Tuesday, July 23, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 181: Derek "Zyn" Buczynski

Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers.  Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before.  If you'd like to be featured, head over to http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples. Support me on Patreon!


Name:Derek "Zyn" Buczynski
Email:derek@riftwaygames.com
Location:College Station, TX
Day Job:I own Zyn Creative Studios. We provide graphic design, web development, sponsorship acquisition, and publication management. Most of our clients are Non-Profits, but we also offer services to general businesses and consumers.
Designing:Five to ten years.
Webpage:www.riftwaygames.com
BGG:Riftway Games
Facebook:Riftway Games
Twitter:@riftwaygames
Instagram:@riftwaygames
Other:https://www.indiegamealliance.com/members/member.php?id=3026
Find my games at:www.riftwaygames.com
Today's Interview is with:

Derek "Zyn" Buczynski
Interviewed on: 1/15/2019 (updated 7/22/2019)

This week we meet Derek "Zyn" Buczynski. Derek is a Patreon of GJJ Games, so thank you for your support Derek! Last year Derek ran a successful Kickstarter for Beasts: Edge of Extinction and he's currently working on an expansion, so look for that coming soon. He's also working on several other projects that he hopes to publish through his company, Riftway Games. Read on to learn more about Derek and his projects!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Five to ten years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I've always had a huge imagination. Before I hit double digits I had created my own superhero world - complete with custom action figures. I would tell their stories to anyone who would listen, building sets out of cardboard to put them through world saving scenarios. It took me into my 30's to fully understand it was all a precursor to developing tabletop games. Your only limit and your imagination, and I think that's just amazing.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Since wrapping up a successful Kickstarter for Beasts: Edge of Extinction last December, I’ve been working on its first expansion: Revenge of the Dodos. In it, eliminated players can exact their revenge by working together to help the game eliminate the final 2 players simultaneously. It’s an exciting new angle for an already fun game.

I'm also developing a board game based on the Unluckables by artist Kristie Silva. They're these cute little living dolls that absorb your bad luck, and in turn end up in all kinds of mischief and unlucky situations.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Beasts: Edge of Extinction

What is your day job?
I own Zyn Creative Studios. We provide graphic design, web development, sponsorship acquisition, and publication management. Most of our clients are Non-Profits, but we also offer services to general businesses and consumers.

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
While I love the convenience of playing games in my home game room, there's just something magical about playing at gaming conventions. The atmosphere of hundreds of happy and excited players really enhances the experience.

Who do you normally game with?
At home with local friends, online with distant friends via Tabletopia, and lots of strangers at meetups and game game conventions.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Games that make it to my table most often are Horizons, Zombicide, Hellapagos, and Sushi Go. Of course, Beasts always makes it there at some point of the night or whatever new game idea I've printed out to test.

And what snacks would you eat?
It's actually become a tradition that I cook or grill players dinner before we get started, so everyone is required to come hungry! After that we'll typically have some chips and salsa to nibble on along with our drink of choice.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Yes! Typically just some 90's or 2000's rock mix station via Pandora or Spotify. If we are playing something like Zombicide: Black Plague I'll find some eerie music playlist online, just to set the mood.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
We are pretty limited out here in College Station, but Clockwork Games provides a pretty nice facility for a gamer to both buy and play locally. I buy all of my card sleeves from them.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
My current favorite game is Hellapagos. It's simple to play but really fun with a big group. My least favorite that I still enjoy is Cards Against Humanity. Worst game I've ever played was Quarantine.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I enjoy Take-That style games a lot, or anything that creates an emotional response from player to player interaction. I'm not a very big fan of auction mechanics, but they do have their purpose when implemented properly.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Second Edition

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Yes

You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.

