AK: Game Entrepreneurs

Rusty and Raymond demonstrate their game, War Command. Photo by Shady Grove Oliver, KSTK - Wrangell.
Rusty and Raymond demonstrate their game, War Command. Photo by Shady Grove Oliver, KSTK – Wrangell.

Hundreds of years in the future, Earth is rendered uninhabitable. Brothers Raymond and Rusty Hayes are battling for survival. Their weapons? A board, a deck of cards, and some dice. KSTK’s Shady Grove Oliver takes us inside the world of War Command.

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Raymond Hayes sits at his kitchen table. He’s dealing out a deck of cards with intricate pictures of aliens, warships, and magical creatures.

Rusty stares intently into his hand.

Rusty puts his first card down on the board, which looks like the surface of a desolate planet.

“It’s a game of war,” he said.

These two brothers grew up in Wrangell. And as kids, they played a lot of board games.

Now, they’ve decided to create their own. Their game is called War Command. While sitting in a coffee shop a little over a year ago, Raymond said the storyline popped into his head.

“Our game mixes fantasy-style characters with sci-fi-style characters, which is much more challenging than I anticipated when we did it at first,” Raymond said.

In the game there are futuristic humans and two other species fighting for control of a planet. They’ve all ended up there because of a catastrophic event.

“Basically there’s a radiation blast that takes place in the universe and it’s travelling throughout the universe disintegrating everything in its path,” Raymond explained.

During the battles, some characters use magic, others use technology, and some just get lucky. The Hayes brothers had to rely on a little bit of each during the design process.

“We didn’t even think this game would go to tabletop,” Rusty said. “We thought that we would be releasing it as a little app on an iPhone.”

Rusty says he always like Raymond’s idea for the game, but never thought it would get off the ground.

“I’ve been programming games since I was in 9th grade or so,” Rusty said. “I think when Raymond first came to me with this game idea all I said was, ‘That’s a really great idea Raymond but that’s just too big. You’ll never get that done.’”

“And then he came to me with the team more put together and a more serious game design document and I thought, oh my god, well we have to move on this now.”

The War Command team consists of the Hayes brothers, a PR person and graphic designer, an art director, and 17 artists from around the world.

“We’ve got an illustrator who works on our team from Malaysia, one from Australia, Portugal, Norway, it’s kind of neat,” Rusty said.

The team took War Command to the Salt Lake City, Utah-based gamers convention, called SaltCon.

They presented it as a mobile app. But, they brought along some demo tabletop board games, so other gamers could test it out in person.

And, they say, they were amazed by the response.

“Um, actually it was very relieving,” Raymond said. “It was relieving after you put so much time into something and get it in front of people and see them enjoy it was actually the coolest part of this project so far.”

The feedback on the tabletop version was so positive, they decided to launch a physical form of the game first.

That’s what they’re trying to do now.

This summer, Rusty and Raymond launched their online Kickstarter campaign. They hope to get enough interest to fund the first making and distribution of War Command.

Rusty says if they don’t get enough money to make the tabletop game this summer, they’ll still be releasing the mobile app early next year.

“But if the Kickstarter succeeds, it will be nice because we’ll probably be able to preempt that a little bit and have the game board in stores around holiday season and then the app available right after,” Rusty said.

But now, back to the game. It’s bad enough waiting for a normal game to finish, but when the competition is between two brothers who are also the designers—well, let me tell you, the stakes are high.

Rusty’s characters are cornered at the edge of the board. Raymond’s commander is making an advance. He picks up the dice, rolls, and comes away with the victory.

Better luck next time, Rusty.

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