Tuesday, December 13, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 31: Laurens Bliek

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.

Name:Laurens Bliek
Location:The Netherlands
Day Job:PhD candidate
Designing:Two to five years.
Find my games at:The Game Crafter
Today's Interview is with:

Laurens Bliek
Interviewed on: 8/25/2016

Laurens Bliek is a designer from The Netherlands that has been working on designing games for a few years now. You may have seen his name pop up in several of the Facebook design groups from time to time. He just finished running a successful Kickstarter campaign for his first published game, called Apocalypse Frenzy. He has other games in the works, too, so be sure to follow along to see what he has up next!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Two to five years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
A contest on thegamecrafter

What game or games are you currently working on?
Apocalypse Frenzy, a 2-4 player card game about aliens coming to destroy the world

Have you designed any games that have been published?
I'm self-publishing Apocalypse Frenzy as we speak, it has been fully funded on Kickstarter.

What is your day job?
PhD candidate

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
With friends

Who do you normally game with?
Friends and family

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I've never played a big war game (we play mostly eurogames), I'd like to try one of those and play all night long

And what snacks would you eat?

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I prefer no music

What’s your favorite FLGS?
I like thegamefreak in Rotterdam

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
The old Settlers of Catan card game is still my favourite. Werewolves is the least favourite one that I would still play. Worst game ever: Uno.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like mechanics that depend on the gamer's creativity, like in Dixit. Least favourite: anything with dice.

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, Other Games?

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Other 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?
They've always come together for me

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I've entered in thegamecrafter's mystery contest in 2014, got 30th place

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Not really, but I've talked to many Dutch indie game designers and they all inspire me.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Usually when talking about games (or anything else) with other people. If you are ever stuck, just talk!

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I bring my game whenever I go to any event. And in some board game events I can get a table.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
No preference, but my friend did the art for my game

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Not rushing it but also keep working on my game, as I usually tend to one extreme or the other.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
One of the old PC strategy games like Rollercoaster Tycoon or Age of Empires

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
It's a big commitment and takes a long time to finish a game

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Keep meeting people that love games

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Apocalypse Frenzy (https://apocalypsefrenzy.wordpress.com/)
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Colonia, a deck-building game with 18 cards

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Card and Board Game Developers Guild, Board gamers in the Hague, Tabletop game Kickstarter advice, Tabletop game playtesters guild, and 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?
Star Wars by a long shot. Neither. VHS (what is betamax?)

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Playing woodwind instruments, old video games

What is something you learned in the last week?
Making a cartoon in Adobe Premiere Pro

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Classical. Fantasy/sci-fi. History/fantasy/sci-fi

What was the last book you read?
Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

Do you play any musical instruments?
Oboe, saxophone, piano

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I am half Brazilian

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Lick my toilet seat (when I bought it new)

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go to ancient Rome.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Spiderman's always been my favourite.

Have any pets?
3 cats and a hamster

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?
Pandemic can survive. Monopoly can be wiped out.

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):
A big shout out to all the Kickstarter backers of Apocalypse Frenzy!

Thanks for answering all my crazy questions!

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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