Interview: HYBR Games / Ando & Dino talk about "Houston, We Have a Dolphin"

"Even if I was a dolphin, I could impersonate a game designer and pull off a game that is convenient for your kind of folks, right?"

- Andro (HYBR Games)

The social deduction game for 3 to 5 intelligent life forms.
Kickstarter for Houston, we have a Dolphin!

Interview with Ando from HYBR Games

Led by WereDino on The Social Deduction Network Discord

Note: This is not a word for word transcript of the interview, some grammatical mistakes and other things of that nature were altered.

For the full unaltered transcript, go find this interview listed under the interviews tab in The Social Deduction Network discord.

Mikrofon, Diskussion, Sprechen, Datensatz, Radio
Dino: Hello! Thank you for joining us here at the Social Deduction Network for an interview with HYBR Games, creators of “Houston, We Have a Dolphin,” which is live on kickstarter right now! Before we get started, I must know if we have a dolphin among us right now, or am I merely smelling the tuna I threw out the night before?
Ando: That's my pizza, sorry. Didn't want to go into the interview hungry.... honestly! Really honestly!
Dino: And I guess you like to have anchovies on your pizza? You are a rare specimen, my friend… I thought only Phillip J. Fry enjoyed those things…
Ando: Maybe I can prove my humanity by admitting that I like pineapple on a pizza. Would a dolphin say that? Even consider it?
Dino: No, no dolphin or pizza-respecting human would say that. What you are... is still in question
Ando: To close the circle, I have an anecdote about foods and our game for later maybe!
Dino: Yes, we'll see if we have time for it. My interest is piqued.
Ando: Even if I was a dolphin, I could impersonate a game designer and pull off a game that is convenient for your kind of folks, right?
Dino: I... suppose… But we have some things we must learn, first. Thematically, your game offers an interesting conflict: a space captain and his crew at odds with a dolphin. How did this idea come together?
Ando: I was just playing with my dolphin friends when. I had this idea.... No, honestly, this game started as a not so crazy Mafia game. I thought it was enough of a plot twist that the secret police officer was the evil guy whereas the mafia was good. But when we pitched the game we recognized short periods of interest only.
Dino: You know, for a non-dolphin, you spend an awful lot of time talking about how you are not a dolphin... Kind of weird. Most non-dolphins don't do that… I mentioned to you in your kickstarter that there is another social deduction game, Whales Destroying the World, which also features Dolphin roles, that is very similar thematically to your game. I was pleasantly surprised to discover "Houston, We Have a Dolphin".
Ando: Haha, I didn't know any of its existence, but I am a fan of Douglas Adams. Also, I thought about another prototype that I had worked on. I like the idea that a playing table is almost like a spaceship. It's dense, people can't walk away and have to solve the issue.
Dino: Mechanically, it is VERY different, though. Would you mind explaining the mechanics of your game for all those tuning in who might not be familiar with your game?
Ando: I will gladly explain the game, let's hope I can keep it short!
Dino: I'll set the timer.
Ando: For all of you who have played the traditional Werewolf/Mafia Game, I think I don't have to start at zero. (Please start the time at zero nonetheless.)
Dino: Click! That was the timer being set...
Ando: The game started as a twist on this game mechanics, but was so strongly altered that there's only a resemblance left, but the structure is still the same: One phase that is secret, where one or more secret traitors can do their work, and a not so secret phase where folks will discuss, deduct and punish someone for what has happened.
Dino: That's often the case with game design, I have come to understand.
Andro: However there's drastic changes too. You don't hold one role, but 3 to 4 at the beginning of the game.
Ando: If one of your secretly dealt cards is a dolphin, and not an astronaut, this means, your whole team is a traitor team. Also, the game doesn't end with elimination but there are specific goals to each fraction: All dolphinized teams try to flood the spaceship, while all human teams try to repair the spaceship.
Dino: Can't they just work it out? My goodness…
Ando: They work it out, and the captain can even make orders and what he wants to happen, but maybe let's start at the beginning, which is the spacewalk phase.
Dino: Okay.
Ando: The spacewalk phase is the equivalent to the night phase. In this phase, players will try to send their astronauts on a mission to repair the spaceship by detaching a module. There's a lack of energy, so when 3 modules are successfully detached, the Reset will be possible. In order to detach a module, a so-called hero-card has to be played and be encircled by two engineers. Thank god the game board depicts a circle, which makes encircling possible.
May I post a picture?
Dino: Sure! Please! There’s an app that assists with this phase, correct? Some of my favorite tabletop games have a helpful app to assist with gameplay. Please tell us a little bit about the app that will assist with your game?

