Tuesday, November 20, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 147: Jay Sears (take 2)

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!


tr>
Name:Jay Sears
Email:jaypsears@gmail.com
Location:South Wales, UK
Day Job:Team Manager within supported living services.
Designing:Two to five years.
Webpage:pixygamesuk.co.uk
Blog:Pixy Games UK
Facebook:Destruction and Animal Race
Find my games at:See facebook links above and on my website.
Today's Interview is with:

Jay Sears
Interviewed on: 6/17/2018

This is actually Jay's 2nd time being featured on People Behind the Meeples (if anyone else would like to update their interview, you're more than welcome). You can see his first interview here to see what's changed in the last 18 months and how Jay's projects have been moving along.

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 father sent me a prototype of a game he designed called "Scandal". I had never played any modern games prior to that and thought nothing negative about it. I didn’t actually play it but loved the idea of designing your own games. My father explained how the game played so I had an idea of its mechanics. I therefore went on my own venture and tried to design a trivia game like "Trivial Pursuit", however it turned out too similar and I never got around to creating the questions, realising how time consuming that could be. I shelved it and then started designing a new game called Destruction. I put Scandal on BGG and it received a lot of negative feedback so I took this as a challenge and remade a new version that was more strategic and has gone fantastically well.

What game or games are you currently working on?
There are 3 games I am currently designing:
- Animal Race, which is a children’s racing game with mix of modern and old mechanics.
- Scandal, which is a political strategic worker placement euro game.
- Destruction, which originally was meant to be based on an app game on curing diseases, but after discovering Pandemic, has been changed to a natural disaster semi co-op euro game.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
No, although Animal Race, Destruction and Scandal will all be on Kickstarter next year.

What is your day job?
Team Manager within supported living services.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At friend’s homes, although I do enjoy going down the pub to play games with friends.

Who do you normally game with?
I try to go to the Caerphilly Board Game meet up at the Old Library every other Friday, and on the alternative Friday’s I meet up with friends in the pub to play a few games. Every other Wednesday I meet up with the Cardiff Playtesters group and we play out our games that we have designed.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
It depends if they are new to gaming or not. If they are new then Small World, Pandemic, Red7, 7 Wonders Dual, are all fun and easy games to get to grips with.

And what snacks would you eat?
I am conscious of knowing what others like and catering for their needs. Pizza, crisps, cakes, chocolate are all food items most enjoy.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No as I like to concentrate.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Rules of Play in Cardiff.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite: I don't have one really. Least Favorite I still enjoy: None, as I don't have any favorites. Worst game ever: There was a game similar to Contagion I purchased on Kickstrater. Very unbalanced.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I don’t really have a favorite as so many bring something different to the table. I do enjoy worker placement and resource management based games, as well as building or developing resources. Card games I am not fond of in general and those that have set collections I least enjoy.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
No particular favorite as I enjoy playing various different games.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board 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?
Never actually played and I am not fussed on it either way.

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?
This all depends, but normally I come up with the theme as that helps a lot in knowing how the mechanics are going to work and gel together for that theme. It can be something as simple as building something and then finding the mechanics that will work with building and finding resources. I never think of a mechanic and then go let’s find a theme that fits in with that. It’s important to have a focal point so that you always have something to go to when thinking if a mechanic will work or not for that focal point.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
No, as it can’t just be one as you will gather ideas from all aspects of game design from various designers.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Our brains work best when we are actively doing something and subconsciously you then begin to come up with ideas. So, when I am doing house work or in the shower I will let my brain wonder away for ideas. This is because I am relaxed, have no pressure to come up with ideas and just allow them to flow naturally. Another great way I gather ideas is from watching children’s programs my children watch. The imagination those programs come up with is an excellent way to turn them into board games. Usually it just a theme and basic idea I get from those programs, but that is plenty to get started with.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
First, I like to run them through my brain functions first and this works really well when I am undertaking another task as I have stated earlier. This allows me to uniquely come up with fixing the bugs as I am under no pressure of thinking about it too deeply and instead relaxed thinking about how the game plays out. This takes me about 3 months or so to fix everything that is broken. I do not need to physically playtest it all as I have written the rules by this point and know how the game functions already. Writing my rules briefly allows me to think deeply about the game functions and mechanics. I do not see it as a waste of time as I they are briefly written and I know I will need to change some things in it after physically play testing it out.

