Interview: Andrew Federspiel & Dino talk about "Masters of Mutanite"

Masters of Mutanite - Innovative Spatial Deckbuilding Game

"It's a Spatial Deckbuilding game where you're running around the board collecting superpower cards and synergizing them with objects in the city for explosive effects!"

- Andrew Federspiel (Knapsack Games)

Interview 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: We proudly greet and welcome Andrew Federspiel of Knapsack Games to The Social Deduction Network! We are happy to talk to you today about your new kickstarter for Masters of Mutanite, a game where a group of unmasked power hungry individuals bring destruction and chaos to government buildings and public spaces. Do you feel your game serves as an escape from reality?

Andrew: Thanks for having me! Too soon, Dino. Too soon. By the way the Kickstarter community has responded, I've been thinking the exact same thing!

Dino: Ah... is my filter not working? Dang it… I am always happy when kickstarter campaigns have great promotional and how-to-play videos. Your campaign has both. The theme song in your promotional video takes me back to Saturday morning cartoons from my youth. Who came up with that song?

Andrew: Mission accomplished! I wrote the song a few years ago after we came up with the name. Later I contacted indie rock band Smallpools, and they helped me to bring it from a little diddy to something pretty awesome and polished sounding. It was just lyrics and lyrical melody before they joined on.

Dino: It even has an early 90s feel to it like it was recorded in during a different time. Well done.

Andrew: I put it in a time capsule when I was 6.

Dino:That's foresight right there! It does beg the question, though: Will the Masters of Mutanite ever have a crossover event with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? I would consider it. Donatello does machines, you know?

Andrew: Please, hold the spoilers for the end...

Dino: Hmm!?

Andrew: Kidding! I would absolutely love that. What if the ooze was actually radioactive FROM the Mutanite that fell from the sky?

Dino: If the Ninja Turtles came in contact with more ooze, would they mutate more? There is information in TMNT2 to suggest this… But how did all four turtles mutate equally? You would think one would have been exposed to the ooze at least slightly more than the others, but I digress...

Andrew: You are making me nostalgic... I used to have a crush on April. For plot holes like that I always think, "this is the iteration of the universe where things DID work out like this" and then everything is ok.

Dino: Which iteration of April, from the cartoon? That yellow jump suit does get attention, I suppose… Also makes me think of Bruce Lee and by extension Kill Bill...

Andrew: Yes from the cartoon, that yellow jumpsuit!

Dino: I guess I was too young to have crushes, although I did find Gadget from Rescue Rangers quite adorable…

Andrew: Haha I work on Disney Emoji Blitz (mobile game) and we created Gadget a little while back - we had that same conversation in the office!

Dino:I mean, she was attractive and had a pure heart. I'm sure many of us melted.

Andrew: Whip smart too compared to the gang!

Dino: And what a mind! Anyway... Ahem... moving on from... the weirdness... For anyone tuning in who is unfamiliar with your game, would you mind quickly going over the mechanics?

Andrew: Haha yes. So Masters of Mutanite - it's a Spatial Deckbuilding game where you're running around the board collecting superpower cards and synergizing them with objects in the city for explosive effects!

Dino: As an aside, that is cool that you worked for Disney! Wasn't expecting that.
Yes, go on.

Andrew: The Spatial Deckbuilding is neat because the city gets more dangerous over time as these elemental effects build up, influencing your deck building and combat decisions.

Dino: Ah! So, it's kind of like Super Smash Brothers on a board game? My kids got that for Christmas... Sorry... It's on the forefront of my mind...

Andrew: Actually, yeah, kind of! Interesting comparison - board changing, ability to throw objects, "super moves" (boosting with Mutanite). Super Smash is always welcome, I love that game!

Dino: Somehow between my young adulthood and now, I'm not as good at video games as I used to be. They've changed on me... Looks great and it's fun, but I'm not sure how to play it. When will Gadget become a playable character, is what I'm wondering… Anyway, players can play as individuals or as teams, correct? How do you prefer to play: as an individual or as a team member?

Andrew: Bionica is kind of like Gadget, in a way! Yes, so 2-3 players are free for all, 4 players are in teams. I prefer to play 2 players, to be honest. All player counts are fun, which I've heard from multiple reviewers, but I've always loved the control and predictability that comes from 2 players. I was big into Magic for a long time.

Dino: I suppose... If Gadget were a human in a large, intimidating mechanical suitand with an unwelcoming expression, I suppose…

Andrew: Ah you're right, she doesn't have the goggles!

