It has been a while since my last interview. However, there is an interesting new project currently on Kickstarter: Maki Games’ Modular Wargaming Scenery. The concept is brilliantly simple.
Using a deceptively modelst core-module of a container – or Makitainer as they call it – a stunning range of wargaming scenery and terrain can be constructed: basic buildings, 3D-dungeon mazes and corridors, and massive, towering structures.
Best of all, Maki Games‘ modular terrain will be made in hard injection-moulded plastic.
More than enough reasons to hunt down Emiliano Mancini from Maki Games and ask him a few questions about his company, his Makitainers and his Kickstarter campaign.
This Interview with Maki Games’ Emiliano Mancini covers the following
#1 – An Introduction to Maki Games
Zweischneid: Hello Emiliano and thank you for this interview. How would you introduce yourself Emiliano? What do you do when you don’t start a wargaming company?
Emiliano: I am a scientist, a physicist. I have been working on a PhD in Amsterdam for the past few years and I am still working at the University. That is how I ended up in Amsterdam!
It ‘s beautiful city by the way, except for the terrible weather.
Zweischneid: Hey.. I am in England!
Well, you’re completing a PhD?
Do you also play miniature games? Or have you played them in the past?
Emiliano: Yes. It is almost done.
I started with D&D when I was 13. Slowly moved to wargaming. Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, Warmachine, Hordes, Infinity…..I played them all. Nowadays I don’t have much time for it, but I still keep in touch with the games.
For some time I worked in a gaming club in Italy, taking care of the community. Once we even managed to bring to our small club the official Games Workshop qualifier tournament.
I made over 20 tables for that tournament all alone, complete with terrain.
Managing a community of players means taking care of terrain, so I knew how difficult is to store it or to build terrain in such a way to minimize the damage during the games (very hard….).
At that time I would have loved to buy what I am doing now.
Zweischneid: Cool. But when did you decide to go at it yourself? Start a company!
Emiliano: It started less than a year ago. Until then, we had some experience in making terrain in resin, plaster, polystyrene foam, but it was always for personal use.
#2 – The Maki Games Logo
Zweischneid: Your new company is called Maki-Games. And your first piece of terrain is the Makitainer. I love your logo with the Maki lemur. Is there a story behind this? Where does the lemur come from?
Emiliano: As with all the logos there is always a story. Let’s find out if ours is funny enough.
When we were about to start working on the kickstarter, that is after having developed the first container, we realized we had no name for our company. We were so taken by the creative process we totally forgot about it.
So we decided for a quick solution and simply mixed some letters of our surnames: Maki sounded good. I initially liked Maki because of the Japanese rolls, which I love! But a piece of sushi was not that cool for a logo. Looking at other meanings of the word the lemur popped up and we immediately fell in love with it.
Zweischneid: So the “M” is for Mancini?
Emiliano: eheh yes. That was not hard
Zweischneid: Had to make sure!
#3 – Modular Wargaming Scenery in Hard Plastic
Zweischneid: Soo.. you said you made terrain from resin, plaster, etc.. . Do you have experience with injected hard-plastic? Where did you “find” the technology?
Emiliano: We had some experience with injection moulding terrain before, if on a smaller scale. Our first product was not nearly as cool as what we are doing now. It was honestly quite ugly, but it allowed us to be confident enough to set up the Kickstarter. We were very happy with the process, from concept to production and delivery.
We don’t have the machines themselves as they are way too expensive. Our production is set up in China, exactly like all the biggest projects on KS. We had many options about partners there, but we choose the most reliable, although it is among most expensive.
We really care about quality. I am extremely demanding about the design and about what I buy.
Being in a multicultural environment like Amsterdam helped a lot. I have many Chinese friends who helped bridging the gap. It was quite scary the first time we did a project with a partner so far away, but it was a success!
Zweischneid: Let us talk about the Makitainers themselves. You showed some impressive pictures on Kickstarter on how robust they are. You also mentioned storage was an issue, back when you did terrain for your club.
How do you design this modular system?
Emiliano: The Makitainers are based on a very strong system of pins. Very simple and straightforward. We actually hired an aerospace engineer to develop it, since we were looking for a product able to resist hours and hours of games.
The pins are strong enough and they fit in the holes present in the floor tiles. The floor tiles themselves are quite thick, 5mm, probably the thickest currently on the market.
We made this choice to ensure stability of tall structures without using glue to fix them on a board. The walls are meant to be inserted in any possible combination in the floor tile, leaving maximum flexibility to the players creativity
Moreover, you can remove them after a game, so they take away as little space as possible.Production Samples of Maki Games’ Makitainer
#4 – The Future of the Maki Games Kickstarter?
Zweischneid: This means the elements all “click” together without glue.
Emiliano: Yes, that is the idea. It allows players to assemble the Makitainers in different configuration every time.
And my house in Amsterdam is small. I cannot store any large terrain elements either.
Zweischneid: On the Kickstarter, you say you are planning more themes for the Makitainer.
Do you also plan to include different modules and constructions? What are you hoping to fund if things go really well?
Emiliano: We have already completed 3 different themes. Each theme is made of two type of walls. We are now working on the fourth theme, and so far we have only shown the small ones!
Zweischneid: Small themes?
Emiliano: Small walls…
Zweischneid: Now I am intriqued!
Emiliano: The size of the current walls is 6cm, but we have higher ones as well.
Zweischneid: These would fit on the same floor-plates, but give you higher buildings?
Emiliano: Yes. And you will be able to combine building with lower and higher wall so the floor will realign a few floor upward. We want to give maximum flexibility to our players.
We recently uploaded a picture of a 5 floors high building.
That, really, is what we had in mind when we planned the development of our terrain. They are called 3d wargames, but far too often the actual games are played on a 2D surface, at best using roofs and balconies.
It is very difficult to build structures that tall to play INSIDE them!
Zweischneid: So you plan to go more into this direction… with things like higher walls, larger floors, pillars, and layers?
Emiliano: Yes. We are working on another surprising example to upload soon!
Zweischneid: Well, if you start teasing, you have to finish! I am pretty sure that is a law in Amsterdam…
Emiliano: Ahhaha, they should pass it as soon as possible.
I want to thank all our backers and supporters in this great adventure. It is incredible the amount of positive feedback we got for our project. The success of this kickstarter is as much of our backers as it is ours. We just tried to make a product that would be really useful for gamers.
I also want to thank you for your interest in our project
Zweischneid: Well. It looks great. Thank you for the fantastic interview!The things you could build with a few of Maki Games basic Maktainer module!
#5 – Makitainer Hi-Tech Theme Preview
One of the aims of Maki Games’ Kickstarter-campaign is to unlock new and different visual themes for their Makitainer, making it fit for a greater variety of miniature wargames.
Next to the Skull/Modern theme the Makitainer started with (see pictures above), the Kickstarter recently unlocked the Gothic/Steampunk theme.
Now, Emiliano also send me a few concept sketches for a second more hi-tech sci-fi theme the Kickstarter is hoping to unlock in the near future. Have a look!
Are you interested in this type of modular wargaming scenery?
What do you think of the concept and idea?