Tuesday, November 29, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 27: Haitao Mao

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:Haitao Mao
Location:San Francisco
Day Job:This is my full time job! I used to be a software engineer but I got bored of that.
Designing:One to two years.
Webpage:sizigistudios.com, cakeduel.com
BGG:aischarm
Facebook:Sizigi studios
Twitter:@SizigiStudios
Find my games at:cakeduel.com, BGG, Amazon
Today's Interview is with:

Haitao Mao
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016

Haitao is a designer from San Francisco that works as part of the Sizigi Studios team creating games and more. Their first Kickstarter campaign ended successfully for Cake Duel, a fast, two player card game. They have more games in the works, too, so be sure to follow along with Haitao and the rest of his team at Sizigi Studios. Read on to learn more about Haitao.

Some Basics
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?
We were working on digital games, but we found ourselves playing a lot of light tabletop games during breaks. We already had a fully prototyped games we found really fun, so we thought why not?

What game or games are you currently working on?
Cake Duel - it's a light card game with strategic bluffing and card counting.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet, though Cake Duel was successfully Kickstarted in September!

What is your day job?
This is my full time job! I used to be a software engineer but I got bored of that.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Someone's house

Who do you normally game with?
Friends, most of which I met back in school.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Most of the time I'm playing light microgames that don't require much of a time commitment, so if I invited people over, we would be playing something heavier. I've always wanted to spend a day blazing through some legacy style game. I regularly enjoy playing ticket to ride, biblios, and pictionary as "classics". Recently, also a lot of Cake Duel.

And what snacks would you eat?
Get dinner, bring some boba back and play games. Sounds like a fun night! Also, glutinous rice balls.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I generally don't, maybe light jazz would be nice though.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Don't really have a favorite since I mostly buy online.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Currently enjoying shadowrun: crossfire a lot. I can enjoy even the worst games with the right people. Worst game might be Meow, though maybe I wasn't drunk enough to play it properly.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
There's a lot you can do with set collection, and it adds a lot of fun to most games that have it. Least favorite might be counting VPs, I just feel it's such an unclean design and makes things more opaque than they need to be.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Twilight Struggle. It's the best game ever, but nobody wants to play it with me :(

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, Video Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
No

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 usually have mechanics I'm excited about before. It's harder to come up with mechanics to fit a theme than the other way around.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Just started entering them!

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I loved Jeff Vogel's exile/avernum series growing up. That was a big part of my childhood, and it was inspiring to know that he made the game basically by himself.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
I think about game design all the time: while playing games, while eating, while sleeping, while driving, while talking to people, you get the point. Every once in a while I think something I think about is a great idea, so I'll write some stuff down on notecards and try to flesh it out. Most of the time that kills the idea, but occasionally it survives into something playable!

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Build the MVP repeatedly until I can convince myself that it's fun. Then build it out enough to be able to convince the team that it's fun. Then build out a presentable version, and play it a lot with friends, feeling out what would be better if changed and then changing it. I mostly trust my instincts built up from playing a lot of other games and having analyzed what makes them fun and replayable.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I prefer a small team of 3-5 people. It's lonely working alone, but too many people makes it hard to have consensus and stay happy. I suck at making visuals so definitely need help from the team there. I prefer to stay in the abstract while working as part of the team. Thinking, designing, playtesting, programming, that kind of stuff.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Making games last. My mission is always to make the game fun enough that it will still be fun after the player has figured out how the game works. After they have seen all the content in the game multiple times and know what the dominant strategies are, they still want to play the game.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Warcraft. Lot of interesting character development and story arcs to build off of, it could make anything work.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
How to market them. Hell, I still don't know.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Play games that are "relevant" to what you want to make, and think about how to make them better. One way to do this is to keep playing it until it's no longer that fun, and think about what made it no longer fun. If you can easily mod the game, just do so and play some more. If you do this long enough, your intuition will be corrected every time you see a new game come out that has the thing you thought of to make it better (often times it doesn't actually make it better, so you can learn from that).

