Tuesday, January 31, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 45: Eric Bittermann

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:Eric Bittermann
Day Job:I work as a Network Analyst in an underground data center in the Chicagoland area, and I have been playing and teaching percussion (drums) for nearly 30 years.
Designing:Over ten years!
BGG:Sky Kingdom Games
YouTube:Sky Kingdom Games
Find my games at:UPDATE: The Stonebound Saga is on Kickstarter and in retailers soon.
Today's Interview is with:

Eric Bittermann
Interviewed on: 09/23/16

Eric is a fellow Chicagoland game designer that also owns Sky Kingdom Games. Unfortunately we haven't crossed paths yet, but hopefully someday we will get to meet in person. In the meantime though, he is currently Kickstarting an absolutely gorgeous game called The Stonebound Saga that is worth a look, even if it's just to oggle the artwork (but consider backing the project, too). Read on to learn more about Eric!

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?
I had a love for gaming, and a desire to get people together. In a world that's consumed with digital entertainment and a generation that's stuck looking at their phone screens everyday; I wanted to create something that got people together - face to face. There's nothing like sharing a great game with great friends and good conversation.
What game or games are you currently working on?
I've been working on The Stonebound Saga since around 2000 which will be the foundation for several titles by Sky Kingdom Games.
Have you designed any games that have been published?
No - The Stonebound Saga will be the first title published if our Kickstarter is funded this February.
What is your day job?
I work as a Network Analyst in an underground data center in the Chicagoland area, and I have been playing and teaching percussion (drums) for nearly 30 years.

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 at the several FLGS places locally.
Who do you normally game with?
The last few years it has been with my development team at Sky Kingdom Games.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I'm personally a big fan of deck builders and story driven games.
And what snacks would you eat?
Dr Pepper and Twizzlers :)
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
That depends on the game and group I'm playing with, but I prefer something that doesn't distract from the game experience itself. Sky Kingdom actually brought on composer Bill Piyatut H to write an OST for The Stonebound Saga which some gamers may enjoy during matches.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
No question - I have several Gaming Goat stores in my area that have a great selection and a great group of gamers! [GJJ Games] I love The Gaming Goat! They’re a great chain!
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I'm currently enjoying Scythe and several titles from Red Raven. I don't particularly have a least favorite or worst game choice. I'm not a huge fan of games that are strictly luck based with no skill involved.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Resource Management - Player Elimination
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Many of them since most of my time lately has been spent developing The Stonebound Saga :)
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?
The Stonebound Saga had a theme first and mechanics were slowly added and refined over years of playtesting and feedback.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Never entered
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Big fan of Eric Lang and Jamey Stegmaier.
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Many of my ideas and inspiration stems from childhood gaming moments that I enjoyed. Every mechanic I add to a game I have to enjoy doing.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
The Stonebound Saga was play tested for multiple years by a group of about 12-15 gamers. Each session was about 4-5 hours long and we played focused on refining all of the elements of the game. How long the game took, balancing numbers, removing broken abilities and mechanics, and adding aspects we loved were all part of the play testing process.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Team based design and art is definitely my preference!
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Finding that perfect balance of fun and replay-ability using a theme that many gamers will appreciate. We hope The Stonebound Saga has those qualities.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I'd love to create a project using the characters and world from Chrono Trigger - an old school RPG from Squaresoft (now Square Enix). I think the world and lore would open many possibilities because of the time travel used in the game.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
The challenge of designing and publishing at the same time as a first time publisher! lol
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Do what you love doing. If you're enjoying yourself and using your natural gifting and passion you're where you should be.
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: The Stonebound Saga
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: The Stonebound Saga on Kickstarter started January 24th 2017
I'm planning to crowdfund: The Stonebound Saga - Into the Depths - single/Co-op campaign 2017
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: The Stonebound Saga - Into the Depths
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Multiple Titles from the Stonebound Saga world and lore
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Yes - multiple gaming groups

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?
Both, Neither - Dr. Pepper, VHS
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Music - Percussion and Piano
What is something you learned in the last week?
That I need more sleep than I've been getting the last month preparing for a Kickstarter launch :)
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Symphonic, Fantasy, Classic fantasy or Sci-Fi
What was the last book you read?
The priest with dirty clothes by R.C. Sproul
Do you play any musical instruments?
Percussion and Piano
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
Nothing too surprising :)
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Went out in -25 degree weather without insulated boots in Ukraine :)
Who is your idol?
Big fan of Carter Beauford - drummer
What would you do if you had a time machine?
I'd love to visit my ancestors and find out what they did for their professions years ago.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Both - depends on the day and who I'm with.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Silver Surfer so I can travel through space.
Have any pets?
Yep - 2 dogs, some fish and a guinea pig.

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

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