By Ed Brennen
Life is rough on the streets of ArcRidge, a nation-city situated on the edge of a nuclear winter wasteland in the cyberpunk world of Morix. All ties to history have been severed by the interstellar war, and swashbuckling rogues run amok in a futuristic land where technology and magic are one and the same.
That’s the setup of “Favor,” a new, neo-noir tabletop role-playing game that several UMass Lowell students have had a hand in creating and marketing — and the upcoming first release from their startup indie gaming studio, Eclipse Entertainment.
“It’s a ton of work, but we all love what we’re doing. It’s a passion project for us,” says Josiah Gennell
, a rising senior business administration
major from Methuen, Massachusetts. He’s the “marketing and business guru” at Eclipse, which was started in 2019 by his friend, Dan Wulderbor.
First made popular in the 1970s by “Dungeons & Dragons,” tabletop role-playing games require players to assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Typically played either in person or online in a small social gathering, players describe the intended actions of their characters, with the outcome determined by a game master or the game’s rulebook.
Gennell says that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and people couldn’t get together to play in person, more started playing online.
“That market has been huge,” says Gennell, who notes that Favor’s rulebook — which is nearly 300 pages long — will be available early next year as both a hardcover and a digital PDF. The studio launched a Kickstarter campaign in May to garner presales of the game and generate fan buzz.
When Business Dean Sandra Richtermeyer
heard last year that Gennell and his team were looking for graphic designers to help with the project, she created three $500 awards that helped him collaborate with a trio of marketing students from the Manning School of Business
: Jeremy Chamberlain ’21, Dana Lantion ’20 and rising junior Brett Mullett.
Lantion, an MBA student who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration (with concentrations in entrepreneurship
), says the project allowed her to explore a different aspect of marketing.
“Graphic design was something that I was interested in growing my skills in,” says Lantion, who currently works as a digital marketing strategist for Birdhouse Marketing and Design in Boston. She also has launched her own digital agency, Marketing Squared.
“It was fun to work with UML students, since we're all close in age and all have similar interests in gaming,” she says. Lantion designed the Favor logo and also worked on the graphics for the Kickstarter campaign.
The Eclipse team also includes Michael Gonzales, who is completing his bachelor’s degree in computer science
Gennell says that even before the pandemic, the team was collaborating virtually on Discord and Microsoft SharePoint. “So when COVID hit, it didn’t affect us one bit,” he says.
With a second game already in the works, this one a PC-based game called “Waylaid,” Gennell is excited to see what the future holds for Eclipse Entertainment.
“It’s been awesome to work with people who are passionate and excited about the company,” he says.