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Cam Banks
Ginger Kiwi Game Designer and Family Guy
Ginger Kiwi Game Designer and Family Guy

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CLADES and CLADES PREHISTORIC are finally available!

This is +Jonathan Tweet's card game of evolutionary matching and its dino-tastic counterpart. See below for the details.
Clades and Clades Prehistoric are now available to the public. Here's the press release. If you know science educators or science communicators, please share.


The creative team behind Grandmother Fish—Jonathan Tweet and Karen Lewis—also created these games and funded them on Kickstarter.

SEATTLE (May 1) — Clades and Clades Prehistoric are now available to the general public from Atlas Games in St. Paul, Minnesota. Game designer Jonathan Tweet and children’s science illustrator Karen Lewis collaborated to create these games, which demonstrate the concept of a clade. In biology, a clade is a complete branch of the evolutionary tree, such as mammals. Players try to be the first to spot matches among the cards on the table, forming matches according to the animals’ clades and other qualities. Clades features living animals, such as a praying mantis, an eagle, and a human. Clades Prehistoric plays the same way but dinosaurs, sea scorpions, woolly mammoths, and other extinct animals.

John S. Mead, the Eugene McDermott Master Teacher in Science at St. Mark’s School of Texas, recommends Clades to other educators. “I have seen that it manages to help teach evolutionary concepts in a relaxed and organic way,” he said after using the game in his class of middle schoolers. Mead calls the game a “springboard for students to engage in rapid-fire critical thinking based on solid science.” Players do not need to have a knowledge of evolution to play, says Mead, making the game also “great at helping teach evolutionary ideas to beginners.”

Tweet and Lewis raised money on Kickstarter to produce Clades and Clades Prehistoric, and copies of the game have been sent to the backers. The backers also raised money to send over 100 copies of the games to nonprofits around the country, such as Camp Quest and the National Center for Science Education. Now that the obligations to the backers have been fulfilled, Atlas Games has released the games to the general public. The games will appear in game stores and bookstores, along with Atlas Games’s broadly popular titles such as Gloom and Once Upon a Time.

Clades and Clades Prehistoric are follow ups to Grandmother Fish, the first storybook to teach evolution to preschoolers. In 2015, game designer Jonathan Tweet and children’s science illustrator Karen Lewis self-published Grandmother Fish, which sold out and was then picked up by Macmillan for release in 2016. It has since been translated into Italian, and a Chinese translation is in progress.

For more information, contact

About Jonathan Tweet. Jonathan Tweet is an award-winning, Seattle-based game designer, having contributed to global brands such as DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, MAGIC: THE GATHERING, and POKEMON. His innovative game designs earned him a place in The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design Hall of Fame, and he has placed a special emphasis on explaining complicated games in simple terms. Currently he is consulting with the Science Museum of Minnesota on an upcoming program for teaching evolution.

About Karen Lewis. Karen Lewis is a Seattle-based illustrator for children’s storybooks, history, and science. She strives to make her art accessible, accurate and visually delicious. Favorite clients have included the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, the Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Public Utilities, KCTS public television, King County and the National Science Foundation. She’s the resident cartoonist for Cobblestone, an American history magazine for kids. Her children’s book include Will it Blow – Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens, Amazing Alaska and Arturo and the Navidad Birds.

About Atlas Games. Atlas Games is a publisher of award-winning card games, board games, and roleplaying game books. Its best selling card games include Gloom and Once Upon a Time. Since its founding in 1990, Atlas has published games that have changed the way gamers think about gaming.

21. How many playtests?

I prefer three phases of testing. An alpha, a beta, and a gamma.

My alpha is often just a concept test with character sheets, but with Feng Shui 2 it amounted to "here's Feng Shui, play this by the book and give us feedback."

The beta is an actual playable version of the game, albeit without much of the background or every single skill or power or whatever mapped out. This is the state Pillar of Fire is in, and the state Cortex Prime was in last year. This phase can have many iterations as I work on different bits.

The gamma is basically the finished game but one that I expect needs some fine-tuning and play experience to finalize. Over the Edge is almost in gamma (actual gamma launch coincides with the Kickstarter). Cortex Prime is definitely in late gamma. For me, the testing of the gamma version continues even up until the week it goes to press, as we correct errors in the layout.

