When I was a kid Saturday morning was the pinnacle of the week. It was all about cartoons.
The Warner Brothers classics – Bugs, Elmer, Daffy. Classic Hanna Barbera – The Herculoids, Space Ghost, Scooby. And Land of The Lost. I never missed them. My love and appreciation of cartoons developed in these years. Over the years Saturday morning cartoons eventually disappeared from network TV replaced by sports shows, and lame live action shows.
Cable came to the rescue eventually. He-Man and Thundercats were a step back out of the desert. But Cartoon Network emerged. I so wanted Cartoon Network because they were running all my old favorites AND new content that was
good. Batman: The Animated Series really began the comeback. It took geekdom by storm. I remember how much impact it made. Everyone
was talking about it. Because it was story driven AND looked really cool. And you could tell that those making the show cared about the characters and mythology.
Thankfully Batman was the vanguard. In the subsequent years there have been lots of new shows that have taken up the mantle. It’s a good time to be a cartoon lover, especially action cartoons.
I’m writing this for a couple of reasons. First, I got the first disc of Jonny Quest in the mail from
Netflix a couple of weeks ago and have been watching it a lot. It’s still the best action cartoon ever.
Second I bought the entire series of Space Ghost/Dino Boy show on DVD and it arrived this week. I had forgotten what a really great theme song and opening Space Ghost has. Fast, quick cuts, all action. I didn’t remember Dino Boy but it’s really fun.
Lastly, I’m sitting here watching The Legend of Korra premiere with my son. Korra followed
Young Justice, Green Lantern, The new Thundercats, and a Batman: The Animated Series rerun. All of these shows have several things in common. But the biggest, most obvious to me is that those creating the shows are focused on creating quality shows with strong characters and engaging stories. And I get the same excitement from them that I had as a kid.
For me Saturday mornings have returned.
Tom: It’s my pleasure to welcome back Eloy Lasanta to Go Forth And Game. Eloy has a great new project on Kickstarter and I wanted to talk about it. First remind us about your company Third Eye Games.
Eloy: Third Eye Games is my gaming company that I started about 3 ½ years ago. Since then, I’ve released three successful gamelines, Apocalypse Prevention, Inc, Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade and Part-Time Gods. I can’t tell you how fun it is to own your own gaming company and really have an outlet for your creative juices.
Tom: I’ve read API and Part-Time Gods. They both look really fun. Now for your newest game, Mermaid Adventures. Tell us all about it.
Eloy: Mermaid Adventures, an RPG of Undersea. It’s a tabletop game geared toward kids and adults that gives a lot of fun options to tell great stories. The system I created for it is simple enough for kids to pick up quickly, but has enough depth that even the adults have something to sink their teeth into. In the game, players create unique merfolk from 8 different kinds (it was only 4 before we hit our stretch goal on Kickstarter), each with their own personalities and special gifts.
Tom: It’s occupying an appreciated niche – children’s rpgs. I would think it was difficult to get the system honed to something that short attention spans can grasp. How did it come about?
Eloy: Before I started working on Mermaid Adventures, the only kids RPG I had heard of was Faery’s Tale (I even got to playin a session run by a 9-year old and it was really good). Faeries weren’t never my thing though, so when I decided I was going to bring my kids into gaming, I went in search of a cool mermaid RPG. Guess what? There wasn’t one. Again, it’s great to be a game design. I see an unfulfilled niche and I fill it. In the end, Mermaid Adventures is a reason to play with my kids. Having kids I the best motivation to get into the kids market.
Tom: My 10 year old LOVES role playing games. Spirit of the Shattered Earth and Icons are his favorites at the moment. It’s really cool having your kids take up your hobby/loves. Why are you Kickstarting it?
Eloy: Everyone knows by now that I’m a huge fan of Kickstarter. I kicked off Part-Time Gods on there and I loved the excitement that surrounded the game. I wanted to recreate that for Mermaid Adventures and have been very successful thus far. The main thing about Kickstarter, for me, is that it allows me to put out a better product. Sticking with my budgets and access to art, I can make a game about 80% of what I want it to be. With the enthusiasm and funding direct from the fan on Kickstarter, I can go above that figure and then some.
