I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with Andrew Rader, who is currently working on Evolve! The Game of Unnatural Process–a “build-your-own-animal” card game for 2-6 players based on scientific principles–which is featured on Kickstarter.
What I find amazing is that Andrew Rader has a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from MIT. He has experience on half a dozen space missions, builds rockets, and in March 2013, won Discovery Channel’s reality TV show ‘Canada’s Greatest Know-it-All.’
Andrew Rader worked as a graphic designer and game developer for over 10 years with Australian Design Group, a producer of award-winning strategic tabletop games including the World Game of the 20th Century: World in Flames. He is also the author of Leaving Earth, a cosplayer, and YouTube video producer.
What is Evolve! The Game of Unnatural Selection?
Andrew: Evolve is a “build-your-own-animal” card game where you get cards that have animals parts–heads, bodies, tails sections, special adaptations that allow you to have special abilities that you assemble into creatures that compete in environments in biomes essentially like deserts, coastlands, grasslands or savannahs; and challenges like interactions, hunting, abduction by humans, meteors, fires, starvation. Your creations determine your creature’s ability in four different areas and determine its special abilities.
The game features 15 biomes and 21 unique challenges in order to dominate other players. Creatures are based on 4 attributes (aggression, resilience, allure and gathering) and can have over a dozen different abilities (flying, swimming, climbing, etc). Evolutionary pressure will determine how fast you can change and you need to find a balance between dominating the competition and preparing for the future. It’s a fast-paced game for ages 10+.
- Boreal Forest
- Mixed Forest
- Polar Ice Floes
- Shrinking Territory
- Mating Frenzy
- Invasive Species
- New Territory
- King of the Jungle
- Food Chain
- Mating Display
- Circle of Life
- Ice Age
- Vengeful Farmers
- Hungry Tribesmen
- Nocturnal Hunting
Where did the idea for Evolve! The Game of Unnatural Process come from?
Andrew: I’ve had the idea to do something like this for many years. Originally I wanted to do it as individual very small components so you’d have teeth or eyes or claws or a tail but when we started thinking about that, how we would actually go and put it together, if you break it down to that level, there are so many parts, so many cards in the terms of the game that it becomes very long to play. I’ve been doing games for a long, long time but mostly really big strategic war games like the biggest games that exist, 100’s of hours to play, 1000’s of parts, 100’s pages of rules but I really wanted to do a game that people will play that will get everyone interested from gamers themselves, families and students potentially. I think everyone likes animals and building wacky, interesting animals. I think it will appeal to almost anyone.
Why a card game?
Andrew: For this game, we wanted to go with something anyone would enjoy playing, that’s our main focus, our goal. A card game is easy to pick up, universal and approachable. All the rules are kind of hidden from you, you learn them as you play and the rules are embedded in the cards. Cards are pretty, easier to deal with and it made more sense with the animal parts to mix and match. Cards was the obvious choice.
I understand from your Kickstarter page that you and your partner, Ryan Consell, came up with the idea; is there anyone else on the team? What are you both responsible for?
Andrew: It came out of a Pub discussion, sitting around at a table, we were talking about games and I just said “You know the game I always wanted to do was a build-your-own-animal game where you have little parts and put them together and they kind of fight in different ways.” The people around the table thought it sounded amazing and was a great idea. Ryan who is an artist, who was there too, thought it was a great idea and said he wanted to do that. I asked him if he wanted to do it together. We had other people help us brainstorm, play test and refine the game but actually all the work of putting it all together was all Ryan and me.
How long did it take you guys to get the game from idea to where it is right now?
Andrew: Since just before Christmas (2013) I guess, I think it was November, it was when we were filming a ‘Doctor Who’ video on YouTube. I’m thinking 6 months. This is probably version 3, that we’re finally happy with the rules.
What made you decide to reach out to Kickstarter?
Andrew: I thought this is a game I’m willing to invest in. Kickstarter was a way to both test the waters and get the funding for the upfront costs. I never used Kickstarter before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been really impressed with how much discovery has been taken place through Kickstarter, about a third of our orders have come through Kickstarter directly from people we don’t know. Kickstarter is a fantastic platform and for game development it’s superb.
What has been the most challenging part of this project?
Andrew: The most challenging part is, to be quite honest, marketing. We do have a few companies lined up for distribution but it’s still a matter of going to distributors. How do you get a word of mouth out there? How do you get advertising in, word that the game exists? The hardest part is really the business end of it.
Lastly, what would you like to tell our GameSkinny readers to get them interested in your game?
Andrew: Our game is for gamers that you can play in an hour. We designed it to be fun for gamers, for families and students. You learn scientific things by mixing and matching weird animal parts. This is great for anyone, especially families who have kids interested in science.
I have to say speaking with Andrew Rader was an absolute delight and I was dazzled at the science behind the game. I for one am very eager to see the finished product that according to the Kickstarter page, should start being shipped out sometime in June for their backers. If you’re looking for a fun and wacky science card game, Evolve! The Game of Unnatural Selection is the game for you.