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: 8/25/2016
Tiffany Branum is an ambitious soul! She's been designing games for the past year or so and has started her own game design and publishing company called Branum Games. She recently ran a successful Kickstarter for her first published game, called Battle Gnomes, and has several others available through The Game Crafter. Keep an eye on Tiffany, she has a lot more in the works!
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?
As a creative outlet
What game or games are you currently working on?
Just published a card game, Battle Gnomes. And a few others.
Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes, we have four published games now!
What is your day job?
None. I quit to spend time on this.
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
Who do you normally game with?
Strangers or friends. Anyone.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Ticket to Ride. Alhambra. Zombie Dice.
And what snacks would you eat?
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No it's distracting.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I don't have a favorite. I really dislike Cards Against Humanity.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like area control. I dislike bidding/auction as a mechanic.
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, 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?
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?
Usually a theme and then select mechanics that work with it but it often happens at the same time, since the right mechanics for a particular theme seem intuitive. If I think of "building a house" I immediately think of how I want to accomplish that goal, so often the one goes right there with the other.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I enjoy Steve Jackson Games and the approach to gamers, but do not know anything about Steve Jackson as a Game Designer.
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
A wide variety of things from the world. Entertainment, the time of year or season it is, how I'm doing personally and dreams I have, shows I watch or conversations I have.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
Play them with myself first to get an idea of how much work it needs, then a few friends until they can't find obvious problems, then open to the public. At which point it usually gets dissected and requires a lot more work.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I pay artists. Although I design games alone, I take in a lot of feedback to make decisions about the game. Ultimately, I'm the final say but the games are influenced by dozens of people. I also work with volunteers who help my games gain popularity.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Because I'm self-publishing, I have to do a lot of things other than just designing the games and it takes me away from the activities I enjoy the most.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I am a Disney fan.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Start sooner, this is going to be huge.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Don't try to do it all. It's worth it to hire help if you can.
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Battle Gnomes, Book Collectors, Parks, Nocturnes
Games that will soon be published are: Dungeon Break, House Monsters
Games that I'm playtesting are: Dungeon Break, House Monsters
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
SUP Guild, IGA's Developer's Lounge, Board Game Revolution, Boardgame Geek
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 (TNG), Diet Coke, VHS
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I love to travel and spend time sightseeing. I like being around water like sailing or going to the beach.
What is something you learned in the last week?
Methods of shooting video footage.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Enjoy most music and usually most movies. Not too particular. As for books, I mostly read biographies.
What was the last book you read?
The Imagineering Pyramid by Lou Prosperi.
Do you play any musical instruments?
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I have 5 degrees. 3 Bachelor's degrees (Justice Studies, Religious Studies, and Psychology) and 2 Master's degrees (Master's of Adult Education and an MBA)
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I can be spontaneous but can't think of anything super crazy.
Who is your idol?
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Depends on the circumstances, I can feel like either one.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I'd love to be a Green Lantern.
Have any pets?
Fish. I'd prefer more but don't live alone.
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 there are still puzzles that have all their pieces. I love puzzles. I'd also be happy with chess and other classics like checkers and backgammon making it. I'd be perfectly fine if Monopoly and Life were never found again.
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):
I want to give a shout out to Ian and Patricia Stedman from Magic Meeple Games. They've provided great advice to me getting into the gaming industry. They've been available as a resource for several months and that's really cool of them.
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
Although I have only started publishing recently, I look forward to being a part of the industry. Indie designers I've met so far have been really welcoming.
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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