We Interview Crash Games’ Patrick Nickell, and Designer Jason Kotarski, About their New Games

11 02 2014

cg_logoToday we’re joined by two gentlemen who are, in their own ways, shaping the face of indie gaming as we know it today. Patrick Nickell, founder, el presidente, and Grand Poobah of Crash Games. And Jason Kotarski, designer of last year’s Great Heartland Hauling Co., which made our top 10 games of 2013 list.

Patrick, Jason, thanks for joining us today!

Before we go much further Patrick can you give us a quick recap of 2013 for Crash Games?

Patrick: It was a busy year for Crash Game in 2013. The best way for people to see what we accomplished is to check out our 2014 State of Crash Games at http://eepurl.com/N1wG1

Some of the highlights include: 1. Shipped out The Lost Dutchman to backers worldwide

2. Kickstarted Paradise Fallen and shipped it out to backers worldwide.

3. Kickstarted Council of Verona and shipped it out to backers worldwide.

4. Kickstarted a true, pay-what-you-want campaign for Where Art Thou, Romeo? and shipped it out to backers worldwide.

5. Attended six conventions including Spiel in Essen Germany.

What was the biggest surprise of the year for you?

P: Council of Verona, and how amazing and fast the project came together. I had a great game designer in Michael Eskue, a phenomenally talented artist in Adam McIver, and my awesome graphic designer, Darrell Louder, was able to wrangle everything together. And my manufacturer Panda Games did a good job of making things happen in a very short amount of time.

Jason, since the release of Heartland Hauling, you haven’t been resting on your laurels–you’ve been working away, designing. How many designs have you completed since then, and how many are you working on currently?

Jason: Since Heartland came out I caught the bug. That was the first game I ever designed, but since then I’ve been working on something like 8-10 more. I published a game called FrogFlip with Sprocket Games, and another game is coming this spring from White Goblin Games, as well as another half dozen that are in varying degrees of development. It’s a fun space to create in. An idea pops up and I know pretty quickly whether or not I have to work on it. Then, I get to it until I get stuck and move on to something else until I get unstuck.

Now, you guys have known each other for some time, but you most recently sat down and talked business at Unpub 4. And there’s some big news that came about from those talks…do tell!

P: I have been a big fan of Jason’s ever since hearing his story back when he first met up with Dice Hate Me Games and recorded a “State of Games” episode on Chris’ podcast. I backed Great Heartland Hauling on Kickstarter and have been enjoying playing it to this day. Jason and I always chatted at various conventions and I felt we had a really good vibe going. When we met up the evening before the official kick-off of UnPub4 I had the opportunity to play Dead Drop and I really enjoyed playing it. Later in the weekend I heard all the commotion inside the venue and went over to discover that it was coming from another of Jason’s games, this time it was Sunset Shuffle. After playing the game I knew that it fit a very specific type of game I was looking to add to the Crash Games catalog–not to mention IT WAS A BLAST! I was very happy to walk away from UnPub4 having signed both Dead Drop and Sunset Shuffle, which I am now calling Sunset Showdown.

This is really cool news! First, let’s talk a little bit about Dead Drop. Jason can you tell us a little bit about the game, and how it plays? And Patrick, what drew you to the game and made you decide to publish it?

alias_tv_showJ: I guess Dead Drop started as a way to explore the microgame space a bit. I had a lot of fun making FrogFlip with my daughter, which consists of just 12 cards, and wanted to dig in a little deeper and out of my comfort zone. The idea hit me as I was watching the Alias television series this past year with my wife. In the show, the secret agents were always leaving sensitive information for each other in public locations. It was a way to pass on key information while keeping the agents’ identities a secret. So from there I worked on the idea that various organizations were racing to be the first ones to discover this secret piece of information that had been hidden. At its heart it’s a simple game of deduction and maneuvering, with some elements that make memory really important.

In the game there is a secret card, numbered 0-5, dealt face-down to the middle of the table. This is the “drop.” Then there are a number of cards that are dealt face-up to the “cache” as shared information, and the rest of the cards are dealt evenly among all the players. On a player’s turn they can swap a card with another player’s, swap a card with the cache, or add two cards together from their hand to demand that another player tells them whether or not they have a card equal to that sum, or to guess the card that’s in the “drop.” It’s a light deduction game but the twist is really in the maneuvering of the cards. You can’t just guess the card that’s in the drop and say it out loud. You have to have two cards in your hand that add up to the number on the hidden card. I’m terrible at memory and deduction but it’s still fun for me to play and to watch others have these huge “a-ha” moments.

P: I have always been a big fan of games that have a little footprint. It just isn’t realistic to drag your copy of Railways of the World to play with you at Denny’s. When I decided to publish Council of Verona I started dreaming about an entire series of small games that people could take with them anywhere and play in a very small space. This dream resulted in the Pub Series and Dead Drop is an amazing fit into the Pub Series. Dead Drop at its core is a deduction game, which is one of my favorite mechanisms. I really enjoyed several of the mechanisms in the game and with a small amount of cards and tokens it was difficult to say no to.

Sunset_in_Zadar_2Okay, now let’s do the same thing for Sunset Showdown! Aaaannd go!

