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: 1/28/2017
Ian Price is another Chicagoland area game designer who has managed to make designing and publishing games his full time job! He has two games published and more to come. Read on to learn more about Ian and the projects he's working on.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Five to ten years.
Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I loved playing them, and always wanted to make games of my own.
What game or games are you currently working on?
A board game called Kitsune: The Spirit Chase, an app version of my party card game Bad Decisions, and a mercantile strategy board game with a steampunk/cute animals theme called Fat Cats and Ferret Pirates.
Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes, I've published Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions.
What is your day job?
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
At home with friends.
Who do you normally game with?
4-5 of my group of a couple dozen gaming friends, depending on who's available.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Smallworld or X-Wing minis sound good about now.
And what snacks would you eat?
Carrots, cheese, pretzels, cookies, popcorn, etc.
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Not usually, though for RPGs we often have music for effect or theme music to signify "game starts now."
What’s your favorite FLGS?
Games Plus in Mount Prospect, IL.
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools is my favorite. I made it because I loved it and wanted it to exist. Least favorite that I still enjoy is Betrayal at House on the Hill; it is a great concept, but I've yet to play it when the traitor doesn't (whether through misreading or malice) get their rules wrong due to the "only the traitor reads the traitor's rules" part of the rules - it really needs to be a GMed game so the person reading the traitor's rules doesn't have a stake in winning or losing. Worst game I ever played is, by definition, The Worst Game Ever, by Jeff Siadek.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite game mechanic is action cards. Least favorite is social bluffing (mafia, werewolf, etc.)
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
That isn't a problem I've had much lately. Android Netrunner I suppose, I haven't played that very much and I love it a lot.
What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG Games, Video Games, Other 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?
Yes. I've done both. I often come up with themes and mechanics independently, and file each away until I find a good fit and have the time to put that game into practice.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes, I entered a map into a competition run by Cavedog entertainment for their Galactic Wars metagame/matchmaking service for Total Annihilation. Creating the map involved balancing different play modes on the planets in the sector as well as writing stories (microfiction) for the sector and each planet. I won 2nd place, and still have the posters I won from it, though the T-shirt was lovingly worn to death already.
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Toby Fox, I'm impressed by all he did with Undertale, and have studied how he got his success to try to emulate it.
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Ideas come from everywhere. I play games, I read books, I watch movies and shows. Implementing ideas is the interesting part.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
First, I playtest myself, with my team who's making the game. Then I take the game to designer gatherings like Protospiel. Then I send copies to the Indie Game Alliance for blind testing.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Team, team, team, team, team! I even love the word team. You might think this is a picture of my family on my desk? Nope! It's the A-Team.
My team's core is my brother and my mother, and in our circles of friends and acquaintances we found others with skills we needed and expanded from there.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Making enough money to keep doing it!
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
One day Soon(tm), I want to be in a position to pitch an Exalted MMO to Onyx Path. Still in the pipe dream stage for now though.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Ehh... I wish someone had told me it is possible with hard work. I was told it was not possible, that making money isn't ever going to happen. I've worked out for myself how to make it happen, and it's not easy, but it is possible.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Make games you want to play. If you're not passionate about a game you've made, you'll have more trouble finding the market for it, because game designers aren't always natural salespeople. In my experience, my best sales asset has been my ability to communicate my enthusiasm for what I've made to people with similar interests.
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Bad Decisions (party card game), Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools (strategy card game)
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Bad Decisions (mobile app version)
I'm planning to crowdfund: More Bad Decisions (expansion to Bad Decisions)
Kitsune: The Spirit Chase (board game)
Games that I'm playtesting are: Kitsune: The Spirit Chase (board game)
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Bad Decisions (mobile app version), Fat Cats and Ferret Pirates (board game)
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Dreams of Empire: The Trax Incident (strategy/intrigue board game), Kitsune to Tanuki no Bakashiai (PC/console action/stealth/adventure game)
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 Developer's Guild, Tabletop Game Kickstarter Advice, Midwest Tabletop Game Design, and others.
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?
Por que no los dos?
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Reading scifi/fantasy, long walks for exercise, I've dabbled in martial arts.
What is something you learned in the last week?
The locations of about 6 FLGS in the chicago suburbs I hadn't visited before. [GJJ Games] Have you been to any of the Gaming Goat locations! They're my personal favorites.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Music: orchestrated metal. Books: scifi/fantasy. Movies: see books.
What was the last book you read?
Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher, currently going through the Codex Alera in audiobook form, have previously read them but felt like a re-listen.
Do you play any musical instruments?
I played cello when I was younger.
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I speak a little bit of German and Japanese.
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I started this company to make games and jumped in with both feet, foregoing a day job...
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My dog caused a 3-car pileup, but she was fine, and the police said it was the fault of one of the drivers - this inspired one of the cards in Kitsune.
Who is your idol?
I have a lot of respect for John and Hank Green.
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert, with acquired social graces. But social interaction, especially with strangers, is a tax on my energy, rather than a source of it.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I think I'd be a power ranger.
Have any pets?
Two dogs, have previously had 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?
I think even after that mess, we won't manage to be rid of Monopoly and Risk. However, I hope Trump, Pence, Ryan, and McConnel manage to find the spot of maximum destruction in that combined catastrophe, and be utterly erased.
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):
James Mathe, for sharing the benefit of experience with the community of designers. Matt McFarland, for giving me my first break into the industry.
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
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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