Today we sat down with Jasn Painter and Athena Cagle, the Game Designer/Artist duo behind Loot Corps.
Their first game, DrunkQuest, is up on Kickstarter with 10 days remaining. It ends on Friday September 7th, so make sure to back their project before then! They’re currently working on stretch goals and they’ve got a ton of nice Drunk Quest swag up for grabs.
DrunkQuest is a fast paced, fantasy themed card game that’s based around a drinking mechanic. (Or, alternatively, a fantasy themed drinking game with cards and strategy.) It’s been described by playtesters as “Munchkin with booze.”
We asked Jasn and Athena about what inspired them to make DrunkQuest, their experience on Kickstarter and how to get feedback from drunken playtesters. Below you will see Mark (Perseus), Amelia (Ophelia), Jasn, and Athena.
Mark: Why don’t you guys introduce yourselves. Who you are, where you’re from, what do you do, and most importantly what’s your favorite drink?
Jasn: Well, I’m Jasn Painter. Currently, I’m doing interface design and graphics design for the casinos. And I’ve been doing that for a couple of years now. But, my passion has always been game design. I went to school for it, I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager, probably even younger. And my favorite drink is probably Blue Moon. I switched to being a beer guy a couple years ago. Before that it was Vodka and Red Bull.
Athena Cagle: I’ve been living here in Vegas for 11 years now. I’m originally from southern California. My background is in traditional art. Typically I would paint and illustrate and then I went to school for media arts and animation. To learn how to do art on the computer and learn programs and stuff like that. And that’s actually where Jasn and I met. Right now, I work as a production artist for a gaming company that makes slot machine games.
Amelia: What are some of the challenges you guys face working as a two person team?
Athena: I think our biggest challenge right now is that it’s a lot of work for just two people. We do pretty good about not fighting with each other over projects. We’ve had a few little fights here and there, but nothing damaging. I think, right now, the biggest problem is that it’s so much work that just the two of us are doing. We’re already talking about things we have to do for the Kickstarter and when we start making the list I start thinking “Oh my god, there’s only two of us to do this.”
Jasn: I know I went into the Kickstarter thinking that all the hard work had been done. The game had been made, the artwork was all finished, we playtested it to no end for months. And I was just going to click that button, sit back, and just wait. But since day one, it’s been constant answering questions, talking with the community, getting in touch with different sites to see about ad space, spreading the word about the game…
Athena: Contacting manufacturers for the things we’re giving away as gifts…
Jasn: Getting quotes on things…
Athena: I had to go through and design all the prints for the characters and the realms… Things you didn’t anticipate before the kickstarter got started.
Jasn: Going into it we thought we were only going to produce 1,000 copies of the game and see what happens after that. Maybe we’ll get 500 backers and have 500 copies to take to convention. And maybe once those are done, if it seems popular enough, maybe we’ll get another 1,000. At the rate that we’re going now we’ll have to order 2,000 right off the bat.
Mark: That’s great. So, you’re really surprised by the response you got?
Athena: Yeah we really are. I was the more hopeful one, I was like “Yeah we’re going to reach our goal!” I just thought we’d reach the $12,000 and maybe if we’re lucky we’d get some extra as a buffer. And he was really worried about it. And we were amazed at how it just kept taking off. The fact that we even made three of our stretch goals at this point? We’re so blown away. Every time we look at the Kickstarter we’re like, I can’t believe it’s taken off like this.
Jasn: And the backers have been amazing. They’ve all been talking about the game, telling their friends, posting the site places, and all that without asking anyone to do it. That’s just them wanting to do that on their own. It’s been pretty stunning for me, seeing the community form around the game and everyone kind of getting each other’s back and wanting the game to succeed.
Mark: It’s a really cool mixture of things: Drinking and gaming. We do that a lot at our games.What cause you to bring them together like this?
Athena: It’s the same exact thing you were just talking about. We would have nights at our house where we would be playing Dominion, Ascension, Munchkin or some type of game and there was always drinking involved. So we would always be sitting with our friends drinking a few beers and playing games. And Jasn came up with the idea: You know, I want to make a game that incorporates everything we do with our friends on a Saturday night.