Tom: The Kickstarter has exceeded successful funding as of today. That is fantastic. You’ve included some great perks for backers. New characters, additional adventures. Even a couple of new rpg’s. It’s a really fun idea. Did anything change from initial concept to final product?
Eloy: Playtesting reveals all. There were a couple holes in the way Attributes were arranged and how your character is hurt went through a few iterations before we got to our final version. Thing is, though, the game was very simple from the get go, but creating games for kids is still very difficult. It’s hard for someone with a verbose vocabulary to write to a lower grade level than what you’re used to. With my other games, I could use big words with lots of explanations, but with Mermaid Adventures, I’m using easy to grasp language so that the kids can pick up the book and read it too. That’s the goal of it all.
Tom: What is unique about Mermaid Adventures?
Eloy: I met Melissa Gay a while back, almost two years ago now, and we hit it off immediately, bonding over both being parents of autistic kids and our love of the hobby. Since then, she’s done work for Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. and was the lead artist for Part-Time Gods. But guess what she did before RPG illustrations? That’s right, children’s books illustrations. So, she was my obvious first choice for this project. She is very good at what she does and has a way of creeping into my brain and taking out exactly what I want… and then some.
Tom: Have you had any problems with the game?
Eloy: Problems? The biggest problem I’ve heard is that parents are being hassled by their kids to play almost every day. “When are we going to play Mermaid Adventures again?” is something I hear quite often myself nowadays too. The documents have gone through their fair share of alterations to fit the audience better, simplifying math, adding in options that will appeal more than others, things like that. Other than that, no actual problems.
Tom: How did you playtest MA? Do you have a group of kid gamers?
Eloy: Not only did I play test this with my own kids (and the neighbor’s kids), but I sent the game out to quite a few gamers who were looking for a game to play with their kids (ages ranging from 4 to 12). I got a lot of helpful feedback that has made this game super awesome. See, I’ve never written a game for kids before, so I knew what I wanted to accomplish, but it has taken time to really get it into a final form worthy of my goal. I’
m quite happy with it now.
Tom: You posted a video of your daughter talking about MA. How does she like it and what influence did she have on the game?
Eloy: Gabrielle’s my #1 sounding board. If I throw something at her and she says “I don’t think that’d be fun, daddy”, then I really need to rethink putting in a game. She’s made a dozen or more characters using different iterations of the rules and has had fun the whole time. I’m loving spending time with her and sharing my RPG with her and she loves “playing the games daddy plays”, so it’s a thrill for both of us. That’s why I shared the video. I wanted others to get in on the excitement that we’re having at home.
Tom: I can’t wait to play Mermaid Adventures with my kids. What is next for you? What else is in the queue?
Eloy: Mermaid Adventures has been funded, but we’re not stopping there. Our stretch goals are set up to release a few other setting using the same rules, so I’m hoping we can hit all of our goals.
I’m also currently editing API Worldwide: South America, writing Wu Xing: Truth and Lies, and starting development of Divine Instruments (for Part-Time Gods). In short, my plate is very full.
Tom: Over on your blog, EloytheSaint.com you’re doing open development of your new game line, Sinister. Tell us about that.
Eloy: With Sinister, even though it’s something that a lot of other companies are doing nowadays, this is my first foray into open development. The name comes from what I intend to do with the setting itself… it’s my “Sinister” take on the monster training/capture genre. The main goal is to make an RPG of this kind, one that is just as engaging with its mechanics as it is with the story. I’m working very closely with a talent artist, David Bednar, and really crafting a world that you’ll be able to (and most importantly, WANT to) explore. I’m posting a new idea for the game every Friday on my blog and i’m always looking for more feedback on the ideas. So far, I’ve had some people who have gotten sucked into my design process and I thank them all for it. Now, we just need more. When it’s done, it’ll likely be kickstarted sometime in 2013.
Tom: Are there any links or sites you want to direct us to?
Eloy: ThirdEyeGames.net is for the main site, but I also wanted to point out my blog EloytheSaint.com, where I am openly developing my next gameline, Sinister. You can also find my podcast, Rolling 20s, and all of Third Eye Games sales numbers there as well.
Thanks so much for your time, Tom! Back to writing for me!
Thanks for another great interview Eloy. It looks like Mermaid Adventures is moving along swimmingly.