Tuesday, August 29, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 84: Benjamin Friedman

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. Support me on Patreon!

Name:Benjamin Friedman
Location:Indiana, USA
Day Job:IT Service Desk Advisor
Designing:Two to five years.
Facebook:Pokemon_Journey: The Deck-Building Card Game
Find my games at:Facebook and Tabletop Simulator
Today's Interview is with:

Benjamin Friedman
Interviewed on: 7/31/2017

Benjamin Friedman has been working over the last couple of years on a deckbuilding game set in the Pokemon universe. Pokemon Journey looks like a really cool alternative card game to the TCG, definitely more of my interest. I think its a great idea as a way to merge multiple interests. I know I'd be much more likely to play this with my kids than Pokemon TCG, and anything that brings families together is a winner in my book! Read on to learn more about Benjamin and the projects he's working on.

Some Basics
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 love mechanisms, rules, strategy, and competition. This lead me to game design.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Pokemon Journey, a deck building game

Have you designed any games that have been published?

What is your day job?
IT Service Desk Advisor

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
In person at hobby shops or at home

Who do you normally game with?
Friends and family, as well as strangers

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Start with something casual, evaluate any new players, then work our way to something heavier and complex

And what snacks would you eat?
Chips, soda, and healthy snacks

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
It depends on the game and group, but usually music is omitted

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Games to die for, Avon indiana

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite: Shogun. Least favorite I still enjoy: rummy. Worst game ever played: DC Deck-Building game

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite: Anything that presents meaningful choices. Specifically hand management. Least favorite mechanic: push your luck

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Ortus Regni

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?
With the right group

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 usually comes first, unless an abstract style design works best.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I entered the BGG game design contest. I didn't win any categories

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Richard Garfield is an all time great

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
My best ideas come from working with the theme, however, sometimes you have to approach designs from various angles

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Blind, blind, and blind

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I absolutely love working in groups, however, I'm 100% comfortable on my own.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Networking, thus, I've filled out this survey

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Don't be afraid to throw every single idea into the garbage. Most of them will end there anyway

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
You will fail. Use failure as a reason to keep going. Game design is as much of a passion as it is a process.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Pokemon Journey: The Deck-building Card Game
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Pokemon Journey
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Many ideas are in place, please contact me for more on this subject

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Designer/Publisher Speed Dating, Card & board game designer guild, tabletop game play tester group

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, Pepsi, VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Graphic design, intellectual conversation, fantasy novels

What is something you learned in the last week?
I learned how to create a sell sheet

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Progressive instrumental, fantasy books, fantasy/horror films

What was the last book you read?
The Black Company

Do you play any musical instruments?
I’ve played percussion instruments for over 20 years

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
For a year, I ate the same thing for breakfast. Three eggs and an apple

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I once entered Central Park in NY City after dark and got mugged haha

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Meeting my lovely fiance

Who is your idol?
All the members of the band, Animals as Leaders

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would go back and kill hitler

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Can be a bit of both, depending on my current goals.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Powdered Toast Man

Have any pets?
3 cats, 1 dog, and a four year old girl

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?
This question is hilarious. My first answer is that the asteroid should not have hit Earth in the first place. We are too advanced for that. But if it did happen, I would hope that chess and a deck of playing cards would survive. I would hope that the sense of entitlement would be wiped away.

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):
Shout out to my design confidants. The best thing they've ever done is tell me when my ideas aren't good enough

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

I love French toast

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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