by Clint Kimberling
The inspiration for a new idea can strike anywhere or anytime. For Daniel Crist and Cody Smith, co-founders of Akimbo Games, the inspiration to develop a new and one-of-a-kind card game came during a snowboarding trip.
Cody and Daniel first met during their electrical engineering coursework at Mississippi State. But it was on a snowboarding trip to Colorado that involved playing a lot of board games that they first thought of making their own game. As electrical engineering students, incorporating robots and circuitry to build a game around seemed like a natural choice. Their first idea was for players to build their own robot. But that seemed cost prohibitive, and Crist and Smith wanted to keep the game cheap and approachable.
With that in mind, the pair came up with the idea for a game where players would still build a robot but instead use playing cards. They began calling the game Beep Boop, so named for the sound a robot makes. The object of Beep Boop is to build a robot body by drawing cards, and once the robot is built you battle and attack opponents until the last robot standing is declared the winner.
Each specially designed card is a different robot body part (head, arms, legs and chest). Players collect cards, put together their robot and fight other players by accumulating energy points during their turn. Each card has different abilities, allowing players to block and defend attacks. But once a player loses all of their energy points, they’re out of the game. The player left at the end of the game with energy points is declared the winner.
A Beep Boop deck has 108 cards, almost half of which are robot parts. The rest of the deck are battle cards that include energy cards, draw cards, and immediate play cards that add a randomness element to the game. The game is designed for 2-4 players and recommend for ages 10 and up because the rule can be complicated. The game has over two million card combinations ensuring that you will never play the same game twice.
Beep Boop is unique, and the creators see it as is seen as an alternative activity to watching TV or playing with a phone. Daniel reports, “There are several games like ours, but Beep Boop is unique in the fact that it’s the only robot building and strategy game.” As far as a strategy goes, Cody says, “The game is designed with so many different ways to build a great robot that there really isn’t specific robot build or strategy that will win the majority of the time.”
Beep Boop is the first game from Akimbo, a company Crist and Smith formed while working with The MSU Entrepreneur Center. Daniel credits the center with a lot of their early success. “The program at MSU is really awesome. It’s full of people passionate about ideas,” he says. The Center provided funding that sponsored Crist and Smith to travel to two different conferences. And they also formed connections through the program that put them in touch with designers and artists who made the playing cards.
After designing a working prototype, Crist says getting honest feedback was hard. And so, to test the game they conducted focus group and gaming sessions with free pizza for students. This allowed them to refine the elements and homed in on a final set of rules that made sense for gameplay. “The game has changed a lot since the first time we played it ourselves,” Daniel says.
Thanks to a recent successful Kickstarter campaign (and a great promotional video) Beep Boop now exists as a fully developed prototype and is currently being manufactured for sale and distribution. Akimbo hopes to attract a casual gaming community that is very active. Their initial target for sales will be community game stores—the type of stores that host board and card game tournaments, a perfect fit for Beep Boop. Conventions will be another opportunity to sell. Crist and Smith hope events such as DragonCon and GenCon will provide exposure and sales opportunities.
At the moment, Beep Boop is the only game Akimbo offers. Daniel says, “If successful, we will expand or make new games.” Daniel and Cody remain focused on Beep Boop. Cody says, “The goal is to get Beep Boop in as many hands as possible to see people have even more fun playing Beep Boop than the awesome time we had bringing Beep Boop to life.”
Check akimbogames.com for updates; copies of game available late summer.