P: Well I first heard people playing the game while I was having a discussion with another publisher. Once that talk was over I went over to see Jason teaching the game, and my nephew Spencer and I got in on the next game. I had the most fun that I had the entire show playing it, and I’ve been looking for a game like Sunset for quite awhile now.

J: The response to Sunset Showdown at Unpub4 was amazing. We made such a ruckus with that game. This one is a real-time dice game where players each have six dice that represent their family members who are spending a week trying to get the best spot on the beach to witness the sunset each night. Everyone rolls their dice trying to get pairs that match the three open beach spots for the round. But there is a Life Guard die that comes into play that slows folks down and gets passed around hot-potato-style. It’s a really simple, fast game that just keeps bringing great experiences out with whatever group I’ve tried it with. Think of the fun, intensity, and ease of entry of Spoons or Dutch Blitz, but with dice and some nice twists.

Will either of these games be an addition to the Pub Series for Crash Games?

P: Dead Drop will be a Pub Series game, but Sunset will not.

We’re assuming these will be crowd-funded through Kickstarter. Do you have a timetable for when we’ll see them hit our favorite Internet crowd-funding site?

P: Right now there isn’t a specific time table for either game but I would really like to try and have Sunset on Kickstarter this summer. Crash Games is publishing 8 games this year and it would be foolish for me to try and pinpoint when each one is going up on Kickstarter since there are so many parameters outside of my control.

So, what was your favorite game of 2013 that neither of you were involved in?

P: Machi Koro, which I tried to license and did not get. I also really enjoyed Keyflower and Trains.

J: That’s tough. I love Daniel Solis’ Belle of the Ball, which isn’t out yet, but I got to play the prototype a bunch at GenCon last year. And I’m pretty into Guildhall and Rampage, too.

The Lightning Round! Answer these questions with one word… or less!??

Favorite game you’ve backed on Kickstarter?

P: This is going to sound horribly biased, but my favorite game that I’ve backed is also the game that I play the most: Great Heartland Hauling Company.

J: Good answer, Patrick! I’ll say CoinAge. It’s just ridiculous.

Favorite Winter Olympic Sport?

P: Speed Skating, Luge and Bobsled. I really like too many.

J: Snowboarding

rogueFavorite X-Man? (Which could be an X-Woman…)

P: Rogue

J: Wolverine

Favorite YouTube video?

P: “Biggest Zit Ever”

J: “Inspired Bicycles – Danny MacAskill April 2009”

The movie Groundhog Day… Love it or hate it?

P: Love it and I don’t watch it enough. We better get going if we’re going to stay ahead of the weather.

J: Never made it all the way through. I’m sorry.

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2013 Holiday Gift Guide—Stocking Stuffers

10 12 2013

coupcoverThis section of of our Holiday Gift Guide is for small games that can fit inside a stocking. Most of them fall into the “filler” category, but some of them have deep gameplay that belies their simple packaging.

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Kickstarter Weekly—July 11, 2013

11 07 2013

Hey! Kickstarter Weekly is back! And boy is there a ton of stuff going on in Kickstarter Land, so let’s get started!

vivajavaVivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game – Dice Hate Me Games

The follow up to Dice Hate Me’s coffee game, the dice game appears to be more than just a dice version of the original VivaJava, but introduces new game play themes and concepts. The campaign funded super fast and they’ve already knocked down a couple stretch goals, with plenty of time left! $30 gets you the game and any stretch goals as well! You can check it out here! You can also check out our interview with designer TC Petty III right here!

the agentsThe Agents – by Saar Shai

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TOG Visual—An Origins Interview with Patrick Nickell

22 06 2013

NickellCrash Games’ Patrick Nickell was kind enough to sit down with Jeremiah and tell us about Council Of Verona, Paradise Fallen, and more!

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A Look Back on Origins—Part 1

17 06 2013

photo (20)– by Jeremiah, with contributions from A.J. and Sepos.

Last Friday we made our way down to Columbus and the Origins Game Fair, to cover the con as best we could for the blog—in just one day.

The con featured everything you’d expect from an event of this caliber: tons of seminars, officially supported tournaments and game play, an Unpub gathering, and of course, the exhibit hall featuring hundreds of vendors, publishers, and more.

photo (19)We made our way through, and shot nearly two hours of video content, featuring interviews with Paul Peterson, Jason Tagmire, Kevin Sorbo, and many more!

The Games

As you would expect at a large-scale gaming convention there were a ton of great games, as far as the eye could see; we’ll highlight some of the games we thought were of note over the next couple days.

The DukeAn Origins-released game, convention-goers were among the first to demo and purchase The Duke from Catalyst Game Labs. The Duke is a tile placement/tile moving, chess-like strategy game for 2 players. Each tile represents a different troop defending your Duke: Move a tile and flip it to show the different movement now available to that tile. The game plays fast but has massive replay value as it is tough to master, and different every time!

Council of VeronaCrash Games is currently Kickstarting this title as the flagship to their Pub Series of games. Council of Verona is a card-based strategy game with a very strong bluffing component. The Pub Series is a catalog of games that are compact enough to play anywhere, but still offer great depth in their gameplay. You can get in on the Kickstarter until July 3rd, and it’s only $12 to get a copy delivered to your door!

