Tuesday, January 23, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 105: Scott Rogers

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:Scott Rogers
Location:Los Angeles, CA
Day Job:Virtual Reality Game Designer
Designing:Over ten years!
BGG:Scott Rogers II
Find my games at:Amazon.com, your FLGS
Today's Interview is with:

Scott Rogers
Interviewed on: 12/28/2017

Scott Rogers is a designer who is very active in the southern California game design community. His first published board game, Rayguns and Rocketships, was a big success on Kickstarter last year. However, this is far from his first published game. Scott is an avid video game designer and has over 50 games to his credit! It's great to see him putting his talents into tabletop games, too. Read on to learn more about Scott and his other projects.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Over ten years! Granted, I have been designing games since I was a kid; for example I once combined Scrabble and Dungeons and Dragons. But as someone who is interested in getting into the industry, it’s been over ten years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I have always loved tabletop games. And the more you play games, you start to get ideas on how to make your own games. I became serious about creating a board game when I had designed a game I thought was really good (Rayguns and Rocketships) and I wanted my it to be a "real thing". Mission accomplished!

What game or games are you currently working on?
Too many to list! A party game, a horror game, another science-fiction themed game and a worker placement game with a twist. And that’s just this week.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Rayguns and Rocketships (IDW Games) is my first published tabletop game although I have helped design and create over 50 video games.

What is your day job?
Virtual Reality Game Designer

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At friend's studio - he has a great set-up with nice big tables and snacks.

Who do you normally game with?
Friends - many of them are game designers or game publishers so it's great to get their perspective on whatever we play.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
It depends on the friends: could be social games like Werewolf, Party games like Farkle or Things, it could be Magic the Gathering, it could be a longer thematic game like Betrayal at House on the Hill or Twilight Imperium 3. I also try to gear the get-together around the games - example, I once had a game day where we only played Star Wars themed games.

And what snacks would you eat?
Potstickers, chips, soda, beef/bacon jerky

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Depends on the game - X-Wing or Meeple Circus sure - especially when they have “built-in” soundtracks. Other games, not always. It depends on where I am gaming too.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Game Kastle in San Jose, CA. They have a great selection of games, a huge gaming area and they host an amazing event called ProtoSpiel that I try to attend.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite: Meeple Circus, Least fav: Farkle Worst: Pickomino

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like combat, worker placement, set collection, roll and write, I roll/you choose. I’m interested in all types of game mechanics and I find that when I learn about a mechanic that isn’t being used that often, I challenge myself to make a game using it. The only mechanic I really dislike games with judges (CAH, Apples to Apples, Dixit, etc.) as I find the results to be too unpredictable and arbitrary. I like a little predictability in my game and one that can be won with skill or wit.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Star Wars: Imperial Assault. I am looking forward to using their app that lets you play it solitary.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG Games, Video Games, ARG’s, Escape Rooms, Virtual Reality. I’m always willing to try anything once. The more I play, the more I can learn. The more I learn, the better my own game designs are.

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Miniatures Games, Video Games, Other Games? As I’ve mentioned, I play many different types of games and I’ve designed many different styles of games. Hopefully some of them will be coming out soon!

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Sometimes if I'm in the right mood. I respect that it resonates with so many people, but I often grow bored of the gross-out and mean-spirited humor. I play games to get away from that kind of stuff.

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 do both, but I am usually a "theme-first" designer more often. I find it easier to start with a story or a world and built out from there. I like mechanics that are strongly tied to a theme. When you play the game and the mechanics mesh tightly with the theme, the player is more likely to think “that makes sense” and understand intuitively how the gameplay is suppose to work. It makes it much easier for the designer to communicate complicated concepts and ideas if you start with setting in which it belongs to.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No. I’ve participated in a couple of those “designer challenges” where a group of designers collaborate to make a game using a limited number of resources and within a time constraint. However, I am also aware that I have a strong personality and I didn’t want to dominate the design process. That said, if they had listened more to me, maybe we would have won… :)

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
There are several game designers whose work I admire: Rob Daviau, Steffen Benndorf, Laurent Lavaur, Greg Costikyan, Richard Garfield, Friedemann Friese, Gary Gygax… Too many to list!

