Ches: All right. I’m here with Dan Machado. He is one of the creators of the game gravity warfare which is a unique dexterity board game and the Kickstarter for this game will be live about the time this episode goes out. So look forward to that soon. So thanks for coming on the show. Dan
Dan: Hey thank you for having me. How are you guys doing?
Ches: So so I’ve played this game a couple times I actually played it at a local gaming pub And when we were playing this game we had probably half a dozen people come over to our table and ask us about this game because they saw it and they were just so curious about it. Describe what makes this game so visually interesting what what is so unique about it at first glance.
Dan: Yes I saw the pictures on social media you look pretty happy playing our game. But what makes the game pretty unique compared to other games is the balancing mechanic. Although there are other games out there they have a balancing platform. Ours is unique in that it never falls. We But we had to patent it to be able to bring it out because times out nobody had before. And we developed a game based on that mechanic or that principle. So we have a platform or a board that you can play your pieces on and the board will tip over or become off balance but it will eventually turn and go back to the balancing position. I think that’s what makes people really mystified with the game. Every event that we go to our presentation involves you know with interest in the game saying Hey my name is Dan and play Gravity Warfare a dexterity game that involves some strategy. And I like to tip the board all the way down to it touches the base almost completely vertical and I just let it go and people are like, “Oh my God, that’s not falling!” And that’s pretty incredible.
Ches: So kind of to paint a picture for people who haven’t seen it. The board is kind of like a C shape kind of a wide C shape and then has a little piece in the middle that juts out that sits on top of a little spire and that’s what it balances around that one point. It’s like those old toys when you’re a kid with the Eagle. They might be like an eagle shape or whatever that they have their wings flying forward and and you can balance the whole thing on the tip of your finger and spin it around and tilt it And it’s perfectly balanced. it’s a really cool design because also balances pretty high up So from a distance you see this really cool balancing board that is sometimes spinning and tilting. it’s very unique Just look for a game and then that plays into how the game is played. so can you give a rundown of kind of the basic ways that the game is played.
Dan: Sure. the game it’s play well we have a couple game plays because we have some cards that you need to get familiarized with and need to know what the cards mean before you jump into the actual game. So we start with a luck of the draw which is their first game play where players would shuffle the deck of cards and on each turn they would draw a card and whatever the card says that’s going to be their turn then players would roll the dice. There’s a dye that tells you which piece to play. Players have a color set of pieces. There are three pieces and there’s one of the dice that tells you which troop or force to put on the on the platform and the other that tells you where you are going to play it. There are several zones or locations on the board where you have to play your piece. So you would roll the dice and whatever the card said you you do that action and it may be that you need to use chopsticks to play the pins on the board which is pretty popular. Every time it comes out people are just like, “oh my God we have to use chopsticks? I don’t eat Chinese” and they to have to spin it sometimes so they have to play two pieces. Like a totem together or you know there are several challenges I need to do that may get pretty difficult to play. And you know gamers really enjoy the game.
Dan: Well I’m I want to mention that there are two sides of the platform. The platform has a spaceship design on one side. And if you want to play a different type of style play you can turn it around. It’s pretty easy it will be in the instructions how to do that and you can play in Space. You have like the sun or the planets that you place your pieces on and then you do several rounds of luck of the draw where players draw the cards. Usually whenever all the cards are drawn and everybody can identify the card and what that means you can jump into Player’s Choice which is the actual game that we want people to play. In this game play you receive a player card which represent a commander or a leader of an alien race and you have a special ability and you can use that ability to help yourself or hinder other players turns and make them lose on their turn.
Dan: The way this game play works is that you would get several cards of which you choose to play with for your turn. And then you can use those challenges. To play them on other players so you can force other players to play in the ways that you were having to do it before. So you can tell player to to play their turn using chopsticks or while spinning it or while playing two pieces at a time and it can get pretty cutthroat with with some people. Some guys are pretty aggressive we just went to Gen Con. And at Gen Con we had the most aggressive gamers that we’ve ever seen in our events. We have a limit of cards for your hand they were just throwing them out there trying to get people to lose so fast. It was pretty intense. So that’s how you play Gravity Warfare.
