We’re excited to tell you about Trevor Clifford, our latest inductee into The Game Crafter Hall of Fame.
Tell us a little about yourself Trevor.
I am a 26 year old graphic designer from the northwest corner of PA. I started collecting board games about 4 years ago and I am always on the lookout for innovative new games, either cardboard or electronic. When I discovered The Game Crafter I decided to try and flesh out some game ideas I had been tinkering with by using the resources available on the site.
Please describe Castle Dash (aka Castle Capers).
Castle Dash is a quick, medieval themed worker placement game about storming castles. The goal of the game is to steal 3 coins from the other players. Each player has a limited supply of soldiers they can use. They can send their soldiers into battlefields to fight or use them to claim a variety of armory cards that can grant bonus abilities to combat or castle defense. Once all the soldiers are placed battles are decided by adding a dice roll to your total number of soldiers. The player with the larger total is the victor and his surviving soldiers are placed on the losing player’s castle wall. Once three or more soldiers are on the wall they can storm the castle and either steal a gold coin or rescue a kidnapped soldier to add to their army. It is important to balance using your soldiers offensively as well as defensively because your castle will be assaulted from multiple directions.
Did you create a design diary for it?
No, but I do still have a picture of an early board prototype.
Tell us what inspired you to create the game.
I developed the ideas for Castle Capers after reading some of Ignacy Trzewiczek’s designer diaries for Stronghold. I really liked the idea of building up castle walls and sending armies of soldiers to storm them. Stronghold was still a long way from being released so I came up with something simple that my causal gaming group might enjoy. I brainstormed some ideas and settled on worker placement as a game mechanic that would be both simple and fun. I worked on the game in my spare time and made sure to make an extra effort to create some decent artwork. I noticed that games designed by amateurs sometimes suffer in the art department and I wanted it to make a good initial impression. I feel that making a game look good visually is important but not essential.
Tell us a little about 5th Street Games.
5th Street Games is a publisher working toward making everyone a gamer. One big thing our hobby needs is an expanded market. 5th Street is helping make that happen through publication of titles that are appealing to both gamers and non-gamers alike. For gamers, their titles will likely be filler between the ‘main course’ games of an evening while non-gamers will be introduced to the hobby through our games.
How did you go about getting it published with 5th Street Games? How were you introduced to them?
One day I got an email out of the blue from Phil Kilcrease (I think after he saw Castle Capers on The Game Crafter or BoardGameGeek) and he expressed interest in publishing my game. I had no plans to make any real investment in the game since I had just created it as a hobby, so I told him he could go right ahead. It had been a dream to make a board game but I didn’t really want to get involved in the financial process required to mass produce it, so I jumped at this opportunity. Phil has been very helpful and took care of everything on the business side of things.
What were the steps being officially signed and actually getting the game released?
Phil sent me a contract, which I signed, and I sent him some updated art assets. He made some balance adjustments and tweaked the game so it played better with a wider number of players. I had to adjust the artwork to fit on cards instead of boards and create some extra armory cards. After the Kickstarter campaign some changes were made to the game to allow for 3 and 5 player variants so I made a few new player mats. Overall the process was pretty easy on my part.
Could you tell us about the Kickstarter experience? What are the secrets of running a successful campaign?
The Castle Dash Kickstarter was a big learning experience. Interesting overfunds, good updates, and a solid video all help a project reach its goal. You also need to generate excitement for your title and stay in touch with your supporters without spamming them. Beyond that, though, each project is pretty idiosyncratic; a card game is going to run differently from a board game.
Where can people buy the game now? And in how many countries is it available?
Castle Dash will be available for purchase at 5th Street Games’ website later this year. Talks are also underway for nationwide distribution in the US.
Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter had on the success of Castle Dash or you personally?
The Game Crafter presented me with the chance to turn my rough game ideas into something tangible. The website provides all the tools and game pieces needed to remove the tedious parts of designing and prototyping board games. It was fun to try and use the available components in creative ways. The Game Crafter has been great for guys like me who just want to design board games casually. It also presents an excellent opportunity for your game to catch someone’s eye and turn into something bigger then a pet project.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I just wrapped up another game called Spacefaring: for Fun and Profit. I will probably take a break from working on board games for a while, or until something fantastic pops into my head. I would like to get into working on graphics for Android games. The recent trend of board games on mobile devices has been something I feel torn about. I appreciate the convenience, but I miss the tangibility and face to face interaction.
Any last words of encouragement or advice to all the designers reading this who would love to experience your success?
Make sure you are having fun working on and playing the games you create, even if it is something only your friends will get to experience. If you are not enjoying the creative process then it might not be worth your time. Also the more you simplify your game the easier it will be to write the rules later. Try to explain something on paper that makes complete sense in your head is difficult to do. I learned to appreciate people that can write concise rule books.