Tuesday, May 21, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 172: Steve Ng

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:Steve Ng
Email:steve.ng@capitalgainsgroup.com
Location:Singapore
Day Job:I am working full time as a Board Game Designer
Designing:One to two years.
Webpage:capitalgainsgroup.com
BGG:StevenNgWX
Facebook:Capital Gains Studio
Instagram:@steve.cgs
Find my games at:The webpage stated above, or one of my FLGS in Singapore.
Today's Interview is with:

Steve Ng
Interviewed on: 1/11/2019

Steve Ng is the designer of Cryptocurrency: The Board Game, which was successfully Kickstarted last September. He's currently working as a full time game designer for Capital Gains Studio, so keep your eye out for new projects from Steve coming soon, including Kaiju Exchange, a game about extracting and trading precious materials from behemoths!

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?
December 2017

What game or games are you currently working on?
I'm currently working on a City Building game for the family crowd that involves tile laying and resource management.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Cryptocurrency: the board game, published 2018 by Capital Gains Studio

What is your day job?
I am working full time as a Board Game Designer

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Home, Friends' Homes, FLGS, anywhere with a good bunch of people and great games really.

Who do you normally game with?
Friends, strangers whom I meet at public board game sessions

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Depending on the friends I invited, usually we'd start with something light and work our way up.

And what snacks would you eat?
No snacks

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No music

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Team Board Games

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
My current favorite is Night Clan, a small area control japanese card game. Least favorite I still enjoy is Sushi Go! The worst game I ever played was Rats to Riches.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite: Engine Building, Least Favorite: Stacking

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Don't really have one, but a game that I find difficult to get to the table is Minute Realms.

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

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, Video 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?
I usually take a single mechanic that suits the overall theme that I'm working on and expand on it.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Once entered a 48 Hour Game Jam in 2014

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Current favorite game designer: Eric Lang, for all his really cool dudes on a map games

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
I usually get ideas when my mind wanders during long bus rides.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I usually playtest with friends or interested parties that are of the target audience group

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I usually do game design alone, but would prefer a few artists to help me with the illustrations and graphic designs in the game.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
I feel that the biggest challenge is making a game for the crowd instead of making a game for myself.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I would design a game using the Monster Hunter IP

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Less is More

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Have fun, but always keep your goal in mind.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Cryptocurrency: The Board Game
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Kaiju Exchange: A game about extracting precious materials from behemoths and its trade.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: A couple of early game designs that have been shelved while I work on more pressing projects
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: A City Building game with Resource Management and Tile Laying

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Card & Board Game Designers Guild

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 Wars, Coke, VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Watching comedy sitcoms, reading fantasy books.

What is something you learned in the last week?
Sometimes, Less is More

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I like any song that has a good beat. Books with alternate fantastical universes. Current favorite movie is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

What was the last book you read?
If rulebooks count, it would be the rulebook of Night Clan.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Sadly, no. I'd like to learn the saxophone though.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I used to be a really good pop and lock dancer

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
A bunch of guys and I dumped one of our friends into a trash can and he was basically a turtle with the trash can as a shell.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Can't think of anything

Who is your idol?
Jackie Chan

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would go back and guide myself to be more socially active in my childhood

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
introvert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Anyone who could turn invisible

Have any pets?
None

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 would hope for good cooperative games to survive. Monopoly being wiped out of the human consciousness would be great.

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):
Nah

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

Keep working on your passion, you'll never know when it pays off




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?  Pleasse 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.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Press Release: Live on Kickstarter - GALACTIC SPACE EXPLORATION (Level 1) - New Board Game

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GALACTIC SPACE EXPLORATION (Level 1)
The space race is heating up with a new space-themed board game for kids aged 6-160.


Live on Kickstarter, Galactic Space Exploration - The Ultimate Space Exploration Game.
A fast-paced tabletop game that combines space exploration with savvy investing skills.

Kickstarter campaign: http://bit.ly/30idImk

Determined to save humanity and take us to the stars, four space exploration companies - Space Explorer, Blue Origination, Bigelow Aeros and NASA, are now taking the space race to a whole new level, rapidly expanding their operations across the Solar System. Seeking untapped resources for sale on the interplanetary market they all have one goal - be the first to reach space beyond the Kuiper belt bordering our Solar System and begin truly exploring the Milky Way Galaxy.

In Galactic Space Exploration you are the CEO of a space exploration company and your goal is to master the market by making smart investments in “Innovation Exploration, Materials, and Energy” so you can build rocket ships to explore the solar system, and eventually fly out into the Milky Way Galaxy! Grow your capital, increase your fleet, and expand your holdings within the Solar System - but one false move, and your organization will be on the wrong end of the space boom.

