Virtual Revolution Designer Diary Interview

Virtual Revolution Designer Diary Interview

Below is an email interview between Virtual Revolution’s designers, Guy-Roger Duvert and Cyril Villalonga, and Hachette Boardgames USA. Duvert’s responses are indicated by GRD, and Villalonga’s responses are indicated by CV. 

Q: Virtual Revolution is based off of your movie of the same name, what inspired you to create a board game version?  

GRD: Being a big game board player, I wanted to work on one, but I was lacking ideas on how to approach it. When working on the film, I realized I had a perfect setting for one, and that setting actually brought the elements of gameplay that I couldn't find before (Interpol, the Necromancers...etc).


Q: How did you approach the design process?   

GRD: I am a big fan of worker placement, so for me there was no doubt that the game would work with this kind of gameplay. After, the main ideas from the film brought the big elements: the verses, a competitive map and the two threats (Interpol and the Necromancers). What changed a lot with time, though, was how the occupation of the map would play. At first different players could have influence on a same borough, which was creating a rather messy board. Also, you needed to have specific verses to influence such or such borough. For instance, if 14th arrondissement was sensitive to fantasy and sci-fi only, it wasn't possible to send influence there without such kind of verses. That was more thematic, but also much more complex. A big work done with Cyril and with Studio H was to smoothen these rules.

An early prototype


Q: Can you describe a couple of design challenges or issues you encountered?   

CRD: The main issue was how to keep the gameplay rich while making it more simple, fluid. For instance, we totally dropped the idea of having the boroughs sensitive to such or such types of verses. There was also a point that was very important to me, that it would be possible to play the game very differently, with very different strategies. A player had to be able to win while still wiped out from the map, for instance, or while having no server at all, or no verse at all. That required a lot of tweaking and balancing. 

An early prototype of a player board


Q: Tell us about Virtual Revolution, what genre and mechanisms does it have? 

GRD: It's at first a rather classical worker placement, with each player having 3 meeples (executive directors) and 5 rounds. So, concretely, 15 actions. Each time, you place a meeple, eventually play with influence where you are, and you pick up one of the 5 available actions. Where it becomes more unique, is by a gameplay very close to its themes, and by the presence of very distinct strategies. You hire dirty agents, which provide free bonus, but can afterwards be used as bonus for one of the different 5 actions. So there is an engine building going there. You can build servers and verses, which bring victory points, but also have an impact on your income, which is of course extremely important. But the interesting thing is that the two most obvious ways to win (getting richer and getting more present on the map) will make you targets of Interpol and Necromancers, and you need to deal with it constantly. Which balance will you choose between increasing your power or defending yourself against what's to come? 

 The Executive Directors


Q: The cover for the game bears the same cover as the movie poster. What additional art aspects are similar to the movie?   

GRD: Actually, some of the art used in the game is directly taken from concept arts made for the film. Benjamin Sjöberg was the main concept artist on the film, and it felt normal to have him make all the art of the game. The players act as the CEO of 4 multinational companies. Synternis is very present in the film, while Vesglas is quoted in a dialogue. In a previous version of the film, Trendshield was too. That being said, both Trendshield and Swordlace end up having a bigger presence in the novel Virtual Revolution 2046, which is a prequel to the film. Several characters from the film are among the agents you can hire: Nash, Dina, Stilson, Morel... 

Finally, in the verses, some are also in the film. Olmetta Worlds is the verse where Nash ends up in a female avatar, for instance.

Film still of action set in Olmetta Worlds 


Q: Were there any particularly memorable moments or surprises from playtesting?  

GRD: Memorable, yes, but not that nice of a surprise. In one of the first playtests with the team of Studio H, we realized that one dumb simple strategy (just taking the money action all the time) ended up being able to win. There was still a lot of balance to do there.

 The agents

Q: What do you hope players will take away from their experience with the board game version of Virtual Revolution?   

GRD: Ideally the pleasure to immerse in a cyberpunk world, while exploring different strategies. Personally, the games I prefer are the ones that, just after finishing playing them, I already want to try it again to test a different approach. Virtual Revolution has been developed with this in mind. 


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