Mantic Games recently provided placements to our BA (Hons) Games Art students. Third years’, Becky King, Mason Roome, William Blanchett, and Joshua Bastareche spent 6 weeks learning about the business and applying their skills learnt at Confetti to the workplace.
Mantic Games is an organisation made up of hobby enthusiasts and world-class creatives. They produce tabletop miniature ranges, including Deadzone, Kings of War and Warpath. Not to mention some of the best board games on the market, like Hellboy, The Walking Dead, Here’s Negan, Star Saga (the futuristic dungeon crawler) and DreadBall – The Futuristic Sports Game.
We’ve been steadily developing a relationship with Mantic over the last couple of years, with the team having exhibited at our annual Games Expo on Day 4 of Industry Week 2022. Not only that, Mantic’s CEO and Founder, Ronnie Renton also delivered an insightful talk and Q&A, where he discussed his career journey; from starting out in the industry back in 1992, to witnessing the huge growth in the tabletop games industry, to “taking a walk on the wild side” in establishing Mantic Games – you can catch-up on Ronnie’s session on our YouTube channel.
“I remember when I told my mother, having just finished a university degree, that I was going to work for a strange, small little company called Games Workshop. She thought I was mad and that I should have gone and got a real job!” – Ronnie Renton, CEO and Founder at Mantic Games
Following Industry Week, Mantic got in touch to arrange for a group of Games Art students to undertake 6 week placements at their workshop in Bulwell, Nottingham. During their work experience, 3rd year students Becky King, Mason Roome, William Blanchett, and Joshua Bastareche found out how the tabletop games industry works in practice, and got a feel for what it’s like working for a miniatures and board game publisher like Mantic. They also picked up some practical experience in model design and game design. We caught up with Becky King to find out about her motivations going into the placement:
“How long have I been interested in games and games art? My mum introduced me to the World of Warcraft when I was 8, and it was probably the worst decision she ever made (laughs)! I didn’t know I could make games as a career, however, until A-Level – the college I was studying at told me about Confetti and I was like ‘wait, you can study that!”
After initially being given a whistle stop tour of Mantic, week-by-week students got introduced to different areas of the business under the guidance of the Director, Matt Gilbert. Becky filled us in on the details, she said:
“The 1st week, we got to know Matt and painted some miniatures. During the 2nd week, we got split into teams and alternated what we did week-to-week. Me and Will Blanchett went to look at how they make the briefs for the art, and then we made our own and gave it to each other to complete.
“We looked at the resin moulding process during week 3, including all of the different stages – from the art, to getting the model, and then printing that out. Then there’s producing master models and getting them to a production-ready state.
“The 4th week, we worked in the warehouse packing boxes – I thought it was great, I enjoyed how methodical it was, and the ability to kind of turn my brain off and just do it. I liked setting myself challenges, in fact, me and Will were seeing how many we could package in a day. Our top score was 300 – they said it was phenomenal! It’s interesting because all of the Mantic staff that I’ve spoken to said that they all pretty much started in the warehouse, and that they moved up through opportunities based on things they’d shown they were good at.
“On week 5, me and Will did photography. We were taking pictures of models for use on the games packaging and learning how to edit them. It was great… It wasn’t an avenue that I’d thought of as a place for me, but I loved it.”
By week 6, the four students came back together for one final challenge; to write a brief for a game of their own creation. Students worked together in pairs, choosing their own theme and the materials they wanted to use; with access to blank playing cards, dice, counters, and any miniatures required. Further to making the game, the students were asked to play test one another’s games and provide feedback on the gameplay and its mechanics, including constructive criticism on how to make it better. During some downtime, we talked to Joshua Bastareche about his experience studying at Confetti and asked him how he’d found the placement:
“Before games art I was mostly doing traditional art, like pencil sketches, but ever since I transitioned to games art, it’s been much more digitally based, which was a big learning curve for me. However, after three years at Confetti, I’ve got a good understanding of how it works and become a lot more comfortable in creating digital artwork.
