Looting the Trove: Creating the Lab Rats

Welcome to Looting The Trove, a look at the behind-the-scenes development of the games in the CTG library. This month, with the Splice & Dice Kickstarter content now available for purchase, we decided to take a look at the Lab Rats, our special four-‘locs-in-one Gearloc. As he did last month for Dart, CTG co-founder and game designer Adam Carlson once again regaled us on the origins of the new character(s).

The Lab Rats, originally called the Gearloc Council Internship Program (or GCIP), came to be during the development process of the Splice & Dice expansion content, which focuses heavily on the inner workings of Nobulous’s laboratory and his dubious “internship.”

“Revealing Nobulous’s story behind the scenes and the development of Splice & Dice made it apparent that Nob’s former students absolutely needed to have character and substance,” Adam said.

During the development process, which was aided by game designers Josh Carlson and Josh Wielgus, the idea came to do something totally new for Too Many Bones: allow a player to control four cooperating Gearlocs as one character, each Gearloc represented by its own miniature character mat.

zoom lab rats
Flan’s bat’s name is Trifle. Get it?

“The Gearlocs of old were usually a vision of a single designer, but lately we have been tackling these with more of a group approach,” Adam remarked.

Once the decision had been made to go four-in-one, there were a lot of logistical issues to figure out.

“The largest challenge to overcome was obviously the management of health among the Lab Rats,” Adam said. “We had played with a unified and shared health system, but ultimately it did not meet our expectations thematically. We ended up adding more health chips to the character pack and made sure they each felt separate from each other!”

While everyone in the office has their own favorite Lab Rat – Adam loves Slank, with his homemade buzz saw and direct attack skill dice – the developers worked long and hard to make sure all of them were complementary.

“Each of the Lab Rats have their own strengths and weaknesses,” Adam said. “I love how well-rounded they are as a group, covering all needs to fit the adventure you are in. The challenge then becomes trying to unlock them all in time and making good use of what you have at your disposal.”

With four different Gearlocs and no direction on which order you should unlock them, Adam recognizes that the Lab Rats might seem intimidating at first. However, he said there’s not really a wrong way to use them.

dice lab rats
Each color is a different tool with a different combative purpose.

“Recognize that they are all working together,” he said. “It’s OK to have your favorite one or two ‘go-to’ Lab Rats to play with. Generally, it’s not as crucial which you pick, so long as you understand how to maximize their combinations.”

There is one key tip he had, however: Make sure you’re using more than one of them.

“As a beginner player, do not underestimate the importance in getting four Bones to unlock another fellow Lab Rat for play,” he said. “More characters means more important health to use and survivability. Take advantage of the opportunities to draw out a fight to get that fourth bone in your backup plan if you can!”

The Lab Rats were created as part of the Too Many Bones: Splice & Dice Kickstarter project. You can order them here, and you can visit the Chip Theory Games store to see all available Too Many Bones products.