Mesa couple invent a MADgical sci-fi card game The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa couple invent a MADgical sci-fi card game

Mesa couple invent a MADgical sci-fi card game
Mesa
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By Christopher Boan
Tribune Contributor

Mitchell Drake and his wife reached a life-changing epiphany midway through a six-hour flight to Hawaii.

The couple, who are self-described “science fiction geeks,” had an idea for a role-playing card game on the flight.

“I ended up with a whole brand-new game and it all took place on the flight,” Mitchell said. “We just literally had a notebook and a laptop and just wrote everything down we could think of.”

Both Mitchell and wife Robyn Tober found their new card game, which they soon titled “Celeste,” was coming together nicely, so they created a demo deck with cards they printed on a regular printer.

They experimented with friends to test their response to the game and found it was a hit with everyone they surveyed.

They soon launched their own entertainment company, titled MADgical Productions, and got to work on soliciting funds for their game.

The couple has written up a crowdfunding pitch on the platform Kickstarter but has not yet launched it to the public.

Mitchell said his goal is to raise $5,000 to cover the cost of mass-producing cards on quality cardstock, with the couple footing the bill for the rest.

He recalled how he and Robyn were hooked on the concept immediately and how they felt the need to develop the concept into a full-fledged game.

“Both of us could just not even after the flight we just couldn’t stop talking about it,” he said. “And by the time the end of the trip, she napped the whole way back because it was a middle of the night flight.

“I stayed on the laptop just typing. But it was probably initially right after we got out of the airport to the hotel, we were still talking about, we’re like, ‘we’ve done something with this; this is something new.’ And then we got friends to play it and you know, they’re like, this is pretty different.”

They’ve had to stall on posting the Kickstarter pitch a few times, because of the time constraints Mitchell, a quality engineer, and Robyn, who is a schoolteacher, face on a daily basis.

The couple’s main goal in launching the crowdfunding drive was to keep the dollar amount small, so their chances of achieving their goal would be maximized.

Right now, both Mitchell and Robyn are in the process of drawing up and beautifying the instruction manual going with the deck and fronting the costs associated with the project.

Mitchell hopes they can get their completed decks in stock for large events, such as Phoenix Fan Fusion, which is held downtown at the Phoenix Convention Center on May 21.

“We have decided to push back the Kickstarter launch to May 21, because we have a table at Phoenix Fan Fusion,” he said.

They also want to create brand-centric apparel, such as T-shirts and rugs, to boost the fledgling brand’s name recognition in the gaming community.

After, the couple sees an opportunity to provide expansion decks to the first sets already created, so as to expand the realm of possibilities and outcomes for players.

Eventually, they envision a smartphone application allowing players to scan their cards so they wouldn’t have to use a manual, expanding the game’s possible outcomes and connecting even more with their future customers.

Mitchell doesn’t see his day job as an engineer as being a natural conduit to his creative moonlighting gig.

He sees his card game exploits more so as an outlet from the stresses coming with his job.

“It’s more of an outlet. I always thought growing up I was going to be engineering,” he said. “I graduated with a degree in engineering and then I got in the field and was like, ‘I need to do something a little more relaxed. This is too stressful.’

“If I screw up at work, bad things could happen really bad. The customer, god forbid anything happens bad with MADgical, it’s, ‘Oh, I’m sorry you didn’t get your game on time. At least nobody died.’ So, the stress goes away with that.”

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