As part of our October Spotlight on Resistor, we strive to inform readers of little extra tidbits surrounding the game. Games are made by people, and one of those tidbits we enjoy is learning a little bit more about the people behind them. Some designers shy away from the public stage, while others enjoy being front and center.
In the case of designers Nicole Kline and Anthony Amato, it’s not so much a case of whether or not they’re in the public eye but where they are. Trying to track their movements can be as erratic as a cat chasing a laser pointer. Wherever they are though, our investigative reporting has revealed that a) mayhem will ensue, and b) it will probably be entertaining. These two designers have hit the ground running with their inaugural game and never seem to stay idle for long. Luckily, we were able to keep up with them long enough to chat a bit about their game, Kickstarter, and the end of the world.
It turns out the end of the world may happen pretty quickly too, thanks to Resistor. That is what the game is about, after all.
In this quick-moving card game for two players, Resistor pits two supercomputers against each other. At some point in our future, we’ll decide that humans simply can’t be trusted to not blow ourselves up with nuclear arsenals and have entrusted their operation to these two all-powerful computer systems. And just as you’d expect, that proved to be a bad idea. Each of these computers calculated that the best option for ultimate survival was to get rid of the other one. This game is a representation of that process, whereby both players are trying to create and manipulate pathways from their computer core to their opponent in order to disable them…permanently.
Either way, chance are us humans are probably doomed, undone by our own hubris. Again. Really, when it comes to these sorts of stories, we have a terrible track record. We shouldn’t be surprised at this point.
Since we probably don’t have much time before the warheads start flying, we’ll keep this one brief. Anthony and Nicole were happy to share some of their insight on how they orchestrated the apocalypse, which we are sharing with you today. One could say they were rather chipper about it, even. Either they’re unaware what they’ve just set in motion, or they’re secretly some of the most masochistic people on the planet. We’ll let you decide. Enjoy!
Round One Questions
CR: What was your Gateway Game?
Nicole: Balderdash was what really did it for me. I played tons of games growing up, but my fondest childhood gaming memories are with that game.
Anthony: Somewhere between D&D and Warhammer. I don’t know! That’s a hard question and I definitely feel like I’m late to the party.
CR: What was the last game you really enjoyed playing (besides Resistor)?
Anthony: Slap .45 for me!
Nicole: I’m currently obsessed with Codenames, though I had a complete blast playing Hula Hippos this weekend!
CR: How big is your game collection?
Nicole: Well, a few weeks ago, I cleaned our entire gaming shelf, rearranged everything, and carefully entered all of it into BGG. If that’s accurate, we have 194 board games, 64 of which are expansions!
CR: What is your favorite type of game to play?
Anthony: Games with strong visual or spatial elements, as well as those with tactical movement.
Nicole: Right now, I’m really into worker placement games. But I don’t really have a “type” – if it’s fun, I love it.
CR: How do you feel about Monopoly?
Nicole: I haven’t played it in so long, but I don’t have that scathing hatred most gamers seem to have. I used to play it a lot as a kid with my family. The first flipped board that ever happened to me was my uncle accusing me of cheating at Monopoly. Like I had to cheat to beat him, even at age six!
Anthony: I dislike it. I dislike games where the winner is rewarded for winning by being able to win more. That is to say, I dislike games about unbridled capitalism.
CR: We made a lot of references in our preview of the game to various apocalyptic shows and movies. What exactly was the inspiration behind this game’s theme?
Nicole: I would definitely say War Games was a big inspiration for us, which is pretty obvious.
Anthony: I was also inspired by early computing and circuit boards. I mean, they look awesome!
CR: Resistor uses double-sided cards in an intriguing way. What gave you the idea behind such a mechanic?
Nicole: Believe it or not, we made this game at a game jam. The theme was “Pick an Oasis song title and make a game out of it.” The song we chose was “Roll it Over”, which was what gave rise to the idea of using double-sided cards and flipping them.
Anthony: The double-sided cards were therefore developed from wanting to have simple moves, with “flip” being one of the simplest maneuvers I could think to make. If flipping is an option, there has to be something on the other side to make it worth doing, right?
