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: 08/25/16
Lucas Weese is the founder of Cohio Games, a group of game players and designers from Columbus, Ohio. His first game design is on Kickstarter right now. Battle Blakes looks like a fun, casual game, so check it out and be sure to keep reading to learn a bit more about Lucas!
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've always loved playing and wanted to design, but finally had a muse/idea spark in April of 2015.
What game or games are you currently working on?
Battle Blakes - Just launched on Kickstarter. Panda Dice, Mine Camp, Spyscape - Early Beta development.
Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet, hopefully soon.
What is your day job?
Coordinator at a Help Desk for online school testing.
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
Usually a friend's house, but recently been going to a weekly group meet up at a local restaurant and meeting a lot of new people which is awesome.
Who do you normally game with?
My group of 4-10 depending on the day/time.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Always rotating to new and old. Bloodborne, Orleans, Suburbia, Power Grid, Clockwork Wars, Arcadia Quest, Telestrations, Codenames, dozens upon dozens of fillers.
And what snacks would you eat?
We generally order some pizzas.
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Generally no, but will have the TV on a low volume in the other room. Unless it's on a Saturday or Sunday during football season where the volume tends to get louder.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
The Soldiery in Columbus.
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite - Dragon & Flagon if we have at least 6 players, probably Orleans if we have 4. Least Favorite - Marco Polo, I understand the mechanics, but for some reason I can't figure out how to win. Worst - Backseat Drawing, getting non-artistic players (including myself) to draw something is very frustrating.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite - Probably area control. Least Favorite - Co-op, it's more fun to mess with other players. Although my group is enjoying T.I.M.E. Stories.
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Arcadia Quest. We've only made it through a campaign once.
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?
Party situations it's okay, but it became a go-to and lost a lot of it's allure and in your face shock value.
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've actually done both. Battle Blakes was a theme and then mechanics around it. Spyscape was an idea with a skin or theme attached after the fact.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Not sure if I'd say idol, but Jamey Stegmaier's blog about Kickstarter and the process has been very beneficial. It also helps that his games are pretty good.
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
The first game (Battle Blakes) was because some suggested that we make funny trading cards and that spiraled me into the creative process to go a step further. Once that flew out of me it was like a switch went off in my head. I can never really say though when inspiration hits. I could be in my car driving, sitting at home watching TV, or something that I see when I'm out and about and my brain just starts churning.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
I start with close friends and my personal gaming group. Once we get the bugs we see out, then going to conventions. The First Exposure Playtest Hall at Gencon, Metatopia, and then just other conventions to not only have people give feedback, but to also get people interested in the game.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
The main thing is getting the word out and instilling confidence in potential buyers. I love doing it and have invested a lot of my own money. I feel we've come up with a solid game, but now to get people to support a brand new company with no track record.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
The Tick. I've loved this character for over 2 decades.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
How to market your game and get it out there.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
It's a lot of fun, but don't think that all you need is to have a good product. There is a lot of footwork and networking needed. You're going to spend a lot of your own money and free time to get the game off the ground. Surround yourself with good people and friends that will not only encourage you, but also call you out on things.
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Panda Dice, Mine Camp, SpyScape, Battle Blakes: Part Deux
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: An American Band, Superzeroes, Battle Blakes: Inner Demons
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Nope, but now I feel I need to be.
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?
Karaoke (actually own a karaoke company), gambling, comics.
What is something you learned in the last week?
That 2 Crown Royal bags filled with change (even mostly quarters) does not amount to as much money as you would think.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Alternative. Fantasy. Epic.
What was the last book you read?
Messenger - Lois Lowry. I read The Giver when I was younger and my girlfriend told me there were actually more books to the series.
Do you play any musical instruments?
Nope, my tiny bear paws kind of limit that.
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I run a successful karaoke company that has been voted best in Columbus for the last 6 years.
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Friends and I stole a gumball machine from a grocery store in high school...we were caught.
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I'm not sure, I don't have kids, so I don't have the go-to answer for that one.
Who is your idol?
I don't have anyone in particular. I tend not to idolize people. I do have respect for anyone that chooses to follow their hearts/dreams and do things to works towards that goal.
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Check out the future and how far technology had advanced.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I'm a social introvert if that makes sense. I like time to myself and close friends, but I also am on stage and making sure everyone's having a good time when I'm hosting karaoke.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
The Tick, as stated before favorite for over 2 decades.
Have any pets?
Yes, 1 cat. He came with my girlfriend and she's upset because she feels he loves me more now.
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?
This a lot tougher of a question than expected. Survive: I hope at least one copy of every game survives because that would be a terrible loss of creativity. Wiped Out: Boy bands.
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):
All the other people that make up Cohio Games. Any an everyone that has playtested Battle Blakes and given feedback and opinions to help evolve the game. James Hudson for his insight and great Kickstarter Spotlight karaoke group.
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
Designing games has been an incredible adventure and I hope to be able to design and share games for years to come.
Hopefully by the time this is released to the public our Kickstarter for Battle Blakes is in full swing and we've been funded.
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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