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
If you've been involved in board game design, or even playing board games any time in recent years you've probably heard of Sen-Foong Lim. Sen and his design partner, Jay Cormier, have a slew of published games, including several that have made a number of top ten lists recently. In addition to designing a ton of awesome games Sen also co-hosts the Meeple Syrup Show, a design-centric webcast that anyone interested in designing games or in learning about how games are designed should listen to. Read on to learn more about Sen and what creations he has on the horizon!
Tell me a bit about yourself.
How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Over ten years!
Why did you start designing tabletop games?
To keep in touch with my design partner, Jay Cormier / to stay sane
What game or games are you currently working on?
Godzilla, Powers, Pan Galactic Super Rumble, Barricades, Party of Adventurers, Outlander, Top Rope, Mind MGMT, Oracle, Chronicles, Crossed Blades, Shattered Skies, numerous RPGs, etc., and a few that can not be mentioned without you all signing NDAs.
Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes - Belfort, Orphan Black, The Godfather: A New Don, Akrotiri, Junk Art, But Wait There's More, Rock Paper Wizard, etc.
What is your day job?
College Professor (Developmental Psychology)
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
Home or café
Who do you normally game with?
Friends, family, and other designers
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
A mix of a good social starter, a heavier strategy game, and then a lighter strategy game to finish
And what snacks would you eat?
Whatever didn't leave a mess on the games.
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Not typically, unless it's thematic
What’s your favorite FLGS?
L.A. Mood and The Cardboard Café
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current fave: Powers, our upcoming release through IDW games - a one vs. many hidden movement game based on a comic book; Least Fave but will still play? I dunno. Werewolf? Worst ever? Prototypes that never made it past alpha stage.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Negotiation; Lose a turn / Player Elimination
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, 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, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG 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?
Mechanics typically first, but theme shortly after to better inform development of mechanics.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yup (Canadian Design of the Year Award)
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Yup. dead - Sid Saxon / Alex Randolph; alive - Leo Colovini / Roberto Fraga / Vlaada Chvatil / Matt Leacock
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
In the shower.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
I play with other members of our local chapter of the Game Artisans of Canada; these games can then go to another chapter across the nation for blind testing.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Team up almost always. Many hands make light work!
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Not enough time in the day!
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Usagi Yojimbo (Comic by Stan Sakai, published by Dark Horse Comics) would be at or near the top of my list. I get to work with tons of great ones, so I'm lucky.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
That one of the easiest ways to tell if a rule is necessary or not is to try to explain it in writing. If you can't, cut it.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Watch or listen to the Meeple Syrup Show! It's a game-design specific webcast that I co-host with Daryl Andrews. We have weekly guests from the industry (designers, artists, publishers, etc.).
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Belfort + Expansion, Train of Thought, Junk Art, Orphan Black, The Godfather: A New Don, This Town Ain't Big Enough for the 2-4 of Us, But Wait There's More!, Akrotiri, Rock Paper Wizard
Games that will soon be published are: Powers, Pig Goes Moo, Outlander Story Telling Game, Mythos, Aladdin, Zombie Slam, Choice Words (needs to be renamed), Herdables (to be renamed), and a few that can't be discussed… Also, reprints: Belfort, But Wait There's More, and Akrotiri
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: I don't run my own Kickstarters; I solely license to publishers.
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Burning Rubber, Word Bird, Lost For Words, SimpliCity, Lawn Wars, Top Rope, Knock Out
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Chronicles of the Relic Hunters, Crossed Blades, Party of Adventurers, Barricades, Various RPG systems
Games that I'm playtesting are: Oracle, Pan Galactic Super Rumble
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Too many to mention
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Too many to mention
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Game Maker's Lab, Game Artisans of Canada, Card & Boardgame Designers Guild, The Secret Society of Boardgame 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?
Brazilian JIu Jitsu / Music
What is something you learned in the last week?
How to make a game in Tabletop Simulator.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Electronic, dance, hip hop, funk, soul, RnB, 80s; Scifi & Fantasy, Graphic Novels; Scifi, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Thriller, Horror
What was the last book you read?
Head Lopper, Papergirls
Do you play any musical instruments?
Yes, Piano, Violin, Vocals, and I write music for various projects (Pronobozo, Phantohm Soundsystem, etc.)
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I was hit head on by a transport truck at highway speeds and survived.
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I'll have to think about this one... what I think is normal, others might think is crazy...
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I told a girl I was in love with her and was rejected. That same night, I met my future wife.
Who is your idol?
My wife. She's awesome.
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Other than going back to meet cool historical figures, probably learn how to speak my native tongue better.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I'm a fake extrovert; I'm an introvert who always has to be "on" because of work - it's very tiring.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Wonder Woman is my favourite superheroine.
Have any pets?
1 dog - a really really old Australian Shepherd named Matilda.
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 boardgames in all of their incarnations survive. I could totally do without pop idols, however.
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):
Stan! Please let me make a Usagi Yojimbo game!!!
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
My favourite colour is yellow. If you're playing with me and you insist on playing yellow, you can...but I *will* move your pieces, guaranteed..
If you're a game designer in Canada, check out www.gameartisans.ca
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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