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Interview with Konstantinos Kokkinis, co-designer of Drum Roll

Piotr Silka
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Board Game: Drum Roll
Piotr Siłka: First, please introduce yourself: what you do for life, and how your adventure with board games started?

Konstantinos Kokkinis: My name is Konstantinos Kokkinis. I am a 3D designer/animator. I also own a hotel on a Greek island. I started getting more into board games around 12 years ago, and I have been playing as much as I can ever since.

PS: Drum Roll is your first game that was released, but is this also your first prototype that you made together or alone?

KK: Yes. This is also my first prototype. Hopefully more will come in the future.

PS: What was the inspiration – I mean primarily theme but also mechanisms – for Drum Roll?

KK: Back in 2009 I was seriously considering designing my first game. The circus theme always excited me and I saw that even though it is a nice theme, there was a big gap in the board game market with few circus-themed games. This was ideal since I wanted to make something fresh.

The opportunity came when BGG's Greek Guild community announced its "2011 board game design competition". I invited my good friend Dimitris Drakopoulos to join me in participating in the contest and gave him a rough description of Drum Roll's theme. He was also excited and together we started working on Drum Roll.

We needed a mechanism to represent the evolution of an artist's performance. This determined right away that our resources in this game could not be wood and stone and bricks as the concept was not to build a circus but to manage it and make it evolve. This is why we adopted Rehearsals, Costumes, Promotion, Supplies and Equipment as our game's resources since those where the tools that would make an artist's performer improve. In the end, the game was ready for the competition and we managed to win the first place in both jury's and public's awards.

Board Game: Drum Roll
The designers of Drum Roll – Mr. Kokkinis and Mr. Drakopoulos – at Spiel 2011 (Image: Babis Tsimoris)

PS: When did you start to work on Drum Roll? What was the hardest thing during design work?

KK: The design of Drum Roll's mechanisms started in September 2010. Development was smooth and we didn't encounter any major issues at the time. Our biggest problem was when we started working on publishing the game. The initial version had lots of English text in it. We wanted to publish the game in most major languages, but the cost was too high to produce individual versions. This brings us to the hardest thing during design, which was converting the game to be language independent. Rules needed to be changed, balancing needed to be redone, more illustrations and symbols needed to be done, etc.

PS: I have to admit that I love the artwork in this game. How did you find Antonis Papantoniou? Is this the his first realization of this kind?

KK: I have known Antonis since my college days and he was actually my illustration teacher by that time. We remained friends. A few years back he was the my best man at my wedding. Antonis has worked in many fields of digital illustration, but Drum Roll was the first board game he has illustrated.

Board Game: Drum Roll
Draft of the cover

PS: Why did you decide to publish the game by yourself? Is it hard to find a publisher? Did you want to challenge yourself. (Maybe you thought about company a lot earlier and the game was only a good occasion to start a business?)

KK: Publishing always excited me and having full control over your project is something that everyone likes. I really believe in Drum Roll's potential, so I decided to invest in it and undertake the risks and benefits of self-publishing. There is much interest from larger publishers for a reprint of Drum Roll after Spiel 2011 as we have published only 2,000 copies for now.

We already have other projects coming up and of course if their cost goes above our production budget, we will present them to larger publishers from the start.

PS: Do you have favorite games from Polish authors, or maybe something that's made a good impression on you in recent years?

KK: Poland is a country that got a lot of publicity during the past few years. From board games to miniatures and wargaming products, there is much artistic talent which I really admire. During Spiel 2010 I had the opportunity to acquire a copy of Magnum Sal signed by the designers, Marcin Krupiński & Filip Miłuński. I believe Dimitris bought all games that were introduced by Polish designers in 2010.

Board Game: Drum Roll
Eclipse designer Touko Tahkokallio looks pained (Image: Antti Koskinen)

(The next two questions were asked prior to the opening of Spiel 2011, with follow-up questions after the show closed.)

PS: How are the preorders going, along with the organization of the worldwide shipping?

KK: Preordering is going really great. We are very happy with the warm welcome the game has received from hundreds of people who have truly honored us by supporting the game before it has even been released.

PS: What are your expectations of the coming fair in Essen?

KK: Dimitris will arrive on Friday at Spiel 2011 and along with some friends offering help, we will be able to run our booth. I am very excited and anxious at the same time since this is my first time as an exhibitor. I am pretty sure it will be a great experience, and I hope many people will want to play the game.

PS: What are your impressions of the show and the game's reception after Spiel? Where your expectations met – or perhaps even exceeded?

KK: We are very satisfied with how well Drum Roll did at Spiel 2011. The game sold really well, and we received a lot of buzz. Almost all people who played the game seemed to enjoy it and that was reflected in the percentage of people buying the game after playing it.

We are already looking towards Spiel 2012 where we hope we can do even better after learning so much from this year's experience.

PS: How will Drum Roll be distributed in the future?

KK: We had many proposals for distribution and publication. We are currently in communication with a large publisher who has shown interest in taking over English and French versions of the game. Since our first print run is almost gone, we are scheduling a larger print run soon.

PS: Thank you very much, and good luck at Spiel 2012!
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