Interview with Joey Vigour from Vigour Games
Led by WereDINO on The Social Deduction Network Discord
Support their Kickstarter for Monsters and the Things that Destroy Them!
Dino: The Social Deduction Network is very excited to welcome back Joey Vigour who has taken a few moments out of his busy, stress-filled schedule to chat with us today regarding his new Kickstarter Campaign for Monsters and the Things That Destroy Them (MatTTDT or Mat-tuh-tuh-Duh-tuh, as I like to call it). I’ll start with the question I think we are all wondering: Are the monsters in this game a metaphor for the demons you faced as a game designer during COVID?
Dino: Lay on my couch before you answer… *Grabs clipboard and notebook*
Joey: So, as a DESIGNER the last year was wonderful for me; I made a whole bunch of things, including three unique sets of Monsters and a prototype for a fourth, I finished Bad Koalas and multiple expansions for that, and I prototyped a seventh expansion for GROWL and prototyped two potential sequels to that game. But as a PUBLISHER, it was absolutely horrible… making products to sell almost exclusively in niche retail stores (which were closed) and at conventions (which were canceled). But no, the monsters in ‘Monsters’ are not metaphors, they are exactly what they look like. Which is… copyright-dodging classic characters. But the “cute” versions of each. Technically, they are amalgams of multiple characters.
Dino: Ah. Perhaps that is what they are on the surface… But you could be right. Sometimes all is as it seems, and no one gets sued. Do you consider MatTTDT to be more of a game of deduction or a game of bluffing?
Joey: The deduction is important, especially for players who have trouble tracking which player took which card. You can use your knowledge of each opponent’s gameplay style against them. I enjoy verbalizing out loud my theory of what my opponents will choose to discard on their next turn. Not only does it help lock which cards they have taken into my memory, but I can also use the conversation as a method of “social engineering” them. I can convince my opponents to keep the cards I want them to keep and discard the cards I don’t want them to keep. Sometimes! So in many ways I think it is a “social bluffing” game.
Dino: A social bluffing game. I like that! Or do I…? No I do… I do…
Joey: I don’t believe you.
Dino: *Stares at Joey without blinking* …I know this has been a game you have been working on for a long while. Can you give us the history of how this thing came to be?
Joey: I was asked by a Netflix-affiliated company around 2016 if I had any superhero-themed games I could pitch them on spec, to tie in with a new show that featured specific scandals that could bring down powerful heroes (In other words, off-brand Watchmen). So I co-designed a game with Jon Perry (designer of Scape Goat and Air, Land & Sea), but neither the show nor that game materialized. But I really liked the idea of low-point cards whose only power is that they have a tiny chance of canceling high-point cards. So I hoped to rework the game to pitch for Universal’s Dark Universe, which was a planned series of film crossovers featuring their classic movie monsters. That embarrassing failure just goes to prove how much mainstream studios and other content creators are helpless without the artists and creatives who supposedly serve them. So anyway, I liked the monster theme and I wanted to add some other monsters I liked, and that’s that.
Dino: Yes. I like that idea. Saw some of that in Keymaster’s Campy Creatures. Works really well. Side Note: Also really like Scape Goat. I own Land, Air, and Sea, but have yet to play. Looks awesome, though.
Joey: It’s great.
Dino: Art can really make or break a game for me. If I don’t like an art style, I probably won’t even consider the mechanics. MatTTDT has a really cute and playful art style. Who is the artist, and why did you decide to go this route?
Joey: Her name is Kaiami. She can do anime or chibi styles, or pretty much anything else, but I especially like her simple characters with clean outlines. She did the art for Cat Rescue, which I enjoy. I like when the art of a game indicates how complex the game will be. This game is easy to learn and hopefully anyone who likes the art will agree.
Dino: I do like the art, and I liked it when you showed us the art style for Bad Koalas. Same artist, right?
Dino: Sorry… I’m going back to something you said earlier that I accidentally glossed over… Did you say you designed a SEVENTH expansion for GROWL?
Joey: I did a player-powers expansion but I didn’t test it because the lockdowns over the last two years reduced playtesting days dramatically, and I needed to use whatever time I had to test the things that were priorities. I could probably post a print-and-play version.
Dino: …Not a print on demand version…?
Joey: There’s some news with that game coming very soon, let’s move on….
Dino: Sorry… We could talk more about that later, I guess. That just threw me off! Yes. The art for Incident 3 is not finished yet, but I am really excited about the print on demand opportunity. Could you tell us a bit about that?
