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
DJ Remark is part of the team over at BloodScribe Creations and is looking to publish his first game, Undertome, soon. He and the rest of his team have a number of other games that they're working on developing as well. This should be an exciting year for DJ and BloodScribe Creations. Read on to learn more about DJ and the games he's working on.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Less than six months.
Why did you start designing tabletop games?
It was kind of a weird start in the sense that my design partner Jason and I didn't just decide one day to start designing games. We were sitting in my apartment at the time talking about games we liked to play and what it would be like if we made our own. We started thinking about games we liked and what we liked about them and used those ideas to design our first game, Undertome. After we wrote out all of the cards on index cards and did sort of an "alpha" play test with all of our friends, everybody liked it so we did what we could to refine the game some and get a little better quality to it. This second round of the game exploded and had friends of friends talking about it. Once news got back to us that people were asking if we were going to release the game for sale we thought "Wow, we might have something here!"
And that's how it all began.
What game or games are you currently working on?
We're currently looking to get out initial game "Undertome" published. We're also in the "alpha" phase of our second game Tank7 and prototype phase of our third game "Slamurai" (Yes I realize those seem out of sync lol)
Have you designed any games that have been published?
What is your day job?
I am a software tech and my partner Jason works for a title insurance company.
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
Anywhere. I always have my crate of games in the car in case an opportunity arises.
Who do you normally game with?
I have a small group of friends who are way more into games than I am, two of which have joined Jason and I to become BloodScribe Creations.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Undertome (for obvious reasons), Battle Wizards, Skulls, Sheriff of Nottingham, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Exploding Kittens, Fluxx (I'm really into card games)
And what snacks would you eat?
Jason will always have his Sourpatch Kids and I'm more of a chips and salsa guy.
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
We actually have a party/games spotify playlist that always starts with "What if" by Creed (Hold judgements please, that song is awesome)
What’s your favorite FLGS?
The only one that I'm aware of around me which is actually a comic shop called Kenmore Komics.
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favorite is Betrayal at House on the Hill, least favorite is Resistance (because I'm a terrible liar). Worst game I ever played was every train game ever made. Please stop making these. They're terrible.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I don't have a favorite mechanic yet but I really like games that have a story or a point to it other than it's something to kill a half hour.
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Thankfully with my group of friends I don't have that problem! Everybody is willing to play pretty much anything but I guess it's hard to get a game of Eldritch Horror because we don't always have four hours to play it.
What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, RPG Games, Video Games
Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, RPG 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?
Story first and always. BloodScribe Creations was formed to develop games based on story and theme. We want players to feel like they're being immersed in a universe while playing our game; be it in a dark basement filled with a terrible ambition to be the sole master of an ancient and evil Tome to a young robot mechanic trying to win prize money by building and fighting interstellar robots to a simple samurai enjoying a drink in a tavern. Everything about our games is based on story and theme, the mechanics follow.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Have not entered but very interested.
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Anybody who makes the games we love to play.
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Our inspiration comes from everywhere from playing other games and liking certain parts of it to watching a favorite movie or taken from an inspiring life event. Life is our muse.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
We always have them available and suggest it to people who might want to play. We also organize play testing events and show up to events that others organize. Pretty much just being places where games are played and asking people if they'd like to try a new one.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
The design team is led by Jason Orr, co-designer of Undertome and we all contribute to the design process.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Being a perfectionist. No matter how refined we get our games we always feel like we could do better or make something else work properly or any other nit-picky things that annoy other people about artists.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
For me personally, it would be a Lord of the Rings type game. I'm a super Tolkien fan-girl to the extreme of reading a Tolkien Companion book before bed and knowing the genealogy of the Elves. For Jason, and I'm confident I can speak for him when I say he would enjoy designing a game within the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Nope, I think we got into it at exactly the time we were supposed it.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
It's hard work and requires passion. It's in no way an easy process and there have been many opportunity to just give up but you have to press on. If you're passionate about a game you should definitely see it through. You never know what you really have until you have it.
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: Undertome
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Undertome
I'm planning to crowdfund: Tank7, Slamurai
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Undertome
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Slamurai
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Tank7
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, BOGA DAP
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?
I'll just answer with I was a Star Wars fan first but once Star Trek hit Netflix I gave it a shot and loved it. I'm just about to finish the 7th season of Next Gen and will be moving on to DS9 and the movies. Coke because I find Pepsi to be too sweet and I'm 29 so Blu-Ray.
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I ride a motorcycle, play guitar in a band, World of Warcraft, read boring books on philosophy and economics, build computers.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I'm a huge metal head. Some favorites are Metallica, Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Acacia Strain, August Burns Red, Parkway Drive, Shadows Fall and so on... Books I enjoy are everything Tolkien, Banewreaker, Phantoms, H.P. Lovecraft stories, Jurassic Park, Stranger in a Strange Land, Methusela's Children. Movies, again, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dark Knight, A Nightmare on Elm st (1 and 3 are favorites) The Crow, Zack and Miri, Straight Outta Compton, Quills, Gladiator, Nacho Libre, Snatch... There's so many.
What was the last book you read?
The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek
Do you play any musical instruments?
I play the drums, guitar and piano.
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I'm an anarchist (Bow tie kind, not Molotov cocktail kind).
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I don't know if it's "crazy" but I played pool with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and didn't even know it was him.
Who is your idol?
Three way tie between my dad, Murray Rothbard and James Hetfield.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
ENTP if that means anything to anybody.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I've always wanted the power of telekinesis but if I could be any superhero I would be Batman.
Have any pets?
I have a cat named Quz'kin. He keeps me in line.
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 games I hope to survive are the games that will survive because they're based in story telling and that's how knowledge is passed. The Federal Reserve would be a nice ground zero for the asteroid.
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):
Emily Jean Stone, if there is any chance you're reading this, I would love to take you out to dinner and play you an embarrassing song I've composed in your name. You've been my celebrity crush since I saw you in Superbad and I've been a fan ever since. You are hilarious, beautiful and you make my hands sweaty.
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
Taxation is theft.
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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