Matt and Rosie Parrish and The Bots Up Board Game
Matt and Rosie Parrish are the couple behind the card game Bots Up, which launches on Kickstarter on 15th September 2020. They work in graphic design and the video game industry but this is their debut tabletop project together.
JF: I stumbled upon Bots Up while browsing Facebook, and I was immediately drawn to the vector art direction. Vector art can oftentimes look too “clean,” but I think it is so fitting with the robot theme. What made you decide to go this direction for the art in the game?
MP+RP: We always pictured this game as a light-hearted and playful take on battling robots. The vector art-style allowed us to create 'cute robots' with bold colour that we hope can appeal to a wide variety of ages. The vector style also allows us to keep the joins between parts very simplistic so the Bots can be formed easily.
JF: Speaking of the charming art work, you did this all yourself! That’s quite an achievement. How was the process of both designing and doing the art for your game at the same time?
MP+RP: Thank you! For us, doing the artwork and branding ourselves was a must as that's where a huge amount of enjoyment comes. We both work in creative fields working on games and products for clients day-to-day, so it has been amazing putting our creative skills to work on a project of our own. There are downsides, of course - It is difficult to stop tweaking! There is always temptation to continue playing with the look and feel of the game.
Looking back, it is also fair to say we jumped the gun on our first round of prototypes out of eagerness to see it in print. We learned that lesson though and spent a long time developing and improving the game once we had it out of our system.
JF: You can tweak forever, so I agree it's good to know when to stop *laughs*. Multitasking is rough, especially as an indie developer that has to wear several hats. What was your favorite hat to wear during this process? What was your least favorite?
MP+RP: Fortunately with both of us working on Bots Up, we were able to share those hats around a bit. Chances are if you've chatted to us over social media you will have been on with Rosie! Matt has found it difficult in that environment, agonising over what to say at times. Whereas if you've seen any of our video content, that is more Matt's influence.
Overall though we have both loved the development of the game and its branding, but found working out the logistics of manufacture and fulfillment much more stressful.
JF: It's a little unfortunate that the most stressful part of the process is at the very end. How did you get into board game design?
MP+RP: Well, we are gamers ourselves and there has always been an appetite to develop something of our own. Matt works in the video game industry, so we felt we had a good grasp on what it might take to release a game and it was something we had discussed but not acted on. Bots Up first came about whilst we were on our honeymoon in 2018. We were at a bar playing card games and we started bouncing an idea around. As we chatted over a few drinks the ideas grew and before we knew it we had torn up notepaper all over the table as makeshift cards and we were doing our first Bots Up playtest.
MP+RP: In Bots Up the meat of the game takes place in the battle phase rather than the robot building. More of the fun comes from destroying people's robots than the initial act of building them. The stitching of parts together is functional as it allows a player to target bot parts at a time, whilst also visual as it creates these uniquely mismatched robots all over the table.
Bots Up combines player interaction like dealing damage to each other and stealing cards from hand with more solo strategies like upgrading your own parts to become stronger. The creature building is a feature that enables the fun of the battle, rather than being the central focus of the game.
JF: I saw some preview videos of Bots Up from kids and parents, which were great! How else are you driving families to your game in an environment that is much more generous to games with a 2-foot plastic Cthulhu?
MP+RP: We were hoping you could tell us!? Like many first-time creators, our marketing ability isn't endless, so we have shared the game through word of mouth and tried to pick partners to work with who appeal to a family audience. We have worked with fantastic channels such as Kidsplaining and Tantrum House to produce video content. We also feel we have created a brand that feels welcoming to a wide variety of players. Even in cases where very young children have 'playtested' Bots Up but have been too young to understand, they still seem to find a lot of joy in simply creating a lot of different robots on the table!
JF: Father Geek immediately comes to mind when I saw this project. Best advice is to know what type of gamer you are targeting and narrow your marketing to those people. Too many family-friendly games get hung up on their games being for everyone, but fail to get that Cthulhu backer to back. What advice would you give to people new to the hobby looking to develop and publish their own game through Kickstarter?
MP+RP: Firstly, take your time. There are going to be holes in your game that you are blind to and it will take more than a couple of playtests for them to appear. It is much easier to fix problems early rather than getting a long way down the road and having to turn back.
Our main advice though is to make sure you enjoy it. It is easy to forget why you decided to create a game whilst you are punishing yourself for your lack of business understanding and inability to run the correct fulfillment calculations. Focus on the parts you love and make them as good as they can be. There are plenty of great people out there who will help you with the other stuff, so don't be shy - reach out!
JF: Reminding yourself this is supposed to be enjoyable is important. I know I have to do that with my own projects. Well I’m excited to see this project come to life! Where can people learn more about you and Bots Up?
MP+RP: Bots Up is launching on Kickstarter on 15th September 2020. Check out our page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/botsupgame/bots-up If you want to find out more information about Bots Up then check out our website:
To follow us on social and see us lounging in our Bot heads, playing with our dogs and posting animations of bots blowing up check out:
JF: Thank you so much Matt and Rosie!