Jasn: And from there, I actually looked it up. I thought, there’s got to be a drinking game that’s competitive and has strategy and real mechanics; A drinking game that’s a real actual game. But there wasn’t. There were drinking games that kind of toyed with the idea of being real games, and there were real games that toyed with the idea of having drinking in them, but neither genre was willing to commit to each other. So, I took it upon myself to force the two to get married and make a real drinking game with actual mechanics and strategy. DrunkQuest has drinking at its core. It’s not just a tacked on mechanic thats ignorable. It’s the fundamental goal and way to win in the game. And from there, it was just months of destroying our livers as we playtested. When the monsters started, they had really high values, and people were going six packs deep in one game.Athena: People got competitive. Instead of running away from a monster, people were like, “No I’m going to win this game!” So we had to scale back a lot.
Jasn: It’s funny, because we’ve added a feature so that you can run away from the monster or ask for help, similar to Munchkin. We put those rules in there so if the players get overwhelmed or if a monster gets 20 drinks on it, you have a way out. But to this day, not one player has used either of those two things.
Amelia: How were you able to get feedback from your playtesters considering how drunk they were getting?
Athena: It’s the next morning. Everyone wakes up and we have a talk and discuss it then.
Amelia: They remember the game?
Jasn: During the game, it’s chaos. The first few games, people really wanted to have input. All of our playtests were really vocal about “I really like this,” or “I don’t like this,” and there would be 20 to 30 minute discussions on different mechanics during the game. And they were smashed at the time, so there weren’t really well made sentences coming out–a lot of passion though. Slowly we were able to refine it and turn into something that now is playable. People get it right away. I only have to explain the rules one time and everyone jumps right in and understands it.
Mark: That’s awesome. I love simple games where you can get into them really fast.
Jasn: Yeah. You need that with a party game. You don’t want to be shouting over the rest of the party about how things work and how mechanics should play out and how different cards react to each other.
Mark: You’ve reached most of your stretch goals. You’re at $34,000 now. What do the Ability Dice do? It says you took them out of the game originally. You didn’t think they were going to make it, but now you’ve put them back in.
Jasn: The ability dice are really made for the hero abilities. So there’s a green and a red. A plus and minus. And getting custom dice made was pretty expensive. It wasn’t something that we were going to be able to go into. Especially since each box needs six custom dice times 1,000 copies. 6,000 dice was not going to be cheap. So I said we could do this with a d6 and it would work just the same. It’s a little more cumbersome since you’re remembering 1-3 and 4-6, so on and so forth.
Athena: We wanted the game to be affordable.
Jasn: And we wanted it to make its goal. But now bringing back those dice kind of play into a few different things. We have some boss monsters and we had ideas for just regular monster creatures and treasures that would use those dice. We took those out thinking we were just going to have to sacrifice them for now to get the game made, but now that we’ve reached the goals, we’re going to make those dice, include them in every box and bring those mechanics back into the game.
Athena: On the Kickstarter page, there’s an example of one of our hero cards. At the bottom of the hero card is where the abilities are. You’ll notice that there’s a plus sign and a minus sign. And those are the two different abilities you do. When you’re fighting a monster you can either play an action on it or use your hero abilities. And that’s where the dice come in. So, you roll a plus or a minus and whatever effect you land on, that’s what you do to the monster or another player.
Amelia: In the video you talked about what constitutes a drink in the context of Drunk Quest, but I wasn’t really clear on it. Is it a sip or a shot?
Athena: It’s more like a sip. We don’t want people guzzling down beers. Maybe, have two or three beers or whatever you’re drinking and walk away from one game not completely trashed, just feeling pretty good. It’s like taking a regular drink, but you count it out. The way we’ve been doing it is when I go to drink my beer people are like “1…2…3…4″ (Kind of like counting seconds). They count the drinks out or you can just do individual drinks.
Athena: Those are usually guys…
Jasn: They are very hardcore players. Generally, there’s 24 drinks in a beer and we found on average people usually drink 2.5 to 3.5 for the entirety of a game. We’ve been running with a house rule where if you end up getting 24 drinks stacked on you. Was it 24 or 14?
Athena: I think it’s 20 or over, something like that.
Jasn: You can do a shot instead of counting out the drinks.
Athena: If you drink shots. I’m not a shot drinker so I’ve never followed that rule.
Jasn: The other house rule that’s kind of turned up happened after we had a young lady who used wine during the game. She wanted a handicap. Before I could address her question, the rest of the table was like, “You pick your poison. You knew coming into this what it was about.” She did not do very well at that game. She learned her lesson, because the next game it was mixed drinks all the way.
Athena: We figured with the drink count we’re definitely giving the suggestions as counting them as sips for the drinks. But it’s ultimately going to be up to how everybody at the house or whatever party you’re at.
Jasn: Some groups of friends are crueler than others.