CR: How close is the finished version of the game to the original concept? That is, what changed since its initial creation?
Nicole: One thing that was hard to nail down was the scoring mechanic. It started as pulses going back and forth, sort of like a tug-of-war, and evolved into what we have now. The evolution was partly due to the addition of the Resistor card itself, which wasn’t in the original.
Anthony: Yeah. Other than that, the basic idea has largely remained unchanged. We’ve tried a few other things, but always came back to the original concepts.
CR: Resistor received more than twice its funding goal on Kickstarter. Were you surprised to the reception it received?
Nicole: I was absolutely shocked. I cried a lot the first two days! I was stunned and thrilled. I knew our friends would support us, and I was so grateful. But I had no idea how many strangers – and so many friends of friends – would back us as well. It was a humbling experience.
Anthony: I blame Nicole for that.
CR: Kickstarters are always a learning experience, though. What was your greatest success of the campaign (besides funding)? Your biggest failing?
Anthony: I wish we were more knowledgeable about how to get games to our overseas customers and just about distribution in general. We partnered with Level 99 Games, who did a great job handling all the knitty-gritty of shipping and distribution.
Nicole: The greatest success of the campaign was making a name for ourselves. We really wanted to have a successful Kickstarter and get some good games out there so that people would trust us and have faith in our abilities as designers. I feel like so far we’re doing that.
The biggest failing to me was that it took us so long to get the Kickstarter going. We made the game in August of 2013 and didn’t run the Kickstarter until February of 2015. I wished we could have gotten it out sooner, but we both have jobs and all that other life stuff, so it took longer than we wanted.
CR: In the game, Resistors speed up the endgame by shortening the card path. What’s the biggest Resistor cascade failure chain have you seen?
Nicole: The greatest Resistor explosion I saw wasn’t a game I was playing. These two friends were faced off against one another. One of them flipped a Resistor as his first action, and it flipped the whole board. It revealed two more Resistors, and all three of them were removed. Since it was a demo game, it was only with five cards, so the board went down to two. He shrugged his shoulders, switched out a card to play another Resistor, flipped the last card, and they both scored, ending the game in a tie. It was awesome!
Anthony: Yeah I remember that happening a few times. Always during demos at conventions, of course.
CR: Have you ever given any thought to exploring or expanding the world in which Resistor takes place?
Nicole: Yes and no. We love that world and would love to revisit it and make another game there. We’ve also had a lot of nascent ideas about an expansion. But mostly we have been working on other games, and in the limited time we have, we want to explore and create those other worlds. Someday…
Anthony: I’m quite proud of the visual design of the computer systems and their parent manufacturer, CFG Industries. I like the idea that both systems were made by the same company, sold to their respective countries, and pitted against each other.
If we assumed that all games of Resistor_ are actually simulation tests, then I could see expanding on the world in some large, map-based game of nuclear silo targeting or some such. But I think Twilight Struggle has probably already covered that pretty well. If Resistor_ games are not test runs, well, then the world is likely in a nuclear winter with one smug CPU the victor over the ashes. That’s a pretty rough launching point to continue a story from.
CR: Lastly, favorite machine-based apocalypse? We want to see who wins the betting pool when it finally happens.
Nicole: I loved Terminator 2 when I was a kid. I think it will always be one of my favorite movies.
Anthony: I’m partial to singularity or the grey nanite ooze doom. Wait, I change my mind, I’ll say Maximum Overdrive style.
It’s possible that Anthony is correct, and Resistor is all a training simulation. Or Resistor could be the very catalyst the world needs to spur on a post-apocalyptic playground. Without the gift of hindsight, we simply can’t know for sure.
We suppose there’s only one way to find out for sure, and that’s by having you get your hands on a copy of Resistor yourself. As it so happens, we have a copy whose directive is to be played, and we’re going to give it away. Now, we can’t guarantee that by giving you this game it won’t cause catastrophes of Jumanji-level proportion, and for a while we held off dispensing another copy of the game into the wild because of all the possible ramifications.
But then we thought…eh, what’s the worst that could happen?
If we’re willing to take the chance, hopefully you are too. You can enter for it right now: