Ukemi Card Game – From Concept to Creation
It’s February 2018 and Sam McFarlane has just finished teaching his 5th class of the week. As a practitioner, performer and coach with experience spanning over 10 years Sam has felt the highs and lows of being in the game. Riding the waves of motivation over the years. Some days buzzing to get in the classroom and then outside – a blur of movement from dusk till dawn. Other days just going through the motions thinking about ‘what point did this become a job?’
To get over the hump Sam did what most of us do. Found inspiration from outside sources to “get in the mood” whether that was checking out tutorials, training with friends or choosing a technique to drill and work on in a new way. The repetition of this, although not clear at the time, became a foundation. A body of research that had found its articulation through others inspiration.
But this cold, crisp day in February was different. Sam had been finding ways to gamify parkour in his classes for a while with dice, hand signs, chess, marbles and now he was looking for a way to do it with cards. Starting with the question; how do you gamify Parkour? In a way that could be used by multiple people like in the games he had already made but also as an individual – to help access the part of him that felt asleep in times of low motivation.
The Worlds First Parkour Card Game is Born
The concept Sam came up with was simple. Using a pack of cards you assign different requirements to the different suits. One for a technique, one for the number of repetitions and a final card that added a twist to make the challenge a bit more exciting e.g. blindfolded. It was a ‘make as you go’ initiative and over a few classes the game began to take shape and version 1 was born.
In one of these classes, Sam is teaching alongside David Banks. David sees the idea and is inspired by the concept and saw some areas the game could improve. The two of them pencil in the next time they will be in the same place for a long time and agree to use it to make version 2.
They were excited to move forward with the game and utilized unconventional office space to lay the foundations. Such as grabbing the few minutes before one had to shoot off after class or scribbling down ideas in the lull of a jam. Eventually, Sam and David found themselves on a train from Edinburgh to Glasgow and version 2 was born.
Finding the time to sit down and flesh out version two wasn’t easy but it did give the team an opportunity to develop ideas. and mull over possibilities Also time to recruit Daniel Smith into the fold and hear his ideas about card choice, design and structure before the project began.
It was decided that the game would have three card types; Movement, Condition and Wild Card. In later versions, blank cards were also added to give the user the opportunity to add their own cards. We also decided to create a base play format. In this, the main play style, players race to ten points through sequentially selecting a card from each type.
Ukemi Card Game Rules Blog - Click here to learn more.
At this point, we realized we had a game or at least a basic version of one. Not pretty but practical enough for teaching classes and still not fully refined but played well if you had a bit of imagination. With expectant naivety, at this point, we think we’re almost done.
Funding, backers, suppliers, customers, samples, graphics, company, branding, templates, printers and time. We needed all of these things, especially the last one. David and Daniel move to Rotterdam, we bring Ukemi Project co-founder Tim Pearce into the mix and suddenly we are an international company – designing cards and a whole lot more.
The only problem was David and Daniel were in the Netherlands with all the time and technology and Tim and Sam are in Glasgow with all our contacts and human resources.
Three Times a Charm
A game with a total of 70 unique cards and 18 blanks is enough to make anyone’s hard-drive sweat. It was clear to us though, that if we wanted to generate some real interest in the game, we had to create a working prototype. Over the course of a month, Daniel and David edit until their eyes bleed while the whole team begs, borrows and shoots all the images we can muster to go on the cards.
Remember when I said we were naive to think that we almost there after creating version 2? We transgressed to stupid when we thought that we would be done after creating the crowdfundingcampaign. To get there we had made a trailer, produced a prototype and mapped out some big plans.
Our dream was to use top-level parkour athletes, photographers, marketing resources, send reps to parkour gatherings/jams as well as hire an illustrator. It was our vision that this is what was needed to give the project the boost it needed to be a popular training tool for parkour and freerunning communities.
We set out to raise £10,000 and we got as far as £1,499. The only way to produce the game at this point was to trim the costs. It wasn’t the amount we wanted but we had developed a solid working practice, improved our skills to get this stage and had lots of positivity and help coming from the backers we had. These three things were what was needed to push forward.
First, we removed anything that we felt, with enough time and contributions from the parkour community, we could achieve. What is left is just the physical product and shipping. The team went on a worldwide search to find a printing option that suited us and investing as much cash as each of us could afford to make it happen.
The heart of the games aesthetic is the images on each card. Without professional photography and illustration, it put a lot of pressure on what could be done on Photoshop. We reach out to our home community and people across Scotland begin helping us test the game and collect the resources we needed to get to the finish line.
Releasing the Ukemi Card Game
Thanks to the efforts of the team and contributions from the parkour community we were able to design a Version 4 aka release version. By mid-January 2019 the Ukemi card game is shipped to our backers and made available via our online store. It’s also now available on Etsy as well as Amazon.
Since the release, we have got to see the game played worldwide and put to use at jams, classes, gatherings, and gyms. The Ukemi card game took a community to get from concept to creation. we would like to finish by extending a big thank you to everyone involved.
You can stay up to date with the Ukemi card game at the Ukemi Project social media channels in the link below.