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games that will soon be published are: Cake Duel
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Spells (computer game written in java, put online but never really "published"), and various other games of similar nature
Games that I'm playtesting are: Spirit Chef (iPhone game, internal playtesting)

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
not a fan of Facebook

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. Vanilla Coke. wat.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Rock climbing.

What is something you learned in the last week?
In San Francisco they will randomly tow your car if you have over 1000$ of parking ticket fines.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Melodic hip hop mixes with female vocals. Long epics with a lot of world building, or philosophical food-for-thought. Action psychological thriller or romcom depending on mood.

What was the last book you read?
Godel Escher Bach, on the plane to GenCon.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Played the violin back in grade school.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
Too

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Open

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Ended

Who is your idol?
Don't really have one.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Not use it. Too risky.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert. INTP. 5w4, 9w1.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Some martial arts master who can slow time and float but leads a relatively normal life.

Have any pets?
Used to have a pet lobster, occasionally I would shake its claw.

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?
The Civopedia has everything we need.

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):
The Sizigi team for making me fill this out. SIR WOLFY?? Thought it was a..

Just a Bit More
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

Did you like this interview?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Eye on Kickstarter #9

Welcome to my Eye on Kickstarter series!  This series will highlight Kickstarter campaigns I am following that have recently launched (or I've recently discovered) because they have caught my interest.  Usually they'll catch my interest because they look like great games that I have either backed or would like to back (unfortunately budget doesn't allow me to back everything I'd like to).  But occasionally the campaigns caught my attention for other reasons.  Twice a month, on the 2nd and 4th Fridays, I'll make a new post in this series, highlighting the campaigns that have caught my attention since the last post.  In each post I'll highlight one campaign that has really grabbed my attention, followed by other campaigns I've backed or am interested in.  I'll also include links to any reviews I've done.  Comments are welcome, as are suggestions for new campaigns to check out!

You can also see my full Kickstarter Profile to see what I've backed or my old Eye on Kickstarter page that was too unwieldy to maintain.  Also, check out the 2016 Kickstarter Boardgame Projects geeklist over on Board Game Geek for a list of all the tabletop games of the year.

So, without further ado, here are the projects I'm currently watching as of the second Friday of November, 2016:


HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
Abandon Planet
  • GJJ Games Backed
  • I had a chance to play a prototype of Abandon Planet at Protospiel last April and it really works well. A great, unusual blend of social and euro elements. Definitely worth checking out!


A board game for 4-8 players about building rockets and escaping the meteor apocalypse.

From the creator of The Resistance and Avalon, Abandon Planet is a new game about escaping the meteor apocalypse. It's an experience of survival, betrayal, and fragile alliances in the moments before Earth is annihilated. Anyone who doesn't want to die on the soon-to-be-burning rock will have to team up with a partner to outfit their janky rocket transport for the interplanetary jump. But everyone's looking out for number one, and alliances can change at any time.

Each round players secretly decide which direction to send their rocket. They reveal their choices simultaneously, and then take turns flying out to the remaining chunks of earth, to pick up what they need or steal it from each other. This would all be safe and pleasant if it weren't for the deadly meteor that will strike at the end of the round, drastically altering the map and damaging any rockets in its path. One player knows in advance where the meteor will hit, but depending on who they choose to share that information with … well, let's just say you learn who your friends are pretty quick in a meteor apocalypse.





Doug Doug Goose Caboose
  • This looks like a super silly icebreaker game that might be good to grab for my Scouts. I'll keep an eye on this project.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 26: Phil Vestal

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:Phil Vestal
Email:pavestal@gmail.com
Location:Chicago, IL, USA
Day Job:Pastor
Designing:One to two years.
Webpage:www.wantedearth.com
BGG:pavestal
Facebook:phil.vestal
Twitter:@WantedEarth
Find my games at:Kickstarter early next year
Today's Interview is with:

Phil Vestal
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016

Phil Vestal is another fairly local game designer. Unfortunately we haven't crossed paths in real life yet, only online, but hopefully someday we'll have the chance to playtest each other's games. Phil has been working on a pretty awesome miniatures game called Wanted Earth. Be sure to check it out and watch for a Kickstarter for it coming next year.

