I slept and I dreamt and I
saw a light...
A moustachioed, cigar wielding, flamboyantly dressed man floated down from the ether into my bedroom and spoke to me in a unique, yet strangely familiar South American accent. He told me of a game. A game I would design and Pat would draw and then proceeded to dictate a rule book to me with the grace of an angel and the purpose of a president. I penned with relish as if I were the 21st century’s equivalent of Joseph Smith dictating scriptures.
That, or like the same as most games designed, I had an idea in my head and beat it out of my brain kicking and screaming, managing to get it down onto paper and as it lay there wheezing and moaning, there was still the legible form of a great game with enough tinkering and head scratching.
El Presidente has been a long labour of love for me. It was an idea that had been bouncing around the grey matter of my brain for a few years but only really took shape after I watched a late night, slightly bizarre account of the UK general elections. To skip boredom and summarize, the main theme of the show was that somehow, a rather despised party had taken ownership of the country, but it was ok, because all of the parties were fairly despised and these guys came out on top as the least hated of the bunch.
That one simple premise was what I needed to solidify El Presidente from a bouncing cacophony of ideas into something closer to what it resembles today. This idea that you were fighting with other players over the control of Savatori (the fictional banana republic and setting of El Presidente) despite the fact that none of the candidates you played were particularly liked, so instead, rather than becoming popular you were simply aiming to be the least unpopular, best of a bad bunch choice for the island.
From there the mechanics of the game started to take shape and I could pick at the bits of the design that would make it really fun and rewarding for the players. I love the co-operation element of games like Pandemic (see below) and wanted to recreate that in El Presidente but with the added bonus that it was reluctant co-operation... a means to an end where you are forced to work with your opponents for your own benefit. This mechanic is something I hope makes El Presidente really special and I can’t wait to share it in more detail with you.
From there I sat down with Pat and started to discuss what the characters meant to me and how I imagined them and the island being represented. Pat is one of those incredibly talented annoying artists who can sneeze on a piece of paper and call it art, but with his pen and pencil, and his ideas about the character the world really started to take shape. Next week, Pat shows off some of his totally sick, uber amazing skills that make me both despise and worship him at the same time.