Learning to ADAPT: An Interview with John Wrot of Gate Keeper Games | Casual Game Revolution

Learning to ADAPT: An Interview with John Wrot of Gate Keeper Games


A.D.A.P.T. is a new game on Kickstarter that seems to solidly fit the casual niche that we are always on the lookout for. After a failed campaign in November, the publisher has come back with a vengeance, kicking off a very successful reboot. We wanted to find out what changed, so we reached out to John Wrot, the owner of Gate Keeper Games, for an interview.

CGR: Hi John! Thanks for joining us for an interview. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your gaming preferences.

John: Thanks, Chris, for having me.

I'm a suburban/rural boy from the south half of the Garden State, now in Cali living the dream with the perfect wife and wonderful kids! Games are a way of life for the people of my generation, we were raised on Nintendo and Playstation and still at times wish we could "Save" life, do something stupid, and then just load it; since I can't I try to make good choices as often as possible…and that just about describes me. :)

In the board game world, my cozy home, I like co-op games as I largely game with my wife, and I love RPGs, but when push comes to shove I don't mind a good all-or-nothing hardcore player elimination game.

CGR: How did you get started in game design? What do you enjoy most about it? What is the most challenging aspect?

John: I first started designing a homebrew D&D style RPG system — after doing that for years (15?) I started making mini-games within it. Many of those mini games are what I'm now publishing as full board games. (Please understand with my love for RPGs, my mini games end up as 5 lb. big-box board games.)

I most enjoy the exertion of my creative energies and the fact that it continually summons new and old friends to my house for community building game nights. On the other (somewhat ironic) hand, it's hard that the long work weeks keep me from my family and friends cause I'm too busy working on games!

A.D.A.P.T. Meaning

CGR: Your new game A.D.A.P.T. is doing great on Kickstarter. Could you explain the rules of the game and how it came about?

John: Yes, thanks to great people like yourself and your readers!

I mentioned a childhood love of video games (that still persists in me today), and my long time love of RPG style games, both in video and on the table. I have a deep-seated love for the process of "leveling up," so I wanted to create a game where the entire game is a process of leveling up in an ever-ready state of imminent battle! Therefore I created A.D.A.P.T.

The rules are pretty simple actually. Each player turn you're in an ever-moving-forward effort to level up your fish to morph him into the biggest baddest killing machine in the sea; we call it a Masterfish. As the game progresses you'll get experience points that you use for buying new fish parts that you'll mutate onto your fish. There are a number of ways to get experience, a number of ways to get new parts and bodies, and a number of ways to deal damage. Being a bit of an ADD poster-child myself, I designed the game such that you'll never Adapt the same Masterfish twice, and you'll always be looking for new ways to overcome and win.

It's also no mystery that the game's theme was inspired by the early stages of the SNES game E.V.O., and so I named it in a way that is a bit of an homage to that game. Some have pointed out that ADAPT seems more about the mutation of a specific being over the evolution of a species, and I think I can agree with that; though we left it loose enough that each owner can decide for themselves which version their copy plays as.

A.D.A.P.T. and Halfsies Dice

CGR: I understand that this campaign is the second attempt to fund this game. What did you learn the first time around that has helped to make the new campaign a success?

John: Indeed it is, Chris. I'm very excited to have already created a dice line called Halfsies Dice that are full sets of polyhedral gaming dice (like you know from Chessex or Dice.co.uk) but with a new style design exclusive to Gate Keeper Games (and really beautiful colors I might add). That said, when I created this game, which requires a full set of polyhedral dice per player to play, I took note that I have 1900+ backers that are already receiving lots o' dice. So as a favor to them I removed the dice from the core game and allowed backers who didn't have dice to add them separately; I thought I was doing the community a favor. Well, the overwhelming feedback was that the game felt "incomplete" without the dice in it. So, we retooled, and the game now includes 3 new sets of Halfsies Dice (design exclusively for ADAPT) and we even took the old first Stretch Goal and included it in the core game. People have responded very well to these changes, and the crazy low price I put on them (a game and 3 sets of dice for less than the cost of 3 sets of dice!) and so…now here we are. I even have a number of backers that have mentioned they got the game just for the dice. :P

To those who've backed, and those considering it (for whatever reason): thank you. Your support really means the world.

CGR: Sounds like some great changes! Now, to the future: do you have any other games coming down the pipeline? Could you give us a sneak peek?

John: I do have few games I'm working on to see if they're ready for the masses, but 2016 will be focused on expanding our current products with a mega Expansion Pack and 2nd Printing of The King's Armory planned, and a new Halfsies Dice campaign for the next 10 sets, or "the other half" as I've been calling it around the house.

Here's the first new Hero for TKA, The Paladin! (yet unnamed, any suggestions?)

The King's Armory Paladin

CGR: Sounds great, and thanks again for your time! How can our readers stay up to date on this and future projects?

John: The best way would be to sign up for our company mailing list here, and/or to back A.D.A.P.T. as I try hard to communicate well through the Updates.

Thank you and your readers for taking the time to hang here with me and A.D.A.P.T. :)

Thanks, Chris for taking the time to do this.  It was great hanging out as always.