20. Favorite design tools?

Is this about tools as in things to design with, or tools within game mechanics and procedures? I assume the former.

Probably a combination of Microsoft Word, Scrivener, and Dropbox?

19. Game that's most essential to your design

Here are the five games that I'd say are essential to how I design right now:
1. King Arthur Pendragon
2. Dungeons and Dragons
3. Over the Edge
4. Amber Diceless Roleplay
5. Feng Shui

Of course, creating Cortex Prime has been largely a case of taking all of the essential designs of the last 10 years that I've been involved in and turning them into a gorgeous Frankenstein's monster of a toolkit, but those five games probably do more to nail where my head is at than any others do.

18. Current Inspiration?

Lately I have been inspired by the tremendous work of Swedish game designers and publishers, including Fria Ligan and Jarnringen. Their games are all over the map in terms of genre and style, but there's something unrepentantly eager about their projects that reminds me of when I first got started in this business and people made big, beautiful plans for games. Also, every RPG out of Europe just makes me jealous as hell of their art budgets.

17. Favorite form of feedback?

I'm so behind on this, probably because the last one of these I did was right before Tax Day. So here we are catching up.

My favorite form of feedback comes from hearing that my games are being played and enjoyed by others. I like to hear people are fans, but it's even better to hear that they've used my stuff at their game table.

For games that I was a developer on, rather than the lead designer, I love to see people blog or chat about the things they're doing with the game, the campaigns they're planning or the stories they've told about them. That's rewarding because the whole point of development is bringing a writer's work to the people that most want it, and delivered in a way that's accessible and fun.

16. Any design partners?

I wouldn't be anywhere without the people I've collaborated with.

With Leverage: +Rob Donoghue, +Clark Valentine, +Matt Forbeck, +Fred Hicks, +Ryan Macklin
With Smallville: +Josh Roby, Bobbi Olsen, +Amanda Valentine, +Tiara Lynn Agresta, +Joe Blomquist, Mary Blomquist
With Marvel Heroic: +Jeremy Keller, +Matthew Gandy, +Amanda Valentine, +Rob Donoghue, +Jesse Scoble, +Matt Forbeck, +Judd Karlman, +John Harper, +Jack Norris, Aaron Sullivan, +Dave Chalker, +Philippe-Antoine Menard, +Will Hindmarch, +Adam Minnie, +Daniel Solis and many others on events and outreach and supplements

I know there's a thing where it's somehow more notable or more significant that you can do something solo, that you carry all the weight, and that you do all the work. Indie games are full of superstar designers who don't need writing teams or developers or pitch-hitters. But that's never been who I am, or how I work. I love to work in teams and with other people: smart, enthusiastic, excited, talented people, all of them.

If I'm not standing on the shoulders of giants, I'm shoulder-to-shoulder with heroes. It's a pretty good place to be.

15. Do you design in public or private?

I share a lot of my ideas and designs to Google+ and Twitter and so forth, but I don't think that's "designing in public" as much as it is "here's some of how the sausage is made."

So mostly privately.

14. What are yer Dreams and Plans?

Ahead of the short term task of getting the Cortex Prime books done and out to backers and the rest of the world, I have a few more dreams and plans ahead.

* I want to create and release full-fledged Cortex Prime powered games with licenses or settings that I am fond of.
* I want to write novels.
* I want to work with Marvel and Dragonlance again.
* I want Magic Vacuum Design Studio to support me and my family entirely one day without losing healthcare or services.

13. Biggest influences?

Probably the biggest influences on my work are designers like Greg Stafford, who represent to me the total package of system design and world building that I feel most strongly as requirements for a game designer and developer. Games that have had a role in shaping my approach to games include Pendragon, Amber Diceless Roleplaying, Over the Edge, Feng Shui, Underground, Warhammer Fantasy Role-play, and of course D&D (especially Dragonlance, Ravenloft, and the UK modules).

I also love video games and comic books, so all of Marvel, especially Avengers and the X-Men, but also Fallout, Destiny, Final Fantasy, and Life is Strange.

I continue to be inspired and motivated toward improving my work as a result of the many collaborators and colleagues I admire and have worked with in this business, from my long-time friends at Evil Hat and Green Ronin to indie designers such as Vincent & Meguey Baker, Josh Roby, and Luke Crane.
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