When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
Many game designers will tell you to start with mechanics, and it's a sound concept. Unfortunately, my brain doesn't always work that way. I'm ADHD and have a difficult time keeping focus without putting things into mental containers. To me, a theme is a container and the mechanics are what I put inside it. Without having my container it can be a mess, mechanics scattered everywhere, stepping on them in the middle of the night like a lost Lego piece... If I first settle on a theme, game mechanics just tend to fall into place.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have not.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I think there are way too many talented designers out there to pick just one, but if I had to, I'd probably say Richard Garfield. I have a lot of respect for his eclectic creativity.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Usually the most inconvenient places, like in the shower or driving. I think things like running water or the sound of tires on a road stimulate my creative thought processes and really get my inner muse going.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I start with my family and close friends, playing it repeatedly. I have to be able to over-play my own game without getting tired of it. Once it’s at that point, I know it’s ready to take to game stores, meetups, and conventions to get as much feedback from outsiders as possible. Recently, I started using Tabletopia to help with groups of people online. It is much easier for friends who do not all live near each other.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
In the conception stage I like to work alone. I get too easily distracted by others, so I tend to lock myself up in my office and work out the blueprint for a game. After that, I rely heavily on my family and friends for input and will constantly bounce ideas off them. My artists can also inadvertently sway ideas for a game based on their artwork. It'll trigger new inspiration.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Time and money.

It becomes difficult to find enough time to work on games between a job and family. Some of it can just be self-imposed guilt. If my family is home while I'm locked up in my office and my fiancé’s 8 year old daughter comes knocking because she wants to play, it's really difficult not to just drop what I'm doing for her.

Otherwise, money is a huge challenge. While Beasts was a successful Kickstarter, it's still financially far from breaking even. All of the artwork was purchased before it hit Kickstarter, which only covered the cost of printing and shipping. Indie game design is really a labor of love, but it would be a wonderful thing to make games that could fully pay for themselves. I guess that's every designer’s dream though, right?

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Any property created by Margret Weis & Tracy Hickman. They have been creative inspirations to me for a very long time, and it would be an absolute honor to be tapped to develop a game for one of their properties.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
There are no rules other than the ones you make.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
There are no rules other than the ones you make! Seriously, don't ever let anyone dictate what your game can or cannot do. You make the rules. You are the master of your own realm; shape it to your vision.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Beasts: Edge of Extinction
Games that will soon be published are: Revenge of the Dodos - the first expansion for Beasts
Currently looking for a publisher I have: I am always willing to talk to publishers about any past, present, or future property to help reach more tables.
I'm planning to crowdfund: Revenge of the Dodos
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Revenge of the Dodos
Games that I'm playtesting are: Unluckables: Shadow Dilemma
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Riftkey: Allies & Enemies
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Pirate’s End, Tainted Forest, and a currently unnamed second Beasts expansion

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
The Boardgame Group, Board Game Revolution Community, Board Game Spotlight, Board Game Exposure, etc. Too many to count.

And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!

Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Star Trek. Neither. Betamax!

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I’m a musician and songwriter. You can listen to some of my previously recorded music at https://www.reverbnation.com/lifesofar

What is something you learned in the last week?
That a gene inherited from the recently discovered ancient Denisovans help Sherpas and other Tibetans to breathe easy at high altitudes.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I listen to mostly rock, blues and their sub-genres. I read mostly sci-fi and fantasy novels, comic books, and articles from Discovery, National Geographic, etc. in relation to ancient life on earth; from ecosystems and megafauna to lost cultures and mythology. Similar interests in movies.

What was the last book you read?
Do comic books count? I recently reread Deadpool #1 from my collection.

Do you play any musical instruments?
My primary instruments are guitar and bass, with some minor skill on piano and drums.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I have ADHD. Although some will say it's difficult to tell on the outside, on the inside my brain is a constant battlefield. That said, I don't believe I would be able to be as abstract and creative as I am now, if I wasn't. It's a blessing and a curse.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
When I was a kid I built a small campfire on the side of our house to cook a hot dog. I was a boy scout and knew exactly how to make one, but put absolutely no thought into safety and briefly lit our garage on fire. Thankfully I was able to get to the hose quickly and put it out before doing any major damage. Sorry mom!

