With less than two weeks to go, the Kickstarter for Here to Slay has smashed its $100,000 goal with ease, garnering well over a million dollars at time of writing. We got to talk with TeeTurtle founder Ramy Badie about the inspirations for the game, the success of the company after Unstable Unicorns, and how he navigated through the wonderful world of crowdfunding.
What were your inspirations for Here to Slay and its fantasy stylings?
I read a ton of fantasy books as a kid, so the genre has always been a fascination for me. I also happen to be remarkably impatient, and so my first time trying to play Dungeons & Dragons, I was admittedly quite confused and frustrated. It was particularly challenging because I knew it was the type of thing that I “should” enjoy, but I just couldn’t find my way into it. With Here to Slay, our team’s goal was to create a game with people like myself in mind; people who might be interested in a fantasy role playing game but feel intimidated or unsure of where to begin (and also for their gamer friends who desperately want to get their friends involved in game nights!)
It’s been nearly three years since the initial campaign for Unstable Unicorns. How has the game (and Teeturtle) grown since then?
Since the initial campaign, our community has challenged us to keep improving and innovating across all of our products. We always have our ears open for our fans to teach us how to make our games and products even better and more accessible to all types of players and consumers. Additionally, we’ve developed new connections in the retail space as a result of the success of Unstable Unicorns, allowing us to reach a brand new audience. I definitely didn’t anticipate what we were getting into when we launched that first project on Kickstarter back in 2017, but I’m so grateful for the opportunities it’s opened up for us to grow both as a business and as creators!
This is your fifth Kickstarter, so this ain’t your first rodeo. How has your experience with previous Kickstarters changed the way you look at Here to Slay’s campaign?
One of the most surprising things about Kickstarter for me during our first campaign was seeing how invested individual backers were in the direction and outcome of the project. On Kickstarter, creators aren’t just exchanging money for a product; they’re dealing in backers’ trust and creating a unique community and experience. That relationship is incredibly valuable, even when it leaves you vulnerable and results in feedback that might be difficult to hear. The challenges that arise cause us to push our own limits and create the best product possible. When we look at a new project, we always try to maintain a high level of flexibility to keep ourselves open to those challenges and make sure we’re stepping up to the plate for each person who is emotionally investing in what we’re doing. For Here to Slay, we went into the campaign knowing we had to be ready to pivot on a moment’s notice. It’s not possible to make everyone happy, but as long as we’re aiming to be fair and as transparent as possible throughout the process, we can be proud of what we’re putting out into the world.
What were some challenges with developing Here to Slay’s basic ruleset?
Here to Slay introduces a lot of new mechanics we hadn’t tried in a game before, so there were plenty of challenges to sort out. We tried a lot of different win conditions in the early days of development, ranging from completing quests to knocking out other players before finding the feel that we wanted for the game. One of the biggest ones was incorporating a heavy dice-rolling element without also ending up with play time that was wildly unpredictable. Thankfully, through balancing the dice rolling with more options for forward progression (and a LOT of play testing), we were able to finally get the play time to a consistent level based on the number of players in any given group.
What are some of your favorite cards in the game?
My favorite character in the game is Lookie Rookie- he’s just such a cheerful little guy who wants to do his best! I also love the thief party leader, both for its effect and for the super badass artwork on the card.
Here to Slay carries the trademark TeeTurtle adorableness; what were some challenges or benefits in adapting the cards to fit this style?
When you think of the art that defines the fantasy genre, what generally comes to mind are highly-detailed, epic characters and panoramas. When we were choosing the art direction for this game, we wanted to push the envelope and show people something that aren’t as likely to have seen before within that same space. It really helps that our hallmark adorable-but-deadly TeeTurtle style lends itself especially well to the idea of fluffy animals running around slaying dangerous monsters. It felt like a perfect opportunity to apply what we do best to a brand-new type of game, and so the process has been really natural.
Would you say this would be a good entry point for someone who hasn’t played your previous games?
Yes, definitely. As we gain more and more experience in game design, we adjust our process and deepen our understanding of what creates an immersive, cohesive experience for players. With this being our newest game, it benefits from all of those lessons learned on the games that came before it, and so I’m confident in saying that this is our most engaging and approachable game yet!
If you could be any animal, what would it be?
I am and will always be a Unicorn. Unicorns forever!
Once the Kickstarter campaign ends, what will be the next steps for your team?
After a Kickstarter ends, the work is only just beginning on our side. Outside observers may not realize that there’s an absolute ton of effort behind the scenes that goes into finalizing all of the artwork, design, and game files for print (not to mention all of the various add-on items that have been offered) and moving those things all into the production stage by the promised deadlines. We very carefully plan and map things out ahead of time so that we know what is possible, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a lot to make it happen! I’m really grateful to have a capable team behind me to keep everything moving.
Speaking of Kickstarters that have previously ended, will there ever be a reprint for the Chaos and Control editions of Unstable Unicorns via Kickstarter or other means?
I don’t have any plans of bringing that project back at this point. I know there are a ton of new fans who would love to get a chance at it and we get requests for it all the time, but at this time we’re focusing our attention on future projects :)
Do you have any words of advice for someone that wants to get their tabletop game funded through Kickstarter?
Kickstarter backers can be a tough crowd at times. As a creator, it’s an incredibly vulnerable experience to put something out there that you’ve poured your heart and soul into, only to have it be received with critique (or sometimes even downright anger). While it’s intimidating, if you can flip your thinking and see each comment as an opportunity to make your game better, you’ll realize that what you have is a group of intensely passionate people who have your best interests at heart. Listen, pivot your plans when necessary, and recognize that they own the project just as much as you do–your product won’t be realized without your backers, so treat them with the respect and gratitude they deserve. They’re putting their trust and their time into your campaign, so don’t let them down!
Finally, any last bits of wisdom? Favorite foods, music to study to, or future plans with Teeturtle?
I really love frozen pizzas. I’ve always studied in silence (mainly because I can’t stop myself from singing if I’m listening to music). In terms of future plans for TeeTurtle, I’ve learned that no matter how much planning I do, the future will be entirely unexpected. If you had asked me in 2016 if we’d become a game company, I would’ve shrugged and said “probably not,” and yet here we are. I like to remain open to possibilities, and I’m an eternal optimist. Toys? Apps? Netflix Series? Probably not ;)
You can back Here to Slay on its official Kickstarter campaign. Stay tuned for more news here on Gaming Trend.
Elisha Deogracias is an aspiring accountant by day, freelance writer by night. Before writing for Gaming Trend, he had a small gig on the now defunct Examiner. When not being a third wheel with his best friends on dates or yearning for some closure on Pushing Daisies, he's busy catching up on shonen manga and wacky rhythm games. Mains R.O.B. in Smash. Still doesn't know if he's a kid or a squid.