Some Basics
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?
I have always loved playing games from monopoly and risk as a little kid to Catan, Werewolf, and Stone Age today. My game partner (Eddie) and I each recently had children and our lifestyles were kind of forced to change (in a good way but also a way that impacted how we could play games). We had to rethink the types of games we can play due to time constraints. We realized that there were games we couldn't easily play anymore and wondered if we could come up with something that was like the games we loved, just as epic and immersive, but wasn't as complicated and time consuming.

What game or games are you currently working on?
It's called Wanted Earth. It's a miniatures board game. RPG Strategy.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
No

What is your day job?
Pastor

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Usually at people's houses or on vacation.

Who do you normally game with?
Closest friends and family

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Werewolf, Catan, Mysterium, and always new games friends have discovered

And what snacks would you eat?
Dr. Pepper, chips, homemade cookies (our wives make great cookies), pizza

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Probably some sort of EDM but usually I am so focused I don’t hear what is playing!

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Grapple Games in New Lenox, IL

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Love Carcassonne. Least favorite I still enjoy-probably Ticket to Ride. Overplayed it and now I still enjoy it but it has fallen slightly out of favor in the family. Worst game-A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Perilous Parlor Game. Played it because we found it buried in storage. Interesting but not very good.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite-Hidden Identities such as Werewolf. I love spinning tales and trying to confuse people and figure out who they are. Least favorite-Backstabbing. It's a ton of fun in theory but when an ally turns on me, ouch. I am always nervous people will gang up on me, haha.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Monopoly. Most people won't sit down and play it because of how long it takes and the other great games out there that people would rather try out. Favorite game of mine as a child but just can't find a way to get it out anymore.

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, RPG Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Yes, depending on the group

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?
For our game, my partner Eddie came up with the original theme and mechanics and they really started out together and fit well, but as time has gone on some of the mechanics have changed and improved while the theme has stayed pretty consistent.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Have really enjoyed Matt Leacock games recently.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
All the time! My partner came up with the original concept for the game because he's an extremely creative guy and we just keep meeting, talking about it, texting, waking up in the middle of the night with ideas, and talking to people. Just living in the universe constantly and trying to get as much feedback as possible.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Friends and family, soon we will go to board game stores and other groups of gamers, and then keep fanning out through networking from there.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Team for sure! I have always thought that ideas are better when they are challenged and enlarged as different people wrestle with them. For Wanted Earth, our team has been key and we are lucky to be able to work with a couple of groups of artists that are amazing. They have not only helped bring our vision to life but have improved upon it.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Trying to keep fresh eyes on the project. We find that it's very difficult to stay objective about our own work. Some days I love it and some days I hate it and it's hard to tell what's realistic sometimes without having a neutral, outside perspective. We think something will or won't work and we can debate endlessly with ourselves until we just get someone else to take a look at it. We want to make something people will love, will have a blast with other people playing, and for me it's been hardest to see the game from an outsider perspective because you get too close. Balancing the game and making sure a character isn't too OP and making sure there aren't any ways to hack the game is a big challenge as well.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
If you mean something that has IP already and that I would like to use? Characters from skits and such. We would love to make a character based upon Scott Sterling (from Studio C). We have a hilarious and fun idea but I don't think we can get the rights. We have considered other similar character type IP stuff. Not sure if that's what you were looking for! [GJJ Games] Exactly! Thanks!

