Tuesday, October 31, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 93: Jeffrey Chin

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!

Jeffery Chin on the right, with design partner Andrew Nerger on the left.
Name:Jeffrey Chin
Day Job:I used to direct pre-production for commercials, but since being laid off earlier this year I've been focusing on game design.
Designing:Two to five years.
BGG:Road to Infamy
Facebook:Road to Infamy
YouTube:Road to Infamy
Find my games at:roadtoinfamy.com
Today's Interview is with:

Jeffrey Chin
Interviewed on: 8/1/2017

Today's interview is with another Chicago area designer! Together with his design partner, Jeffrey Chin has designed several games, including Road to Infamy, which successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2015 and Cosmocracy last year. They have a slew of other games that they're working on, so keep an eye out for them on Kickstarter again. In the meantime, if you're in the Chicagoland area you can probably help playtest their games at any of the [Toggle Gaming] events.

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?
To entertain my small group of friends.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Our latest project at Road To Infamy Games is called Crypt, a negotiation game about thieves looting an ancient burial ground. Players try to get the most treasure, however the player with the most curses loses, regardless of how much treasure they have collected.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes, Cosmocracy was published this year (2017).

What is your day job?
I used to direct pre-production for commercials, but since being laid off earlier this year I've been focusing on game design.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Durty Nellie's in Palatine, IL has an excellent gaming community called Toggle Gaming. Every Tuesday they gather 50+ people and it's a very open and accepting group. They've helped me a lot with playtesting my own games as well.

Who do you normally game with?
Some of the regulars in my gaming group are my co-designer, Andrew Nerger and Don Eskridge (designer of The Resistance).

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Some of my favorites right now are Scythe, Pandemic Legacy, Captain Sonar, Spyfall, Betabotz, Splendor, Karmaka, and Avalon.

And what snacks would you eat?
I just got a huge tub of cookies and cream ice cream that I forgot to serve at a big party, so that will be our snack for the next few game nights.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I usually search YouTube for a playlist of music that fits the theme of the game. Last time we were playing my prototype for Ma No Umi so we listened to sea shanties all night.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Scythe is my favorite if I'm playing with other experienced players. With new players it's too slow and almost unenjoyable. Sushi Go is tolerable, but it'll still hit my table once in awhile because it's my fiance's favorite. The worst game I've ever tried is Wizard School. The rules are so inconsistent that it's impossible to finish a game.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I love bidding -- it's fascinating how players create their own economy of supply and demand, deciding their own values for things. I usually dislike when games use "event decks" with extensive text that interrupt the regular pace of the game.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
It's always hard to get the right number of players to play Captain Sonar.

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, RPG Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Hate the game, but they are an incredible marketing company

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 comes first and last. I find that starting with a theme helps me brainstorm mechanics. But in the end, the game is so different from its initial concept that it needs a new theme.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I look up to Jamey Stegmaier. He's not only my role model for game design, but for running a business and creating a community as well.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Lately, I've been inspired by old video games from my childhood. I often start by trying to replicate an experience from a video game, and it usually doesn't work, but in the process I will discover some mechanic that intrigues me and I build off of that.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
First I playtest by myself until it's playable, meaning it may be broken but at least you can get through the game start to finish. Then I'll have close friends try it during my Wednesday game nights. When the game starts being fun, I'll bring it to gaming events and have blind playtesters try it.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I work with my co-designer Andrew Nerger. It's great to have someone you can bounce ideas off of, and great to have someone that understands the financial side of running a business.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
It's hard to let go of ideas or mechanics that you've been working on for a long time. But if they're not working, it's important to be able to scrap your work and try something new.

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

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
If you have an idea for a game, you can just do it. You don't need to have a big publisher. Whether it's just for yourself or if you want to sell it, you can make it on your own.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Don't get attached to your prototypes or invest in fancy, expensive prototypes too soon. The first 10 versions should be made out of computer paper so that you can throw them away after a couple tests.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Cosmocracy was published this year. We ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for Galactic Debate in 2016 and Redshift Games picked it up and changed the name.
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Bowties: The Dapper Drinking Game. It's a game where each player has a drinking rule, but you don't know what your own rule is.
Games that I'm playtesting are: Ma No Umi is a game about escaping a mysterious ocean by completing your star chart. I'm working on a single player puzzle mode where you set up the board with a given loadout and have to solve it within x turns.

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 (but I also like Star Trek), Coke Zero, VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Fantasy football, homebrewing, animation, illustration

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Ska, Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Lord of the Rings

What was the last book you read?
Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

Do you play any musical instruments?
I play bass for a band called Bertram

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I directed a super bowl commercial

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
In college we had a fight club (it's ok, we're allowed to talk about it)

Who is your idol?
Michael Jordan. I get teary eyed when I watch his highlights.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Extroverted introvert

Thanks for answering all my crazy questions!

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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