It’s another Monday night. Funny how they show up at the start of every work week, isn’t it. Well, this week I’ve had another opportunity to conduct an interview with the developer of a new game on Kickstarter called “Hero Dice”, Alex Hodgkiss. So, as is with all of my interviews, I will let Alex give you a run down of the new game, followed by a few questions I had for him about the game!
The game is a competitive, dice-rolling game with take-that elements, all under a role-playing theme. Every player is a Hero in the game, exploring dungeon rooms, fighting Bandits (and each other), trying to gain Fame (winner is the first to 10). There are opportunities to work together with other players, hinder their progress, or potentially go it alone and build yourself up.
And, that just about does it for the run down. This is a very quick run down, but it gets the point across very well. So instead of adding in more introduction, let’s get right down to the game!
Hey there Alex, to start off, can you tell me a little about yourself?
Well, personally I’m big into science fiction; my favorite author is Jules Verne. Also I love craft beer. Any chance I get to check out a beer festival I’m there! Always loved playing games be it video games, tabletop, or more casual, with Smallworld probably being my favorite tabletop game. Professionally, I’ve been working in video games for almost 10 years. I’ve been a designer and/or engineer on games for consoles, PC, mobile, and social. Genres have ranged from sports to RPG, educational and shooters; a wide variety. First mentor who ever taught me about design actually had me make a board game – said board games make you focus on mechanics more than a theme.
Where did you come up with the idea for the game?
It started coming to mind one day when some friends and I were rolling our characters to start a DnD campaign. We kept rolling dice for everything and I remember thinking it might be fun if we had specialty dice with iconography for each character feature and keep that in front of you. From there I gave it more thought and wanted to have a game based around these dice.
Did you have any big hurdles while developing the game?
Balancing the game was a huge task to figure out from all my playtests. Each player has 6 possible abilities, and I had playtests swapping in-and-out a dozen plus over the past year before settling on the ones I have and how they work. And then I made a mistake of coming up with a name, doing a quick search to see if someone had it, and then not searching again until 6 months later. Initially I was calling the game Dungeon Dice, and if you search now you’ll find a successful Kickstarter game with that name and successful expansions. When I finally learned about it I had to go back and change the name and theme for which led to Hero Dice. It worked out for the best though because I really like the Hero and Bandit iconography that came from the change, and the new theme really brought everything together.
Have you got plans for anymore games, or expansions for this one?
I have two ideas for possible expansions to Hero Dice, but I haven’t given them real hardcore playtesting since I want to focus on the base game first. Then I have a few others game ideas needing to be fleshed out I would really like to do next. If Hero Dice funds successfully, I will likely do one of the other games as my next Kickstarter. The other game ideas range from being simpler to more complex than Hero Dice.
Your company is called Skies of Dice. Are all of your games going to be based on dice rolling?
For now I’m focusing on games where dice are the primary component and avoid using boards, mats, meeples, etc. I’ve seen a bunch of games say they’re dice games, but then have a lot of cards or a board. Those games are fun and have good mechanics, but I want to see more games that really capitalize on the dice. That being said, I do have an idea for a game with a 4-sided top, and I’d end up having that made with the same material as you would dice, so it’s more like a spinning D4 in my head.
Do you have any plans in place timing, or otherwise in case the dice take longer than expected to be created?
I would hope that people understand there can be hiccups, and I would hope no issues arise. From researching into it there isn’t much I can necessarily do, except go through the motions of the dice needing to be manufactured. All I can really do is trust I’ve made all the right decisions based on watching other tabletop publishers go through this. The estimated delivery for the rewards is made with the consideration that there could be one or minor things come up. So I’m hoping people may get their games sooner than expected.
If something does take longer than expected, do you have anything in place to at least stay connected with backers while they are waiting for their new games?
Actually, one thing I have thought of doing is involving backers on creating characters for future expansion box art. On the main box art for the game there are 4 “Heroes” fighting a Bandit, with each of the heroes representing one of the 10 Races. I’ve been thinking it could be fun to have backers vote for which of the 8 classes the remaining 6 Races represent. For backers that follow me on Facebook they will also be able to keep track of the little things going on.
What are your goals for Kickstarter?
Funding goal is going to be $30k to cover the die molds, manufacturing a minimum print run, and handle worldwide shipping. It will be enough to take care of everything and break even. Beyond the main goal I have stretch goals to add more customizing of the other dice in the game. Ideally I would love to hit all my stretch goals and have every die in the game fully customized.
While working on development, did you ever consider generic dice, and a reference sheet to keep costs down?
Not for the main game since I really wanted the iconography to be a strong factor, and stand-out enough that after a few play-throughs you could eventually play the game fine by looking at the icons without instructions. I am going to have a different Print & Play made for people to use generic dice at home though. It will be included in the Deluxe PnP that’s one of the low reward tiers.
What style of player do you think will enjoy this game? Other than the fairly obvious dice rollers.
In play-testing, I’ve seen a lot of strategy-lovers get really into it. They like how you have to adapt to every game session based on what others roll at the start. I’ve seen a group play entirely differently a 2nd or 3rd time around all because of the abilities and race everyone rolled. I know a lot of people look at a dice game and think it’s too much luck, but there is a lot you can control in the game too. I’ve seen a lot of players who enjoy power-gaming get really into it. Other than that, plenty of casual players have enjoyed it in testing and don’t play as aggressively so you see more cooperation.
When this game is on Kickstarter, How much will it cost a backer to get a copy of the base game?
I’m going to have a reward tier at $59 that will be for the game, all stretch goals, and include shipping worldwide. For $69 though I’m including a promo-exclusive expansion that adds another playable character – it’s a playable version of the Bandit enemy type you will often fight during the game. Like the lesser tier, it will include all stretch goals and worldwide shipping.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this with me and good luck on your campaign that starts tomorrow!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my most recent interview, and I look forward to getting more up in the near future! Actually, I’ll be putting up a ton more, in a series made up of members from all over the board game community. From players, to publishers, to podcasters and so on. (Sorry for plugging myself). Anyways, I hope you all have a marvelous week and always remember I love you all!
(There will be an edit on this post once the campaign starts, as I will be posting a link)