Will YOU be the first to reach the stars?

Galactic Space Exploration is launching with 40+ hours of playtesting and the full art and design complete. The Kickstarter campaign will feature the game at $35 ($30 for those quick enough to get the limited early bird special). As well as, options for sending the game to a school of your choosing - as part of our School Space Program!  I want to help educate the current generation of children about the endless possibilities of space travel and the importance of smart investing along the way.

Shipping will be available worldwide at $22.13, and games are expected to start shipping on July 1st, 2019. Most backers can expect to receive their copies in the first two weeks of July.

Number of players: 1-4
Playtime required: 40-80 min
Recommended ages: 6-160
Visit the Kickstarter page to preorder now!

Kickstarter campaign: http://bit.ly/30idImk
________________________________________

Space Entrepreneurs Wanted! 
GALACTIC SPACE EXPLORATION™  
The Ultimate Space Exploration Game!


What would you do if you had the chance to set off on a rocket fuel-powered adventure to explore the Solar System, expand your fleet of rocket ships, and make your mark on the Galaxy?

Galactic Space Exploration makes it all possible.

As the head of NASA, Space Explorer, Blue Origination, or Bigelow Aeros, it’s up to you to use your resources wisely, keep an eye on market conditions, and be the first to send your rocketship off into the galaxy!

Each player begins on Earth with one rocketship and 5 units. The player with the advantage of youth (whoever is the youngest) goes first, with turns moving clockwise from there. To launch your rocket ships from Earth, you’re going to need supplies. Your resources include Energy (EGY), Materials (MAT), and Innovation Exploration (INEX). To earn these resources, roll the dice and pick up the corresponding card. If you roll a Planet or Moon, you may choose 1 resource card for every rocketship you have on whichever one was rolled.

The value of your resources changes based on market conditions. After “working for resources” by rolling the dice, flip over a market card to find out what prices are like in the market during your turn. A key tip that will aid you throughout the game is to buy low and sell high, just like in the stock market. Buy resources when prices are 1 and 2, and sell when they’re 4 and 5. During your turn, you can buy or sell up to 5 resources.

After deciding what to buy and what to sell, you can purchase more rocket ships to build your fleet, or launch one of your existing rocket ships along one of the pre-marked flight paths. The costs of your options are as follows:

Rocket Ships:
- 10 units for one ship on Earth
- 15 units for one ship launched to any planet or moon you already occupy
Flight Plans:
-  5 units to fly between planets and moons
- 10 units to fly from Earth to Mars
- 15 units to fly around the Asteroid Belt to Jupiter
- 50 units to explore the Galaxy

The first player to reach either a planet or a moon gets an extra roll. Players cannot fly between moons yet, not until Level 2 - coming soon.

Your turn ends when you have worked for resources, purchased and sold resources, and bought and flown all the rocket ships you can. Refer to your player card if you ever need a refresher on the steps.

To win the game, you need to expand your fleet until you have:
- 3 rocket ships on Planets
- 8 rocket ships on Moons
- 1 rocket ship exploring the Galaxy

After a player meets the winning conditions, every other player has one final turn to try to meet them as well to tie the game - or lose.

Get Your Rocket Ships and Start Exploring! 



Did you like this press release?  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.



Press Release: Someone Has Died, Now in it's Second Printing!

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Someone Has Died – A silly game about serious business. 

Designed by Adi Slepack, Liz Roche, & Ellie Black.
Art by Adi Slepack & Ellie Black.

box edit bright 4web.png

Gather Round Games is thrilled to announce the second printing of its debut tabletop game, Someone Has Died. Someone Has Died is an improvisational storytelling game set at a will arbitration where players try to convince an estate keeper that they’re the worthiest of a dead person’s fortune.
In September 2017, Someone Has Died raised over $52,000 on Kickstarter to fund the game’s first print run and officially released in September 2018. After selling out of its first print run in just a few months, Someone Has Died is back for round two!

About the Game:
In Someone Has Died, players have gathered together for the will reading of someone who died. One player takes on the role of the estate keeper. Part judge, part GM, the estate keeper guides the players through the arbitration and awards the fortune at the end of the game. Using the cards in their hand to inspire them, the other players craft wacky characters and argue for their right to the fortune.
Someone Has Died encourages character building and storytelling while being quick to learn and play, making it enjoyable to beginner and experienced role-players alike. With 163 cards of 4 different types, the combinations of identity, relationship, backstory, and objection cards are endless! You’ll never play the same game twice!

Someone Has Died has exhibited at conventions across the country and was an official selection of the Indie Megabooth, The Connecticut Festival of Indie Games, IndieCade, and XOXO Festival.
The game is available for purchase for $25 at www.someonehasdiedgame.com/store and ships internationally.