Ando: This constellation shows one hero in the bottom of the board, encircled by two engineers (having wrenches). 
Ando: BUT, it's not so easy to pull this off as you have to be called out by the prior player in order to play a card AND the cards are played secretly.
Dino: That's a really cool image, by the way… Are any of the engineers named Dave? I just think it would be cool if Dave went to make repairs, and a Dolphin was like, "I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Dave."
Ando: I am very sorry for having a limited understanding of human eeerm, english jokes, but why Dave?
Dino: That was a 2001: A Space Odyssey reference…
Ando: So this is where the smartphone comes into play. The cards are played with a scan from the phone front camera, so the spaceship knows what happens, but the players don't just yet. In other words.... The phone would see Dave, but you don't. I tried to love the movie so much.
I am not saying I don't but I tried hard.
Dino: I love that movie. It's intentionally VERY slow paced, but that's one of the things I love about it. I learned the hard way that it is not for everyone… Watching it with a group of eighth graders so they can write an analysis did not go well…
Ando: Try watching Sunshine with them. It has more action... and blood! 8th graders love blood!
Dino: Ugh... Parent permission slips do not.
Ando: Where were we? The spacewalk!
Dino: Right!
Ando: Thanks Dino. Ok, so once the 3 cards are played, the phone will make a public announcement. Either a module was opened, but maybe one person was lying or an astronaut appeared (which is a random killing event).... So very often, the phone would claim that one astronaut was eliminated.

Dino: But the player is not eliminated, right? Just one of the astronauts?
Ando: Exactly. Because you have 4 astronauts at the beginning of the game, this is not so frustrating as in e.g. Werewolf. 
Ando: But it sucks anyways.
Dino: Bad for the Astronaut team, but players can narrow down some suspects as a result, right?
Ando: Exactement! So there's always 3 options of what could have happened in case of a death.

