An Interview with the Robots
I have been enjoying the hilarious and goofy questions posed by the Robots and Red Tape Twitter feed for quite some time. Another gaming friend, Eric Leath, has met them in person and confirmed they are not only great people, but they are actually people (not robots). They asked if they could write something for Hyperbole and I thought an interview explaining their new Kickstarter game, Question Fun, would be perfect.
Hyperbole Games: Introduce yourselves. Who are the members of Robots and Red Tape?
RRT: Robots & Red Tape is made up of two brothers, Nick and Anthony, their wives Meghan and Amy, (respectively) and their best friend Fleming. These five make up the core of our Friday night game group. The group has a wide variety of hobbies,
likes, and interests.
HG: Where did you come up with that name for your company?
RRT: We were having dinner and we were discussing previous jobs held with very stuffy companies. Fleming made the comment, “yeah, that company is just Robots & Red Tape." It was such clever phrasing, we all agreed it would be a great name for our company. As a group we are in complete juxtaposition to that mentality, but we couldn’t imagine being named anything else.
HG: Tell me about your first game, Questionable Fun. What are the core mechanics? What type of game? Who is it for?
RRT: Questionable Fun is a question-and-answer type of casual party game. All of the questions are hypothetical and designed to evoke humorous imagery.
The questions were all designed with one thought in mind: give players enough imagery to see some funny answer possibilities but leave them enough room for their own creativity and style. Each turn, one player reads a question and the rest of the players write down their funniest answer. Whoever’s answer is chosen gets a point. Answers are all read aloud by 1 person so that they are anonymous.
The great thing about Questionable Fun is that it can work for most groups. When
we play, it tends to get really wicked, pretty quickly! But, if a group isn’t as
incorrigible as we are, the answers definitely can be a little more modest. But
where is the fun in that?!
HG: What were some of the inspirations for Questionable Fun?
RRT: The core group that makes up Robots & Red Tape would get together most Fridays for a hangout/game night. We wanted to play something fun and light for Fleming’s birthday, but were just tired of all of our party games. Initially, you had to
make up your own questions on the fly. Then we started writing them down. And we
just kept playing the game over and over and we loved it. Everyone we had over on
game nights loved it too. Eventually, we thought “hey, I bet there are other
people out there who would like it too” and that’s when we decided to try and get
HG: What is the killer aspect of Questionable Fun that makes it unique?
RRT: The killer aspect is the ability to be completely creative with your answers! You
are not bound by luck or drawing a bad hand of answer cards. We learned very
quickly how much fun it is to have complete freedom over your answers. We have
yet to find a game that gives you that complete creative freedom.
HG: What are some of the best aspects of working on a game together? What were some of the hardships? How did you solve them?
RRT: You could not have put together a better group. We each have our own unique
strength to bring to the table (creativity, marketing, business know-how,
artsiness and tech savvy). We each have an area that we excel in, but we are able
to help each other in different areas, as well.
Of course, when you are working on project, there are always disagreements. But,
we openly and intelligently discuss our issues and come to a conclusion. We vote
on everything, majority wins. We each have the best interest of the game and
company at heart, so if the groups thinks something is a good or bad idea, the
person not on the side of the group quickly concedes and moves on.
HG: I noticed you are often hosting online, Google Hangout play sessions of your game. How has that worked out for you? How often do you see new people? It's a fairly creative way to play test and I'd love to know if it's successful.
RRT: Isn’t it amazing that you can open up your computer and play a game with someone on another continent? We started using Google Hangout as a way to play our game with anyone who wanted to see how it worked. We are actually using GoTo Meeting now because it's easier to play and promote the game with that format.
We have been able to play with several cool people online. We want to add group
play to our online play. We think already established game groups or friends that
do not live in the same location, could enjoy playing online with us. As we grow,
we expect to play more and more with new fans!
HG: How has Questionable Fun changed since you began working on the game? What were some of the biggest challenges you overcame?
RRT: The game is relatively the same. With playtesting and reviews, we re-tooled the questions to make sure they were the best, funniest and most creative questions
that people would enjoy answering.
We have had such a amazing support from the indie gaming world! So many great
reviewers and designers have given us great feedback, ideas, encouragement and
insider tips! The biggest challenge has been navigating through the gaming world,
but we only encountered the coolest people that have really helped us get our
feet wet. There will always be challenges, but we fell completely ready for them.
HG: What are some of your favorite Questionable Fun moments from playing? Some of your favorite memories?
RRT: Remember when I said that, “When we play, it tends to get really wicked, pretty quickly!” This can make playing with certain people a little, well, awkward. We
were playing with Anthony & Nick’s mom-Dianna (which by the way is Amy & Meghan’s mother-in-law).
Do you see where this is going? Well, everyone was trying to give “mom” friendly questions and answers. Well, Amy, decided that “mom” friendly questions/answers weren’t nearly as fun. Amy busted out the question, Nick is a pimp, give him a pimp name. Not only did Dianna have to give her son a pimp name, she had to read all of the answers...including big daddy smack-a-ho.
Dianna took it all in stride and had a great time! She’s a good sport.
Some of our favorite answers “This movie is weird by Danny Devito”, Meghan’s
childhood nickname & stripper name (2 Q’s/1 A) Stumbles and what is Nick’s
superhero name and power-superhero name Kevin; power-being the most boring
superhero ever. These make great inside jokes. And we really want Danny Devito
to make that movie!
HG: You're often asking weird questions of people on Twitter. Things like, "If you wake up in a cave next to Ronald McDonald, what is the first thing you say?" Are these a part of Questionable Fun? It's an interesting marketing style campaign. Has this been successful?
RRT: Can we use that question? It’s amazing! Yes, all of the questions we post on
Twitter are in the style of Questionable Fun. We do the same thing on Facebook.
It has allowed us to let people play the game daily online and we have had great
answers and interactions. It is just a fun way to introduce our game, get people
playing. We have people who answer our questions every day. It’s great to see
people enjoying the game!
HG: Why are you using Kickstarter to gain funding? What do you hope to accomplish as a result of your campaign?
RRT: The new trend of crowd-funding is amazing. It takes the corporate publisher out of the equation. Game creators make a game, present it to the world, and if
enough people like it, it gets funded and published. How awesome is that?
It doesn’t take too much money to get off the ground this way either. In the past,
you had to jump through so many hoops to get published or if you self-published
you had to have the resources for the first production run. As any game publisher
knows, it is virtually impossible to have a run of less than 1,000 games
manufactured. Kickstarter is the most well-known (at least to us) crowd-funding
platform and creative projects like games are its bread and butter. We compared
about 10 similar web sites and in the end it was a unanimous vote for Kickstarter.
HG: Do you have other designs in development? Can you tell us about any of them?
RRT: We have one idea for a board game which involves pizza delivery drivers, supernatural monsters and weapons...called Bad Day Delivery Driver. It’s a very rough idea, but once we get Questionable Fun off the ground that is most likely the next game project. Also we are very committed to continuing work on Questionable Fun in the form of expansions.
We believe that there is nothing worse than feeling like you have played your favorite game too much, so we think its important to keep pumping out new questions so that people can continue enjoying the game without getting bored.
Thanks to the Robots for taking the time to talk to me! You can see their Kickstarter campaign here.