Ches: Yeah it’s you know we play it and I’m generally not a fan of dexterity games but it is really fun and it is very unique. It’s the kind of game that you definitely remember once you see it. And certainly once you play it. is gravity warfare your first game design? What gave you the idea to to actually produce your own game?
Dan: Yes it our first game and game design. The idea came from my dad. Actually. I can’t take credit for the game idea. My dad actually made this. He made the generation zero prototype. Of this game when we were young. Bout 15, 16 years ago. And he’s a master carpenter and at the time he said he dreamt of the idea of the game and made it out of out of wood in the shop and then showed it to us. And we played it for a while we would play with rocks or other pieces of wood and it would have a very big die with colors on them and the platform would have colors on and just like the game today but very robust. And we would rolle die and play little rocks on it and it would fall and then it would balance that in that time and it just went away. I remember I didn’t see it anymore. For a long time and. Just recently my dad brought it to the house and I was like “Oh my god, look at the game. I remember that.” So we started planning and I remember what it was that was pretty fun. And even today I was with that prototype that so old and robust, it was pretty small too. We we started playing in my kitchen and playing with the little things. This is a pretty good game it’s more fun than I remember actually. So we we’re avid board gamers. and playing board games my whole life with my brothers, cousins, whomever and I just said let’s make it a game. Let’s just try to develop it and to get some rules out and see where we go from here. And it as been a long bumpy road. we’ve got a we’ve got a final product or almost final some polishing touches. But we have a pretty good game there.
Ches: So you said the idea came to your dad in a dream?
Dan: That’s what he says. Yeah it is based on the idea the the bird the eagle that balances and it was it was pretty pretty difficult to get the other kinks worked out. We got to a stage where we feel comfortable saying that it’s a pretty good game. We get nothing but good feedback from some of the complaints are from the art or the early complaints with the art and some of the stuff that some people can’t get past the fact that as a prototype we’re still testing it out and it’s still a prototype. So nothing from then on it’s been pretty good especially Gen Con. We’ve gotten really good feedback at Gen Con, a lot of attention from the publishers. You know pretty pretty good. We’re really happy with what we have.
Ches: That’s amazing that the this game sat around for years and it’s been around for so long and you kind of stumbled upon it again and then it has become this pretty big project and the prototype is definitely playable. And that’s really cool that it came from literally a dream years ago and then now it’s a physical thing that people can play with. And and you guys are working some angles to get it produced pretty soon.
Dan: I still can’t get over the fact that my dad, He put it under the bed and it stayed at the house that I grew up in under his bed for fifteen years. It was still there in a little plastic bag that kept all the little pieces and other things. It was incredible.
Ches: Recently boardgames have had a little bit of a renaissance or kind of a boom so now’s now it’s a pretty good time to be in the board game industry. So maybe it kind of worked out.
Dan: Yeah that’s one of the reasons why we started talking about getting this commercialized and developing the game. We found out that since 2013 just about when we’re building the business plan for the company we found a lot of articles from 2014 until now that the gaming industry was growing at a rate of about 20 to 30 percent each year. And it should keep going faster as the years come. And you know I guess my my educated guess is that all the people that grew up with board games – I didn’t grow up with videogames – I grew up with board games. And, I guess all the people that used to like playing board games or want to get that feeling back of what how fun it was playing with friends and having people over. They’re grown up now and they have money so that they can buy board games.
Dan: With what you mentioned for the game that it was so well done. We actually want to make it so that you know if you aim for perfection and you achieve greatness. Even if you don’t get to where you want to be you’ll have something good at the end. And we don’t want to make half effort at prototypes where you know you do whatever to try to get it out. See if people want to play it. The presentation is so much of a game that it’s important that every prototype that will make not just for this game but for the following games. We want them to look as close to the final product as we can. And we actually did the game ourselves. We have some quotes from some prototype companies and their quality wasn’t promised to what we expect it to be. And. We just didn’t want to let that happen. So we want to make sure that it was a quality product that we would bring to play testers and other gamers.
Ches: You mentioned that you had some some difficulties along the way getting to this point. So what were some of those difficulties in the process of making this game?
