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Interview with Nicole Kline - Designer of RESISTOR_

Chris Hansen
United States
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
I have two new 9 Card Games: 300 Spartans and Franky's 1st Christmas
Today I’ll be talking with Nicole Kline who, together with Anthony Amato, created Cardboard Fortress Games to publish their new game, RESISTOR_. The game was successfully funded on Kickstarter and backers have started receiving their copies this week. Nicole and Anthony decided to release a free PNP version of their game during the campaign and then kept it available on the game’s BGG page even after the game was published. (Available here: Cards and Rules.) Nicole was kind enough to talk about the game, her personal history with Print and Play, and the reasons they decided to make a Print and Play version available in their Kickstarter campaign.

Game Cover

Chris Hansen: Tell me a little about RESISTOR_.

Nicole Kline: RESISTOR_ is comprised of double-sided cards - they make up the board as well as the players' hands. The cards have lines on them - either red, blue, or red and blue - and each player is trying to connect their line to cross the board and enter the other player's base.

CH: What genre is the game?

NK: It's a light-medium two-player competitive card game with board manipulation and puzzle elements.

CH: How long have you been working on RESISTOR_ (Designing/Playtesting/Artwork/Etc)?

NK: We made RESISTOR_ for a game jam in August of 2013. By March of 2014, we had the art nearly finished, and the gameplay mechanics were done.

CH: The game reminds me a little bit of connection games like Twixt or PÜNCT. Did those game inspire the creation of Resistor_?

NK: We haven't played either of those games, though now that I've looked them up, I'd really like to! The main inspiration for the game was the jam theme. The theme was "Choose an Oasis song title and make a game out of it." The song title we chose was "Roll it Over," which is what really inspired the idea of using double-sided cards and flipping them over on the board. Once people started playing it, we got a lot of questions about our inspiration. The question we got the most often was, "Was this inspired by Hanabi?" We hadn't played that, either, and when we finally did, we understood why people asked us that! But the main inspiration was the jam theme, and the main inspiration for the game's theme was War Games.

CH: Often times, connection games are purely abstract with no theme attached. There are obviously exceptions such as Through the Desert but Twixt, Hex, PÜNCT, etc are all simply abstract yet remain very popular. How did you decide on the warring computer theme instead of leaving it abstracted? (Just to be clear, I think the theme is awesome, I just don't often see themes in these types of games.)

NK: About a month after we created the game, we talked to Christopher Badell, one of the brains behind the Sentinels of the Multiverse series. One of Christopher's recommendations was to make sure we themed our game. We had already been kicking around theme ideas, but once he said that, we cemented the computer idea into place, and went from there. Anthony did all of the artwork shortly after that, and I have to say that I agree with you - I wasn't sure about picking a theme at first, but once I saw Anthony's artwork, I was so glad we went with that. And from there, it's grown into its own little universe, with DEEP RED and BLU9000 really developing little personalities of their own.

The two supercomputers.

CH: Let’s talk about the Kickstarter campaign. Why did you decided to offer a Print and Play version as part of the Kickstarter campaign?

NK: Anthony and I went back and forth on this topic for a while. We weren't sure if it would be a good idea to offer the game for free - why would people want to buy your game if they could just play it for free? But there's no way to offer the full game as a Print and Play - the art on the tarot cards would be costly to replicate as a PnP. So Anthony made a simple and elegant PnP, and we put it up for free in the hopes that people on the fence about buying the game would download it, print it, put it together, and fall in love with it. And it turns out that's what happened. It also seems that people who were on the fence ended up buying the game once they saw we offered a PnP - I think it was a good faith kind of thing. What I mean by that is: people saw we were confident enough in our game that we offered it for free, so they were willing to trust in us and buy it.

The full art in the published game. (Image credit: Daniel Thurot)

The minimalist art in the PNP version of the game.

CH: The PNP file is simple but gets the job done very nicely. While I love the artwork in the full version, I appreciate that the PNP file requires very little ink. It is very cost efficient to print. I appreciate games that don't drain my printer. I've noticed that the PNP community on BGG takes a lot of interest in Kickstarter games that come with free options, even if they don't include full game art. Did anyone hear about your game because of the PNP option?

NK: I don't recall anyone directly mentioning that they were drawn to the game because we offered a PnP version, but we definitely had a lot of messages of people talking to us about it and thanking us for offering it. Several international backers were hoping for a full art PnP and even offered to pay for one, but we had already made the decision that we didn't want to do that - partly because of what you mentioned about ruining people's printers, and partly because the game really needs to have long cards in order to fully be able to display the options on the backside of the cards to your opponent. It didn't seem feasible to try to recreate that in a PnP version.

CH: Some games offer a full art version of the PNP for a certain pledge level. Did you ever consider doing that?

NK: Ha! I feel like I might have already answered this in the previous answer. Part of this was because Anthony had already created the PnP, and he felt that creating a full art PnP that worked well would be an enormous amount of work.

CH: Can you talk a little bit about becoming a Kickstarter Staff Pick? Did you contact them or did they find you? Did you notice an increase in orders when you got that?

NK: The Kickstarter Staff Pick happened so late in the campaign that it almost seemed pointless! They emailed us to let us know it happened and that was all the communication we got about it, other than them sending out a tweet from their Staff Pick Twitter account. It was in the last 48 hours, so we were already getting the 48-hour spike, and I'm not sure how many of those were a result of getting Staff Pick, unfortunately.

CH: Are you a PNPer? Have you built a PNP copy of RESISTOR_ yourself?

NK: We haven't made our own PNP, but people have sent us (really amazing!) pictures of their homemade copies. So we know it works! Plus, our early prototypes were very, very close to the PnP.

CH: In addition to the files offered in the campaign, will players need to provide other other components like dice or cubes?

NK: Nope! Everything is included in the PnP - even a box! You'll need some glue or tape, scissors, and some thicker paper.

The PNP box to hold the cards.

CH: Do you have any suggestions for those printing your game?

NK: The PnP should be printed on thick sheets of paper in color. The instructions are five pages and can be printed on regular paper or just accessed online if you don't want to print them! But if you do, those should also be printed in color.

CH: How long do you anticipate it will take players to build a copy of RESISTOR_ from the PNP files?

NK: It shouldn't take more than an hour at most, but the tricky part is getting thick enough paper so that you can't see through it. You might need to go to an actual copy shop for that.

Building the PNP version of the game. I used 110lb cardstock for the cards and box. Click on the photo for more details about the assembly.

CH: Do you feel the free PNP version increased sales/interest in the Kickstarter Campaign?

NK: I think that people either made it, liked it, and bought it, or saw that it was offered for free and were impressed by our confidence in the game and bought it. So yeah, I think the PnP helped our sales. All of that is based on feedback we've gotten!

CH: Are you concerned that some people may have downloaded the PNP version without purchasing the game?

NK: I wouldn't say I'm concerned... I would say that I would rather have people download it, play it, and discover early on they don't like it, rather than buy it, play it, and not enjoy it. I don't want to take anyone's money if they aren't going to enjoy the game. The concern I do have is that people downloaded the PnP but didn't play the game right and disliked it because of that. That bums me out a little.

What is concerning is that the full version of the game has variants and expansions that aren't included in the PnP.

CH: Will players be able to continue to access the PNP files now that the Kickstarter campaign is complete and the game published?

NK: We're not sure! It's up on Board Game Geek now, and we don't have any intention of taking it down!

CH: Do you worry about the PNP negatively affecting the game? Such as people not buying the game because they can get a free version?

NK: No, I think if people are ok with just the bare minimum of the game, then I'm ok with them just using the PnP. I think if they really love the game, they'll want the artwork. Anthony made all the artwork and I might be biased but I think it's gorgeous, and I think anyone who truly loves the game will want to own that. But I also understand not everyone has the money to buy games - truly, board games are a luxury. If people can't afford it, I want them to be able to play it.

CH: Are you interested in PNP games generally? Have you made very many PNP games?

NK: I wouldn't say I've made a lot, but we've made a handful. Kickstarter has really taken our board gaming in a whole new direction, and I love it. We've printed out several games we were on the fence about and ended up backing them all. And I've made some friends at events and online who send me their PnPs to test their games out and it's amazing to be able to play their games even though we don't live close to each other.

CH: What's your favorite Kickstarter PNP game?

NK: That's a really tough question. I had a lot of fun with a PnP for a game that was on Kickstarter recently called JunKing. We made the PnP to see the effect a certain rule had on the game that we weren't sure about from just reading the rulebook.

In a totally different vein, my friend made a game based on Dune that is gorgeous and I'm in love with the art. He doesn't have the license so obviously he won't be selling it commercially, but I just adore it. And, way way back in the day, when Cards Against Humanity was sold out everywhere, we did a PnP of that. The first ever Kickstarter PnP we ever did was a little game called Space Base Race, which we backed.

CH: How did you first discover PNP games?

NK: I always knew they were out there, but it wasn't until we started seeing them become more prominent on Kickstarter that we started utilizing them. There are so many great looking games on Kickstarter that testing them through PnPs may become more and more of a good practice for us and our wallets!

CH: Will Cardboard Fortress be releasing future games in a PNP format?

NK: We would love to, and some of our next game ideas are limited to just cards, so it could be something we do - and soon!

CH: One of the coolest things about releasing a game online is seeing it crafted by gamers all over the world. What is the farthest location that you know of someone building your game? (i.e. Did anyone in Europe in Asia build it?)

NK: I know we had a backer from Japan, but I'm not sure if they built the PnP. If so, they would be the farthest location! But I'm not certain. Maybe we could do a poll and find out!

I’d like to thank Nicole and Anthony for their willingness to discuss their new game. RESISTOR_ is currently available for from Level 99 Games for $20.00 or you can check out the PNP files for free from the game’s page.

For more details about the game’s play, please see my review. (Spoiler alert: I liked the game a lot!)
Thin Red Line (...and Blue Line) - A Review of RESISTOR_

Thank you for reading and thanks as always for your thumbs and geekgold tips to the post.

It has been awhile since my last update. I’ve been busy with the game design contests, some playtesting projects, and other various real world issues. I will start publishing some catch up posts in the next few days, starting with a contest-focused post that will cover the winners of recent contests and the currently active contests.

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