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Keep Flying - Kites Developer Diary

One day I was sitting on top of a hill, overlooking the city below.
With the wind subtly blowing, I started imagining what it would be like for a paper airplane to catch the breeze from such heights.
I saw kids playing in the sandbox down the hill and started thinking about how it would be for kids to throw paper airplanes. Amusingly, I imagined them running down and blowing up at them to keep the paper airplanes afloat.
Days later, I was toying around with sand timers trying to figure out if there was any way to create a game out of them. It dawned on me that while a timer was running, games often allowed actions to occur.
As paper airplanes have movement followed by some eventual termination, I thought back on my daydream about the kids throwing paper airplanes. Slowly, the two concepts started merging together to the point where it was really a matter of playing around with math and numbers to make the game tight.
Kevin Hamano
Designer (Kites)

The well-defined boundaries of board games have always been so central to their attraction. A cardboard box filled with clear rules, discrete turns, incremental costs and gains, min-ing, max-ing, and so on… inevitably, I want to test these limits, and real-time games have always seemed like an area with so much promise! I’ve played just about every one of them I could find, each one falling short of the dream of satisfyingly pushing the limits of timing in board games.

In late 2020, We signed up for the Pitch Project, a short-lived but amazing pandemic-era event connecting designers and publishers virtually, with high hopes that the pedigree of the project runners (Sen-foong Lim and Jay Cormier) would stir up some magic. We reviewed, we ranked, we received pitches, and several games stood out; but none more than a minimalist-style sell sheet of textless cards and sand timers about flying paper airplanes. I immediately needed to try it, and Kevin Hamano (the designer) was quick to respond.

Paper Airplanes - Sell Sheet Snippet

Print-and-play file hand-off quickly led to a signed publishing deal. I could tell this game was something special. Simple, yes… but special in that simplicity. I got to work on development, cutting away the “cruise” mechanism where you could set a sand timer on its side, reworking the theme (unlike paper airplanes, kites have strings), added the “grand finale” where players can’t flip the “wild” timer toward the end of the game to get the excitement ramping, and added three different challenge cards to increase the difficulty a groups get good at flying kites together.

Kites - Sand Timers

Having long wanted to work with industry legend Beth Sobel on illustration, she was the perfect fit to capture both the serenity and tension of flying a kite. We decided to have all the single-color cards be traditional kites, and the double-color cards be represented by various creatures to give the look of the game a bit more spirit. The vibrant orange kite on the bright blue sky for the cover immediately captures the excitement and dynamism of a windy day of kite-flying.

Kites - Box and Components

We’re thrilled by the community response to Floodgate’s foray into real-time games and love watching the joy (and excitement) that Kites brings to the table. It’s been a blast so far, and we’ll certainly continue to explore everything this genre has to offer… keep on keeping your eyes to the sky for what’s next.

Ben Harkins
Developer (Kites)