Dino: Oh, interesting. 2V2 is your go to?

Andrew: I mean 1v1, mono y mono.

Dino: Would you rather play one versus one or three players individually going against one another? Just curious.

Andrew: I prefer 1v1, but 1v1v1 has a great smash party feel to it. Things start to get a little political which actually adds some nice texture to the game.

Dino: Oh, so avoid the game at Thanksgiving dinner, then.

Andrew: ...exactly what I'm saying Dino. Thank you for hearing me.

Dino: I am a big fan of Joey Vigour. When I found out he was involved with your game, I gave it a closer look. How did you come to work with him?

Andrew: Yes, Joey helped develop the game! Throughout development he was constantly poking and prodding and making sure it would shape up to be something awesome. We first met about 7 years ago when I moved down to LA from Seattle. He was working on Chaosmos (they had just funded).

Dino: Ah, yes.

Andrew: Around that time is when I started to think about what a superpower-focused game might be like. Fast forward a couple years later and I started holding playtesting nights in my garage. Joey was... expressive, and I decided to listen. We have stayed in touch and he's always been super smart and helpful with design.

Dino: Cool! Collaborations like that are invaluable, I'm sure.

Andrew: Yeah! I've helped him with some of his as well, particularly the upcoming Bad Koalas.

Dino: Really? I am anxious for that game! It could have just been called, "Koalas," in my opinion. Contrary to popular belief, they aren't naturally kind, lovable creatures.

Andrew: My best friend is a koala.

Dino:Oh... I... Ugh... I'm not prejudiced, I… Well, you see... Ugh… I love koalas!

Andrew: That's what I thought you said.

Dino: Yes… Ahem… The art style is very reminiscent of comic books. Having the characters and objects as standees also seems to heighten the comic book look. Who is the artist, and how did his partnership begin?

Andrew: The artist is Marvin del Mundo, a freelance artist in the Philippines. Marv has a wonderful way of making his characters, locations and power art pop off the page! I found his art on Behance I believe, and he's been excellent to work with.

Dino: So the superhero theme was there from the beginning of inception? And the art style always matched that theme?

Andrew: It's funny, from the beginning it was always "superpowers", and superheroes were optional. I've always had this fascination with singleton design (where every card is unique) and the synergies that come from combining them. Pair that with a tendency to act out hadoukens and make mouth sounds and you end up with my love of superpowers.

Dino: Content with super powers has definitely seen a sonic boom in popularity in recent years.

Andrew: In the beginning it was only superpowers, but these card-based prototypes lacked positional theming to drive the point home. When a board was added and we had characters running around, supers were the natural fit. For much of development it was actually heroes vs villains with asymmetric gameplay, but it was too complicated and I wanted to streamline it to focus on the powers again. I brought Marv in when the game was still asymmetric, so you can see that some of the characters are more "evil" in appearance. Now they just have RVF (Resting Villain Face). We kept them though as they look great and still give that X-Men feel which fits in with the Mutanite / Mutant aspect well.

Dino: Yes, I can definitely see that. Are there any easter eggs hidden in the city that eagle-eyed gamers should look for?

Andrew: Wow, if I mentioned them, I guess they wouldn't be easter eggs anymore.

Dino: Not true. When my kids go Easter egg hunting, they place the Easter eggs in a basket. When I ask them how many Easter eggs are in their basket, they count the eggs instead of saying zero.

Andrew: I was not provided with a basket.

Dino: You mean, you had to carry all your eggs by hand? Did you have to search for them barefoot in the snow, too?

Andrew: Yes, walking uphill both ways. Actually, probably the biggest easter egg is that civilians used to be a large part of the game! You can still see them throughout the zone art, the box art, and even the campaign video.

Dino: I saw that! One civilian turns into a super powered character. I was wondering about that. How were they originally going to fit in? Lose points if you accidentally kill one or something?

Andrew: In the asymmetric version, the heroes would rescue the civilians while the villains would try to take them out. It was quite violent. Joey did not approve. Anyway, you'd get points for interacting with them and by KO'ing your opponent, and points would win the game.

Dino: Oh! I see. I could see why that concept was scrapped. Substituting them for worthless koalas would have been a nice compromise. I mean... nothing! I love koalas!

Andrew: This interview is over.

Dino: Look, it… I am seeking counseling…Please, stop removing your microphone...

Andrew: Admitting your Koala problem is always the first step.

