Build, flick, play: Michael Allan on giving players the tools to craft their own dexterity games with KUGO

Michael Allan, KUGO

Michael, it’s great to connect. For anyone that hasn’t seen KUGO in action, how would you pitch it?
KUGO is a flick-based game made from all-natural solid wood. The main thing about KUGO is that it’s not one game but a box filled with components to make lots of games – from quick tricks and fun party games to all out strategic team-based games… The idea behind KUGO is that you, the user, can create your very own games too!

Michael Allan, KUGO

How did the idea for KUGO come about?
During lockdown – as many stories seem to start these days – I was trying to get my son out of a boredom slump. I took the top of a milk bottle, placed two cans of baked beans on the kitchen counter, and challenged him to flick the top through the cans… After a couple of tries he made it! I then started making the challenges more difficult. First he had to rebound it off a chopping board before getting it through the goal… Then off the side and into a saucepan… And it went on from there.

I started chopping up off-cuts of wood to build ramps and other pieces to make the game more exciting. Finally, I created a flicking ‘puck’ out of wood as the main component and the game was born!

Michael Allan, KUGO

You mentioned earlier that players can create their own mini-games using what’s in the box. How did you get that balance right between giving people enough guidance to get started, but enough freedom to feel comfortable creating their own games?
Good question and one we failed at the very start.

How so?
We assumed people would just go off and create their own games, but the feedback from testing was that people didn’t know how to start or what to do. We created an instruction booklet with some of our favourite games to help people get started – and wrote up the others onto our website.

We continue to create new games and publish them on the site, and even get people to submit their games where they’ll be credited. We found that once people “got” the mechanics, they quickly started to experiment and get creative.

Michael Allan, KUGO

KUGO is coming soon to Kickstarter. What appealed about launching the game this way?
We’re brand new to this space, both in creation and gaming as a whole. Through research and speaking to others in the game industry, Kickstarter seems to be the leading and favoured approach to launching a new game.

Down the road, do you see future games launching under the KUGO banner?
Absolutely! We’ve actually made lots of other components that didn’t quite make the final box so there’s a fair amount of add-ons and expansion packs to explore within the KUGO-verse.

In terms of new games, who knows!? I’ve loved doing this so far and the idea of creating products that bring joy to people is literally a dream. I’m hoping to get KUGO out there and a reality, which will kickstart a new life direction that I really didn’t see coming.

Last one – what fuels your creativity? How do you have ideas?
I’m a designer by trade and creative in nature; probably someone with too many ideas that often bores or annoys my family! I often have creative projects on the go, but they all have a natural end point. With KUGO, because the possibilities are endless, it hasn’t manage to ‘end’ yet and I hope that’s how others can use it and not get bored of it as well.

In summary, as a family we really do just have a laugh with it. My boys come up with so many interesting and different ideas with it weekly, so in a lot of ways my creativity comes from them!

Good answer. Thanks Michael – and good luck with the KUGO Kickstarter, which can be found here.

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