“I first heard about the placement opportunity through my tutor, who was delivering a presentation. There was some information about Mantic and the first image was a poster of their 2D board games, which were very fantasy-based. I especially liked the illustrations they’d made for their mass battle fantasy game, Kings of War. I have a huge interest in fantasy in general, and so that instantly made me want to try Mantic out.
“On my course, we are always creating art for characters and environments, and so I was able to take that experience from Confetti and apply it to Mantic, drawing concept sketches of characters for real, playable 3D models. The exercise was a good way to introduce them to my skills in terms of my traditional art background.
“Have I enjoyed creating a game as part of week 6? I have to admit, I came in dreading this week. Just because I’m not much of a games designer. I like to create art but in the designing part, when you are creating actual mechanics and interactions, it was difficult for me at first just because I don’t have that mindset. However, I’ve enjoyed working with my course mate, Mason Roome – he fully realised the game and he made it easy for me to support his vision. The playtesting has been really fun and I enjoyed the experience because we had this great support system in place to help one another. By the end, I felt much more comfortable with games design.”
All four of the students on placement have benefitted from a Rise Work Experience Bursary to help cover their expenses. Rise funding supports eligible students to access up to £400 unpaid work experience relevant to your future career. The work experience must be with a legitimate organisation and you must work a minimum of 4 hours per week.
You can claim Rise funding if you are already in receipt of an NTU bursary, you are a care leaver, you have BTEC only entry qualifications, or if you have a disability. There are a few additional eligibility criteria so be sure to go and have a look at the full list and check your own eligibility on the Rise website.
Applying for a Rise bursary is simple and and straightforward, and you can make a new claim each academic year. Find out how Becky and Joshua found the application process:
“The Rise bursary has made it possible for me to travel here and covers lunch. It was easy to apply – I pretty much just filled in a form, I waited and then the funding came through just before I started. It’s great that it landed just as I needed it.” – Becky King, 3rd Year BA (Hons) Games Art student
“I was really anxious at first about getting the paperwork done, however, the process was actually quite simple. You just complete the form in as much detail as you can, and then send it in and wait a little bit. The questions it asks you aren’t that hard to answer and the wait time wasn’t very long.” – Joshua Bastareche, 3rd Year BA (Hons) Games Art student
We caught up with Mantic Games Director, Matt Gilbert to find out about the landscape of the tabletop games industry in Nottingham and about their future plans:
“Nottingham’s known as ‘the lead belt’ because of the number of wargames manufacturers based here. The tabletop industry is a very small but focused talent pool in Nottingham. A lot of people cut their teeth at Games Workshop and then leave but stay in the area.
“A lot of Confetti’s courses are focused on the video games industry and the art for that. I think it’s good for the Games Art courses to diversify, and interestingly, all of the placement students we’ve had, within a couple of weeks of being here, they’ve said ‘this is the industry I want to be in’, and that could just be because they’re here, it’s hands on and it’s novel. But all of them seem to be hugely enthusiastic about getting a job here or at another tabletop games developer.
“The four students we’ve had are very competent artists and the quality of what’s coming through is very good.
“What I’d like to establish is a long-term relationship with Confetti so that Mantic is almost a part of the course – so people know that part of that course is coming to visit, is coming to learn how the tabletop industry works, including model design and games design. And then we go back in, feedback, and talk to students as well, and so it’s kind of a two-way relationship.”
“50% of our business is in the States, and as we get bigger the amount of product will grow and as a result, the creative teams will need to get bigger.
“And I guess long term, then it helps us to see the pool of talent that’s coming through. So let’s say there are people we like, whether it be artists, sculptors, or whatever, and we’ve got those positions open, then we already have candidates that we’ve seen, that we like, and that we know would be a good fit.”
“We are really looking forward to working with Mantic again next year and are pleased to be introducing a Live Brief Element in collaboration with them for our First Year HE First Year Game Art Cohort. It will be great experience for our students I’m sure!” – Dan Doughty, Confetti Games Curriculum Leader
Are you interested in attending events and getting hands on experience as part of your studies? Book onto an Open Day to find out more about all the opportunities on offer here at Confetti.