Tuesday, May 15, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 120: Dave Ferguson

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:Dave Ferguson
Location:Wylie, TEXAS
Day Job:Software Quality Assurance
Designing:Two to five years.
Facebook:Dave Ferguson
Find my games at:castleproductions.co Amazon
Today's Interview is with:

Dave Ferguson
Interviewed on: 2/8/2018

Dave Ferguson has designed several published games, including The Great Debate and co-designer on Lords of Rock (which I reviewed when it was on Kickstarter). He often self-publishes through his own publishing company, Castle Productions, although he's also published with other publishers. Dave is pretty active in the game design community, running game design meetups in Texas and frequenting the many game design groups on social media. Read on to learn more about Dave and his other 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 did it as an exercise to see if I could do it and I had been watching Action Phase Games at the time. My friends at the time thought it would be a great idea to try and so we started on the long journey of creating, making, testing, marketing, a game. I wanted to make games to give a little back to a community I have been a part of since first editions Dungeons and Dragons.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Circle of the 7

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes. I designed The Great Debate and its expansions. Succession. Lords of Rock (co-designer). I have also been a playtester in several as well.

What is your day job?
Software Quality Assurance

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At my house or one of the many meetups I attend. I help run The Alamo Drafthouse Group as well as PANDA GL (Plano and North Dallas Area Game Lovers)

Who do you normally game with?
Kathie my girlfriend is my main partner in games. However, Garrett and Nick are some of my favorite people to game with.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Probably a Euro. It depends on everyone’s mood as well.

And what snacks would you eat?
Well if we are at the PANDA group it would definitely be pizza. If my house or another friends probably an assortment of goodies everyone has brought.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Normally no.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Currently I do not have one. But my favorite LGS of all time was Coyote Games in Seattle.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I would say Current Favorite game- City of Kings, Azul; Least favorite- DC Deckbuilder; Worst game- probably some unmentionable prototype.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Worker placement is definitely my favorite mechanic. I guess it has something to do with limited actions followed closely to deckbuilders as it scratches my Magic The Gathering itch. Least favorite is probably co-op games or tile laying. I think the tile laying just does not click for me.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Chaos in the Old World. Many people get caught up with the cult of the new are sometimes reticent to go back to old classics. Plus you also need 4 people to play and be experienced to really get the depth of this game.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG 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?
It's not for me. I get people love it and sometimes it’s an icebreaker for people and that is great. You can hopefully use it as a springboard to bring them into the greatness of the new generation of games.

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 actually done both ways. Sometimes I just have the inspiration of a game and build up the theme then take a way from there. Other times I have seen a game and its mechanic and I can see how to mold a theme around it.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have entered several competitions made it to the first or second cut a few times but never won.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
This is really tough as there are a few designers that I will always grab their games and try. But probably Bruno Cathala has the biggest games in my library at home.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
I get my best inspiration randomly I think like everyone else. When I am stuck on a problem the best thing is to go take a walk or sleep on it. Let the subconscious figure it out.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I go about with a full Software Design Life Cycle. This is counter to what most designers I have met do. When I have something I play it solo then see all the issues I would normally run into. Then I fix that and walk through with my girlfriend or someone else and they let me know if they see anything glaring. But just showing it and explaining it in its infant form can show you issues and let you get to the drawing board before even getting to an alpha state.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I would love to be a part of a real team. It is something I have preached to the Dallas Design Group about working in vacuums. The only other experience I had was working with a publisher who was very unfortunate to work with. However, I finally did get paid for the work I did but did sour me for a while and left me with some trust issues.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Getting to production.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Very good question. I really do not have a specific IP I would currently want. I just finished Patrick Rothfuss' series for The Kingkiller Chronicle so maybe working in that universe.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Learn photoshop, find an artist, and a marketer and work together to get things to production.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Just do it. There are talkers and then there are doers. It takes so much effort just take an idea to a basic design. If you can do that you’re 80% better than the population who talks and talks. It takes an effort to get to that stage so take great satisfaction in each step you.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Great Debate, 2015 Expansion to Great Debate, Greater Debate, Succession, Lords of Rock (co-designer).
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Circle of the 7
I'm planning to crowdfund: Circle of the 7
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Cosplay Thriftshop, Legend of Dayrm

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

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 all day. People can like Trek it’s just not my preferred series of the two however I would watch both. Definitely Coke as well. VHS since it lasted longer and has more selection.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I love to read and watch movies.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I enjoy most all music but would have to say 88-94 is the best time period of music if I was force to make a playlist of all times. I mainly read detective novels now. As far as movies if you saw all the horrible choices on Netflix I watched to pass time you would probably ask how I made it through.

What was the last book you read?
A Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Do you play any musical instruments?
Not at all maybe Rock Band poorly.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I enjoy adrenaline rushes such as bungee jumping, cliff diving, etc. I believe in trying to experience everything at least once or twice just to make sure you do not like it.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Moved to Seattle on lark to work at Microsoft.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Definitely fix some missteps I had in my life and make sure I bought some Amazon, Apple, and other stocks when they were stupid low. That way I could just fund my design dreams without having to worry about a day job or insurance.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I would say introvert for the most part. However, I can flip a switch and be extroverted in order to make others feel comfortable or when I have to sell my games.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I believe the only real answer is Batman always Batman. However, I think speedster powers would be awesome.

Have any pets?
Currently we have two dogs Shelby and Briana.

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 Kathie for putting up with me. Maurice, Garrett, Nick for playing my games and giving honest feedback.

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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