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I drove to Texas on a road trip back in 2009. While exercising, I slipped and fractured my foot in 3 places. The doctor put me in a boot, but it was so big that when I tried to hit my gas pedal it would also hit the brake. I had to use my left foot to drive myself home. I eventually accepted it as my fate and rented an apartment. I've lived in Texas ever since.

Who is your idol?
Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Save the dodos!

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Yes...I am.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Doctor Strange. He really has some of the coolest powers.

Have any pets?
Not anymore.

When the next asteroid hits Earth, causing the Yellowstone caldera to explode, California to fall into the ocean, the sea levels to rise, and the next ice age to set in, what current games or other pastimes do you think (or hope) will survive into the next era of human civilization? What do you hope is underneath that asteroid to be wiped out of the human consciousness forever?
I think most non-digital games will continue. Obviously sports would survive, most being traditional and easy to pull off in some fashion. I think role-playing games will definitely prosper. I can only hope that hate and prejudice will finally be wiped out of the human consciousness.

If you’d like to send a shout out to anyone, anyone at all, here’s your chance (I can’t guarantee they’ll read this though):
Love you mom! Thank you for always supporting and believing in me, even when no one else - including myself - did!

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?

While the career of an indie game designer is always a work-in-progress, I owe that progress to everyone who ever has, and does, support me. Thank you all!




Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html

Did you like this interview?  Please show your support: Support me on Patreon! Or click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Beard Snacks at Designer/Publisher Speed Dating event at Gen Con!

I'm thrilled to announce that Beard Snacks will be one of the games featured at the Designer/Publisher Speed Dating event hosted by the Indie Game Alliance at Gen Con this year!  The event will be Thursday, August 1, from 7pm to 9pm (there's a second session from 9pm to 11pm with different games) at the Slippery Noodle Inn at 372 S Meridian St.  If you're interested in checking out Beard Snacks (or a bunch of other great looking games), come on out!













Tuesday, July 16, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 180: Jeremy Davis

Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers.  Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before.  If you'd like to be featured, head over to http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples. Support me on Patreon!


Name:Jeremy Davis
Location:Birmingham, AL (or close anyway)
Day Job:I'm a Children's Librarian, so basically it's doing anything that I can to make Kids' lives better. I've been at my job for 25 years, so I guess I enjoy it. ( I really do!)
Designing:One to two years.
Webpage:www.gamegeek.ninja
Blog:www.gamegeek.ninja
BGG:gamegeekninja
Facebook:facebook.com/jermaday
Twitter:@gamegeekninja
Instagram:@gamegeekninja
Find my games at:Not yet, but they can get Bag of Spiders real soon.
Today's Interview is with:

Jeremy Davis
Interviewed on: 7/11/2019

I know Jeremy as a fellow reviewer with the Everything Board Games Reviewer Network. In recent years he's left reviewing to focus purely on game design and now he has his first game hitting Kickstarter today! Bag of Spiders is just one of many games that he's working on, so hopefully you'll see a lot more of his work very soon. In the meantime, read on to learn more about Jeremy and his projects.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
One to two years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I started reviewing games in 2015 and have gradually shifted in the community towards being a designer. I made the full conversion late last year. Designing allows me to use more of the creative side of my brain, and feels less like work.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I have lots. Bag of Spiders is going on Kickstarter July 16. Chicken Coup is probably a year out from being published. Awful Waffles is the one I want to work more than any other. And then I have Robots Need Love Too, My Cape is in the Wash, and Nebulous (all a ways away from finished).

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Just now my first game is going up on Kickstarter, so we'll see how that goes.

What is your day job?
I'm a Children's Librarian, so basically it's doing anything that I can to make Kids' lives better. I've been at my job for 25 years, so I guess I enjoy it. ( I really do!)

