Tuesday, April 25, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 67: Steve Birch

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:Steve Birch
Location:Spain & UK
Day Job:Translator, English teacher, creative consultant.
Designing:Over ten years!
Webpage:www.finalbidgame.com (under construction)
Facebook:Final Bid
Today's Interview is with:

Steve Birch
Interviewed on: 3/24/2017

If you've been playing board games for a number of years you may not be familiar with Steve Birch's name, but you're probably familiar with at least some of his work. In the past he was involved in the development of Trivial Pursuit. Now he's working on his own trivia game, called Final Bid, that he thinks brings some interesting, new mechanics to the trivia game genre. To learn more about Steve and his current projects, read on!

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?
30 years ago when I was creative director of Trivial Pursuit I figured I could come up with an entirely different game that incorporated all the 'hooks' of TP. I didn't imagine it would take so long! Never say die or, in my case, never say dice.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Final Bid

Have you designed any games that have been published?
In my quest for 'the' game I created one that was published in Spain.

What is your day job?
Translator, English teacher, creative consultant.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Homes and bars

Who do you normally game with?
Friends and family

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Wits & Wagers

And what snacks would you eat?
Potato chips & chillies

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
David Walbert's compositions by Richard Gilleweitz

What’s your favorite FLGS?
No particular store

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Exploding Kittens

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Fav. Cluedo. Least fav. Games that use dice as a prime mechanic.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Trivial Pursuit - because of my involvement I have never been able to play it. I know the answers to most of the questions.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games

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?
Theme first. The the mechanics develop to (hopefully) drive the game.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?

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?
Random thoughts.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
With my friends and my students.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I work solo on the concepts and then with a designer / collaborator.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
This is something I would have to give a lot of thought to.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Not my case

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Limit frustration and enhance the creative scope of the players.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: La Tres Llaves ( Spain)
Games that will soon be published are: Final Bid
I'm planning to crowdfund: Final Bid
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Done
Games that I'm playtesting are: Done

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
New to the Table, Kickstarter Board Games.

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 Trek. Coke. VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Word games, General Knowledge, Fascinating facts.

What is something you learned in the last week?
International shipping costs can be more than the cost of a game.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
All types of music. Intrigue, thrillers and anything Stephen King.

What was the last book you read?
Digital Fortress (Dan Brown)

Do you play any musical instruments?

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I co-wrote the British TP questions, created the "Role Again" symbol to unify all the international TP boards (one printing for all the world).

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Turned down the offer to sleep with a woman who could have made me rich!

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Maybe not an accident as such, but being "picked up" in a bar by the wife of Chris Haney - TP inventor, which led to my involvement with the game.

Who is your idol?
Jaque Fresco

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Never stop travelling

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
The Invisible Man

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?
Cards, because of their limitless game variations. I don't really get the 'wiping out of consciousness' question.

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):
Today is tomorrow's past, do something memorable.

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

During the 30 years it has taken me to come up with Final Bid I have seen many 'trivia' games come and go but fB is very different in content and has very original mechanics. It won't disappoint you.

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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