Stowaway 52: The Story Behind the Story

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An Adventure in a Box that is More than Meets the Eye.

 

It was one of those lazy Sundays when a box caught my eye, Stowaway 52, a game by Floyd Pretz and published by GameWrightGames.

In Stowaway 52, you are a stowaway on an alien ship that’s headed towards Earth…and that’s all we know but its a safe bet that their intentions aren’t good. I bought they’re dropping off blueberry pie. So lets blow this ship up or drive it into Uranus.

So off on the adventure we go as we read a bit of story line, make a decision, then see what unfolds. Along the way you might pick up card keys for future use so you can open doors and operate machinery…should you make it that far through the tale.

Short, sweet, simple. The best things I like in a game. In fact, actually accomplishing the game (by encountering all the cards) feels secondary to making different choices at different points just to see where the story goes and what happens next. Its really cool! If you do want to complete the game, the creator has assured me there are clues that guide you through a story that only succeeds if you choose wisely every step of the way. Otherwise fate has a grim future for you.

And as for time investment? I lose in 5 minutes, hah, so not too bad!

So with out further delay, I talked to Floyd about the game, the future, and how he can write me into future games. Just kidding. So heeeerrreeeesss Floyd!:

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1.  Hi Floyd. I gotta say this is a really fun title you have here. Its like a pick your own adventure book come to life. How did the idea come about? Did It originate with you?

Yup, I love gamebooks and while thinking about them one day the idea came to me to put a gamebook in a deck of cards, where each card is a ‘page’ in the book.

2.  How did you and Gamewright end up working together?

I sent Gamewright an early prototype of the game.  This was printed paper hand cut and stuck in penny sleeves. They played it, liked it right away, and here we are.

3.   What where you trying to achieve in Stowaway?

Wow, where to start? I wanted all the excitement I remember from playing gamebooks as a kid, but I also wanted to take full advantage of the card-based format.  Books are static, where a deck of cards is not.  So right off the bat I knew I didn’t want to have to start on page 1, I wanted to be able to start anywhere.  Something I didn’t necessarily like about gamebooks was when you took a wrong turn, you could easily just go back a page or two and carry on.  So in Stowaway 52, you could take a wrong turn and still go for a dozen cards.  I wanted to have several different ways to play.  You can read the story and go on an adventure, you don’t even need to count score if you don’t want. Originally I just had you count your cards to see how well you did.  Then you can start learning the clues to navigate through even better.  And if you really want to go for it, you can shift from playing the story-side to the puzzle-side: trying to find the ultimate path that uses every card.

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4. Sounds like you had a solid vision in place. How long did it take to develop this idea? How many iterations did it take?

The idea floated around in my head for a couple of years before I actually tried to bring it to life.  Then it took a few months and dozens and dozens of versions to work out the whole adventure.

5. I could totally see a battle card requiring a dice roll for a dungeon delve. Any cool twist or turns that you’d like include should you make further iterations?

Yes!  Now that Stowaway 52 has laid the foundation, future CardVentures can play with the format.  Events, randomness, repeating cards, objects with multiple uses, ramping difficulty, the list goes on.

6. How does JumpShip and Stowaway52 compare?

And right away with Jump Ship! by Matthew A Cohen new twists are already here.  Jump Ship! has a different starting position, instead of any random card, you have to start on a random Black Bounty card.  There’s a special deck of cards called “The Deep End” that are not numbered and drawn randomly when you go into the deep.  There’s even a different scoring structure.  We’re only on CardVenture #2 and already a lot can be different.

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7. Excellent. So, are there many paths to a perfect game or only one?

In Stowaway 52, there is only one path that uses all 56 cards, and it loops onto itself.  So the last card will point to the first.  It will take someone several plays before they can even start thinking about finding that path.  The clues are hidden throughout the game.  I didn’t want it to be too easy to find, because when I’m solving a puzzle, I don’t want it to be easy.  Don’t even worry about the perfect path for a while, just keep playing.  The more you play the more you’ll catch.

8. Who is this game aimed at and who do you see really enjoying it?

Anyone who loves gamebooks, solitaire card games, or puzzles. And if you someone that’s into all three, well here you go!

9. I see these games as TIME Stories light. If I were to say “If you like game X, you’ll like Cardventures,” what would game X be?

That’s a fair comparison.  You play the same story over and over trying to do a little better each time. I can’t think of anything else to compare it to, so, “If you like Stowaway 52, you’ll like Jump Ship!”

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10.  Anything else in the Floyd pipeline?

Oh yeah, I love designing games. I just went to GenCon where I showed some of my other games around that were met with lots of fun and excitement. I’ve got a few more CardVentures up my sleeve too.

11.  What games did you like growing up? What do you enjoy now?

Growing up I played all sorts of games, my favorites were Spades, Backgammon, Dungeon Quest, Battleship, and the battleship–esque game, Pathfinder. Now I play too many to count, and I love learning and playing new games. My favorites are games where the decisions I can make let me help myself and mess up my opponent at the same time. I like playing filler games back to back to back.

12.  What are some of your other interests in life outside of game design (like shooting arrows at your neighbors, or balancing bacon on your dogs nose?)

I like pen and paper puzzles; sudoku, kakuro, etc. I like road trips, bad movies, and football.

13. I have a website called Games & Bourbon as well as the best bar in town. When you come over sometime what can I make ya?

An American Wheat with no fruit please!

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Well I cant ferment my own beers yet, but heres a list of some fabulous ones courtesy of Paste Magazine. Thanks so much Floyd. Its been a blast and I really appreciate you taking the time to chat.

Thanks! It’s awesome to see people having fun.  That’s the whole point!

Definitely gotta say this one is a fun one. And at $10 bucks you cant go wrong. Thats all for now folks. Stay tuned for more interviews and reviews!

Read More about your author, Glenn on Twitter: @gamesandbourbon