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Fightlings Interview with Christina Barleben!

Category: Age: 12+ 10 - 20 Min 2 Players 2018

Interview with Christina Barleben CEO and Creative Director of Thoughtfish!

1. First of all, let us know some things about your team, your vision, your products and how you started developing games.

Thoughtfish was founded in 2013 in Berlin, with the idea of pushing the limits of what games and apps could be. Our team is made up of die-hard gamers, and we enjoy all sorts of games: tabletop, mobile, console, PC, and everything else. Most of our work since then has been creating mobile games (including the app version of Fightlings) that use the player’s context (time, weather, location) to change and enhance the game experience.

2. What inspired you to bring your digital game into a physical form?

Fightlings was actually developed first as a tabletop prototype. We did many months of game testing with the physical game before creating the digital version (which is currently in soft launch). Even after the mobile game was developed, people kept asking whether we would create a full tabletop version, so we decided to bring it to Kickstarter.

3. What was the greatest challenge in this transference, as I assume you wanted to keep the basic elements and feel of the game close to the original?

With the mobile version, many things are taken care of for the player: buffs and debuffs happen automatically, stats can be boosted incrementally, and damage is tracked in real time. Tabletop gaming has a very different pace, and to keep players from having to spend all their time tracking damage, health, and stats, we streamlined the combat so players could focus on memory and strategy. In the mobile version, players draw Minions from their deck and uncover cards in the same turn. The tabletop version uses more cards, and requires a pair to be uncovered before any creature – including Minions – is unlocked. Again, these changes let players focus more on the game board, as they don’t need to track stats and creatures that are not yet revealed.

The artwork works really well in both digital and print versions, though of course laying out the cards in physical form has required a good amount of work.

4. What kind of gaming experience do you want to create to players and for what kind of gamers is it suitable for?

Our goal with Fightlings is to create a game that players can get familiar with and become very good at, but that will also be totally different every time they play it. We’ve tried to balance it so that new players can jump right in and have a fighting chance, while experienced players will have some strategic advantages but will still need to stay on their toes. The matches last from about 5-15 minutes, so it can be played as either a quick single match, or a series of matches.

As far as target audience, because of the mix of pair-matching and card-battle mechanics, we hope it will be appealing for both a midcore/hardcore CCG crowd, and a more casual/classic card game crowd.

5. What is your favorite element or mechanic of the game?

The flip 3/match 2 mechanic is definitely the most unique component of the game – it moves the game forward and makes matches unpredictable, but after several rounds it also serves as the basis for later-game strategy. So, it adds a bit of luck and speed to the beginning of the game, and a bit of strategy to the end.

6. What scares you the most and what do you enjoy the most in a crowdfunding campaign?

Having a campaign on Kickstarter is totally scary, and completely unpredictable! Every single pledge is a reason to party, and every bit of feedback we get is fantastic. Having a live campaign is definitely an emotional roller coaster!

7. What would you wish to know before launching your campaign and what would you do different?

There are a really staggering number of game bloggers and reviewers out there, and while we had gathered many hundreds of names before starting, we’ve met so many more since then. Unfortunately, with a physical game (as opposed to video games, where we can just send an APK or access key), shipping out test copies takes time. So, while it would have been ideal to know more of these people before we started, it’s been great to meet so many people from the worldwide gaming community.

8. What else can we expect from THOUGHTFISH?

With our upcoming projects, we’re trying to push the boundaries of AR gaming, and make games that seamlessly combine a player’s real-world context and in-game experience. We’re making steady progress on our next game, and will hopefully have some eye candy to show off soon! And of course, we’re always looking to produce more tabletop games – for a lot of our team, physical board and card games are our absolute favorite, particularly when it comes to playing as a group.


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