We came across an interesting kickstarter recently called Endgame: Day Zero, a post apocalyptic rpg (think we were still on a buzz from The Morrow Project). Endgame: Day Zero is a role playing adventure set in a post apocalyptic world that is a sci-reality/edutainment approach to gaming.
We coaxed Sloane Hucker, one of the two men behind this, out of his zombie proof Caffeinated Chaos Studios bunker to have a chat with us.
1-So Caffeinated Chaos Studios? There sounds like there's a story behind that name. what brought you folks together and how did the name come about!
I thought it was a great name considering most of us gamers practically live off of caffeinated beverages so why not and of course an overdose of caffeine (and sugar) leads to chaos of all sorts.
2-With endgame it was a story and now a game? Or the story got put on hold to develop a game? How, why and when did your thinking take you from an apocalypse novel to the rather grand plans for this adaptive RPG?
My rationale on this, there are (were and is) so many science fiction novels. Mine would just be another. I really like table top gaming and some of the games my friends and I have played are getting stale. People knew too much and could recite page numbers that material was on.... kinda crazy but true. Besides a role playing game not only allowed me to really detail out some events, equipment, weapons and vehicles, it also allowed people to play with these items, I know only in paper form but never the less entertaining.
3-Love the concept pitched on kickstarter of multiple options re the disaster? Tell us a little bit about that. Is it simply a list of options or does it go deeper into the mechanics of the game?
Well If you have one major disaster, it might not be just that disaster that can kill you but everything you have to cope with afterwards, for example needing shelter, food and water that is not contaminated in some way (which could be biological or irradiated). You might have to deal with a lot of desperate people. Some that might not be so nice and want to take what little you own or possibly dealing with what I call the cascade effect. This is where many other things can, and probably would, go wrong for example: Biological contaminates get loose infecting people, the event changes the map as we know it, vehicles and or electronics do not work anymore, everything might be under water or starting to flood because the dam broke up river. the ice caps melted or the weather has changed because of a polar shift. alongside tons of little mini disastrous events after the big one. The Games Master can add many after events as he or she see fit.
4- "may contain useful survival tips" so come on chaps, is this a game or survival guide to the end of days here? Are we going to hopefully see a system that tries to resemble the strains, stresses and risks of the real world environment? And does that mean a complex system for character generation and dice rolls?
I'm no Bear Grylls but Yes! I really wanted to add some survival education to the game, simple things but never the less useful like what plants you can eat, what plants might be good for pain reduction or keeping a wound clean and free of infection. How to trap animals and catch fish, how to organize and defend yourself against attacks or even conduct an ambush. Some of these are right from the Boy Scout manual others from you typical Army field manuals. You will also see some form of a mechanic that allows players to resist or be affected by their environment. If you have seen the AMC series "The Walking Dead" you can see how the characters change from season one until the present. That's what I'm talking about.
5- We are liking the sound of the Tools tables for players to use. Tell us a little bit more about that aspect as it sounds quite interesting?
Many RPG's have a long list of items including firearms, military vehicles, body armor and what not. But one perspective of the game is how would a regular guy like you or I deal with the possible hostilities of those who want to take what we have? What could we do with a pile of scrap metal nuts and bolts, maybe some welding equipment? Or better yet what could we salvage or scavenge for? So I wanted to design a tool that a player could reference and work from say a regular vehicle and modify it to their particular situation and needs. We keep the restrictions simple mostly dealing with weight and availability of materials and or items. A simple availability system of common, moderate, uncommon or rare. Most of the items in the game will be marked as such. Your Games Master determines if you can create something prior to the global event or afterwards, you may have to go on an adventure for them, scrounge them, take by force steal or barter for them.
6- Creatively then, has there been a big shift from the story idea that you began with to the game you now have or can you still see the seeds in there yourself? Also how did play testing go, was there much change through that process? And as 'daddy' was it easy to take on board the various points and amendments that cropped up?
We played with the major plot line of the Novel but I wanted to offer a multitude of world ending events for the gamers. This way they choose what is more plausible to them and then game through the rougher shock wave events. Afterwards the original idea will be a book in its own and stem off into additional sci-fi game play.
Play testing! I wish I had time to play! Really it has been quite an eye opening experience when trying to market a kickstarter. With such a crowd funded project I feel like I should have gone to school for my marketing degree before this. But to get back on track the final game testing will not be until we have the full line of equipment fleshed out, then when the book is in final draft and all is polished to a semi gloss we can play through the full mechanics of the book.
I can tell you from experience I do not want the players or GM to have to memorize a huge set of rules or need a scientific calculator to sort dice rolls the D20 and a 1d100 or two ten siders will be you friend or enemy though the game. So far the issues with any stray items have not been much of a hurdle usually we sort though any oddities that come up.
7- Right now, should kickstarter not hit the grade this time round, what's the next plan for CCS. Will it be Try, Try and Try again? Equally should Lady Luck grant you good fortune what does that mean for Caffeinated Chaos Studios?
I have multiple book and game ideas in my mind and if we took a hit by not getting the funding we need, it would,well, ....suck :) But you have to go for it. While I thought kickstarter was mostly for us little guy start ups I see many professionals here with a big budget. Some do outstanding marketing and I can see they are earning an amazing amount of funding.
