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: 8/24/2016 14:52:03
I first met Andrew at my first Protospiel in Madison in 2014. I played a game of his that was in the very early stages of development called Dark Forest. A few months later I had to be up in Minnesota to meet with a business client and it turned out I was going to be just a short distance from where Andrew lived. So we made plans to meet up and play games for a few hours at the Fantasy Flight Gaming Center. Since then I've seen Andrew at a few Protospiel events and have had plenty of communication with him online. We've bounced some game design ideas off each other and discussed some non-game related stuff, too. He published Perspective through Minion Games last year and currently has a few other cool games in the works. Read on to learn a bit more about Andrew!
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 had 2-3 months in between college and my first job where I was unemployed and bored out of my mind, so I starting playing around with making a game!
What game or games are you currently working on?
W.A.R.P. (Wormhole Assault and Recon Project) - A futuristic PVP tactical combat game with action planning that takes a lot of influence from FPS games.
The Dark Forest - A narrative game where players play one of several characters who are lost in a cursed forest with a full moon on October 31st. Players reveal the stories of their characters as they play, and their success determines their fate. Characters include: A father searching for his abducted daughter, A Scholar researching the local cult, a girl running from her abusive father, a widow morning the anniversary of her husband going missing, and more!
War in Wonderland - Area control conquest game where the card soldiers from Alice in Wonderland are doing combat on a moving Chess Board.
Have you designed any games that have been published?
Perspective by Minion Games
What is your day job?
I am a Business Development Representative for Epicor Software. Part of the sales team for really expensive efficiency software for manufacturers.
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
My home or a friend's home.
Who do you normally game with?
I have a network of about 15+ people who are friends that play together when people are available.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Depends who can make it. Top picks are:
Game of Thrones
Various light-mid weight games (Carcassonne, Antidote, Kingdoms, Escape, etc)
And what snacks would you eat?
Cheese and Crackers, M&M's or Popcorn
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Never thought to have it.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
I don't go into my FLGS, but it would be the Fantasy Flight Event Center when I do.
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Still Enjoy: Betrayal House on the Hill
Worst: Coup (i know there's merit there, but I've just never enjoyed it)
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Social Deduction and/or hidden information
Blind guessing or excess chance
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Other 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?
Depends on the game
W.A.R.P. started with a mix of design principles and converting a FPS Video game to a board game. The main principles were no chance and character customization.
The Dark Forest's concept came from a mechanic of vanishing tiles as you move around the woods, but quickly developed its theme which became the most important part of it.
Perspective was a challenge to myself to see if I could make Hanabi play well PvP instead of Co-Op
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Nope. Haven't entered many.
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Admittedly, I don't know the names of my favorite game's designers.
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Usually when I see a game I'm interested in not play as well as expected. I ask myself how could I do it better?
How do you go about playtesting your games?
The Polaris Collective is a local group of designers that meet regularly. I also try to make it to at least a couple protospiels a year. I'll be at the Madison one!
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Mostly alone with a lot of input from friends and my design group. The Dark Forest is an outsider to that where I've spent a lot of time writing the story and narrative with my friend Kristina.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Keeping the gate of entry reasonably. I tend to come up with well thought out complex things that work well, but are hard to learn. Perspective is a great example.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Portal and Half Life. WARP had a working title of "Portal Combat" for a long time.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
The Game Crafter exists. I spent SOOO many hours cutting hundreds of cards in my first couple years designing. The other one is fail faster. First prototypes can and should be ugly until you prove you concept.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Fail faster! The sooner you can prove something does or doesn't work, the sooner you can improve it. If that means you have a game about colors, but you hand wright "Blue, Red, Green, Yellow" on white cards... that's a good idea if it means you test the idea sooner.
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Perspective by Minion Games
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: W.A.R.P. - Wormhole Assault and Recon Project
Games that I'm playtesting are: The Dark Forest
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: War in Wonderland
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: 86 Service - A resource management worker placement co-op game where each player controls a different section of a restaurant during dinner rush. (86 is industry lingo for "We are out of", so it's a in joke of saying "we don't have any service")
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
The Polaris Collective
A number of the advice groups that James Mathe moderates
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?
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
What is something you learned in the last week?
That Woody in toy story says "we toys see everything" instead of "we toys can see and breathe"
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Lindsey Stirling Music
Self Development books
Super Hero Movies
What was the last book you read?
Love and Respect
Do you play any musical instruments?
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I have my Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Ate an entire Little Caesar's pizza in 7 minutes.
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My now wife dumping me.
Who is your idol?
I tend not to hold anyone as an idol, but try to take pieces of the best around me! Tanner, Collin, Sam, and Scot are people around me who come to mind.
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Destroy it. The time continuum is too fragile!
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Have any pets?
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?
In some sense, it would be pretty neat if no games would make it. That way the world would have to start over and rebuild what people enjoy in games from the get go, and it would grow into a new game industry that is nothing like what we have on the market now!!
I hope that I would survive!
Under it? Bowling Alleys. I'm not sure why they're still a thing...
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):
Scot Eaton and Samuel Spaid have done so much more than they realize to make me a competent designer!
Shout out to Marcin and Brian as well! Let's not forget Eric Jome, Karl, Dusty and Andrew Hanson as well! Can't wait to see you all again at Protospiel Madison again.
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
I just got married on August 27th! ^_^ [GJJ Games] Congrats Andrew! That’s great to hear!
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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