Because dice are not spent all at once, but one action per player at a time, combinations are never guaranteed, but are almost always satisfying to land.

 

Can you describe how the branching soft-legacy Story mode play evolves over time? Do the characters evolve over time as well?

As players progress in Story mode, they play one chapter at a time. Each chapter might be all vs. one, a team game, a co-op challenge, or a free for all. Players will most likely not play the same character all the way through a story; instead, they will experience both sides of the conflict between these two factions as their worlds overlap. In each chapter, there are multiple end conditions. When one is satisfied, the player(s) who triggered the end of the chapter read a different ending narrative, then refer to the listed Story Thread at the back of the Story Guide book. Story Threads include things like shuffling cards from one deck into the other to represent mind control, removing a leader for the rest of the campaign to represent their death or cowardice, or changing setup conditions for a whole faction (e.g., extra resources). Once the Story Thread is applied, players follow the chapter ending instructions to proceed to one of several next chapters. This means that as you play, you’ll be changing what is in the game or how it is played in a cumulative fashion that is not defacing or destructive for your components. No reset kits, no headaches. The evolution of the main characters can also be explored in each one’s solo quest. These are chronicles of defining moments in their lives and show who they are and who they could have been instead.

 

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Do you have any plans to expand the story in the future?

Without committing to too much, yes. We’ve purposely made this system modular to open ourselves for future opportunities, should they arise. Hypothetically speaking, an expansion for Infinities could appear as a faction with a deck and set of leaders, a stack of world tiles for their home, and a Story Guide including their conflict with another faction and solo quests for the leaders.

 

What stretch goal are you most excited to share with players?

Personally, I want all of the leaders to make it into the game. We currently have 5 for each faction unlocked. Every additional leader means new ways to play in all modes, but in particular it means more solo quests for us to dive deeper into their characters and make players love (or hate) them even more. There’s also a potential stretch goal that could be crucial in building the community for the future, but we’ll see if we get that far!

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In terms of your own personal taste, how do you prefer to play?

I tend to push my limits, even if the dice don’t always support my plans. That means rolling attacks even at a low chance of success, exploring tiles to hope for a certain type to appear, or saving powerful cards for a better opportunity at the risk that one never comes. This has always been my personality in roleplaying games and video games. I find that if you push yourself hard enough, you might be surprised by how far you go and how well you perform. Now that I say it, that seems to be sound life advice.

 

If you had unlimited time and funding, what’s the one thing you would want add to Infinities: Defiance of Fate to make it stand out even more?

We would have loved to launch this game with four factions and worlds. However, with this being our first outing on Kickstarter, we decided that we should scale the scope and pricing appropriately for our standing in the community. Therefore, we decided that minimizing the price point and focusing on the design, balance, and art of two factions was the best course of action. We have over eight hundred incredible people who love the direction of the game as it is, so that seems to be validating the existence of this IP and game system. Our job now is to deliver this game and build trust in our fanbase. We’ll see where things go from here!

Thanks for talking with us Steven! I’m excited to see to see the final product and all of the stretch goal upgrades you’ve been able to make!

For more information on Infinities: Defiance of Fate, check out Vatal Entertainment of their Kickstarter page. Better yet, you can play a free demo of the game on Tabletopia before you back the project.

 

Check in next week for an interview with Kate Tessier, Co-founder and game designer of Raven Tale’s Wardens.

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Boston born turned typical Brooklyn hipster with too much beard and too little time, trading off sleep for the chance to test his patience with the most frustrating games. From Dark Souls to The Witness to ironman Xcom playthroughs; if it offers a challenge, it’s on his list. When he’s not hiding in the mountains, editing music tracks, or pretentiously talking about craft beer, you’ll find him replaying the Bioshock, Mass Effect, or Souls franchises.

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