Jason (GameGobble): Magic Maze is played in real-time and is constrained by a timer. Participants need to coordinate their actions but cannot communicate in conventional ways. All of this creates urgency and tension. What would you say are the key attributes of players that do well in your game?
Kasper (designer): Getting good at this game is about learning to ask “what can I do?” instead of focusing on what other players should do.
It’s also about assuming that the other players have good reasons to do what they do. When they move in a direction that surprises you, instead of thinking “what an idiot!” and undoing their move, you should think “why do they want to move in that direction? What have I overlooked?”
That’s why I sometimes joke that this game will make you a better person 🙂
Jason (GameGobble): What is one thing you want gamers to know about Dungeon Alliance?
Andrew (game designer): The most important thing about Dungeon Alliance is that there is no “best” way to play. It is a game that is purposefully customizable. We never want players to feel like they’re cheating if they adjust the rules to fit their taste. That means it’s definitely okay to change a rule or remove a card that annoys you.
I’ve had players ask for my blessing to change this or that to the game when they play. I want people to know they have my permanent approval to change anything they like if it makes the game more fun for their group. It would be naive of me to think that one ruleset for a game like this would be the perfect fit for everyone. We gamers all have diverse personalities and different experience goals … just like the characters in Dungeon Alliance!
Jason (GameGobble): There is luck involved with the type of spirits (workers) drawn from the respective bags, but each player gets to make decisions that manipulate which spirits go into that drawing pool. Please share your thoughts on how you wanted this mechanism to affect gameplay.
Dan (game designer): We wanted it to feel like a deckbuilder. We wanted players to really have to focus on refining and culling. We then decided to really embrace this feel and added the summoning bonuses to the game (originally these bonuses were more focused on how you built your Groves). We also loved the concept of sending spirits to other players realms to put them into their bags. There is a really neat dynamic built around how the bags are formed and we felt like we approached bag building in a really interesting way that had never been done before.
Jason (GameGobble): Some people describe your game as a light to mid-weight Euro. Do you think that description is accurate? What kind of gamer would you say Dinosaur Island is ideal for?
Jonathan (game designer): I do think it’s accurate, because it’s what we were aiming for! They are some of my favorite types of games to play as well! Dinosaur Island is great for groups who want a game that is easily approachable and learnable, but with a decent amount of depth. Also, people who love dinosaurs and puns.
Jason (GameGobble): Could you elaborate on the overall gaming experience you wanted players to have?
Curt (game designer): At its core, Cutthroat Caverns is a game about kill-stealing, a concept all too familiar for D&D fans. Everyone fights the monsters of the dungeons, but only the player who actually lands the killing blow claims any reward. So it forces players to jockey for position, trying to have their attack be the one to slay the creature, even if they have to trip another player or otherwise spoil someone else’s attack, so they themselves can claim all the glory. Cutthroat was one of the first true semi-coop games, admittedly one that leaned harder on non-cooperation and backstabbing, but tempered by the knowledge that if you didn’t work together, you had a very real chance of all dying and losing the game in a total player kill. Balancing the need to say alive, with the desire to win is the heart of the game.
Jason (GameGobble): Players may be able to deduct the intentions of others, but the game is designed to keep full knowledge of everyone’s hidden roles until the very end. Was this effect difficult to achieve? What were some of the design challenges and how did you overcome them?
Bruno (game designer): A design challenge we faced was to introduce catch-up systems. In the first version of the game, a player who had accumulated a lot of points was almost sure to win and the game was just about joining their team. The Assassin rule (giving secret negative points), the mutual cancellation of identical characters and the hippie rule all address this same issue.
Jason (GameGobble): Talk about the overall gaming experience you were trying to create when developing Hafid’s Grand Bazaar.
Mike (game designer): We wanted the loud bustle of an open air market where you are talking over everybody else, in an anything goes effort to make good deals. Like all of the games we design, I wanted the social component to factor heavily and I think we did well with that. Hafid’s Grand Bazaar is not a quiet game by any means. Even the choice of going with an icon based system on the cards created an artificial language barrier with players, which led to a hilarious in-game culture as players are trading and negotiating as fast as they can.
Jason (GameGobble): Raptor is a 2 player card-driven board game that has been praised for the gameplay, theme, and art. Can you share some background of how the initial ideas for the game led to the final product?
Bruno (game designer): I had this idea in mind for a long time without really knowing what to do with it. When Bruno Faidutti asked me to build a pure 2 player game with him, we discussed the idea further. We wanted special abilities strongly connected to a theme, and less emphasis on the mathematical aspect. We worked with Vincent Dutrait and asked for artwork to tell the story in the cards, as if we were watching a movie.
Jason (GameGobble): Sunset Over Water has different card types that provide randomization during gameplay. But each player gets to make some interesting decisions too. What was your intention in balancing the amount of luck vs. strategy involved?
Ed (product lead): Sunset Over Water always had the same audience/player as Herbaceous in mind. We wanted to make a game Herbaceous players could easily transition to, so while there are more mechanics in the game (it isn’t quite the simple, beauty of Herbaceous) we wanted to make sure the experience was more than a taxing strategy game.
Sunset Over Water is a game that should be easy to teach, play, and one where you can have a hold conversation with your friends.
Jason (GameGobble): The look and feel of Herbaceous work really well with the game’s mechanics. Talk about how the artwork and theme came together during development.
Ed (product lead): Herbaceous was art/audience first, mechanics second. Beth Sobel had posted a number of the herbs as part of a Bonanza reskin and I felt there could be an incredible game there for a casual, non-gamer audience. Steve Finn understood the idea and designed a game to deliver that. We iterated a bunch, but the audience always was paramount.