Monarchy – A social board game experience that merges the simplicity of ‘Snakes & Ladders’ with tactical strategy

Started in 2011, Big Boot Games has been a quiet studio preparing the recipe to take the world by storm and they certainly did at PocketGamer Connects Bangalore 2016. Founded by Aarti Singh Gaur and Nairith Roy, the studio had developed a game Yuga before it was born and since then, they have forged a partnership for what is called Big Boot Games. Big Boot Games since then has developed four games and showcased Meteora and Monarchy at PG Connects Bangalore of which the latter took the accolades, winning The Very Big Indie Pitch award, taking home $30,000. AnimationXpress got in a tête-à-tête with Nairith who soaks in the excitement of winning the pitch, and unfolds to us the plans ahead for the studio. PocketGamer Connects experience and the big win at The Very Big Indie Pitch There is a small background story to our selection. Originally we were selected as the top 20 finalists for PocketGamer Connects (PGC) London, but we could not afford that trip. So we decided to give it a miss and communicated the same to Robyn (she was coordinating for the London event). Now Robyn did accept our withdrawal from PGC London’s The Very Big Indie Pitch (VBIP) but at the same time suggested we participate in PGC Bangalore and transferred our selection to The Very Big Indie Pitch Bangalore’s 20 finalist’s list. So with all our selection and approvals in place we attended PGC Bangalore. Monarchy Big Boot Games PGC Bangalore was a crazy experience. It was our first time at any game event and it turned out to be amazing for us as Monarchy took home the first prize. PGC started with the blogger’s event and after going through the event we realised 2 things: one that the competition was very tough and two our game is very different s it’s a social board game with deep strategic undertone, takes time to explain; we took seven minutes and more on each table at the bloggers event. The good part was that we were last to pitch and we optimised this opportunity 😉 But in VBIP you don’t get more than four minutes to pitch, so we were just not fitting in. Winning was just off the charts and we decided that we will connect with people and make friends. The Indie showcase helped our plan all the way. People came to our table, got connected, left with a smile and before we realised our table was buzzing as people lined up to play Monarchy which helped us during the pitching time. So at the VBIP, we somehow managed to pitch in time and take questions too. Judges really connected with Monarchy, it was exciting to see them make block moves so intuitively. We got great feedback during the numerous sessions we played over the period of three days, and at one point we had an unknown group fighting amongst each other where one wanted us to go minimalist and the other just loved the way our game looked. It was madness all the way! But still the win was completely unexpected, it was surreal. Big Boot Games History about the studio and the members Big Boot Games consists of Aarti Gaur and me (Nairith Roy); I take care of the game designing part and Aarti is responsible for the art direction. It has been there since 2011 but after our first Mobile game Monkonomix, it was more of a reminder for us to where we wanted to come back to. And finally in November 2014 we did return to full time game development and currently we are a team of five. We did get registered in 2011 but our trials with game development started much earlier. Back in 2007, just out of college, like all other Indian game developer enthusiasts we were keen on making a game inspired by Mahabharata or Ramayana. But the one thing we were extremely clear about was the inspiration part. We didn’t want to depict the story as is. So I ended up writing a story which talks about this long lost warrior who existed in an in-between time; which then resulted in Yuga – our passion project. We started off with modding it for the Unreal Engine and took it to GDC San Francisco 2010. Our aim was to get full featured game deal. It didn’t materialise but what happened was nothing short of a wonder as we got a chance to meet John Carmack and in such a situation, we got a chance to talk to him for about 20 minutes uninterrupted; by far the best 20 minutes of our lives. It was he who suggested us that we take it slow and easy and make games for the mobile industry. Slow it might be but if we had content we will get noticed and that would be the right way to go head. So we came back home, and started developing Monkonomix for iOS. Since then we worked on multiple game prototypes, real-time Archviz (wasn’t that popular at the time) and after all that juggling settled on Meteora and Monarchy. MonarchyThe concept of the winning game – Monarchy Monarchy is a social board game experience that merges the simplicity of Snakes and Ladders with tactical strategy offered by the Chess or a tower defence in its unique way. It is best experienced when played between 4 players but can also be played between 3 or 2 players. In Monarchy players start out with 25 soldiers and 4 knights, the aim is to get all four of your knights from your starting corner all the way to the centre of the board (throne). What makes this game different is the options it presents to its players. One can choose to build a bridge with their soldiers allowing players to teleport their Knights closer to the centre and they can also block their opponent from doing the same. One can initiate battles using knights and can acquire take by the opponents. Also they can choose to use power cards and turn the game back in their favour. It’s about doing whatever it takes to reach the throne first. There is only one winner to this game and the winner becomes the Monarch of the board. We were playing a lot of board games at the time and I was quite inspired by the experience every game would leave me with. I wanted to give it a try and so Monarchy happened. Monarchy is a deeply strategic game where players have to not only focus on their own victory, but also hinder that of their opponents. Monarchy with a hint of Snakes and Ladders, UNO, Chess and Ludo is our attempt on taking gaming back to its social roots. On an average game can take anything from 30 minutes to 2 hours to complete. We also had a game that went on for more than a day. We are getting ready for Steam aiming to get greenlit for Monarchy. What has been interesting is that everyone who plays Monarchy ends up asking if we have a physical version of the game on charts, so we are contemplating on those lines but it is still in a thought bubble state. What are you planning to do with the winnings? Partyeee!! But on a serious note, the money will help us take Monarchy a step closer to its launch, as there are still some tweaks needed in getting the multiplayer and single player mode working seamlessly. Are you planning to publish it with Reliance Games? It is still too early to comment on that as it is a thing to be decided by the Big Boot Games and Reliance Games mutually. But we sure would like to explore the possibility. What are the future plans and what adventure is Big Boot Games headed for next? We have just returned to game development and still are quite nascent. Monarchy is our first board game and recent future will be dedicated to its release on mobile, PC, web and subsequently a physical copy, which will be followed by Meteora’s release. But to map the after plans, we just hope to make more games, better games and hope to remain true to the simple rules we are following now – originality in concept and quality in design.