Number of Players: 3-6
Time per Game: 25-45 min
Age: 13+

About Gather Round Games:

Gather Round Games, LLC is a NYC-based tabletop game publisher. Founded in 2018 by Adi Slepack & Liz Roche, Gather Round Games is a two-woman team that strives to create narrative driven games accessible to gamers of all skill levels.

Contact:
Adi Slepack, President & Co-Founder
Liz Roche, Vice President & Co-Founder
gatherroundgames@gmail.com




Did you like this press release?  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.



Press Release: HALLS OF HORROR KICKSTARTER IS LIVE

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We’re Draw Distance, and we’re EXTREMELY EXCITED to announce our Kickstarter IS LIVE!!!111!!1

Please, find the pictures of the game attached and help us SHARE the news! :)


Here’s the Kickstarter page:


Here’s the announcement teaser:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cruoa_XUKlU

GENERAL INFO:
Playtime: 60 mins
Players: 1-4 (YES WE HAVE SOLO MODE)
Price: 49 USD

GAME DESCRIPTION:
You wake up in an unfamiliar room. Your entire body hurts, and you can hardly remember last night. Maybe there was a party at a club, or you were supposed to meet with a promising client, or you remember being mugged in an alley but nothing else... it doesn’t matter. Now you are here, and an industrial camera follows your every move. A voice plays over a crackling speaker. “Welcome, participant… to the Halls of Horror!”

Trapped inside a house built by the insane Master of the Ceremony, you are challenged to a deadly game in which the prize is your survival. Who will perish, and who will escape? Let’s find out!

GOAL
In Halls of Horror, you play a participant in a sick game of survival. Your goal is to find the Exit, hidden among the various rooms of this labyrinth, and the two Keys you need to open it. Keys can be found by exploring the Halls, but if all else fails, there’s always the option to take one out of… other participants! Each of you has a Key sewn into your body while you were sleeping, the macabre detail courtesy of the Master of the Ceremony, who watches your struggles using his cameras, and mixes up the playing field from afar… Only one of you can escape, the others will stay in the Halls – forever!

GENERAL RULES
And if you perish? Well, you won’t get to escape, but you can still play AS the Master of the Ceremony and make sure nobody else escapes, either. Choose cards from a wider selection and customize your approach. Will you close off rooms to make the board more cramped, forcing players to fight, or will you incentivize players with strategically placed Gifts? Who will the Killer target now that you have sole control of him? The weakest or the strongest participants?

Explore, search, fight or flee, find the Exit, gain the Keys and escape… or remain in the Halls of Horror forever! 2-4 players can go head-to-head in their bid for survival, and you can also face the challenge alone in the game’s solo mode!

YT REVIEWS:
english
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8ClNQVEmx4&t=
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kcLjBZKjtI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2_9GbTw50I

german
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNvwRhcOGPk&t=

italian
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjBWlOLzNpk

dutch
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn6iINPhVaY&t=

polish
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrTcoJ3A6nU



All Players declare their actions for the turn in secret, and then reveal them simultaneously. Players explore, search rooms to find weapons and other items that will increase their chances of survival, and fight one another for the ultimate prize - their life! Other participants are not their only concern, however, as the host of this bloody spectacle also directs a twisted Killer, more monster than man, who moves around the board in search of victims. At the end of each turn, the First Player momentarily takes on the role of the Master of the Ceremony, and, in addition to executing other effects that influence the game’s board, needs to direct the Killer. Will you avoid him, or try to face him for the chance to grasp one of the Keys you need from his cold, dead hands? Just be warned, as the Killer might still take revenge from beyond the grave!

TO LEARN MORE, PLEASE FOLLOW:




Did you like this press release?  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.



Press Release: Shiver Me Timbers launches on Kickstarter May 28th 2019

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For immediate release

Open world pirate game with modular miniatures: 

Shiver Me Timbers launches on Kickstarter May 28th 2019

Erlangen, Germany. On May 28th, German publisher Weltflucht Verlag will be launching the Kickstarter campaign for his strategic, open world pirate game „Shiver Me Timbers“. The campaign with a funding goal of 38.000 Euro will be running for 30 days.

Shiver Me Timbers is the first project by game designer and publisher Michal Vitkovsky. The game is designed for 2 to 4 players ages 14+. Depending on player count and play variant, the game takes between 90 and 180 minutes to play. During the campaign, two pledge levels will be available: the standard pledge contains a copy of the game and any unlocked stretch goals. The deluxe pledge also contains 75 metal coins and four large chests in which players can hide their treasures and their gold.

As a true sandbox game, Shiver Me Timbers offers an open world with multiple paths to victory:

players collect victory points by attacking ships at sea, raiding fortresses, trading goods, rescuing lost relatives, raising treasures, fighting sea monsters, fulfilling missions for the governor and more.

The biggest eye catcher of the game are the large modular miniatures: Players start out with a small model which they can upgrade with additional canons, sails or cargo units to increase its strength, its speed or its hull. The game board is fully modular, too. It is set-up strategically by the players after they have chosen their secret victory conditions. Combat against other players and Non Player Characters is decided by fast, tactical card-based duels, granting lots of interaction and minimizing the luck factor of the game.

The artwork and the graphic design of the game were provided by Indonesian artist Unique Litani

Soparie. The 3D models were designed by Australian 3D artist Andy Monks from Trick Monkey Studios. Two times Ennie award nominee Tyler Omichinski from Canada completes the international team as Editor-in-Chief for English in-game content.

In 2018, Shiver Me Timbers was successfully introduced on the Berlin Brettspiel Con and the SPIEL in Essen. Independent reviews in German and English are available via the BGG page (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/239175/shiver-me-timbers) and on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ShiverMeTimbersBoardgame/. In addition, Jonathan Cox from JonGetsGames has provided a detailed three person play through which is available on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51XC0KGzmak).

Prior to the launch of the campaign, Weltflucht Verlag is raffling away a free deluxe pledge once per month. To join the raffle, gamers have simply to enter their name on the notification list available at www.weltflucht-verlag.de/shivermetimbers.



Image gallery


On May 28th, the German publisher Weltflucht Verlag will be launching the Kickstarter campaign for the strategic, open world pirate game „Shiver Me Timbers“. The artwork and the graphic design of the game was provided by Indonesian artist Unique Litani Soparie.

The modular game board is is set-up by the players after they have chosen their secret victory conditions. This allows for interactive and strategic decisions right from the start.

The major eye catcher of the game are the large modular miniatures: Players start out with a small model which they can upgrade with additional canons, sails or cargo units to increase its strength, its speed or its hull.

The deluxe pledge will also contain 75 large metal coins, designed as a homage to the „Pieces of Eight“popular among pirates.

About Weltflucht Verlag
Weltflucht Verlag was founded by Michal Vitkovsky in 2017. As of now, the publisher’s only focus is to successfully fund, publish and market the strategic sandbox game Shiver Me Timbers. We have many more ideas, but those have to take a backseat to our first time project for now. More information about Shiver Me Timbers are available on our Boardgamegeek page (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/239175/shiver-me-timbers) and on the Facebook pages https://www.facebook.com/SchreckenDerMeere und https://www.facebook.com/ShiverMeTimbersBoardgame. If you have questions about the game or the company, would like to request a prototype to playtest or review or are interested in an interview, please contact us at SMT@weltflucht-verlag.de.



Contact for press requests:
Weltflucht Verlag
Michal Vitkovsky
Am Ruhstein 49
91054 Erlangen-Buckenhof
T: 0173 / 385 98 87
SMT@Weltflucht-Verlag.de




Did you like this press release?  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.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 171: Ron Halliday

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:Ron Halliday
Email:ron.halliday@gmail.com
Location:Sao Paulo, Brazil
Day Job:I am a cartographer!
Designing:Two to five years.
BGG:Ronald Halliday
Facebook:RonaldKAHalliday
YouTube:Ron Halliday
Today's Interview is with:

Ron Halliday
Interviewed on: 1/11/2019

Today we get to meet Ron Halliday, a designer currently living in Brazil. Ron has one game already published, a second coming soon, and just recently had another signed! Keep your eye out for Seven Bridges coming to Kickstarter this summer from Puzzling Pixel Games. Seven Bridges is a roll-and-write dice drafting game in which players explore the historic city of Königsberg and learn about the logic puzzle that made its bridges famous!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Two to five years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I make maps for a living, and in 2015 I had the option of either looking for a short-term contract or taking the year off to try to get a game signed. My wife supported my crazy idea and by the end of the year my first game was published.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Seven Bridges

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Psychomachia was published at the end of 2015 and Revanche is coming out this year. Also, keep an eye out for Seven Bridges coming to Kickstarter this summer!

What is your day job?
I am a cartographer!

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At other people's places where drinks, snacks and laughter are requirements.

Who do you normally game with?
I can usually get out once a week, so I usually game with a friend of mine who loves having people over to play and is ready at the drop of a hat.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Fillers and gateway games, and if they're not locals, South American games that they haven't seen before.

And what snacks would you eat?
Pizza!

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
If the game is an IP like GoT or Star Wars, music from those universes.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
The Board Room Game Cafe in Halifax, Nova Scotia (with an honourable mention to the R. D. Chisholm store in Kentville, Nova Scotia which has a HUGE selection of games for a town of only 6,000 residents)

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favourite: Root Lease favourite that I still enjoy: Dixit Worst game I ever played: In respect to fellow designers I would prefer not to answer this question.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
That's a funny question, because I do enjoy card drafting, but I don't like deck builders!

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Guerra en el Pacífico (War in the Pacific), a war game that pits Peru and Bolivia against Chile. It's in Spanish so it takes me a long time to explain to my Portuguese-speaking friends here in Brazil.

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

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Card Games, Other 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?
It's always different. Sometimes the concept starts with a name. Sometimes it starts with a mechanic. But more often than not my thought process is "What kind of game would I like to play with this theme, and can I bring something new to the table?"

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Never entered, never won. Being a Canadian living in South America, the only country here that has awards is Brazil, and I just moved back here in 2016 and haven't published any games here yet. I was going to send Revanche to a French unpublished game competition (I can give you the name later) but because I self-published 100 copies it was disqualified from entering. I was also going to send Seven Bridges to a couple of unpublished/prototype competitions but it looks like I may have a publisher for it shortly!

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Dr. Gordon Hamilton, the designer of Santorini. He had the idea for the game back in the 80s (I'll double check the date) and stuck it out long enough to find a publisher that did a great job with his game.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
When I turn off the lights to go to bed, I usually think about one of my current projects. New ideas often come from random documentaries on TV that I'm half-watching on Discovery, History, etc.)

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Events, events events! Once the rules are finalized and written, I look for blind playtesters to give the PNP version a whirl as well.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I like to take my own ideas as far as possible by myself, to the point where I feel that any changes a publisher would make would be more cosmetic than fundamental. That being said, I would enjoy working with some designers I have met, and had a great time at last year's Global GameJam designing a game with three other people I had never met before the event.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
My anti-social tendencies!

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Maybe a French comic called Les Maîtres Cartographes, about a chaotic world where paladin-cartographers are some of the most powerful and respected members of society!

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
That I should have started 20 years earlier!

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Start small, and don't do it for the money.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Psychomachia
Games that will soon be published are: Revanche
I'm planning to crowdfund: Seven Bridges - Coming this summer from Puzzling Pixel Games!
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: do you have all day? ;)

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; Coke; VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Watching documentaries (including UFO shows, because aliens).

What is something you learned in the last week?
That the magnetic north pole is migrating closer and closer to the geographic north pole.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
90's Canadian Rock; Atlases; cult comedies like The Princess Bride, MP&THG and High Fidelity

What was the last book you read?
Anne of Green Gables

Do you play any musical instruments?
Nope!

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
For a year I was an assistant coach to the Peruvian beach handball team.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I met my wife online (ICQ, anyone?) and moved to Brazil.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I couldn't play handball for three months because I seriously twisted my ankle, and had more time to contemplate getting into game design.

Who is your idol?
I don't know if he qualifies as an idol, but James Rolfe (AVGN) is someone who looks like he's having a ton of fun doing what he does and making a good living at it, and that's something we all envy a little bit. right?

What would you do if you had a time machine?
It's a coin toss between solving the Oak Island mystery and the Shag Harbour UFO sighting. Not the universe's largest mysteries, but the ones I grew up with in Nova Scotia.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Omniglot Boy, the speaker of all languages!

Have any pets?
Nope!

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?
Hockey would be nice, with all that extra ice. It would be ironic and fitting if the asteroid landed on a flat-earther conference.

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):
Shoutout to Andres Paredes! He's the owner of Navespacial, the publisher that published my first game and got me into my current state of affairs.

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

My personal quote: It's hard being a perfectionist when you don't know what you're doing.




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?  Pleasse 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.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Protospiel Milwaukee 2019 Recap

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So, it's been over a month now since Protospiel Milwaukee.  I usually get these out the next week, but this spring has been super busy (both my older sons were in a performance of The Wizard of Oz that took up a ton of everyone's time in April).  As usual, I had a great time and played some great games.  There were a number of friends that couldn't make it, which was bittersweet.  I missed seeing them, but on the other hand it meant I got to meet a bunch of other great designers and play their games.

In all, I played 10 games (well, one was just a brainstorming session) by 12 different designers.  I had 4 of my games played: Beard Snacks twice, 8 Seconds twice, Race to the Moons once, and MiniSkull Quests for part of a game.  I played other designers' games for about 12.75 hours and had my games played for about 5.5 hours (plus rules and feedback on both sides).

Here's a recap of the weekend up in Milwaukee.  As usual, I'll include the designer, who I played with, and also three ratings, from 1-5.  The first is how close to finished I felt the game was.  A 1 means it was a super early prototype and a 5 means it was very close to publication ready.  The second is how fun the game was in its current state.  A 1 means it needs a lot of work and wasn't really playable or much fun at all.  A 5 means I had a great time playing and would love to play again.  Finally, the third number is the potential the game has of becoming a really great game.  A 1 means I wasn't a huge fan of the game (luckily there weren't any of those) and a 5 means I thought the game was pretty awesome.

So a rating of 2-2-5 would mean that it was a pretty early prototype, wasn't a whole lot of fun yet, but had quite a bit of potential to be a pretty good game.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Title: Beard Snacks
By: George Jaros
Played with: JT Smith, Maxine Ekl, Keegan Whitia
Game Time: 1 hr

Beard Snacks is one of my newest games and it's been playing great so far.  This game played very well, again in just about an hour.  Feedback was overall pretty good.  All mechanics work great; there's just a bit of a mismatch between the theme and depth - the theme suggests a lighter game than it is, even though it's not very complex.  Talk quickly turned to who might be interested in publishing a game like this.  That made me feel great since this is only the second Protospiel the game has been played at!





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Title: Roll Player Adventures
By: Keith Matejka
Played with: Rob Huber
Game Time: 1:15 hrs
Prototype Rating: 3-5-5

This is a game that I've been super excited about and was thrilled to be able to play a prototype.  We only played the intro adventure/story.  Keith was mainly testing out how easy it was for new players to learn the game through the tutorial, which adds information and mechanics as you go.  Even in a very basic adventure the story was interesting and fun.  We could really see how a larger adventure would offer a TON of options for different story arcs, ways to develop characters, and plenty of choices.  One of the cooler mechanics was how you can use various items at different locations to find out what they do, even combining two items together to see what happens when you use both at the same time.  The dice mechanic for resolving encounters felt thematic in a Roll Player way, too (encounters had some similarities to how bombs are disabled in FUSE).  I really can't wait for this one to be finished.  It's going to be a HUGE hit!  There's still lots of story to write, but the fact that the game uses everything from Roll Player in some way, even letting you use characters created in Roll Player for your adventures, is really, really awesome.


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Title: Mechanations
By: Brennan Aldridge
Brainstormed with: Brennan Aldridge, Rob Huber, Andrew Nerger
Game Time: 1 hr
Prototype Rating: 3-n/a-5

This was just a brainstorming session to talk about some of the changes to the game in the months since I played it at Protospiel Chicago and some ways to do scoring so that some scoring is secret and hidden, but some is public and earned incrementally throughout the game.  I really like where this game is headed and can't wait for the chance to actually play it again.

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Title: Afternova
By: Andrew Nerger and Jeff Chin
Played with: Andrew Nerger, Brennan Aldridge, Maxine Ekl, Rob Huber
Game Time: 1 hr
Prototype Rating: 3-2-3

Afternova is a game being designed by the same team that designed Crypt (one of my favorite games of this year so far).  Unfortunately this one didn't quite work for me.  Fortunately the version I played was a new variant that they were testing out.  The game is about collecting resources from various planets.  You'll bid on mercenaries that will help you with upcoming jobs, then have to complete those jobs by cooperating with other players at the table.  There were some interesting mechanics, but I didn't feel that they worked particularly well together.  Hopefully later updates resolved some of the issues (they're still working on the game - I've seen updates on Facebook).
  


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Title: Dogs v. Cats (or Dogs & Cats or Dogs or Cats)
By: Maxine Ekl
Played with: Maxine Ekl, Rob Huber, Brennan Aldridge, Andrew Nerger
Game Time: 1 hr
Prototype Rating: 3-3-5

I played this first at Protospiel Milwaukee and loved it there.  It's a very unique type of trick-taking game where there are multiple tricks open at the same time.  It's a pretty novel mechanic that I really like.  However this version of the game added a bit too much and just served to complicate things.  I liked it better when it was simpler.  The good thing is, I played it later in the weekend again with the complicated animal rescue mechanic removed and it played much better.  Note: this isn't a picture of the game I played since I forgot to take a picture, but at least it looks like I played one game with Stephen Dast over the weekend!


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Title: Icelandic Salesman
By: Randy Ekl
Played with: Randy Ekl, Rod Currie, Andrew Nerger
Game Time: 1:30 hrs
Prototype Rating: 3-3-3

Icelandic Salesman was a pick-up and deliver game about buying and selling goods in Iceland while trying to avoid bad weather.  Each round more and more of the roadways between the towns would get snow and eventually ice, preventing movement.  The game was interesting, though not exceptionally groundbreaking.  The mechanic for adding snow to the routes was a bit fiddly, but we talked about some really great solutions.  I'm curious to see how this game continues to grow and evolve.


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Title: In the Loop
By: Rattlebox Games (Rob Huber and Brendan Riley)
Played with: Rob Huber, Brendan Riley, Andrew Nerger
Game Time: 1:15 hrs
Prototype Rating: 3-2-3

In the Loop is loosely thematically about Chicago's el-trains (the elevated train system that runs throughout Chicago's downtown).  It's a puzzly tile drafting game where you score points by drafting tiles that allow you to connect tracks matched by color.  The game didn't really do much for me though.  I felt the drafting aspects of the game (sometimes you have the option of swapping out tiles, sometimes you don't, etc.) were unnecessarily complicated, while the luck of being able to draft tiles that actually fit into the patterns emerging on the board made the game more about luck than strategy or puzzle solving.  I like the idea of this game, but it seems very far along in its development process so I think it would take a major reworking to iron out the flaws.  I loved the theme though!


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Saturday, April 6, 2019
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Saturday morning has kind of become my time to run a playtest of Race to the Moons since it's a longer game.  So while I was waiting for enough people to play I took some photos of some of the other games that were out and about.  I don't have names or details (unless they were captured in the pictures), but there were some really interesting looking games.  I only wish I had time to play them all!















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Title: Race to the Moons
By: George Jaros
Played with: Stan Kordonskiy, Jason Brooks, Howard Beatty
Game Time: 2:20 hrs

The first time I played Race to the Moons at a Protospiel it took 3.5 hours.  Ideally I'd love it if the game was 20-25 minutes per player, so I've been working on streamlining the game and making it play faster for almost three years now.  I'm happy to say that this play was the smoothest at a Protospiel so far.  I was testing out a number of changes that had been suggested by my local game group and they were all pretty much positive.  But the game still dragged a bit and was missing some of the spark that I knew it could have.  We talked for quite a while after the game about ways it could be streamlined even further with the fun bits enhanced (and some ways to take out some thorny parts).  The good news is that I finally finished making all the changes I wanted to implement last week and playtested it.  The changes discussed at Protospiel Milwaukee made the last play the fastest and most streamlined yet!  That's why I LOVE Protospiel!










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Title: Legacies
By: Jason Brooks
Played with: Jeff Benson, Alex Hinners
Game Time: 3 hrs
Prototype Rating: 4-4-5

Legacies is quite the monster of a game.  It's a game (not a legacy game though) that spans three hundred years.  The idea is that each player is a character that wants to leave a legacy.  Over the course of three centuries (rounds) players will use a series of successors to work on building their character's fame, money, and more through investing, creating heirlooms, and building relationships.  Mechanically and thematically the game is great.  I did feel that there was a mismatch between some of the mechanical and thematic aspects though.  For example, you gained money by having your own heirlooms, but fame by having other characters' heirlooms.  Thematically I felt it should be the other way around (I want my own items to become famous, but I can earn money by having other famous people's stuff).  Overall though I loved the game and think it has a bright future.  I can really see this having an incredible aesthetic presentation that will look amazing on the table.




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Title: 8 Seconds
By: George Jaros
Played with: Nyles Breecher, Andrew Nerger, Jeff Chin, Jason Brooks, Keith Matejka
Game Time: 1 hr

I thought 8 Seconds was a finished game last year.  Then I played it at Protospiel Chicago and got a great idea after some discussion.  That only changed the game for the better, but I thought it was done again.  And again I was wrong!  Feedback I got from this playtest was that the game felt slow for the theme, the Golden Buckles were just more of the same and didn't really add anything to the game, and rolling poorly was boring.  We talked about a few options for how to change some of that, but didn't really come up with any great solutions.  But it really got me thinking about the game.  In the 5 weeks since I've tried a few changes to the Golden Buckles.  I've added cattle brand symbols to the bulls and tried adding a set collection aspect to them.  That didn't work out the way I had hoped, because I made the Golden Buckles a bit too difficult to acquire.  Now I have a new, simpler way to gain Golden Buckles, while still using the set collection aspect of the cattle brands (I'll hopefully test that out next week).  I also thought of a way to have rolling clowns actually help you out in the game (you'll earn some money for helping out the clowns, plus learn some tricks that can help you on future turns).  However the biggest change is a new speed variant that I've been working on!  It removes the betting element, but players play simultaneously, rolling dice frantically trying to ride as many bulls as they can in 8 minutes.  It's been working out wonderfully!  I don't want it to replace the main game, but it does add a way to play that people have been asking for for a long time!

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Title: Junkyard Robots
By: Nyles Breecher
Played with: Andrew Nerger, Jeff Chin, Jason Brooks
Game Time: 45 minutes
Prototype Rating: 3-5-4

This game about building robots and drafting dice was a lot of fun.  It needed a bit of balancing, but drafting, rolling, and distributing handfuls of d20 dice was a ton of fun.  Most of what needed to be changed here was some balancing with the robot abilities and costs and some graphic design on the board to make the die values that correspond with different actions easier to read.  I had a lot of fun with this one and can't wait to see how it grows.



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Sunday, April 7, 2019
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This is Jordan Sorenson's Bella Notte.  I didn't get a chance to play, but
watched the feedback after a play.  The game has incredible
table presence and everyone really seemed to love it.  I hope
I get a chance to play it someday!
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Title: Unnamed Game (Chingles?)
By: Patrick Rauland
Played with: Patrick Rauland, Jordan Sorenson
Game Time: 45 minutes
Prototype Rating: 1-5-5

This was a super early prototype that Patrick was actually tweaking and making components for on the fly.  We actually played this twice, once with the initial rules and then again after coming up with the idea for having both public and private goals.  There is still a lot that needs to be worked out about the ultimate goal and how scoring works, but the mechanics worked great!  It's designed to feel like a fantasy themed pub game, where each player is a different race with their own coins that they use as markers on the grid.  By taking different actions players will manipulate their pieces on the board (and sometimes their opponent's pieces) in an attempt to match certain patterns.  It's similar to Task-Kalar if you're familiar with that, kind of like a simplified mashup of Tash-Kalar and CoinAge, two games that I really like.  Be sure to keep your eye on this one!



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Title: Beard Snacks w/ Beard Bling expansion
By: George Jaros
Played with: Courtney Falk, Patrick Rauland, Jordan Sorenson
Game Time: 1:15 hrs - incomplete

I tried out Beard Snacks with the Beard Bling expansion I had been wanting to test.  This was the first time I played with the expansion components.  Overall the base game played well again, but the expansion content didn't really add enough.  We liked the hidden goal cards, especially the ones that provided longer term guidance, not so much the ones that were short term end game goals.  The beard enders seemed like they'd just prolong the game too much.  And the Beard Bling was fun, but didn't fee like it added much.  Rather it added more fluff to the deck, making it harder to get your food for having snacks and meals.  There were a few action cards that we really liked though, so I think I'm going to put those into the game with maybe 1-2 more of each type of food card.  Then I'll move the bling to the non-morsel space cards and use those as the Beard Bling set collection element.





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Title: Dogs or Cats (or Dogs v. Cats or Dogs & Cats)
By: Maxine Ekl
Played with: Frank Dillon, Heather Newton, Rod Currie, Justin Williams
Game Time: 45 minutes
Prototype Rating: 3-5-5

This is the same game I played earlier in the weekend and it got a ton better in just a few days!  I enjoyed this play immensely, even more than when I played at Protospiel Madison.  The clunky animal rescue mechanic was gone, play was streamlined a bit, and some fun wild cards (the 1s in each suit) really changed things up a bit and added to the player interaction.  The name keeps changing, as does exactly how the scoring works, but I think the gameplay is very solid right now and there are several very workable ways for scoring the game.  This is really going to be a hit someday!

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Title: Tower of Babel
By: Eric Jome
Played with: Maxine Ekl, Randy Ekl, Dusty Oakley
Game Time: 30 minutes
Prototype Rating: 1-4-4

This game didn't exist on Friday.  One of the cool things about Protospiel is that The Game Crafter usually provides a table full of sample bits and blank cards and tokens.  These 1x1x2 purple blocks were some of the components that were piled on the table this time.  One of the other cool things about Protospiel is that games are not only refined, but sometimes invented completely over the weekend.  Such was the case with Tower of Babel.  I saw Eric Jome playing with these blocks most of Friday and Saturday.  By Sunday he had come up with a cooperative dexterity game (which is especially funny since he usually hates both cooperative games and dexterity games).  But Tower of Babel plays quickly, has interesting decisions, and was quite fun!  Players take turns adding a block to the tower (no two blocks can line up perfectly) and then, optionally, adding a meeple to the tower (or removing or moving a meeple).  The game ends after the last block is placed and then each meeple scores points for how many units above the table it is.  We had a lot of fun and I was sad that I had to leave for home after only two plays. 


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So that's it for Protospiel Milwaukee 2019!  As usual, I played a ton of really fun games, met some awesome people, hung out with some old friends, and had a blast.  Also, as usual, I didn't play all the games I wanted to, didn't get to meet everyone I wanted to, and didn't get to hang out with all my old friends.  But it was still a blast, and there's always the next one!  I can't wait to see everyone at Protospiel Chicago in September!

(Not pictured: A partial play of MiniSkull Quests on Saturday night with Andrew Nerger, Jeffery Chin, and Nyles Breecher and a game of 8 Seconds on Sunday with Heather and Will Newton.)



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