Kickstarter Interviews: Daniel Solis of Kodama: The Tree Spirits

Here at GFTN, we like to interview Kickstarter creators about their game and their game design process. I had the opportunity to interview Daniel Solis, game designer for Kodama: The Tree Spirits, a beautiful card game on Kickstarter.
What inspired you to create this game? 
I love using cards in new ways that you don’t normally see in card games. I was inspired by James Ernest’s Agora and Hisashi Hayashi’s String Railway, which both use cards in real space as a part of strategic play. I wanted to explore that same design concept with a naturalistic theme, since the gridless arrangement felt “organic” to me. I just took a simple deck of cards and moved them around on a table until they took on a sort of tree branching pattern. That’s how it all began!
How did you get into game design? 
I began in the independent RPG community, participating in story game forums in the early 2000s and eventually getting graphic design freelance work in the industry from RPG publishers. Once I had that foot in the door, I started working on my own indie story games and kickstarted them with the support of Evil Hat Productions back when crowdfunding was very new. All the while, I was posting new abstract tabletop games on a now-defunct site called Luchacabra. After publishing two story games, I realized that I wasn’t so much into the RPG side of the craft as I was the board games. That’s when I started focusing much more heavily on designing simple card games.
What are you most excited about with this game? 
The art from Kwanchai Moriya is fantastic. Action Phase games made a brilliant call hiring him onto the job. He’s been top notch professional from day 1. I’m very eager to see how people react to the game in progress as they walk by. We really want passersby to stop in their tracks and ask about it!
Do you see this becoming a game franchise, or is this just a one-off kickstarter? 
It’s very early to say. The kickstarter is doing amazingly well, so we really want to focus on making this game as good as it can possibly be. As for the future, who knows?
How would you reassure backers that are nervous about kickstarter projects? 
Both Action Phase and I have a solid track record for fulfilling on kickstarter projects. I’ve been crowdfunding since the prehistoric era of 2010. Action Phase has fulfilled several of their projects already. Beyond that, we’re all experienced game designers and developers with a strong vision of what we want Kodama to be. It’s gonna be awesome!
What would you tell people that are on the fence about this game?
Watch the video previews from Rahdo, Undead Viking, and Board Game Brawl for more info about how the game looks and plays. They all give very thorough explanations of the game rules with their own impressions. Also talk to folks who have played the earlier version of the game, Kigi. The response to the updates we’ve made in Kodama have been very positive. From game mechanics to art direction, I’m very proud of what we’ve put together in Kodama. It’s a fantastic game for families and friends.
You can find more about Kodama: The Tree Spirits here.
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