Dan: Well has been a road to take. It takes a lot of time. Mainly, The most difficult part of this project was the patents. We had to hire lawyers and do the whole patent process it was lengthy and you know trying to protect the idea and then the copyright of the game being that it’s you know it’s getting so much attention and people are saying, “Wow, we haven’t we seen that before.” It really builds up our confidence that this is pretty new or unique and we’re glad that we took those steps before we brought it out to the public. But he yes the patent process is pretty difficult. I think that’s the most difficult we have for this game. But not all games need a patent. All they need is a copyright and I don’t see other game designers that just stick with the a board game with some dice and cards and an idea would have the same problem. We have.
Ches: Yeah. Most most games. It’s nearly impossible to patent things like game designs and stuff like So maybe I don’t know if you want to go super in-depth on it but what part is is actually patented and what’s unique about the design?
Dan: The way it works the way we balance the way that we make the board balance on the pivot point. And then the way it it just stays that way even if you tilt it and bump it spin it or hit it the board will never fall so long as you treat it decently. You can put it to the maximum tilt and spin it or do whatever and the board will just go back to the center of gravity. What’s unique about it is the adjustable pivot point assembly that’s what is called for the patent. boards are pretty difficult to balance in the way that we did it. And any issue with weight distribution in the wings or any part of that board that’s just a little or even a half a gram off on one side it will tilt the board on that side. it was a pretty good idea from my dad’s part. He came up with it, I didn’t come up with it. That was one of the issues we were having with the board. You know if we make this the C shape board and then we set it on a on a pivot point you know it will keep falling on the floor. That was one of the issues that we had playing the first prototype, cuz when he brought it we played it and played it so many times trying to get ideas on how to make this better and how to make it a game that other people would want to play and the set up part where you would put the pieces on and will fall much like other games out there that you set up the platform and it does balance. But as you interact with the board it would fall and the pieces would fall. And then there’s reassembly we had to put it all back together to try and get a balance on the right spot. It will take anywhere from a minute to three minutes And I wanted to keep playing. I want to keep playing I don’t want to keep redoing this. I really didn’t like it and I don’t like games that are like that where you play and you have to wait for somebody to set it up correctly and I just want to go again and doing the first early prototype and find out that that weight distribution is so key and manufacturers cannot promise that it will be perfect every time. But that’s what we need. We need it to be perfect in order for it to be balanced correctly on the pivot point. Otherwise if there’s even a little gram of plastic more on one corner then the board will just tilt and it would be very visible tilt. The pieces are nothing but a gram. A gram and a half and two grams and any little weight would make the board shift. And he came up with the idea to adjust that pivot point and compensate for that weight distribution. And so now we have a product that it doesn’t matter the manufacturer is off 10 grams or a kilo. you can shift the pivot point to that imperfection and then find the correct balancing for the game. So I think that’s that’s what makes mostly that’s what makes the game unique and that it doesn’t matter how you set up the board or if it’s just not right on the manufacturing. It’ll always be balanced. You can always get it balanced.
Ches: You already mentioned that the reaction to the game has been positive. Because generally been positive. That’s definitely been my experience. Maybe you can go into a little bit more detail about that What do people point to when they talk about them liking the game? What is it about the game that they like?
Dan: Well mostly at this point where we have this almost final product except for a few changes or minor changes. People really like the way that the board balances on the pivot point and they’re just amazed. At this thing when it just spins around you can hit it. And the fact that the pieces almost look like they’re sticking to the board and you can find it took us a while to figure out what materials to use and how to set it up so that we get the most angle possible for the board without the pieces falling. Because at the beginning the piece that would just slide off even if you put a little bit of tilt they just slid off. It took us some some time to find the correct materials to get the most playability of the game. The people are real amazed as I’m going through a demo and I’m explaining to people how the game works and I and I just get them started with the basics and I just go along. And every time a new card comes up or something that’s not normal I’ll explain that’s how it works. And I would wait for the right moment to where one of the challenges come up which is Stack It or Hitch a Ride where they have to put a piece on top of another and explain why have you seen the pieces are notched so they’re being put together and they’re like “oh really they do?” and they do. And they just grab all the pieces and they all fit? “Yeah they fit except for those two because they don’t fit.” But all of them pretty. All of them are really designed in a way that you can fit them together and you can play some of the challenges that are in the game and they really like that as well. Aside from a few, most people really like the arts the art is original. Our Artis which is my sister in Spain she is the one doing all of the art and people really like what the cards look like and that they’re not just conventional. Like all these other games that they put their hand drawn or hand painted.
