Meet Bartek and Hubert
One of the greatest things about Destructoid is its sense of community. I’ve made life-long friends here and meet folks who share the same passion as myself nearly every single day.
Bartek Kubica, who resides in Poland, is one of those people. I came across his Final Fantasy Tacticsboard game blog last month and was completely enamored. It’s not just because Tacticsis one of my favorite RPGs of all time: this creation is a masterpiece through and through, as it was literally years in the making.
I had the chance to chat with Kubica (and his collaborator Hubert) about how this whole process started and what exactly goes into making your own painstakingly accurate tabletop adaptation.
Like a lot of us, Kubica started off early in the world of gaming, but had a particularly early introduction to card games andDungeons & Dragons. At roughly 13 years old he had a D&Dgroup and even ran his own campaign over time, which he credits as “the basis for deciphering the RPG systems” of his future Tacticsgame. He studied the rules of games like Magicor the Pokemoncard game and saturated everything he could when it came to Warhammer 40K. By the time he started to build his “Ivalice board game” concept, he already had all of the knowledge he needed. Basic custom concepts of Tacticsthrough GameShark modding is the only inspiration he needed to make his own.
But you can have all the knowledge in the world and not actually do anything with it. How long did it take Kubica to make everything from start to finish? “Countless hours over eight years,” he replied. “The most important for me was to combine the world known for Tactics, Tactics Advance/A2, Final Fantasy XII, Revenant Wings and Vagrant Story. The idea matured in parts, sometimes I spent whole days creating, writing and noting, and sometimes I let the fermentation of ideas do its work. Along the way the project had some bumps and turns but I never gave up. From the beginning of this project to this day, I think about Ivalice every day and make notes, even when buying groceries.”We have a bunch of exclusive images Kubica sent over in the gallery below if you haven’t seen it yet.
Actually playing it is a lot more intuitive than you’d think. Kubica says you basically create your character by choosing a race and you can be on your way. The actual game is played kind of like chess, but with a twist: “Imagine that the figures on the board can not only move horizontally, but also up, they can carry and use weapons, and cast spells. Each pawn has its own class-like job, which determines how many squares it can move, its skills, its life points, and so on.” Kubica states that as you go on you can unlock more jobs like the Black Mage and the Dragoon, which are akin to using the bishop or rook in different ways.
There’s a custom board, too, representing the varied environments of the Tacticsuniverse. Kubica notes, “Going further along this trail, each fight takes place on a chess board whose fields have different heights and obstacles that I built from polished wood, metal and papercraft and various decorative elements. Characters with their statlines are presented in the form of character sheets in the program, which calculates their attack strength, hitpoints, chances of hit, stats like that. We, the players, roll dice to see if the action of our characters has been successful and what value will be its attacks or the spell. Of course I changed and added my own rules, for example critical rolls: each action effect can be doubled with a 5% chance.”
What sets this adaptation apart is the digital aspect, which Kubica worked on with help from his friend Hubert “Majster” T. Kubica calls this facet “crucial to the smooth gameplay” of his creation, and in the digital era, “it’s worth taking advantage of these comforts” to make things better. Hubert chimed in to explain how it all works on the digital end: “Basically, the program, which is called HeroCard, works like an interactive character sheet, and a character or monster is created from scratch (name, race, gender, then initial job and zodiac sign). The program was created to deprive the game of boring aspects, such as calculating statistics.”
Hubert wrote it using JavaFX, and has allowed customizations for various HP and MP values as characters evolve, and even “save or load” or “change jobs” options. What’s crazy is that they also utilize a subroutine called “Clockticks,” which simulates an action bar and can tell which character is going to go next (!). Hubert gave us a visual representation of how it works, which you can view here.
Kubica has played his own game “hundreds of times,” and says that there is a solo adaptation, but recommends a larger group for a full campaign run. After being asked if Square Enix should pursue an official tabletop adaptation, Kubica answered with a resounding yes. “I wouldn’t be offended if Square Enix asked me to realize this,” he half-jests, and says that “Tacticsis the perfect opportunity for an adaptation to this day, and I’m surprised why no one ever came up with it.” He even has a basic idea of how VR and AR applications could work. After that wistful thought, Kubica ends the interview with his favorite Tacticsmoment and a shoutout to everyone that made this vision possible, which I’ll post in full:
“I have many beloved moments from Tactics, such as the beginning, with the phrase ‘don’t blame us…blame yourself or god’, but the one that was most memorable to me, is when Ramza and Delita played on the blades of grass. [It’s such a] sentimental and emotional moment, strongly reverberating in the background of the rest of the game. Yatsumi Matsuno games are masterpieces in both storytelling and mechanics, hence my love Tactics Ogre. The decisions that the player must make and the answers that he must give are etched in the memory of everyone who has experienced this experience. Naturally, I spent many hours with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, a lighter version for the soul. I really like the hidden gems Ring of Red and Grand Knight History. I want to thank Chris and Destructoid for this opportunity and I want to thank everyone that supports me: above all my lovely Kamila! My family, and my friends, Artur, Hubert, Kuba, Åukasz, Maciek and Piotr. People from PPE: Roger, Enkidou, Mrs. Marta, from Reddit, Raptor team.”
A big thanks to you for reading Destructoid!