Today we’re thrilled to be joined by Dominic Crapuchettes of North Star Games. Almost ten years ago, my introduction to Wits & Wagers was one of the key experiences that unlocked my own pursuit into the mystical world of modern board games. I’ve had the chance to learn a lot about Dominic over the last few weeks, but I’ll let him describe his own journey as a board game designer and publisher:
My family did not watch much TV. We played board games instead. I still have a copies of several games I designed when I was 11. When I was 13, one of my games (Kabloogi) was banned from school because too many students were playing it during class. My final project in high school was a business plan for the game company I dreamed of starting.
I became addicted to Magic: The Gathering in college, but after taking home $15k from the 1998 New York pro tour, I realized I was more passionate about creating games than playing them. So I jumped ship as the captain of an Alaskan salmon fishing boat and started North Star Games. I’m glad I did – our three most popular games (Wits & Wagers, Say Anything, and Evolution) have sold over 2 million copies combined.
North Star Game’s latest project, Evolution: Climate is fully funded on Kickstarter and currently knocking down stretch goals at it approaches the final days of the campaign. Dominic sat down with us to answer our questions about his latest design work, game development and his thoughts on trends in the industry:
Games Precipice: Welcome Dominic, thank you for joining us! For those of us who may not yet be familiar with it, what is Evolution and how did its ideas hatch into a game?
Dominic: Evolution is a family of games that builds upon the ideas of a Russian biologist, Dmitry Knorre. It has made a name for itself in the scientific community because of the vivid way it simulates an ecosystem. An article about Evolution was recently published in the journal Nature, the world’s most prestigious scientific journal. It was written by Stuart West, a professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Oxford, who is currently using Evolution in one of his classes.
Previous attempts at evolution-themed games have approached the subject by applying mechanics from one of two genres: area control wargames, or civilization games with tech trees. Both of these frameworks don’t quite work for evolution. The heart and soul of Evolution is an ever-changing ecosystem where players continually adapt in order to survive and thrive.