Interview With Julia Schiller of Cheeky Parrot Games
JC: Im here this afternoon/morning with Julia to chat about their new game Flaming Pyramids coming soon to Kickstarter, hello Julia.
Julia: Kia ora 😊
JC: So let’s start off easy, what can you tell us about the game?
Julia: What comes to mind is Norbert describing it to a group of playtesters. He said, “we’re building this pyramid together…but it’s not a cooperative game”. That got some snickers. And that is the gist of it, there’s one pyramid, but your objective is to get rid of your materials (tiles) first.
JC: That should definitely be interesting, where did the idea for the game come from?
Julia: This game has a long history, going back to Norbert’s boyhood in Germany. I think he was inspired by UNO and made up his own game using a standard deck. He’d play with his friends, not telling them he’d invented it, and it was popular. But he grew up and the game got put aside for some years until he met Jenny, his eventual wife.
JC: What would you say has been the hardest part and your favorite part of getting this game designed and ready for Kickstarter?
Julia: Hmmm. It’s been a real pleasure. The game only needed a minor modification or two, since it has been so long in the making. We needed to test it to be sure it worked with up to 6 people–it does, but it’s much more random so those who prefer more strategy are advised to play with 2-3 players.
However, as I’ve learned, I think Kickstarter is quite a challenging forum for this sort of game to attract attention and funding and I was perhaps overconfident given the success of Cheeky Parrot’s prior campaign for Hoard in 2016.
JC: Yes the site has had a drastic increase in games lately and it makes it hard to stand out from the big names unfortunately. I think Flaming Pyramids sounds like it should have a good chance though.
Julia: I hope so! I did think we had the necessary elements of a successful campaign covered: an eye-catching image, a strong video, how-to-play videos and rules available, etc. This time around I’ve gotten a few more reviews and I’ve given the page a bit of a facelift with graphical headers. We’ll also add a stretch goal or two.
JC: Sounds great. Let’s talk about you a bit, what is your favorite game?
Julia: I believe the only game I’ve ever awarded a 10 to on BoardGameGeek is Citadels. I love that it’s a card game, I love how well it seems to work with a range of gamers and that you can accommodate a large group. We’ve whipped it out with friends and family who aren’t heavy-duty players and had a great time. What’s also nice about it is that if you have a round where you bomb out, there’s always the next one. But the game I play the most is Stone Age on BoardGameArena. It’s embarrassing how many games I’ve had on there!
JC: What inspires you as a publisher?
Julia: It seems to me that there is still a huge group of people, they’re probably in the majority, at least in New Zealand, who still haven’t realised there is more to gaming than Monopoly, Scrabble, and Trivial Pursuit. We have a large bookstore chain here, Whitcoulls, and in their larger outlets they have a good selection of those traditional games plus many newer ones, but I think without sales help, it’s just too daunting, and people wind up buying the latest flavor of Monopoly.
If someone plays Hoard or Raid the Pantry and goes, “that’s like rummy with a twist”–as a grandmother recently commented about Hoard–I’ve accomplished something, and maybe gotten them a step closer to playing a more complicated game down the line. That’s how we grow the hobby.)
JC: That’s definitely a good place to be. If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to get their first game published (Kickstarter or traditional means) what would you tell them?
Julia: I usually focus on the practicalities. It’s a little less of an issue on Kickstarter, but you still have to do the math: is the landed cost times five a reasonable MSRP for a game of the size, nature, and componentry you are working on?
JC: So now for the last question. What toppings do you prefer on your pizza?
Julia: LOL You are asking a person of Italian heritage (on my mother’s side) who considers herself quite a foodie. I make pizza and calzone from scratch. My ideal homemade pizza, I’d put the dough in a pie plate so you can really pile on the toppings (deep dish style) which have to include red sauce, lots of cheese (I’m half Midwestern on my father’s side), mushrooms and onions. I’d also add some good free range pork sausage, olives and artichokes.
JC: I ask everyone that question, it’s fun 😊
Julia: Indeed! And if they say pineapples, well, that tells you a lot!
It should be noted that I eat pineapple on my pizza -JC
JC: So do you have any parting words for the world before we sign off?
Julia: The pressure! First thought that comes to mind: I really do love how board games can bring people together in enjoyment and interaction. Yesterday I was down in Wellington and dropped into one of my retailers there, Caffeinated Dragon, with a copy of Oaxaca (a Kickstarted game I distribute in the NZ market) and had such a fun time playing with one of their customers and two of the shop assistants.
JC: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, we look forward to seeing Flaming Pyramids soon.
**Flaming Pyramids will be live on Kickstarter Monday July 23rd at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cheekyparrot/820033905?ref=523308&token=3b3cf683 **