We caught up with Laurie Blake the creator of Pugs in Mugs, to find out what it’s like to build your very own board game!
Tell Us A Little Bit About Yourself
I’m Laurie Blake, the lead designer at Stop, Drop & Roll Games Studio. I design immersive and thematic games and RPGs and try to help others do the same wherever I can. I’ve been designing board games for six years, but only recently entered the publishing world. So, thanks for having me!
What Made You Want To Enter The Board Game Industry?
Board games have always been an important feature in my life, having been playing them with my family practically since birth, so my creative inclinations naturally started to drift towards board game design after many years of writing and creating homebrew TTRPGs for my gaming group!
I kept having ideas that just didn’t quite work in any other style, whether that was written prose or roleplay systems, and I had a lot of fun working on them. I later started looking into taking them further, and it was incredibly daunting at first, entering into an industry I’d only ever been a part of from the player-side. It’s not like I was picked up by someone who had experience, I just sort of dived right in - head first!
Your First Published Game Was Pugs In Mugs, An Adorable Family Friendly Take-that Style Card Game. How Did You Find Running The Kickstarter For This Game As A Newbie To The Industry?
To put it blankly, our first Kickstarter for Pugs in Mugs failed. We made rookie errors and it tanked! But we didn’t take it as a loss, we looked at it as a challenge. There are so many successful Kickstarters every day, and some of them just make it look too easy! But we regrouped, retooled, fixed our mistakes, and spent time building our audience before relaunching.
The relaunch was better instantly, our first day raised what our whole previous campaign had over two weeks. As a newbie to the industry, I used this as a great chance to make connections. We made friends with the folks who ran our local game days, spoke to reviewers across the globe, asked Kickstarter-veterans for advice etc. I hadn’t realised just how important these connections would be. It was a lot to take in, and we adjusted our campaign based on what we were learning as we went.
What Are The Most Important Lessons You Have Learned From This Process So Far?
Despite the urge to keep everything hidden until you are ready to launch, it is paramount to share your project as it evolves! Unlike most other creative industries, where it seems WIPs are frowned upon… Those in the board gaming world are extra hyped to see something grow and change and evolve. That’s one of the biggest mistakes we made with Pugs in Mugs. We came in with a finished project and had no idea how to market it!
Another important lesson is to always search for more advice! Speak to anyone who will listen in this industry, as the advice out there is all very contradictory. The more people you talk to, the more you’ll get a feel for what advice is sound, and what is an assumption. Take it slow, build your audience, make connections with those in the industry, and most importantly… Playtest! Playtest as your game depends on it because it does!
You Were The Developer For Pugs In Mugs, How Did You Find This Role As Opposed To Being The Designer?
Pugs in Mugs was designed by a close friend of ours, Stuart Lawrence, and we loved the game he’d come up with. Being a developer took a very different eye - focusing on what made the game shine, and what bogged it down. The first game we played ran for four hours! Refining that down so it fit the right audience, streamlining the gameplay where possible, took time and a lot of playtests! But we got there, and it’s something we’re all so proud to have been a part of.
Are There Any Elements Of Pugs In Mugs That You Will Use Again In Future Stop, Drop And Roll Games?
Absolutely! The mischief cards in Pugs in Mugs bring an extra level of cheekiness to the game, and we would love to bring that to future games. Take that mechanics are so popular among gamers of all ages, and a well-crafted “aha!” moment is something that goes down well with everyone.
Have You Got Any Future Games In Development You Would Like To Tell Us About?
Our most recent Kickstarter, Earth Rising, is taking up a lot of our time as we are currently polishing it up to make sure it is 100% ready for production, but otherwise… We do have a third game in the works.
Our third game is going back to our roots a bit, as it will be a smaller card game based around cute and ridiculous critters. The working title is Hedge Hopping Hooligans, and the aim of the game is to use your team of four urban animals to build the BEST catapult and send your team flying to victory! We will be playtesting this in the new year and sharing prototype art and updates on our social media.
Where Can We Keep Up To Date With What You’re Doing?