Indie Devs Discuss Development of the Card Game

Board video games are a broad class wherein many creations fall. Dustbiters is sort of atypical in a number of methods, as it’s a card game with no different peripheral items, and additionally it is designed to be a fast and enjoyable various to traditional tabletop titles which require numerous set-up and studying. Automobiles are on the core of the expertise, and every of them has distinctive artwork and skills that add numerous character by way of gameplay.

Sport Rant spoke with the Dustbiters Crew, which is comprised of three indie developers: Terri Vellmann, Jan Willem Nijman, and Robbie Fraser. The three have every made a plethora of profitable video games previously, together with Minit, Broforce, Disc Room, Heavy Bullets, and extra. Interview has been edited for readability and brevity.

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dustbiters card game

Q: What’s the origin story behind the way you began working collectively on Dustbiters?

Nijman: Again in 2016, I used to be on a street journey with some individuals, together with Robbie, in Mozambique. It was a ravishing journey. We spent two weeks varieties cruising up and down the coast, but additionally getting there from South Africa was a really aggravating border-crossing. We had this glorious journey. Being recreation designers, within the evenings we’d play card video games and different stuff. After every week or so, we simply began making one thing new as a result of that is what we do for enjoyable. Dustbiters was simply that, and it was the results of being on a road trip, taking part in these at night time.

It was a quite simple concept: “Why do not we take this recreation, which is inspired by Mad Max, it is about automobiles, and we strip every part else. It is simply automobiles. No panorama, no tiles, no cube, there’s nothing as a result of we solely had paper and pen, and that is what we made the sport with. That is how the very first prototype began. A bit earlier than that, Terri and I had chatted about card video games, truly. Terri had made a recreation known as Pusher Kings, and simply mentioned “Hey, in case you ever need to make a card recreation collectively hit me up.” This was additionally in 2016. So I informed Robbie, and Robbie was like “Yeah! Let’s attempt to get Terri on board,” and Terri was like “Yeah, this recreation is actually enjoyable.” That was the origin story, the unique begin. Then, we playtested, and buddies of ours favored the sport even with all these ugly, scribbled, thorn paper playing cards.

Then later, with Terri’s artwork, we did the correct print-it-yourself session with numerous individuals. We realized this was one thing good, we would have liked to fine-tune it and ensure we might discover all of the bits of it that weren’t enjoyable and take away them. Any cars that weren’t great, too. We’re all engaged on different stuff too, so we took our time, we principally mentioned “We’re not stressing about this. At any time when you could have time, work on it.” During the last 5 years, we simply wrapped up the sport and tried to make it a actuality on this stress-free method. That is the entire journey summarized actual fast.

Vellmann: There was undoubtedly a vibe of “No stress, simply do it when you could have the time, take it gradual. We’ll discuss each on occasion.” It was by no means a undertaking we simply centered on above every part else. It was all the time a enjoyable factor we’d do on the aspect, proper up till the Kickstarter campaign.

Q: Was a tabletop card recreation your first concept for the sport you have been going to make collectively?

Nijman: There was truly a not excellent recreation that we tried making earlier than. We had a field of Rummikub, it is this traditional tabletop recreation. My grandma used to play it loads. It is with numbers, and colours, and issues you need to match. It is a cool recreation, and we tried to make a single-player solitaire dungeon-crawler out of that. I do not know why, however we did that, and we performed Rummikub. We did have numerous enjoyable making one thing on the journey, and the following night time, Dustbiters was the primary concept.

It was by no means one thing we thought, “Oh, we must always make it a online game,” and it was additionally by no means one thing that wasn’t about automobiles and this theme. These have been simply the right circumstances and combos of inspiration. From the beginning, it was very clear we wished to make this, and we have been simply fortunate that it labored. Generally you could have an concept, and generally it is horrible. This one simply felt prefer it made sense.

Q: How did you give you the world of Dustbiters within the first place?

Nijman: I believe we talked about how the unique inspiration was Mad Max, after which we handed it to Terri and mentioned “We completely belief you. Are you able to make artwork for this?” I believe that shaped numerous the setting too.

