Tuesday, July 17, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 129: Daniel Chou

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:Daniel Chou
Email:dan@CHOUstore.com
Location:Iowa
Day Job:I work as an administrator at a higher education institution.
Designing:Two to five years.
Webpage:www.CHOU-games.com
Blog:chou-games.blogspot.com/
BGG:CHOU Games
Facebook:CHOU Games
Twitter:@chou_games
YouTube:Security Council Game
Instagram:@chou.games
Find my games at:www.CHOU-Games.com, The Game Crafter, and BGG.
Today's Interview is with:

Daniel Chou
Interviewed on: 6/14/2018

Daniel Chou is a multi-talented individual. Not only does he design games, he also does podcasts, designs t-shirts, and more! He's self-published a number of games through CHOU Games and will be running a Kickstarter for Scavenge next week. So be sure to keep your eye out for more of Dan's games in the future!

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 began designing tabletop games back in 2013 with my first big-box game, Security Council. I began designing that game so that my friends could play an area control tactical nuclear sim on the tabletop instead of on our computers as there was a similar game we were playing at the time. That game was so well received by our community that I ended up Kickstarting it in 2015 and that has led to over 15 other designs.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I'm working on the second edition of Merchants of Medieval Europe, second edition of Scavenge for a Kickstarter on July 26 (both of which will be at GenCon18), am in late beta with a space exploring rogue called Mini Space Rogue, and in early alpha with a college campus building game called Campus in a Box.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
My studio, CHOU! Games only self publishes at this time so we can have complete control over all our designs. We Kickstarted Security Council in 2015 and have available for sale Merchants of Medieval Europe, Scavenge, Bureau of Time, Behind Closed Doors, and The Roommate Conflict Card Game. I wouldn't be opposed to working with a big publisher. I just have questions as to what we'd give up in the process.

What is your day job?
I work as an administrator at a higher education institution.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
I prefer hosting at home with my community. I invite people to come over and play every week!

Who do you normally game with?
I normally game with a number of my coworkers.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
We love Dominion! I have the Big Box so we play the core set, Prosperity, and Alchemy quite often.

And what snacks would you eat?
My wife is a baker so she'll usually have some sort of fresh sweet treat ready to go like chocolate covered pretzels, truffles with chocolate ganache, or cheesecake.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
On a rare occasion we do turn on tunes. At our last session, we had the Hamilton Soundtrack playing in the background. It's a huge crowd pleaser.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Sadly, our local FLGS is going out of business so that will have to change in the coming year. I guess I alone can't keep them afloat in this town.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
My favorite game that I haven't designed is Dominion. My least favorite game that I still enjoy is Citadel of Time, and the worst game I ever played was a game of Uno a few months ago where there were a high number of custom rules and 12 people playing. It. Never. Ended.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
My favorite game mechanic is hidden objectives and my least favorite is forced bluffing.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Pandemic's expansions! I have the core game and 3 expansions (On the Brink, In the Lab, and State of Emergency) but I have never gotten my group together to play any of the expansions. I recently introduced my group to the core game and that alone was a lot for them so I don't know when we'll be ready for any of the others tacked on.

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

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

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
In my line of work, Cards Against Humanity causes more harm than fun. With a close group of friends, CAH can generate a few laughs almost entirely and exclusively caused by pushing limits of decency. In almost any other setting, it's either off-putting, insulting, or harmful.

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 have done both. My latest prototype, Campus in a Box, was a theme of running a college campus with dual mechanic goals to be both cooperative but also competitive. I started with the theme and wanted to explore those mechanics second. Theme is almost always first for me.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
My studio has entered before but the best we've achieved so far was as a Finalist in a GameCrafter.com contest for a cooperative game. We tried Cardboard Edison one year and received valuable feedback. Contests are great!

