St Helens student Isabel designs and produces own tabletop game

Two creative writing students from Edge Hill University have developed their very own tabletop skirmish game after being given a unique opportunity to work for a gaming studio.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 11:12 am
From left to right: Steven Kenny, Callum France, Jake Litherland, Dr Peter Wright, Isabel Tyldesley, Natalie McCulloch, Eve Lewis and Conor Dwyer.

Isabel Tyldesley from St Helens and Conor Dwyer from Banbury, both in their third year at Edge Hill, worked with Crooked Dice Game Design Studio on the game 7TV: Pulp and created their own expansion, 7TV: Lurkers of the Deep.

As part of their course they had both studied modules on how to create tabletop games. Putting their course skills to use, they were able to learn more about how the games are written, designed and produced.

After helping to design and launch the original 7TV: Pulp at the UK Games Expo in 2019, Conor and Isabel were tasked with creating an expansion pack. They decided it should be centred around HP Lovecraft’s popular Cthulhu mythos which includes extra-dimensional gods and mysterious cultists.

Isabel and Conor

The duo’s new expansion was borne, 7TV: Lurkers from the Deep, which Crooked Dice have listed on Kickstarter. Lurkers has smashed its original £2,000 target, instead raising over £30,000 to fund its production.

Isabel said: “I was made project manager for the expansion pack which was really exciting.

"The team were discussing ideas for it and we all loved the stories of HP Lovecraft. I then came up with an idea based around Cthulhu’s fanatic cultists fighting with government agents, we named it Lurkers from the Deep.

“Conor and I wrote the story behind the game as well as all the mechanics and rules. We even helped design the miniatures and cards.

"I feel a real sense of achievement having worked so closely on it and even more so since the Kickstarter campaign has proven so popular.”

Conor said: “I must admit I hadn’t really considered game design as a career but in my first year my lecturer Dr Peter Wright told me and Isabel about Crooked Dice. When I heard about what they did and that they were advertising jobs I knew I had to apply.

“I’ve always loved playing computer games and tabletop games. Having the opportunity to work on 7TV: Pulp taught me how to make games using creative writing, which has been incredible as it is totally unique to Edge Hill’s creative riting course.” A

At the same time as working on this, Conor and Isabel we part of the team creating 7TV: Fantasy which was developed over two years, with help from two cohorts of student interns.

Creative Writing Lecturer Dr Peter Wright said: “7TV: Pulp proved to be such a fantastic experience that Isabel and Conor wanted to do it all again with 7TV: Fantasy. It allowed us to continue helping our students gain practical and genuinely valuable game writing, design and development experience to enhance their professional employability when they graduate.”

Owner of Crooked Dice, Karl Perrotton said: “It has been a joy working with Isabel and Conor and seeing their talent and confidence grow. What started as a small work placement grew into a larger project, giving them opportunities to shape the scope of the product and help manage the team.

"A huge thanks to them both and to Peter Wright and Emma Lui for all their help in setting up the initially work-related learning scheme.”

Conor and Isabel had their incredible work recognised by the university when they won Excellence Scholarship Awards in 2020 for their strikingly creative, innovative, and professional work on their course and for their work.

Conor said: “Our creative writing course covered such a broad range of literature and media. It always felt like we were learning what we wanted and gaining practical skills at the same time. Working for Crooked Dice was just the icing on the cake and our lecturers were so helpful throughout our projects.

“We’re coming to the end of our course now and looking to the future.” Isabel added. “For the moment we’ll carry on as freelancers for Crooked Dice writing and helping to make more games. Tabletop games are continuing to grow in popularity so it’s an exciting time to be working in this industry.”