The 3 game designers of Towers of Babylon at a board gaming convention with their game box for Towers of Babylon

Int. 23: Cackleberry Games and Their First Kickstarter (Gardens of Babylon)

The Cackleberry Games team has had an amazing start to their first ever Kickstarter campaign. They seem to be doing a lot correct when it comes to marketing their board game before Kickstarter. That combined with having what seems like a great team working together is a tremendous recipe for success.

I got to do an interview with their team and this is what I learned about them and their first game, Gardens of Babylon.

(You can find their first Kickstarter for Gardens of Babylon here)

*Note – The following interview has been slightly edited by Calvin Keeney for clarity and to add useful links for viewers.

1. Who makes up the Cackleberry Games team?

Our team is made up of the following folks:

  • Stavros Polyviou: Game Designer – professional background is in UX/UI design
  • Jerry Prochazka: CEO – Head of People (HR) at Riot Games and Head of 3rd Party Publishing at Wargaming.
  • Rob Thompson: Publishing – recruiter for Riot Games (League of Legends) and Publishing Producer for Wargaming (World of Tanks)
  • Jordan Kahn: Copy Editing/Operations – Led esports events for Riot Games in Latin America and held role of Head of Esports at Wargaming

(Related Reading: Like Wargaming? Try out these top strategic board games)

2. Where did you come up with the name for your company?

We wanted a name that was memorable but wasn’t too serious. Cackleberry made us laugh every time we said it to someone, so we decided it was the perfect fit. We always want to be creating that joy. We also liked the image of the egg, as a symbol for fertile, rich creative ideas.

3. What is the elevator pitch for your first game, Gardens of Babylon?

A tile laying euro game with maze building, isometric tiles that give this unique 2.5D effect, and an epic reversal of fortune mechanic: the cascade.

(Related Reading: Learn more about pitching your game to playtesters. Or if you are trying to get published, then check out pitching to publishers.)

4. How long have you been working on Gardens of Babylon and where did you come up with the idea?

About a year altogether. The idea for the game struck Stavros after seeing a table made up of 7 painted hexagons that made the same isometric projections of cubes that you see in the game. The idea for the cascade just seemed to flow naturally from there.

5. What have been some of the more difficult lessons you’ve learned from creating your first game?

Introducing even a single new rule can have serious ripple effects across the whole game. Each one runs the risk of creating multiple new cases that increase game complexity, so it has to be continually weighed against what the rule solves, or what it adds to the game.

6. Also, what were some tasks in board game development that you found to be much easier than you originally expected?

Finding a talented artist who could translate the game to a clear and beautiful visual went much easier than expected. We were also nervous about attracting playtesters at UKGE and GenCon, seeing some of the other games that were being tested. People seemed excited and happy to try it, despite our handmade prototype!

7. Where did you find the artist(s) for your first game?

We sourced Jeff Brown through Art Station. We found his piece on Mesopotamia on his portfolio, contacted him and actually setup a call while we were at UK Games Expo last summer.

My recommendation for any designer or new publisher looking to find an artist is to define the style, theme and context of your art. For us, it was architecture set in an ancient setting. World building was much more important than character art. From there, you can create key words based on that search to find the right artist for the job. For example, going back to my notes my keywords were: Mesopotamia, Temple, 7 Wonders, Gardens of Babylon, Waterfall, Pyramid, Ziggurat, etc.

8. About how much did it cost you to create Gardens of Babylon?

Stavros started on the development roughly 6 months before we formed Cackleberry, so the development time was roughly 18 months in total. Art was the majority of our budget at several thousand and each prototype with final art was about $120.

We ordered the tiles from Game Crafter and the box/rulebook/wooden tokens from Print & Play Games. It turned out that the tiles were cheaper with GC, so we went with this approach and it worked out. Retrospectively, I would have had a manufacturer in China make the reviewer prototypes at half the cost and just air ship them.

Stavros created all of his own prototypes during the development of Babylon himself with materials purchased off-line. Aside from Art, the other major cost is definitely pre-marketing: FB Ads driving towards your landing page, giveaways, paid reviews, conventions, graphic design material, KS animation, etc.

(You might also like: Different game pieces for prototyping your next board game design)

9. What have you done more specifically with your premarketing campaigns (mentioned above in question #8)

As this was our first campaign, we wanted to test multiple channels to gather data on what channels work best. Before the campaign, we have partnered with three FB groups: BG Spotlight, Board Game Exposure and Board Game Revolution and have been running multiple FB ad campaigns to drive people to our Newsletter, FB group and FB page. By doing so, we will then re-target the audience which has already engaged with our brand on launch day.

I will be happy to share more details on what worked best after we see the final conversion numbers on the campaign.

Want to Keep up to Date with Cackleberry Games? Reach Out to Them Here

I talked with Rob Thompson to setup this interview and he was amazing. One of the best communicators along with being one of the most friendly and genuine people I have met through SLG. So I’m sure that Rob and his team would be more than happy to strike up a conversation with you about game design at one of their following outlets online.

Find Cackleberry Games at:

Board Game Geek

Thanks to the Cackleberry Games team for taking your time out to do this interview. It was fun getting to learn more about the creation of your game and publishing company.

(Related – Have questions about making your own board game? Get the answers to many questions new board game designers have here.)

Board Game Design Frequently Asked Questions Call to Action image for Streamlined Gaming. "Board Game Design FAQs" typed in the left side with "Get My Answers" typed in the bottom right with pamphlets in top right.

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