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
Location:Savannah, GA
Day Job:I am one of the Executive Retail Liaisons at The Pirate House Gift Shop.
Designing:Two to five years.
BGG:Executive Order
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?

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?

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?

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?

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

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