Goats vs Llamas - A Crazy Download-and-Make 3D Board Game!
Goats vs Llamas is a genre-busting tabletop game you can download, make together with your kids - and play at home!
Build a towering 4-level cardboard Aztec temple, and guide your Goat or Llama figures up to the summit - to claim The Golden Underpants.
Roll dice, jump levels, teleport, and even pick Action Cards to do silly challenges to advance on your intrepid quest. Bust open a Loot Crate, containing treasure (or possibly an unwelcome surprise!) to adorn your cloven-hoofed friends, on their perilous journey, where they may have to engage in a head-butting contest, when not avoiding falling Judgement Stones from the Gods.
This award-winning game was designed by two big kids, with the help of their actual kids - and demonstrates how much fun it is not just to play a game, but also how to make a game from scratch, for almost no cash. (Did we mention it's free to download). Unlike so many games which run their course with a static game board / set of cards, Goats vs Llamas has more replayability - with 1024 board arrangements (and over a million configurations if you include other game elements). The game also comes with 'blank' cards/challenges - encouraging kids and adults alike to design their own game features, and so make the game more personal to them!
Goats vs Llamas was also featured on MOJO Nation (a notable Toy & Game blog), and was commended for engaging with the thorny issue of carbon footprint, as it reuses cardboard, whilst most games shipped around the world have a high carbon footprint, with a lot of that space being just air!
It also highlights the often overlooked point that if a family builds a game together, this engages their creativity, organisation, collaboration - and naturally it will have greater emotional value for them: Their memories of building, playing, and re-designing the game - as the children get older, or have different guests play the game is arguably at the core of 'learning through creative play'.
The game shown has 3D printed bio-plastic pieces, but if you do not own a 3D printer - no problem - the equivalent pieces can be made from printed paper and card also!
Although the notion of 'Downloadable Toys' is somewhat in its infancy, the creators hope this is an exciting provocation of what may come, given the touch-points on sustainability, creativity and long-lasting family fun.
Judgement Stones FallingBeware The Wrath Of The GodsJude & Mark
Action CardsUse The PDF Or Create Your OwnJude & Mark
PDF - Action CardsOne of 3 Sets (see Instructables for more).Jude & Mark
Loot Crates & TreasureLlama seems to have got lucky!Jude & Mark
The RulesObey - or not.Jude & Mark
When Mark Met JudeRemote Game DesignJude & Mark
PrototypingProcess - More on InstructablesJude & Mark
DIY Game CardsEasy to Add Your Own...Jude & Mark
Creative ProcessHow Mark and Jude Made The Game - More on Instructables - At the BottomJude & Mark
Made in GreeceOne of the community send us this nice message and photo of their build!User on Instructables
Downloadable Play - The Start of Something Special
Goats vs Llamas is not a game that is likely to win any mainstream commercial product awards. However, the creators, Mark & Jude felt that Core77 was the right place to champion a new direction in design, sustainability, ethics and behaviour. Even if they both concede this is 'early days', they hope this is a provocation to what is possible in consideration of the urgent need to rethink consumption, but also to rethink creativity in family life. The following are some facts and reflections that shaped the product, and may in time influence the industry to explore new ways of distributing fun and creating memories...
Reusing Materials and Reducing Carbon Footprint from Shipping
Many board games ship at considerable carbon impact. Worse still most of these boxes contain 50-85% air inside. Much of this behaviour is 'standard' industry practice, and it is arguably an 'arms race' as to who can fill-up a shelf to grab attention in a superstore. Goats vs Llamas also has a box, but the user is encouraged to construct it from up-cycling their cardboard delivery boxes.
There are around 4.2bn parcel shipments in the UK each year. The UK produces some 26 million tonnes/year of cardboard waste. Of which 53% still goes to landfill, with only 47% actually being recycled! The US is pretty much 5x this, and many countries struggle to reclaim as much as they'd like to think from council recycling bins. Of course recycling is still great, but re-use is even better. If families around the world can reuse just some of their delivery boxes and packaging from online shopping, to make a toy or a game, together they are making an impact. The impact of the singular action may be small, but the mindset-shift around seeing potential in 'junk' is something we've arguably lost sight of, and with it the imagination and skills for parents and kids to make something fun together.
Modern Tech, Minus Screentime
Kids spend between 3-6.5hrs/day on Devices. The average Family Time together is between 37-49 mins/day. The optimal time for a board game is 20 mins of play. Although many toy and game makers endeavour to encourage replayability, nothing beats something home-made: Goats vs Llamas is a hybrid - giving unsure parents and kids a starting point, (with some necessary DIY and Craft tips), but also allowing them to imbue their version of the game with their family values, cultural quirks, and unique sense of humour. Perhaps by 'extending the play' to building beforehand, and of course remixing/redesigning afterwards, this Family Time may also increase - not just in duration - but quality and meaning too.
