Nexus #2- I thought mechanics were people who worked on cars

When Jay Goike and Scott Rumptz started telling me about the mechanics of their new game Nexus, I was a bit confused although I never told them that. After all, I didn’t want to look stupid. I honestly thought that it was going to be a game about cars or something with all this talk about mechanics this and mechanics that. I’m glad I never said anything. It’s our little secret /wink.

Ok, now that I know what mechanics are in reference to tabletop games –thanks BoardGameGeek— I decided to ask Jay and Scott about the origins of the mechanics behind Nexus. Everyone that knows me knows I can’t just come out and ask a question as simple as “what are the mechanics of your game?”–No, no. That would only tell half the story. You see, whenever I am facing a new topic, problem, or choice, sometimes I find it useful to think about what I don’t want it to be and go from there. Let’s see what our two heroes have to say about this approach of what they knew they didn’t want in Nexus mechanics.

how-to-win-a-game-of-chess-in-two-movesBut first, one thing you should know is that Scott is a chess player. He has been playing chess forever and on his desk you will find 3-inch thick books on chess strategy. Knowing this, his first answer was surprising to me. He said he didn’t want a game that was “pure strategy.” He explained to me that in pure strategic games like chess, the more experienced, educated, and overall better player wins the game almost every time. And let’s be honest, how much fun is it to play a game with your friend when he wins every time? — more on losing in the game of Nexus later. Scott continues that he didn’t want mechanics which would allow the player to engage in “systematic game play” where they would “find a routine that works more than it doesn’t.” This goes right along with the purely strategic games. If I know I can execute maneuvers A, B, and C, and I will win the game more than not, the game becomes stale and not much fun to play — this works well in puzzles such as the Rubik’s Cube –I love the Rubik’s Cube!—but these type of systems wouldn’t go over so well in a tabletop game. Jay had several reasons he chose which mechanics were important to him. And those reasons were his wife and kids.

One of the biggest things for Jay is having time to play. Like Scott, he’s married, 3 kiddos, a full time job — geez, it’s a miracle the guys have time to wipe their butts — they wipe their butts I’m pretty sure. When asked about time mechanics in the game, Jay said, “this is a personal thing since we each have busy schedules and three children a piece.” But Jay did not want to sacrifice complexity for time. He continued, “we wanted Nexus to have depth in its world and dynamic game play but we didn’t want a game that required three or more hours to play.” This makes sense. Being married with 3 kiddos myself, just like Jay and Scott, I understand it’s hard to schedule time to hang out with the guys for hours on end when there’s always Boy Scouts, piano lessons, baseball practice, a leaking sink, or a myriad of other fatherly duties to perform. Losing in a game is one thing, but losing at being a father and husband is just not an option. And speaking of losing–see, I told you I’d get back to losing in Nexus– let’s hear what Scott has to say about the origins of losing mechanics in the game.

When I brought up what Scott knew for sure that he did want in the mechanics of the game, he was quick to answer. Scott said, “I want excitement! I have nothing to prove when I play a game. I don’t care if I win or lose, I just want to feel the rush of excitement that competition brings.” See, this is where Scott and I disagree. I am an ok loser, but not a great one. Losing now and then is part of life and picking myself up after a big loss or failure is something I have always struggled with. When I heard Nexus was 1v1 arena combat, I was quite worried about losing. Scott reassured me by telling me, “we created a game that rewards you for playing, not simply for winning.” Now that is something I can get behind! Participation award anyone? Count me in. Jay was equally as reassuring, “Nexus is designed to grow with you. It is fast paced and easy to learn the core basic rules without being too simple. You can game  for an hour or two and they build upon each other in a legacy format.” Simple to learn? We shall see about that — If I can learn it, anyone can. I’m not exactly sure what Jay meant by “a legacy format.” I think it has something to do with a leveling-type system where you grow after each game and you carry that with you to the next fight. One thing I found out is that in the Nexus, it is not just 1v1 like I thought it was. There are other variables at play that can quickly sway the outcome of the game at any moment.

iStock-525032572When I asked the guys what they meant by these other variables, Scott answered me. He said, “I was inspired a lot by watching people gamble. We knew we wanted random events. People love to feel in control despite how random an event may be.” This made me think. Do people really feel in control in random situations? It made me think of the randomness of sports where all I can really control is myself within all the chaos and how it gives me a sense of power to somewhat control that randomness to an extent. If it can give a sports player a sense of power, then surely it can give the player of a game that same type of feeling. Scott talked about this sense of power within randomness. He told me, “I think that is why I have always loved dice mechanics so much. The random nature of it is exciting. I knew I wanted mechanics that rewarded you with heavy advantages for positioning and other things that were within your control, but at the end of it all it came down to the outcome of a random dice roll.” Ahh yes, the dice roll. Like I said, I am pretty much a total newbie when it comes to tabletop games, but I have played my fair share of Yahtzee back in the day. Everyone leaned in, hearing the dice rattle around in the cup, the way they flew out on the table in almost slow motion. One by one they settled and all the players yelled out an elated “awwwww!” as the player got their final roll to win the game. Yes, I can relate. It sounds more inviting the more I hear about it.