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I'm following Gerald King III on social media, everyone loves Jamey Stegmaier because he's such a nice guy, and I like what Ben Moy is doing.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
My best ideas often come out of nowhere. The best advice I can give is jot down every idea you ever have. Put them on a shelf if you don't have time right now because several years later it may be time. That's what happened with Campus in a Box. It took 3 years for it to begin.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I work at a higher education institution so I have ready access to hundreds of eager playtesters at anytime. I also am a part of a local gaming group. I also use Tabletopia.com to prototype across the country. I have on occasion created Print and Plays and mailed them to friends.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I enjoy brainstorming with a co-designer but ultimately like plowing through the work alone. I do many aspects of a board game including art, design, copy editing, advertising and marketing, playtesting, quality control, contracts, etc.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
My biggest challenge is knowing when a game is ready for publishing. Every play test will present itself with useful feedback (if you know how to ask questions and how to analyze feedback, no small feat). At some point you must decide this is great and it is enough.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I would love to design a Fallout universe card game about collecting loot, exploring vaults, and blasting irradiated ghouls! There's still time to do one in that genre and just not use the Fallout IP. Who knows?

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Contracts suck to write. Get a lawyer early.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Learn to accept criticism. Playtesting is the most valuable thing you can do for your game. Playtest with as many different people as possible. Thank every playtester for every suggestion and write every single suggestion down. You can throw those away later but at the time of the playtest, every player is a gift. Treat them with respect and reverence. This is how you cultivate a community of playtesters who want to play your games, and you're going to need it.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Security Council: 2-6 player zone-control modular board resource management accessible war game, creates great post-apocalyptic campaigns for 2-3 hours each. Scavenger v1.0: 2-5 player family-friendly press your luck travel sized card game with cute raccoons, takes 15 mins to play. Merchants of Medieval Europe v1.0: 2-6 players become poor merchants and pick up and trade resources across Europe to play the market or fulfill contracts for nobles to earn extra coin, takes 1-2 hours. Bureau of Time: a cooperative 2-4 player card game where you keep the timeline from deteriorating into oblivion while you gather resources to fix anomalies in the time-space continuum, takes about 1/2 hour to play. Behind Closed Doors: a training card game for higher education, our most successful game currently being used in over 100 colleges and universities in the US and Canada. The Roommate Conflict Card Game: A mini conversational game to help college employees to teach mediation techniques.
Games that will soon be published are: Campus in a Box. Mini Space Rogue. Little Pigs. All hopefully ready for publishing within the next year.
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Scavenge: the family friendly raccoon card game of pressing your luck, will launch on Kickstarter.com on July 26! Join our event to find out as soon as we go live here: https://www.facebook.com/events/440789699701871/
Currently looking for a publisher I have: If someone wants to take Security Council, Merchants of Medieval Europe, or Bureau of Time and we can work out a publishing agreement, then maybe. Otherwise, we are perfectly happy promoting it the way we are.
I'm planning to crowdfund: Merchants of Medieval Europe v2.0 may crowdfund in the next year or two.
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Mini Space Rogue.
Games that I'm playtesting are: Campus in a Box.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Little Pigs.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: American Merchants. Martian Tourism. Apocalypse Trail. Praise Zorban. Free Cities. Set the Curve.

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Tabletop Game Publisher's Guild, Board Game Reviewers & Media, Tabletop Game Kickstarter Advice, Card & Board Game Designers Guild, Art & Graphic Design for Tabletop Games, The Boardgame Group, Tapletop Promotions - Crowdfunding, Protospiel, Tabletop Game Design Competitions, Board game reviewers.

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?
Gosh, Star Trek and Star Wars should stop being compared, they're both great! I don't like coke or pepsi, Dr. Pepper all the way! VHS! Or laser disc if that's an option.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I program video games, produce podcasts, manage a parody University online (www.chouuniversity.com), I'm writing a novel (2nd one), I love playing Heroes of the Storm on PC, and jamming on my Nintendo Switch.

What is something you learned in the last week?
Apparently the new Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has a new option that will propel your cart forward without a button press. It also has a lane-assist option. I'm pretty sure both of these modifications are sponsored by Tesla Motors.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Video Game Soundtracks. 1960-1980 Science Fiction novels. Dystopian movies.

What was the last book you read?
The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Ukulele.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I wrote a book for my wife's birthday in 3 months. It stars her and several of our friends. I think I spent over 300 hours on it. Spouses, it's time to up your game.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I once threw a bunch of industrial chemicals down an elevator chute in an abandoned factory and almost died from fumes. Ah, to be young again.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My profession.