Joey: I am printing most of the rewards this month in tiny print runs (500 to 1000) here in the USA. Players who want to preview The Dead set (before its release later this year or next year) can back the Big Box or Limited Edition tiers. I’ll send a link that allows them to receive a physical copy (possibly with rudimentary art). I wish I had not mentioned the third set because I really want people diving into the first two sets. But you know how Kickstarter people love collecting and feeling like their game is “complete.” Maybe in the future I’ll release a big box with slotted inserts for all the sets, but I think backers should try the first set before worrying about collecting the other sets!
Dino: That makes sense… But some of us are worriers, Joey… If all goes well with this campaign, can we hope for future kickstarters leading to more entries for this franchise?
Joey: I like designing rather than publishing, so I will likely pitch this to bigger publishers. But I do have four sets total planned at this time.
Dino: Being such a fan of GROWL and it’s seventy-five expansions, backing your new game was like something that would never interest a zombie: a no-brainer. And I definitely went all-in. Please explain the difference between everything offered in your campaign: Monsters: Incident 1–The Dark, Incident 2–The Deep, and Incident 3–The Dead.
Joey: Each set has the same rules (mostly), but no card is the same between sets. I think they are all very replayable. The Dark features classic movie monsters and the simplest set. The Deep features mythic sea monsters from classic literature and folklore. There’s a lot of diving deep into discard piles, and some cards let you store and retrieve cards on the bottom. The Dead is an upcoming set that features slasher-movie monsters from 1981 to 1990. The difficulty in that one was picking the 12 monsters that best represent the genre, ordering them by power level/evil, and finding ways that each neutralizer (“thing”) can kill or disable 2 specific monsters. Players can combine the sets in various ways; it can lead to funny outcomes.
Dino: Ah, so besides being unique on their own, players can mix and match the sets? Kind of like Bezier’s Silver series?
Joey: Yes, there’s different ways to do it, for example, the quick way is to add extra tactical cards from different sets – like Super Serum (doubles your other monster if it isn’t canceled) or Poseidon’s Trident (after other cards are revealed you can dig in your discard for a replacement card). You can even swap out all the different sets of monsters if you want, or combine a bunch together in theory.
Dino: I’m sure someone out there will try it… That sounds really cool. I love that kind of thing, myself. I know you are very busy and can’t stay long, but before you go, I have to ask about your solo game, Bad Koalas. Have the morals of these creatures continued to decline, and when can we expect these tree-dwelling, Australian marsupials to come to our local Kickstarter?
Joey: That game is done. I love it. I want to make it a video game also. I am pitching it to some publishers and I also plan a Kickstarter probably this summer. I really want to fulfill a different Kicktarter first, or at least get that one onto a boat. As you mentioned, Kaiami did the art for Koalas as well as Monsters, so I did conceive an idea to have the games crossover. But it’s probably just for silly bonus cards – koalas are not very powerful “monsters” so they would be size 0, but have cool powers. I have some ideas, but I don’t want to distract too badly from the real gameplay.
Dino: And you said you designed many expansions for Bad Koalas? Will those be part of that same kickstarter? Or for later times?
Joey: There ARE expansions – so funny that you always want to jump right to “collecting everything”.
Dino: Don’t judge me, Joey. *hugs limited edition Chewbacca doll*
Joey: I think with Bad Koalas there should be different types of koalas and the expansions should mostly be experimenting with how each koala type interacts together. Let me see if I can find a link.
Dino: Some say “Less is more.” Those people are not conducting this interview!
Dino: Nice! Also! Time is almost up, BUT I must ask about your other future projects. What is the status of your sequel(s) to GROWL? Asking for a completionist friend.
Joey: Oh man… The pandemic really damaged my plans because I wanted to make games for large groups. Stay Awake is likely postponed unless I can find a cheap way to produce a specific component. I can alternatively solve the problem if I reimagine the game to feature a moderator. I’ll get to it. The Sucker(?) is close to finished but my weekly playtests got disrupted and it got paused for this reason. As I alluded to, there’s big GROWL news coming in a couple months, however.
Dino: Okay, we’ll stay tuned for that.
Joey: And I still want to make a specific huge ambitious game called “Calamity, Inc.” but I need a huge amount of funding, so we’ll see. I’m optimistic about the future of tabletop games. I think game night is back on.
Dino: We’ll get there. And there you have it! Monsters and the Things That Destroy Them is on Kickstarter now! Back it before it’s too late. This is a short campaign, People!
Joey: Thanks Dino. That was fun.
Dino: Joey, thank you for being here/putting up with me.
Joey: Thanks for all your support for my little indie games!
Dino: Whoo! It has been a pleasure. Thank you for the little indie games.