One of our absolute favourite games to release in 2020 was Fossilis, published by Kids Table Board Gaming. It’s an utterly unique game about digging up the right combination of dinosaur bones to recreate their full skeletal composition. Players use plastic tweezers to literally pull out bones from the deep pockets of a plastic board, which are covered up by thick ceramic-like tiles, which must be shoved around to reveal the hidden bones.
Words can’t do it all justice, so here is a photo of the amazing contraption:
Recently, Little Big Thumbs posted a video review of Fossilis (which we’ll embed at the bottom of this article), and we were thrilled to discover that the game’s designer, David Diaz, had watched our video and left a positive comment on our piece. We quickly reached out to David, and asked if he’d be willing to answer a few questions for a DWP interview, and luckily for us all, he agreed!
Below are the five questions we sent to Mr Diaz, along with his responses!
Fossilis is such a unique design, with the plastic board of recessed pockets, and of course the digging tweezers of awesomeness! What elements of the game were the first to emerge in your process?
Digging tweezers of awesomeness. I like that. The first elements that I built the game around were the base and the tiles. My wife actually gave me the idea of trying to design a game around digging for dinosaur bones. So when she mentioned it, my mind immediately went to thinking of how I could simulate the sensation of digging and discovering hidden bones. The first thing I thought of was the base and tiles. Being an animator, before creating a prototype, I quickly mocked up a 3D version of the base and tiles just to visualize if what I was thinking would work. It seemed like it would so I went and ransacked my kids’ LEGO collection and built the prototype base. For the tiles I first thought cardboard might work but I quickly realized it was too light and wouldn’t slide well. That’s when I thought of how well dominoes slide and I ended up finding a game that used square dominoes. I ordered 3 copies and that’s how the prototype came together.
How long was the game in development before KTBG became involved?
I think I had worked on it for about 6 months before I showed it to Helaina at KTBG.
What would you say is the biggest change between your earlier prototypes and the final product?
In the early stages, the game was primarily a card game where players used tool cards to move the tiles off the board. It was definitely more strictly a kids’ game. But the core fun of the game has always been the sliding of the tiles and discovery of the bones and that never changed throughout the entire development. We just added more mechanisms to make sure adults could have fun playing as well. I think the one that made the biggest difference was adding meeples to the board. That really added the player interaction that was missing in earlier prototypes.
Are there any other themes or mechanisms you would like to tackle as a designer?
My first prototype is also a dinosaur game called Primal Ordnance where you control cybernetically-enhanced weaponized dinosaurs in battle. I’ve been working on and off on that for 4 years. But other than dinosaurs I have one prototype about speed collecting candy (dice) from piñatas called Piñata Dice, and another about super hero superintendents called The Super which has upgradeable dice like Dice Forge. And my next game idea to start prototyping is a worker placement game called Nerd Cred where you are taking your character from birth to adulthood trying to be the most “successful” nerd.
What are your favourite games as a player?
I tend to love mid-weight games that I can play a lot with my family. My favorite of all is Roll Player with the Monsters & Minions expansions. Some other favorites are Century Golem Edition, Dice Forge, Champions of Midgard, Space Base, Whistle Stop and Hero Realms.
Our sincere thanks to David Diaz for joining us for this interview! To see the game in action, please check out the Little Big Thumbs video review mentioned at the beginning of the article. You can view it right here!
Fossilis is now available in local game stores everywhere, either directly on their shelves, or by special order. We enthusiastically endorse this game, and highly recommend checking it out at the earliest opportunity!