Tuesday, November 14, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 95: Andy Zeller

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:Andy Zeller
Day Job:Stay at home Dad and recording engineer. I converted my garage into a recording studio and occasionally record songs for local bands.
Designing:Six months to a year.
Facebook:ATK Board Game
YouTube:ATK! Adventures
Find my games at:Kickstarter coming in December
Today's Interview is with:

Andy Zeller
Interviewed on: 9/22/2017

Andy Zeller is currently getting ready to launch a Kickstarter for his first game, ATK! This is a 2-player game where you control a team of elemental heroes and try to take over your opponent's base. Keep an eye out for it next month on Kickstarter. In the meantime, if you're at PAX Unplugged this coming weekend, look for the ATK! team and try out the game! Read on to learn more about Andy and his other projects.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Six months to a year.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
Board and Card Games were always a focal point of family get togethers as a child and young adult. I owned several mainstream games that I played with my brother, Pokémon TCG, Operation, Life, Monopoly, etc. As a young adult I was introduced to Catan and that really triggered my entry to the hobby/boutique end of the spectrum. I wanted to try and create a game that combined a few of my favorite things, board games, strategy and collectibles.

What game or games are you currently working on?
ATK! the board game.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
This is the first attempt at developing a game.

What is your day job?
Stay at home Dad and recording engineer. I converted my garage into a recording studio and occasionally record songs for local bands.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
My local comic book store, Comic Store West.

Who do you normally game with?
My wife, friends and family.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
King of Tokyo and Sushi Go are quick picks for most of our friends.

And what snacks would you eat?
Popcorn and candy was what we had last time.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Usually we don't so that everyone has ultimate concentration.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Comic Store West

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favorite game is honestly our game. As egotistical as that seems, it would be silly to be pouring as much money and time into the development of something I didn't love to the fullest. Least favorite that we still enjoy would be Munchkin. Worst game, in my opinion, Candyland. Lol. Though I love the art update that I've seen at least to the box, I played this game a few years back and was reminded how much I did not enjoy it. Just not for me I suppose. However it's counterpart chutes and ladders is in my opinion the better option.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I really like most card games. Probably as they were a majority of the entertainment provided at family outings. I love that there are so many games that play completely different with the same elements. Also to mention I really enjoy any game that includes a collectible element. I mean each game can become a collectible for someone that collects games, but I loved when I was younger and searching for the hard to find Magic and Pokémon cards. This was something that we wanted to incorporate into our game for sure.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
I luck out that most of my favorites find a way to get to the table, I would say the only games that don't make it are the games I don't own. For most of my friends it's up to us to provide what we play.

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

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

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Ehh I have very mixed feelings. Depends who I am playing with really. I feel that my humor is never carried through this game and it frustrates me. Lol!

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?
Both games that I have thought of so far have been mechanics first. For our game it was the unique battle system that we actually filed a patent on, that centered where I game was going to go. Equally we had character concepts and direction at the same time.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Haven't entered anything to this point.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I don't know that I could choose just one honestly. There are too many talented designers and teams out there. Kickstarter is constantly loaded with new projects that are put together so well.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
The ADD that has plagued much of my childhood is actually one of the biggest sources for inspiration for myself. Sometimes when my mind wanders it tends to find something I couldn't have thought of otherwise.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
FLGS, friends, family and we are going to PAX unplugged in Nov. Hoping to find more local and national conventions in the near future as well.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Our game is being developed by myself and my partner and artist, Eric Streed. We work extremely well together and clicked right away.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Managing all of the tasks of development while managing the business end as well. It is a constant tug of war.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I would love for our game to include trademarked characters at some point, Pokémon, Mario, League of Legends, etc. That would be incredible!

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I'm still searching for that critical information haha.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Join as many facebook groups as possible. There are some incredibly wonderful people out there willing to help you. If you plan to go to kickstarter, go on kickstarter and back games. Not only do you research and see what's out there, you get to support other artists and play these awesome games when they're shipped to you.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games that will soon be published are: ATK! The Board Game.
I'm planning to crowdfund: ATK! The Board Game. Hopefully by December
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: ATK! The Board Game
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Body Language - Card Game Concept

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

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?
Playing music, Fishing and Salt Water Aquariums

What is something you learned in the last week?
I just found out about the game crafter last week. A little late in the process but it is incredible! I was using another provider for prototyping and the game crafter is wayyyy better.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I like a lot of pop rock, pop punk stuff, I grew up with Blink 182 so similar music that's newer and a little bit of everything else. I love any movie with sharks honestly. I love the ocean and it seems like there have been a bunch of shark movies lately.

What was the last book you read?
I can't even remember, I read articles and news and end up neglecting books. :(

Do you play any musical instruments?
Yes, Guitar, Drums, Piano, Bass, and more.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I have never gone to college for anything that I am able to do. I would've liked to go but I guess I am just good at learning things on my own.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Record the best songs of all time as my own.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Both, I am an introvert who can overcome that (sometimes) to be an extrovert.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Aquaman, easy.

Have any pets?
Yes, we have 2 dogs: a pit bull and a corgi, and 3 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 feel like the classics would make it because I feel like they're outside of the hobby and everyone knows about them. So monopoly, risk, etc. I really don't wish anything out there to be forgotten. It takes so much effort and work to bring a game to life that I would hate for that to ever be wasted.

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):
Daniel Zayas, he is a really good guy and has helped us out a lot.

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

Visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/TabletopArtDesign/

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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