viernes, 24 de febrero de 2012

Speaking with Designers: Robert Burke

Kickstarter has exploded (in a good way) with great projects fighting to get funded. That sometimes means unique games get overlooked for those with bigger or flashier titles. Cartoona is definitely unique. A game of mixing and matching parts to create amazing creatures, this one caters to all sorts of crowds and ages. It's inspired art is what got my attention and I really hope it gets funded. Head on over to Kickstarter to take a look and read our chat with designer and artist Robert Burke.

¿No hablas inglés? ¡No hay problema! Pasa por acá para leer esto en español.

Cartoona doesn't look like anything else on the board game space right now. The art in particular stands out and you have talked about how it's a game that came from your art. How does that affect the development of the game?

Cartoona started with the idea that I could break the different parts of my creatures up and let player's put them back together. In this way player's could experience what it's like to draw a cartoon creature from scratch. And you can build just under 30 MILLION unique creatures with the tiles that will ship in the box! My art has always been about fun, and I'm always excited to meet a new creature. This is part of what we wanted player's to experience from the start.

The art and design of the game was easy since I have been painting my creatures for over two decades. It was the gameplay that took a long time to get the balance just right. The development of the mechanics and balance happened as it does with any other game, it's just that the theme was known from the start and is what drove the mechanics choices.

One of the key things that struck me when looking at your project is that it's for people of all ages, starting as young as 3 years old. Was that a goal early on, making an accessible game?

No. We just wanted to create a good game.

As we developed Cartoona, multiple ideas went in different directions, and while we threw three or four ideas away, we really loved three of them. These three ideas became the full, the basic and the children's versions of Cartoona. Instead of picking between them, we focused on each as a separate game with separate rules-- each targeted to a different age group. It turned out very well and the tiles lend themselves to different game variants in the same way a deck of cards does. The solitaire version of the basic game came last, and required the least amount of tweaking. It just worked from the start. Kids really love to see each new creature come to life, and their eyes light up for every new one they create. Not just because they scored points, but because they created it themselves! Many children love just sitting independently with the tiles and building creatures, like blocks but more fun.
But the adult version of the game is actually quite cutthroat, so don't let the bright colors fool you. It requires an excellent sense of the odds and attention to what's been played. To be a truly great player you need to learn when NOT to play something that may be tactically correct, but a poor strategic play.

The storytelling possibilities are also huge with Cartoona. People can make up their own characters and take to to different settings or themes. The creative possibilities as well as applications in other fields, such as play therapy, speak of the potential for this game. Do you see it branching out to other projects?

I absolutely see it branching out. I am not an expert in these areas, but I have an autistic nephew who loves the game. And I think it can help children to be creative. That it's ok to create something outside of the norm. For example, many kids may learn to draw a dog in art class, but do they learn that it's okay to draw a purple, 3-eyed, chicken-dog? And isn't that more interesting? Technique is important for budding artists, but the creative part is hard to teach. I think games like Cartoona can help in teaching creativity, something grossly overlooked in education. I see many possibilities for both the game mechanics and the characters to branch out in many directions.

Kickstarter has changed the way people go about funding their ideas. You've had over a hundred pledges so far and still have well over a month to go. What's being done to work toward keeping the momentum going?

Well, reaching out to people like yourself for one!

In addition, Cartoona will be sponsoring the Dice Tower podcast for the month of March and I am sending out prototypes to board game review sites over the next couple of weeks. We also have some modest web advertising underway. Other than that I am bugging friends and family constantly. But it won't get done unless people who believe in it, or like the idea help spread it around. A Kickstarter campaign is definitely a lot more than making a video and clicking the "Launch" button. It's serious work!

Carcassonne is a favorite of mine and you've mentioned it's a game that got you thinking about making Cartoona. Any other favorite games or favorite Carcassonne expansions?

I played 7 Wonders for the first time last night an LOVED it. I also really enjoy Puerto Rico, Stone Age, Citadels and Small World as well as lighter games like Dominion, Settlers Of Catan, Ticket To Ride and Carcassonne. I'm also an old school role player who hopes to get a D&D campaign going again sometime.

What about growing up, what where your favorite games or activities as a kid?

I have fond memories of playing board games with my family as a child. All the traditional ones; Monopoly, Risk, Stratego, Chess, Othello, Clue, Scrabble, Mousetrap, Sorry, Battleship. If you can name it, I think we played it.

I discovered D&D as a teenager and really loved playing that as well as Star Frontiers, Gamma World and Vampire the Masquerade.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Just that I hope people will give Cartoona a chance, it's hard doing a theme outside the mainstream, but we believe we have created a true gateway game that gamers can enjoy with their non-gamer friends and family members.

And we all need some of those!

I thank you for your time and wish you the best with Cartoona.

Thank you!

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