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
How much fun it is and how great the community is. I would have started a long time ago.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Create a game you love because it's going to kick your butt in the process! If you don't love it then you will give up. So start with something you find to be out of this world fun and be ready to make changes. Don't white knuckle anything too tightly because it's probably going to change.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games that will soon be published are: Wanted Earth-not through a publisher but hopefully publish it ourselves with funding through Kickstarter
I'm planning to crowdfund: Wanted Earth-the plan is to go to Kickstarter in early 2017
Games that I'm playtesting are: We are currently Playtesting Wanted Earth! If you live within a few hours of the Chicago area and want to check out it, feel free to shoot me an email! We’d love to get something set up. pavestal@gmail.com

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Lots of them. Card and Board Game Designers Guild is one, plus a number of others.

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 all the way. Pepsi. It used to be Coke but I spent a few months in Israel and they only sold Pepsi and I got hooked. VHS-I just love when all the tape comes streaming out and you have to try to unhook it from the inside of the player.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I love playing and watching sports. There are no words to express how great fantasy sports are.

What is something you learned in the last week?
That problems have solutions. Give it time and keep thinking about it. It's probably not as bad as it seems on the surface. Also, that a CEO can really kill a stock price even if they are running a good company.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Love the Marvel movies. Adventure books are a lot of fun. I tend to read a ton of non-fiction because I like to learn, but books that are not connected in any way to reality and take a character on an epic journey serve as a great relief.

What was the last book you read?
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. A couple of Navy Seals share about what they have learned about leadership and growing as individuals. It should be a must read for everyone. It changed a lot for me.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No. And I think the world is a better place because I don't.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
That I’m a pastor. It often has all kinds of stereotypes that go along with it and that makes me sad! I like to pride myself on being an open-minded and loving person. I hope that people I meet come away feeling that!

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I lived in Africa and had a spitting Cobra in my house. Instead of running away I pulled out my video camera and filmed it. Made for a sweet story.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
One night I was in Amman, Jordan and some friends and I lost track of time and got stuck at a Starbucks (lame that we were at a Starbucks but we missed things from home). We didn't realize that getting a taxi was going to be nearly impossible. When we were there, the state department had warned that you shouldn't be out at night because of kidnappings of westerners. Oops. Well, after like 30-40 minutes we actually started getting a little nervous that we weren't going to get back to the hotel. A couple of teens came up to us and asked what we were doing. We explained the situation and the fact that we had no idea where our hotel was. They spoke English and Arabic so they helped get us a taxi, and then rode with us as they spoke on the phone with other friends getting directions. We finally made it to the hotel and when I asked what the fare was, they told us that it was on them. When they were in the US, we could pay their cab fare. Dang. That changed the way I viewed people and the world as a whole. Bad decision that changed my life for the better.

Who is your idol?
Jocko Willink. The guy who wrote the book I discussed above. He has a podcast as well and the guy should seriously run for president. He's a great leader and he has helped me as a person from my parenting to my leadership and work ethic.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would definitely go to the future. The way technology is changing, I would love to know what people in 200 years are capable of.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Extrovert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Iron Man. The guy is not only smart but has enough resources to make a major difference in the world. Not that people without money can't make a difference because they absolutely can, but the sheer possibility of what he could do to make people's lives better is astounding. Plus, he is a brilliant inventor and has a superhero suit. Crazy.

Have any pets?
2 cats but they think they are people.

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?
Survive-A deck of cards (so many possibilities), Pokemon (what a great game in all it's manifestations), football and basketball (have to stay in shape), and Werewolf (it's a big party game). I'm sure I would like more games but I won't be greedy. I wouldn't mind if 5 Crowns was taken. I'm not a big fan of the go in a circle and collect random groupings of cards games. But if it survived I'm sure someone could convince me to play it.

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):
Erin and Anneke, my wife and my game partners wife, for putting up with our constant board game and fantasy sports talk.

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?

Thanks for letting us be a part of the community!