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
Anywhere really, but I'm usually the one teaching games so I play a lot at my library with kids and adults and sometimes at friends houses, but if you want to play on a table in the middle of the street, I can probably get behind that.

Who do you normally game with?
My family, my friends and anybody at the library. But my favorite game buddy is my niece Olivia(7).

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
As many games as possible. So probably fillers and gateway type games, but we also play Gloomhaven and other campaigns, so bring it on, we'll try it.

And what snacks would you eat?
Do you have any Twizzlers?

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I don't mind it at all. At our library game nites for adults we play Geeky music. Usually at home it's just whatever we have on.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
We don't have one close to us. We used to have a couple, but now they are at least 30 minutes away and that is sad.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I lot of my favorites are still prototypes of my friends, but I will always play Azul or Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters. My least favorite is Munchkin...I just don't enjoy it anymore. As far as worst game ever played goes, I reviewed games for a while and came across some stinkers, but I'll keep those to myself. I don't know that saying would be good form.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like most things. If it's got a good twist on an old mechanic, I'll usually enjoy it. I don't like bluffing.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Probably either Raptor (because it's 2 players) or City of Spies (because no one is ever in the right mood).

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Not anymore.

You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.

When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
I usually come up with a name, or find pieces laying around and make something out of them. Awful Waffles came from the name. Chicken Coup came about late one night at a con when me and a friend had a bunch of chickens laying around. Bag of Spiders was a joke my wife made. She still says it is.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Not yet, but I haven't entered any either. I was gonna do the Haba one this year, but ran out of time.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Nope, but I have a lot of really cool friends who are designers that help me out a lot.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Usually in flashes, like the name hits or my wife says something funny.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
This is extremely hard for me. I can usually get my family to play them a bit, but a lot of times I have to get random people at conventions and at game nites to buy in for a session or two.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I love co-designing. 3 of my 6 games are co-designs.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Finding time to work on changes and playtest them. I have to keep my family first and my job second, so games end up being put on the back burner for awhile, but the good ideas keep coming back.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Avatar, the Last Airbender (hands down)

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Take feedback from playtesting with a grain of salt. Don't change the game fifty times before you need to. Not everyone is going to like your game . If you don't like the direction it is going after changing it, then you've done something wrong.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Make games about something you know or are interested in. Or about Spiders, spiders are always cool.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: None yet (but soon???)
Games that will soon be published are: Chicken Coup (year or two out??)
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Bag of Spiders (July 16, 2019)!!!
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Awful Waffles
Games that I'm playtesting are: My Cape is in the Wash
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Robots Need Love Too, Nebulous

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
No

And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!

Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Both, Diet Dr. Pepper, VHS (although the clock is still blinking)

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Cartooning sometimes

What is something you learned in the last week?
Baby gates bite back, they really pack a punch

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
All types of music, this year I will see Metric and King Crimson in concert. All books, (I am a librarian) but I mostly read kids books. I watch any movie that's on, and my wife ridicules me constantly for my choices

What was the last book you read?
Ronan Doyle and the Bridge of Riddles

Do you play any musical instruments?
I played the Saxophone in Elementary and Middle school, but I tried it again 2 years ago and it was not good.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I'm older than I look, does that count. I don't look 46.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I once ate a 5 year old Pez.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My job. I started working at the library in college just to make money. Turns out it was exactly right for me.

Who is your idol?
My wife Jamie. She is beyond patient with me, my daughter and my niece. I will never understand how she does it.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I used to think I would go back and tell myself not to be an idiot, but now I know it made me who I am. Lame I know. So probably go get myself a baby T-Rex.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
EXTROVERT!

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Spiderman or Gambit - I need the agility/dexterity

Have any pets?
3 dogs / 2 cats

When the next asteroid hits Earth, causing the Yellowstone caldera to explode, California to fall into the ocean, the sea levels to rise, and the next ice age to set in, what current games or other pastimes do you think (or hope) will survive into the next era of human civilization? What do you hope is underneath that asteroid to be wiped out of the human consciousness forever?
Dear Asteroid, Please leave me some Co-Op games, and Aussie Rules Football thanks, also we could do without Politics for a while. Sincerely Jerm.

