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Thundergryph Games: Gonzalo Aguirre Bisi Interview

I recently spoke with Thundergryph Games' Gonzalo Aguirre Bisi about their upcoming board games and how to create your very own Kickstarter campaign.

Hello thanks for taking the time out to talk to me today. Can you tell me how you got into making games and what were your main influences?

Thanks for having me Martyn!

I grew up playing games like Donkey Kong and Zelda and I thought I wanted to be a game developer to make amazing games like those. After I finished my studies I enrolled in a university, and after a couple of years working for a video game company I opened mine.

During my time in the industry, the video game market changed very drastically starting from the social games on Facebook to the mobile game apps, so as a little company we focused on what we had, and without adapting completely to the new platforms, we started thinking about new solutions that would last in time.

Then, one day, I had what I like to call my board game epiphany. To me, until that time, board games were only Monopoly, Risk! or a fun memory of playing hungry hippos as a kid, but the board game industry is humongous!

I was browsing YouTube when I found the Tabletop show with Will Wheaton on Geek & Sundry’s YouTube channel. They were playing Small World and I got so hooked to that game idea, with the extinction of each race and all the strategy involved. I was in love, I started looking for other types of games and I found there were plenty of them, from bluffing to storytelling and even push-your-luck games!

I kid you not, my life changed completely. I remember waking up, making coffee and sitting in front of my PC watching and reading many types of games before starting my working day. I started selling my video game collection and started buying board games of different types and categories.

With every year that passed, my will to join the board game industry was becoming bigger, and this is the reason why I’m doing this now. Thundergryph is my passionate attempt to join the business of my favourite hobby ever.

What are some of your favourite games and designers?

That’s a very hard question. There’s way too many games I enjoy very much, but if I had to choose I would prefer to play a game of bluffing or worker placement. Two of the games I always love to bring to the table at any time are Coup and Istanbul, but with the industry releasing more than one thousand new titles each year, my favourites list is getting really big.

Your first game was Overseers and then you made Tao Long. Both were hugely successful, were you expecting this kind of success?

To be completely honest, in both cases our business plan was definitively more conservative. I’m so thankful to our community and our backers, everyone is so supportive and kind with us!

Your latest game, Dead Mans Doubloons, was very different to your previous offerings and I am really excited to play it. Where you happy with how the Kickstarter went?

I’m absolutely happy about how it went. Dead Man’s Doubloons is the perfect gateway game to play with non-gamers but with interesting choices to appeal to more experienced players too. Creating the world and the captains that live in it was an extraordinary experience for us and we really hope to keep creating content and new games in the same universe.

If you could go back to any one of your campaigns and change something which one would it be and why?

Kickstarter is always a gamble. You may work as hard as you can but you will figure out what people think about it once you go live. I really would not change anything we have done so far. Sometimes you really take treasure of a lesson after you get something wrong and I think that part of the learning curve is to make mistakes.

I don’t see myself as a Kickstarter Advisor, there are many very interesting blogs that are really helpful, but the cliché “You don’t have to launch today” is so true. To all the new Kickstarter creators that want to take this road: be sure to read, to talk with other creators and to share your page before going live to any KS Facebook groups out there. You will earn knowledge and an incredible group of friends too.

Looking to the future what can we expect to see from Thundergryph Games?

The future is so exciting! We are working on six different titles at the moment and there is nothing harder that not being able to share your excitement before the proper time. We aim to launch five new different titles each year, starting in 2018.

Today we are announcing a new line of games called Play&Go. Small boxes with deluxe components that will retail for 14,95€. One of them being Pot de Vin (a fast-paced trick taking game) and Spirits of the Forest, a beautiful abstract-like game from Michael Schacht that will launch on Kickstarter on October 17.... with a gorgeous Unknown Lands edition!!

I have noticed you are very active and open on social media do you think this has anything to do with your success?

We love this industry and we love our community. Spending time talking with everyone that shares our passion it is always a pleasure.

I’m sure that being open, sincere and communicative really helps on establishing a good relationship with the customers, but in this case it has always been very natural and easy-going, like talking to a group of friends, and that’s priceless.

What advice would you give to any aspiring designers out there?

Passion, time and dedication is all you need. Test your games as much as possible and be sure to present them to a Publisher you think would like it. Be organised and clean with your prototype. You are selling your idea and a good polished prototype will help.

Don’t be nervous to reach out to a publisher, we are just big kids.

Wow a really good look into Gonzalo’s experience and how he sees this industry. He also gives some solid advice to newbies. The bit I like is when he says he hopes to bring more to the Dead Man’s Doubloons universe!!! Expansion or add-ons?? I can’t wait.