Designer Interview: Cóatl – The Card Game
According to the Aztec calendar, the Snake Festival begins today, 6.3, and lasts until 25.3. Quetzalcoatl is one of the most important deities of the Aztecs and has the shape of a feathered snake.
The two games Cóatl and Cóatl – The Card Game, which has been published in German by HeidelBÄRen, are about exactly this feathered snake. In line with the snake festival, today we show you an interview with Pascale Brassard and Ètienne Dubois-Roy, who developed the two games together. The interview was conducted with Synapses Games, who published the game.
- How did you come up with the idea of making a “sequel” to Cóatl?
Our publisher Carl suggested it during one of our conversations about keeping Cóatl alive through
other games, by creating a sequel or a spin off. We left that concept alone for a while until at some point, we randomly came up with the idea for a more interactive card game (Which Carl enjoyed as someone who plays games!) and we dove straight in!
- Was designing Cóatl The Card Game a much quicker process than it was with Cóatl?
Oh yes, definitely! Cóatl’s development took 3 years, from the initial idea to its launch, whereas Cóatl The Card Game’s only took 2. It actually took less time because when we were working on Cóatl, we were thinking of self-publishing, so we had to develop both the game’s mechanics and its art style to make it appealing on all fronts. With Cóatl The Card Game, we didn’t need to work on its art style as we knew it would be beautifully illustrated by SillyJellie! Basically, we signed the publishing contract for this second game fairly quickly, so we had better knowledge on where the project was going only a couple of months after coming up with the idea. We’d also built up a network of play-testers during Cóatl’s development, which meant that we didn’t need to look all over the place for people to carry out the various tests needed for the game’s development. Which was lucky, because that would have been a big issue with the pandemic…
- How did you choose which deities would appear in Cóatl The Card Game?
At the start, because of the game’s mechanics, we knew there would have to be 4 gods. So, we thought of using the 4 main gods of Aztec mythology. Two of these four gods can be found in Cóatl (Huitzilopochtli in yellow and Quetzalcoatl in green), which was very practical as we could stay in the same universe all while adding a little something new for the players. However, once we looked this over with Carl, Marie-Elaine (Synapses Games’ art director) and SillyJellie, we came to the conclusion that it would be better to have an equal number of gods and goddesses in the game. So, we took a second look at the Aztec deities and more specifically, at the female ones, to find two goddesses who would be best suited for the game. We ended up choosing Chalchiuitlicue (the goddess of water, in blue) and Xochiquetzal (the goddess of beauty and love, in pink). These goddesses were particularly interesting because they had characteristics that made them stand out, which we thought would make for beautiful illustrations.
- Cóatl was not only your first game, but it was also quite successful. Did you feel pressure to make a second game in that universe, one that was just as high-quality?
No. While we are very proud of the fact that Cóatl was successful, we acknowledge that, despite all of its qualities (and shortcomings!), its success was mostly circumstantial. We don’t make games to create massive hits; we make games so that we can enjoy them and so that players can enjoy them in turn. Plus, Cóatl The Card Game is not our second game of its type; between the launch of Cóatl and that of its card game counterpart, we also made a few prototypes that we are proud of, even if we haven’t yet found a publisher for them. We love creating games together as a couple and having those games played by people who enjoy them. To top it off, staying in the same universe made the development process much more comfortable as it’s a universe that we’re already very familiar with. We really enjoyed revisiting the Aztec world!
- How do you think players will react to Cóatl The Card Game?
Obviously, we hope that they’ll enjoy it! We think that players will find the game a little more complex than what it seems, as the puzzle game is very compelling despite its small card game format. We also hope that they will appreciate the game’s interactivity as that aspect is really at the forefront of this version, unlike in Cóatl where it was much less present. We would love for the people whose first experience with this universe is through Cóatl The Card Game to want to play the original Cóatl, and vice-versa, for the players of Cóatl to be interested in this version. We hope that people enjoy the idea of having a mini-expansion that brings the interactivity of Cóatl The Card Game to the base game; we think that it’s a clever little something extra.
- What makes you most proud of this game?
That we’ve been able to create a new game, with its own premise, that offers a different gaming experience than the first Cóatl, but stays in the same universe and has a few similar game mechanics. This new game is very interactive, the complete opposite of Cóatl, which means that players get a very different experience from the first game, while still being able to recognize the principles, color sequence building and progressive scoring of the objectives (to avoid naming them all) that were all present in our first creation.
- With the experience you’ve gained thanks to this 2nd published game, do you want to develop any other games? What do you think your future as game developers will look like?
Of course! We have tons of ideas and loads of prototypes at various stages of development that are definitely keeping us busy and are very entertaining. After experiencing the thrill of having our first game published, we’ve been hooked and we’re keen to keep creating games that interest players (and publishers!). We’ve also made a lot of friends in the field of game design, so by continuing to develop games, we also get to spend time with them, which is lots of fun!
Coatl – The Cardgame is an interactive card game for 1 – 4 people aged 10 and up. The game is by Etienne Dubois-Roy and Pascale Brassard and published by Synapses Games. The game is available in German at HeidelBÄR Games.
Coatl – The Card Game includes 50 plumage cards, 20 each head and tail cards, 40 prophecy cards, 6 temple cards, 4 level cards, golden round markers (4 body segments, 1 head, 1 tail), 2 additional golden body segments and 1 rule booklet.