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Meet the Steel Colosseum Team: Sophie Williams

steel colosseum meet the team Sophie Williams

Steel Colosseum is now live on Kickstarter! Zatu Games' first publishing deal alongside Needy Cat Games, Steel Colosseum, is a competitive team combat arena game designed by a wonderful team of creatives. Here on the Zatu blog, we are going to introduce you to each member of the Steel Colosseum team and see if we can find out any sneaky details.

This week, we're introducing Sophie Williams. Sophie is half of the incredible Needy Cat Games, the brains behind the concept and gameplay for the Steel Colosseum. Sophie has worked in several roles in the Games Workshop design studios. She now works hard as the Lead Game Designer for lots of cool upcoming projects!

Name: Sophie Williams

Job Title: Game designer, Person In Charge Of Getting Stuff Done

Favourite Food: Macaroni cheese

Favourite Biscuit: Bourbon

Favourite Movie: Tron

Favourite Character: Granny Weatherwax

Favourite Band/Artist: James already said The Decemberists, didn’t he? Bah! Okay, the Kaiser Chiefs or the Longest Johns.

Hobbies: Board games, printmaking, larping, rescuing animals.

Tell Us About Your Role Within Steel Colosseum

At Needy Cat Games, James and I generally design games together. One of us acts as a designer, coming up with the core engine. The other one acts as a developer, expanding and refining those ideas. We really worked together throughout, batting the game back and forth in our spare time between other projects. I worked on central mechanics and the overall game experience. I also did a lot of prototyping, organised a lot of playtests, and collated a lot of data! When we originally launched it on Kickstarter (as Robot Fight Club) I managed our artists and designers and spent a lot of time liaising with manufacturers and logistics companies. We realised early on that I’m a lot better suited to that kind of stuff than James is!

When it came to designing the game, we drew on a load of influences. We both grew up watching Robot Wars (the more recent series was great, too – if you ever see me in person, I’ll gladly tell you my theory about how Robot Wars and Great British Bake Off are the same program). We both love games that are tense and cinematic, with lots of crunchy decisions for the players. Early versions of Steel Colosseum drew a fair bit from previous arena combat games that one or both of us worked on (especially Gorechosen and Devil May Cry: the Bloody Palace) but the game ended up being very much its own thing.

How Did You Get Into The Board Game Industry?

I’ve played board games my whole life, but it wasn’t until my post-university years that I really got into modern games. James and I both started hanging around the same group of friends at the same time, and we all discovered modern board games together. Most of us (myself included) worked in local Games Workshop retail stores, so we spent a lot of time talking about the ideas behind games as much as playing them. When we moved up to Nottingham I found a job at Games Workshop’s design studio, managing freelance artists and looking after the art archive; later, I moved into licensing. James set up Needy Cat Games by himself at first, but within the first six months it was clear that there was more than enough work to go around, so I came aboard. I’d been helping him work through his designs for years at this point, so it was an easy leap to get into game development myself, then game design. It’s been quite a ride!

What Was the First Game That You Backed on Kickstarter?

I had to look this up – it was a game called Meeple Force that a friend of ours made. Sadly, it was never funded – but maybe it’ll be back one day!

In Three Words, How Would You Describe Steel Colosseum?

Exciting Robot Combat!

Just Between Us, Tell Us Something That We Didn’t Already Know About Steel Colosseum

Although we’ve designed a lot of games with miniatures, this is the first time we’ve had input on what those miniatures should look like – normally it’s all done by other people. It’s been so much fun, working with Chris and Tim to strike a balance between form and function.

And Lastly, Tell Us About Your Favourite Character Within Steel Colosseum

Magnetron! It was one of the first robots we got concept art for back in 2018. We ended up changing the design a bit for Robot Fight Club, but we went back to the original drawing for Steel Colosseum – and it’s pretty much a 1:1 replica, despite the fact that all the others had significant redesigns. Magnetron was perfect as it was.

Meet the Team

Meet the rest of the Steel Colosseum team by heading over to our blog. We've also got an exciting series on each of the Steel Colosseum robots, so be sure to check them out!

Editors note: This blog was originally published on April 22nd, 2022. Updated on May 17th, 2022 to improve the information available.