Here I am, another week, and I’ve been very fortunate about where my blog has taken me in such a short period of time. This week I will be doing a quick overview of the game Don’t Die! by Abraxus Games. Afterwards, I’ll be getting into another EXCLUSIVE* interview with the two developers of the game, Alex Williams and Patrick James.
Anyways, on with the show!
So, what is Don’t Die!? Don’t Die! is a card game that is fairly self explanatory. Don’t Die. Don’t Die. Don’t. Die. There you go. You do what the game title says, you’ll be fine. Good luck not dying though. I’ve had experience with games in which the main theme is in the title of the game, and its harder than it sounds. Now here’s one of the developers Alex Williams to give a bit of a better explanation:
Alex: So Don’t Die! is our first realized card game, though not our first conceptualized one. That will come later. Don’t Die! is a fast paced, hot potato card game where players are confronted by a hazard and have to find ways to pass it on to another player, or by rolling a dice to try to beat it’s hazard rating. If you don’t beat it, you die. When the game ends, the person with the least amount of deaths, wins.
And with two wonderful run downs on this game, let’s get onto some hard hitting, life and times questions about Don’t Die!
Page(Me): Where did you come up for the idea of this game?
Alex: So, this was Patrick’s idea initially… Patrick?
Patrick: We saw a Youtube video that showed every time John McClane should have died in the Die Hard series. I immediately was inspired to make a card game where the players would die over and over again in a lot of hilarious ways.
Page: Abe Lincoln once said “You can find inspiration anywhere. Even YouTube.” Right? Haha!
Page: Was there a longer process of game development with two developers?
Alex: Possibly, but that could be a good thing too. It’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and tell you when something is actually crap and you should redo it.
Patrick: We have taken some time on it but it would never have got this far if either one of us was working on it alone.
Page: Do you find more motivation making it work when there’s two people putting their time and energy into your goal?
Alex: Definitely. I think we’re very good about being objective when critiquing one another’s work. Also, as we both made progress it was motivational to see the game move along twice as much as the work you personally put in. I was always excited to see what Patrick came up with next.
Patrick: Thank you! I have some real problems with staying motivated in any task or project so nothing would get done if Alex wasn’t there cheering me on and giving me game updates to keep me on task.
Page: When the whirlwind of the release dies a little, what’s next for Abraxus Games?
Alex: We have SO much planned for Abraxus Games. We’ll be focusing a lot on our first game idea, The Book of Abraxus. We also have more card and board games ready to be developed. Oh, and we’ll be getting into the mobile and video game markets a bit too.
Patrick: I’m really excited about The Book of Abraxus. The game is completely written just like Don’t Die! was in its earliest stages. It’s already a lot of fun and when the art is completed I hope it will be a terrifying gaming experience. Along with that are Abraxus sequels, some hilarious Don’t Die! sequels and several other original games.
Page: Terrifying? Is The Book of Abraxus going to have a horror theme in it?
Alex: Horror is definitely one of my favorite genres, but this one was actually Patrick’s idea too. Don’t worry, my ideas are coming…
Patrick: So the premise of Book of Abraxus is that players must “close the book” on a house full of vengeful spirits. Unlike the simplified Caution Sign style of art in Don’t Die!, Book of Abraxus has fully rendered, movie quality images of ghostly horrors. We didn’t stop at your everyday semi-opaque ghosts though. We wanted to add something to scare everyone. There are elements of J horror, urban legends and more. We wanted every player to find at least a card or two that strike a nerve and are hard to forget.
Page: How stressful was the process of development of Don’t Die!?
Alex: Not at all on my part. I just kept getting more excited as we went along. I think the stressful part is about to come when it comes to raising awareness for the game and figuring out how to print it with the right colors.
Patrick: Early development was a BLAST! We stayed up until 6am and wrote the alpha version of the game all at once. I loved it because we just sat there going back and forth trying to think up ridiculous ways a person could bite the big one.
Page: Who’s the more talented drawer?
Alex: Patrick is. Hands down. And if he argues with me, don’t believe him, he’s amazing.
Patrick: Guilty. Haha. We did have less revisions on my cards, but in all fairness there were many times when Alex would show me a new batch of cards and I’d be like, “Wow! Just wow. (In a good way, hehe.)
Page: At what point in development did you guys look at each other and know that you could really get behind this project to make it a reality?
Alex: Oh man, actually, for me, it was after we first playtested it. We wrote everything down on index cards, no art. And we sat down with one another and our wives and played a four player game. My wife said that it was a lot of fun and she really got behind the production of the game. And that’s a big deal because she’s not much of a game player, and she definitely doesn’t shy away from telling you when something sucks.