Ches: On so so the design and the art that’s it’s that’s all within within your family. So it’s kind of a family project?
Dan: It is it is a family project. My dad he was a carpenter back home and we had a business where he would build furniture. Closets, doors all kinds of things; puzzles and toys for kids. One of the most popular ones was a kitchen for kids one of those like a Toy’s R Us or what not little kitchen, toy kitchen. We made a lot of those. He wanted to make out of wood and the board right now is made out of wood. We’re working on the deluxe version which is made out of wood and by him. There will be no no plastic pieces. Everything will be wood and I have a degree in business administration. So I was the one that would take the red tape and do all the documents and work on the things that nobody really wants to deal with. My brother, he’s a 3D graphic designer. He was in Paris up until recently, but now he’s in Spain, also. And he’s doing most of the 3D design: the board; the pieces; the way the rulebook – all of that design which is invaluable. He’s been – my brother and sister they have been key to to getting the game going. The rest of my siblings – which I’m one of six, by the way. The rest of them given their input to the game and helped in making the game what it is today.
Ches: Well that’s really cool. You mentioned back home. Where are you from originally?
Dan: I’m originally from Venezuela. I didn’t realize I said “back home.” But yeah, we’re from Venezuela. I was born in the states and we’re in South Carolina right now. And we all traveled to different countries in the world. My brother he’s in Paris he has a Venezuelan food truck called Ahi Dulce and apparently French people really love Venezuelan food. He’s making it out there, it’s pretty good. And my sister she’s in Australia. I have another brother who was in Hungary but he also moved to Spain with my other brother and my other sister and I am here in the States.
Ches: Did I remember right that . . . For my listeners I was introduced to to Dan and Gravity Warfare through my wife. She met them at a convention and has really fell in love with the game. And actually went and hung out with you guys at Gen Con. So I was kind of neat. So do I remember right that she said that you were in the armed forces?
Dan: I was. I’m a six year veteran of Navy. I was a lineman for a few years and it was a fun a fun full of experience venture. I don’t regret it one bit. I thought that I wanted to do more things and decided to get out of the Navy, honorably. And I started my own business in real estate. I got a couple of properties here in South Carolina which I was renting out, being a property manager. And after some time I decided to get out of that. And coincidentally it was around the time where my brother came back to us and I sold off one of the properties get rid of that business and we’re nose deep into into this venture.
Ches: Oh wow. It’s incredible that you have your family all around the world. I’ve never heard of a family quite like that.
Dan: We all we all took different paths. It was funny. This is off topic but I remember people would see me like on Christmas Time. Or some of the major holidays and birthdays. I would go especially in Christmas I would go back to the houses had to be at the house because we would Skype and I would have about three or four Christmases or New Year’s Eve. And I would I would chant down New Year’s three or four times on my computer because, you know, time zones. So I would celebrate all these new years with the brothers and sisters.
Ches: That’s amazing. So let’s talk about I guess the Kickstarter – that’s coming up soon. You know we record a couple of weeks in advance so this episode will probably air sometime near when the Kickstarter starts. So how are you feeling about that? What do you think the Kickstarter is going to be like?
Dan: The Kickstarter has been a challenging experience. We didn’t think it would be this difficult to do the Kickstarter. Doing a Kickstarter is not hard. You just set up a campaign and launch it and hope for the best but to have a truly successful campaign where you have a fanbase and building that fanbase getting some followers. People interested in the game and mainly just getting the word out there that your game exists because almost all other than one person that I don’t think he was his type of game you just want really close minded into what game he liked what games he would only play. he ended up at our table and he really didn’t have anything to say. The only person but everybody – we’ve play tested it in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Orlando, Indianapolis at Gen Con, the Dice Tower, San Diego California everybody liked the game had nothing bad to say. And the Kickstarter – building that fan base. We really want to gather as much as we can and being that everything that we’re getting is good feedback. We were thinking that the game or the campaign should be successful. It’s just that people don’t know that it is exists yet. I mean there are backers out there, we just need to find them and let them know that this game is here for them.