Mark: Are you guys planning on having any of the house rules in the game ruleset as optional things. Or maybe on your website somewhere?
Jasn: Yeah. I’d like to add them. I’ve also got rules for tournament play where there would be a couple different games going on. And the winners from those games would get a special set of cards and they would need to play a final game. I want to include those on the site as optional downloadable add-ons to the game.
Mark: You’ve also said on the kickstarter page that your first expansion was going to be Transylvania. What made you choose Transylvania as your first expansion pack?
Athena: When we first started the game, we had brainstormed ideas for the different hero types. Things like vampires and werewolves mixed in with the other stuff. At first we were going to make 12-15 hero cards. I don’t know why. We were so overzealous about it. We cut it down to the core 8 we wanted to do for the fantasy element, and we decided that we would do an expansion pack, but we would do it more themed. The werewolf was going to be in that expansion pack, so that’s why we ended up going with the Transylvania theme. That way, we could do things like necromancers and witches and things like that. That’s pretty much how it came to be. We also had another idea, because we were going to have a pirate and a samurai. We wanted to have a bunch of different types of characters to choose from. We were thinking after the darker expansion pack, we would do one that Jasn has named 90 Proof Seas with sea monsters and stuff like that.
Jasn: Actually, what we decided a day or so ago is once we hit around $35,000, which is probably going to happen soon, we’re going to put the two expansions with the logos up and let the backers decide which one they want to see first. So if they want to see the pirate and sea themed one, we’ll do 90 proof sea. Or we’ll do the other one, which is called The Wasted Lands and that’s the kind of gothic themed one.
Athena: We’re going to let them vote so they can decide which one they would rather see.
Mark: That’s awesome. You guys have this planned out way ahead.
Jasn: We actually have our ideas for two new mechanics for each of the expansions. I don’t know if I’m going to put them in the description or not or just let people choose a theme. There’s one brand new mechanic for each of the expansions that add to the game.
Athena: That way you’re not just getting an expansion that’s acting like a booster pack. It’s like another game that’s bringing in some new gameplay mechanics.
Mark: I know that you guys aren’t done with the Drunk Quest kickstarter. You still have 10 days to go, but do you guys have plans after Drunk Quest? Are there any other games you’ve been working on for years that you want to bring on after Drunk Quest?
Jasn: We do. We actually have plans for a few different games. Some of them don’t involve alcohol. There are a few different ideas. We were trying to decide which one of those was most unique. We didn’t want to come up with something that was a copy of something else. We didn’t want to look at a game and say “Let’s do that and just add one mechanic”. We want something that doesn’t really exist in the market now. So, we’re looking at the different ideas we’ve come up with and we’ll decide from there which one we’ll do. But yeah, we’d like to make this into a real company and come up with a product line of different games. They’ll all probably be with RPG elements. That’s just kind of how I design. I really like leveling.
Athena: Jasn is a big fan of the RPG elements. Like he said, he’s been designing on his own since he was a kid. He has a black sketchbook that is just full of game ideas. Every time we give him an idea for a game he sits down and writes down a description for it in that book. Right now since we’re just so inundated with the Drunk Quest stuff, we haven’t really sat down and decided what the game will be. We’ve bounced around ideas here and there, but we don’t let ourselves get too involved with talking about it because we want to stay focused on this. We want to make sure this gets done first and the expansion gets done. We’re going to decide from there between a couple of the ideas that we feel strongest about.
Jasn: My big worry is that making Drunk Quest will somehow typecast us as “those guys that made that drinking game,” so if we tried to make something a little more epic, a little more hardcore. People would be like “Oh, those people just make drinking games. They should stick with what they know.”
Athena: Which is funny because we were very casual drinkers… Before this we were.
Jasn: Before this.
Athena: Yeah, we would drink a couple times a month with our friends here and there. Then we just went on a run of just drinking every weekend for a little while and that’s when Jasn came up with the game idea. We don’t want to be typecast as just making drinking games. We have a bunch of ideas we’d like to put out there.
Jasn: Hopefully with Athena’s distinct art style–and she’s able to do a variety of art styles–along with my mechanics, we’re able to differentiate ourselves as a company that can stand with some of the bigger ones that have high paid artists and high paid designers. And that don’t need to worry about production values.
Mark: And the company name is Loot Corps?
Jasn: Yep, Loot Corps.
Mark: Well, I think that’s all the questions we have for you. Thank you for coming!
Athena: Thank you for having us.
Mark: Have a good night!