Who is your idol?
Can't think of anyone.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I'd like to ask Alexander Hamilton some questions.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Depends on which Myers Briggs your referencing. I have several.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Dr. Xavier (Professor X) is the coolest!

Have any pets?
A cat!

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 critical thinking survives although I fear it'll be gone before the asteroid hits. Video games would be nice too. I hope the asteroid wipes out black licorice.

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

Did you like this interview?  Pleasse show your support: Support me on Patreon! Or click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Eye on Kickstarter #47

Welcome to my Eye on Kickstarter series!  This series will highlight Kickstarter campaigns I am following that have recently launched (or I've recently discovered) because they have caught my interest.  Usually they'll catch my interest because they look like great games that I have either backed or would like to back (unfortunately budget doesn't allow me to back everything I'd like to).  But occasionally the campaigns caught my attention for other reasons.  Twice a month, on the 2nd and 4th Fridays, I'll make a new post in this series, highlighting the campaigns that have caught my attention since the last post.  In each post I'll highlight one campaign that has really grabbed my attention, followed by other campaigns I've backed or am interested in.  I'll also include links to any reviews I've done.  Comments are welcome, as are suggestions for new campaigns to check out!

You can also see my full Kickstarter Profile to see what I've backed or my old Eye on Kickstarter page that was too unwieldy to maintain.  Also, check out the 2018 Kickstarter Boardgame Projects geeklist over on Board Game Geek for a list of all the tabletop games of the year.
So, without further ado, here are the projects I'm currently watching as of the second Friday of July, 2018:

Live Campaigns from Past Eyes:
Solarius Mission
When Cutie Met Patootie


HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
Rurik: Dawn of Kiev
  • GJJ Games Backed
  • I had the pleasure of being part of the playtesting team of Rurik, so I've been watching the game develop for quite a while. When I first played it back in October I was quite impressed with the game and loved the new Auction Programming mechanic (I'm not sure if they were calling it that yet though). The game still had a lot of rough edges and some areas that didn't quite feel right, but that core mechanic was solid and very interesting. Over the next six months I watched the game get more refined, smoothed out, tweaked, and polished. By April the game was very solid, but still had a few small areas that didn't quite feel as elegant as the rest of the game. I'm happy to say that, by July, all of those last wrinkles have been ironed out and the game now plays smooth as silk! The core Auction Programming mechanic is still what drives the game, but all the little bits around it are now just as amazing. This is truly a great game that you'll be thrilled to have in your collection, especially if you like historic themes (it's all based on real history), deep euro-style decisions, and great player interaction. To top it all off, the artwork is absolutely amazing! From the cool miniatures to the gorgeous map and boards, everything looks great. Then there's the box cover and character artwork, which are stunning! They'd look incredible framed and on your wall! Rurik: Dawn of Kiev will be hailed as one of the top games of 2019, mark my words. You definitely want this in your collection.


Rurik: Dawn of Kiev is a euro-style realm building game featuring area control, resource management, and a new mechanic - "auction programming."

Establish your legacy by constructing buildings and performing great deeds or pursue your own agenda by ruling large areas of land and collecting tribute. Will you win over the hearts of the people to become the next Grand Prince or Princess of Kiev?

Rurik brings to life the ancient culture of Kievan Rus - the precursor to both Russia and Ukraine - with game design by Russian game designer Stanislav Kordonskiy and illustrations by Ukrainian artist Yaroslav Radeckyi.

Auction Programming. The gameplay in Rurik revolves around a central strategy board. Openly bid for actions with your advisors in this novel “auction programming” mechanic. Higher numbered advisors earn greater benefits, but lower numbered advisors resolve their actions sooner.






Dominations - Road to Civilization
  • I love civilization games. I love tile laying games. Dominations combines those, along with pattern matching, resource management, and more in a fantastic looking game. I'm just itching to try this one out someday.


Dungeon Degenerates - Hand of Doom
  • I've heard a few good things about this dungeon crawler. This is for the second edition, so it cleans up some minor issues with the first edition (mainly in rules clarifications, etc.), but what really caught my attention here is the artwork. Reminiscent of some 1970s black light artwork, it's unique, vibrant, and really grabs your attention.


