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The designer behind popular Cryptocurrency boardgame shares how he designed a Dinosaur card game

Metaverse? Multiverse? Here comes Dinoverse, a card game where you manage a pack of dinosaurs trying to survive in the prehistorical wilderness. What inspire the designer, Steve Ng, to create a game about dinosaur? We find out from him.

Q: Please give the readers a short introduction about yourself and your game Dinoverse.

Hi everyone! I’m Steve Ng, the game designer behind titles such as Cryptocurrency, Check Out and Hotpot Havoc. I love playing and designing games and have been doing so since I was a kid. My latest design, Dinoverse, is a game in which players take control of a small pack of Dinosaurs and attempt to score the most points by manipulating a larger, shared herd of Dinosaurs. In it, players take simple but crucial actions each turn, shaping the herd and their pack to perfection before an event brings about the end of the game.

Q: What inspires the ideas behind your games? What is your creation process like?

I typically take inspiration from the games I play, and things that I see every day. When an idea comes to me, it is like a large cloud of fumes, free and unrestrained. As I refine the idea, I attempt to contain the fumes within a ‘vessel’, binding and restricting the game with rules and mechanics that brings each concept closer to one another. Sometimes the fumes leak and I find a hole within the rules, sometimes the ‘vessel’ breaks completely and I would have to start from scratch. On a good day, it settles within the first few ‘vessels’ of rules. On others, well, I would still be creating new ‘vessels’ after weeks.

Q: The creative direction of Dinoverse is pretty different from other Dinosaur game. It seems to mix a blend of high tech and prehistorical tech. Why did you do that and what is your inspiration?

As I wanted to feature dinosaurs across different prehistoric periods in the same environment, I thought theming the game around a simulation of the prehistoric world would aid in alleviating the fact some of the dinosaurs did not exist in the same period as the others. It also allowed the game to be more plug and play, showcasing interesting interactions between the dinosaurs, allowing us to add in more dinosaurs and creatures from different time era for future game development.

Q: What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge I often face in my game design process, is compromising. Compromising on a less ‘interesting’ game for the sake of elegance and simplicity is one such example. To stay sane, I constantly remind myself that the game is for a certain market and not just myself. Of course, I would also try to add a bit of my flair where I can, to make it less vexing.

Q: What is Dinoverse about? How is this different from the previous games that Capital Gains Studio has published?

In Dinoverse, players are plunged into a simulation of life during the Mesozoic era. A time where dinosaurs roamed freely and were not caged in parks for visitors’ amusement, but I digress. Players take control of a small pack of two dinosaurs whilst manipulating the shared herd to score the most points by the end of the game. Dinoverse is the first Capital Gains Studio ("CGS") game that has nothing to do with financial literacy, something CGS is well known for. It is also a small box game with simple rules and high replayability, making it truly a bang for its buck.

Q: What was it like doing crowdfunding through Kickstarter? What advice would you give new game designers trying to leverage on the potential of crowdfunding?

Kickstarter, or crowdfunding in general, is a cold and unforgiving platform. It is a fact that many people are unable to recognize, choosing to believe only in the success but not the work that goes into it behind the scenes. Yes, it is possible to succeed through crowdfunding, but are you able to put in the effort and funds to achieve it? They say that you must spend money to make money, this is true especially for this platform in this time and age. To tap into the enormous market that is crowdfunding, you must first be noticed, which is an arduous task on its own. Even harder than that, would be to have a product worth buying into. Just because you and your friends like your game, does not mean that anyone else will. Of course, there is much more that needs to be done, and in the end, you will have to ask yourself if the end result is worth it.

Q: This is not the first game that you have built with Kickstarter. Has anything been different this time around in terms of crowdfunding?

Dinoverse is one of the most affordable titles being published by CGS, as well as being a vastly different product from our previous titles, so I believe there might be a challenge in terms of bringing back our loyal backers and raising a hefty sum during its first few days. It is said that a campaign lives and dies on the first and last couple of days, so we shall see.

Q: What are your views on the local game industry?

Just like anywhere else, Singapore has no lack of aspiring game designers. Many of whom come from enjoying boardgames and wanting to create something for themselves. As a community, we are definitely not at a level that can command the attention of the world yet. But surely as the gaming community grows and people get familiar with modern board games, we will get there.

Q: Do you have any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to enter the local tabletop game industry?

Think about what makes your product special, but also keep accessibility in mind.

Don’t be afraid of failure, the most successful people have failed more times than you can imagine.

Learn to let go and cut losses, not just money-wise but also effort-wise.

Q: Most people are contented with just playing games for fun. Anyone who knows anything about game development knows that they take a lot of work to create. What drives you to develop games despite the hardships?

It is something I have yearned to do since I was a kid. My friends who have known me since then would say that they knew I would end up doing something like this. To me, I enjoy both the conclusion of a well-made game, as well as the ‘hardship’ of developing and refining a game in the rough.

Q: What are your favorite games?

Some of my favorite games include: Viscounts of the West Kingdom (the last in the West Kingdom series, a perfect blend of strategy and tactics with a picturesque yet functional aesthetic.), Pax Transhumanity (an intricately crafted game that reaches far beyond its tiny box) and Spirit Island (one of the coolest themed games I have ever seen, combining fantasy and history into one of the greatest cooperative games I’ve played).

Q: Where can players find the game?

At the time of this post, the game is on Kickstarter waiting for you to support it! Otherwise, I am sure you can find it in stock at the CGS web store after the campaign ends but it will be missing some cool Kickstarter exclusives contents, so it is often better for interested buyers to grab the game during Kickstarter. Check out the link below for the campaign.

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