7 Grand Steps Takes One Giant Leap Toward Release

Since its earliest inception, 7 Grand Steps has been an intrigue among intrigues. For one, it comes from Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble maestro Mousechief, which already pretty much guarantees that the end result won’t step outside the box so much as it will scream forth from it, Hulk-like, in a confetti shower of splinters. 7 Grand Steps adopts a boardgame-style rule set to weave a highly reactive, multi-generational tale – letting you lift a family line from squalor to, well, pretty much whatever you see fit. I’m quite excited to find out what’ll come of my first run, though my real life habits suggest it’ll probably be widespread infamy or being held responsible for one of history’s most destructive fires. Soon, however, I’ll be able to find out for sure, because 7 Grand Steps is coming out next month.

7,000 years. What a positively mad stage for a player-driven story. Sure, it might not look like much, but imagination is one of board gaming’s greatest assets. Hopefully, 7 Grand Steps’ prompts and mechanics will guide it to some fascinating places. Here’s how it all comes together:

“Inspired by the coin-operated amusements of San Francisco’s Musee Mechanique, 7 Grand Steps combines the historical sweep of Civilization and the family nurturing of The Sims into an emergent narrative of epic scale. With each turn, you optimize the use of resources to achieve powerful legends, using a tactical board-game mechanic that empowers overarching family strategies across the generations. Along the way, children are conceived and romances forged, discoveries are made and tragedies suffered. Will your lineage survive through the ages, or be crushed under the weight of progress?”

7 Grand Steps will be out June 7th on both Steam and Mousechief’s own site. It’ll run you $15, which seems like a more than reasonable price for, again, 7,000 years of crazy emergent narrative. In the meantime, there’s also a free demo, which Adam wrote some characteristically attractive words about a few months ago. So then, go absorb his knowledge and try the demo. History is waiting.


  1. Keith Nemitz says:

    Hello RPS’ers. I’m the creator of 7 Grand Steps. I would be happy to answer questions about the game or my four cats.

    • Soolseem says:

      I’m looking forward to playing this once it hits a full release! I’ve played the demo and I loved it.

      This game only covers about 1,000 years though, right? I remember reading elsewhere that the plan is to release a series of linked games covering the span of human history, and this is only the first.

      • Keith Nemitz says:

        That’s right. This game is ‘Step 1: What Ancients Begat’, because it, um, covers the ancient’s period. Copper age, Bronze Age, and Iron age. But it’s not a short game. It takes 8-10 generations per age to complete. Each generation is paced so that you have time to invest in and get to know each family. That’s why the storytelling element is so important. If you just play it as a game and ignore the text, it’ll feel repetitive after five or six generations. But the core mechanic is pretty fun, to last that long.

    • cptgone says:

      while DLing what looks like another fun Mousechief game, allow me to pose the most important question:
      what are your cats’ names, and what’s their favourite cat food?

      • Keith Nemitz says:

        In order of appearance (to our household): Kikyo (named after tragic heroine in Inuyasha), Mousie (because she is tiny and squeaks), Kiera and Orlando because they came named that way. They all love cheap dry food far more than the expensive, grain free, organic canned food that is the primary food served. But they love freeze dried chicken most of all. Some go crazy for fish flakes. Some for fresh prawns.

        You asked.

        • cptgone says:

          hehe, thanks :)
          i’m always looking to expand my cats’ menu (some international online shopping has done wonders though), i’m fascinated by the disparate tastes of cats, and recently found myself looking for a name for a stray visitor.
          i see yours are in good hands :)

          i’m loving the game so far, but haven’t had the time to play it through yet (only had time for 5 grand steps).

    • mgd26 says:

      Why do the kids have the black symbols circling their heads at the end of the turn?

      • Keith Nemitz says:

        It means they’re taking their default action, playing. Each turn a child can do one of three things. Tokens teach them a lot of skill. The ingot tells them to try and make a token, and unless they are very skilled, they will fail. But if you don’t give them either, they take their default action, which is to play. When a child plays, it learns a little bit by itself. Those circling symbols indicate the skills it’s playing with.

        • mgd26 says:

          Ty! Part of me thought they were losing those skills. Is it a strictly random chance to gain a skill through play?

          • Keith Nemitz says:

            Pretty much. Logically, they would tend to learn what they’re parents know, but that’s already accounted for in the design. So random gives them a chance to learn other things as well, but never very much.

    • mgd26 says:

      The king gives x days to conquer a city…allows them to sue for peace?

      • Victuz says:

        It does seem like a bug, bought the game yesterday on steam and that one thing is driving me insane!

  2. OpT1mUs says:

    I have no clue what is going on in that video, but I love it

    • bstard says:

      Sharing the same feeling. I love the ancient history and wierd games the dont walk the paved path. Added to my Must have when the bailiffs are done with me list.

  3. Colonel J says:

    Thanks for the demo link. tried it for half an hour, thought it was wonderful, bought it.

    and demo or not, it would have been an instabuy after I googled for other stuff about the game and read Keith’s comment to a Polygon piece that he took inspiration from Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs and Steel and James Burke’s Connections. Seriously, this might be the game I’ve been waiting for all my life, but didn’t know I wanted.

    • AngoraFish says:

      I only got so far as “James Burke‚Äôs Connections” and rushed off to buy the game.

      • AngoraFish says:

        Okay, I’ve played now for several hours (well into noble stages), but I think I’m done.

