Tuesday, May 8, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 119: Warren Loewen

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:Warren Loewen
Location:Edmonton, Canada
Day Job:Military
Designing:Over ten years!
BGG:Kaiju Conquest
Facebook:ATC Games/
Find my games at:BGG to view. Tabletop Generation for link to PnP, https://tabletopgeneration.com/project/kaijuconquest/details
Today's Interview is with:

Warren Loewen
Interviewed on: 2/9/2018

This week we get to meet Warren Loewen, someone who has been designing games for a number of years, but just recently started working toward publication. His current project, Kaiju Conquest, is a strategic wargame where players battle over the Earth between humans and an alien lizard race. Be sure to keep an eye out for it on Kickstarter soon.

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 have been designing ideas for games since I was about 17, about 36 years ago. I had played a lot of hex and counter games like Squad Leader, Starship Troopers, and the RPG's like Dungeons and Dragons. I always enjoyed creating a game, even if did not get finished. It was the money required and who to contact that kept me from trying to seriously design a published game. Since then a friend of mine and I had been working on rules for a sci fi RPG and a galactic scale Risk style board game. I took it more seriously by 2001, but once again I was burdened by the money required to make a decent prototype and find a publisher in the local area.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Kaiju Conquest and Galactic Conquest: The Card Game (Title subject to change)

Have you designed any games that have been published?

What is your day job?

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
My home. I have a large enough table that any game can be played on and lots of terrain pieces and miniatures. I do like going to the local game cafes, but some of them do not have large tables, so I am forced to play smaller games to accommodate the table size.

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

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Currently, we like to play dungeon crawler games like Gloomhaven, Descent, Star Wars Imperial Assault, Shadows over Brimstone, and Zombicide. But we will play just about any game new or old.

And what snacks would you eat?
We usually have a mix of food, such as a vegetable platter, potato chips, fried finger food, nachos, with sodas, water, or juice. There is rarely a time when someone has alcohol. Usually, everyone brings something to share.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Usually when we are running RPG's. Currently, I am running a Star Wars RPG using the Star Wars soundtracks. When playing a gothic horror themed game the GM will play horror style music. Mostly, it is a soundtrack that fits the theme.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Mission Fun and Games. They have the most variety of games in the local area.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Shadows of Brimstone as I love the Old West horror theme. My least favourite that I still enjoy is Smash Up. Worst game is Cards against Humanity.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
My favourite game mechanic is hex and counter style mixed with area control, and random dice rolling or using cards to determine combat results. I like an element of randomness in my games. My least favourite is Euro style resource management, empire building.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Ogre from Steve Jackson Games. I bought the latest edition. Simple movement and combat mechanic. Sometimes you just have to go back to the basics.

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

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

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 start with a theme and build around it. I find it easier if I know what kind of game it will be.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I did enter once and did not win.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Mark H. Walker from Flying Pig Games

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Watching movies and reading books and other games. I got my idea for Kaiju Conquest after seeing the Pacific Rim movie. I got my idea for the RPG I did many years ago from reading and playing D&D and Star Wars RPGs. I got my idea for my galactic conquest boardgame turned card game, from playing games like Risk and Axis and Allies.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I have to write rules for my game. I cannot just start playing and see what I can do with this piece against that piece, them make a ruling on it. Once I have s base set of rules, I create the game components, mostly using chipboard or other plastic tokens. I will play the game a lot by myself to see if works solo or with 2 or more players. Then I get friends and family involved to see what they think and how to improve the rules. Eventually, I get it out to the public at local game stores, cafes and conventions, to see what others think. My worst habit when I create a game is I need a good visual. So if it is a robot or monster, I will get images from the internet or take pictures of my own minis and collectibles as they proxy character to put on standees or tokens.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I would like to work with a team, but currently I work on my own and hire people to do the art, etc for me. I do have my family and close friends to give me input on the game mechanics.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Trying to reach out to the world on social media to advertise my game. In the end I have to hope that people are watching and sharing my posts and when the Kickstarter launches, I will have the backing I need to succeed.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
It would have been Pacific Rim, but that is now taken by an established company. So I would say the Dray Prescott series by Alan Burt Akers. It is a fantasy world with diverse creatures from all over the galaxy basically forced to live together on one world.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Do not rush getting the art done. That was my first mistake before I found out more about game design.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Read as much about it as you can. Set up a sequence of how you want to progress in the design stages, such as when to get art, and graphic design done, prototypes made for playtesters and game reviewers, and most of all, determining how much you can spend on the project.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
I'm planning to crowdfund: Kaiju Conquest
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Kaiju Conquest
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Galactic Conquest (Wars): The Card Game
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: World Conquest modular hex war game.

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Edmonton Game Designers, Boardgame Creative Projects, Kickstarter Game Hub, Wargamers, Art & Graphic Design for Tabletop Games, Kickstarter Best Practices, Tabletop Wargaming and Miniatures, Startup Board and Card Game Designers, Game Maker's Lab, BoardGameGeek, Tabletop Game Playtesters Guild, Kickstarter Board Games, Alberta Boardgame Designers and Playtesters, Card & Boardgame Designer's Guild, Tabletop Game Kickstarter Advice, Boardgame Reviewers and Media, Tabletop Game Publisher's Guild, THE BOARDGAME GROUP,

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?
Racquetball, Scouting, Fundraising for Youth in the community

What is something you learned in the last week?
You are ready to launch a game when others say you are.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Favourite music is movie soundtracks. Favourite books are sci-fi and fantasy. Favourite movies are sci-fi, fantasy and western, or a mix of all three.

What was the last book you read?
Star Wars Rogue One

Do you play any musical instruments?

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I don't drink, smoke or take drugs.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I was on a military exercise many years ago, on a reconnaissance patrol with another person in my unit. Our opposing force were the British. At one point we saw a few soldiers from a British patrol not more than 50 metres (165 feet) from us. Instead of stealthily moving away to avoid detection, I somehow had it in my head to charge right at them. (It reminded me of that scene on the Death Star when Han Solo chases the Imperial Troopers in the halls). the British soldiers were a little surprised and could not shoot at me before I slammed into one of them knocking him down. My patrol buddy did not want to leave me alone with them so he came after me and into them. The end result is we were overwhelmed and taken prisoner. It was early in the morning, so they took us to their field headquarters, and fed us a breakfast of fried tomatoes and bread with eggs. it was kind of surreal. Later that morning, we were freed and they wanted our help to assault a bridge. So as they assaulted the bridge, we were with the support weapons team providing fire on the enemy who were trying to stop the assault. I cannot even remember now if the enemy was our own unit or some other multi-national force. It was one of my most memorable and craziest moments.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Nothing comes to mind.

Who is your idol?
Harrison Ford. Loved just about all the movies he has starred in.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go back in time to meet King Arthur or his equivalent.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Mostly an extrovert. If it was not for the army life, I believe I would have been an introvert.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Captain America

Have any pets?
A cat, three dogs a rabbit and some birds.

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?
Shadows of Brimstone, Star Wars Imperial Assault, Gunfighters duelling in the streets. Everything goes old west style.

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):
My family and friends, for believing in what I can do, and supporting me since I started seriously game designing.

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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