Wreck Raiders
  • In Wreck Raiders you use dice drafting and worker placement to collect treasures from sunken ships. It looks like a fun theme with accessible mechanics and rules. Perfect for a fun game night!


Startropolis
  • Startropolis appears to be a very simple game mechanically. The depth comes in through the interaction between the pieces in the game. It uses 3D pieces to create a large, three dimensional space station that will definitely catch some attention when it's pulled out at game night.


Theosis
  • Here's another unique looking worker placement game, this time merged with tactical combat. The minis look incredible, even though I'm a bit disappointed that all the female figures look pretty much identical except for the outfits, which have about the same amount of material combined as a single male character. The gaming industry is working it's way out of the misogynistic stereotype, but it's a slow road when artwork like this continue to be included in games, even if the gameplay looks great.


Black Orchestra: Conspirator Packs
  • Just this week a friend brought Black Orchestra to game night. Unfortunately I didn't get to play (I was in the middle of another game when Black Orchestra was started), but they had a great time and have been raving about it ever since. This campaign includes two conspirator packs for just $9, or you can get them and the base game for only $55.


Clustered
  • The game here looks very similar to SET, but that's not what caught my attention. Rather, it's the campaign itself, or more specifically one pledge tier of the campaign. This is a second edition of this game, with the first one being successful on Kickstarter in 2017, rasing $4500 with about 200 backers. That's not too bad, but not outstanding either. However with this second edition they're pretty much giving the game away. The first 500 backers (and they're past that now, sorry) could back for a basic copy of the game for just $1, plus $4 shipping. This seems like quite the marketing gimmick for a game that only had 198 backers in its first campaign. But it seems to be working, since the tier is sold out and the game is funded at over $5000. I hope having to produce 500 copies of the basic game, essentially for free, doesn't backfire on them though.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 128: Ian Taylor

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:Ian Taylor
Email:ian@furioustreegames.com
Location:Massachusetts, USA
Day Job:Freelance writer/designer
Designing:Over ten years!
Webpage:www.widgetridge.com
BGG:Iantaylor
Facebook:facebook.com/byiantaylor/
Twitter:@ianzu
Find my games at:Currently my house. Please don't come in. I will be out there soon.
Today's Interview is with:

Ian Taylor
Interviewed on: 6/14/2018

This week we get to meet Ian Taylor, an author, rulebook editor, game lore writer, and game designer. In addition to designing his own games, Ian has worked on several great card games, including writing for Star Realms, Epic Card Game, and Hero Realms from White Wizard Games. Be sure to keep your eye on Kickstarter later this year for Widget Ridge, Ian's first game as designer.

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've been a writer all my life, and the most fascinating thing about games for me is immersion. How me, as a gamer, can be manipulated into caring about these cardboard shapes and wooden cubes.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Widget Ridge, a Steampunk Deckbuilding game, and Cardboard Wrecktangles, a not-serious strategy game.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
I have worked on games that were published, but I was not the lead designer or developer. WWE Raw Deal, Conan TCG, Epic TCG, Star Realms, Hero Realms, Epic Card Game, Sorcerer, and MMA Combat.

What is your day job?
Freelance writer/designer

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
LGS (Game Knights in Gardner MA) or my testing table.

Who do you normally game with?
My children, having roped them into playtesting.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Currently enjoying Epic Spell Wars. A friend got me into Red Dragon Inn.

And what snacks would you eat?
All snacks. All of them.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No. I am autistic, as are my children. I like a small musical distraction, but my children don't.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Game Knights in Gardner MA. Just opened last month. I am biased since I know the owners, but speaking objectively, they're making a huge effort to support non-Magic games (though they support Magic as well) and it's a great place to play.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I think Epic Spell Wars right now is my favourite. It's stupid fun. Least favourite that I enjoy...either Fluxx or CaH. The kids enjoy them but I'm a bit tired of them. I don't know that I have a worst game. I suppose when my daughter taught me War? I quickly realised that I had no decision points whatsoever and the game could be played without me, which annoyed her greatly (she was 6). I don't think I've ever hated a game to a point where I'd never play it. People, yes. Games, no.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like any game with a random element that can be manipulated or tweaked. I think my least favourite is any mechanic that requires memory. Mine's not great.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Star Trek Ascendency is the closest thing. I've never played it, but it looks amazing (I did a demo at Toyfair), but it would probably take an afternoon of free time to kill just to set it up and learn it, and i just don't have the time right now.