If you’d like to send a shout out to anyone, anyone at all, here’s your chance (I can’t guarantee they’ll read this though):
Olivia, here's your name again in a board game setting. (She will eventually design a game).

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?

The lyrics to the jingle: "Bag of Spiders, Spiders in a bag, Bag of Spiders!"

A little bit about Bag of Spiders, you say? Sure.

Bag of Spiders is 8 games in 1 that you play with a bag and 55 plastic Spiders. The games are based on all sorts of mechanics including Push Your Luck, Social Awkwardness, Dexterity, more Dexterity, even more Dexterity, Bluffing (not designed by me), Abstract and more. So far it has involved the talents of at least 6 or 7 different designers, but has been ridiculed and laughed at by many, many more. My wife wrote the lyrics for a jingle 5 seconds after the joke she made and my friend who is a sound engineer mastered it and produced it to make it sound real nice.

This game is silly and fun, and I hope you get to try it.




Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html

Did you like this interview?  Please show your support: Support me on Patreon! Or click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Kickstarter Preview - Outburst Game Tables - Gaming Accessory

Outburst Game Tables
By: Spielgeek
Kickstarter Preview - Outburst Game Tables - Gaming Accessory
Disclaimer Support me on Patreon!

Overview:
So, a few weeks ago I was asked if I'd like to review a game table.  At first I thought "No way!  Only the big guys get sent game tables to review.  I've finally made it!"  Well, it turns out that the Outburst Game Tables aren't quite what I first expected, but I'm still happy to review them for you.
They may be the tables I deserve, but not the tables I need...
Outburst Game Tables are a novelty accessory for your game nights.  They're small, laser cut tables that you assemble yourself.  Then, when the frustrations of game night become too overwhelming, instead of flipping a full size table that might spill food and drinks, damage flooring or other furniture, cause projectiles to injure your friends, and cause you to throw out your back, you can simply flip over your Outburst Game Table.
Do Not Try This At Home: Professional Table Flipper Pictured.
These 4" (approximately) tables are just big enough to place a handful of components on, so when you flip them you still get a satisfying scatter of dice, cards, and tokens.  And since you get two tables with your pledge, you can even stack the tables before you flip them!
I guess I spoke too soon.  He needs a little more practice.
Not into flipping tables and scattering game components all over your full-size table?  Then the Outburst Game Table can be used for a myriad of other uses.  It can be a cup holder, snack table, trophy stand, microgame display, or even a table for your favorite action heroes to play games at.  There are a lot of uses for the Outburst Game Table.
Fresca added for size.  Mountain Dew added for caffeine.
The Outburst Game Tables are constructed of high quality baltic birch plywood, and then precision cut with a laser cutter.  One will come stained in a gorgeous Jacobean stain and the other will come in a lighter Early American stain.  The Early American is light enough that you can probably recolor it yourself if you like.
Some Assembly Required.
You can see some of the chips in the plywood.  The outer frame around the pieces was
cracked in multiple places, too, but all the table pieces survived transit.
Assembly wasn't too difficult.  I did have to cut the pieces out of the surrounding boards with an X-Acto knife, and some of the panels were broken in shipment (none of the table pieces were broken though, however there were a few splinters in the table components - the company has said they'll look into better shipping methods than a plain envelope though), but the pieces fit together snugly without any glue or trimming necessary.
You may need a tool or two.  Sharp pointy things not included.
Final Thoughts:
The Outburst Game Tables aren't really something I would usually consider purchasing.  They're just a novelty and I personally don't have the budget to spend on silly novelty items.  That said, they are only $5 and would make a humorous addition to a game night, or a funny gift for that gamer who has everything.  Their quality is great, especially if they ship them in a bit sturdier packaging, and they held up well to repeated flippings.  They are just thin plywood, so they're not indestructible, but for regular flipping or as a display piece, they'll hold up just fine.
Don't worry, the big table was that scratched up before flipping the Outburst tables.
If you do intend to use them a lot for stress relief as an alternative to flipping the actual game table I might suggest that you either get some therapeutic help for yourself, or find a game group that is a bit more relaxed.  Just because someone bought the Gemstone Mine card in Splendor the turn before you were going to get it, for the fourth time this game, doesn't mean you need to flip a table.  But if you really want to play with someone who'll flip the table next time you stick them with four tiles they can't use in Azul, the Outburst Game Tables are a great alternative to picking up game pieces all night.
I don't recommend doing this with open cans of soda.  The tables do get a bit topheavy.
Outburst Game Tables are available on Kickstarter until 9am central time on July 31, 2019.  For only $5 (plus $1-$2 shipping depending on your location) you'll get two tables; a traditional rectangular table with a game layout etched in the top and an oval table with decorative legs.