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

Did you like this interview?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 25: Diane Sauer

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:Diane Sauer
Email:diane@shootagaingames.com
Location:New Jersey, USA
Day Job:I have a business restoring old pinball machines.
Designing:Over ten years!
Webpage:www.shootagaingames.com
BGG:diane1962
Facebook:shootagaingames/
Twitter:@shootagaingames
Other:UnPub - Shoot Again Games, IGA- Shoot Again Games
Find my games at:Our website, Amazon, Coolstuff Inc.
Today's Interview is with:

Diane Sauer
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016

With over ten years of design experience and several well received published games, Diane Sauer is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Her most recent game was just released at this summer's GenCon. Diane is a member of the Indie Game Alliance and the owner of Shoot Again Games. Read on to learn more about Diane and be sure to follow along to find out what her next fun design will be!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Over ten years!

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
It was just a natural next step after playing so many games.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Currently working on Pinball Showdown which is just about done and expected to hit Kickstarter later this year or early next. In it the players are pinballs during multi-ball trying to score the most points and complete the most combos before draining.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Conspiracy! was just released at GenCon 2016 and I worked on Looting Atlantis. My first game was Legends and Lies.

What is your day job?
I have a business restoring old pinball machines.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home though I also enjoy conventions.

Who do you normally game with?
I have a game group that has been meeting weekly since 1982.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
It depends on the mood and on the friends. We have a collection of games that is almost 3000 games in size.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
We went through a period where we played music during gaming and we found it too distracting for some people.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Family Fun Hobbies in Hamilton Square, NJ

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Not counting our games, right now I am really enjoying New Bedford and the Networks. Least favorite I still enjoy is Bang!. Worst I've ever played is tough as there have been a lot of bad games over the last 35 years I've played. Limiting it to current games that others like for some reason I would say Love Letter.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like worker placement games though I've yet to design one. Worst is player elimination.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Battlestar Galactica

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Not my cup of tea.

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?
It can work either way, but more often than not I come up with the theme first and decide what mechanic would best work including coming up with new mechanics when possible.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Never entered.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Sid Sackson

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
They really can come from anywhere. Something just needs to strike me or make me want to know more about it.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I'm lucky with my group being such experienced gamers. they are awesome play testers. I also go to a lot of UnPub events and have even run a few myself.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I work on all of our games with my husband Nick. We are very good at filling in each others gaps and blind spots.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Making the games fun with great replay value.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Dawn of the Dead (classic 1978 version of course)

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Having an excellent playing game is only half the battle.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Be very open to changing things in your game even and especially things you are resistant to change.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Conspiracy!, Legends and Lies (out of print)
Games that will soon be published are: Pinball Showdown, Born to Serve (with Nick) and Bigfoot vs. Yeti
I'm planning to crowdfund: The above listed
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Pinball Showdown, Born to Serve
Games that I'm playtesting are: Bigfoot vs. Yeti, Conspiracy! expansion called MIB
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Several
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Many

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Indie Game Alliance

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, Pepsi, Betamax

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Playing pinball and old arcade games, I love watching documentaries. I have several different collections.

What is something you learned in the last week?
Hitler was spared by a british solider who came across him lying wounded on a WWI battlefield.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Classic Rock, Science Fiction and all sorts.

What was the last book you read?
Divinity of Doubt

Do you play any musical instruments?
no

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I tried out for Survivor and made it to the in person interview stage.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I jumped off a very high bridge with a rope we had attached to the center of it.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I missed a movie showing and end up seeing Dawn of the Dead instead. It turned out to be my favorite horror film still to this day.

Who is your idol?
Gene Roddenberry

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I little of both really.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Supergirl.

Have any pets?
Two dogs Kara and Booner.

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?
Somehow, despite all the odds I hope pinball makes it.

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?

I often think very meta when i design games. Sometimes, there are even games within games.




