Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Exclusinterview: Elan Lee (Exploding Kittens)

Image from Exploding Kittens Kickstarter
You may have heard of Exploding Kittens: no, you HAVE heard of Exploding Kittens, considering that it reached its Kickstarter goal in 20 minutes and is now currently sitting on nearly $5 million at the time of writing. It's a card game developed by three people: Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal (The site that introduced me to Nicola Tesla. PRAISE HIM) Shane Small of Interlude, and Elan Lee, former Xbox Entertainment Studios Chief Design Officer and the man that I've interviewed. We talk the origins of Exploding Kittens and its future:

So the biggest thing about Exploding Kittens is how it revolves around .. exploding kittens. How did that idea come about?

The game was originally called "Bomb Squad" when Shane and I were developing it.  When Matt came on board, he suggested we change the name to Exploding Kittens, "because...the internet".

The game is about trying to not die by kitten explosion by playing Defuse cards, Cat cards and many others: how many people are recommended to play, and how long would a game last?

The game is designed for 2 to 4 players and takes anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to play.  However, the Kickstarter community reached a stretch goal today that unlocked a complete second deck called The NSFW deck.  This means that we're actually going to be making two separate decks of cards. The games are identical, but the art on the NSFW deck is everything we couldn't put in the regular Exploding Kittens deck and still claim in was safe for ages 7 and up.  As a result of this expansion, we've tweaked the rules a tiny bit to make it so that combining any two decks allows you to play the game with up to 8 players.

Why do you think that Matthew Inman's art style is so perfect for the game, and why do you think that it's so loved in general?

I've been a huge fan of the Oatmeal for years.  He's always been about 1 degree separated from me, so when I got the chance to meet him in person, I was thrilled! He knew I was working on a card game with Shane and although I was embarrassed to show it off, we agreed to play it once for two minutes.  Two hours later we were still playing, and then Matt asked if he could illustrate the cards and be part of the team.  
Since you and Shane have ties to Xbox, would you ever want to digitise Exploding Kittens and make it available for consoles?

Absolutely.  We have pretty extensive plans for the game in the future, but right now we're staying laser focused on shipping the cards to every single backer as quickly as possible. Everything else is on the back burner until we fulfill our commitment to all the people who made this possible. 

Last of all, do you think that (As well as being the best card game in while?) you can attribute some of Exploding Kittens' success to the Internet's cat fetish?

The internet likes cats!? 

Exploding Cats still has 23 days to go on Kickstarter, and an Exploding Kittens deck only requires $20!

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