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 Card Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Yes

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 think theme is extremely important, but I usually come up with a base mechanic first, and then assign a theme. The game I'm currently working on (Widget Ridge) was originally an idea for a Doctor Who deckbuilding game.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I don't know about idol, but I've worked with Rob Dougherty, and I like him.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
When I'm trying to do other work! Or trying to sleep.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I usually eyeball a base mechanic, and write out some proxies, then test to see if it has legs. If it does, I'll come up with a baseline for card stats and then design from there. Once the game is done, another test with myself just to see if it feels like a game, then I rope the kids in.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I have worked as part of a team, but I'm a solo act currently.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
The worst thing I do to myself is make excuses for bad or ineffective design. It can always be better,

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

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
That the first step is to just do it. I've been designing games for 20+ years, but I never had the guts to actually show people outside my family and friends.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Don't ignore immersion. Take your players somewhere. Make them care about your world.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: None (close though)
Currently looking for a publisher I have: See below. Not actively seeking pubs, but I'm open if approached. (I'm aware that never happens.)
I'm planning to crowdfund: Widget Ridge by the end of the year.
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Widget Ridge (Art still coming in. The game is 99% locked down.)
Games that I'm playtesting are: Widget Ridge (technically, still deciding between two different win conditions)
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Cardboard Wrecktangles
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Unnamed co-op base defense game that's family friendly. The Streisand Effect (the game doesn't exist but anyone who talks about it gets threatened by my lawyer.) I'd love to do something with robots as a theme.

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
I am a member of I believe every single Facebook boardgame design, publishing, and KS group in existence.

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?
Trek, Coke, VHS.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I'm a writer and comedian. I've been a Magic judge for 23 years.

What is something you learned in the last week?
I learned that pro wrestlers always move counter-clockwise around each other. Never noticed that.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
My favourite band is The Clouds, a pub band from my home country of Australia. I tend to write a lot more than I read, so I'm currently reading non-fiction to clean out the pipes. I like all movies except jump-scare films, and films where most of the people wear hats. Seriously, that's just weird.

What was the last book you read?
Star Trek Movie Memories by William Shatner.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I know all of the words to Poison Arrow by ABC.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I once married my penpal and moved to America.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
A friend showed me WWE Raw Deal (he was the first world champ). He emailed me a copy of the rules, and cc'd the designer. I didn't realise he did that, so I responded with something like "Ugh, these rules are terrible. Think they'd mind if I took a crack at rewriting them?" Of course, I sent this email to the lead designer. He responded, and I ended up writing their tournament rules, comp rules, and head judging their world championship event three times.

Who is your idol?
I don't really have idols, but I quite like Dan Harmon. The writing is just SO GOOD

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Kick my own ass at 20. Then at 22. Then at 24, 26, 28, and 30.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert. How do people go into rooms with other people? Like, do you not see them?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Iron Man. I love tinkering.

Have any pets?
I had a cat called Crazy Cat, but my daughter's stupid cat chased him away.

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?
Ok this got real dark. Classic games like Chess and Go need to survive. Other than that, storytelling and comedy both need to survive. Those things make humanity. Monopoly needs to go. It's not a bad game, but everybody misses the point of it, and it's always held up as an example of a classic board game.

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):
Nah. I'm pretty active on social media. I've already outshouted everyone I care to.

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

Widget Ridge is featured in the fantasy novel: Aklan and the Grand Prophecy (in which we find that Aklan is terrible at paperwork). I am writing the novel.

Also:

Back in Roman times, people would often camp at the intersection of roads in order to meet other travellers. They would exchange news, but more often, little pieces of odd and useless knowledge. The intersection of 3 roads was known as a Trivium, which is where we get the word Trivia.




