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
David “Knighthawk” Simpson has been designing and playing games for years. He’s involved in a number of gaming projects, including the Gamers on Games YouTube show, which presents all sorts of videos about lots of different types of games and more, from actual gamers. He has a few published games, including Rampaging Jotun, which successfully funded on Kickstarter this past summer. Read on to learn more about David and be sure to follow along to find out what his next success will be.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Over ten years!
Why did you start designing tabletop games?
Started in High School as an English class project, and later became a way to cope with depression.
What game or games are you currently working on?
Dragon Chess : Arcane Battles; Blood and Leather; O.X.E.N.
Have you designed any games that have been published?
Rampaging Jotunn (Lost Cog); Tug of War (Dilly Green Bean Games); Flipping Crazy & It Counts To Win (Knighthawk Games)
What is your day job?
Robotics Repair Technician
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
Gaming Group; FLGS's; conventions
Who do you normally game with?
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Depends on the crew, but I enjoy a variety of board games and wargames. I miss playing RPGs, but I lack the time to play them anymore.
And what snacks would you eat?
Used to be we'd kill large boxes of Cheez-Its, but these days we're doing hummus and veggies, chips, and alcohol.
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I like background music, as long as it doesn't interfere with the gameplay. If it is a game based on a media IP, I enjoy the music from that IP if available.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
NOVA GAMES in Freehold, NJ
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favorite: X-Wing Miniatures (I just got my wife to start playing it, it's her first wargame); Least favorite: Killer Bunnies (I've gone an entire game and never been able to take a turn); Killer Bunnies is probably still high on my list, but I've read through the F.A.T.A.L. rulebook, and G-d help me that is just a horror show for psychos. Oh, also not a fan of all the social-elimination games (werewolf-style games)
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like Tactical movement. I'm not a big fan of trick-taking games.
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Gears of War - it is a cooperative tactical board game and people just don't seem to enjoy coop games too much where I am.
What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG Games, Video Games, Other Games?
Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games
OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Yes, but these days only with alcohol and/or sleep deprivation and people agreeing not to pitch a fit over crass jokes.
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?
Genuinely depends. Sometimes I'm inspired first by a theme or concept, other times I have an idea for a mechanic, then I need to find a theme to fit it.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No to both
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Not really, but I do respect the following industry personalities: Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson, Doug Levandowski (Gothic Doctor), Gil Hova (Networks), Matthias Bonnici (Lost Cog), Mike Pondsmith (R. Talsorian Games), Robert Dubois (Dream Pod 9)
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
It just comes to me when it comes to me. I do a lot of work where my brain gets to go a little zen, and that's when the inspiration tends to find me. I sometimes get it from video games, music, life experiences, all over.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
I playtest initially with friends and family, then I bring it to unpub events, conventions, and the like.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I can't do it all, so I like to work with artists and layout. I like to do the mechanics as much as possible on my own until I start the playtesting sequence.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Trying to come up with something that hasn't already been done to death.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Parrish Plesis novels, Trade Wars 2002, Transformers (as a Eurogame), Masters of the Universe, Small Wonder TV show
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
The amount of drama that can ensue and the amount of pressure you'll find yourself under.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Pace yourselves. Do it only if you really love it, and you won't be getting rich designing games.
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Rampaging Jotunn
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Dragon Chess : Arcane Battles
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Blood and Leather
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: O.X.E.N.
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 Trek for TV (and Wrath of Khan), Star Wars for movies (except prequels and Rebels); Pepsi (but only with real sugar); Betamax had better quality, but was harder to come by and was surpassed by VHS
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Cars, Comics, Movie watching, my daughter
What is something you learned in the last week?
My daughter is growing up faster than I expected.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Classic rock, classical, jazz, metal; Sci-Fi, War time recounts, comics, manga; All types
What was the last book you read?
Flight of the Eisenstein
Do you play any musical instruments?
Does turning on the radio count?
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I've been institutionalized.
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I tried to put out a car fire with a fire extinguisher; I disarmed a kid with a knife in a dance club once.
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Who is your idol?
Not sure at this point
What would you do if you had a time machine?
I'd say kill Hitler during WWI, but I think everyone says that. How about invest in the market better, maybe invest in Apple and Microsoft earlier.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert, but I fake Extrovert pretty well.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I've always had a thing for Angel (X-Men), Colossus (X-Men) and Nightcrawler (X-Men). I'd love to be able to fly, teleport, or be able to turn into a wall of metal to defend my loved ones.
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?
Not sure about the first part, but EuroDisney might be a good target, or that Ark that Ken Ham just built.
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):
Sasha Simpson - Daddy loves you.
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
Be good to each other
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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