Interview by: James Freeman
Thing 12 games does 2 things very well, compact games and kickstarters. Sean Epperson was kind enough to give me some time to talk about kickstarters, games and.... FIFA 99?
On your website it says Thing 12 games has decades of combined experience in the video game industry. Which games has the team worked on?
Well, I got my start in the video game industry testing FIFA 99 on the Playstation 1 (wow...that's really dating myself).
OH MAN I LOVE THAT GAME! It had Fatboy Slim on the soundtrack and European Super League... sooooooo good. Sorry, had a Genesis moment.
I have personally produced very well received games like Spyro: The Eternal Night for the Game Boy Advance, and Looney Tunes Cartoon Conductor for the Nintendo DS. Others on the team have worked on games like Assassin's Creed and Spider-Man on the DS, a few X-Men games, Crash of the Titans, and many many more.
We have all worked together on various projects, so we knew our individual strengths and how each person could help contribute to making these games as awesome as possible. Our many years in the video game industry has also helped us know how to navigate the many challenges that can arise when creating games in a team environment.
The games are super portable. Was that by design?
Absolutely. Badger, the designer, has a big interest in compact games and this was his desire at the beginning...which we completely agreed with. Games like Dice of Crowns and Dice of Pirates are designed to be played literally anywhere you want to go, and we knew we wanted the components to withstand the kind of crazy things that can happen when taking a game anywhere. Molded dice, molded tokens and 3d element (like the crown in Dice of Crowns) and rules that are printed on revlar so they can't be torn and are water resistant...all in a metal tin that can take a beating as well.
I had a boy scout troop leader contact me about his troop playing the game together in the rain...and they had a blast. :)
What were the inspirations for Dice of Crowns & Dice of Pirates?
Sean: For the first game, Badger was inspired by Game of Thrones. He was thinking about the show at a high level, and the back-stabbery that is prevalent in the show and he wanted to create a game that could capture that dramatic play while being a compact and quick-playing experience.
Dice of Pirates was really driven from Dice of Crowns, and pirates felt like the next logical step thematically. We wanted a game that felt at home in the "Dice of" world, but wasn't some visual re-skin. It had to have familiar elements but new things that play into the theme of pirates so that it felt like a "next game" experience.
The thing (no pun intended) that sets your game apart for me is the potential player interaction on every turn. Was that a key mechanic from the outset?
Sean: It was. The very first iteration that Badger had presented to me had this...and it felt so new and different from all the other dice games I had previously played. It gives the player strategic choices to make in the game, rather than just pure push-your-luck. It also allowed alliances to build up (and hilariously fall apart), while keeping everyone engaged rather then the typical down-time which causes people to check-out.
I was hooked immediately and saw the great potential that was there, and knew that we could bring together the right artistic team to make the game visually stand apart.
This seems like it could be a trilogy? Is there another game in the works? I have several half baked ideas I could pitch.
Heh. It IS a trilogy. This was something we talked about during production, and we have already started the initial beginnings of game 3. We are keeping game 3's theme in a cave at the moment...but we will release more info when it's ready to take flight.
The challenge is that we want the games to work together. At the time of this interview, we are finishing up the rules for playing Dice of Crowns vs Dice of Pirates...which is another very unique thing that you don't see in games like this.
So making game 3 stand on it's own, while also coming up with a rule set that plays up elements of the previous 2 is an interesting design challenge that takes more time than creating a one-off experience.
Including Click Click Boom you have had 3 successful kickstarters. Is there any advice you could give to aspiring game makers looking to use this as their funding source?
Wow...yeah. This is something I could do an entire interview series on. To them I would say, do your homework. There are a TON of tips out there, like Jamey Stegmaier's Kickstarter blog posts. But you should also be following lots of different Kickstarters. Back them for a dollar, and pay attention to what they do, what goes right and what goes wrong. Otherwise, here are 6 things (take THAT, round numbers!) that every aspiring Kickstarter runner should be planning for:
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