Thousands of gaming enthusiasts descended upon the Henry B. González Convention Center last weekend to attend PAX South 2018, the festival’s fourth consecutive year in San Antonio. Among the hundreds of exhibitors displaying video games, card games, board games and more were Trinity students and one studio of San Antonian game designers.
A sign reading “Modern Knights” hung above a small table on the show floor all weekend. Behind the table stood James Lovett, junior and CEO of the company, alongside his brother Brock Lovett and junior Marshall Tickner. The trio showed off their forthcoming game, “Crusade of Two Suns.”
“We’re trying to penetrate the field with a new style of gaming that’s more affordable and has new mechanics,” Tickner said. “It is niche, but the consumers are incredibly loyal. They really love this kind of gaming.”
The chosen industry may be obscure, but Modern Knights still faces stiff competition. The world of miniature wargaming is largely dominated by Games Workshop, the company behind the popular Warhammer franchise.
“They make up most of the market, but they run very expensive game models,” Tickner said. “It’s very ‘pay-to-play,’ which we’re running exactly contrary to. So we’re really hitting a lot of the people that were disenfranchised by that gaming branch.”
According to Lovett, the young developers collected 74 email addresses of newly interested customers and passed out hundreds of brochures detailing their product during the convention.
“We’re very happy with the progress we’ve gotten,” James said. “One of the biggest things we were worried about was, ‘Are people actually going to like this?’ They love it, especially the market we’re marketing to.”
With the number of contacts they made, nobody seemed to mind their youth.
“We have only received surprise — and a lot of praise for being at this point while still doing school,” Lovett said.
Modern Knights reached the finals of Trinity’s own Stumberg Venture Competition last October, though the company didn’t win the $20,000 grand prize. But Lovett had a backup plan: Launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, which opened Jan. 17, and promote the game at PAX South. They intend to roll out the game in December 2018.
Trinity students weren’t the only Alamo City exhibitors at PAX. Yanaguana Games, which designs and develops card and tabletop games, was formed after founding members Marshall Britt and Alex Clifford attended the inaugural PAX South in 2015.
“We came here and saw all these people doing this and we were like, that is really cool,” Britt said. “The next year, at PAX South 2016, we had developed ‘Stir Fry Eighteen’ shortly before and brought it to sell about 100 copies. We didn’t know what we were doing; we’d never sold a game before. … We sold out in the first weekend ever.”
Clifford left the company after moving to the U.K., but Britt continues to make games with longtime friend Andrew Toth, an automotive technician who serves as the company’s game development director. Britt and Toth showed off their lightning-fast card game, “Stir Fry Eighteen” and a forthcoming guitar-themed board game, “Rechord.”
“Giving people a mechanism to have fun is important,” Britt said. “I’m not a doctor, I’m not a paramedic. But we help people have fun, which is a necessary part of life.”
“Stir Fry Eighteen” can be purchased online or at Dragon’s Lair, a gaming store in San Antonio. Rechord’s Kickstarter succeeded in seven hours last Tuesday, Jan. 9, and will soon be available online.