Kickstarter can be a tough nut to crack. John Jukes of Trywin Games had a go, but like many, fell foul of the hugley cluttered market place that it brings. But undeterred, John is about to try and win again, much like his business name suggests! We recently sat down and spoke to John about his experiences in the gaming world, first as a player and now as the new kid on the scene.
First up could you talk a bit about your background in games?
I guess like most people I started with the ‘classics’ of Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, Draughts moving to Scrabble and Monopoly. And I plateaued there for some years, haunted by fears of someone in the future wanting to play Trivial Pursuit!
What got you into the hobby as a player?
I joined a MeetUp group a few years ago and they held one of their first meets at Thirsty Meeples in Oxford. I thought it was pronounced Thirsty Meatballs, and expected some Italian food along with the games. I didn’t even know what a “meeple” was. We played some party games, which I had never played before. The main thing I was wowed by was the sheer volume of other games out there and the variety. Following that I watched all of the ‘Tabletop’ episodes on the Geek and Sundry YouTube channel and realised there were these things called ‘mechanics’ and that really sparked my interest.
You’re currently developing your own (first?) game. Tell us about that. How did it come about?
Yeah, Can’t Go is the first one! After watching so many videos, and expanding the range of games I was playing it really fired up the analytical part of the my brain. Of course, the game shelf at home started to grow too. And as the saying goes “there’s always room for one more!”.
I’ve always been fascinated by how things work, and the world of games is full of peculiar things to understand. I started forming this idea about a portable game, fun to play, with a play area that regularly changed. I kept popping themes into it, and in summer 2017 on the morning before a camping trip the idea formed really quickly. The notion of poopers trying to gain points by playing poop cards made all the sense in the world. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write! The name “Can’t Go” followed in that heady few minutes. It turns out the name was really popular and it was time to put development into motion!
Sounds fun! Who are you working with on this?
When we first demo’d the game at the UK Games Expo in 2019 we didn’t have an artist onboard. One of the play testers said that the kawaii-style could work. I didn’t know what kawaii meant, but I recognised the art style instantly. It’s that cute Japanese-style art. After getting home from the Expo I scoured Instagram and found a piece of art that represented the style I wanted. Such is the convenience of Instagram I pinged the artist a message saying how much I liked the style. Then I asked if they would be interested in illustrating a card game. There was equal enthusiasm when they agreed and I have never looked back! So, since June 2019 the artwork has been provided by Sine Lund (of Staycute Illustration).
I have looked after all of the game development. Maintaining a record of subtle or large changes in the gameplay has been very important.
Naturally game development needs players and I’ve been lucky enough to have some lovely play testers who share their views with me to inform some of the developments.
The plan was to ramp up playtesting this year, so to accommodate the pandemic I created some demo packs that I could mail out for feedback. There’s no stopping the Trywin train! Choo choo!
Awesome! What’s the plan for it’s release?
The demo packs have been doing the rounds. They’re our ‘arty’ prototypes to give a flavour of how the game will look and play. It doesn’t use the same materials as the finished article but it allows us to get the word out about the game. I also created a version for Tabletop Sim; it plays well online too!
Winding the clock back to November 2019, we held a Kickstarter campaign. I knew there was a risk of not meeting the goal, but I wanted to know sooner rather than later if it was going to work. Running the Kickstarter was really helpful. It really exposed some of the strengths and areas for improvement. It also set up the next attempt to be ‘Campaign Number Two’, so it’s getting even more poop-themed!
What do you see in the future. What’s next for you?
Naturally the focus is on getting a successful Kickstarter campaign. There’s a tipping point between having a game that’s good and one that’s got genuine support. Once you tip over into the successful side it opens up more options because you can have better conversations with suppliers and retailers about the game. It also starts to pave the way for other games too.
There are three other games currently in development. Can’t Go has been the primary option so there is a small dossier with notes and ideas about the other games so that they don’t occupy too much brain space and become too much of a distraction.
In the gaming world there is so much love and curiosity. It’s such an accessible hobby and it really helps bring people together. It would be a genuine honour to create and share games that add even more joy and curiosity into the world.
If you could have any other game not made by you in your rosta of designed games what would it be and why?
That’s a really tough choice! There are so many great games out there. So many themes, mechanics, sizes, durations…..
At the moment I would pick Magic Maze. Magic Maze is such a good co-operative game. I love the angle. One objective, two parts, no talking. There is a great sense of urgency and the tension really ramps up due to the lack of talking and the separation of actions amongst players.
Great pick, I love that game. Which other designer would you most like to have a games night with and why?
A great question! I am torn between Kasper Lapp (of Magic Maze) and Matt Leacock.
I think it would be Matt Leacock; the brains behind, amongst other titles, Pandemic, Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert. They’re great co-op games and they give a fantastic sense that the game is trying to beat you. That’s such a great vibe to instil into a game.
It was great talking with John, you can find out more about his kickstarter here!