Tuesday, August 21, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 134: Omari Akil

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:Omari Akil
Location:Durham, NC, USA
Day Job:I'm a Higher Education IT Specialist
Designing:One to two years.
Facebook:Board Game Brothas
Find my games at:www.rapgodzboardgame.com
Today's Interview is with:

Omari Akil
Interviewed on: 6/20/2018

Omari Akil is a long-time board game fan who recently started designing games with his brother, who is relatively new to board games. Together they've designed Rap Godz, which hits Kickstarter tomorrow! They have a few other projects in the works, and since Rap Godz has already won an award, I'm we can look forward to more great things from this team.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
One to two years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
My brother approached me with a board game idea in March 2017, and we've been working on that concept non-stop since then.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Rap Godz (which is coming to Kickstarter this year), and two untitled projects

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet!

What is your day job?
I'm a Higher Education IT Specialist

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
I prefer playing games at home, but I'm happy to go out to a bar or my local game store to play.

Who do you normally game with?
We've built up a pretty amazing tabletop community in Durham, NC. I usually attend one of the three (sometimes more) game nights that happen each week.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
If I'm inviting friends over to play, I like to play the more involved games that take longer to play (2-5 hours).

And what snacks would you eat?
Pizza is always a good option

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Only if the game thematically calls for it.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Atomic Empire is really the only FLGS in town. Also really liked Guardian Games in Portland, OR.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Eclipse is still my favorite I think. Secret Hitler is by far the worst game that I still enjoy (I would rather play Resistance). I recently played the latest version of Mouse Trap...don't ask...but it was terrible.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I'm a big dice rolling fan. Extra points if you can use those dice in a creative way, such as in Hero's Crossing. My least favorite is worker placement (mostly because I'm terrible at it).

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Arcadia Quest

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, RPG Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board 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?
So far my favorite method has been to come up with the theme and then try to design mechanics that fit well with that.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
We won the Best Unpublished Tabletop award at the 2018 Southern-Fried Gaming Expo in Atlanta, GA.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
So far I'm a big fan of every game designer that I've met. It's too hard to choose.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
I usually get my best ideas when I'm doing something completely unrelated to games, and just pulling something out of the world around me.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I try to do some play testing on my own. I often build spreadsheets to simulate gameplay for balancing. I also have local game nights where gamers are happy to try out new prototypes.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
My brother (the artist) and I work together on games. I do like doing some of the design work on my own, but I also have a pool of designers to bounce ideas off of when I need to.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
The biggest challenge for me is knowing that the process is a long one and that taking my time will ultimately produce a better game.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I would love to design a Black Panther game. Seriously that's my dream.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Any game you design will never be "finished", and you just have to call it at some point and put it out there for the world to see.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Focus on the fun. Figure out what's fun about your game and don't compromise that for anything else.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
I'm planning to crowdfund: Rap Godz
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Two Untitled Games

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

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I write music lyrics and poetry and also do a lot of social dancing.

What is something you learned in the last week?
I learned about dimensional data modeling!!!

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
ALL Music. Books that make me laugh (probably sci-fi/fantasy)

What was the last book you read?
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

Do you play any musical instruments?
Ukulele and Drums (both poorly)

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I was a 8th Grade Science teacher for a year...

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I just signed up to write on-demand poetry on a typewriter in the lobby of a hotel for 2 hours...

Who is your idol?
Donald Glover - Seriously, this dude is dope at everything he does.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go far enough in the future so where self-driving cars are the norm and stay there. I get so annoyed with driving these days.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert - but I love being around people, lol

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
The Flash

Have any pets?
Nah, I'm terrible at being a pet parent

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?

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 Snoop Dogg for being the inspiration for a lot of the world we created in Rap Godz.

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

I love board games and I really want more people playing them. So tell all your friends and get them to play games with their friends...you know...kind of like a pyramid scheme but without the promises of quick wealth and prosperity.

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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