27/11/2011

The creation of Madeira - a project log


The source of the initial idea for the creation of a game is often the mechanics or the theme. In Madeira, the initial idea was both! The mechanics were related to a new dice way to play games. We hope players will find it interesting and innovative enough. The theme was the easiest part to get into. Look at this: you have a real Island that was part of a true and real experience for the world conquering! This island was completely empty when people started to inhabit it. The king said something like this: "I'll give you a few lands and you can start settling there and see how it goes. I'll divide the Island in 3 major "provinces", with 3 different captains and each one of you have full rights above everyone".

So, the first people arriving in Madeira were the first colonists with only a dream for a better life and a good set of opportunities to flourish as new wealthier men.

When we started to read about Madeira and its history something popped up in our heads immediately: First settlers in the island cultivated the essential wheat only for their own survival but for that they had to clear the woods (Madeira is actually the Portuguese word for wood). This wheat production for only a few inhabitants served also the crown - Portugal - because there was a shortage in the cereal production. Also, the enormous quantity of wood gathered in the Island was really needed for the ship construction in Lisbon in order to conquer the world!

In the second period of the Island's history, we learnt that D. Henrique (O Navegador) introduced the sugar cane in Madeira. Sugar cane became the main core business there and it served markets all over Europe enriching the Island and making it the center of the "white gold" for some time. With the excellent results provided by the sugar, people in the island started to replace wheat fields for sugar fields in order to make more money thus creating a necessity of wheat in the island. But the sugar worked so well at that time for the Portuguese crown that it was taken to other parts of the Empire, specially Brazil. With the Brazilian sugar flooding the markets, with its massive production, Madeira was getting behind because its production couldn't compete with such a huge competitor. This event takes us to the third part of Madeira's history: the wine!

The very much appreciated Madeira's wine was a result of randomness combined with necessity. The ships transporting the wine from Madeira to other places (India, English colonies) got back from their voyages bringing some wine that hadn't been consumed. People started to acknowledge that this "returning" wine was better than the "turning" one. It happens that the heat of the tropics combined with the swing on the ship's hold produced the best wine ever tasted! The Island once again started to drop sugar for wine and the economy changed again.
With all of this standing in front of us we thought for ourselves: here's our game. The theme, point by point, is right in front of us!

(to be continued...)