Tuesday, December 12, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 99: Mark Jindra

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:Mark Jindra
Location:Seattle, WA
Day Job:I am a web developer.
Designing:Over ten years!
Webpage:markjindra.com - but it’s terrible
Facebook:Alien Overrun
Other:I'm on all under my name I think.
Find my games at:Check out facebook for my games and I have been updating Tabletop Simulator regularly with test copies.
Today's Interview is with:

Mark Jindra
Interviewed on: 8/3/2017

Mark Jindra is a common contributor to a number of the game design forums and has a slew of games he's designed. He's working through the process of getting some published soon, namely Alien Overrun. Development on that game has been going strong for quite a while, and we'll hopefully be seeing it on Kickstarter soon. Be sure to read on to learn more about Mark and the projects he's working 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?
I think I just wanted to see if I could do it.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Alien Overrun, Delving!, Before They Hatch, and Pencils & Powers

Have you designed any games that have been published?
I have not yet been published but I have playtested many published games and have somewhere around a hundred articles published on the 3rd and 4th edition D&D website. I also owned and operated a play-by-mail game company back in the day.

What is your day job?
I am a web developer.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home

Who do you normally game with?
A few close friends except when I am playtesting at local conventions.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I really want to get Xia to the table and absolutely love Small World.

And what snacks would you eat?
Honestly just give me a nice glass of red wine and I'm good.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Yes I often ask my amazon echo to play ac/dc, or motorhead nice and low although recently I had it play Dio for two hours.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Mox Boarding House

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favorite is probably Small World. Least favorite could be any number of really bad games but I honestly have no desire to play Ticket to Ride again in spite of it actually being a pretty fun game to play with non-gamer family members. The worst game I ever played, well I don't want to say because it was created by a friend and is considered to be a huge success so let’s say it was a heavily home ruled game of monopoly.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite mechanic has to be roll-and-move. Just kidding that would be my least favorite although Merchant of Venus got it right. Actual favorite would probably be a variant on worker placement.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Supremacy. It was one of those games that you just fall in love with but I haven't got it to the table in probably close to 20 years. Want to play?

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card 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?
I am more of a "People Against Cards Against Humanity" type of person

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 really love to write the theme out first then see what mechanics might fit. Although I did recently make a mechanic list for a project I wanted to work on and still don't have a theme for it.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I won a pitch contest on BGDF.com and have been in the finals for a few but have not yet won one.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Paul Petersen the creator of Guillotine and Smash Up.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
It will sound strange but I have a huge soaking tub and the best ideas come while in a nice hot bath.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I usually just get together with a few close friends but also take the games to Playtest Northwest events at local conventions. They have done so much for game designers.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I really prefer to work another designer. I really need someone to bounce ideas off of.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Staying on target. I tend to get distracted easily which is probably why I have four games in the works all at the same time.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Heavy Metal bands. I had this idea to to a card game where the booster packs were albums and the cards were themed off the actual songs of the actual bands. So you might play "Hells Bells" in response to me playing "Ace of Spades" or whatever ... I just think it would be super fun to work on.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Ask people who play your game how the game made them feel. An emotional connection to the game is just as important as the math.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Have Fun! If you are not having fun then you probably need another hobby.

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: Alien Overrun, Delving!, Cooped Up, Pencils & Powers
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Alien Overrun, Delving!, Cooped Up, Pencils & Powers
I'm planning to crowdfund: Maybe all of the ones I'm working on
Games that I'm playtesting are: All of my games are pretty much here at the moment
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Too early to say but I have a game about Flesh Eating Bacteria that I really want to get to prototype soon.

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
It is OK to say 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 Trek, Coke, Neither but probably VHS as it was more readily available

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I play too much World of Warcraft, I love to make Sushi rolls and I'm getting pretty good at it.

What is something you learned in the last week?
About board games it was probably something scale/scope such as local global etc from an episode of Ludology. And outside of games I learned that promulgate is a word.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I love Heavy Metal, Blues, and Funk. I rarely read but when I do it is pulp sci-fi from the 60's and 70's. Movies are usually sci-fi or action oriented sometimes horror but much less these days.

What was the last book you read?
Hmmmm... probably the novel that the movie Damnation Alley was based on.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I play guitar.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I drove from Wheeling WV to Atlanta GA overnight with two friends just to play D&D

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I think I would travel to the future to see just what the impact of man will be to this planet. And I want to see what the next iPhone is going to look like of course.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Some of both. It depends on if you want me to call someone or talk to them in person.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Super powers seem cool but it is hard to argue with being billionaire playboy philanthropist like Tony Stark .

Have any pets?
Nope, unless you count the toy stuffed Snow Leopard named Jasper that lurks in our bedroom.

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 hope that scientists of the future will find meeples and be completely confused as to what rituals they were used for. And I hope that Hive will replace Checkers.

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 wife Shawn. She has been super supportive of my game design hobby.

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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