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The Eye of the Ocean - Part One (2021)

The Eye of the Ocean - Part One (2021)

This project traces its origins back to 2003, designed in a vastly different form, far from the realm of playing cards. 

Back then, I had conceived a rough synopsis  of a novel aimed at young readers, featuring two teenagers as protagonists embarking on an adventure to discover this sailing island called “Eye of the Ocean”. This story was to unfold in the early 1920s, a time when the skies were not as congested as they are today, and radar had yet to be invented. A fundamental guiding principle for this project was consistency. While the technology might defy explanation by our contemporary science, it needed to be logical and plausible within the realms of science fiction. Thus, magic wands, spells, flying brooms, wizards, witches, and enchanted artifacts were excluded from this narrative.

However, my inability to write a full-fledged novel posed a significant obstacle. I lacked the training and skills required for this task, leaving me with the option to create a synopsis that listed events, waypoints, and mechanics. Faced with this challenge, I suspended the project, ultimately shelving it for several years. It wasn’t until 2020 that I realized I possessed the resources to resurrect, reshape, enhance, and finally bring it to fruition.

The Eye Of The Ocean remained the sailing island filled with mysteries, but new characters were introduced, and a fresh narrative emerged, shaped with the invaluable assistance of two professionals: Sara Lilley from the UK and Sanam M. Akram from Switzerland. These two co-authors played a pivotal role in crafting the narrative and developing the characters of the novel.

The narrative of The Eye of the Ocean underwent a profound transformation, and I presented it to Sara and Sanam with a concise 24-word abstract:

‘A 1600s logbook unveils the existence of an ancient sailing island. A female ship-captain embarks on a quest and discovers an invaluable treasure.’

I also specified the revised historical period and genre: ‘the age of sails - around the 1770s - an archaeofantasy adventure with an antediluvian background story.’ Thankfully, it captured their interest, and from there, we advanced with a preliminary synopsis provided by me.

The original plan was to craft Captain L. Dougherty’s logbook as depicted in the novel. I envisioned a journal adorned with notes and sketches, featuring a cutout to conceal the deck of cards, the map divided into 56 pieces resembling a deck of cards, and an aged leather cover wrapping the whole artifact. Affixed to the cover, an enigmatic medallion from the Eye of the Ocean would intrigue all who beheld it. This “prop” was intended to be the primary reward for backers in a future Kickstarter campaign. However, as always, I had to confront the challenges of production requirements, limitations, costs, and feasibility.

The project evolved to facilitate the production of multiple units while striving to preserve the essence of the initial concept. The idea of printing the map divided into 56 pieces was eventually set aside. Instead, I chose to concentrate on designing three decks of cards, each with its unique tuckbox. This shift provided more room for creative exploration, ensuring that card collectors and enthusiasts would find these decks even more appealing. As for the novel’s Volume 1, it would be published conventionally as a regular book and then encased within the leather cover. The Eye of the Ocean’s medallion served both as an ornamental piece and a vital element of the engaging quest or puzzle I had in mind for our backers.

When embarking on the design of a fully custom deck, I have a preference for commencing with the court cards. When crafting The Eye of the Ocean deck, I decided to illustrate the denizens of the island through the imaginative lens of Captain L. Dougherty. These enigmatic figures bear a medieval visage, clutching various nautical instruments and arcane relics that the captain had encountered during his sojourn on the island. Some of these items are recognizable nautical tools such as astrolabes, sextants, compasses, and tridents, while others are products of invention, shrouded in an aura of intrigue.

Each court card boasts a miniature intricately woven into their attire, serving as a visual chronicle of pivotal moments from their life stories. These minute illustrations are hard to notice on a standard poker-sized card, however with a magnifying glass it is possible to see the scene.

Turning to the Aces, I had a some fun, rendering them in the semblance of treasure maps. The suit symbols take the form of islands, each featuring its own unique topography, towns, landmarks, and remnants of the ancient civilization. These locations exist outside the narrative of the book but serve as a captivating complement to the overall project.

The Eye of the Ocean Kickstarter campaign “set sail” in May 2021, made possible by the crew I had assembled for this grand journey. The campaign experienced a phenomenal start, reaching €142,000 within the first 24 hours, all thanks to the incredible support of hundreds of backers who eagerly awaited its launch.

In my view, the success of The Eye of the Ocean doesn’t solely rest on its design and illustrations, but also on how backers and followers perceived its complexity and felt part of this journey while I was crafting it. I regularly shared updates on progress and behind-the-scenes glimpses on social media, particularly on my Patreon account.

The campaign offered 3 main decks (Solis, Lunæ, Astra Polaris), their upgrades achieved through stretch goals, the novel, the prop of the Codex (limited to 50 units), a coin, and other small items.

 Funded with Kickstarter in 2021
A total of 13,488 decks printed by Cartamundi, Belgium
Tuckboxes printed by Oath Playing Cards, Greece


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