Secondly, once the game works fairly well in my mind, without me playtesting it physically myself yet. Although children’s games I will physically playtest out to work out mathematically the balance of the game and that doesn’t take me too long: around 1 month. I take my games to the Cardiff Playtesters Group to iron out the other bugs and begin its development phase. Normally my games are not broken too much when I do take them to the meetup’s, which is great as I know I can playtest my games out really well in my head. This may seem very strange to a lot of people and many may question this method. However, I know how my brain works and how to get the best out of play testing my games. I have tried other ways of doing it and this way brings out the best for me and saves time.

Thirdly, I let others do blind playtesting to finalise ironing out all the bugs. It is really important to get others to read your rule book, play out the game without any support or guidance.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I like to work alone when designing games, but playtesting them with others is vital in ironing out all the bugs and getting that balance right. I would love to co-design a game with someone and utilise each other’s skill areas.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Getting the balance and game play time is perhaps the biggest, as you want games to play within a certain time and still have the correct balance by that point. When someone feeds back to say you need to reduce the game play time by an hour that can be really challenging.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Perhaps I would consider Casualty as that could be an interesting game theme and mechanics. It has not been done yet so is worth exploring. Another is Indiana Jones or the A-Team which would be great fun as I love both when I was younger.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
When others give their constructive feedback you do not need take it all on board or use all their ideas to implement in your game. Choose wisely as I have fallen into the trap of using everyone’s ideas. Other’s don’t always know best.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Try and enjoy it. If you are getting stressed out by it or fighting for ideas then something clearly isn’t working for you right now. Do what works best for you, as not one way of designing will work for everyone. One size does not fit all.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
I'm planning to crowdfund: Animal Race
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Scandal
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Destruction, Design a Board Game
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Animal Race, Crash Landed, Disadvantaged, Identity It, Innocent Person, Music Star, Portal Cuboid, Resort Tycoon, Scottish Clans, Species Attack, Unicorn Magic, Zombies Vs Humans.

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
I am member of nearly every one.

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?
Neither. Smoothies or fresh juice for me.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Just the usual most people would have, watching movies and football (soccer).

What is something you learned in the last week?
Women are complex creatures.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Music? UK Hardcore Books? I don’t read but Irvine Welsh, Movies? The Fountain, Good Will Hunting.

What was the last book you read?
Glue by Irvine Welsh

Do you play any musical instruments?
No but I used to produce my own music.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I was homeless for 4 ½ years.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I don’t do crazy things, although with just £20 in my pocket I took the Megabus to London and lived there for 4 years.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Nothing really.

Who is your idol?
No one.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Nothing as what has happened is meant to happen based on your choices and decisions. You need live by those.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I prefer reality so would rather be myself.

Have any pets?
No

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?
Well, I don’t live in the US so I guess I would be safe and all my games would be. I feel that a game I am working on called Destruction would survive as that is based on natural disasters.


Thanks for answering all my crazy questions, again!




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.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Review Update - Death Wish by Sketchy Games

Death Wish
Designed By: Jason Hibbert
Published By: Sketchy Games
2-8p | 20-45m | 15+
Review Update - Death Wish by Sketchy Games
Disclaimer Support me on Patreon!




This is an update for a Quick Review / Kickstarter Preview for Death Wish, which I originally reviewed in May 2016.  The game has since been delivered to backers and I have received and played the final published copy of the game.  This update will only cover any aspects of the game that have changed since my original review.  It'll particularly focus on the Components & Packaging and Overall Value, since those were not available in the prototype preview.

Read the original review here!



Game Overview:
From my original review:
Death Wish is a casual set collection card game for 2-8 players that is all about contracting fatal diseases.  Diseases like LOLera, Meowsles, and Tuburpulosis run rampant in this game.  Throughout the course of the game players try their hardest to contract as many diseases as possible and be the first to perish.  This may sound a bit crass, and some of the diseases, symptoms, and afflictors are definitely R-rated, but if you take those out the game still plays fine and becomes a great family friendly game, too, as long as your family doesn't mind a little bit of dark and occasionally gross humor. 
To contract a disease, you must have an appropriate Afflictors (like swallowing baby puke, licking a snail, or getting sneezed on) as well as the right number and type of symptoms (like hair loss, cold sweats, or blurry vision).  Each disease you contract awards you with a certain number of skulls and the winner is the player that first collects enough skulls to die.
Death Wish is for 2-8 players ages 15 and up (although with a few of the more risque cards removed, the mechanics are easy enough for much younger kids - my son originally played when he was six).  Games are said to take 20-45 minutes, and that's about right.  Higher player count games may take a bit longer since my 5 player games usually have gone about 40-45 minutes.  Higher player count games also increase the downtime a bit, but it moves pretty fast at all player counts.  I think it's best with 3-6 players though.

