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Designing Box Dungeon: Insights from Aden Ng's Creative Process

Aden Ng, the mastermind behind Box Dungeon and The Chronicles of Tearha, discusses his journey in crafting minimalist tabletop adventures, the genesis of Box Dungeon, Kickstarter lessons learned, and future projects in this insightful interview.

Q: Please give the readers a short introduction about yourself and your games and any other interesting projects that you have produced.

Hi! My name is Aden Ng, I'm the game designer of Box Dungeon, and also a fantasy author of the book series, The Chronicles of Tearha. I have a new tabletop RPG core rulebook I'm planning to release within the next year or two.

Q: What are the events or inspirations that created the ideas behind your game and what kind of objective or game experience you hope to create?

I was playing Pathfinder one day, back when it was still just D&D 3.5e, and I couldn't help but think that it was such a heavy game to onboard for new players. I wanted to find a way to create a minimalist version of the tabletop RPG experience that lets players experience all the entry level gameplay and emotions without taking away too much of the gameplay as other type of similar games had.

Q: What is your creation process like?

Nearly a decade of just sitting with the idea, tweaking it, and slowly discarding concepts that were not useful. It wasn't until a year before publishing before I could throw everything together into something coherent. A lot of my game design knowledge came from video game design, so it was a matter of reverse engineering it. Video games are video games because they do things that pen and paper can't achieve. So I had to find out what a card/board game could achieve that video and tabletop couldn't. It had to be different and fully utilise the medium.

It was a complicated game to create, and I wasn't initially skilled enough to fully manifest the concept, so a lot of the time were spent coming up with ideas and training myself in the craft until my skill level caught up. I think future games will proceed much more smoothly, but then again, I've been sitting on another game I've designed for nearly 2 years now, and I haven't even finished a prototype, so who's to say.

Q: Many people are familiar with Role Playing Games (RPG). How is Box Dungeon different from a RPG. How will Box Dungeon appeal to people who are not familiar with RPG?

A large portion of RPG games are spent dealing with numbers and customisation. In video games, you get to let the computer do all that for you. And in pen and paper, you have all the time in the world.

But Box Dungeon condenses that into a 1-3 hour board game. You get a little bit of the best of both worlds. The cards do all the hard math for you, but you still get that physical experience of playing with friends and having an adventure, and the minimalism aspect of the game keeps many of the experiences from traditional TTRPG in one form or another.

Q: You ran a Kickstarter for Box Dungeon. What is your greatest take away from the experience? How will you do it differently if you were to run another Kickstarter campaign?

It's a harsh battlefield out there and we really shouldn't try to be something we're not. I tried to mirror other successful campaigns with financial backings by companies, and it just put undue stress when it didn't take off the same way.

I'm an indie game designer by heart, and I should have showcased that much more and relied on the community. In the aftermath, at conventions and meetups, I've had far more success with sharing the game on the community level.

Q: What are some of the greatest challenges you faced while creating the game and what about your game that you wished could have been done better?

There weren't a lot of difficulties during the design process, just because of the sheer length of time. But there were problems that arose during production. I would advice anyone who is trying to produce a game on the indie scale to request for quality assurance checks from their production company. It's not something that they would automatically offer to keep cost down, but paying a little more to make sure the games are all in good condition off the production line is very much important.

Q: Do you have any plans for future games?

Currently I'm working on an original core rulebook for my own full fledged TTRPG called FARSWIPE. The base rulebook will be free, I think, but people are encouraged to support monetarily to develop expansions. I have other games I'm developing, but they are not as near completion.

Q: What is your favourite genre of games or games you think are underrated?

I don't really have a favourite genre per say, but I do have a soft spot for minimalist game design. A part of me feels that games these days are trying too hard to "big budget", and it really defeats the purpose of the medium.

Q: Where can your game be found?

You can get it right here on the SBD shop! I'm also trying to attend more conventions this year, and if you can find me, you'll probably nab a copy at a convention discount. Check my socials (Facebook, Instagram) to see where I'll pop up, if I remember to update, that is. I'm a forgetful idiot.


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