We would like to play on the same level but let's be realistic, we all have to start somewhere. As for the Gamers they are sometimes a critical bunch! They want to see tons of amazing professional art with Hot, large breasted gun welding chicks, (of course the girls wanna see studly guys) lots of wiz bang heavy sci-fi story lines and, sometimes, really unbelievable concepts. (We really like that stuff too! except for the studly guy part).
However, I wanted this first book to be a sci-reality guide of sorts, mostly realistic for those that want to take things seriously but add a reasonable amount of sci-fi seasoning to the stew to make the other side happy too. We have plans past the core book with sci-fi focus in mind. You can see we do have an extensive list of additional books and or modules to work on next, I'd be worried if we didn't and maybe we should have outlined some of that in kickstarter too, so that people know we're not a one shot wonder.
8- What's been the big difficulties and challenges in the project this far? And how have you adapted to overcome them? Funding, marketing and finding the right artist(s).
Pretty much in that order. As for funding we are doing everything on a beer and pizza budget. now, that's not supreme pizza, more like a one topping pizza which is just cheese and really cheap beer or caffeine laced soda. Marketing has been started mostly by posting in a few forums where you would find most gamers hanging out and we placed a banner ad up on table top gaming news which might pop up any day now. The last part which is finding the right artists have been a challenge. Mostly what I found and like is not realistic when it comes to the budget at the minimum kickstarter amount, 50% of the budget would go to the art as quoted by a few artists that I have contacted... Unlike some RPG's, I wanted to really promote the art in the book by honoring the artist with a page of their own in the core book and any others that follow (and of course on our website) I think they should get a huge amount of credit for making the concepts come to life so they can be shared visually by the fans.
9-Obviously the activity on Kickstarter and Facebook will raise the profile on the game, so what or just how much can potential fans get there hands on now. Is there a demo or sampler for the system, are you looking for further play-testers, expansion or development or is there any other elements the game needs that the current team can't provide?
While not everything is a work in progress, we will release some of the art that is supplied to the fans. Down the road we might entertain a closed game beta testing group strapped with a non disclosure agreement and all the wonderful legal mumbo jumbo to keep the game intact until release. We will probably look at some kind of tie in there for Kickstarters, maybe a sampler for KS backer review and feedback before printing. All depends on timescales and finance.
10- when you guys get to chill out and kick back, what does CCS do to unwind and relax?
You sure you want to ask that?
Well I love to shoot various firearms in real life and when I get the chance to hit the range I like to burn a few hundred rounds in a assortment of weapons. Beyond that I'm a PC gamer so I often take a break and play a few rounds of pin the noob with digital bullets. Chadwick is roughly the same way but his excursions are mostly on Xbox 360 and PC. He also has mad talent when it comes to cooking.
11- What gaming influences have shaped your own hobby experience, who are your heroes and villains , well you don't have to tell us your villains, but you can hint at what you don't like game wise ;)
As for games, I was a big fan of video games before I picked up my first RPG, which was based on Robotech. I was a big fan of the Animated series as a kid and a few years down the road a friend of mine picked up the source book.We played only a couple of games but I was hooked. Later on in while I was in the Army I played a decent amount of Gary Gygax's D&D, Axis and Allies and Twilight 2000 Mercs.
Later on I played a solid year campaign of Vampire the Masquerade, dabbled in Call of Cthulhu on and off and loved my mech stomping Battletech RPG and board game. As for heroes and villains, I always appreciated military figures current and past I often get lost in documentaries on the historical events and warfare especially when it come to technology. Good or bad I can learn from them all.
What I don't like game wise? I'd have to say quite a few things. Bad gamers, the uber jerk or gamer trolls that ruin the game for everyone. Really odd, weird or sick sort of horrific creations. One sided games where you don't stand a chance against what the GM throws at you, a no win scenario of sorts. I think gaming should be fun and enjoyable with moments of exhilaration and possibly dread but there is always a way out for the player to give them a momentary sense of dread or worry, but feel accomplished when they overcome the obstacle.
12- Education seems to be an important aspect for you, your kickstarter mentions it a couple of times. Why the strong interest in an area not commonly a concern to many games firms.
An old Proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. I wanted to at least give something more to the players than just a fun day at the gaming table. I thought by just placing the survival tips and tactical information into play might just help someone out in the future. We want reading the book to be interesting beyond just game terms and reading is good, we don't read enough anymore and that's a real shame. So lets get some exciting stuff in there to keep you picking the book up.
13- normally our 13th question is a bit of fun, not at your expense, but based on the victim , oops subjects work. So You are a player in a post apoc world, its been several months and you have not found another living thing, the world is seemingly reduced to an ash strewn wasteland, forests, buildings everything is petrified.....how on earth where you unlucky enough to have missed the end of the world, and what would your smart survivor do next......?
My Character was probably stuck in some gun vault or bunker ogling over his arsenal so the wave of death missed him and maybe some friends. I eventually would make it a point venture to a port or airfield to find transportation or cobble something together to get to a location that could support my group or myself for the long run. That might take some time but well worth it. Unless of course your situational question is completely hopeless. Then , I guess I'd become friends with the roaches and make a throne of Twinkies and Spam !