Meet Your Makers – Cezar

Man with glasses looking at camera

Berry (she/her): Welcome to Meet Your Makers! Let’s start off the way all of my MYM interviews go with Who are you and what do you do? 

Cezar (he/him): My name is Cezar Capacle, and I use he/him pronouns. I’m a Brazilian game designer. I graduated as an architect, but recently decided to take a leap of faith and dedicate myself integrally to game design. It’s been a wild journey. Rewarding, for sure, but not without its challenges. But I’m glad I can say (for the first time in a long while) that I love my job. I like to create games that explore the boundaries of roleplaying and gaming. My work is an outlet for the constant “what if” design moments that keep popping up in my head.

Berry (she/her): That is wonderful! It is great when you can love the work you do! What are some themes you like to explore in your games? 

Cezar (he/him): The first thing that comes to mind is that dazzling feeling of seeing a fantastical place for the first time. I can’t help but mention the first time we see Rivendell in the LotR movies, the camera shots, the music, the light, you know? I’ve been chasing a way to reproduce and incorporate that feeling in a game ever since. I don’t know if I have ever managed to do so, but that drive led me to explore dreams and the surreal. The feeling of a world not constrained by the rules of reality or logic. I have a few games that dabble with that.

But those interests change constantly depending on circumstances and external input, such as new games that I read, what’s going on in the world and game design principles I’m currently more attached to (or invested in). 

Berry (she/her): I think all of us in the hobby are chasing that LotR feeling on some level. How have you found the experience of funding and marketing your creations?

Cezar (he/him): It can be rewarding and frustrating on equal levels.

It is rewarding because I feel warmly welcomed by the community of independent creators and enthusiasts. People that bought and played my games report back with great feedback. I receive support and encouragement whenever I have a new game, sale or idea online for most of the time. So it has been fantastic in that regard.

On the other hand, it is frustrating when I feel my reach is limited by variables I do not control. Being from the Global South, I do not have access to Kickstarter nor printing companies. So I resort to itchfunding and print on demand. Which is fine, I mean, I’ve just run a successful campaign on itch for my latest game that will be fulfilled via PoD. But I know that I could have raised much more had I funded it via KS and offered printed books. 

And I don’t say this in an arrogant kind of way, like, “oh, I know my game is worth so much more”. No, it’s just that I’m trying to keep the lights on here, and a larger audience makes all the difference. I’m running a one-man show from concept to design, production and marketing. It can be exhausting, especially if I’m limited when it comes to get people to know that my games even exist.

Berry (she/her): Are there any crowdfunding sites for the Global South? I am unfamiliar with options outside of the US.

Cezar (he/him): There are exclusive platforms for specific countries, such as Catarse in Brazil, but they are generally limited to the local market. From what I’ve heard, IndieGoGo and Gamefound are global alternatives that do not have as many restrictions as Kickstarter does. However, they do not have the same reach.

Berry (she/her): I’ll make it a point to look into those. I am frequently looking for more sources to fuel the gaming addiction! I have been looking at your titles. Can you tell me a little bit about The Land Beyond?

Cezar (he/him): Sure! I love that little game. That was one of the many instances in which I was externally motivated to create something. In this case, the One Page RPG Jam. 

From the very beginning, I decided to create a one-page game in which you actually played on the page, instead of the usual format that is like “here are the rules in one page, now you go play around the table as usual”, you know? I wanted the page to be the game experience. So that was the starting point and end goal.

Reaching ways of making it possible, I stumbled upon that colorful abstract illustration that now takes most of the game page. So I thought “what if this is a map of a land, and we travel through these lands to reach somewhere else?” That was exciting enough to start working with.

Then came the idea of Burdens. What stops us from going beyond our limits are the things we are attached to. That was a reflection on stuff that I was (am?) going through, so I decided to incorporate it as a game mechanic. Your racoon in a balloon can go far if you let go of your burdens. So that became the game. A solo experience of facing adventures and, more importantly, the things you carry with you that you don’t need anymore.

I have a tendency to hide deep feelings under cute-looking games.

Berry (she/her): That can be a great way to bring people into something special! How is this process similar or different creating a solo RPG vs one for a group?

Cezar (he/him): That’s a topic I’m currently very passionate about.