Ando: The 3 red X show you the options. It was either an asteroid, 2 engineers encircling a non-hero or a dolphin all by itself. This gives the game a lot of space for deduction! In a 3 player game, there's even a chance that there isn't even a dolphin.
Dino: So if Engineers surround a dolphin, the dolphin can not kill?
Ando: Yes, there's a hierarchy to the actions. If the dolphin is eliminated in phase 3, phase 4 will not trigger. But if an asteroid appears and kills the engineer in phase 1, the dolphin isn't eliminated before it acts, so again it could bite. Sometimes, there's multiple deaths in one space walk, and you have to try to deduct how this is even possible. Was it one asteroid and one dolphin? Or multiple engineers hitting each other?
Dino: Oh. And we are all familiar with the fatal nature of a dolphin bite, so no need to go into that.
Ando: So, in this game, everyone can kill. Wonderful, right?
Dino: I see. Pretty cool, the uncertainty and the multiple possibilities!
Ando: The downside is that the very first game can be a bit chaotic. But for people who want to move a step further, that's perfect.
Dino: Equal opportunity for homicide; it's about time.
Ando: So, players will take their astronauts back into their hand, secretly still, unless they were unfortunate and lost it to the void.
Dino: Okay. And there's a discussion, I'm sure, where players try to figure out what happened?
Ando: Yes, people will discuss and accuse each other of what has happened, but everyone has a different intel. Because if you know your own astronaut, you might be able to solve or narrow the puzzle. And players who were not part of the spacewalk will know not so much, but they gain a panic token that comes in handy in the next phase.
Dino: Yes, but will people believe you? Interesting. Backers have the option of also backing to include the Cyborg Heroes Bundle. How does this expansion change the game?
Ando: Ok, so let's go into the heroes abilities for a bit. Not only do you sacrifice your hero for the whole crew, but you also get a reward.
Dino: Oooh! You get to make a human sacrifice AND get a prize? Nice! The psychotic will love this game!
Ando: In the standart game, you will always choose whether you want to save the astronaut from the detached module, or let him slip (2 human sacrifices!) and receive 3 panic tokens. (These panic tokens can be used to overthrow the captain which is a crucial role in the game).
Dino: Right, because the captain might be a dolphin? Or held by a player on the dolphin team?
Ando: But we have a cyborg variation that gives each of the 5 heroes a unique choice. (But Jimmy, the monkey hero, has no choice, and will receive one panic token only, Poor Jimmy.)
Yes. In the beginning of the game, the captain is just another astronaut card that is dealt to one of the players. This cards allows you to make orders on the second phase of the game ("FLOOD THE SPACESHIP!") and also lets you pick the starting player for space walks. However, the captain can be overthrown and someone else can become the captain. Like Dave.
Dino: Yay! A callback to Dave! Nice. Anyone else hoping this interview spontaneously ends with the image of a large space embryo?
Ando: I hope we didn't reach the end just yet! But when we get there, I'll gladly post one.
Dino: Oh, we have time still! Just thinking ahead. I already have it ready to go from google images…
Ando: Google Images? I am talking to a pro here! How do embryos even mate? Side question, where were we?
Dino: Um... They don't... First comes birth, then maturity, then... I feel uncomfortable continuing…
Ando: The rest is pain. Continuing on, the spacewalk phase is the very unique part of Houston, we have a Dolphin!, the Captains Phase is a little bit less crazy. In this phase, the captain can choose between 3 orders:
1. Send an astronaut over the plank (similar to Werewolf games)
2. Flood the spaceship
3. Reset the spaceship.
However Option 3 is only available when 3 heroes were used and 3 modules were detached.
Dino: So if the captain orders the ship to be flooded, it was because he was on the dolphin team, right? No other reason for him to do that? Do the dolphins automatically win in that scenario?
Ando: Almost. These orders will be only executed when there's not a lot of resistance. All players decide secretly how many panic they want to play against the captain's order. If they reach 3 or more panic altogether (all players but the captain, in a 4 player game) then the order is not executed but the captain is eliminated instead. 
Ando: This also means that you can use the "Flood the spaceship" to convince other players of your dolphinhood. 
Ando: This can in fact help you to win the game, but it is very risky.
Dino: The players decide before knowing which order the captain chose?
Ando: The captain will announce his order, and if it's the sending over the plank move, also which player has to lose an astronaut. This is the basis of a discussion and a voting.
Dino: Okay. Wow! And then it starts all over again with another space walk?

