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.
Interviewed on: 08/22/16
Say "Hello" to Stewie Garside, an indie game developer from the UK. He is very active on many of the game design groups on Facebook, so you may recognize him from there, I know I do! He also has a few published games, and has just launched a Kickstarter for an expansion to Ember: The Magical Card Game. So, here's your chance to get to know him a little bit better, and don't forget to check out the campaign for From the Ashes today!
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!
Tell me a bit about yourself.
How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Over ten years!
Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I was lucky enough to get a small design job with White Wolf.
What game or games are you currently working on?
Ember: the Magical Card Game, KaBlooey: the Explosive Card Game, Eldritch: the Game of Occult Horror, the Book of Spell Verbals
Have you designed any games that have been published?
So so many things. I've been a columnist for 30 years and have been a regular in PC Zone, Shivers, and soo many other magazines.
What is your day job?
I have an important business which I run alongside District 31
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
My house on my big table! :)
Who do you normally game with?
My friends, but as they live far away, anyone I can rope in. I've currently dragged in my neighbour and her 11 year old daughter!
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Dungeons & Dragons (forever)
And what snacks would you eat?
Don't eat snacks with board games! THINK of the fingerprints!!!!!! :P
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
When board gaming, we usually stick on Youtube with some hits from fantasy movies or some such.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
I really don't have one. There isn't one within 40 miles of me.
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Lords of Waterdeep. Worst, not because it's bad but theme wise, I didn't like BANG!
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Love dice rolling or games where cards are your hit points. Least favourite: the sheer randomness of dice games like X Wing
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
ALL OF THEM! It's a struggle just getting through the day, never mind having to look at that UNOPENED copy of Pandemic Legacy... It'll never get played. NEVER... PSSST. Wanna buy a copy of Pandemic Legacy? :P
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, RPG 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?
Mechanics and then theme - although all my games are set in my fantasy universe so most of them have already been conjured up in the 20 years I've been designing it. Well, I say designing, more like messing around with it with no real purpose other than to create, really.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Nope. Although there's the ENNIEs thing, which I don't talk about...
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
If we're talking Idols, Billy is pretty good... and that one of the Buddha is pretty easy on the eyes... :D
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Everywhere. Seriously, walking down the street, watching TV, walking the dogs. My mind is a mess of possibility (as are all our minds).
How do you go about playtesting your games?
Hard part. I sit at a table with Blasty, Zach, and Dilbert (the unicorn) until I've got enough testing done on my own, then I cry and wail until my friends take pity on me (it doesn't work very often). Now I have built up something of a reputation, people are always asking to test my latest game, so it's a lot easier these days.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
As a positively perky social person, it's always best to work in a team, but finding parity and experience among workers isn't often easy.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I actually can't say. There's a possibility (albeit it slim) that I might actually be given my dream property. I'd love to do Harry Potter, but only as a hardcover RPG. Would never happen.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Go through every door that opens and don't turn down free publicity in the way of award.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
If you want to run your own company, have your first three games designed before you even think about releasing the first one.
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Ember: the magical Card Game
Games that I'm playtesting are: KaBlooey: the Explosive Card Game
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Eldritch, Elementals (the magic battling game), Hackneyed (don't even ask - this IS the name I'm going with).
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
ALL of them. Must be a member of a good 30 groups. And active member, too. Game Maker's Lab, UK Kickstarters, really, the list is enormous!
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?
Dogs. Unicorns. Bubblegum. Waterbeds. Wizards (over clerics).
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
My dogs, reading, movies, cooking.
What is something you learned in the last week?
That you can do 1000 truly selfless acts in your life, but you'll always be remembered for the one bad one!
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Fantasy, graphic novels (Rat Queens), horror. Stranger Things was particularly fantastic.
What was the last book you read?
Septimus Heap: Magik (I found it hard work).
Do you play any musical instruments?
Not any more!
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
Crikey. How "surprised" do you want people? Are we talking mildly surprised or outright titillation? [GJJ Games] - How about if you… surprise me! =)
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Dear lord. I was told when I started this that I couldn't be rude, suggestive, smutty OR controversial (basically ALL the weapons in my arsenal). Let's skip this question, shall we? :P
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My birth? No, really!
Who is your idol?
I don't tend to idolize anyone. They're all just human. My inspiration comes from within.
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go back and buy LOADS OF ALPHA Magic Cards and be RICH!!!!! :D
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I'd probably be my own unique creation with the powers of flight, healing, and mind control.
Have any pets?
Two dogs, Zachary and Harley... wanna see a picture? I have a few (thousand)? No really, you're talking my language now. Seriously... [GJJ Games] Sure, let's see them!
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?
Let's just wipe out the mean and selfish and thoughtless people who are desperate to be something that's irrelevant and to be a part of something that's mindless. *Danger Will Interviewer: getting serious moment*: all the crooked politicians - that will survive in their 2000 billion dollar bunker - should be the first to go. And basically, all the self-serving and utterly morally people who have ravaged our world and sewn fear into the (shattered) communities. As much as I love people, I wouldn't miss any of them... Oh I've got a little list...
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):
To Wendy: I'm so proud of you for all you've accomplished! (mysterious)
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
See you all at UK Games Expo 2017 - free hugs for everyone!!!!
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
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