        The game is addictive in a repetitive sort of way for a while, but I’m not getting any great sense that my actions have any real practical influence on the outcomes – grab point token when chits allow it, rinse and repeat.

        The game itself is entirely dry, repetitive and thoroughly abstract, and the theme/story text, at its most interactive, is simply a “choose you own adventure” slot machine.

        Filler such as children (after the first), “inventions”, class-promotions, etc. are all largely tacked on, adding little to the game other than to obscure how simple it is with layers of superficial complexity.

        There is certainly no sense of emergent stories arising at any level, and I’ve felt no great interest in going back to re-read earlier popup text that comprises what “history” there is of my family tree.

        I found Dangerous High School Girls charming, albeit with a quite jarring and (in my view) inappropriate change of tone at the end. Unfortunately, 7 Grand Steps in no way lives up to the promise shown in High School Girls.

  4. Keith Nemitz says:

    OpT1mUs, it makes more sense if you think of 7 Grand Steps as a board game. If you’ve never seen Settlers of Catan before, and someone handed you all the game parts but no rules. Would you even consider trying it?

    7GS is very much a game that needs to be played. We promise the needle jab is almost painless, and the flow of opiates is delivered smoothly.

    • OpT1mUs says:

      I love it precisely because it looks like a board game. I’m a huge board game fan.

  5. Keith Nemitz says:

    Thanks, Colonel J. Those are kind words indeed.

  6. Geewhizbatman says:

    So my biggest question revolves around game-time and randomness. Well, I guess it’s a Chimera question: What is the average time of a play through and how important is random chance in on completing any given goal?

    I liked DHSGiT (gosh, it’s still pretty long ;P) but felt like getting through the overarching story took longer than I might have liked because of the elements of randomness in the mini-games. Which wasn’t all that bad but—it didn’t take place over seven generations! It meant sometimes I felt like I was playing a longer game not because of content but because of barriers in accessing that content. Obviously, it wasn’t bothersome enough for me to not play and enjoy the game, but it did push at some of those boundaries. Lots of board games use randomness in some form or another, which is fine but as an average to casual gamer that makes shorter form runs feel less hurtful especially if its about building up to something (the little gem of Elder Sign: Omens for android fits some of what I mean–Very random, very difficult, but moving quickly enough to not make me feel like I was playing for a long time just to waste it all on a bad flip of the coin.)

    Fair warning: I haven’t played the demo, and I understand these questions would be pretty much answered there. But, I don’t like demos. They usually make me want to play the game, as long as it is even semi-functional, and in this case means I’d now wait for the full release with just a little taste which feels unbearable. So, what I’m curious about is how you thought about the issue—which may not change gameplay itself but might help give me perspective of how you viewed these elements of the game once I get my teeth into it. Thanks and appreciate you coming onto any type of forum to brave questions like this!

    • Keith Nemitz says:

      7GS is a completely different game than DHSGiT. It’s core mechanic is heavily biased by your decisions not by randomness. The typical length of gameplay, for the whole game is 15-20 hours. But it has been designed to be easily picked up and played and easily quit and resumed. In fact, that’s how I suggest playing it. Savor it for an hour or two or just for ten minutes. It plays well in either case.

      • Geewhizbatman says:

        Sounds lovely, thanks for the response and I look forward to the experience!

  7. rapter200 says:

    Having bought the game back when rps first did an article on it (or around that time) I have to say I love each time I play it. Releasing the game on Steam is a wonderful idea and at a price point of $15 dollars it will attract a lot of buyers. I do got one question though, do you plan on taking part of the major steam sales such as the summer sale. I know that many of my friends wouldn’t give the game a chance just because the concept is so foreign to them but if I were to buy copies for them I am sure they would at least try it out.

    • Keith Nemitz says:

      Steam sales are a critical way to earn money after the initial launch. Fortunately we’ll be launching well before the next sale. And there will be an initial discount (first week, I think). Naturally, our first discount in a major sale event will not be as great as other titles. So, you’ll probably save only a buck or two by waiting.

  8. basilisk says:

    The demo really sold this for me. I’m not quite sure what it is going to develop into and how it really works, but it is certainly shaping up to be something quite interesting. Something like a much less convoluted King of Dragon Pass, which is a game I think I would love if it weren’t so bloody abstruse.

    (And DHSGiT was great, so there’s that, too.)

  9. deadfolk says:

    Loved the demo when I played it after the earlier mention on RPS. Will definitely be grabbing this at some point.

  10. Ushao says:

    I played some of the demo last night and found it fascinating. A few things seemed a bit obtuse to me but since it’s still in beta with no real documentation I can forgive it. I’ll probably end up picking this one up.

    • Keith Nemitz says:

      The latest beta included extensive documentation in-game. Press the red ‘i’ button.

      Of course, we all know ‘real documentation’ is an active forum talking about the game. Not kidding.

      • Ushao says:

        That’s almost always the most thorough documentation for sure. :)

        I went ahead and purchased a copy of the beta. It’s enjoyable and interesting enough for the price.

  11. pertusaria says:

    Bought the beta and played through the first generation and transition so far. I’m really enjoying it, and I did get attached to at least the first generation – after all, you’re saving them from crocodiles all the time.

    I think it’ll take a while to work out all the implications of different moves, which is nice. Also, it’ll be interesting to see from a few different play-throughs how different your decisions (and chance) make each family. Hopefully there’s a good bit of variety.