Friday, 13 January 2017

Guildball: The life and times of Sherwin Matthews

Recently i sat down with Sherwin Matthews, Lead Writer at Steamforged Games for a chat, dojo and catch up... Sherwin is also one of my best mates so tracking him was easy, him not impeaching his NDA was the difficult part haha....

So Sherwin, how did you come to start working for the Guildball guys?

My involvement began one Wednesday in the bar at the club, i was chatting with Mat (Hart) about the game he was developing, all the crazy talk of guilds and football and mascots etc, it sounded really good. I asked if he had any background written up yet, to which he said no... i offered to submit a story based on a couple of the characters which he loved and got asked to write the fluff for the whole book!

Initially i was part time as i had other work commitments but over the summer the guys asked me to become the full time Lead Writer at Steamforge, an offer i could not turn down, and i've been doing this since August... My first event with the team was Gencon! (living the dream of many hobbyists! Rid)

Over the last two years i have worked on Season 1, 2 and 3 of Guildball and also wrote the background for the recent Darksouls Board game.

Impressive, how does it work, i imagine for Darksouls you have tight predefined arcs to follow but for Guildball being entirely "Your" creation as it were, how does the process begin for stories etc?

Some stories i write as the thoughts have crossed my mind but others come from an idea by the development team where i am usually give a rough brief and then will have a free reign over where to take it unless its part of a key character or arc.

We have seen various updates come through on how Season 3 will be changing the game, have you had much involvement with the development side and can you give me some pointers... I'm a relative Guildball newb, not played anywhere near as much as i would have liked with painting commitments.

I've not had much in the way of input beyond that of most players; playing games and chatting with the guys about what works what doesn't etc 

What i can say is how each season will in addition to bringing new models in the form of players and Guilds to the game but will also be used as a way to keep each Guild and every player in each Guild a valid option... We do not want to be in the situation where one line up is dominating the world and only a set 6/8 models out of the 11 or more for each team get used. This is not healthy for the game and would lead to stagnation in the meta and disquiet among the community.

Its our aim for play style to determine your line up within any given Guild rather than "net decking"..

So its not just  the story that evolves in Guildball, the teams themselves also do with the advent of "Veteran" players, versions of existing players further along there own arcs. How does the design process for new players like the veterans and also new models meet up with the story side of things?

Usually it is model drives story, i get the concept art or renders with a quick synopsis and go from there but some times as with Veteran Katalyst and the Sun worshiping Hunters of Theorn and Hearne the story will drive model development in new ways.

So as a writer what do you find the easiest and hardest parts of the job?

The writing!

No, but seriously sometimes the words will just flow and i can get a lot of work done in a single session such as the fight between Ghast and the Bear... To bring the Hunters to life more we needed a character whose role in the ongoing arc was minimal, and one who would need many sessions of change to realistically bring them about so in that Ghast was the perfect choice, a big Michael Myers type brute but one who coasts through seasons 1 and 2.

Making big changes to characters can be the hardest part, some are integral to the arc either by being centre place to events or like Boiler, provide a very human voice amongst a team of psychos and freaks like the rest of the Butchers... It would take a lot for a character like him to be killed off or undergo massive changes. 

SteamCon looked a blast, really good fun - not just for the players, but for you guys at Steamforged Games as well! All of the staff on the panel had genuine smiles, and Mat and Rich both looked very proud, rightly so!

Ha! I think so. Obviously i can't speak for Mat or Rich, but personally, i found the experience extremely humbling. We are blessed with an incredibly supportive and devoted community, who really went out of their way to let us know how much they like our games and universe, which was really something. I met a lot of people over the course of the show, and got to discuss their favourite moments and characters, as well as their own ideas about some of what was motivating our Guilds behind the scenes . All in all, it was a fantastic show, and i already can't wait for the next one!

Now that the dust has settled on Steamforged Games' first convention, is it all hands-on deck for the Season Three launch?

Absolutely. Season Three is already with us in many ways - we have the Season Three rules out now via the website and Kick Off!, as well as the new Season Three Plot Cards and Player Cards, but we obviously have yet to see all the models being released during the new season, and of course... the storyline! I'm excited for people to see what's been happening in the Empire of the Free Cities since the release of Season Two.

But of course, behind the scenes, we have quite a lot going on these days. Season Three is just one release you can expect this year...

I guess it doesn't stop! On to Season Four, Dark Souls, and the new game mentioned during the keynote?

Nope! I actually finished writing Season Three a little while back now, and have been working on planning Season Four and Five since SteamCon, between working on other projects like Dark Souls. I'm very excited about the new game which we mentioned at SteamCon; Mat and I have been discussing the lore and building that world for some time when we get the chance, so seeing it begin to come together is going to be very rewarding i'm sure.

Sounds great, really looking forward to it! So, back to Guildball for one final question, who are your favourite Guilds, and characters to write about at the moment?

That's a tough one, which i've been asked a couple of times, and really don't have an answer for. Honestly, I tend to get really into each of the characters and Guilds as I write material for them, which means most of them have been my favourites at one time or another. At the moment, I have some really cool ideas for the Engineer's Guild and Alchemist's Guild though, which i think will be fun to explore. You've got so many vibrant and varied characters across those two Guilds in particular, that its very fertile ground...

Some of Sherwin's own players!

Many thanks Sherwin, not just for the insights into the world and the mind creating it, but also for getting me back playing and and on the road to not being rubbish haha cheers mate!


  1. That's a great interview mate!
    Though it must have been awkward to sit down with your friend and start asking him questions like that 😊.

    As my friends already had a game of Guildball with their own miniatures, I frantically started painting the rest of my Brewers. With a bit of luck I'll be able to finish them next week.

    1. Good stuff, I'm really getting into the game now, first event is in two months so I'm playing as many games as I can!

      Not so much a formal sit down, the first part was written before SteamCon over a game, and the second part last week after a game hehe


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