Crazy Karts showed up in our mailbox in the spring of 2015. We receive dozens of prototypes in the mail and try to play them all. It’s rare that one sparks our interest. After the first play, the whole team took a minute to breathe, then looked around the table at each other waiting for someone to break the silence. If your game can bring a whole room full of game developers to silence, you probably have a good shot at impressing them.
Today, we want to share with you a design journal from the author Charles-Amir Perret. Enjoy!
I always loved playing. All kind of games. I remember playing a lot when I was a teenager a game called in french « La belote » . It’s a very old and classic card game for 4 players, 2 vs 2. If you want to improve, it’s better to always play with the same teammate. I have very good souvenirs of this. The truth is that I really hardly felt that again in playing a modern boardgame. I played Neuroshima Hex and I really loved this game. I played other games with teams but there are quite a few. But still … what I was looking for is a game where you have only part of the information, a game where you have to guess what your teammates has. This is the reason I started working on this game named today Crazy Karts, about 4 years ago.
I worked on 2 different games using the mechanic I had in mind and my brother helped me at the beginning sharing his own ideas. The themes were just different: one was during the war and the other was more of a sport game. The first game was about two players in the same tank, one moving the tank, the other the canon. But because of the noise, they couldn’t talk to each other. The second game was about two players doing some kayak on the river, but no communication between them.
I usually work on Powerpoint and these are the kayaks :
One was in charge of the left while the other was in charge of the right.
This is the first individual board each player had :
And at the very first version there were even cards :
Both looked to me very interesting so once I finished the prototype and the rules (without playtesting yet), I went to see Bruno Faidutti at his home. I have met him before in some boardgame’s fair in Paris where we both live.
I started talking about first the « tank » game. He stopped me quickly, not because of the game itself, but because of the theme. He thought that the theme wouldn’t interest the publishers. So I started talking about the other game. And five minutes later, when he understood the idea of a player playing the left while the other playing the right without communicating, he told me that this idea was good. And I had to move forward, just warning me about the theme. Because yes, sports game don’t work really good. I thank him for that.
For the first playtests, I kept the kayak theme, to see how the mechanic was working. There was a group in Paris gathering once a week, only for playtesting. I met really nice people there that helped me a lot. And they helped me because they told me what was wrong in the game and what needed to be improved. It was a very « constructive » period for me. You can’t imagine how many versions of this game I have worked on during months I modified the game almost every week. The heart of the game never changed : teammates with different actions, programming, individual board, game board representing a river or later a mine. But you can guess that you can imagine thousands of versions out of a single idea.
Here are two major versions of the track. Please note that the first was not even with hex but with diamonds !
Then after playtesting the game with my group, with friends and during boardgames fair (especially Cannes), I thought about changing the theme. Bruno Cathala, that I knew for different reasons, is always very open and ready to help people. He gave me the advice to change the theme if I wanted to have a chance to be published. I started working on this and it was quite difficult as I have worked so much time on my kayak race! Many ideas coming (like 2 players controlling a dragon …) and finally I thought that 2 players in a cart doing a race in the mine was a good and thematic idea ! So I changed all the artwork, even asked Miguel Coimbra for using his artwork for my prototype (I was really scrupulous! J). And found a name that sounded great to me, « Colorado ».
So now the game that many players have playtested was called « Colorado » and will keep this name until Portal decided to change the name. And I knew it.
Here are the latest tracks, new color for the mine. Very immersive, isn’t it ?
At the beginning the game was a race game. The first to cross the finish line has won. But race games don’t really interest publishers. I don’t know why but it’s like this. I have always been in a group of players that liked racing games. So I modified the rules. By getting some bonuses on the way, you had some victory points at the end. Crossing the finish line the 1st gave you some victory points of course. But depending on your bonuses you got, the 1st one was not sure to win the game. I kept this until the end as I also knew that it was not a major point in the game and the final publisher would probably modify it.
I have met many people during the different fairs where I brought the game. Nice people telling me what they really thought about the game. I really liked playtesting the game and I must admit that I knew that the game has reached his goal when the teammates were arguing. You think you should go straight to get the bonus, you just try to guess what will be your teammate move. Then it’s time to check everybody’s programming. That’s the funniest part because you can really get mad at your teammate because you don’t understand his move. And you finish in the wall.
So when I saw players arguing, I knew that the mechanic was working. But still I continued to do small changes until I got tired of that and it was time to look for a publisher.
Here is a late picture of what it looked like :
I won’t talk about the long and tough way it is for an unknown designer to find a publisher. I was so convinced about my game that I was ready to write to every publisher in the world. I knew that it was not going to be easy. It’s a race game. Some publishers have been interested, some asked for the prototype but the quickest and most motivated team was Portal Games. And I was really happy about this. We started talking by mail then Skype and then finally, Ignacy told me by Skype that they were ready to publish the game. Of course I answered right away Yes and Portal team started to work on the game. We first met in Essen 2015 and I was really impressed by the motivation of Portal Games and how hard they were working on the game to make it better. Because that was the point : the game was too complicated, not enough crazy and fun. Too long also. What managed to do Portal Games, is to keep the essence of the game while bringing more crazyness, more fun, more simplicity.
Enjoy and thanks for reading this.
Crazy Karts is currently available for pre-order and will be released in North America at Origins Game Fair. If you are going to Origins, you can pick it up there with FREE shipping! Click the image above and reserve your copy today!