Dartmouth Artist Creates Pokemon-Like Card Game Called Arkadia

DARTMOUTH – By day, he’s an assistant manager at a local retailer. At night — and often late the next morning — Dartmouth resident and UMass Dartmouth art grad Brian Fournier tackles a creative passion project he’s been thinking about since childhood.

“It’s…it’s kind of like Pokémon, Yuh-Gi-Oh! and chess all at the same time,” Fournier said when trying to describe the concept of Arkadia, the collectible card game he’s been playing. devoted much of his free time. creating for several years now.

“I’m going to put this here,” Fournier’s cousin Stephanie Davison said, dropping a card featuring a character called Torpedo Shark – a robotic-looking shark with a yellow glow emitting from its mouth. With Torpedo Shark in play, Davison then took a red die and placed it on a checkerboard/chess style game board. The number at the top helped her identify this particular dice – one of many of hers on the board – as the one depicting Torpedo Shark.

“I don’t know if it’s smart but… I’ll hit you,” Davison said as he slid the die a few points toward the end of the Fournier board in accordance with Torpedo Shark’s movement abilities, which are spelled out on the skillfully produced playing card. At the end of the move, Davison’s red die had landed next to one of Fournier’s blue dice representing a character he had in play, and Davison’s signature choice attack began. After following up with a second attack – a special ability granted to him at the time by another card in his hand – Davison managed to reduce Fournier’s combat strength by one point.

“He’s dead,” said Fournier, removing his blue die from the board.

“Woo-hoo! Davison replied.

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Davison, who grew up drawing and pretending with Fournier as children, is able to comment on the game as an experienced player of collectible card games, being a fan of one of the old classics, Magic: The Gathering. “I really like it,” Davison said after wrapping up the Arkadia session with Fournier. “I play Magic and it’s very similar where you read the cards to figure out what you’re doing and then there are phases in the turns.”

All fun and games

Fournier, 30, said Arkadia’s roots go back to her childhood growing up in New Hampshire and visiting SouthCoast on weekends.

“When I was about 15, I ended up making a card game with the neighborhood kids and playing,” he said, noting growing up a fan of Pokémon and Yu Gi Oh. ! franchises, with their Japanese manga-style art—sometimes referred to as “anime”—and associated card games. “I would take the white cardboard backings that they sometimes use to protect the comics, and I would take a Yu-Gi-Oh! card, trace it, then use a ruler to draw lines and create a kind of card template that I could fill as I wanted.

“By the time I came back from New Hampshire to Massachusetts, I kind of had a whole game we could play with.”

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A recent UMass Dartmouth illustration grad, Brian Fournier, plays a game of Arkadia, which he designed and built himself.

After graduating from high school, Fournier moved to SouthCoast and began working in retail, before attending Bristol Community College and completing his illustration degree at UMass Dartmouth. While a lot had happened between the days of improvised card games and being a student, a mission one day resurrected the idea.

“I think it was my freshman year at UMass when we were looking at this huge painting. There was a lot to do, and the directive was basically to pick one of the characters and do a story about them. , and then to create something based on that,” Fournier said. “I ended up noticing this guy who was in an alley dropping a deck of blackjack cards, so that’s what bothered me. made me think about the cards, and then it made me think back to those growing memories.”

After producing designs for three game cards to meet project requirements, Fournier’s imagination began to run wild with more ideas for characters and cards that would make up a complete game. The designs are said to be done in a style similar to the Japanese manga franchises that introduced him to the world of collectible card games growing up. “It took me back to everything I loved as a kid, and then the layout and it all came together,” he said.

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Some of the designs for the Arkadia card game, which was illustrated and created by recent UMass Dartmouth illustration grad Brian Fournier.

“There is always something else…”

After spending the rest of the year toying with the idea of ​​a complete product, a certain event suddenly gave Fournier time to take his creative endeavor to the next level.

“When the pandemic started, I was single, I had a lot of alone time, so I started investing more and more time in it,” Fournier said. “It was like one of those things where I was like, should I do this? Because it was going to keep ringing in my head.”

Although he is no longer single, Fournier says he is still as determined to complete the project and that last July he hit a milestone which should mean he is now on the verge of having a release. finalized Arkadia in hand – but it’s hard to tell how close it is. “Since last July, I’ve pretty much redone everything and come up with a finished product. But even after that, it’s like there’s always something else to think about.”

Much of the ongoing work involved fine-tuning the rules of the game, a process that involved gameplay walkthroughs to expose needed improvements, Fournier said. “My buddy Tyler is someone I’ve played with a handful of times and I’ll have him criticize me and tell me everything he doesn’t like and then I’ll adjust things and we’ll see how that happens.”

For example, Fournier says that a certain character, Needle Bomb, will have their abilities reduced by the time the game is revealed for purchase. “It needs to be fixed because it can literally go through the whole board and explode, so that’s one of the biggest problems,” Fournier said. “Someone might say ‘oh, I’ve got this card’ and boom, win the game.”

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Down to business

Aside from some minor tweaks, Fournier says most of the work ahead is now writing and designing an instruction manual. Being a visual storyteller, naturally, says Fournier, he wants to present the playbook in a creative way that adds to the narrative around the game and its characters. “I sometimes work on storyboards with the characters so I wanted to try to make a user manual that is a comic book, but at the same time explains how the game works.”

On the business side, Fournier says he has already taken steps to gain contacts and hopes to have a full package to present to them and others by mid-summer.

Brian Fournier, a recent illustration graduate from UMass Dartmouth, holds one of the cards from the board game he designed.

“I have a cousin who was sort of a sales consultant to Funko, so I showed him stuff as I went along and once I got a finished product, I’ll probably send it over to them,” Fournier said. . “Besides that, he’s been going to local card and game stores and stuff, trying to find places where I can set up a table and teach people how to play and build a following.”

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While that has long been his main creative focus, Fournier says Arkadia isn’t all he’s got when it comes to art, occasionally taking on T-shirt design work for screen printing clients and working on individual pieces such as those seen on the walls of his South Dartmouth home. And while Fournier is cautiously optimistic about Arkadia’s chances of success, he says he’s accepting the possibility that it doesn’t take off as he hopes despite all the time, money and thought put into it.

“The more I talk to people, the more I realize there are so many other people doing the same thing,” he said. “At the end of the day, even if it ends up being a question of the portfolio, I guess it shows that I can commit to the end of a project – that was kind of the initial idea of ​​any way.

“But then it’s like, why not try to sell it?”