1. Tell our readers who you are.
I’m Carla Kopp of Weird Giraffe Games and Galactic Raptor Games. I used to be a software engineer and now I design, develop, and publish games. I currently live in Huntsville, Alabama with three cats and my partner, Nick. When I’m not working or playing games, I love to travel and explore! I do have a passion for video games and I’ve been playing through the Tales series of games for the past few years.
2. What was the first board game you remember playing?
I know I grew up with a board game about money that wasn’t monopoly that I played until the box and board fell apart, but I can’t remember what it is! The first hobby board game I remember playing is Agricola, as I know it’s my friend Sarah’s favorite game. It’s probably not the best way to get into the hobby, but I really enjoyed playing and I’ve been hooked ever since.
3. What’s your favorite board game? Why is it your favorite?
My favorite is so hard to choose! There’s games I like for different moods and to play with different people. I think if I had to choose one game I really liked playing, it’d be Wingspan. I love that it has simple actions that build on each other and I love the artwork. Engine building is one of my favorite mechanics, as well.
4. Tell us about Tumble Town.
Tumble Town is a town and engine building spatial puzzle game set in the Old West for 1-4 players that plays in about 45 minutes. In the game, you’re trying to win over the townspeople by constructing buildings and placing them in the best locations. Each building you construct will give you either a one time effect, dice manipulation powers to help make future construction easier, engine building powers to make getting dice easier, or new end game scoring conditions.
I love that there’s so many different directions you can go in while playing and at the end of every game, you can be proud of the town that you’ve constructed, as you’re physically constructing the town out of dice.
5. What was your inspiration to create the game?
Kevin Russ designed the game and his job as a photographer is to travel around and take pictures of landscapes. He really enjoys going out to the West the most and one day, he was playing with dice and stacking them when he realized the dice kind of looked like a building. That’s all the inspiration that was needed, as he then went out to make the first version of Tumble Town!
6. What are the most challenging issues that you’ve come across in designing a board game?
Knowing when the game is done is sometimes super hard. You want to make the best game that you can, but the most important part of that is actually finishing the game so that people can enjoy it. It’s also about making a product and knowing when to cut or add things that I personally might not enjoy, but doing so despite that to appeal to a greater audience. For example, at one time the building card backs of Tumble Town were all unique and there was a lot of replayability there. I ended up making the card backs super similar to each other as it made it so each player didn’t have to reevaluate the card backs each turn when a new one came up and it really streamlined the design and lowered the time between each player’s turn. This choice made the game better overall, even though I did enjoy having the card backs be really different. It’s finding all the small changes like that that together can really elevate the game to be fantastic.
7. What aspects of board game designing do you enjoy the most?
I love being able to create an experience to give to people that they can enjoy. It’s always amazing to see players forget about everything but the game that they’re playing, even if it’s just for 45 minutes.
I also really enjoy the problem solving aspect of improving a game design. You play the game, get feedback, and have to identify the problem areas of the game and how to fix them. There’s so many things you can do and they might or might not fix the problem and you don’t know until you playtest again and see what happens. I love the feeling of fixing things and slowly getting to an amazing game.
8. What were some hurdles you’ve overcome, as a woman, to get to where you are in the industry?
I think part of being a woman is getting people to respect you and to actually listen to what you have to say. It’s taken years of me creating games that people love, going to conventions, hitting deadlines, and being in the community, but I think I’m finally starting to be someone that people know and trust.
9. What has been the proudest moment of your career?
Everytime I get a finished game in, it’s always amazing. Being able to have that first proof copy in my hands is such a great feeling, as I can see all the hard work that I’ve done in physical form. It’s also been super great whenever I see someone suggest one of my games to their friends or even a few times when someone has recommended all of my games!
Another really great moment was recently when I went to pitch one of my game designs to another publisher and it only took a day to go from sending the email talking about my design to getting a contract. It was such a good experience to know that another publisher thought so highly of me and my design that they’d sign it that fast.
10. Do you have any other board games in development or currently available that you would like to share with our readers?
Big Easy Busking is my latest game! It’ll scheduled to hit retail this summer, but you can order it from me before then. Big Easy Busking is an area control game for 1-5 players set in New Orleans where the players are street performers trying to hit it big. It’s super bright and colorful, just like New Orleans, and it’s also the game that I’ve worked on that I lose the most. This is because songs take time to play; one one turn you decide which crowd you’re playing a song to and the next turn, you finish that song. If you’ve matched the mood of the song you’re playing to the mood of the crowd, you get a choice when you finish your song; either put in all the energy that the song needed and gain extra tips OR put in only a few energy tokens and redistribute the remaining energy among your band members. This means that players can make you think that they’re trying to win over one crowd, but they can then change their mind and go for a different crowd and you’ll have to try to compensate for that change.
I’m also working on the Fire in the Library: the Card Game, which brings the press your luck and saving books of Fire in the Library to a smaller card game form. It’s going to hit Kickstarter later this year and I’m super excited about it, as it should be super portable, but just as fun and exhilarating as Fire in the Library is.