Vellmann: Yeah, but additionally the playing cards already had names, possibly not their remaining names, however they’d names they usually had mechanics. Lots of it was actually simply kinda wild, loopy, and enjoyable, not like super-aggressive or critical, despite the fact that the world has a post-apocalyptic vibe to it. That led the entire artwork fashion and that drove the theme. I believe it was close to the top that we thought it might be enjoyable if this was a subculture inside this world, they usually’re there doing it for enjoyable. That is why we got here up with the ‘outskirts of civilization’ theme, as a substitute of being your complete world identical to that. We simply wished it to be enjoyable, fascinating, with every automotive having character, simply browsing this big sandstorm.

Nijman: We additionally realized that with every part taking place within the final two years, the pandemic, the local weather change, that we did not need to make a post-apocalyptic recreation, despite the fact that it is impressed by post-apocalyptic media. We wished to make one thing that it is enjoyable, somewhat than one thing that is miserable.

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Q: Who would you describe Dustbiters to individuals who have not heard of it?

Vellmann: An important aspect to Dustbiters is you can set it up and start playing really quickly. So, when you’ve got somebody over, otherwise you’re assembly a buddy, it is extra like spending a few minutes over the principles and begin taking part in, experiencing the sport in full. It isn’t a recreation that you simply obtained to set issues up, learn the entire rulebook and have a lecture about methods to play the sport. After that, it is only a actually enjoyable, actually fast [experience]. Issues flip round on a regular basis.

Each flip it looks like you are going to win, however then you are going to lose, then one thing occurs that you weren’t anticipating. It is a very stunning recreation. It strikes very quick, and there is that feeling that every time a match ends you instantly need to begin taking part in once more. It is how I might describe it. The rulebook is brief and simple as a result of numerous these mechanics are within the playing cards, however you’ll be able to learn these as you begin taking part in, and after some time, you be taught all of the playing cards simply naturally. You get numerous the principles simply by taking part in.

Nijman: I believe it is also one thing none of us favored in tabletop video games, that in case you’re spending a enjoyable night time with buddies, we do not normally need to spend two hours studying methods to play and play a very lengthy recreation that you simply lose as a result of it is new. It was essential to us that Dustbiters is one thing you can clarify in 5 minutes, after which get into fast matches and play. You need not be taught it. You simply play it and have time instantly.


Q: Did any of the video games you made previously affect your work on Dustbiters?

Vellmann: My function was mostly the art and the game was nearly completed. Once I began engaged on it, for me it was extra profiting from the issues which are particular to the medium. So the artwork fashion that I can do since there aren’t any animations, they will have numerous element, or simply take into consideration the colours, that type of factor. Simply the truth that it is one thing you maintain bodily somewhat than digital, all of that could be very totally different than the opposite video games. I additionally made it very refreshing and likewise type of particular.

Nijman: I truly really feel fairly comparable there, in that it was so refreshing and galvanizing to not work on the computer. For us, to repair a bug, you decide a sharpie and also you add one thing new to the textual content on prime of the ugly paper card to check, and then you definitely play once more. Fixing bugs on the pc is a complete different hellhole that you need to dive into, so it was all very inspiring. You be taught a lot from each undertaking and you are taking that with you to the following one, however for this, simply the truth that it was so totally different and that it was a bodily factor, I believe it impressed and motivated all of us in some ways.

Q: Which video games, be it video video games or tabletop video games, have been a supply of inspiration for Dustbiters?

Nijman: I like numerous 70s’ cinema. Like, one in all my favourite films is Sorcerer, and it is from William Friedkin. It is about these criminals in Nicaragua who should drive two vans stuffed with nitroglycerin by way of the jungle, and the entire film is actually tense, actually heavy. Guys driving vans and being horrible individuals. It is actually good, and it is one in all my favourite films I believe. Stuff like that, despite the fact that you’ll be able to’t actually see that in Dustbiters, simply making one thing cool about that vibe round automobiles is very nice.

I believe the sport captures that basically properly within the artwork, but additionally in gameplay, it seems like a film, it is very fast for a tabletop recreation. One flip seems like a shot out of [Mad Max] Fury Road or one thing. It feels loads like an motion film, so for me, a minimum of, films have been a giant supply of inspiration.

