Tuesday, September 25, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 139: Cameron Parkinson

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:Cameron Parkinson
Day Job:Currently between jobs
Designing:Two to five years.
Facebook:Cameron Parkinson
Find my games at:Those that are published should be available at your FLGS, To Err is Human is available on DriveThruRPG.
Today's Interview is with:

Cameron Parkinson
Interviewed on: 8/8/2018

Cameron Parkinson is the third interview from the Broken Things team of designers. This team from Canada pools their talents to come up with some great games. Their game Builders! just launched on Kickstarter, so be sure to check it out! And read on to learn more about Cameron 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?

What game or games are you currently working on?
A magical girl boardgame, First Contact, and After Ragnarok; a Norse mythology RPG.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes. Most notably Buffy the Vampire Slayer along with a number of lesser known titles from the same company.

What is your day job?
Currently between jobs

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Usually at a friend's place or FLGS

Who do you normally game with?
Basically anyone who's around and willing to play!

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
As of late? We've been addicted to Terraforming Mars and its' many expansions

And what snacks would you eat?
I'm a big fan of tortilla chips and salsa, or sour candies with gaming

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I do! It depends a lot on the game and the group. For role playing games I like to try matching the mood and setting with the music I play. Usually I prefer putting on instrumental tracks while gaming so that players aren't distracted by lyrics while trying to roleplay or think out their next move.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
The Dragon. It's got a great focus on community and being a safe, welcoming space for fans of all walks of life.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favourite is probably Terraforming Mars. I feel like I learn a little bit more about its' strategy and flow each time I play.

Least favourite that I still enjoy? The Omega Virus, an electronic board game from 1992. The game itself is super limited, but no other electronic board game captured the sneering, taunting computer that you just HAVE TO DESTROY.

Worst game I've ever played is probably "The Walking Dead Board Game", which mostly involved circling a monopoly-esque board and rolling dice. Not much decision making or efforts to accurately portray the source material.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
One of my favourite mechanics is programming moves in secret and then seeing how they resolve. It's useful for competitive strategy games (such as Forbidden Stars) as well as hectic cooperative games (like Space Alert).

My least favourite mechanic has to be rolling for movement. Luckily, it has mostly become a relic of the past.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Neuroshima Hex! It's a fantastic, simple, strategy game that has a ton of replay ability thanks to its diverse factions.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures 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 usually start with a theme and construct the mechanics to accurately reflect that as much as possible. However, there have been times that a particular set of mechanics practically demanded a certain theme be applied to them.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have not

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
There are too many great designers to choose from, I don't think I could pick a favourite.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Usually inopportune moments. It's very hard to write down good notes in the shower and I've definitely had to get back out of bed to write or sketch something out!

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Depending on what stage of development a game is in, I'll bring it to my fellow Broken Things designers, or a local creative networking night at the FLGS. When it's far enough along to start looking like a proper game I like to get friends and family to try it out as well, especially if they're not hardcore gamers or designers.

As much variety in playtesters as possible and always take good notes!

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Definitely as part of a team. This does require finding a group of people who can compliment your strengths, cover your weaknesses and bring creativity and positivity into the workspace. It's also vitally important for everyone in a team to become adept at offering and receiving constructive criticism!

If everyone has the same goal of creating an excellent experience for people, they should be able to set ego aside and always push for whatever is best for the project!

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?

I often joke that I don't understand how time works, so I've made very good friends with the Alarm and Reminder functions of my phone. With some help, I've been improving on that front as I move forward.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I would love to get the chance to make a strategy or roleplaying game with Armored Core. Customizable giant robots, dealing with ammo costs and upkeep, taking contracts from opposing mega corporations. All sounds like good times.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Get things in writing. Don't trust anyone who won't give you copies of your paperwork.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Learn how to parse your idea down to MVP. Minimum Viable Product. As excited as you can get about this cool thing or that awesome addition, figure out what the bare-bones minimum is for your game to still be a "game". Then, prototype it out with cue-cards and actually sit down to play it.

You'll learn quickly what does and doesn't work and you can build off of the MVP easier than trimming an unwieldy behemoth down to something that is both manageable to play and cost effective to produce!

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sherwood's Legacy, Neverland's Legacy, Albion's Legacy, Deep5 and To Err is Transhuman.
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Builders! The Building-Building Deck Building Game
Games that I'm playtesting are: After Ragnarok
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Magical Girl and First Contact
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Project: Mayhem

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

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I also enjoy theatre, sword fighting and rock climbing

What is something you learned in the last week?
How to properly pronounce Saehrimnir

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
My favourite band is Diablo Swing Orchestra, favourite books may be the Hitchhiker's Trilogy and favourite movie is The Fifth Element.

What was the last book you read?
I'm currently reading Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Do you play any musical instruments?
Sadly no

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I never consider myself the smartest, or most qualified in a room full of people. Despite liking to joke about being the greatest, I tend to get caught off guard by genuine compliments.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I once laid down on the 401 on a dare

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Getting into game design as a career.

Who is your idol?
Chris Hadfield. I enjoy that he saw the Moon Landing and said "I'm gonna do that." and then went on to become an astronaut. His blending of hard science, fun and natural charisma is exactly what we need from educators to make sure that the next generations gains an appreciation for the sciences.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I'd get future-Cameron to stop trolling me.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Hands down Korra, from Legend of Korra. Not only controlling all four elements, but bending just LOOKS COOL.

Have any pets?
Only vicariously.

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?
Roleplaying games 100% survive, here's hoping that the ice age gets some of the bigots to chill out.

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 Arik for killing it at Gen Con this year

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

The Kickstarter for Builders! is live now! Check it out and tell your friends!

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

Did you like this interview?  Pleasse show your support: Support me on Patreon! Or click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

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