"Gradually, Then Suddenly" - 3D Printing at Home
By 2020 there were over 870m 3D Printers in the US! Worldwide there were 2.1m sold in 2020, and 15m expected to be sold per year worldwide by 2028. There is a lot of dubious Sci-Fi out there implying that we'd all be designing and 3D printing things at home. However, the subtlety here is the 'designing' part - having a 3D printer does not make you as skilled as a designer at IKEA or LEGO. The counterpoint to this, and why Goats vs Llamas is more credible, is that it is plausible for a family to design and print a few small game-pieces, which are not structural, carry high voltage, water, etc. So as a starting point, making games at home as a 'gateway' activity to designing toys, games and learning about play - is an exciting prospect, especially given that a good printer now costs as little as $175 - this is a space which is set to grow, and DIY Tabletop Gaming may be a micro-trend to watch...
Mark and Jude have greatly enjoyed putting this project live; It is unashamedly free, and open source - implying the user should make it their own, and that they can improve upon our first iteration. Although less than a year old, the reception has been highly positive both from parents and kids, as well as industry folks. It's not lost on either designer, (with experience working for the likes of LEGO and Jazwares), that this is a niche product experience - but like 3D printers, things take time to build. The notion of 'Downloadable Play' will surely gather momentum, as a new generation grows up with technology like this as their 'normal'. Indeed, it is a provocation to company business models to consider what it is like not just to sell boxes-of-stuff, but to sell Creativity and Know-How. The pastime of DIY was surely hilariously unthinkable to anyone 100 years ago, and now it's a $2.8trillion industry. The same could be said about home cooking, or even mindfulness - both colossal industries.
Perhaps we are physical beings who need to connect, much more than any digital device will ever have the incentive to tell us. Or perhaps we need to lighten-up and wear some (clean) underpants on our heads and do a silly dance and not take it all so seriously - not just for our kids, but for ourselves as adults too!
Why Making Physical (and Digital) Things Matters
As much as young people may create and play in the Metaverse, we should not forget to cultivate a tacit appreciation for creating things we interact with in the physical world. This is not about being antiquated, but rather, at the very heart of most creativity is what most would regard as 'play', likewise at the heart of most joy is about sharing, and feeling connected. Goats and Llamas is a provocation not just to conserve and cherish our resources - but to purposefully and responsibly create experiences that remind us to mindfully create, savour our time together, and be inspired to invent a new world.
Today your kids may be building a quirky world from cardboard, but tomorrow they will build the future.
Goats vs Llamas: A Sleeper Hit?
The project has been live for just under a year, and although it's arguably quite an involved build, (a simplified version 2.0 may be on the cards!), it has nonetheless been growing steadily, and who knows, may be a 'sleeper hit' in the new world of DIY Games:
Indeed, one teacher from the US got in touch via email, exclaiming "This is amazing! I am a teacher that is currently doing a strategy game unit with my 7th and 8th grade gifted students. Not only is this an amazing game, and an amazing example of the possibilities for quality DIY gaming, but the story of your process covers all the key points I've gone over with them. I can't wait to make my own Goats and Llamas with them, and play for years to come!".
Other makers have also got in touch from Greece who made it, and another from France, who true to the Open Source philosophy, is recreating the entire game in their own vision (work in progress), and aims to print select game pieces in a high resolution SLA resin. Moments like these were never anticipated by the creators, but clearly Goats vs Llamas seems to have a niche, yet global appeal!
Random Acts of Kindness
As with so much of Design, the process can yield hidden gems of play and parenting. Whilst working on the Action Cards, Mark made sure to add some positivity with the 'Perform a random act of kindness' card. When he played with his son he was pleased to see the effect which creates a nice positive moment. "Very rarely have I heard of a board game that actually promotes a positive interaction with your other players. I think our game is a great mix of silly, fun, creative and kind".
In an ever more digital world, we are risking less physical interaction and validation with our kids, and Goats vs Llamas could offer an important alternative to digital interaction.
Silver Linings and Serendipity: Why Design Can Happen Anywhere
For the Core77 Design Community, it may interest them to learn that Mark and Jude have never met in person, yet designed Goats vs Llamas remotely. This is not just testament to the amazing power of technology today that enables this to happen, but also how much fun they had doing this. They are currently working on a cartoon series together. Although these things start off as 'just for fun', the irony is that the potency of the ideas within such things has taken them to work with clients who share their vision and passion for exploring the future, with childlike enthusiasm combined with many years of industry experience. Whatever the future holds, we hope it's playful and purposeful.
Still wanted by the government, they survive as designers of fortune. If you have a problem, if nobody can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the GoatsvsLlamas Team.