Retro Revival: Developing board games
Board games are always popular at family get-togethers. But why? And how do you come up with something new to rival the classics. Caezar Al-Jassar is from Alleycat Games based in Cambridge. They design unusual board games including Dice Hospital… Chris Berrow asked him when did it all begin?
Caezar - I was a postdoc at the laboratory of molecular biology in Cambridge. And in the last six months of that postdoc, I started developing a science-themed game with my wife. It was called Lab Wars. So we started working on it, and we play-tested it. We did all the art and stuff; we put it on Kickstarter. And that did really, really well, because it got featured on a whole plethora of science-based news channels. And the biggest one was Nature News. Since then we've made about, I don't know, 10, 11 Kickstarters.
Chris - So how do you try and make a popular game that people will enjoy?
Caezar - Our philosophy is we try to make thematic games. They're not just abstract things where you're moving pieces around: you actually feel engrossed in the theme. So, for instance, with Dice Hospital it's actually our most popular title. You literally feel like you're managing a hospital by manipulating the dice because the dice are the patient's health levels. So, so you're literally moving pieces, uh, which is like a doctor. You move them into a room and that manipulates the dice. There's also Dice Hospital Community Care. So it's the expansion that did really, really well. I think that had like almost 3,000 backers or something. Um, and right now we have another Kickstarter which is like a polynesian seafaring game, designed by some famous German designers and that's on Kickstarter right now. So yeah, we're always busy doing things.