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: 9/20/2016
If you've been active in any of the board game forums on Facebook lately, it's likely that you've seen Theofilos Koutroubis post a few times. He's very active in a number of different groups. In addition to that, he also writes articles and reviews for boardgamestories.com, a site dedicated to reviewing and writing about all things board games. Read on to learn more about the games that Theofilos is working on designing (including his first to-be-published game).
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?
I was the one that was reading the rulebook of every single game so at one point a friend of mine asked me why wasn’t I trying to make my own. I also study applied Informatics and read psychology so game design was something that combined both in a way.
What game or games are you currently working on?
I work on many games at the moment that are in different stages of the design process. You may be a tailor ready to test your skills under the King’s command in a faraway kingdom, a spectator that is eager to live some epic moments in a sci-fi arena, a deity that throws coins into the Well of Wishes trying to fulfill human desires and more, to let you take a taste.
Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet. I had a game signed but the publisher closed due to some unfortunate personal events. But that game was picked up by another one and I am optimistic about the future of some other designs that are in the final stage.
What is your day job?
I am still a university student but I work from time to time. Right now, I work as a game guru in two board game cafes in my town. I also work from time to time as an instructor in sessions for the personnel of big companies regarding the board game sales. Lastly, I am an author, reviewer and admin in a quite new site about board games (boardgamestories.com) for which I am pretty excited as we will introduce some interesting concepts as time goes by.
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
In my house or in a game cafe
Who do you normally game with?
Brothers and cousin, close friends, bgg Greek guild members
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Anything. I like all genres. I also prefer to play new games, it gets me excited.
And what snacks would you eat?
I prefer not to eat snacks when playing a game :p they are dangerous!
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Yeah, I really do. A music that fits to the game's theme. I really like instrumental,epic music and metal.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Maybe CS Files (Deception: Murder in Hong Kong). Dunno, i play a big variety of games every time. Dakota that I recently played was pretty bad.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I don’t have a favorite but will choose Set Collection. Least Favorite, from BGG, roll and move :p
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Bohnanza, with that many games almost anyone never agrees 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
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?
It can really be anything, whatever catches my attention having an “aha” moment. Theme can really help you with the structure of the game, be the skeleton and create mechanics that make sense. A unique mechanic can also be a really strong card to play but sometimes it’s hard to implement it successfully on a theme. But the key in this, regardless of which of these two make you start a design, is the experience that you want to create. It will be your guide and let you know if you are in the right way during design and of course you can start with that.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have entered three times the Greek annual designing contest (2014-15-16). Took 2nd, 1st and 5th place. I have entered the Korean Board Game Design Contest 2016 and was one of the finalists.
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?
I do a lot of research, to see what exist on the market. I try to think of a concept that there is not out there, has a twist or just a really interesting theme to inspire me. So sometimes i start from the theme, a game experience or a mechanic.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
I have a regular group of 3 people (4 including me) to playtest the early stages of each game. Then i have a group of friends and the local gamers group from bgg. I would like to do playtest oversees but until now my games have hard to find and custom components.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I like both and you need to do both in my opinion. I have a co-designer in most of my games and I realize that this is really helpful and makes the design process more fruitful and faster.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
To playtest the games! And make a functional prototype. They are really time consuming.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Probably Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I was lucky enough to get to know people that teached me a lot of things. Maybe to how to make more beautiful and functional prototypes.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Study psychology, game design, mathematics etc. Always do your research and play a lot of games. Also give more focus on the gaming experience that you wish to create with each of your projects.
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: I can answer that soon!
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Constructions (A hidden bidding game where you are a construction company bidding for projects. The bids are not standard, meaning that you can bid any value you may wish)
King's Tailor (The new king has its coronation and you travel through the kingdom to find the best material in order to make his clothes. Along the way discover the King’s preferences, craft beautiful Jewelry, encounter companions, search the Towns and be ready to actually sew the King’s Clothes at the end of the game through a real-time puzzle!)
Well of Wishes (A dexterity game about tossing coins-discs into the Well of Wishes. You are a deity that tries to fulfil a certain amount of wishes that people make. The highlight of the game is its Challenges mechanic where you can challenge other deities for certain wishes)
Games that I'm playtesting are: A light memory (micro)game that hasn’t a name yet! Each time you play with 5-6 different sets of races, coming in 4 different colors. During the game, you move and try to guess the color of the card you are on, as you can see its race, trying to make a combination of color/race to score points. Each race comes with an ability that may assist you during the game and it plays in Rounds.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Many of those, thankfully!
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Even more of those! A day has only 24 hours.
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Yeah, almost any group about board games,design,ks 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?
Gymnastics-Martial Arts / Video Games / Books / Theater / Magic(sometimes) / Movies,series etc.
What is something you learned in the last week?
About a blood disease that make your cells stuck to each other.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Metal / Psychology-Philosophy / Action, Comedy, Fantasy-Supernatural
What was the last book you read?
The 10 greatest psychological experiments of the past years (something like that)
Do you play any musical instruments?
No. I tried many but they make too much noise apparently.
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I can use a human brain property to find differences in the game differences in high speed.
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I peed in a bottle inside a bus. Extreme situations, need extreme solutions.
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
That's why they are called accidents, they are not awesome! :P I can`t remember of something that fullfils that.
Who is your idol?
Do not have one.
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Mess up the timeline
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Flash. Superspeed is op
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?
All board games! Human stupidity.
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):
Do not have that desire, thanks!
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
Follow your dreams with passion and ready to work hard. Do not compromise with something that doesn't make you feel full and alive. We are here to create and experience happiness and the best way is if everyone around us is like that. Remember so smile and be positive. Take care!
Duplicate is always better!
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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