Ando: So, the panic is spent. If it was enough panic to overthrow the captain, then the player who provided the biggest amount of panic will set a new captain. If there wasn't enough panic, the order is executed, eventually ending the game for one of the factions. And yes, this is the end of the loop. The players will go back into the spacewalk phase, try to detach a module again, see what happens, take their astronauts back, go back to the captain's phase when a new order is given and voted on. And so forth.
Dino: Cool! The game has a comedic look. Who is the artist?
Ando: That's me. I hired someone but he couldn't keep his deadlines. So I decided to do them myself.
Dino: Hey, not bad! Is anyone ever going to help that dolphin learn how to apply that mustache properly? It’s not good for my OCD…
Ando: I fear you will have to take that role yourself and try to be a better dolphin! I studied architecture 2 years ago, so I learned a bit of drawing and graphic design. Thanks.
Dino: I think it looks great. What is the Super Dolphin, and how can we get one?
Ando: Great question.
Ando: So HYBR is still a young publisher, and we would love to be supported by being shared and followed on social media. In our campaign, there's an Actions-of-Love section, where we describe what would help us.
Ando: If our community (including you hopefully) reach 700 of those actions, we will produce another card to make this game even bigger, which is the super dolphin. This dolphin will be stronger than usual dolphins and also female, by the way! Because female dolphins are extra dangerous of course.
Dino: There's a lot of options! Loving it on BoardGameGeek, subscribing to your newsletter… It is very possible to achieve those 700, but you still have a ways to go, correct? Some of our members are male dolphins, and I think they just got very excited…
Ando: Exactly! BGG hearts are greatly appreciated. We also have an instagram account where we post a lot of stuff, and it's not only boring company communication but actually small reviews of other games too and it has a lot of the strange humour that we have anyways. 700 is far away, but we calculated that it is very possible still!
Dino: Let's reach that 700, People! This is something that both humans and dolphins should work towards. Say... Why is “Sleeping with the Fish” an idiom for murder whereas “Swimming with the dolphins” is an activity associated with paradise? Please, explain this one to me. Your game might make the latter be more like the former, you know…
Ando: The saying comes from ancient times when people still thought dolphins were fish. And vice versa, people called fish dolphins because the word fish wasn't invented yet. That's also the reason why there is the "Delphic Oracle" in ancient greece. It's a prophecy temple that tells you how much fish you can catch that month or something.
Dino: Yes... Those Italian mobsters from ancient times. It all makes sense now. Also... If Dolphins were able to find a way to sneak aboard a spaceship, don’t you think it’s possible that a werewolf can do the same? I mean, come on! If Sandra Bullock can make it back to earth safely, and SpaceX can become the first commercial company to send humans into space, can’t we get a werewolf in this game? HYBR Games, why are you depriving us like this?
Ando: Hitchhikers come in all colors and shapes! If the game goes well, I am happy to explore every single type of mammal and even insects to go on board and do crazy things in micro expansions.
Dino: Excellent! I am expecting much more to be added to this game in the future. It feels like a no brainer to me. Please tell me you have plans to create expansions in the future. “Houston, We Have a Lycan,” perhaps?
Ando: Houston, we have an elephant in the room. "Houston, we have 2 pigs, 2 cows and 2 goats!" - "I know, Noah!"
Dino: I know, Noah, too! He's a good guy.
Ando: Meet him every sunday, right?
Dino: To hand him olive branches, yes!

Dino: Houston, we have a space embryo!

Ando: It's up there! Not far from UrAnus.
Dino: You have some very interesting tiers in your campaign. One of them adds your first game, “Soviet Kitchen,” which is pretty cool, and another, the Pan-Dimensional tier, adds a spaceship. A spaceship? But the tier that really surprised me was the final one. It includes everything! The game, the expansion, Soviet Kitchen, AND Backers who back at this level will receive all future HYBR games? Wow, what an investment! Do you already have lots of ideas for these future games?
Ando: Yes, I can't wait to work on further games! Soviet Kitchen was quite simple, this game is quite a big step for us, but the following games will be even bigger and technically advanced. HYBR is researching object tracking and there's so many things that we want to do with it.
Dino: Guess we are nearing the end of this thing... which makes sense, considering I am teaching an online class in seven minutes… I am hoping more social deduction games are in your future?
Ando: We have to have that big internal debate in August whether we will proceed with a funny dungeon crawler or a Tower Defense Game with asymmetric Player vs Player options. But nothing is set. Only that we are going to do games and that we are going to return on Kickstarter!
Dino: Those sound promising!
Ando: I am so proud of this game that Social Deduction will most likely stay within the Houston brand.
Ando: But honestly, I can't wait to get my head into so many other genres too. Sorry Dino.
Dino: I'm sure you will keep us posted, and there's room in this world for all sorts of games. I want you to branch off if that's what you want to do!
Ando: Yes! This is a great crew you have here!
Dino: That was great! We want to thank Ando and HYBR Games for taking the time to come talk to us, today, and we hope everyone can check out their awesome kickstarter, which has been funded and has unlocked some awesome stretch goals so far!
Ando: Thank you! It was an honor to talk to you! have fun with your class. Greetings!