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
A good idea can come at anytime which is why I always carry a notebook with me. However, a good idea is only useful when you use it in a game design.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Usually at an event like a ProtoSpiel or UnPub mini. I need to re-assemble a regular playtest group now that I have some new designs that need testing. Any volunteers?

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Mostly alone, but I get a lot of great input from other friends who are game designers. I think it would be great fun to co-design with someone but it would have to be the right person.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Time-management. I have a family, a long commute and a (more than) full-time job. Finding time to work on game designs can be a challenge. I have to sleep sometime!

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Batman (comic book version)

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
To just do it. Don't wait for anyone to invite you to make a game. The best thing about tabletop gaming is you can create a basic game and playtest it in almost no time at all. The time from “idea to playable” is faster than almost any other creative field. Get it to the table as fast as you can. It will only get better from there.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Make the game you'd like to play. Your audience will find you.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Rayguns and Rocketships (and lots of video games)
Games that will soon be published are: (TBA - still in negotiations)
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Diamonds and Dinosaurs, Spinneweben
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Scram!
Games that I'm playtesting are: A Town Called Showdown, Castle Climbers
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Scotty's Arcade, The Overlords, An expansion for Rayguns and Rocketships
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Too many to list! Two horror games, two Sci-Fi games and a couple of others!

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

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, Laser Disc

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I collect comic books, action figures and games. I also enjoy reading books and watching movies.

What is something you learned in the last week?
That the game Candy Land was created in my hometown of San Diego.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Soundtracks and 80's new wave. I read all types of books from comics to fiction to sociology to history. I love genre movies like Star Wars, Robocop and Turbo Kid.

What was the last book you read?
Glory Road by Robert Heinlein

Do you play any musical instruments?

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I was a nude model... when I was an infant.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Converted my college dorm into a giant slip-n'-slide.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
In what have been a very messy moment of discovery in 1942, Dr. Harry Coover of Eastman-Kodak Laboratories found that a substance he created—cyanoacrylate—was a miserable failure. It was not, to his dismay, at all suited for a new precision gun sight as he had hoped—it infuriatingly stuck to everything it touched. So it was forgotten. Six years later, while overseeing an experimental new design for airplane canopies, Coover found himself stuck in the same gooey mess with a familiar foe—cyanoacrylate was proving useless as ever. But this time, Coover observed that the stuff formed an incredibly strong bond without needing heat. Coover and his team tinkered with sticking various objects in their lab together, and realized they had finally stumbled upon a use for the maddening goop. Coover slapped a patent on his discovery, and in 1958, a full 16 years after he first got stuck, cyanoacrylate was being sold on shelves. [GJJ Games] Well, not exactly the type of ‘accident’ I was thinking about, but a great answer nonetheless!

Who is your idol?
Walt Disney - not only was he a very creative guy, but he was great at team-building.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go back to the late 70's and buy up multiple copies of vintage comic books and carded Star Wars action figures.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I'm an introvert in an extrovert's body

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I'm most like my own superhero creation Bedbug, but I wouldn't mind being Iron Man because he's rich.

Have any pets?
Yes. A dog and 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 wouldn't care because I live in California and I would have fallen into the ocean.

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):
Hello to everyone who has bought Rayguns and Rocketships! I am so grateful and humbled that you chose to spend your hard-earned money on my game! I hope you enjoy it! Thank you very much for supporting my game and I hope you love playing it! Be sure to post pictures of you playing over at the Facebook fan page and on BoardGameGeek.com

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

Thanks for taking the time to read about me. Please feel free to reach out and say “hi” on social media! I looking forward to publishing more games in the future. I hope you like them!

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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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for talking with me! Make sure to visit me on-line (links above) and say "hi"!