Components & Packaging:
The prototype of Death Wish I received was pretty decent quality.  The game only consists of cards, so there wasn't a whole lot that could go wrong.  The final published version of the game has better quality cards, although not the greatest, but they do have linen finish.  The artwork has not changed from the prototype and is very sparse, but functional for the style of game.  The cards are also colorful, which is a nice change from the usual black and white that you usually see on party games.

The game does come in a very nice, solid box and the additional Death Certificate is fun, funny, and superfluous.  The rules are nicely laid out and printed on good quality paper.  For a game that consists of only cards there's not much to get wrong, but Sketchy Games definitely got it all right.

Score: 8/10 x1

Rules & Setup:
The rulebook is very thorough and clearly explains how to set up and play the game.  This is consistent with my experience with the prototype.  There were a few minor changes, highlighted in bold orange.

To set up Death Wish, separate the cards into four decks: Afflictors, Symptoms, Diseases, and Outbreaks.  Deal two Afflictors and four Symptoms to each player to start the game.  Afflictors are placed face-up on the table (you are allowed three Afflictors max at any point in the game).  Symptoms make up each player's hand and are private (you are allowed a maximum of six Symptoms in your hand).  Then create two tableaus consisting of four Diseases and four Symptoms.  These form a market, or lineup, where Symptoms and Diseases can be acquired.  Set the four decks around the tableau of cards and you're ready to begin.  In the final game there are a few extra minor steps: Reveal the top disease from the disease deck and place it to the left of the disease deck.  This is the incubating disease.  Also reveal the top card from the Afflictors deck and start a discard pile.
Players take turns completing one action.  On your turn, your choices are: Gain Symptoms, Gain an Afflictor, Reveal a Disease, Incubate, or Contract a Disease.  When you Gain Symptoms you take one Symptom from the lineup, or two from the top of the deck into your hand.  When Gaining an Afflictor you take the top Afflictor and add it face-up in front of you.  If you ever have more than six Symptoms or three Afflictors you must then discard down to your limit.  If you Reveal a Disease you may draw a new Disease from the top of the deck and add it to the Disease lineup on top of an existing Disease.  The Disease on top must be contracted before the Disease below it can be contracted.  This lets players try to strategically block other players from contracting diseases.  Incubate is a bit of a different action.  If you choose to Incubate you can either take up to three Symptoms from your hand and place them face-down on the table for later use or take up to three Incubating Symptoms back into your hand.  This is the only way you can potentially have more than six Symptoms available for use, however remember, Incubating is a full action and you can only have six Symptoms in your hand at a time, so retrieving Incubating Symptoms could cause you to discard some Symptoms.  In the final game Incubating as it was in the prototype has been removed and Reveal a Disease is now called Incubation.  You may cover a disease from the Disease lineup with either the Incubating disease or the top disease from the disease deck.  If you use the Incubating disease, replace it with the top disease from the disease deck.
The fifth action that you can take is the main goal of the game: Contract a Disease.  To Contract a Disease you must have the required Symptoms and Afflictor.  Each Disease is one of four colors, or Wild.  Symptoms and Afflictors are also one of these four colors, or Wild.  In order to Contract a Disease you must have the designated number of Symptoms and one Afflictor in the same color as the Disease.  Wild diseases are a little different.  Whereas Wild Symptoms and Afflictors can be used as any color, Wild diseases require one of each color Symptom and an Afflictor in the color designated on the Disease any color Afflictor.  You can then collect the disease and tell others what you caught, how you caught it, and what symptoms you are suffering from.  Feel free to make the story as elaborate as you like! 
Many of the diseases also have a symbol called Outbreak on them.  When you contract a Disease that has an Outbreak you then draw an Outbreak card.  Outbreaks have all sorts of wild effects on the game.  Sometimes they'll help you out and sometimes they'll hurt other players, either individually or as a group.  I thought it was odd that almost every Disease came with an Outbreak and would prefer to see them a bit more rare (maybe 50% of the time instead of over 90%).  They just didn't feel special when there were so many of them, and they do disrupt the game and any strategy that you may be developing.  This keeps the game light, but also can occasionally be frustrating.
Each Disease you contract also has a number of skulls on it.  These are the points the Disease is worth.  Games are played to a predetermined number of points (recommended from ten to fourteen) and the first to earn those points wins the game.  Optionally players can continue to play until there is only one person left, but personally I prefer to just shuffle up the cards and start over.  I haven't played enough to tell if a hard stop after someone wins is the best way for the game to end or not though.  It seems that this gives the first player an advantage, but in a game this casual I'm not sure it matters.  But if you do feel it's a concern I suggest you either play out the round or let every player have one final turn (including the player that triggered the end).  Then the winner would be the player with the most skulls, maybe having leftover symptoms and afflictors as tie breakers.