Dino: Yes, yes… Okay, okay… And you are helping me to grow. We're all learning here. Um… I like how unique and different each of the characters are. Do they each have established back stories or is that left for the imaginations of the players?

Andrew: Left to the imaginations of the players. At least for the time being. I think there's advantages to both...

Dino: The characters are essentially selfish and corrupted by power. I mean, they are destroying everything in sight so they could hoard all the power for themselves. If this really were a Saturday morning cartoon, wouldn’t you be receiving letters from angry parents?

Andrew: Yes, the goal is to get all the power and be the last Mutant standing. Too real again? Yes I'm sure that'd be the case. Is... is this you writing me an angry letter?
I think actually if there were a cartoon, we'd see a lot of shifting alliances over time around certain conflicts that edge characters depending on their motivations. Similar to X-Men (sorry, but, it was so good). Multiple people have said they want to see that campaign video turned into a Netflix show. Just waiting for Netflix to call.

Dino: Angry letter, no. I'm just a tough interviewer. There was once a show called Barnyard Commandos, I think it was. It was the pigs against the sheep. They were fighting for something... territory, or something…

Andrew: "These guys are animals!"

Dino: Neither side was good or bad, but they were adversaries. I loved it because of that.

Andrew: You're activating some weird part of my past, I had these action figures.

Dino: In the end, they almost made peace, but it ended with them in battle. What a daring choice that was. And how genuine and authentic.

Andrew: That's cool, that feels more like real life. Not black and white, but the gray zone animals. That is brave. I can see why it became so popular… Sometimes it's ok to let things not resolve. It's like a song that doesn't return to the tonic.

Dino: I thought it was brilliant. It really activated my imagination because they are enemies but neither side was necessarily good or bad. They were all likable, but their agendas conflicted to the point that they could never be friends. It was really clever for a Saturday morning cartoon and more real than most shows were willing to be with their clear good guy and bad guy lines.

Andrew: That's pretty rad honestly. I wonder if the creators went on to do big things since they were already daring.

Dino: Not sure. Worth looking into... Speaking of animals, is there any reason why none of the Masters of Mutanite are werewolves? Clearly, your game is missing something, and that something is werewolves.

Andrew: Actually, one of them IS a werewolf, they just haven't revealed themselves yet

Dino: Oh! A werewolf with mutanite would be a force to be reckoned with!

Andrew: Imagine the power!? There is a bit of deduction in the game actually - there are these reaction cards that let you respond when your opponent targets you with an attack. With the reactions, you're trying to gauge if your opponent has a reaction based on how they spent their turn before you take yours. Also, you're allowed to hold cards at the end of your turn, so you're deducing if the card they've held is a reaction or not (like if you should try and pull off your evil plan or if they'll thwart it).

Dino: I could see that. Could easily turn into a bluffing situation, too. This game has a lot of possibilities, don’t you think? Do you have sequels or expansions in mind? Werewolf expansions, perhaps?

Andrew: There are a bunch of expansions I have in mind! More powers, zone abilities, getting those civilians back in (as sidekicks or helpers), enlarging the city, integrating more players. BUT! First the game has to fund!

Dino: Yes, it seems to me that a great way to expand this game might be to make extra locations so that players can pick and choose which locations to use. That would dramatically increase the replayability, I think. But, whatever you have in mind, this game first! You are offering multiple tiers on your campaign. One is for the game, Masters of Mutanite, and another is a bundle tier for all three of your games. Quickly, please tell us about Apotheca and Knee Jerk.

Andrew: Sure, so Apotheca is an abstract deduction game where mysterious apothecaries are brewing magic potions. Knee Jerk is a party game where players are instantly shouting answers to finish off made up situations, quite improv inspired.

Dino: Oh? Deduction, you say? Hmm…

Andrew: Yes, it has lots of face-down information (but no memory involved).

Dino: Interesting... And backers can get all three games for $100?

Andrew: Yep! And that tier actually comes with lots of extras like KS exclusive and limited edition apothecaries, as well as an embroidered bag and mini expansions for Knee Jerk. Only 3 slots left for that tier.

Dino: Well, I am now thinking I should change my tier. Hey, that’s our interview! No koalas were harmed in its making, but Gadget and April O’Niel got some unsolicited attention. Andrew, thank you for being here. Masters of Mutanite is on Kickstarter now. Back it today!

Andrew: Tell that to the koalas - emotional pain is real pain! I mean... Thank you for having me, Dino.

Dino: A koala murdered my little sister. I mean, no problem!