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

Did you like this interview?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 24: Abdul Rahman Ibrahim

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:Abdul Rahman Ibrahim
Email:bluemanagames@gmail.com
Location:Malaysia
Day Job:I'm a programmer
Designing:Over ten years!
Webpage:bluemanagames.wixsite.com/index
BGG:almond55
Facebook:Blue Mana Games
Twitter:bluemanagames
Find my games at:meeples.com.my. You can also drop me a mail and we can go from there.
Today's Interview is with:

Abdul Rahman Ibrahim
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016 17:40:13

Abdul Rahman Ibrahim is a programmer from Malaysia who also designs board games. He successfully published his game Monster's Hero Academy in 2014 through his company Blue Mana Games and is currently working on a few new games, including an update to Monster's Hero Academy. Read on to learn a bit more about Abdul and be sure to follow along to find out what his next project will be!

Some Basics
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 as a passing interest which turned into a passion

What game or games are you currently working on?
A 4X space game titled Star Horizon for now.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes, Monster Hero Academy

What is your day job?
I'm a programmer

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At a coffee shop

Who do you normally game with?
Friends who leave nearby, usually via Facebook gaming groups

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Kingdom Death: Monster

And what snacks would you eat?
Cheese nachos

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Never really had music played while playing before.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
It's been ages since I've been to one.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Fav: Game of Thrones 2e, Enjoy: Cleopatra, Worst: Dudab

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Fav: Push your luck dice(a la Yahtzee), Least: Hidden movement

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Descent 2e

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG 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?
No

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 theme, but usually it changes down the road while the mechanic evolves.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Only BGG contests

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Reiner Knizia

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
While being loaded with caffeine

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Usually once every fortnight via Facebook announcements.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I'd like to collaborate, but it's hard to find a match that clicks a lot of times

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Money

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Space: Above and Beyond

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
That you need to be a businessman too

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Don't follow your passion, but bring it with you.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Monster Hero Academy
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Elves vs Goblins, or might be renamed to Ninja Fox vs Samurai Geese
I'm planning to crowdfund: Haven't thought of it yet
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Elves vs Goblins
Games that I'm playtesting are: Star Horizon
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Samurai 15

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 Dev Guild, Malaysian Tabletop Designers

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, Coke, VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I paint miniatures

What is something you learned in the last week?
Random card design via programming, which I recently coin Surprise Designing

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
90s pop, Dune series, Batman vs Superman Ultimate Edition

What was the last book you read?
Mike the Knight and the Scary Dragons (I have 2 kids)

Do you play any musical instruments?
Yes, guitar

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I work from home and haven't been commuting to work in 2 years

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Nearly going to jail the first time I went to Essen

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Mostly related when I cook.

Who is your idol?
Michael Jackson

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I wouldn't use it

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Wolverine

Have any pets?
No

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?
Survive: Dice games. Wipe out: The finger family song.

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):
Hi Mama! (my wife, she's awesome)

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?

If you're designing games, always remember why you did it in the first place and get it published.

Also...

I like cheese, but not the strong ones




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

Did you like this interview?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 23: Zachary Connelly

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:Zachary Connelly
Email:connelly.zach@gmail.com
Location:New York, USA
Day Job:Handyman
Designing:Two to five years.
BGG:Zachary Connelly
Facebook:Royalngames
Twitter:@Royalngames
Today's Interview is with:

Zachary Connelly
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016 15:52:10

Zachary Connelly is another designer that has been very active in online game design forums. A few weeks ago he successfully funded his second Kickstarter campaign for a game called Deathbot Derby and has a number of other games in progress. Be sure to follow along with Zachary to find out what his next big hit will be!

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?
As a handyman by trade, I take great joy in building things and making them work. As a gamer it's no different. The joy of building a game and making it work is just a satisfying accomplishment.

What game or games are you currently working on?
DeatBot Derby and LOTS!

Have you designed any games that have been published?
self published a game last year called Main Event: A Card Game Battle Royale

What is your day job?
Handyman

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home

Who do you normally game with?
My wife and friends

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Right now Blood Rage, Tavarua, or Gold Rush... But that could just be the cult of new talking.

And what snacks would you eat?
Coffee and Beer. My two favorite snacks ;)

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Not really maybe some ska

What’s your favorite FLGS?
The uncommons

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current fav: Tavarua, really just love the execution of the theme.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Fav: programmable action/ movement Least: set collection

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Card Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
It's an activity. If you enjoy it, have at it.