Score: 9/10 x2

Gameplay:
Gameplay is just about the same as the prototype.  Games are simple, fast, fun, and have a decent amount of strategy, but not too much.  It's a great casual game that you can play with a group of friends while still having conversations.  You don't have to think too hard and focus completely on the game, but it's not a typical party game like Fluxx or Cards Against Humanity where you can pretty much play without thinking at all.

Score: 8/10 x3

Replayability:
If you like silly party games and games with a bit of strategy, then this is probably a game that you'll bring to the table pretty often.  The game is simple enough to teach new players in just a few minutes, fast enough that you'll be able to play multiple games in an evening, has enough strategy to keep gamers interested, and plays equally well for player counts from 2-8, although at higher player counts there's a bit more downtime (not a problem if you're playing while conversing).  It's perfect for playing at the pub, family parties (although you might want to pull out a few of the more crass cards), or any time you want to laugh and socialize while playing a game.  It also makes a great filler for between bigger games on game nights.

Score: 7/10 x1

General Fun:
The humor is pretty funny and usually has everyone joking and laughing.  It's difficult to resist the urge to pick up the various decks and flip through them while waiting for your turn.  However, after seeing the cards for the 10th time they'll get a bit stale.  If you have a creative group they'll be able to make new combinations and really sell the disease, acting out the symptoms, afflictors, and diseases.

I like playing Death Wish with a casual group that wants something silly, but still with a goal.  There's enough strategy in the set collection aspect of the game to keep pretty much everyone interested in the game as well as the silliness.

Score: 9/10 x2

Overall Value:
At $30 Death Wish is a little pricey for what is essentially a few decks of cards.  Similar card-driven, party style games seem to go for $20-$25, so Death Wish is a tad more expensive than it's competitors.  However it sits in an unusual niche of being a party game with a bit more strategy and interesting mechanics than your usual party games.  It also makes a good filler game for game nights, or a fun family game (with a few of the racier cards removed).  The base game only has a handful of cards that are a bit more on the 'naughty' side, but if that is what you're looking for there's also a NSFW deck for another $10.  I haven't seen this deck, but the additional cards are mostly from Kickstarter backer suggestions and you know how twisted those internet folks can be.

Score: 7/10 x1

Final Thoughts:
After playing the final version of Death Wish several times I'm still pretty happy with the game and feel my original opinion still holds true.  It's a good lightweight filler game, or medium weight party game, that is funny and fast to play.  Barring a few cards that can easily be removed, it's also a great family friendly game.  The humor and theme is all tongue-in-cheek and some of the disease puns are cringe worthy and hilarious at the same time.  If you're getting tired of the same old formulas in party games and want something new, be sure to check out Death Wish, available at deathwishgame.com

Overall Score: 74/100



Did you like this review?  Show your support: Support me on Patreon! Also, 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.


GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  A score of 1-10 (low-high) is given to each game in six categories: Components & Packaging, Rules & Setup, Gameplay, Replayability, Overall Value, and General Fun.  Rules & Setup and General Fun are weighted double and Gameplay is weighted triple.  Educational games have an extra category and Gameplay is only weighted double. Then the game is given a total score of x/100.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 146: Jeff Black

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:Jeff Black
Email:gamesbylittlej@gmail.com
Location:Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Day Job:I am an educator.
Designing:Five to ten years.
Webpage:Little J Games
Blog:Newest Monkeys
BGG:jfeast
Facebook:Jeff Black
Twitter:@JBFeast
Find my games at:I have one PnP available on BGG (Rainbow Snake). I will have more to share soon.
Today's Interview is with:

Jeff Black
Interviewed on: 6/16/2018

Today we get to meet Jeff Black, a Boston area designer that has a ton of projects in the works. Not only is he designing games, a few which are currently being looked at for publication, but he's also currently judging a game design contest. Jeff is also a musician and educator, so read on to learn more about Jeff and his current projects.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Five to ten years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I made my first 'modern' design in 2013 though I had made a few games and an unpublished AD&D module before that.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I am working on designs for two contests which are currently running. One is an 18 Card game with some added components for Jellybean Games and the other is from HABA where they send you a box of components and ask that you make a game using at least 3 of them. Both have been fun challenges and I think they are coming along nicely.

