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
Gregory Carslaw is an active designer from the UK that has brought us the Kickstarter successes Wizard's Academy, Escape the Nightmare, and 404: Law Not Found. He has a slew of other game designs that he's working on, some of which you should see being published in this upcoming year. Read on to find out a bit more about Gregory and his games!
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?
Wanted to. Could.
What game or games are you currently working on?
SATW, Dauntless Hunters and Showdown. Showdown is basically One Night Ultimate Bang and is amazing and I might try traditional publication for once rather than the daft things I do.
Have you designed any games that have been published?
404: Law Not Found, Escape the Nightmare and Wizard's Academy
What is your day job?
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
Where doesn't matter, who with does.
Who do you normally game with?
My girlfriends, old uni friends, newer friends, local gaming groups.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
And what snacks would you eat?
My weight in chocolate.
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I do not listen to music.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
Waylands Forge (Though Firestorm have endeared me to them recently)
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Tragedy Looper. Boggle (with my mum). Outdoor Survival.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
A game is a mix, not a mechanic. If the mix is good, I'm good.
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Twilight Imperium. So long. So big. So hard to find the players.
What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, RPG Games, Video 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?
I start with a desire that nothing I've played is fulfilling well.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Nope, though I want to try RPG Superstar next time it's on.
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Whenever I don't have a pen to hand >:(
How do you go about playtesting your games?
Like anything else: First with myself, then people close to me, then strangers.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Alone till the mechanics are sound, then a team to make it beautiful.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Don't starve. The activity, not the indie PC game.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Working on a comic IP atm. Would love to work with: xkcd, smbc or oglaf next.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Start now. Don't do a PhD first. Or at least do the PhD at the same time.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Start now. Right now. Stop reading and go and make a game. Go!
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: 404: Law Not Found, Wizard's Academy, Escape the Nightmare
Games that will soon be published are: Shenanigans: The Musical (funded, working details with manufacturer)
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Dauntless Hunters. Kinda. Patreon is like crowdfunding?
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Showdown. Also the unnamed appalling one that people say is unpublishable.
I'm planning to crowdfund: Scandinavia and the World: A Heap of Trouble (check out satwcomic.com)
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: SatW: AHoT
Games that I'm playtesting are: Showdown, Dauntless Hunters
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: The unnamed appalling thing.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Dozens. Maybe hundreds. So many dead before they really lived. I've done a project with charity funding and am looking at another where I work with an epic doctor of biology on a game modelling disease spread (and what we can do about it).
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
I sometimes comment on Kickstarter Best Practices and dip into the design forums on BGG and Reddit.
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?
Wars. Both awful. VHS (Betamax was better but less useful in the end)
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
LARP, kink, mild civil disobedience aimed at making people smile.
What is something you learned in the last week?
"Taken as red" is actually "Taken as read". Never seen it written down before.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
No music. I really never got music. Epic fantasy. Weird.
What was the last book you read?
Black Magic (Collection of short stories)
Do you play any musical instruments?
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I have been accused of terrorism on national TV. (Didn't do it. The terrorism accusation was Scientologists so it doesn't count.)
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
As a child I tried to murder Santa. 3 billion toys seemed worth the naughty list. If Santa was real I now wouldn't kill him, I'm mildly amused that I discovered statistical analysis of the expected number of presents available in the recently inherited sleigh compared to the expected loss for a lifetime of naughty list before either empathy or that Santa wasn't real.
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Can't think of one. Maybe my plans are good so when they go wrong it's bad?
Who is your idol?
It's bad to idolise people. You excuse their worst behaviour in them and in you.
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Caption political promises with what that person actually does if elected. I'd probably violate causality with the time machine in the first week.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Neither extreme. Leaning towards introvert I guess.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
One of the ones that seem like they actually have fun. Kitty Pryde maybe.
Have any pets?
No. I like cats and get on with rats. Haven't tried bats.
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?
Things that require few components. Rock, Paper, Scissors perhaps. I don't think humanity gets a second chance if we screw up climate change (and it's not looking good!)
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):
Old friend it's been too long. Pick up the damn phone.
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
Some things are zero sum. You cannot gain £5 without someone else losing it. Even if it materialises from nowhere everyone else will lose a very small amount through inflation. Some things are not zero sum. When someone hugs you, they do not lose a hug, they gain an extra one. From nowhere. Define failure and success in terms of these things.
Everyone should write something to make someone feel good about themselves in a public place at least once.
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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