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

Did you like this interview?  Pleasse show your support: Support me on Patreon! Or click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 127: Chad Gagnon

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:Chad Gagnon
Email:thymiagames@gmail.com
Location:Savannah, GA
Day Job:I am one of the Executive Retail Liaisons at The Pirate House Gift Shop.
Designing:Two to five years.
Webpage:www.thymiagames.com
BGG:Executive Order
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/thymiagames/
Twitter:@thymiagames
Instagram:@thymiagames
Find my games at:Right now they aren't available yet, but we will be launching the Kickstarter for Executive Order on August 2nd and will have our games available to play at Dice Tower Con and DragonCon!
Today's Interview is with:

Chad Gagnon
Interviewed on: 6/14/2018

Keep an eye out for Executive Order, coming to Kickstarter later this summer, from new designer Chad Gagnon. Chad has been designing games with his fiancé as Thymia Games for a few years now and has several games that will follow Executive Order. So read on to learn more about Chad and his projects!

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 always enjoyed playing board games as a kid and video games while I was in the military. After I applied to SCAD to become an Interactive Design & Game Development major (fancy word for game designer), I was needlessly harassed by a fellow classmate (who then became my artist and my fiancé) to participate in Global Game Jam. Ever since then, I have fully switched over to creating board games and haven't really stopped.

What game or games are you currently working on?
We are currently working on the final steps to Kickstart our first title, Executive Order. It's a political card game that has you playing cards, stealing other people's cards, creating mayhem, and building a wall. We are also working on our first board game, Penumbra: Uncharted. This one is a three phase space themed game and we think, after much playtesting, will be tons of fun.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not officially. I have designed one shot adventures for a local weekly D&D event.

What is your day job?
I am one of the Executive Retail Liaisons at The Pirate House Gift Shop.

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?
My fiancé, our roommate, and whatever friends are around.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Carcassonne has been really popular lately, but we also enjoy Dungeon Quest, Titan Race, King of Tokyo, and Smash Up.

And what snacks would you eat?
Anything ranging from candy/chips to whatever dinner was (pizza, chicken curry, leftover chinese)

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I usually have background music ranging through multiple genres since I like alt rock but many of our friends like pop.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Morningstar Games (they are even a Pokémon gym!)

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favorite - DungeonQuest
Mediocre - Monopoly Gamer
Worst - Organ Attack

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite - Randomness and Surprises throughout the game. I love having one game feel like multiple games because it never plays the same.
Least favorite - Portions of the game becoming completely unusable because of player elimination, card removals, etc.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Bring Out Yer Dead

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, RPG Games, Video Games, Other 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?
No

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 design the mechanics first and then come up with the theme. I don't do as well with themes unless they both come to me at the same time. I usually leave that to my artist or my friends who play test.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes. I participate in Global Game Jam and every year we have won an award (Judges' Choice 2016 2017, Best Game Design 2018).

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
No

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
My mind often works like a slot machine. It's constantly going and suddenly something just clicks.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
We reach out to local FLGS and close friends first. Once we realize that we have a game people enjoy, we will then look to get it reviewed by others.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I like to work as a team, whether that makes me the lead designer or the co-designer.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Balancing the game mechanics while keeping it a fun game.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Paladins from HiRez Studios

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
At some point, games stop being games. You can never just enjoy them, it will always be references for mechanics, art, board designs.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Have patience with the process, it rarely comes quickly. Also remember to tell your artists, "finished, not perfect" because their art will never be done otherwise.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
I'm planning to crowdfund: Executive Order, will be at Dice Tower Con and DragonCon, launching August 2nd
Games that I'm playtesting are: Penumbra: Uncharted, will be at DragonCon
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Eight Bones, pirate dice/card game

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Board Games Reviewers & Media, Art & Graphic Design for Tabletop Games, STARTUP Board & Card Game Designers, Designer/Publisher Speed Dating, Board Game Revolution Community, Kickstarter Tabletop Launch Calendar, Tabletop Game Kickstarter Advice, The Tabletop Crafters Guild, Board Game Reviewers Forum, Tabletop Game Playtesters Guild

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?
video games and creative writing

What is something you learned in the last week?
My backyard is a swamp

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Alt Rock, Fantasy, action-comedy

What was the last book you read?
Brave New World

Do you play any musical instruments?
Nope.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
In addition to not starting college/game designing until retiring from 10 years in the military, I don't understand grammar. I've been told I write backwards grammatically and it's similar to that of a 7th grader. My fiancé has been writing these answers for me (hello!).

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
When I lived in Germany, we threw a Halloween/birthday party for me in our apartment building. It encompassed three stories and we created a beer bong that went from top to bottom with an air release valve attached.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
When the mail service lost my snowboarding gear so I was forced to buy a new set and the original set showed up two weeks later.

Who is your idol?
I don't really have one.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go back and invest in Apple and Amazon.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
extroverted introvert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Deadpool

Have any pets?
2 cats (Nathan Drake and Soot) and 2 dogs (Dobby and Pebbles)

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 coffee and gaming cafes carry on into the future and I hope La Croix dies out (aww.. I like La Croix..).

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):
Cyril Guichard, one of my professors and biggest professional supporters throughout this whole process
All the playtesters that have gotten us to this point
Jessie Mullins, my fiancé who not only wrote this interview, but has read and re-read numerous rule books, school papers, projects, and has helped in a million different ways.

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

Did you like this interview?  Pleasse show your support: Support me on Patreon! Or click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 126: Caleb Segura

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:Caleb Segura
Email:csegu@live.com
Location:Irving Texas
Day Job:Applications Engineer and Sales
Designing:Two to five years.
BGG:ndclub
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/cal.segura
Find my games at:I am at all BGGs and am working on tabletop simulator
Today's Interview is with:

Caleb Segura
Interviewed on: 2/15/2018

Today we hear from Texas designer Caleb Segura, a pretty prolific designer that's working on getting his first game published soon with Erasmus Fox. Hopefully we'll see a whole bunch of games from him in the near future, but in the meantime, read on to learn a bit more about Caleb and his current projects.

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?
My favorite video game of all time was shut down by EA and unplayable (Battleforge) I waited for a long time for any other RTS to have the same feel without any luck. After a while I decided to make my own game to replace it and made a physical prototype before coding. I realized that the physical form worked well enough and the ease of making the prototype had me making several other games in the next few months for games I wanted to play but didn't exist yet.

What game or games are you currently working on?
My main game is "Master of Disaster" that is currently working with a publisher to develop it further. Competitive asymmetric twist on area control. Each element, air, water, fire, and earth are in a race to destroy as much of the city as they can using natural disasters. Elements can also play off of others to create hybrid elements - for example air/water hurricane or fire/earth volcano.

The second one most fully developed has the working title of "For the Kingdom", an attempt to make a fast dungeon crawler that feels like a condensed RPG. My thought was "how do you make a simultaneous action RPG without people cheating?" Well cheating and bluffing is a main mechanic.

In an effort to make a very light combat game with virtually no player limit I have "Keep the Change". The points in the game are actual pennies and nickels and the object of the game is to have the most money at the end of the game. Players manage cards that they play on their neighbors in the circle while the circle gets smaller and smaller.

"Legacy of Terra" was the first game that I created to model the RTS I was missing in my life. The core idea is that it is simultaneous action with zero luck and asymmetric factions that change as the game goes on.

I currently have 8 other working concepts that I am not ready to present to the public.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
No, though I am in the waiting phases, "Master of Disaster" will be.

What is your day job?
Applications Engineer and Sales

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At my own house. Always happy to cook for people and the space is always available.

Who do you normally game with?
Non-Board Gamers I am attempting to convert honestly.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I most prefer games with combat but I enjoy any game with meaningful decisions.

And what snacks would you eat?
I usually prefer to cook a meal instead of munch on crumbly snacks.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
If the game is really thematic like Star Wars Rebellion I enjoy it, otherwise I enjoy it but could live without it.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
I know this is a terrible answer for local establishments but Coolstuffinc, Miniature Market, and Ebay get all of my business.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
"Kemet" (with Ta Seti Expansion) has long edged out as my top game.

Least favorite that I still enjoy is a hard one... maybe "Codenames"? A design that screams, why didn't I think of that? Very elegant, my friends love it, I enjoy it, I have just played it far too many times.

