Boardnaut Studios is a one-man development shop that produces fun, great looking versions of print-and-play games. We have checked out a couple of their games and enjoyed them quite a bit. Before we get to the interview, here’s a brief look at two of Boardnaut’s games which we have been enjoying, check the app store links at the bottom of the article.
Constantinople is a solitaire wargame depicting the 1000 year rise and eventual fall of the Byzantine empire. That sounds quite complicated, but the game itself is quite simple. You are charged with using the resources at your disposal (Religion, Armies, Dynasty, and Economy) in order to protect your city (Wall) and luxuries (Monuments, if you choose to build them for bonus points). Your goal is to stay alive for 30 turns as various armies attempt seige your city. You do so by using die rolls to attempt to keep the invaders at bay and increasing your chances for dice victory by spending your assets. Each turn brings a unique opponent army movement along with a specified number of actions for you to take and often some special rules to be played that turn. The genius is in the simplicity here. It is a game of risk mitigation that can be tempting to let an enemy get to your wall, but if the dice don’t fall your way, you could instantly lose with the collapse of Constantinople. Boardnaut Studios has taken this print-and-play game and transformed it into a great looking, great playing app.
Maquis puts you in control of a wartime French resistance force trying to carry out two objectives each game while avoiding being caught and imprisoned. You start with a small crew of agents which can go to various spots in the city to collect items of value, you then use those items to recruit more agents or further your cause. While your agents are visiting spots throughout the city, enemy patrols are deploying each turn, of an agent is stuck without a route home, they go to prison. The app delivers crisp, appealing graphics with an intuitive control system and the end results is a great looking, fun game.
We sent Marian Gablovský of Boardnaut a few questions that he was kind enough to answer:
Pixelated Cardboard (PC): Tell us a little about yourself and your company Boardnaut Studios.
Marian Gablovský (MG): I'm Marian and I'm the developer behind Boardnaut Studios. I'm building digital ports of board games in my free time. Currently I'm working mainly on print and play board games. Because I'm developing them in my free time it goes slowly sometimes - I want to have fun with it, so I'm not pushing it too hard 🙂 As small developer it is hard to compete with bigger studios or well known board games, so I'm really happy that people are playing my games.
PC: How did you get into developing board game apps?
MG: I was discussing with friend what we could develop together and both being board gamers, we decided to try to build some board game as small hobby project. We started with Castle Builders, because I like the game and it looked simple enough to develop. It took us some time, because we had no previous experiences in developing games. We learned a lot, both for development and later for releasing the app on Android. We showed it to lot of people around us, so it got good start and lot of people tried it. Later we started work on Maquis, but my friend didn't had enough time - I continued as solo developer. And that stayed until today. I added iOS ports just last year, because I didn't had access to Mac, which is needed for iOS development.
PC: How long have you been playing board games? Cardboard and digitally?
MG: I'm playing modern cardboard board games for about 13 years already - it started slowly with Settlers of Catan, Battletech and Bang 🙂 As for digital ones, maybe 5 years - first one I bought was Neuroshima Hex. On mobile I'm playing also other games, not just board games.
Maquis main menu
PC: You port print-and-play games, there are an endless number of them out there, how do you decide which ones to port?
MG: Most of the time I play traditional board games because of my gaming group prefers that, but sometimes I convince them to try out some print and play game. On other hand I like building the print and play games, so I already have my fun with it during building 😀
PC: Are you a big print-and-play fan or do you prefer to stick to traditional tabletop games?
MG: I usually pick something that I know and like it or looks interesting to me. It needs to catch my interest, because otherwise I would probably not develop it in my free time.
PC: This isn’t a development blog, so we won’t go into too much detail, but you release most of your games on both Android and iOS, do you write them separately in their native languages or do you use a game engine?
MG: I use Java in my full-time work, so when I started with game development, my goal was to stay with Java and work on actual game instead of learning something new. I found nice game engine LibGDX which uses Java and supports Android, iOS and also desktop.
PC: We’ve noticed your pricing model is different for different games. They range from upfront purchase cost to in-app purchases to ad based. We don’t want to pry on the specifics, but what kind of feedback have you gotten about the various pricing models? After trying a few, do you have a preference?
MG: I have started with ad supported games, because that was easiest to set up. But that didn't work well for my apps, because I just do not have that many users. Other reason is that I do not like too aggressive ads or too many ads, so I had them only in menu screens or after game end - not many views this way 😀 So I decided to completely remove ads from my games and now free games are really free 😉 With Maquis I wanted to try out something new, so I went with free + IAP. And then paid apps with Maquis on iOS and Constantinople. With free + IAP there are more people to try the app, but with board games it is harder to have split between free content and paid one. Sometimes you cannot split the game - it would be either too uninteresting in free part or there will be too less extra in paid part. So right now I'm preferring paid apps, but that can change in future.
PC: Aside from your own, do you have any favorite board game ports for Android or iOS?
MG: Lately I'm playing most frequently Pandemic with Virulent Strain expansion. In past I was playing a lot Neuroshima Hex.
PC: Are you currently working on any new ports?
MG: Currently I'm not working on anything new. Looks like I needed break after releasing Constantinople. Right now I'm slowly starting to look at next game I could bring to digital world, but it is still in beginnings.
PC: What are your top three all time board games?
MG: Hard to say - it really depends on the mood and people I'm playing with 🙂 Some games that I would play nearly anytime: Twilight Struggle, Kahuna (unfortunately there is no digital version for Android), Eclipse, Dungeon Fighter, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong.
Constantinople Board Game
Constantinople Board Game
Maquis Board Game
Maquis Board Game