Foodfighters is a game currently seeking funding on Kickstarter and it’s by Joshua and Helaina Cappel. Joshua is well known for his amazing artwork in games like Belfort and Scoville. Helaina founded Kids Table Board Gaming to create a place where kids’ creativity is at the core.
With children of my own I know that I want them to find paths on which to be creative and perhaps board gaming and design will be one of those paths. For now, since they are little, that path begins with fun and engaging games, like Foodfighters.
Today I’m posting an interview with Joshua and Helaina about this great project, Kids Table, and some other random things. Here are some helpful links to get you started:
Boards & Barley (B&B): Hello Joshua and Helaina. Thanks for joining me for this blog post. Can you point the readers to where they might learn more about each of you as well as FoodFighters?
Helaina Cappel (HC): Thanks Ed!
Joshua Cappel (JC): Yeah thanks, nice to be here. We stayed at your family’s hotel chain a few nights ago, great stuff. Although mentioning your name at the desk didn’t translate to a discount. You should look into that.
B&B: Unfortunately I don’t get a discount at “my” hotels either despite my name being all over them! What are your kids’ favorite games? What are your favorite games?
JC: Our kids (boys aged 6 and 3) are particularly enamoured with Cockroach Poker. It’s the most-requested game in the house and it has spread amongst their friends. They also enjoy Gulo Gulo, Loopin’ Louie, Gobblet Gobblers, and a number of my own designs including Rescue Rockets (due out this year from Z-man Games), River Runners (prototype I’m shopping around) and of course Foodfighters!
HC: There actually isn’t a day that goes by that our kids don’t ask to play something (thank goodness – Josh and I were hoping our kids would enjoy gaming as much as we do). I just hope, every time they ask for a game, that it is a game that we will enjoy playing as well. As much as I hate to admit it, there’s a bit of Chutes & Ladders in the mix, along with the games Josh mentioned.
JC: Grrr, Chutes & Ladders. Every time we play it I enter a silent rage inside. Not even so much as a game designer, but as a game artist. So many things wrong with this. More than one pawn doesn’t physically fit in the same space! The board layout is a grid even though the topography is a path… there’s no reason that space 9 should be touching space 12, but it does… little kids never know whether they’re going left or right or up or down, and some smarter visual design would have improved this so easily.
B&B: (Note to self: Don’t mention Chutes and Ladders around Josh.) Can you give us all a little bit of the Foodfighters origin story? Where did the idea come from and how long have you been working on it?
JC: Foodfighters began as a totally different game; a semi-abstract game called Shutri. I designed it over a decade ago and although it was a favourite among friends, it was a weird duck to pitch to publishers. Generally publishers don’t go for abstracts, and generally abstract-game fans don’t like dice-rolling. Helaina insisted that the game was worth pursuing though, and eventually convinced me to add a theme and beef up the gameplay accordingly. No pun intended.
HC: You are hysterical Josh! Yes, I loved Shutri from the beginning. It was engaging and fun for us to play one on one (I haven’t always been a big fan of two-player games). But there was something that was lacking. As the game evolved, so too did the fun factor, as well as the depth and complexity of the gameplay. When Foodfighters emerged, it became even more engaging, therefore easier to “sell” to people, and in terms of replayability.
B&B: What are some of the highlights or lowlights of running your own Kickstarter campaign? Were there any surprises?
JC: The highlights for me have been working with Helaina on this project, and discovering the unbelievable support we’ve gotten from our family and friends. Truly it’s humbling. The lowlight has been the unforeseen stress and difficulty of running a 30-day campaign; when your game doesn’t fund in 40 minutes like we all fantasize will happen, it can turn into a real grind. We keep discovering things we wish we could go back in time and change, but we can’t. Our strategy has been to keep consistently asking questions and listening to the answers; trying to adapt our campaign so that our existing backers stay happy and get more for their pledges, and so that we can appeal to new crowds of potential supporters.
HC: I, too, have enjoyed working on the Foodfighters campaign with Josh. I think we make a really great team. I am taken aback by the outpouring of support we have experienced over the last few weeks. Not just from our friends and family, but from people who are genuinely excited about this project. I have met so many people who are interested in what I am doing, specifically for the reasons I am doing it; I want to make great games that are engaging for kids and adults.
I was told, before this campaign began, that I would be on the edge of my seat for every second it is live. That is a complete understatement. The campaign has totally enveloped me. I didn’t realize how little sleep I would get, and that while I am sleeping, I would still be working on Foodfighters in my dreams.
B&B: What makes Foodfighters unique? Why should people back it?
JC: There are a few things that make Foodfighters unique. In gameplay terms, there is the thought-bubble system which clearly shows players which target a fighter is interested in attacking. This creates an interesting demand for the player to simultaneously behave offensively and defensively. The no bad results on the dice is a cool twist too… players want to roll splats when they attack, but if they miss, then the dice show Beans which the player collects. Beans are the game’s money, so you use them to buy cool stuff to improve your fighters. This is how we turned a “bad” thing into a “good” thing… players are sometimes actually happier when they miss!
People should back Foodfighters for the gameplay, but also for what Kids Table is trying to achieve with it; I’ll let Helaina talk about that though.
HC: Foodfighers is a game that is engaging for adults and kids. I want to make games for smart kids to play with their smart parents, and I want them to LOVE what they are playing. Game play should be engaging, and, there should be some aspect of strategy that can be managed by kids. Games that have a strategic component help kids to learn a great deal about gaming, and about life.
B&B: I love your artwork style, Joshua, especially for Belfort. Regarding Belfort, which of the easter eggs hidden on the board was your favorite to draw?
JC: Thanks! Belfort started my ongoing tradition of sneaking easter eggs into game art. There’s actually a Belfort reference hidden in your Scoville! I think my favourite one to draw was probably the Alien Scout ship (from the first TMG game I did art for, Terra Prime) being disassembled in the courtyard of one of the blacksmiths. There’s a crowd of onlookers, and wizards trying to figure it out while Gnomes and Dwarves pry panels off with crowbars. It’s a fun scene and it’s so tiny and pretty obscure. I’m sure people scanning the board for fun stuff like that had a tough time trying to figure out exactly what the reference was, ha!
B&B: Tasty Minstrel Games mentioned a Foodfighters-Scoville Crossover in a Scoville KS update and on Twitter. Can you mention anything about that?
JC: I can. The Foodfighters-Scoville crossover is a new fightin’ Hot Pepper Faction inspired by Scoville (Habanero, Jalapeño, and Phantom Pepper), with unique art and special team powers! Kickstarter backers will get access to a high-quality print n’ play of the faction so that they can mix up their game with these spicy fellows!
HC: I was so excited to introduce the Foodfighters-Scoville Crossover. It just seemed so natural as a crossover. It turned out to be adorable. We’re hearing some great chatter about it.
B&B: Helaina, I think Kids Table is awesome. What are some of your longterm plans with the company? Are there more games in the future?
HC: Thanks so much Ed! I think it’s pretty awesome also! When I began Kids Table I started with an after school program. The goal of this progam is to have kids learn about games (mechanics and theme) while they play. After several weeks, they design their own games, going through several rounds of playtesting, finally coming up with a prototype, rules, and a sell sheet. I LOVE this! It is the most fun I have with kids (other than my own, of course), all week.
But I also want to publish smart games for kids because there aren’t enough choices out there. Yes, this means that there will be other games down the road. And I don’t want to specifically publish Josh’s games either. When this Kickstarter campaign is over, I will be looking for my next game.
B&B: Thanks so much to both of you for joining me. I wish you the best on the rest of the campaign.
JC: Thanks, Ed! Only a few days left and we are bumping up against 90% funded! I think we can do it, but it’s going to be a nailbiter!
HC: Thanks so much Ed! And readers, don’t forget to play with your food!
B&B: Thanks, everyone, for reading this interview and for checking out the campaign for Foodfighters. As a reminder to all of you here are some links where you can find out more about the Kids Table and the Foodfighters campaign: