Tuesday, September 6, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 3: Michael Brettell

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.

Name:Michael Brettell
Location:Sydney, Australia
Day Job:Software developer
Designing:Two to five years.
Find my games at:U-Boat Attack is available at https://gravitasboardgames.com/blogs/downloads/
Today's Interview is with:

Michael Brettell
Interviewed on: 08/22/16

Thank you to Michael for his answers to my interview questions! Michael has been in at least one BGG design contest with me and is planning on launching a Kickstarter for his game FUSION: Space Combat soon, so keep an eye out for it!

Have something else you'd like to ask that I didn't cover here? Go ahead and comment on this post. I'll ask the designers interviewed to answer any questions!

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've always liked board games. Back in the 1970s it was games like 'Hit The Beach', 'Stockmarket' and 'Life' (when there were Revenge spaces that allowed you to (shock horror) take money from an opponent). I've always needed some sort of creative outlet, so designing games was just a natural extension of my interest in games.

What game or games are you currently working on?
FUSION: Space combat. A two-player card and dice starship duel.

Have you designed any games that have been published?

What is your day job?
Software developer

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home

Who do you normally game with?
Same 3 friends

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Twilight Imperium 3. Our gaming group could be named 'The TI3 Gamers club'. It is our go-to game. We'll have a month or two on something else, then go back to TI3 for a tournament. We meet once a week about 8pm on a work evening. Play until midnight-1am. That gets us set up, and two rounds played - about a third of the way through the game. The following week we'll meet for the same amount of time to get 2 more rounds in, and normally the final 5th turn on the following week is when everything gets decided. There's a huge amount of dealing, especially during the week break between games. There's no back-stabbing, but plenty of opportunities for different interpretation of agreements, which of course anyone not involved in the deal does whatever they can to sew discord.

And what snacks would you eat?

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Gametraders in Hornsby

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current Favourite: Elder Sign with Gates of Arkham expansion. Least favourite that I (occasionally) enjoy: puzzly Euros. Games for me are an escapism, so theme is very important. I want to feel like the Galactic commander or Tank Commander. I find it hard to get excited about being a farmer, or helping my panda to eat the most bamboo. Worst game: One I just played, called 'Firefly: Fistful of Credits'. So dull, repetitive and frustrating. On a positive note, if that game could get published, there's hope for us amateurs!

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favourite mechanic: Deck-building, but its been way over-used. Least favourite: anything dexterous. Not a fan of word games either

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
War of the Ring. Only played it a couple of times, but it has a great dice pool mechanic used for actions, dual-use cards, awesome miniatures and lots of interesting decisions. Not to mention theme! Would love to play it more often.

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

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?
Normally theme first. I need to build up excitement about the game to really get my creative juices flowing, and I like having the constraint of theme to narrow all the possibilities.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Entered 2015 Solitaire game design, with U-Boat Attack.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Spending time just concentrating on the problem. Going for a walk often works.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
By myself first, then normally with my brother and co-designer, then rope in friends

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Work with my brother, Andrew. I concentrate on rules design, he's graphic design and artwork.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Keeping things simple and fun.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Star Wars

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Listen to all the advice you get, you idiot.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Believe people when they say less is more. I've found it is critical to design your game around a single core innovative mechanic. Only include aspects that support and reinforce that mechanic.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
I'm planning to crowdfund: FUSION: Space Combat
Games that I'm playtesting are: FUSION: Space Combat
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Tile laying asteroid mining game set in same universe as FUSION: Space Combat

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

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

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Walking, playing guitar

What is something you learned in the last week?
Importance of friends and family

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Heavy Metal, Blues. The Gap series by Stephen Donaldson. Pulp Fiction and Braveheart.

What was the last book you read?
Tom Clancy - Clear and Present Danger

Do you play any musical instruments?

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
Just turned 50.

Who is your idol?
Elon Musk.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go back to last week and pick the Lotto numbers

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert mostly

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Whichever one Black Widow dates

Have any pets?
Border Collie called Ruby

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?
Surviving: My game, of course. Wiped out: Every other game, so that there's a chance my game does actually get played.

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):
Allen Chang from Rule and Make, showing Aussies can do it. And also Jamey Stegmaier, for his endless free advice

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

Thanks to you for doing this

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?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff George and good stuff Michael. George - you should tell the designers to check the post for comments so they can do Q&A. Just a thought.