Worst published game I have ever tried is "Betrayal on the House on the Hill". I had friends raving about how great it is but it honestly made me angry the longer I played it. The core draw of the game, the storylines, can be completely skipped or changed and the game would still play exactly the same. The only thing left is a highly luck based core that is not what I am looking for.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Probably simultaneous actions or real time. This is such a hard mechanic to design around and it makes for much faster games.

Least favorite is anytime you roll the dice where it does not match the theme. Roll to move or some combat dice where the combat is entirely out of your hands and highly variable.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
"Mechs Vs Minions" doesn't have a recurring group enough to get far enough in the missions. As many combat games as I enjoy, I do not play them as much as I would like to.

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

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Not my type of game but I enjoy it and hard to argue when your friends are drinking and eat it up.

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?
90% of the time it is theme first before mechanics. More specifically, what game feeling do I want to play that to the best of my knowledge doesn't exist yet?

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Master of Disaster had the highest average rating at Tabletop Artisan's Workshop in Plano and won best in show.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Uwe Rosenberg has a blend of uniqueness and elegance to his games that I find very impressive.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Complaining on forums about how video games need to be more balanced or suggesting changes to have better design. After a while I decided to just make what I want.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
This has been by far my largest bottleneck. I lure people on the weekends with free meals but they are almost always non-board gamers. I try to get groups at game conventions as often as I can but I only have been able to go to 2 or 3 per year. I have a weekly design group meetup that I attend but the attendance varies a lot.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I have yet to work together as a team but am more than open to it. Honestly I feel like a team would speed up my bottlenecks far better than my current state.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Getting enough play testers.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I am saddened by the lack of Clone Wars games considering how many Star Wars games there are of the original trilogy and how rich the combat units are in the CW. I have been toying with the idea of a game like rebellion where there are 3 republic players against 1 separatist player. One of the republic players is the traitor Palpatine and his goal is to not let the separatists overwhelm the republic, but to kill all but 2 or 3 Jedi.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Don't print anything until the game is solid. (at least 10 playtests where obvious changes are not needed)

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Once you have an idea get a working model on notecards with pencil as fast as possible. I have seen too many people ask if their ideas are good. No one can answer that effectively and playing it is where you really see if the idea is worth pursuing.

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: Master of Disaster with Erasmus Fox
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Keep the Change and For the Kingdom
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Keep the Change and For the Kingdom
Games that I'm playtesting are: Legacy of Terra
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: At least 9 more concepts
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: About 3 concepts

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Dallas Designer Group, Tabletop Artisans Workshop, Tabletop Simulator Playtesters

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 with Trek close behind. I am that boring guy that doesn't drink soda and don't know much of a difference between the two. Betamax because it was superior in most ways and I like going against the grain of society.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Working out and video games

What is something you learned in the last week?
Regarding games? I have started getting into tabletop simulator for easier playtesting the last 2 weeks.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Rock and Classical. Dune. Lord of the Rings Return of the King

What was the last book you read?
Bottom-Line Selling (hard to recommend)

Do you play any musical instruments?
Played trombone for 7 years.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
My wife grew up thinking nerd and geek culture equated with unsocial/low society. I was a nerd in disguise most of my life and have since been acclimating her more and more to this wonderful world.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Caught a 10 ft alligator with a rope.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Any time you hit rock bottom and are able to get through it is a big growing opportunity and helps you not take things for granted.

Who is your idol?
Bill Waterson or Bill Gates, sadly I am hard pressed to think of more Bills.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go into future. I think that though we can always do better, the world has never been as good as it is now and is constantly improving.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Really depends on the situation. Extrovert for work, introvert for personal life I suppose.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Spiderman

Have any pets?
2 small dogs

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 think chess is so documented that it would probably endure. Soccer is such a basic concept that I would also assume would come back mostly in the same form.

For what I wish to be wiped out - Electronic Arts.

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):
Snugglepuff

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

You need no degree or experience to start making your own games. The best way to get better at design is to keep doing it!




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

Did you like this interview?  Pleasse show your support: Support me on Patreon! Or click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.