One of my favorite things from my old writing gig was interviewing game developers and Kickstarter campaigns about their exciting projects and bring new eyes to their hard work.
I am finally able to bring this to GoodBadEh.
Last week I was browsing Kickstarter and stumbled across a board game that caught my eye.
This game allows you to go through the process of creating a movie through the eyes of the many different roles that are behind the scenes!
Malachi Ray Rempen is the mastermind behind Roll Camera and I was able to send a few questions his way about the project and everything that comes along with a Kickstarter campaign.
GoodBadEh: What was the inspiration behind Roll Camera?
Malachi Ray Rempen: My original passion in life was always filmmaking. I’ve been making films since I was a kid, I went to film school, I worked professionally in the film industry in LA and as a freelancer in Berlin, where I now live. Now I teach filmmaking as well – it’s just always been a major part of my being. I was trying to think of ideas for a board game, and suddenly the two kind of collided in my head.
If you think about it, filmmaking is very similar to playing a board game in many ways – you have a goal, you have a team, you’re working in a limited physical space and organized by roles and rules, moving objects around that space, and constrained by resource limitations, forcing you to think of creative solutions. It just kinda makes sense. I’m honestly shocked no one has thought of it before. Although to do it right, it does require an understanding of how to actually make a film, which I suppose not many board game designers have. I guess I was just the right person for the job!
GBE: Being in any position for a production can be stressful and yet exciting, how were you able to manage certain real life emotions into the board game? How did you take your real life production experience and transfer it into a board game?
MRR: A good thematic board game has two parts in my experience – the mechanics and the theme. These things should overlap but there is a lot about them that simply do not and cannot (and should not), because board games are not simulations. Therefore it’s the designer’s job to pick out which parts of the theme can be represented abstractly while still maintaining the emotions of the theme’s promise.
To me, the promise of filmmaking is tackling creative challenges with a team under pressure. Thus the schedule, the budget, Ideas and the Problems kind of came naturally from that. I also knew from the beginning that I wanted the storyboards to be on cards, that just made sense. The rest is kind of abstracted – the crew dice represent both your crew and the equipment, depending on how you look at them. And of course you don’t get random crew each day when you’re making a film, so that part is completely unlike actual filmmaking – but it doesn’t matter, because the core emotional promise is kept – the game feels like filmmaking because you have a puzzle to solve, it’s something each player has unique contributions to help with, and at the end you have a creative result.
GBE: What was it like to create a board game totally by yourself? What challenges did you face when coming up with the overall direction you wanted the game to go as well as the mechanics to make the game work?
MRR: Well, no game designer is an island! The best part about game design to me (and where it differs from filmmaking, incidentally) is that you don’t need to have all the answers up front. You can slap a prototype, get it on the table, and let the experiences of your playtesters tell you what’s working and what isn’t. With movies, you can do test screenings, but by that point the film is practically done! You can’t change all that much. So it’s a much bigger risk on everyone’s part. I was helped every step of the way by all the people that tested and suggested their ideas, as well as lots of helpful input from the BGG forums when I got stuck. Apart from that, game design is very similar to screenwriting – in that most of it is just sitting and staring at the wall or banging your head against the table until you can’t take it anymore. Then you go for a walk or take a shower and the ideas flow again 🙂
GBE: I believe it was a great idea to put a prototype of the game out on Tabletop Simulator. What brought you to make the game playable in that form?
MRR: Tabletop Simulator was actually one of my biggest design tools. I was able to really quickly iterate by throwing some cards together, importing them, testing them, changing them, re-importing them – all much faster than when I’m cutting and taping and printing out stuff. I still do that, but later in the design process. TTS allowed me to move really quickly, as well as to playtest with people long distance. So it wasn’t a big leap to get the game playable there, since it was already 99% done before the campaign even launched.
GBE: Have you received any feedback from online players about the game?
MRR: Yes! It’s been extremely positive. Many people have written saying they can’t get enough of it. That’s so, so satisfying to hear.
GBE: Since the Kickstarter is fully funded, are you considering a updated version of the game for the Simulator?
MRR: Definitely – I’ll update the TTS mod after the campaign with all the stuff we unlock. I might even use it to crowdsource testing expansion content.
To top off the successful Kickstarter, you are also making a movie based off fan votes that also gives fans more game pieces in the box!
GBE: How has that been going?
MRR: It’s been really fun so far. I’ve gotten some very positive feedback. It’s a nice alternative to stretch goals – it’s more interactive. It’s riskier, of course, but i think it’s more rewarding for everyone involved.
GBE: Do you anticipate some of the games players to film their own version of their movie creation?
MRR: Yes! In fact, every week you have the opportunity to film what we’ve made so far during the campaign, and then we’ll all vote on the winner for each week. That person will receive a special, limited edition foil “award card” that is playable in the game.
GBE: What brought you to offering additional game pieces through the fan voting compared to having them as stretch goals?
MRR: I can’t take full credit for this idea – I saw another KS campaign doing a similar thing, although now I can’t find it. It was a fantasy game with a map, and backers voted on which part of the map they wanted to “travel to” each day, and each spot had a different upgrade. I thought that could work perfectly for Roll Camera! as well.
Final question. I love the idea of the clapper box. That’s a huge incentive to get to the goal needed to unlock it.
GBE: Did you have any doubts once you had the idea to make the box interactive?
MRR: No, it’s pretty much awesome. Although again it wasn’t really my idea – when I debuted the box cover art, so many people said, “wouldn’t it be great if the box could open like a clapper?” I thought it was mad – who would want that? But SO many comments said they’d love it, that I reached out to the manufacturer to see if they could do it. Lo and behold, they could!
GBE: How did you go about actually finding a way to make it happen?
MRR: I have to give full credit to the manufacturer, Whatz Games. They were the only ones that didn’t bat an eye when I proposed the idea, and even sent me a sample within a fortnight. They did an excellent job engineering it to really work as a functional box AND an awesome toy. They’re incredible.
If you are interested in helping fund Roll Camera!, you are in good luck because it has already beaten its campaign goal! There are many stretch goals still on the horizon, including the Clapper Box which will become a reality once the campaign hits the $100,000 goal.
If you want to help vote on what the next scene of their movie is (which also includes extra game pieces as well) you can vote HERE!
I want to thank Malachi for taking the time to speak with me and I hope everyone checks out the Kickstarter page so Roll Camera! can receive the Clapper Box upgrade!
If you enjoyed this interview, leave a note in the comments or tweet me @GoodBadEh!