While it isn’t necessarily relevant to the game as is, I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about Tiki Island, where it came from and how its development started. I’ve lost some of the original “art” but it was fascinating how a game evolves from where it started to where it is now, even one as fundamentally simple as Tiki Island. Anyway, here’s the story.
It was a cold January night, like so many before. Three friends were gathered around hearth, discussing the possibilities of an venture that, little did they know, would change everything.
So I’m definitely NOT going to do this whole thing like that, but the history of the start of the game is actually that simple. There were three of us talking about the possibility of making a game. We had always shared a passion for board games and all of us shared the love of design. We discussed everything about games (and life in general) and had played games together for 20 years. However, this night for some reason, we just went for it.
For those of you who have played the game, you may be familiar with a game called ‘Hex‘. It is a very old game. The play is simple (and in my opinion, extremely boring) but the idea is to basically see who can make a line from one side of the board to the other.
“…in one fail swoop we had a concept and an artistic theme to go with it.”
One of us said “We should do something similar to that concept, but different!” That was it. The spark was set. We talked about theme for a while, and many ideas were thrown around until we settled on “Island” theme. The Escape portion of the game came from the idea that it wasn’t enough to just build a chain, we needed to get something across. Why though? Well, they needed to escape something terrible. Something destroying their island. Why would they run to a different island being destroyed? Because they are made of wood…and not very smart. Cop out? Yes, but regardless, in one fail swoop we had a concept and an artistic theme to go with it.
Mechanics developed and play testing began. We actually play tested the game the first night we came up with the idea. Everyone was throwing mechanics left and right and the idea of “Powers” (later known as Runes) and “Soar” (which, up until VERY recently was simply labeled as Jump) came to light. We played several times before we recognized that completing your chain, much like hex, was game ending. We really didn’t have a great way to compensate anyone else if someone managed to get a complete island link across the map. Thus, Runes gained the power of discard, granting someone the ability to build, move or soar based on what runes they threw out.
More and more play testing showed that now, no one EVER played runes! They were just discarding them for a generic effect. Well, some of us played them (me…and I consistently lost). The Runes needed more power. Power up!!
Throughout this whole endeavor, I was constantly working on additional Runes and making some concept art. Deep down, I was hoping I could eventually get to making decent art, but I knew it just wasn’t going to happen. I started looking for artists. There are so many good artists, but I was having a rough time finding someone who could fit my vision. I eventually found and artists to help me with some of the non-islander designs, but he was unsure about islanders. He was wonderfully helpful though, and it helped make the game feel real.
Then, I found our lead artist. I pitched him my design desires and he sketched me a concept. It was fantastic! Better than I could have imagined. Once we decided on how we would proceed with design, the game was truly real. Back to play testing.
Play test, play test, play test. Tweak tweak tweak. Game!
It wasn’t quite that simple, but really, that’s how we ended up with what we did. Throughout the procedure, some people dropped out, new people joined, and a company was formed. Now, Matt and I are still trying to make everything work and we are having a blast at it!
“This has been a passion of love from the very beginning.”
For those of you wondering “Why did he take the time to write this?” let me tell you. I want everyone to know how we came to be! This is as much the story of Great Wight Games, LLC as it it Tiki Island. We love games. We love playing them, we love designing them and we really want our supporters to know that. This has been a passion of love from the very beginning. Tiki Island was a lot of work and no shortage of pain, but the end product is exactly what we wanted: A simple, fun, beautiful game that fits in a small box that’s packed to the brim. Everything we love, everything we stand for, and a welcome first game for our company.