Claire Ahuriri and James Dunning of Torbay, Auckland, found themselves wondering how their cat, Nimue, entertained herself when they weren’t home. Their musings led to the creation of Cat Tales, a board game in which players assume the role of one of four rival suburban cats, contending to win the best treats and adventures their street has on offer, while avoiding the annoying intrusions of a beleagered dalmatian named Rex.
Claire and James designed a prototype and started playing the game with friends, family, and students in 2014. When it proved to be very popular, they approached Julia Schiller of Cheeky Parrot Games for help in developing the game professionally. Julia thought the game had potential, especially its theme–nearly half of all New Zealand homes have at least one cat in residence–and simultaneous action selection mechanism.
In the early months of 2015 “Cat Tales” morphed into Cat Capers and the game was put through its paces at board gaming events and design meetings. Claire’s whimsical prototype drawings drew praise from testers and inspired some of the final artwork, which was commissioned from Jade du Preez of Forrest Creative. The activities and treats the cats could earn were overhauled for maximum humour, and it was decided that chasing the postie should grace the box.
In July, the team ran a crowd-funding campaign on the Kiwi platform, PledgeMe, to raise some of the funds needed to produce Cat Capers, keep its recommended retail price competitive, and allow the inclusion of bonus features such as a small expansion and a magnetic closure box. The campaign met its target with 64 backers pledging a total of $2,536. Nimue was the star of the video centerpiece of the campaign, behaving admirably and reasonably obediently during it and two shorter videos: Celebratory Dance to mark the campaign reaching $2000 in pledges and Games with Nim, when the campaign reached the 90% mark. We had some cross-promotion with two other successful crowdfunding projects that ran at the same time, one to open the Cat Lounge and one to build the library of Auckland’s new boardgaming cafe, Cakes n Ladders, where the launch party for Cat Capers was held on November 18, 2015.
The game sold through a quarter of its print run in its first few months on the market in New Zealand.