Dan: That’s what’s challenging: finding the people, finding the true followers that will back you up before the campaign starts. That’s the challenge the marketing side; reaching out to people; clients it’s it’s really challenging. We do have right now we have a Kickstarter campaign pretty much ready to click launch just a little touch here and there but you know we do have some fans. We don’t think there that we have enough coverage to really be successful. We need to be successful on the first day first, first 12 hours we need to be successful. And that’s key given what we’ve been told from experience from other designers and other publishers. How it needs to go and the way that Kickstarter works with the most backed campaigns or when they’re being backed enough. You know, they feature you on their site. Are you sure and show up more on the site. And while it brings you more backers people the traffic the Kickstarter sites that that’s key and that’s what we’re working on right now.
Ches: I definitely definitely understand the visibility problem. The flip side of a board gaming being kind of hot right now is that there are a lot of people out there making board games doing board games Kickstarters – if I remember right, game Kickstarters actually bring in more money than any other category. And so so the expectations are high. There’s there’s you know it’s it’s actually I don’t know if Angie told you this — but before I started doing the podcast in earnest, I worked for about a year developing a board game or a board game company. So I definitely understand that it’s it’s definitely one of those things that seems easy. But actually pulling it off is definitely another story.
Ches: In particular, in terms of getting your name out there; every podcaster knows that that struggle for their podcast as well.
Dan: I mean if not just making a game and being a millionaire. That definitely not how it works. Being a game design if that’s what you want to do and just design games then that’s definitely an option that’s out there. A lot of people just design a game, make a good-looking prototype. And they bring it out there hoping to get publishers to buy them or license them out. Or what have you. but having a company where you want to take care of those things instead is a challenge. We have to meet with manufacturers, meet with the distributors, equipment houses, the customs agents. So we have everything from the manufacturer whenever the first plastic is melted in China to where you’re opening up the box in your house. So getting all of that all those gears lined up and making the machine run pretty smoothly. That’s that’s one of the challenges.
Ches: All right how can listeners find out more about about Gravity Warfare. Where can they find you on social media?
Dan: You can find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Our username is at underscore Gravity Warfare. We’re a little late getting the username. But on Facebook we’re @ Gravity Warfare and we’re pretty much on there every day while we try to post pictures every day or every other day posting pictures of new projects or new prototypes coming up. Or you know just to try to stay engaged with the community that follows us. It’s important for us. Another site that you can go is our Web site: www.GravityWarfare.com. if you want to get updates and receive notifications for when our Kickstarter is gonna start or release dates, retail dates as well as other products and other games that we have coming up that’s a good way to go and join our mailing list.
Ches: Awesome and I’ll have links to all of that in the podcast show notes.
Dan: Also we’re on Board Game Geek. We have an article or a page for the game. If you go on BoardGameGeek.com and you type in Gravity Warfare you can see read up all about our game. We have a lengthy description of the game. Some pictures of the box, the components, and you know everything you want to know about the game is there.
Ches: Very cool. Thanks, Dan, for coming on the show and talking about Gravity Warfare.
Dan: Thanks Ches for having me.
- Dan Machado talks about the unique dexterity board game Gravity Warfare and it’s unconventional origins
- How a family spread throughout the globe works together to make the game a reality
- Gravity Warfare started as a dream (literally), but we discuss the reality of what it takes to bring a board game to life
- Gravity Warfare website
- Gravity Warfare on Twitter: @_GravityWarfare
- Gravity Warfare on Facebook
- Gravity Warfare on Board Game Geek
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+7 Intelligence is the podcast about how games impact people.
Each episode explores a different perspective on how games profoundly influence the real world. Interviews with game designers, psychologists, professionals, and everyday players discuss the unique way that games influence their life and work.
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