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
Location:Irving Texas
Day Job:Applications Engineer and Sales
Designing:Two to five years.
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?

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):

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

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