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 first

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Scott Almes

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Mostly while talking about games with friends.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
First get it to the table and have friends tell me what they like or didn't or what they would change. Then do blind playtesting. Once the game is where I want it I do final blind rules testing to make sure it makes sense.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Alone but with others input

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Making it out to more conventions to get more exposure

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Hire an artist

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Designing a game is like plumbing, a tight clean fit with the right pitch will flow nicely. Make sure there are no leaks.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Main Event /done out of print
Games that will soon be published are: DeathBot Derby - just funded on Kickstarter
Currently looking for a publisher I have: LOTS!

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Yes

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!

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Ska, fiction, comedy

What was the last book you read?
Ready player one

Do you play any musical instruments?
Tuba

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I used to do musical theater

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Destroy it

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Extrovert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Shazam

Have any pets?
Dogs

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

Did you like this interview?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Eye On Kickstarter #8

Welcome to my Eye on Kickstarter series!  This series will highlight Kickstarter campaigns I am following that have recently launched (or I've recently discovered) because they have caught my interest.  Usually they'll catch my interest because they look like great games that I have either backed or would like to back (unfortunately budget doesn't allow me to back everything I'd like to).  But occasionally the campaigns caught my attention for other reasons.  Twice a month, on the 2nd and 4th Fridays, I'll make a new post in this series, highlighting the campaigns that have caught my attention since the last post.  In each post I'll highlight one campaign that has really grabbed my attention, followed by other campaigns I've backed or am interested in.  I'll also include links to any reviews I've done.  Comments are welcome, as are suggestions for new campaigns to check out!

You can also see my full Kickstarter Profile to see what I've backed or my old Eye on Kickstarter page that was too unwieldy to maintain.  Also, check out the 2016 Kickstarter Boardgame Projects geeklist over on Board Game Geek for a list of all the tabletop games of the year.

So, without further ado, here are the projects I'm currently watching as of the second Friday of September, 2016:


HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
Solarquest Deluxe Edition
  • GJJ Games Review
  • GJJ Games Backed
  • Now here's a game that I never expected to see on Kickstarter. Solarquest used to be my favorite game as a kid. I even made an Oort Cloud expansion for my copy (which has since gone missing), which I think was my first foray into board game design. This Kickstarter is for an updated version of the classic game that adds a new class of properties (dwarf planets), makes a few adjustments to the rules, adds mission cards, and adds support for eight players. For a roll-and-move game that has many similarities to Monopoly, Solarquest actually holds up pretty well to modern game standards. It's still a roll-and-move real estate game, but it's infinitely better than Monopoly. Be sure to check it out for some light, casual, family fun!


New Deluxe Edition of the classic board game SolarQuest, with enhanced gameplay, magnetic fuel card, 8 player capability, and more.




Universal Rule
  • Universal Rule popped up on my radar just last week and the campaign is almost over. I really love 18 card games, so I'm tempted to back this one. I think the only thing holding me back is that it needs a bunch of tokens or the deluxe add ons. I may grab this though in this last day. Check it out quickly though, if you're interested, because there are only a few hours left in the campaign!


5-Minute Dungeon
  • 5-Minute Dungeon looks like a fun, fast cooperative game. I really like how each player has their own deck and own abilities to really enhance the team. And there's plenty of room for lots of fun expansions with new heroes, new monsters, and more!


Feudum
  • If Feudum wasn't on your radar it should be now! This looks like an absolutely amazing game, not only for its gameplay, but for the production level. Every single component looks like it will be premium quality and the artwork is absolutely outstanding. For a first-time creator, I think Feudum is absolutely incredible. This is one that is definitely high up there on my want list!


The Game Anywhere Table
  • This gaming table looks incredible! Light and portable, yet able to support a full sized gaming experience! This would make a great table for camping, picnicing, festivals, visitng friends, or anywhere else you want a great gaming experience on the go.