An Interview With Zeppeldrome Co-Designer Anthony Gallela

ZepeldromeToday we’re joined by Anthony Gallela of 12SP Entertainment, co-designer of the currently Kickstarting Zeppeldrome: a zany zeppelin, puzzle, race game.

Anthony, thanks for joining us today!

Thank you for having me!

So for those who don’t know much about you and 12SP, can you give us a little back story?

I’ve been in the game industry since the 80s. I started as a play-tester and a convention-runner (including KublaCon), and then moved on to being a game broker, game developer, and the like. I’ve managed a couple of game stores, run the Game Manufacturers Association (including Origins and GTS), and, of course, designed a couple of games.

12SP Ent is a new company I’ve started with my friend, and “Zeppeldrome” co-designer, Jeff Wilcox. We’re looking to publish a few titles that we’ve been working on over the years while we’ve been helping other folks get their games to market.

Tell us a little about Zeppeldrome.

“Zeppeldrome” is a humorous strategy game for 2-4 players where players race dirigibles through a silly and hazardous, floating obstacle course. The course is laid out next to a giant, floating zeppelin castle, and the dirigible pilots use anything at their disposal to help themselves, and to hinder their opponents.

The game is played with cards that are either your planned route for the turn (top half of the card), or actions that you play to hinder other players or to help yourself (bottom half of the card). “Zeppeldrome” has four sections that each have interchangeable boards. This modular board allows players to set a different courses each time they play.The core game comes with four boards for each of the four sections. The four for each section includes one blank and three with hazards. The blank board is for players to use with downloadable hazards that will be available on our Web site. These boards are both puzzling and challenging in game-play, and funny and lighthearted in theme and artwork.

Lately zeppelins have become a “thing” in the gaming world: There have been a few popular titles on Kickstarter featuring zeppelins, with a few more on the way. Did the theme come before the game design, or did the game design push you into the zeppelin-air-race theme? Or was it just because the name wouldn’t make any sense with another theme?

We’ve been working on “Zeppeldrome,” off and on, for about ten years. The idea came from a long-time love of, and interest in, airships. As we’ve worked on the game over the years, steampunk has become more and more popular. This is great for us, of course, though it might seem like we’re coming late to the party.

I think that the idea that you’re negotiating obstacles in a flying machine works quite well with dirigibles. Other kinds of flying machines feel too fast and uncontrollable to really have the silly fantasy of a floating obstacle course. I don’t think that “Zeppeldrome” would work with anything other than the “zeppelin-air-race” theme, and that’s great, as Jeff and I both love the idea of crazy airships.

zeppelboardWhy do you think steampunk is so popular right now?

I have no idea, of course, but I think that it’s because 1) science is popular, 2) science fiction and science fantasy are popular, 3) cosplay is popular, 4) many people like the idea of a seemingly more civilized society, and 5) it’s just so cool. I think that steampunk feeds nicely into several trends: those I’ve mentioned, the rise of geek culture, the hipness of stylized dress … it’s just the right time for it.

This is the second time you’ve launched a Kickstarter Campaign for the game; what’s the difference between this campaign and the last—what lessons did you learn?

We learned that we needed to give folks a thank-you -- a bonus -- for backing us right away. Rather than paying MSRP ($35) for a copy of “Zeppeldrome,” when you back us, you’re only paying $29. We also learned that our page needed to be more graphical, and that we needed some lower reward tiers. And that getting any press we can toward the beginning of the project was important too.

What are some of the fun rewards and stretch goals you have set up for the game?

First off, rather than paying MSRP for a copy of “Zeppeldrome” when you back us ($35), you’re only paying $29. Additionally, we’ve (mostly Jeff) designed a two-player-only, mini version of “Zeppeldrome” that backers get for free as a PDF.

Our higher backer levels let you get in the game by being able to name cards, the airships in the game, different characters in the game, and more.

photo (1)Why do you hate lemmings?

We love lemmings! So why do we have a hazzard board called the “Tragic Lemming Migration,” where the last-place player controls lemmings who slowly fall in the way of the racers? Well … we have no good excuse. They do fall slowly, though. They flap their little arms, and when their tokens falls off the bottom of the board, they do come back to the top to be used again …

So aside from Zeppeldrome, what else does 12SP have on the horizon?

We will be republishing my (and co-designer Japji Khalsa’s) award-winning board game, “Dwarven Dig!,” with it’s yet-unpublished expansion, “Ancient Rivalries.” The expansion adds six more dwarf types, allowing you to build your party before the game. We’ll also be coming out with a brick bridge-building game called “Hoshi.” It will come with MEGA BLOKS- / LEGO- type bricks (though neither of those brands). Each player rolls dice in an interesting way, and uses the results to determine which bricks he or she will use each turn to build a bridge as expeditiously as they can.

And later, we’ll be publishing Jeff’s awesome adventure game, “Phantasy Realm.”

Okay, it’s time for the Rapid-Fire Section! We ask the questions; you answer them with one word (or super-short phrase)! And, GO!

Cannonball_runFavorite race movie?

“Cannonball Run”

Favorite Zeppelin song?

“Since I’ve Been Loving You”

Favorite hazard board in Zeppeldrome?

Four Old Folks Looking for the Farmer’s Market

Favorite steampunk novel?

Agatha H and the Airship City

As you’re walking through the woods one day, you pass an old woman struggling to make her way home. She drops her basket of bread just as you’re walking by, and you help her pick up the bread. She thanks you, and tells you that as a reward, she will cook you your favorite meal in the whole entire world—once-a-week, for an entire year. You just have to tell her (and us) what that meal is…

Italian Sausage and Sweet Peppers in a Red Sauce

Well that's it! We'd like to thank Anthony Gallela for joining us today. Zeppeldrome is on Kickstarter right now, and it needs some help to make it to the funding goal! A mere $29 gets you a copy of the game shipped to your door. And it's a good game--just check out our Double-Take Review and see for yourself. Thanks for reading!

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