Happy 2017 and welcome to another Micro Chat! With the start of the new year, it comes with a new change at Button Shy, we now have switched over to quarterly Kickstarters - with each Kickstarter made up of 3 different wallet games - which means 3 different micro chats this month! Our first Micro Chat of January is with Rob Cramer on Turbo Drift.
Button Shy's first racing game, Turbo Drift, where your table becomes a 1980's era Japanese Mountain Pass race course. Draft cards, avoid obstacles, pass the finish line! Turbo Drift is a real-space racing game for 2-4 players that takes 30 minutes to play. Players will take turns picking 1,2,or 3 path cards from a grid to navigate their cars closer to the goal card. Once per game, they can go turbo, using all of the cards in the grid to drive. The first player to cross the finish line wins!
Hey Rob, thanks for joining us. Could you share some about the story behind the creation of Turbo Drift?
Rob: Turbo Drift came from taking a game I love, putting it in a pot to boil, and letting it simmer down to only its essential parts. A few years ago, I came across a little game called Techno Witches while looking through a thrift store. It is a cute game about witches and wizards riding vacuums instead of broomsticks, racing each other or playing Keep Away with a black cat. Turbo Drift came out of stripping away as much from Techno Witches as I could. Could I make it by using cards instead of cardboard? How many obstacles is too few? But I didn't want to copy Techno Witches, I wanted to make a new game. Turbo Drift is that game.
What makes this different from Techno Witches? If you already have that game why would you still want this game?
Rob: There's a handful of changes that help make sure that nobody is really out of the race at any time. Players can get boosts by driving close to barriers, there's a rotating first player, and if you are really desperate, you can drive twice as fast as you normally could once per game by using Turbo. There's consequences to all of these actions, but they can turn things around if you plan correctly.
Turbo Drift is much more portable than a full fledged board game since it's only 18 cards. It's a real-space racing game that fits in your back pocket! I think that's pretty neat.
What was the toughest part of designing Turbo Drift?
Rob: Honestly, it was just getting over my fear of playtesting. I can make dozens of prototypes, but if nobody else plays them, they are worthless. I had to set aside my anxiety and actually get the game to table in order to see the real issues. Luckily, my coworkers are really cool and they were more than happy to give me feedback on the game. I'm still working on reducing the time from idea to playtesting, but now I know I have people ready to help me out.
What has been the biggest lesson you learned in designing Turbo Drift?
Rob: I learned that sometimes two different problems can be solved with a single solution. Techno Witches and Turbo Drift both suffered from a first player advantage. If you were earlier in the turn order, you usually won if you didn't mess up too bad. Another problem in Turbo Drift was that choosing to move more precisely meant that you were moving slowly and players rarely chose that option. But Jason Tagmire suggested that those that choose only 1 card on their turn could choose the first player in the next round. It made choosing 1 card enticing and spread the first player advantage around. It was such a simple addition that changed the game entirely. We were looking at so many different solutions, but the best one turned out to be the simplest.
As we wrap this up, is there anything else you would like to share or say?
Rob: Turbo Drift is my first published game, but I certainly hope it isn't my last! The journey to get to this point has been eye-opening and I have a much deeper respect for other game designers out there. I have a lot to learn from them, but I hope I can teach a thing or two as well. Thanks for the interview!
Thank you, Rob for taking time out to do this interview.