This review is of a prototype game accessory.  Components may not be final and are subject to change.


Want another opinion?  Outburst Game Tables were also reviewed by Benjamin on the Everything Board Games Network!  Check out his review here!



Did you like this review?  Show your support: Support me on Patreon! Also, click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.













GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends. Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games. Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play). I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game. Quick Reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first few times playing. Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Eye on Kickstarter #69


Welcome to my Eye on Kickstarter series!  This series will highlight Kickstarter campaigns I am following that have recently launched (or I've recently discovered) because they have caught my interest.  Usually they'll catch my interest because they look like great games that I have either backed or would like to back (unfortunately budget doesn't allow me to back everything I'd like to).  But occasionally the campaigns caught my attention for other reasons.  Twice a month, on the 2nd and 4th Fridays, I'll make a new post in this series, highlighting the campaigns that have caught my attention since the last post.  In each post I'll highlight one campaign that has really grabbed my attention, followed by other campaigns I've backed or am interested in.  I'll also include links to any related reviews or interviews I've done.  Comments are welcome, as are suggestions for new campaigns to check out!

You can also see my full Kickstarter Profile to see what I've backed or my old Eye on Kickstarter page that was too unwieldy to maintain.  Also, check out the 2019 Kickstarter Boardgame Projects geeklist over on Board Game Geek for a list of all the tabletop games of the year.
So, without further ado, here are the projects I'm currently watching as of the second Friday of July, 2019:



HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
Iron Helm
  • OK, so this isn't a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign for Iron Helm uses the new Crowd Sale feature over at The Game Crafter. There are some big differences between TGC Crowd Sales and a Kickstarter campaign that you're probably more familiar with. With a Crowd Sale you will get your game. There's no question of if the game will fund or not. Crowd Sale games are already completed games, and since they are printed through The Game Crafter you'll get your game very soon after the sale ends. What you get in exchange for pledging for the game is a potentially lower price. Instead of paying full price for a single copy of the game, you, and many other people, pool your purchases together to hit quantity discounts, making the game cheaper for everyone! There are no stretch goals, no exclusives, no question of if and when you'll receive your game, just a great game that you can already see in action that will be cheaper as more people jump on board. But maybe you're questioning the quality of The Game Crafter.

    You've probably heard that the quality of the components and boxes is far inferior to non-POD manufacturers. That's true in some cases, and was true in pretty much all cases a few years ago. But recently The Game Crafter has really stepped up the quality of their productions. Yes, you still have the option to purchase prototype quality components when you just need a quick sample copy of a game you're working on, but now you can have high quality features, like linen texture and UV coating on cards, premium quality boxes, custom laser cut cardboard components, custom printed meeples, custom cut acrylic, engraved custom dice, neoprene playmats, and more! It's now possible to get great quality components and packaging from The Game Crafter in just weeks or even days, instead of waiting months or years for your Kickstarter game to arrive. I'm really excited to see how TGC Crowd Sales grow and evolve.