Vellmann: I additionally considered Wacky Races, you realize, the Hannah Barbera cartoon as a result of all of the automobiles have very particular personalities. I do know it is a child’s cartoon, nevertheless it’s actually good.

Q: What have been your expectations going into the Kickstarter marketing campaign?

Vellmann: We actually had our minds set on having the playing cards produced. That was the primary factor that we wished to see occur. Each the prototyping and the ultimate manufacturing, no matter scale they ended up being, we simply wished to see it occur.

Nijman: Completely. The truth that we made it made us so pleased, that is a giant success. The sport goes to be in individuals’s palms. That is precisely what we hoped for. I believe it helped that we took our time with every part. Even earlier than the Kickstarter, we spent numerous time asking individuals who had completed this earlier than for recommendation and likewise search for the right producer to make this recreation. We did not need to should take care of production, delivery, and all that. When iam8bit obtained concerned, there was feeling that we might do that. We took our time and ready every part, nevertheless it was nonetheless scary – you are placing this Kickstarter on the market, all people can see it, possibly you do not make it and the sport is just not going to occur. Nevertheless it did tremendous properly. We’re all actually grateful.

Vellmann: There’s additionally this bizarre area and time the place individuals can get in, get the sport now, and we do not know what is going on to occur sooner or later. Somebody might discover the sport a yr from now, however we did one thing only for the Kickstarter. Perhaps we’ll be capable to nonetheless supply it afterward, however we do not know proper now. It is a particular few days for the sport and for us.

Nijman: It is usually produced with high-quality boxes and cards, and possibly somebody’s grandchild will discover it in sixty years and say, “What’s that?” That is not going to occur with video video games. It is superb.

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Q: How did you give you all of the totally different automobiles, together with bikes and horses, and all their totally different skills?

Nijman: The horse was truly designed by Kitty Calis, whom I labored with on Disc Room and Minit, and she or he mentioned “It’s a must to have a horse.” The whole lot else, Robbie and I simply wrote down on the primary day. A large listing of concepts of issues we might attempt with the playing cards. Most of them have been very unhealthy, however we tried all of them. Any card that wasn’t enjoyable we threw away. When you maintain doing that for a protracted sufficient time, in the long run, you are solely left with one thing that works. One thing that is enjoyable and fascinating.

We needed to make numerous onerous selections, the place a bunch of automobiles that we actually cherished have been too highly effective or they broke the game. Pondering again on the minimalism of Dustbiters, the truth that it is solely playing cards with no additional stuff, something that did not work properly we took it out, even when we have been hooked up to it. It was a matter of making an attempt every part and decreasing it till it was good.

dustbiters card

Q: Which automotive is your favourite and why?

Vellmann: Mine is the Thoughts Manipulator, I simply known as it.

Fraser: I used to be going to choose that one as properly.

Vellmann: I knew you’d. It is the trickiest one. It is the one you bought to be careful for probably the most. You should use your opponent’s automotive as if it was yours. You may decide any of your opponent’s cars that is within the convoy, so you need to use their automotive, take out one other automotive, or one thing. It is actually difficult. They may have a automotive that they are establishing, and you’ll mess every part up for them. It is actually unpredictable, and you’ll carry on creating these bizarre chains between a bunch of various playing cards, so it is a actually enjoyable one. It prices one motion – you utilize the facility of this card, and you utilize the facility of one in all your opponent’s automobiles.

Fraser: Proper up there with the Thoughts Manipulator is the Mimic. The Mimic features precisely just like the automotive in entrance of it. The rationale why I believe that is so fascinating is that it might change into a unique card each time one thing adjustments place, and you need to use that to your benefit. You should use your different playing cards or your different actions to shift the board’s state round and alter the facility that the Mimic has. It is my subsequent most suitable option.

Nijman: My favourite card is the Spiky as a result of there is a canine on it.

Fraser: I believed you have been going for the horse.

Nijman: The horse provides slightly additional into the combo, however Spiky has a canine.

Vellmann: I nearly mentioned the Necromancer, I like that as properly since you all the time should search for the automotive that is going to get trashed subsequent, and you’ll actually change the sport as properly.

