Thursday, January 19, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 42: Roger Alan Cotton, Jr.

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 and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples.

Name:Roger Alan Cotton, Jr.
Location:San Diego, CA, USA
Day Job:This is my day job.
Designing:Two to five years.
Find my games at:I will eventually put my games on Tabletop Simulator for playing.
Today's Interview is with:

Roger Alan Cotton, Jr.
Interviewed on: 8/27/2016

Roger Cotton has been designing games for several years now and has started Armchair Adventuring to promote his games. He's also very active in many of the online game design communities, even running a few of them. Hopefully you'll see some of his games on store shelves soon! Read on to learn more about Roger and the games he's working on.

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?
When I was five years old, I would be left in charge of my younger brothers. To distract myself, and to entertain them, I used crayons to create board games on cardboard boxes. From that time on, I have been interested in game design and development.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Extraordinary! the Superhero card game, and CyberPsi: Agenda, a Cyberpunk board game.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Just finished developing Extraordinary! over the past two years. Hoping to find a publisher for it. Meeting with IDW Publishing about it in two weeks.

What is your day job?
This is my day job.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Game Stores

Who do you normally game with?
Anyone I meet at a game store who wants to play.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Red Dragon Inn, Mystic Vale, or Android

And what snacks would you eat?
Coca Cola and snacks/candy with chocolate in them

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Only during atmospheric games, like Arkham Horror/Mansions of Madness, or fantasy games, like Descent or Temple of Elemental Evil.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Artifex in Scripps Ranch, San Diego.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite Game: Merchant of Venus. Least Favorite, but Still Enjoy: Munchkin Marvel. Worst game: Red Shirts.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite Mechanic: Rolling dice to determine Available Actions during a Turn. Least Favorite Mechanic: Bidding.

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

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, 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 typically come up with theme first, then build mechanics around it to simulate the most interesting aspects of the theme. However, with my Cyberpunk board game CyberPsi: Agenda, I started with a range of mechanics and built the game around them.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes. When I was twelve years old, I entered a local game design contest with my version of a Battlestar Galactica board game. This was back in 1978. I don't know what ever became of the contest. But, I can still remember the game design.

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?
Anywhere (often, while I am in the shower). They usually come to me as epiphanies, almost fully designed.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I create questionnaires, have a "Play-Testers Wanted" sign, and then arrange for a play-test event at games stores and conventions.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Typically, I like to work alone. Though, I took on a Co-Designer for CyberPsi: Agenda, since it a deep game with a lot of content that needs to be created.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Not being a perfectionist. Knowing when to stop designing and redesigning, and saying, "This is DONE!"

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
To never doubt yourself or what you like to do.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
When stuck on a design issue, use my "Invert the Mechanic" rule (a rule I innately understand, but which I have yet to define in a concise manner).

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Currently looking for a publisher I have: "Extraordinary!" (Superhero card game)
I'm planning to crowdfund: "Extraordinary!" (Superhero card game)
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: "The Very Scary Cemetery" (Children's Horror board game)
Games that I'm playtesting are: "Kognition" (Steampunk board game)
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: "CyberPsi: Agenda" (Cyberpunk board game) and "Across the Void" (Space Trader board game)

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?
Star Wars, Coke, VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Playwriting, Child-rearing

What is something you learned in the last week?
I'm going to die early unless I get back in shape.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Bands: Bread, Journey (circa 1980-82), the Cure, Muse, Queen. Music: New Age, Enya, Classical. Books: Man of La Mancha and 100 Years of Solitude. Movies: Razor's Edge, Bladerunner, Chariots of Fire, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

What was the last book you read?
Seven Habits of Highly Successful People

Do you play any musical instruments?
I have started to learn how to play the Piano and the Ukulele.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I am a romantic at heart.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I carried the American Flag over a 500 mile distance, throughout California, over a six week period. I still don't know how and why I did it, aside from wanting to show that I will not have my rights legislated away by power-hungry partisans.

Who is your idol?
I don't have any idols.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Use it to travel to the past, to document events; and to the future, to pick up a few useful items. And, to see if faux-organic android bodies are ever invented.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Both. More introverted, as I get older.

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

Have any pets?
Three dogs and three cats.

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?
Hope Survives: Dungeons and Dragons (because it started the modern board game era) and Magic: The Gathering (bastardized as all hell today, but an elegant card game design). Hope is Wiped Out: Political Correctness and Victimhood.

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):
Hey, God! I hope I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing with the time I have.

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

I am always looking to collaborate with talented artists and graphic designers on the development of an interesting project.

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:

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