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.
Andrew Ulysses Baker
Interviewed on: 8/26/2016
Andrew Ulysses Baker has been designing games with his son for the past year or so. They come up with an idea that sounds fun, make a prototype, and then test it before deciding if they should continue or not. So far they've designed three games this way, all available on The Game Crafter. Read on to learn more about Andrew and what games he's working on!
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?
Technically, when I was a little kid. Then I worked professionally in video games for a decade. Now, I work on both as a hobbyist/self-publisher.
What game or games are you currently working on?
I am working on the Lucky 13 design challenge. 13 games based on a 13 card component limitation (although I cheat and allow components that the players should already have on hand).
Have you designed any games that have been published?
What is your day job?
Software developer and programmer
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
At home or friend's houses.
Who do you normally game with?
Friends and my son.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Medium weight euros, social games.
And what snacks would you eat?
When it is at my house, I tend to go a little overboard with food prep. I'll generally make a full meal for everyone like roast chicken breasts or ribs. When I go to my friends', I'll buy some fancy cheese, sausages, and chocolate.
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Depends on the game. We played Pallbearer's Sorrow & Extinction during TI3, and that worked pretty well.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
Target. Kidding but not kidding. Every time I've tried going to a real flgs, it has either been a mtg release day, I've been ignored by the staff, or they just didn't have what I was looking for.
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite right now is Codenames. Least favorite that I still enjoy is Agricola. Worst game I've ever played? I sincerely can't remember.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite game mechanic is auctions. Least is the rondel.
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Jack the Ripper Mystery Rummy
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, Video 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 come up with the name first about 10% of the time. The rest is an even distribution between the different avenues you outlined.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes, I won the BGDF monthly prize fo my game Magic Trick.
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?
Usually when I am very bored.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
I first play test solo. Then I rope in my son. Then I ask my friends to take a look. Then I put PnP files on BGG.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I like working on small teams, but I usually work alone.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Asking people to play test my game. Pure social anxiety.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Just get them out there. The perfect design will never magically form in your brain. It only comes about through iteration and feedback.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Go ahead and share. Ideas are cheap. Only implementation is valuable.
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Text Hold'Em, Retro Rocket Rally, monorail
Games that will soon be published are: Nothing in the pipeline right now.
Games that I'm playtesting are: Lucky 13
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Too many to count
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Too many to count
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
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?
Farscape. Coffee. Netflix.
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Programming. Weightlifting. Hiking.
What is something you learned in the last week?
Bunnahabhan is a pretty good scotch.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Heavy metal. Cyberpunk. Comedy.
What was the last book you read?
Ready Player One.
Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar and bass.
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I was a wrestler in a small regional outfit for a short period of time. I was Scrub-E the Hardcore Janitor.
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I learned the hammering a nail into your head carnie trick AKA "The Human Blockhead".
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Can't think about of a good example.
Who is your idol?
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Destroy it and all evidence of its existence. Time machines are too dangerous to be tampered with by humans.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert, but I pretend to be an extrovert most of the time for work.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Have any pets?
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?
Poker, Spades, Euchre, Liars Dice, Cho-Han, RPS. I hope extremist politics are 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):
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.