I have yet to play or even see a round of Nexus played. I am unraveling all of this as I am releasing it out to you all. Next time, I will ask the guys about the origins of the Nexus world.

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share — comments are always nice too!

To learn more about the game of Nexus, go here:


Nexus #3- Twisted worlds

I am finding there is a lot that goes into creating a game from scratch. It is much more than putting together game mechanics that work well. There has to be a complete package that immerses the player into a new world where everything will take place. A world that doesn’t exist until it is created. — but how do you create a world that is different — allowing players to escape reality — but still immersive? Well, I asked our two heroes Jay Goike and Scott Rumptz to reveal their thought processes to me about the world of Nexus and how it came about. — Here’s what they told me.

dytopiaWhen creating a world for a game, it is important to have the lore — or story — coincide with what the players will be doing in the game. When I asked Scott how they came up with the idea, he said, “we needed to create an environment where it would be believable for two complete strangers to fight each other to the death without any complicated reason why.” Even though there doesn’t have to be a complicated reason people fight each other, there still has to be some sort of motivation or reason behind it. Typically in the fantasy realm of MMORPG’s that I’ve played, it’s fighting a dragon or beast that has been terrorizing the city — a place where I knew I was fighting for truth, justice, or some other moral incentive — But Scott and Jay didn’t want to go that route. They found different motivations for the battles that take place in the Nexus. And those two main motivating factors are fame and money. In the world of Nexus, where traditional morals seemingly have no benefit — fame and money can get things done and move people up the ranks of the social and economic hierarchy. This is something that is frighteningly familiar to our own world — some people would rather be rich and famous than just about anything else. The Nexus seems to exaggerate some of our flaws and spit them back out at us — in a often humorous manner — that makes you think — but mostly just laugh.

heroIntrigued, I asked Scott to share more about the motivating factors in Nexus. He said he didn’t want “heroes, quests, [or the player] to be saving the world.” Instead, Jay and Scott dreamed of a much darker role for the players. Scott goes on to say, “I wanted something that showed a society at its worst. Something that poked fun at the sanctity of life. I wanted to speak to the part of us that used to enjoy Robocop and Road House because it was graphic. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, in a lot of ways I think it is good for us to play pretend in that world. It is therapeutic.” –Ok, that’s a different twist I hadn’t thought of previously. It seems like in most of the video games I played, I was the good guy fighting against evil in some way, shape, or form. But in this word of Nexus, there seems to not be the usual roles of good and evil –instead you are either powerful and wealthy, moving up the ranks in the arenas, or you are a bit of goo stuck on the bottom of someone’s boot. –yea, it sounds pretty fun thinking about playing a ruthless, money and fame-driven character for once. But what kind of characters are available? Are there traditional classes and races in the Nexus?

When I asked Scott about what classes and races there will be in the game of Nexus, he smiled. He said, “this goes back to my love of character creation as a child. I hated the idea of picking a race or a class. I wanted to imagine my own thing, and have it go beat something up.“– So wait, there aren’t classes and races in the Nexus? I am definitely intrigued now. Jay mirrored Scott when he added, “our goal was to make something that sparked the players imagination. Each player will essentially visualize the world a little different. Seeing these different interpretations will let the players know that it’s their world just as much as ours. This is where imagination driven games shine!” Scott added, “yea, we wanted a way to make all things possible. Our main goal was to give the players the option to make anything they can imagine work within our world.” — I like this idea where my imagination can run wild and I am allowed to dream up anything I want and have it fight — and the very next round, I can dream up something totally different and go see how that creature does. So, if I’m not limited to an issued set of classes and characters, that seems to really open up the realm of possibilities.

toysI asked Jay about this openness and accessibility within the game of Nexus. He said, “you can start small and then build and upgrade your components over time. We decided to use standard polyhedral dice, a chess/checkerboard-style game board, and you can use any existing mini’s you already own.” Wait, so I barely even need to buy Nexus stuff? Sounds like with a set of rules, I could pretty much just make my own board and characters and just start playing — that sounds pretty cool. I bet my kids have some old toys that would be fun pitting against one another in Barge Battles — you know, just for fun. Jay tells me, “Helots (fighters in the Nexus) can look like almost anything. Everything can make sense given the right creative backstory. Have fun with it!” I really like this idea that I can mix and match Nexus characters with my own — and then make up my own backstory for a character and throw it into battle. I know Nexus has a lot of adult themes and isn’t for kids, but I think I could make a few adjustments and my kids and I could be battling it out in no time.

The world of Nexus seems to be a dark, twisted place where morals have gone out the window. I gotta be honest — I have always had a bit of a fascination with dystopian future settings — Orwell’s 1984 comes to mind — I can’t wait to get my hands on some more of the Nexus lore. I’ll be sure to share with you all when I do!

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share — comments are always nice too!

To learn more about the game of Nexus, go here: