Welcome back to the Conversation! Today I get to talk to someone closer to my home, from just the other side of White Sands Missile range comes Davy Wagnarok to talk to us about his Kickstarter n30n City Rumble. Thank you for joining us today Davy! How are things over in Alamogordo?
*Looks outside and watches tumbleweed slowly careen past the window.*
It looks like a whole lot of desert out there, Mr. Yee. But it’s home, right?
For now at least. So n30n City Rumble seems to be an interesting looking card game, would you tell us about it?
Oh man, it’s pure unadulterated fun! Mechanics-wise, it’s deviously simple in that just about any gamer of any age can sit down and learn how to play the game in under 30 minutes. But at it’s core, NCR is a hardcore, highly competitive game. It plays a lot a fighting game, wherein players must practice with Fighters in order to become more skilled with them, but above that, they must learn to play the other player. This isn’t original thought on my part; I have David Sirlin’s theories on competitive gaming and Yomi to thank for this. Dynamically, this Poker mentality, coupled with a rock-paper-scissors style of attacking and a hot-potato-esque system for countering, makes for some intense and interesting gameplay. The gritty retro 90s look and feel for the game helps sell the fighting spirit behind N30N City RUMBLE.
How much do those old brawler games like River City Ransom and Double Dragon affect your themeing and gameplay?
I have loved brawlers and fighting games since I was a kid. In fact, Double Dragon II: The Revenge was one of the first videogames I ever played. I instantly fell in love with the setting, music, and high-octane gameplay. But it wasn’t until I played Streets of Rage 2 that I became obsessed with the genre as a whole. I remember pausing the game to draw Skate in various poses kicking the bejezus out of Signals. Other games that inspired NCR include Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, the Final FIght series (especially Mighty Final Fight), Street Fighter 2, Ninja Baseball Bat-man, River City Ransom (cannot flippin’ wait for Concatus Creative’s River City Ransom: Underground!), Super Ninja Boy, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. Oh and let’s not forget Majesco’s Double Dragon NEON! That game was certainly underrated (you suck, IGN!).
What would you say makes n30n City Rumble different and a must play game? Is there any particular mechanic you think sets it apart or is it the theme alone you think that drives this game?
N30N City RUMBLE is a time capsule containing all of the things that made the 90s bodacious! I’ve got all the geek and pop culture references in place: the Rubik’s cube, Rock’Em Sock’Em robots, neon lights, talking toads with elastic arms, chrome, strobe lights, vigilante bros., disco balls, jeans that go up to your belly button, and tons and tons of radioactive ooze. But it isn’t all razzle dazzle.
I built this game from the ground up, starting with the mechanics. The first order of business was solidifying a fun and unique core mechanic that allowed players to engage each other simultaneously. There are too many versus games out there that play more like glorified solitaire, with players being able to take actions during their turn only… and that’s IF an opponent hasn’t performed a trick or something to force them to skip to the next player. I personally hate this sort of dictatorship in gaming. Players should always have the opportunity to try and get out of a harry situation, should they have the necessary cards or tricks or whatever up their sleeve. We should always be able to do something when playing a game.
In my game, N30N cards are used to activate your Fighter’s super moves, but they can also be used cancel other N30N! What this means is that any time your opponent declares that he or she is paying the cost to activate a super move, you can interrupt with a N30N card from your hand and foil their plans. And this, here, is where the “hot-potato” effect comes into play.
You see, N30N come in four varieties and exist in a constant cycle of overtaking each other (eg. Rage cancels Cosmo, while Chrome cancels Rage, and so forth…). So, if you attempted to used a Rage to stop an opponent’s super move from going off, the opponent can use a Chrome to cancel your Rage! BUT. If the defender had a Toxic in her hand, she could use it to cancel the Chrome used to cancel her Rage. It’s mindblowing!
Lastly, even though I showed off my nifty N30N mechanic, I believe that the Pit-Stop is what ultimately separates N30N City RUMBLE from the competition. After every round of combat, players have the opportunity to shop for cards at a pawn shop, called “The Pit-Stop”. Here, they will trade for cards using cards they have acquired by successfully attacking and evading, and pick up Items, such as 1-UPs and Bazookas, to use during the next round of combat. They can also “tag” Fighters in and out of their front row, and rest wounded Fighters for a turn. What I love most about the Pit-Stop, from a player perspective, is that it allows me to take a moment to rethink and rebuild my strategy!”
I think it’s great that you’ve got a print and play version available right now so anyone can try it out. How important to you was it to have a playable version of the game ready before you went to Kickstarter?
Again, nothing original on my part. I was just following the sagely advice of James Mathe (http://www.jamesmathe.com/). It would behoove all would-be devs out there to bookmark his site and frequent it on the daily! But, personally, wanted to ensure casual gamers, window-shoppers, and expert Board Game Geeks that I wasn’t pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes. N30N City RUMBLE is a fully-functioning game that can be played right now by anyone with a printer and a full cartridge of ink. You will also find a complete full-color playbook, virtual tutorials, and even a full playthrough of a game session on my Kickstarter page.
Your campaign mentions you’re 90% complete with production, doesn't that mean you’ve been playtesting the game “in the wild” already? What kind of community feedback have you received so far? Do you have a Board Game Geek listing?
Actually, I had the privilege of visiting In Stock Games today to showcase my game. I was met with warm reception. I recorded the whole experience on my trusty Go Pro Hero 3 camera and will be uploading the footage onto the Official NCR YouTube channel later next week!
As far as playtesting goes, I’ll probably never be done. There’s just too much X-factor surrounding each Fighter. There are literally thousands upon thousands of variables involved in every passing round of combat. I have done - and will continue to do - my utmost to weed out the inconsistencies between Fighters. I plan to have video updates that expand the rules of the game and correct pesky bugs as they are discovered by myself and the N30N City community
About Board Game Geek… cue sigh. l’l be honest, I found the labyrinthine layout of the site daunting as hell! I’ve been stubbornly avoiding managing my account for the last two months. Thankfully, I just got back from a “geek intervention” at my buddy’s house, who inducted me into the secret Geek Society. The NCR profile should be approved by Admins and up and running by the time this article is published.
The art style seems to vary widely across your examples. How many artists are involved? You show a $20K stretch goal of an art upgrade but only for the “original cast” does that mean the other characters will use different art if this goal is hit?
I rendered 100% of the in-game content you see in the PnP. I have been very fortunate to come across WILDE Rudy, who has contributed numerous promotional posters and the cover for the playbook. Rudy is the artist handling all of the custom pledges; any new Fighters added to the roster will be done in his style. It’s my ambition, for the sake of consistency, that we pay him to go back and redo all of my original character arts. Other artists involved in the production of N30N City RUMBLE include: Kristopher Williams (animator for the project video), MyCKs (provided a shirt design for a possible add-on), ArtistGT (created pixel sprites for the playbook), Seikoru (made the sprites used in the animated Stretch Goals gif), and of course the great GENZOMAN, who made that sexy game cover!
Do you have a manufacturer already picked out? Is it in the US or overseas? You mention that you set yourself a deadline of January 2015 to allow for “Playtest the Kickstarter-Exclusive Content” yet your estimated delivery is January 2015. How long a manufacturing lead are you planning on?
I intend to run the majority of printing through AdMagic (http://www.admagic.com/). They are expensive but provide some of the best customer service and high quality product around! They have facilities both in locally, here in the U.S., and overseas. AdMagic handles some of the biggest IPs in the industry, including Cards Against Humanity and Dishonored, and these giants get first dibs on the conveyer belts. The earliest I will be able to push NCR into assembly would be mid-November, and that’s if Rudy and I have the playtesting and art done for all of the Kickstarter-exclusive content. But I will say this; If I am able to deliver earlier than the projected date, I most certainly will let backers know and get the ball rolling on that!
One of the big things I look for in every Kickstarter campaign, and one I suggest every backer and creator look for, is the budget breakdown. These simple business tools help show potential backers that there is an actual plan in place for the funds and let them know that all basic things are accounted for like the Kickstarter and Amazon fees. Why don’t you have a budget breakdown for the campaign? Is the $11,500 goal going to produce only what is ordered through the Kickstarter or are you doing a full production run of the game?
Good question! Admittedly, I never thought of including a budget breakdown for NCR. I suppose it’s partly because I rarely--if ever--see a budget pie setup for analog games running on Kickstarter. To answer your question, the $11,500 funding goal includes manufacturing costs for 500 units of N30N City RUMBLE, plus shipping, legal fees, a small stipend for myself and Rudy, and $600 overhead to cover unforeseen costs such as lost freight, packing boxes and shipping materials, and any potential refunds. All excess funds are to be liquidated into establishing DO Competitive Entertainment as an LLC and setting up distribution off of a company website. From there, I will create a storefront to sell the leftover game units and poster add-ons. I suppose backers might feel more comfortable knowing this… I’ll get on it right away!
How did you discover Kickstarter?
A good friend of mine, Paul Vincent (https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/1833910174), introduced me to the crowdfunding gig when he launched his first successful campaign, “Pocket Time Machine” playing cards.” He told me, “You could be doing this, too, you know.” And here I am!
A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer. How are you engaging your backers? What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on? Interviews? Videos? Stories from the project?
If you’ve watched my virtual tutorials then you know about my silly alter ego, Davy Wagnarok. He plans to make video appearances and rally the troops for an all out “sharing” war! Playing a caricature of me is a lot of fun because I get to flame myself, which kind of works like anti-troll armor. You can’t clown a clown--OR CAN YOU?! *laughs but then suddenly looks apprehensive*
What kind of media attention have you received with your project? Have you sent out copies to any Youtubers such as the Dice Tower folks? How are you spreading the word? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Advertising? Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?
There are so many developers hounding Dice Tower right now, that you probably wouldn’t see a review for NCR until we’re driving hover cards and aliens expose their existence to the world. For other marketing outlets, I’m using Kickin’ It Games email blast service
(http://www.miniongames.com/store/kickin-it-games-e-mail-blast-service.html), and I will also be throwing some money down for banner ads on Kicktraq and other sites. Facebook and Twitter are a must these days, and it was through themthat I was able to connect to my friends and family who brought me to 18% of my funding goal in just two days!
Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?
Look at my picture down there. Don’t be afraid to show your funny side now and then. I’m not saying go full-on Johnny Knoxville, cos this is business at the end of the day, but lowering your guard to engage your backers shows that you’re human and can see things at their level. Also, be a good bookkeeper and put together a task list to work off of (I suggest using Trello, Asana, or making an Excel spread). Be punctual. Show up ten minutes early to a Skype meet. Be a go-getter: the sort of person who is first to wake up and the last to go to bed. I haven’t hit my break yet, but I know that working hard and staying consistent is the key to success or failure. The American forefathers taught us that.
Thank you for spending your time with us! Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
Haven’t I said enough!? *laughs* I’ve got to go! Cue raspy Batman voice: My city needs me. N30N CITY.
Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!
No, thank you for taking the time to cover my Kickstarter story! It was a real treat! New Mexico pride, yo!!!