See, I believe we should design our games with a solo/GMless mindset, even if our game is a traditional group+GM one.

What I mean by that is that when we have this GMless mindset, we are in a position as game designers to provide the player(s) with everything they need to play the game. You know, just like other non-RPG games do. If we start designing a game from the perspective that there will be a living being that will fill in the gaps we leave, we tend to rely on them (the GM) for things the mechanics could (and should) provide. Ultimately, the intended experience of the game is now reliant on a single person. And I don’t really like that.

I came to that conclusion by reading Ironsworn, which is a game that can be played solo, cooperatively, or traditionally, with a GM. The game was written with that in mind, so it has to work without a person in a position of authority.

I could go on and on about this for hours, but to address your question: besides some slight adjustments on numbers and balance, I try to approach solo or group RPGs the same way, unless thematically the game calls for one particular experience (which has been the case in some of my games and it is totally valid as well).

Berry (she/her): You are obviously very passionate about your work. What are some games you have developed that you think your passion really shines through on?

Cezar (he/him): I could say Starlight Riders, which is the project I’m currently working on, but since it is still in development, I still don’t have the perspective to look at it as a whole.

But I can do that for Scraps, which I’m really proud of. Scraps is a feel-good crafting game in a hopeful world among the ruins of an ancient civilization. It brings up a number of things I had in mind for a while, all of them from different sources, and I’m happy to say I managed to mingle them coherently. 

It talks about non-violence, about commune and respect to the environment. It has Tetris-like crafting mechanics. It uses an elegant dice roll system. I know it can sound pretentious coming from the creator, but that is the feedback I got from some players. I think I’m proud because I set to make a game about specific things to emulate a specific feeling, and I believe the result translated my expectations really well.

Berry (she/her): That is wonderful! Your presence on social media is very positive. You’ve become known for lifting up others and promoting all kinds of projects. As creators, what do you think are some of the best ways to support each other?

Cezar (he/him): Thank you! I like to think I’m still learning how to be a better member of the community, but even with my limited resources I can help a little bit.

I’m currently in a position in which I can’t provide financial support to my fellow creators, but I can offer encouragement, feedback, a little more audience, a platform. So whenever I have a chance, I try to contribute by highlighting creators (and creations) I’m excited about. I love RPGs, so when I see something I like, I want more people to enjoy it. 

And I know how much of a difference it can make when someone says something nice about your work. I’ve been on the receiving end of that, and every time I’m engaging with a creator online, I put myself in their position, and think “What would I like to hear? How can I make their day a little better?”.

I’d say don’t be afraid to lift each other up. Engage, compliment, spread their word without expecting anything back.

This is not a competition. There are only rewards for being kind.

Text reads "The Land Beyond"
Image Credit: Cezar Capacle

Berry (she/her): Wonderful philosophy! Are there any projects of yours that you would like to promote?

Cezar (he/him): Sure! Let’s go with Starlight Riders, my fast-paced action-packed card-driven space western RPG about heists across the galaxy!

I’ve always wanted to make a heist game, so when I saw the Space Western Jam on itch (I know, another externally motivated project), I thought that was the perfect opportunity.

The unique thing about it is that all characters are shared! So if you play in a group, you can choose to roleplay as any of the characters in the team on your turn, and change it for the next turn. I think that will offer a very fun experience for players!

As I mentioned before, I have successfully funded it on itch, so backers will get their rewards any time soon. You can pre-order the game today and have access to the alpha draft as well as the print-and-play cards.

Text reads: Starlight Riders
Image Credit: Cezar Capacle

Berry (she/her): As well as starting my interviews the same way, I also end them the same way. Is there a non-profit/charity you would like to share?

Cezar (he/him): There are a bunch of them in Brazil that could really use some attention, but unfortunately foreign donations are tricky, to say the least. 

So, since environmental causes are near and dear to my heart, I’d like to highlight the work that WWF does. I had the chance to work with them in my past job, and they’re a group of very serious, competent people trying to make our world a better place.

(I would also to mention) the Tabletop Games by Global South Designers collection I organized on itch as a way to bring more attention for creators that are usually not under the spotlight.

Berry (she/her): Wonderful! Thank you so much for chatting with me. It has been a pleasure! 

Cezar (he/him): Likewise! 

Find Cezar on social media at capacle.bio.link.

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