Launch successful. The crowdfunding campaign for "Houston, we have a Dolphin" by Hybr, the makers of Soviet Kitchen, runs until July 28th, but has already been successfully funded. The hybrid card game with the unusual theme should also be available from German retailers just in time for Christmas. If successful, however, the founders may have more in mind with their new game.

Hybr has already raised around 14.000 euros via Kickstarter for “Houston, we have a Dolphin”; the young Dresden start-up had targeted a sum of 9.500 euros. The hybrid card game, which requires the use of a smartphone app, has had a successful launch. Although the game should also be available in German retail stores, supporters of the crowdfunding campaign can start as early as November.

Dolphins as an alternative to pigs in space

The setting: wacky. The technology: innovative. The presentation: spacy. Houston, We Have a Dolphin appears to be an unusual card game in more ways than one. The makers remain true to the line that they set with the Hybrid game Soviet Kitchen started to draw. "HwhaD!", the affectionate abbreviation of the card game title, is no less innovative. An app is used again, but there are some clear differences compared to Soviet Kitchen, as the creative minds at Hybr confirm: "Our goal was to create a social deduction game that would be fun for 3-5 players brings. It was clear to us early on that an app was needed to support this. It only turned out later that we can already use the image recognition algorithm so well in this game".

Their new project is "very close to their hearts", of course it is. They explain a little proudly that they had let off steam with the story, topic and illustrations. You can tell that from the card game: Everything is colourful, weird, idiosyncratic - in the end presented in such a way that "Houston, we have a Dolphin" is an eye-catcher that catches the eye without having played the game or dealt with the technology behind it. You could say the hybrid broke the boundaries between time and space. In other words: It is an adventure into unknown worlds. The creators describe it soberly: “With HwhaD! we now wanted to create a more challenging game and show that HYBR is not limited to a certain game genre".

It is "HwhaD!" a card game, but there is still a little more around it. Photo: Hybr

"HwhaD!" is a card game, but there is still a little more to it than that. Photo: Hybr

The idea is initially simple: three to five players take part, each steering a team of astronauts with different skills. The otherwise rather cute dolphins are the insidious, defective elements in this game. While the crew tries to repair the shipwrecked space car, they are threatened with sabotage - by those potentially dangerous space dolphins.

Although "Houston, we have a Dolphin" also uses an app, just like the premiere work Soviet Kitchen, the game idea is still completely different, the mechanics anyway. "Soviet Kitchen is a cooperative card game, with color shuffling as the main game mechanic and poison management through card stats as a sideline. HwhaD, on the other hand, is a social deduction game, a game with hidden roles and a "traitor" in the playgroup. Thus it is only semi-cooperative. In addition, there is the deduction of the combination of cards and the analysis of the possible events,” explain the young founders.

Hwhad! is more complex than Soviet Kitchen and requires some brooding and cheating.

An innovation that players themselves will probably hardly notice is hidden on the technological level of the hybrid card game: "In contrast to Soviet Kitchen, the HwhaD app does not use any codes to scan the cards," the Dresden-based company explains. “Instead, it uses an image recognition algorithm developed in-house. This means that the cards can now also be easily scanned in a concealed manner - without any disturbing codes on the front of the card. In Houston, the app takes on the role of the game master in the form of the on-board computer. While the innovative use of Soviet Kitchen for mixing colors already brought new game mechanics, it is now being used as an all-knowing black box.” The app provides information in doses so that players have to reconstruct the events themselves. The concept behind it is still new, probably even ingenious. "We are very happy that developer Jonas Kopcsek has already been able to optimize the algorithm to such an extent that it can be used wonderfully in the game," say the makers behind the card game about their technology fox.

In this hybrid card game, the app proves to be much more than just a "hub" from which to start a game - it is an omnipresent means of managing knowledge without directly passing it on to the players in full.

Pizza mafia wasn't quirky enough

According to the young founders, their new work is more atmospheric than Soviet Kitchen. There are cutscenes, background music and sound effects, and an animated game explanation - the app teaches players how the title works. The fact that Hybr uses an extremely unusual setting this time contributes to the atmosphere. However, the basic idea initially looked far less creative: it was only supposed to become a mafia topic. "The mafia in Palermo is trying to rob pizzerias," the founders summarize. In the end, the idea was too classic for them, instead, dolphins should judge it in space. The space setting appealed to them, Douglas Adams "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" took care of the rest - in addition, dolphins had to be on board somehow.

The app does not read cards with barcodes, but with image recognition. Photo: Hybr

The app does not read cards with barcodes, but with image recognition. Photo: Hybr

With their new card game, Hybr wants to rethink “Social Deduction”. It was clear to them early on that such a concept should work with just a few players, without having to lose complexity. “During the design process, this game needed to benefit from a certain level of complexity in order for there to be complexity even with only three players. On the other hand, we wanted to create a game that, thanks to the app, can also be played without a rule booklet. These two demands are not easily reconciled, and it took us a lot of brainpower to find a sensible middle ground here.” So there is a clever idea behind the concept with the app.

“Houston, we have a dolphin” as a card game for around 26 euros is not a bargain, but it is not overpriced either. Those who support the game should enjoy it in the long term, the makers predict: “Hwhad, contains more than just cards. A game board and game pieces are also needed to play - this makes it a board game. Added to this is the app. A big part in product development and of course also a cost factor. But it also enables an incredible variety of games and thus a high replay value.”

Would you like to see more?

Additional content for the basic game is already available: "The first expansion "Houston, we have a Dolphin! Cyborg Heroes will be released in stores at the same time as the base game release,” says Hybr. Through the decoupling of individual hero abilities, both occasional and frequent gamers are to be addressed. The latter are often demanding when it comes to "social deduction", as the creators of "Houston, we have a Dolphin" know.

The first mini-expansion is already taking place as part of the crowdfunding campaign. Photo: Hybr

The first mini-expansion is already taking place as part of the crowdfunding campaign. Photo: Hybr

If you don't know anything about social deduction games, but have heard of games like Werewolves from Mirkwood, published by Asmodee in Germany, you can draw a comparison. If you like the werewolves concept, you'll be happy with the Dolphin base game, says Hybr. "Anyone who has already had experience with The Resistance: Avalon, Secret Hitler or Human Punishment will be grateful for the variability provided by our mini-expansion," say the makers.

However, the card game "Houston, we have a Dolphin" could be enriched with further content in the future: "Depending on the response from the players, we will be happy to work on extensions," confirm the makers. There are already initial ideas in this regard. Maybe the spaceship will also "pick up a hitchhiker". However, there should not be in-app purchases, i.e. microtransactions. Extensions to the hybrid card game would therefore be predominantly physical in nature. Gradually unlockable gimmicks are currently providing variety: such as alternative soundtracks or new playing cards that are automatically added to the setup.

Information on the crowdfunding campaign is available here . There is also the opportunity to support the card game.

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