Big Potato’s Tristan Hyatt-Williams on making First Dates: The Game “naughty, but not nasty”

Shoreditch-based Big Potato Games has fast become one of the key players in the world of party games.

Whether you’re explaining how you’d survive the sinking of the Titanic with a Poundland oven glove in Bucket of Doom, miming Britney Spears in tears in Obama Llama or watching your doodle of a bad babysitter morph into something else entirely during Scrawl, the firm’s output of side-splitting party games are a guaranteed good time.

This year, amongst the firm’s new line is First Dates: The Game (the firm’s first foray into licensed product) and The Chameleon, a social deduction game from Coup designer Rikki Tahta which was named Best Party Game at this year’s UK Games Expo.

We caught up with one of the firm’s founding potatoes, Tris Hyatt-Williams, to find out more about the development process behind First Dates and The Chameleon, as well as what keeps the creativity flowing over at Big Potato HQ.

First Dates is your first game based on a licence. How did the partnership come about and how did working on an IP change your usual design process?
First Dates is our first game based on a TV show. The creators of the show, Twenty Twenty, were approaching game companies and they came across Bucket of Doom online and thought, “these guys look suitably odd, let’s get in touch.”

We’ve always steered clear of games based on TV shows because they are normally so cheesy, so we said to Twenty Twenty we’d love to have a go at a First Dates game, but only if we can do it our way, i.e. not simply force a TV show into a box but make it a good game first and foremost. Thankfully they were in total agreement.

What made First Dates a great fit for a party game?
Whenever you’re taking to your mates about past dates it’s always the awkward ones that get the most laughs. We felt sure that if we could turn the awkward dial up to 11 then we’d be halfway to a good party game.

Are you looking at developing more games based on existing IP?
Yep, we’ve got a couple of super secret projects on the bubble. One is launching in October but I can’t talk about it because I’ve been sworn to secrecy. The others are at various stages of development.

First Dates: The Game sees players ask each other riskier and riskier questions as the date progresses. How do you go about ‘drawing the line’ for the sorts of things you’re asking?
Well, we have pretty low bar at Big Potato and virtually anything goes – but because this game is tied to a TV show we tried to restrain ourselves. We wanted it naughty but not nasty. Well, not too nasty anyway.

Moving onto The Chameleon, this comes from a partnership with designer Rikki Tahta. How did this collaboration come about?
We played Rikki’s game Gooseberry at Essen last and snapped it up immediately. He certainly knows how to make a great game, that lad. We didn’t touch the gameplay at all but we added a new name and created this design idea where the name disappears the closer you get to the box.

When dealing with someone else’s concept, how do you go about putting the Big Potato stamp on the game?
A lot of our personality comes from the chatty tone of the writing and the little jokes. We also try to pick a name that feels Big Potato-ish. The rest is down to our super-talented designers who add clever design touches to every part of the game.

How do you guys stay creative?
We put lots of LSD in the water barrel. That helps. The rest is down to playing lots of games, sharing anything that looks interesting and meeting every month with new game ideas.

What’s the secret to a great party game?
Everyone needs to be involved all the time. They need to be very easy to learn because people are often a bit pissed when they play them. They’ve also got to have that ‘I want to play that game again’ factor.

What have you guys got coming up next that you can tell us about?
We’re working on a new version of Linkee and Bucket of Doom for next year, but the big news is a new game collaboration that we’re launching mid October. Can I tell you all about it then?

You can indeed! Thanks Tris.


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