    As for Iron Helm, it's a great solo dungeon crawler from Jason Glover at Grey Gnome Games. Jason does not only the game design work, but the artwork as well. In the Crowd Sale you can also pick up additional Adventure Packs, playmats, and other Gray Gnome games.

    NOTE: This is NOT a sponsored post. This is 100% my own opinion!


One final quest deep into the dungeons of the Blackened Mountains before you can finally retire...

Your withered hand grips the handle of your sword. Blood mixed with sweat drips down your brow and finds its way into your eye, stinging for just a moment. Pounding footsteps shake the ground and you attempt to find a way to steady your aching feet. You turn to face your foe as you mutter to yourself, “I’m getting too old for this sh--.”

Iron Helm is a solo-play dungeon crawler in which you play as a hero in search of one last major score before finally hanging up the sword and retiring.

Iron Helm uses a draw two, pick one mechanic, that has the player draw two cards from the dungeon deck, reveal one, and then decide to either resolve the revealed card, or take their chances with the unknown.





Dice Hospital: Community Care
  • People Behind the Meeples Interview
  • This expansion for the award winning Dice Hospital contains three modules that can be used in any combination with the base game. The Maternity Ward lets your patients have babies (maybe even twins). The City uses a modular map layout and a helicopter to get patients from all over the city. Investments lets you customize your hospital and invest in your hospital's future.


Complexcity


Pangea
  • This looks like a really cool game all about the mass extinction that happened at the end of the Permian age. It's a unique theme and looks to be not only a fun, interesting game, but educational as well! Catch it soon. It was a short campaign and ends in just a few hours.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 179: J. Ryan Opp

Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers.  Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before.  If you'd like to be featured, head over to http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples. Support me on Patreon!


Name:J. Ryan Opp
Email:ryan.opp@gmail.com
Location:Greeley, Colorado, USA
Day Job:Software Developer/Administrator
Designing:Five to ten years.
Webpage:www.rytracer.com
BGG:RyTracer
Facebook:ryan.opp
Find my games at:You can buy the Book of Dragons from Grey Fox Games. If you're a publisher, I can send you prototypes or PNP files. If you're in Colorado, you can find me at all the local cons and at our Designer events. Otherwise, be patient. I'll soon be a household name.
Today's Interview is with:

J. Ryan Opp
Interviewed on: 1/15/2019

J. Ryan Opp's first published game was Reflections, a two player strategy game that is part of the Book of Dragons game system from Grey Fox Games. In this collection he stands among the likes of Martin Wallace, Robert Burke, Jonathan Gilmour, Sen Foong Lim & Jay Cormier, and more! That's a pretty awesome crowd to run with, so I expect we'll be seeing a lot more awesomeness from J. Ryan Opp in the future. Read on to learn more about him and his projects!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Five to ten years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
Certain games I wanted to play did not exist.

What game or games are you currently working on?
My main 4 right now are The Fairy Ring, Wild Prizefighters, the Big Apple, and Office Demon. Two other unnamed projects are in early stages.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes. It is called Reflections, and is in the Book of Dragons, that was recently released by Grey Fox Games, however, it is out of stock and out of print already ☹️).

What is your day job?
Software Developer/Administrator

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
Friends' houses. Several of them have elaborate game rooms and tables.

Who do you normally game with?
I attend about 3 board game nights per week with friends and acquaintances in town, and about once a month with other game designers up to 60 miles away.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Depends on the group. Something new and light like Skylands, all the way to something a little older and much heavier like Terra Mystica. Scythe is always a favorite.

