In case you hadn’t noticed, we here at AiPT! like our dinosaurs. Whether it’s reading about them, displaying figures or just plain bitching that many depictions still don’t have feathers, we take them seriously while still having fun.
Just like the new board game currently on Kickstarter, DinoGenics! Become the manager of a Jurassic Park-style attraction, but beware — fail to feed your predators and they could potentially rampage, killing visitors and causing scandal!
Ninth Haven Games’ Dinogenics is a 1-5 player worker placement game in which you collect DNA to create dinosaurs and find ways to pen them in properly, so they don’t go wild and take out those precious visitors that fill your bank account and increase your reputation. AiPT! spoke to lead designer Richard Keene through email to dig up the dirt on what happens when you bring the extinct back to life.
AiPT!: DinoGenics is something you’ve been working on for a while, correct?
Keene: The game has been in development for over three years at this point. Things really started to get off the ground back when the computer program, Table Top Simulator, was first released. The program makes it very easy to prototype a game and also distribute that game to a large number of people, regardless of distance.
This made early balance adjustments easy to test as they could be updated and implemented almost immediately. Early on, I never expected the game to evolve into a full-featured product, but I started to receive a lot of positive feedback and I eventually took it into the full, physical prototype stage.
AiPT!: Do you think there’s scientific accuracy in the game, as much as there can be? I don’t see any feathers on those meeples!
Keene: [Laughs] I’m a big fan of dinosaurs and a science nerd as well, but DinoGenics is inspired more from fun science fiction than reality. DinoGenics itself refers to the research facility that perfected dinosaur cloning. Unfortunately, they are funded by greedy corporations (players) who didn’t think that feathered dinosaurs would test well or sell as many tickets. As such, all the dinosaurs in DinoGenics are basically test-tube mutants created to be the most appealing to the common man.
AiPT!: So yes, DinoGenics is about more than building dinosaurs. Tell us about the “corporate” aspect.
Keene: It’s a bit of a cynical, over-the-top look at corporations. We really play with the idea of the player factions basically being corrupt and just out to make money. This really comes into play with the Manipulation cards, many of which let you do rather unethical things to jump ahead of the competition.
AiPT!: What’s the gameplay like?
Keene: On the surface, the game uses a very familiar worker placement formula. Each player has a set of workers that they can send out to the mainland to collect resources such as fences, DNA, meat, and facilities. From there, things get a bit more interesting, as these resources are used to build a player’s unique island board.
It has always been a design goal that a player’s island and dinosaurs would feel alive and not just exist as a series of point-generators. For this reason, each dinosaur has a specific set of requirements for pen size and seasonal feeding. If a player is not able to maintain a dinosaur’s requirements, then the dinosaur will attempt to escape and possibly kill the player’s visitors. If this happens, not only does it limit your points for the immediate round, but it also generates scandal tokens, which will follow a player until the end of the game or until they manage to get rid of them.
The other thing that sets DinoGenics apart from other games in the genre is that we have worked hard to build up the elements of player interaction. Many Euro-style games tend to be very solitary affairs, but we really want to encourage players to pay attention to each other’s parks and interact with each other.
Elements that encourage strong interactions are things like the shared DNA Market, where players drive the prices of DNA by buying or selling harvested DNA from their hands. Many buyable facilities and one-time-use manipulation cards in the game are also designed to encourage parasitic relationships between players, whereby one player’s actions will benefit another. All in all, we want the game to be a highly thematic and interactive experience with multiple routes to victory.
AiPT!: What kind of stretch goals does the campaign have?
Keene: We are really focused on improving the quality of components. So far we have upgraded many of the cardboard tokens in the game to wood. We have also upgraded the player boards to be extra thick and double layered, which gives a nice feel and also ensures that pieces stay in place during a game. Ultimately, we would love if the game felt like one of the deluxe versions of a game that often ship years after a title is first released.
DinoGenics has already more than doubled its funding goal on Kickstarter, also unlocking special solo variants and GOAT MEEPLES for those carnivores to snack on, but you can still get in on the God-playing until next Thursday, November 2.