Episode 14 of the show saw myself and Chris from Dice Hate Me pick a few of the games that have really grabbed our interest in the new year. One of the choices we both had on our lists was an interesting (if enigmatic) little title from a new start-up called Nevermore Games that went by the name of Chicken Caesar. In a bid to find out more about the game and the guys behind it, I spoke with Bryan Fischer from the company. Here’s what happened when the emails started flying…
Michael: So Bryan, could you start by telling us a little bit about you guys and a brief history of Nevermore?
M: Ha, there’s nothing better than screwing people over! I find it makes the social interaction that little bit more… entertaining! Now, you said that one of the factors in starting Nevermore was your love of creating games – have you designed much in the past?
BF: I’ve been designing games (that is: writing down concepts, designing components and testing the results) for a decade now. Inspired by games like Magic: The Gathering, it started off with small card games that played fast between two people. These games usually had a very simple central mechanic and grew from there, but even at the time I knew they weren’t the kinds of games lots of people wanted to play. Soon after, I started designing games that relied more heavily on theme. I can remember a game where you had to complete scenes on Hollywood sets by collecting sets of actors, music, scenery, etc. Ideas similar to that one exist now and probably even existed then, but for me it was a fairly original attempt at something quite different than what I was used to.
It wasn’t until I started to play games a little outside of my comfort zone that I started getting inspired to truly create unique mechanics and systems for my games. Role Playing Games played a big part in this as I tried to marry traditional pen and paper RPGs with card and board games. In time, my exposure to gateway euro games like Settlers and Carcassonne opened me up to an entirely new world of possibilities. Since then, I’ve written dozens of games that have seen some level of testing. I’ve written over another 100 or so games that haven’t seen testing at all. It’s a passion of mine to constantly create new mechanics, twists, worlds and ideas for games.
M: Nice! So, aside from Magic, are there any other games or designers that have inspired you creatively?
BF: Early on, games like Magic: The Gathering, DungeonQuest, Dungeons and Dragons, various video games and play-by-post text based games fueled my imagination for the kinds of games I wanted to create. Later on though, the euro style board game really became my central inspiration. I found myself inspired by other board games like Acquire. Lately, inspiration for making games has flooded me from almost every direction. Board games like Arkham Horror, Red Planet, and Android fulfill my need for thematic inspiration while games like Dominion, Bus and Steam serve as inspiration mechanically. In addition to games, I’m inspired largely by history, art, literature, satire, speculative fiction, and advertising. I find that the best ideas rarely come from playing another game, but from somewhere all-together unexpected.
M: That sounds like a perfect time to talk about how the concept for Chicken Caesar came to be! On the last episode of The Little Metal Dog Show, Chris K from dicehateme.com and I both reckoned it was the product of a drunken brainstorming session… But how did it actually happen?
BF: A drunken brainstorming session sounds like fun, but alas, that is not where Chicken Caesar came from. A little while ago I was working fairly seriously on a tile placement/area control game that was going quite well. I had tested its several stages over and over again, introduced it to dozens of people and even started talking to an artist, but there was something missing. What was missing was the sex appeal, that second-look (if you will). The game was solid, fairly addictive and quite good, but it lacked the first impression appeal that would get it picked up off of a shelf and purchased. The name and theme were quite bland, which (as you know) can work fine in this market. It seems at times that as long as you have a strong mechanic, all you need is the name of a European or Island city, and some illustrations of resources and you’re good to go. That being said, it wasn’t where I wanted to go, not for the first game Nevermore Games publishes.