I've been working on a roll and write game since September and it might be seeing publication too. I am also a judge in the Board Game Workshop Design Contest that is currently ongoing. It has been an amazing experience. I also have a few more games that are developed, ready and waiting for the right chance to come along.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
No but one of my designs won a contest through Deep Water Games earlier this year, so we'll see where that one goes in the future.

What is your day job?
I am an educator.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Home.

Who do you normally game with?
My family.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Lately the answer would be either Forbidden Desert or Flash Point Fire Rescue but that answer changes pretty often.

And what snacks would you eat?
If it was tonight...Quesadillas!

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Yes. We try to pick something that is thematic to what we are playing at the moment. We do make exceptions though.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Battleground Games (the one in Norton, Massachusetts).

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favorite...can I mention three? Forbidden Desert, Blood of an Englishman, and Colt Express have all been doing it for me lately.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I'm fascinated by Programmed Movement. I have a more than a few designs that use this mechanic.. Hidden Movement is also pretty cool and something I have only dabbled with a little bit. My least favorite? Roll and Move seems too obvious, so I'll say Bluffing...mostly because I have a lousy poker face!

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

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Video 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?
Based on what I have heard it sounds like it's not quite the right fit for my group but I reserve judgement until I have tried it out for myself.

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?
It depends on how the inspiration happens to strike. I do the best when they both develop hand-in-hand! If I had to pick just one I'd go with theme first but I have certainly done both.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes. I won a publisher's contest earlier this year and I was a finalist in the Panjam 48 Hour Contest just a couple of weeks ago.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Steven Aramini has been a big inspiration. He makes some great games! Danny Devine is great... I recently played Topiary and loved it! I'm very much looking forward to Sprawlopolis which was made by these two along with Paul Kluka...another talented designer!

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
My family would probably tell you that it happens at the most random of times and places. It often starts when I'm just being silly and goofing around about some idea that sounds really odd at first. I once came up with a mechanic in a dream.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I have a small but loyal group that I test with. I owe them a huge debt! I'm trying to get more involved with some of the gaming groups in my area too.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I have done both and I enjoy both a great deal. I am still developing my digital art skills so artists and graphic designers are of the most help when I'm trying to get a game into a prototype form.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Art and graphic design which can be presented appealingly online.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I want to publish a terrific 'Battle of the Bands' game I made a few years ago but it would be so much more fun if I could use the likenesses of about 84 famous rock stars. Alternatively, is 'Devil Went Down to Georgia' by the Charlie Daniels Band an IP?

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Dude you're never gonna be a rock star!

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Design early and often. Design whatever you can whenever you can. And most importantly; allow yourself to design bad games. Paul McCartney once said something to the effect that the reason he and John Lennon came up with so many good songs was that they had first come up with so many bad ones. Keep designing and the games will come.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: None yet but I have one under development with a publisher.
Games that will soon be published are: I'm not sure that I'm at liberty to say.
Currently looking for a publisher I have: I have a myriad of games that fit this category.
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: I have about 6-12 games at this stage. There is one called ' Dances with Wolves' (not based on the IP) that I think is an artist away from hitting the table.
Games that I'm playtesting are: Depending on how you define terms some of those 6-12 could fit in this category. Plus a bunch more.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: In total I have in the neighborhood of a hundred games that are in some form of development. These are all games that include at the least a theme, a mechanic, and a win condition. Beyond that, they are truly a 'Gamut of Games'! Some are very close and others are not.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: I keep a file full of index cards with these on them.

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Foxboro Strategy Board Game Night, Southern Mass Game Designers, and many more.

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 and a Coke please! I owned a Beta, so Betamax!

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I play guitar and write songs.

What is something you learned in the last week?
That is a great question. I learned a lot about how black holes work in terms of gravitation as objects approach them. I don't think I can give it a brief synopsis though.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
The answers here would change as often as my favorite game, but here goes... Music: Profoundly Heavy Metal , Surf, and Punk. Books: Beat Literature, Arthur Rimbaud Movies: The Three Amigos, Spinal Tap, and Twister.

