Interview with Tinkerbot Games

Hot on the success of their game Ghostel, and after the news of an impending second print, I caught up with Bevan of Tinkerbot Games.

[Geeks in Wales] For those who aren’t in the know, who are Tinkerbot Games and what is Ghostel?

[Tinkerbot Games] Tinkerbot Games is three guys who met in Cardiff and loved themselves some board gaming. After playing a lot of games, we each decided to take it to the next level and got involved in designing them too.

This led us to (seperately) enter the Redesign competition at the UKGE in 2014. Our games were lucky enough to reach the finals, and though we didn’t win we enjoyed the experience so much we decided to try and get published!

Ghostel is a semi-cooperative game of spooking guests out of a haunted hotel. Each player is a ghost, trying to out-do his fellow spirits using a mix of dice placement, area control and card play.

Some guests, however, require teamwork to defeat, but there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a little edge with Phobias and Spookie Boosts! The tiered scoring system rewards all participants, and the mechanics and theme make Ghostel a good game for gamers and a great game for families!

[GiW] When designing Ghostel, did you develop the mechanics before the theme, or did the theme come first and the mechanics wrap themselves around it?

[TG] The idea for Ghostel started off after a musing on the dice movement mechanic in a game called Pirates of Nassau. In PoN, each player rolled their dice, then depending on which order the used them their ships would move to different Straits and score points.

At the same time this was running through my head, it happened to be Halloween, which gave me the idea ‘what if the straits were people, and the ships were ghosts, and the dice were scares!’ So though the mechanics came first, all the extra bits like the dice, the favours and phobias came about because of the theme.

[GiW] What would you list as your top three favourite board games?

[TG] Lords of Waterdeep: Simple worker placement with just a smidge of luck, in an incredibly tight design.

King of Tokyo: Who doesn’t love rolling dice! Plus the awesome monster theme and the inclusiveness of this game are a winning combination. It’s been surpassed somewhat by King of New York but it’s still a cracker.

Blood Rage: Gorgeous minis, engaging gameplay and Vikings. It’s got a bit of everything, but Eric Lang’s genius has made it work.

Honourable Mention: As shown by Ghostel but I love dice, and especially games with clever ways to use dice and mitigate the randomness. Waggle Dance does this in spades with a cool, clever worker dice placement aspect. A cracking game.

[GiW] What was the best thing about running the Ghostel Kickstarter? What was the worst?

[TG] The best part for me was the engagement with the the Kickstarter community. We had several folks who just loved the idea, and just came up with their own to show their support.

It was through them that we made the solo mode for Ghostel and how we came up with names for the ghosts. I can’t remember a single negative person throughout!

The worst part came during the mid-campaign lull, known in the community as the KS valley of death!

This is the point were funding starts to slow to a crawl. The start had been so successful, but we watched the daily contributions slowly shrink to almost nothing. In fact we even had a couple of days where it went down!

That was quite disheartening, especially when several other big projects launched at the same time. We ended up getting swallowed up a bit.

[GiW] What’s next for Tinkerbot Games after Ghostel? Anything you can tease?

[TG] Well, I’m working on a spiritual successor (fnah fnah!) to Ghostel set in the Creepstone Gardens. Plus Gino and I have a project called Siphon, sort of a Tinker Tactics 2.0. It’s based on a simple dice movement game we devised as a print and play last year.

They’re a bit early days yet, but more will be revealed soon!

[GiW] If you decided to dress in costume for a convention (and money was no object), what would you dress as?

[TG] If I could go as anything? It would be a mecha pilot!

I’d go for Gundam or Armored Core. Pegging it around going ‘pew pew’ in a suit of mechanised armour with all the lights, oh my!

Don’t forget to follow Bevan @zombevan and Tinkerbot Games @tinkerbotgames. You can also catch him on the Talking Tinkerbots podcast.

Pick up a copy of Ghostel at your friendly local gaming store (FLGS).

About Jamie 33 Articles
An 80s kid trapped in the body of a 90s kid, Jamie is fond of hyperbole and tends to get excited about things. Whovian, Ravenclaw, and proud Welsh geek.