Nijman: The automobiles are all distinctive, and you do not reshuffle in case you run out of playing cards. It additionally signifies that in case your opponent has your favourite automotive, you will not be capable to get it except you do some trickery together with your playing cards. As soon as the playing cards are gone you’ll be able to’t get any new ones and you’ll’t draw anymore. There’s one automotive that picks up playing cards from the scrapyard, but when that automotive is destroyed there isn’t any solution to get extra playing cards into the sport. It is a struggle till the final automotive standing.

Fraser: What I like about that’s as a result of one automotive is all the time destroyed by the mud storm each flip, it means that there’s a finite period of time a recreation can final. It might’t go on without end. The top is certainly coming, and the sport builds as much as a climax, which I like.

Q: Which was the longest recreation that you simply skilled, and which was the shortest?

Nijman: It’s kind of like chess. You may take a very long time making the right resolution when you’ve got gamers like that. Once I play, personally, they by no means last more than quarter-hour, however I prefer to play very dangerously.

Q: Are your real-life autos included in some kind within the recreation?

Nijman: I do not suppose any of the playing cards are primarily based in your automobiles. [To Vellmann] You have got a automotive, proper?

Vellmann: Yeah, I’ve a automotive. It’s actually boring, it would not have any spikes on it, no flags, it has all of the doorways in place. Horrible. So, no.

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Q: Have you ever thought-about porting the sport to digital platforms?

Nijman: I believe it could type of defeat the aim of getting made a physical game. Clearly, we’ll by no means say by no means, however to me, it was a lot enjoyable not having to the touch a single line of code for this undertaking that even the thought of programming it ruins it for me, however I do not know the way you two really feel about that.

Fraser: Yeah, I agree. I additionally suppose that the sport works greatest as type of a tiny portable factor. You may convey it to a celebration, you’ll be able to play it when you’re ready for a meal at a restaurant, one thing like that. I believe it is very informal. I do not suppose it could be the type of factor that works properly to obtain on Steam.

Q: What are your plans after the Kickstarter marketing campaign ends?

Nijman: We spent nearly six years eradicating playing cards from the sport and grinding it down to 21 cards. I believe, for me, that is Dustbiters. It really works very well and it is nice. We haven’t any plans for expansions proper now. It will be very good to see it arriving in shops the place individuals are capable of play it, however the recreation itself feels completed to me. It is good, it is there, it is Dustbiters.

Vellmann: We now have a factor in our Kickstarter the place individuals can get a customized card, a novel one only for them – a single card that is going to get printed identical to the opposite playing cards. That is one thing we will do proper after the campaign, nevertheless it’s simply going to be a number of playing cards for a number of individuals. Then, simply actually the ready for our remaining decks. It is simply going to be some ready after the Kickstarter.

Fraser: I agree with JW. I believe the sport is completed, and it could be onerous to design extra content material for it. I believe it is the kind of design that works so properly as a result of it’s streamlined and solely the most effective playing cards are there. The games are short and the standard of every recreation is actually excessive. I do not suppose it is the type of recreation that works higher in case you make expansions for it. If we did extra with it, I believe I might prefer to see extra distribution aspect of issues, get it in shops, making it extra accessible to individuals somewhat than altering the sport itself.

Q: Do you could have plans to make extra tabletop video games?

Nijman: It is onerous to go on beautiful road trips now to get impressed, however we haven’t any plans proper now. This one took six years, and it was very spontaneous, it simply occurred. We took our time and we tried to make one thing lovely, and now we’re on the level the place it is taking place. I believe the truth that it wasn’t one thing the place we sat down saying “Hey, we will make one thing collectively, let’s suppose actual onerous about what we’re making,” nevertheless it simply occurred. That is a part of what makes it so good.

Vellmann: I really feel like, with video games, you could have so many extra concepts than you could have the likelihood to execute them, like, it takes longer to complete. It is actually onerous to say which concepts sooner or later we’ll go forward with and be enthusiastic about. So yeah, it simply comes naturally.

Q: Is there the rest you need to add?

Nijman: I simply need to add that in Dustbiters, Terri and I met on Discord with Kitty Calis and Dom Johann. We began a recreation collectively [Minit] and we launched it. So it was good, with Dustbiters from earlier than that. It is actually pretty to have this occur.


Dustbiters is about to launch in November 2021 for Kickstarter backers.

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