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Q&A with Dinosaur Island Designer Jonathan Gilmour

Jonathan Gilmour Interview

Dinosaur Island has been a huge hit. Designer Jonathan Gilmour is no stranger to hits, having designed Dead of Winter, and also working on the solo mode for Robin Hood and the Merry Men. I got to ask him some questions:

For those who missed out on the first campaign can you give us a run down of the game and how it works?

Sure! Dinosaur Island is a medium weight mid-atlantic (Part Euro, Part Amerithrash) game where each player runs a Theme Park and a Lab to fill that park up with Dinosaurs! You want to run the most successful park, which you will do by making Dinos, building rides, and hiring specialists.

Each phase will take you to a different board in the game, in Phase One you are using your researchers to extra DNA and develop Dinosaur Recipes. In Phase Two you are buying items from the market (Attractions, Lab Tiles, and Specialists). In Phase Three each player will simultaneously place their workers on the various lab tiles to make Dinos, build security, and do other functions of their park. Then in Phase Four players will attract visitors to their park based on their excitement, but hooligans may throw a wrench into your plans!

With Dinosaur Island having two hugely successful Kickstarter campaigns, are there any future plans for the games?

We are definitely already talking about what is next, and coming up with ideas for another expansion if we feel that they are good ideas!

Jurassic Park 3 was a bit whack. How will you avoid that on your third Dinosaur Island project?

We won't have Joe Johnston come in and design the next expansion. We'll keep the team together!

How did Duelosaur Island come about? Were the mechanics applied to the theme? Or was the plan always to create a two player version?

Ian is a designer in my local group, so he's been play-testing Dinosaur Island since the very start. After it went into production, he said "I really want to try to make a two-player game for my girlfriend and myself, do you mind if I try to make a two-player Dinosaur Island game?" I didn't have any issues with it, so I discussed with Brian, who also was fine with it. Ian came back with a really good design, so I gave him some feedback and we play-tested it a bunch before GenCon.
I asked Pandasaurus if they minded taking a look at the game, because I felt it was pretty strong, and they played it and loved it immediately. Brian and I were already working on the expansion, so we started putting together plans for how we could bring it all together at the same time.

How does Duelosaur Island maintain the same feel with seemingly different mechanics?

Ian does a great job with focusing on the experience, so he was able to pivot the mechanics with dual use cards, and a really good "You split, I choose" dice drafting mechanic. From the start he wanted to use iconic dice from Dinosaur Island, and I thought it would be cool if he had a different set of dice, and they were cross compatible. He wanted to maintain the experience of building a park, and I think he explored that nicely.

Is there any movie IP that hasn’t been used for a game so far that you would like to see or make? Personally I’d like to see a one vs all based on the original film of Westworld!

I know my friends and I have talked a bunch about how we would do a game based on the recent Westworld series. I think it would be cool to do a highly cinematic one vs many game based on John Wick.
So there you have it! Having missed out on the first campaign I'm all in for this proven game this time. You can be too by heading to the Kickstarter page.