As I moved to Berlin back in 2004 I joined a gaming group, where I also met Jeff. He is a very open-minded guy that helped me to feel much better in my new City.
In 2005 he showed me one of his ideas, in which he only had the first materials and a complete Story how the game should work thematically. The players should get löst items, ship them to their home and show them as an exhibition to get points and a higher money-income. Jeff was at a point, where he didn’t know, how to work on further. I liked the theme and wanted to work something out. I took the prototype with me and tested a few times with myself to have a working game ready the next time we Met.
The major mechanism was the following: a Player who created an exhibition very early increases only his income and decreases the income of all other players. The rest of the game wasn’t concrete, so I added a market-mechanism that I used in another game, but that other game was on the way to die, because it wasn’t really working.
In Artifact it semms that this mechanism should work very well: In the actual round players take their actionpawns for the next round besides this, a player has to pay the amount of money, that is printed below the figure he takes. With this mechanism it was possible to adjust the market through demand and supply.
The rest of the game was still to loooong and to fiddly. You need to transport the artifacts from the caves to the daylight and ship them before placing an exhibit. Through the possibility to steal any artifacts players were much to careful with their actions and the game progresses much too slow.
But in this period we loved the game and showed it several publishers. Naturally we were rejected, but we also got helpful critics to make the game much better. But we were also a bit demotivated to work any longer at this game, that we let it a while in the bottom drawer.
But one day Jeff got the good idea to adapt the artifacts onto cards (not tiles) that are allocated onto the continents, instead of sending researcher into the caves, the game got a big progress to it’s actual version. This should be a kind of breakthrough.
We had to solve two smaller problems now: the pr
essure to ship the artifacts very fast should be increased and the downtime should be reduced. For the first problem the last player who ship his artifacts will get one artifact less than the number of his hut on that site. For the second problem players only perform one, maximum 2 action at a turn and no longer all 6 action at one time. In this phase, Jeff did nearly everything for the game. We tested and tested and saw, that it is better to pay when you put a figure on it’s place and not pay if you take a figure from the game-plan.
We sent the game to the well known Hippodice authors-competition 2009 and werde under the six best games. White Goblin Games were interested into the game and a bit later we got the contract.
Since then there were a few problems, that the release was massive delayed, but I won’t name them here. First the release was planed for Nuremberg 2011, but through this problems delayed for several times. During this time, the guys of White Goblin had a few ideas to make the game more complex: The research-track + special artifact-cards and the cities + archeologists. Again we tested a lot and modified this new elements, so they were added to the original game as a kind of expansion to have the basegame as streamlined as possible. But if you played the game twice, you won’t miss the expansions!
Now, in October 2013 it is time for Artifact to see the light of day and we hope to strike the nerve of many boardgamers around the globe.