Patrick: For me it helped to see how successful some other indie games have become. I bought a game on a whim from the local game store and was blown away to learn that it was a Kickstarter project.
Page: What’s your favourite card that each of you came up with?
Alex: My favorite that I made is my Zombie Attack card. I wasn’t sure what to do with it at first, but then I decided to reference my favorite zombie film of all time, Shaun of the Dead. As for my favorite of Patrick’s? I can’t tell you, we’re keeping it a secret. But I will tell you that it’s amazing and some of the best card artwork I’ve ever seen.
Patrick: My absolute favorite I’m saving for release because I like people’s initial reaction to it. It’s definitely one I want to have foiled for our backers. Others I have particularly enjoyed were Being a Jackass, and Bigfoot Lovin’.
Page: Did you snag any deaths from that old 1000 ways to die show?
Alex: I’ve never actually seen the show. Might be good research material for the next Don’t Die! game.
I watched a few episodes of that show. I was reminded of the show while creating Don’t Die! but so far Don’t Die doesn’t (knowingly) have any deaths in common with the show. You may see something reminiscent of Seth Macfarlane’s A million Ways to Die in the West though…
Page: While doing the illustrations, did you only do the art for cards you developed, or did you just split doing art work down the centre?
Alex: If I remember right, we wrote them all on index cards, spread them all over the kitchen table and then took turns picking. I know there were some where when we came up with the idea, it was like, “I know how I want to do this one,” but there were others where we didn’t really care which one of us did it.
Patrick: What he said. We had our favorites that we definitely wanted to do ourselves but for the most part we just split up the work.
Page: Any plans for expansion packs of any sort for Don’t Die?
Alex: So, there’s no definites, things can change, but for right now, I don’t think so. I think that we’re focusing on the game being a stand-alone game. However, we will be doing sequels and themed versions of the game that will also be stand-alone. And there may even be one or two of those available in the kickstarter.
Patrick: We had talked about it because we both love expandable games and in the past have spent hundreds of dollars ourselves expanding on our favorite games like Magic: The Gathering and Heroscape. In the end we had so many good ideas for cards that we decided to split them into themed decks and make them into sequels.
Page: Ha, I know MTG can be a very slippery slope. That’s awesome though that people can die so many different ways to help you make so many cards!
Page: What can you tell me about the Kickstarter you’ve got planned upcoming?
Alex: So there’s still a lot of planning for the Kickstarter, but we’re really, really excited about it. I’m excited to see if people really get behind it and try to go for the stretch goals, because there’s going to be some great ones. We’ll be offering the game, of course, as well as PnP versions of the game, and as for stretch goals we’re looking at custom dice, foil cards, extra cards, possibly even a sequel or themed version of the game. We will be updating it constantly, I’m a firm believer in video updates, so you’ll be seeing a lot of our ugly mugs during the campaign and hopefully you’ll get to see a lot of reviews and such.
Patrick: Alex has really started to generate some interest in the game. I hope to hear more places on the internet talking about it before the Kickstarter wraps. I am all for Kickstarter incentives and we have some good ones planned.
What do you think will make your Kickstarter successful?
Alex: I think social media is key. Really being able to connect with backers and update them regularly on the project is extremely important. I also believe in really supporting the crowdfunding community as a whole. We’ve supported, shared, and backed many other projects in the past, so sharing and getting the word out through social media is one of the big ones.
Patrick: We have some favorite reviewers we are hoping will play it on their Youtube channels. I just really want word to get out there.
Page: Where can people find out more about Abraxus Games and Don’t Die!?
Alex: We’re on Twitter (@Abraxus_Games) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/abraxusgames). We just started a YouTube channel that will host all of our updates and reviews of other games. And I’m sure will eventually be on Instagram as well. Ooh, also, soon we should have our website up, so that’s fun.
Page: Alright guys, I think that’s about it for now, thanks for taking the time to do this! I can’t wait to go into game stores and see Don’t Die! sitting on the shelf for everyone to get their hands on.
Alex: Thanks Page! It was a lot of fun to talk about the game and Abraxus. Getting it into game stores and into the hands of players is definitely the end goal and what we’re looking forward to the most!
Patrick: I would love to see this game in stores. I hope that there is a big enough following for most game stores to decide to keep a copy or two in stock. We will also be taking the game on the road to the indie game conventions. My biggest hope is that someone decides to pick up the game and distribute it, but in the end I’m super excited that we’ve created it and it will always be here to play and enjoy.