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 15:09:32
Michael Knight has been developing games for quite a few years and is pretty active on a number of game design groups. He recently had a successful Kickstarter campaign for the G.I. Joe inspired Venom Assault deck-building game on Kickstarter, and the game should be hitting retail shelves this month. Given his love of '80s classics, and totally awesome name, I did have one followup question for him. You'll have to read to the end to find out though!
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 have been playing tabletop games for over 15 years when I and group of friends decided to try our hand at doing one just for fun. We enjoyed it a great deal and as more people played our game they encouraged us to publish it which we did. i was pretty much bitten by the design bug at that moment and have moved onto help co design or design a large number of other games.
What game or games are you currently working on?
Hunting Sasquatch, Grave Business and Realms of War
Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes I have, VENOM Assault is the first game and will be in stores come November of this year.
What is your day job?
Not to exciting there, I am an account manager for a security firm. But I hope to have designing become my new day job.
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
Friends houses mostly but we do sometimes frequent FLGS to play
Who do you normally game with?
I have as set group of friends I play with, we have the same tastes and can really mess with each other without anyone being upset or hurt.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Lords of Waterdeep is always a favorite for us. But we also like games like Waste Knights, 51st State, Relic, Shadows over Camelot and more.
And what snacks would you eat?
Chips and Sodas mainly sometimes a cookie or two slips in.
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Always! Depends on the game we are playing, our Music Man likes to build play lists for each game to help set the ambiance.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
I wish we had more locally or that they could remain open but it is hard in our area. Rouges Roost is my favorite place to visit and play games despite the long drive.
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Scythe is the current Favorite. Ghost Stories is the least, I love the concept and art but man it so hard to play and hard to get folks to play it with me. Worst Game? Well there are some out there but I don't like to bash games like that. It was someones idea and I give them props for making it.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Worker Placement!!!! Bidding (because I really, really suck at it)
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, Miniatures Games, RPG Games, Video Games
Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Miniatures Games
OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
It was fun for like 2 games :-)
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?
Theme is always what I tend to start with, I know people say not to but I can't help it. I like to build the world the game is in and then tie the mechanics to the theme itself.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No I have not.
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Eric Lang (met him at BGG con and spoke with for a couple of hours and he really inspired me to push on and strive for my dream to be a designer. that and he makes amazing games)
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
All depends really, I have been sitting at home or out hiking in the mountains or on long card drives when an idea hits me.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
We always start with our in house team to make sure the game is even worth showing off. Then we move to our core group of Alpha testers we have and if passes them then it is to game stores and game groups for blind testing.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Team! Seriously I tried doing it alone but that is not me. The meeting of minds is where it is at for me.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Creating something new and fresh not only in theme but in mechanics or how several can blend together in new ways.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Hmmm...well I did have someone tell me about the path and how hard it is walk it (Eric Lang) and I am grateful for him. I hope someday I can pass along what I learned from him to a new designer.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Grow a thick skin, seriously not everyone you meet is going to be nice and you can't let them tear you down.
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: VENOM Assault - will be out in November to stores.
I'm planning to crowdfund: Hunting Bigfoot (co-designer on this one) should be hitting KS this year!
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Grave Business (co-designer)
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Realms of War and Ruins of Adventure (Names subject to Change)
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
All of the ones you listed and many more!
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?
Can't I like them both equally? Neither Root Beer! What is Betamax :-)
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Disc Golf, Hiking pretty boring really.
What is something you learned in the last week?
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of life.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Gothic Metal I think they call it. Sci-fi and Fantasy really like the Warhammer Stuff. All kinds of movies really.
What was the last book you read?
Imperial Armies - Reiksguard
Do you play any musical instruments?
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Burned down the highschool bleachers in a very unintentional bonfire incident in high school. It involved lots and lots of wood and several plastic containers of gas ;-)
Who is your idol?
The Rock and Vin Diseal - really these dudes just seems to have his stuff together and are amazing people. I strive to be like them and as nice as they are.
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Travel back to see the Dinosaurs, I have always loved them and want to know what they were really like.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
My own creation :-0
Have any pets?
Yes i do! 1 guard chihuahua, 1 very long and strange cat and another very cute sweet cat.
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 hope that board games survive honestly, they have always been a part of who we are and help draw people together. War and hate are two things that man could stand to forever forget.
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):
Vin diesel and the Rock! you guys are amazing and I strive to be like you in so many ways. Keep doing what you do and inspiring young people to be selfless, generous people that know they can stand up for themselves!
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
Just food for thought. When you see a game or project on Kickstarter you like don't wait to pledge! These games don't get made if you don't pledge and waiting to see if hits goal can mean it may not. So pull the trigger, help these people.
I do have one followup question.
I know you're a fan of '80s TV, given the success of your G.I. Joe inspired Venom Assault game, but have you ever owned a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am, or named any of your vehicles KITT? Any plans for a Knight Rider inspired game? You've got the perfect name for it!
I never did own one, but my best friend's brother has one that is in need of serious repair and he has joked about fixing it up for me one day. We do indeed have thoughts for a game that will be a homage to Knight Rider as well. [GJJ Games] That's awesome! I look forward to seeing what you come up with!
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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