Dice Hate Me lineupLast year Dice Hate Me Games had a booth that pretty much consisted of one game: Carnival. This year they’re celebrating a successful release of The Great Heartland Hauling Co., as well as VivaJava, and they’re looking forward to the upcoming release of Compounded, VivaJava Dice, and Belle of the Ball. Chris Kirkman has been putting together a great lineup of titles using a stable of unknown/first-time designers to bring great and well-designed/developed games to market. We’re excited to see what’s coming from them next!

Dungeon HeroesThis exciting game brings you the full experience of a dungeon crawl in a quick-play style. This vs. game pits your heroes against a dungeon player who will try and thwart your efforts to collect hidden treasures. The game board is grid-based with miniature meeples as your characters, who move, attack, and defend based on character abilities. Most importantly, the game can be played in 15 to 30 minutes, giving a busy gamer an opportunity to participate in a fast-paced dungeon crawl. The game is completely expandable and will hopefully offer a multi-player aspect to the game as well as larger game boards. This game looks fantastic and has done great on Kickstarter. We’ll be keeping an eye on its future.

We’ll be sharing more about Origins over the next few days, not too mention all of our awesome video coverage! For more about Origins, and some good old fashioned social-media fun, look for TOG on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Thanks for reading!





Kickstarter Weekly—A New Look

11 04 2013

There has been such an increasing amount of activity on Kickstarter over the past few weeks, that we’ve decided to put a newer spin on our Kickstarter Weekly features. You’ll still get them on Thursdays, but instead of piecing them out we’re going to feature several projects, and give some news about them as we go. So welcome to the new Kickstarter Weekly here at TOG!

Francis Drake componentsOur first project this week is from Eagle Games: Francis Drake, a game designed by Peter Hawes, puts players in the heart of Spain’s new world as they sail the Caribbean, buying, selling, trading, and raiding ports for goods to return home with and sell for profits! The gameplay looks well-thought-out, and there are some customized aspects, giving it a higher replayability factor. The board and components look gorgeous as well!

The campaign has 32 days left and they’ve already blown past the funding goal, so it shouldn’t be long before the stretch goals start getting knocked off. The only downside is the game is a little pricey, but if you’ve got your eye on a few other titles from the Eagle/Gryphon catalog, they’ve thrown together some really nice bundle packages.  Check out the campaign here, and consider getting in and helping them reach the stretch goals!

Paradise Fallen boxOur next campaign is Paradise Fallen from Crash Games, a card-management game game set in a modern post-apocalyptic island setting. Crash Games plans on setting up an entire series of games, using this title as a launching point, to create a deeper universe for games and expansions to live in. Players control tribes trying to survive while placing obstacles in the paths of the other tribes. You’ll strive to survive, find food, and and explore the fallen paradise.

Canoe meeplesYou can grab a copy of the game for a $25 pledge, and there are again some nice bundles available for higher price points. The campaign has 27 days left and is still $10,000 short of their funding goal, so they’ve got a ways to go before it funds—let alone hitting stretch goals. I’m loving the artwork so far, and they’ve come up with some great outrigger canoe meeples as well! (What meeples will they come up with next!?) If card management, and post-apocalyptic island survival are your thing(s) then head on over and check out the campaign here.

TeramyydUp next is Teramyyd: Earthsphere a steam-punky, monster-fighting sky pirate, questing game.  I (Jeremiah) am very intrigued by this game. The game appears to have multiple scenarios for players to embark on, and within those scenarios lie different quests to complete on their way to victory. Let’s not forget the cool sky pirates flying machines that you can upgrade and add to while trying to defeat sky monsters!

IO Worlds has blown past their funding goal by $40,000 with 32 days remaining on the campaign. And have already unlocked a new baddie and a new ship as the first two stretch goals. And the 3rd one looks way cool too! The bad news is, all of the early bird pledge levels have been devoured! So it will take a pledge of $75 to snag a copy of the game, but as the stretch goals pile up, the box you get will be stuffed with more and more cool little miniatures! You can check the campaign out for yourself, right here.

PL-Bicycle1If you haven’t done so, your window of opportunity is closing to get in on the Pixel Lincoln: Bicycle Playing Card campaign! There are two inexpensive options for jumping on board, a $10 pledge will get you a 21-card expansion for Pixel Lincoln the deck building game. Or a $12 pledge will get you a deck of PL playing cards! There’s just 5 days left, so best hurry on over!

Smallworld2And finally we want to extend a congratulations to Days of Wonder who CRUSHED their campaign to bring Small World 2 to the tablet realm (including PCs through Steam, android and iPad). They blew past their $150,000 goal, pulling in almost $400,000! This unlocked ALL of their stretch goals! Congrats to DoW, and the over 7,000 folks who backed the campaign!

Have you backed any of these projects? We’d love to hear what pushed you off the fence, and what you’re excited about!

Thanks for reading TOG! Please tell your friends about us, and don’t forget to check us out over on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget to sign up on the right to receive TOG via email!








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