And what snacks would you eat?
Chips and salsa or cheese and crackers, as well as beer and soda.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Instrumental, so people don't get distracted. A lot of Lindsey Stirling gets played. I would also put on some jazz from time to time.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
The Nerd Store, Greeley, Colorado, USA.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favorite is still probably Scythe, especially since Fenris dropped. Plain vanilla Catan got me into the hobby, but I need at least Cities and Knights since then, and can still enjoy it. Left, Center, Right is the worst game I've ever played.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
As long as there is a new spin on things, I like most mechanics. Advanced Programming is always fun though as chaos ensues when people mess you up. I'm a little tired of Worker Placement and Deck Building, as I'm not seeing a lot of innovation these days in those mechanics.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Far Space Foundry is extremely clever and has mechanics I've never seen anywhere else. I get it to the table, but not as often as I think it deserves.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Video Games, Other Games?

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, Video Games, Other Games?

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
No

You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.

When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
Mechanics first. I figure out some nifty puzzle or mathematical property I'd like the players to mess with for the whole game as the main course. Then I ask myself what such manipulation feels like thematically. After the main mechanic and theme are established, I had secondary mechanics that match both.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have entered several. I won the Book of Dragons competition to get my game put into that collection.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Personality: Mike Fitzgerald (personal friend) and Jamey Stegmaier (really like his blogs). Scope of work: Richard Garfield, Reiner Knizia.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Long showers, and walks with my dog.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I am part of (and current President of) the Colorado Game Designers Guild. We hold playtesting events periodically. I also occasionally ask friends and family when the prototype is young, more frequently as it gets more polished and I know they are having fun.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I design alone. I have not found an individual yet who thinks the same way I do.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Pitching games to publishers. These days you need to be a salesman and a web designer and a videographer and a graphic designer and everything to stand out, or hire a team.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Commander Keen

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Feel free to abandon crappy projects, at least temporarily.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Playtest, revise, repeat. Don't even consider pitching a game less than 20 playtests old. 50 would be better.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Reflections in the Book of Dragons
Currently looking for a publisher I have: The Fairy Ring, Wild Prizefighters, The Big Apple
Games that I'm playtesting are: Office Demon, Attack Jack's Bunker
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Good Cop Bad Cop, The Superfiles

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Colorado Game Designers Guild on Facebook, also RyTracer Games - https://www.facebook.com/groups/373650543258109/

And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!

Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
The correct answer is Stargate! Coke. What's a Betamax?

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Disc golf, darts, ultimate, racquetball, volleyball, poetry, programming.

What is something you learned in the last week?
That Trump was the president who posthumously pardoned Jack Johnson the boxer, when you would have expected that to be an Obama thing.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Anything but country and rap and autotune. Mostly Scifi, Fantasy, and philosophy. Comedy, action, and animation.

What was the last book you read?
Currently reading the Caverns and Creatures series, some Wooster and Jeeves, and the Bruiser after finishing the Bobiverse.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Yes. Clarinet that I recently traded out for an EWI. Some piano.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I voted for Gary Johnson.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Jumped out of (actually was forcibly shoved out of) an airplane at 4000 feet. Never again.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My brother's conception. I don't know if you meant MY best accident or simply THE best accident, because of course I had nothing to do with it, but my bro was a surprise baby and is my best friend.

Who is your idol?
Immanual Kant, J.R.R. Tolkien, Douglas Hofstadter.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Invest in Bitcoin.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Yes.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Jumper. Not really a superhero as he only cares about himself, but I'd like the teleport ability.

Have any pets?
Hudson the Chocolate Lab.

When the next asteroid hits Earth, causing the Yellowstone caldera to explode, California to fall into the ocean, the sea levels to rise, and the next ice age to set in, what current games or other pastimes do you think (or hope) will survive into the next era of human civilization? What do you hope is underneath that asteroid to be wiped out of the human consciousness forever?
All of my games will last forever, of course.

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?

I also design puzzles. On my website, you should really check out the Discworld and Star Wars Einstein riddles and the Picture Slitherlinks.
Oh yeah, I also write a lot of song parodies, most of them about board games, because I'm crazy like that.




Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html

Did you like this interview?  Please show your support: Support me on Patreon! Or click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.