As part of our preview of Wreck and Ruin we interviewed DreamBigGames founder and developer Mark McKinnon on his inspiration and the development process. Enjoy.
- How long have you been making/ interested in making games for?
I hadn’t planned to make a game, I had reached a point where I was fed up playing the ps4 but had nobody to play board games with so I started writing just for fun. That was about 2 years ago. I think every gamer has ideas, I just took the next step.
- What inspired you to make Wreck and Ruin?
Playing too much Fallout 4! I enjoyed the exploration side but wanted to be able to explore the wasteland quicker so vehicles were born. The idea came from a crazy dream I had one night, and when I woke up I just started writing furiously.
- Why post apocalypse? What makes you passionate about the genre?
I love any fiction that involves nature reclaiming the earth once we are gone – something that is both familiar and alien at the same time. Enslaved, the Last of Us, I am legend – I love all that stuff. There’s something about dystopian futures that somehow shows the true nature of man.
- What do you think makes it unique compared to other games in the genre?
FLAME PEGS!!! Seriously though, the game was designed for maximum replayability, but offer a skirmish game in a smaller, cheaper self-contained set. Also being quick to set up and tear down, it breaks the barrier between boardgame and skirmish game.
- What is your favourite mechanic? Why?
CRASH AND BURN!!! When a vehicle is destroyed it shouldn’t just stop – it was moving at high speed when it was wrecked so it only makes sense that it would keep going. The chance that it can career into another vehicle though: enemy or friendly, makes what should be an “aaaw, I’m dead” action into a “I can’t believe that just happened!” moment that people have a laugh about and will remember. When everyone erupts around the table, those kind of moments make you feel you’ve done something right as a designer.
- What was the hardest part of the game design wise?
The hardest thing to represent was to give the vehicles their sense of size and weight. The system I have now is simple but took a while to get there. It was only through playtesting that previous versions had to be binned.
- Was the game difficult to balance? Do you think it is fully balanced?
Yeah, it’s one of the hardest parts of game design I think. All players need to have an equal chance of winning and I believe I have balanced it as much as I can. I believe all the cards are equally powerful, although they may not always be equally useful for your situation. Improvements to balance I have made are a global event draw that affects each player in turn when it was previously a dice roll at the start of each player’s turn to draw a new one. This could result in 3 players benefiting from a nice card only for the 4th player to draw a new one which hampered them. This could seriously affect balance so it was removed from the core experience, although it does make an appearance as an advanced rule in the book as I love an element of unpredictability even if it can be unfair.
- What is your favourite unit/ faction to play?
Would you believe that I haven’t played every combination myself? When I’m demoing I take whatever faction is left. I can tell you that the Ruin Army and Desertkin are firm favourites with the wasteland warriors out there! Unit wise I love using the wrecker – it looks cool with a huge metal skull as battering ram, plus there’s nothing more satisfying than ramming another vehicle out the way!
- How much tactics do you believe is required for the game?
I think there is an element of tactics involved with where you decide to move and who you decide to attack, but not so much so that it leads to analysis paralysis. Players tend to already know what they are planning to do that turn before it comes round, and even if something interrupts that there is always another option. Being tactically minded will definitely help, but I don’t think it gives such an advantage that those players are unbeatable.
- What made you choose the factions you did?
After I created the world for the game, I began thinking of the people who would live in it and what they would have to endure in the bleak wasteland. It’s difficult to try and come up with something that hasn’t been done before, either intentionally or not but wanted the factions to be identifiable to players so they would definitely have one that they would want to play. Coming up with faction powers that matched them was the hard part.
- What made you want to take it to Kickstarter?
I had worked on the project so long and with no prior experience, so it only felt right to see it through to the very end. I’m a big supporter of Kickstarter myself and a great believer in what it represents – the ability for anyone with an idea to be able to turn that into something real: an opportunity that perhaps would not exist any other way. It’s all about community and engagement, which is what I love about boardgames!
- What are your plans for the game if the Kickstarter falls through?
Regroup and try again. As much as I love the platform it also has its flaws in that projects that fund well fund REALLY well, and people that don’t see that are quick to pull out which can be a bit draining on the emotions. I love extras as much as the next person but before I back a project I accept that I would be happy with the core product. I haven’t backed out a project yet 😊
- Who do you think the game will appeal to most?
People who love thematic games, miniatures, those who like playing wargames but don’t have the time or money to buy into another system – it ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people. Making the game as replayable as possible to make it value for money has always been a major focus for me.
- What are your plans for the future of Wreck and Ruin?
Ooh, what plans don’t I have? I want players to be able to create their own scenarios with the box contents, and I would like to support this by creating new ways of playing the game. I’ve started working on campaign rules and an experience system so that vehicles can get better at what they do best – as long as they stay alive! I have ideas for new scenarios with new tiles, new factions and new vehicles, although I’ve been concentrating on getting the core game out there first before I go too crazy. I plan to keep adding to the game for as long as I can think up new and exciting additions, and my head is full of them at the moment so watch this space 😊