Tuesday, May 2, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 68: David Zuckman

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:David Zuckman
Location:Los Angeles, California, USA
Day Job:I work in account management for the time being.
Designing:One to two years.
BGG:Obscure Reference Games
Facebook:Obscure Reference Games
YouTube:Obscure Reference
Other:IGA - https://www.indiegamealliance.com/member.php?id=1528
Find my games at:Overlords of Infamy is currently available through our website: http://www.obscurereferencegames.com
Today's Interview is with:

David Zuckman
Interviewed on: 3/9/2017

David Zuckman is an active designer in a number of the board game design groups on Facebook. He successfully Kickstarted his first published game last year, Overlords of Infamy. If you'd like to learn more about David and what his company, Obscure Reference Games, is up to, read on!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
One to two years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I love the hobby and I have a million ideas swirling in my head about games I would like to play!

What game or games are you currently working on?
Overlords of Infamy, and a few unnamed projects.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Overlords of Infamy

What is your day job?
I work in account management for the time being.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
In the home, or at conventions.

Who do you normally game with?
I have a few groups, but one major go-to group of friends.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Start with something light and finish with a longer more in-depth game.

And what snacks would you eat?
Anything involving hummus!

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Soundtracks that fit the theme of the game, for example: Indiana Jones when playing Fortune and Glory!

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Brave New World

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Twilight Imperium III, Machi Koro, Monopoly.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Worker Placement, Luck

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Twilight Imperium III

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 generally prefer to come up with a theme before I sit down to design. I try to choose mechanisms that relate to that theme during the design phase and make adjustments to the theme if it would better fit mechanisms that work well.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have not

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Patrick Leder, his work with asymmetry in his games is astounding.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Usually in the worst of places or situations, especially when I have no way to write them down! I've gotten very good at shorthand notes typed into my phone.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Meticulously, and often. Playtesting is such an integral part of the design of the game, not just for ironing out bugs, but for finding ideas that make the game simply work better. Also, some of the best thematic elements of Overlords came from various playtests!

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I have a main co-designer and a few others on my team who provide invaluable support, even if not directly related to the design process. I've met quite a few artists on this journey and have definitely cultivated a list of those I would work with again.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Knowing that nothing will ever be "finished", but still trying to perfect it to death. There comes a time when you simply must acknowledge that your game is as good as it is going to be and any attempts to perfect it more will provide diminishing returns.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
The Expanse or The Kingkiller Chronicles!

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Artwork goes a very long way. Find artists that you really click with and work closely with them.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
There is a solution to every problem if you just take the time to work it out. If you have a great idea, don't give up. Keep making small changes until it resembles a game you would be eager to play.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Overlords of Infamy
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: We have a few irons in the fire, including a game related to running a guild in an MMO, and another about rescuing a crew from a space station.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Too many to list at current! ;)

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Haha, probably all of them!

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?
Video games, Painting miniatures and terrain, reading voraciously, softball.

What is something you learned in the last week?
That you can alter items that you have pasted into Microsoft programs immediately after pasting them.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Mostly indie and rock, fantasy and sci-fi, pretty much everything except for horror. I LOVE movies.

What was the last book you read?
Reamde by Neal Stephenson

Do you play any musical instruments?
I am currently learning guitar, but I am still quite bad at it!

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
Oh man, I don't know! I have never been camping or fishing?

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I decided one night while lying in bed that I wanted to go to London for a few weeks. About a month later, I was there. This was crazy because I had never been out of the country and didn't even have a passport. It was also in the middle of a semester at university!

Who is your idol?
I don't really have one, but I would certainly not mind hanging out with Tom Hiddleston.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Spend a lot of time in Las Vegas!

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Franklin Richards. I might have a bit of a power complex.

Have any pets?
An adorable terrier named Bob!

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?
Well I certainly hope chess continues. I wouldn't mind seeing mosquitoes die out, but who can be picky in such a situation?

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):
Hi mom!

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

The absolute best part of being a designer is meeting other gamers. Seriously, if you see me, say hi!

You're awesome! [GJJGames] Thanks!

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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