Updated: Mar 26, 2021
For our full review head here. Or carry on to the preview and interviews with Jamey and Alex.
After Jamey Stegmaier announced Red Rising, the latest release from Stonemaier Games, I was instantly fascinated in this project. The world of Red Rising is new to me but seems very appealing. I ordered the books the game is based on instantly and am currently enjoying book two.
Jamey read the books when they first came out back when he was making Scythe. He quickly decided he wanted to bring the dystopian world created by author Pierce Brown to life. With the IP rights secured, and Scythe on the shelves, Jamey set to work. After four failed prototypes, Jamey reached out to the community via this video.
Several people sent ideas to Jamey, but none of them suited the game Jamey wanted to publish. But later, after a game of Fantasy Realms with friend Alex Schmidt, Jamey finally found the mechanic he wanted to base the game on. And the two set apart to finish what Jamey had previously started.
And now, the game is done and only weeks away from being available via the Stonemaier webstore. And look at it! It's beatiful!
Jamey has been releasing new information about the game daily on the Facebook group for Red Rising, but I was left with a of questions.
First, I spoke with Jamey about the history behind this project, why he decided to make two versions of this, and his thoughts on his translation of the book into a game. Jamey has such a humble approach to the industry and I enjoy delving into his thoughts behind his work. Having published one of the most important games of the last decade, Wingspan; a lot of expectation comes with every Stonemaier release.
I feel that ways heavy on Jamey, especially after Tapestry and Pendulum. Two games we love here at WBG. But games that received mixed reactions from the community due in part, to the commercial success of Wingspan. People thought Tapestry was somewhat overproduced with the beautiful pre-painted miniatures included in the game making the price point too high. And in reaction to this, Pendulum was then seen as under produced, the plastic meeples receiving most negative attention.
It is hard to please everyone! But in truth, there is no need, simply as it cannot be done. But I sense Jamey was hurt by some of the comments around Tapestry and Pendulum. The bigger names receive higher levels of criticism. They certainly get more coverage, so more people share their opinions. Success brings levels of expectation. But crucially as Stonemaier only release one to two games a year, it is more of an event and seems to attract more extreme opinions. There are a few duds from the genius that is Knizia (Clickbait? Really Doc?) But as he makes so many games, people seem to give him a free pass. (And rightly so by the way!)
But true to form, Jamey has come back smiling with Red Rising; offering a solution to previous complaints. A collector’s edition for those who liked Tapestry’s beautiful production and a regular version, offering all the same game play, but with a lower price point. It is a delicate dance this, but one I hope receives praise from the community as the game sounds great.
Jamey does not ignore fans and refuse to change policy. There is no “get your missing parts from where you bought them” stance here. In Jamey, the community has someone who is clearly very passionate, talented, humble and eager to develop his own skills. I for one cannot wait to play Red Rising and see what else Jamey develops over his career.
But enough from me, let’s hear what Jamey has to say…
We then spoke with Alex, Director of Sales at Stonemaier Games, and co-designer with Jamey on Red Rising. This was Alex second ever interview and first on video. But it was amazing to see his passion and honesty behind the project.
Alex clearly has a huge enthusiasm for games and a bright future as designer. I was instantly at ease talking with Alex. A person I had never spoken with before, but our shared loved of games and Alex’s unpretentious modesty made me feel I could talk with him for hours.
What must it be like to have your first game published by Stonemaier, and to work with someone with such a pedigree in the industry? What must it be like to be weeks away from seeing a project you have worked on for so long, about to be exposed to this huge expectant world we live in? What must it be like to have played games all your life in relative obscurity but become known within the community as a designer overnight? Let’s find out!