What was the last book you read?
A book about the Great Chicago Fire and the Peshtigo Fire which occurred on the same day in Wisconsin and was even more deadly.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Yes I play the guitar.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I am not related to Jack Black.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
A few years back when I was more impulsive I kind of accidentally sneaked in to a U2 concert with a bunch of huge dudes that I didn't know, then got surrounded by a group of burly security guards.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
It turned out that the huge dudes I didn't know all played pro football for the New England Patriots and we all got escorted to the front row at center stage.

[GJJ Games] Wow! Those are awesome answers to both of those questions!

Who is your idol?
The Buddha.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Leave it alone. Things are good the way they are!

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert if I have to pick, but I do well on a stage.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I going with The Black Panther!

Have any pets?
Yes. Two cats who dislike one another.

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?
Play will exist as long as humans do. I think ball-and-stick games (like baseball) and dexterity games would survive. Maybe we could see avarice 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):
A shout out to my family and my game group. Love you guys! And a special shout out to Scott Nicholson whose famous 'Board Games with Scott' videos allowed me to rediscover a childhood love. I would not be doing this right now without them.

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

Discover the fun!

Thanks for the chance to talk about my games. I'm psyched to be able to share them.




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.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Press Release: Jellybean Games announces Jabberwocky


Jellybean Games announces Jabberwocky
5 games in a single stunning package!

White Plains, NY; Nov 12th, 2018. 
Today, Jellybean Games announced the launch of   Jabberwocky, a collection of 5 games in one box.
Jabberwocky is the follow-up to the hit game The Lady and the Tiger - reuniting ex-Disney artist Tania Walker and the designer of Dracula’s Feast and Village Pillage, the games included range from a mancala game, an area control game, a solo puzzle game, an asymmetrical map-making game, and a negotiation game that goes up to seven players!
“Each of the games is totally different” said founder Peter C. Hayward. “They’re all easy to learn, but with an astonishing amount of depth. I’ve played each of them over a hundred times, and I’m still always keen to play more.”

Each of the games lasts for fifteen to twenty minutes, and the collection as a whole has a player-count of one to seven. Like all Jellybean Games, they’re all family friendly and the art is absolutely gorgeous. Tania Walker has filled the game with delightful characters inspired by the Lewis Carroll poem.

All of the games are by first-time designers, and were chosen from over one hundred entries to a contest; the components were put online, and the winners were offered publication in the collection. Designs by Joel Colombo, Karl Lange, Marek Tupy, Joe Myron, and Patrick Chapman are included in the box.

The Kickstarter has a funding goal of $10,000 - if all stretch goals are unlocked, three more games will be added to the collection: a bidding game by Peter C. Hayward, a bridge-building game by Mark Bethell, and a rummy-style game by John Fowler. Other stretch goals include component upgrades, and unique art for all eighteen cards in the game.

A free print-and-play version of the game is available on the publisher’s website, jellybean.games
About Jellybean Games
Jellybean Games publishes gorgeous games suitable for all ages. With their strong focus on stunning and evocative art, they’ve found success with gamers young and old. Their string of hits include Scuttle!, the pirate game for all ages; Dracula’s Feast, which offers a fresh take on social deduction games; The Lady and the Tiger, a collection of five microgames based on the classic short story; Village Pillage, the simultaneous-action game with a unique turnip economy; and Ninjitsu!, the standalone ninja-based sequel to Scuttle! 

Jellybean Games have been sold in over forty countries worldwide.


Media contact: 
Peter C. Hayward - peter@beard.blue
More images available at jabberwockygame.co​m

Friday, November 9, 2018

Eye on Kickstarter #53

Welcome to my Eye on Kickstarter series!  This series will highlight Kickstarter campaigns I am following that have recently launched (or I've recently discovered) because they have caught my interest.  Usually they'll catch my interest because they look like great games that I have either backed or would like to back (unfortunately budget doesn't allow me to back everything I'd like to).  But occasionally the campaigns caught my attention for other reasons.  Twice a month, on the 2nd and 4th Fridays, I'll make a new post in this series, highlighting the campaigns that have caught my attention since the last post.  In each post I'll highlight one campaign that has really grabbed my attention, followed by other campaigns I've backed or am interested in.  I'll also include links to any reviews I've done.  Comments are welcome, as are suggestions for new campaigns to check out!

You can also see my full Kickstarter Profile to see what I've backed or my old Eye on Kickstarter page that was too unwieldy to maintain.  Also, check out the 2018 Kickstarter Boardgame Projects geeklist over on Board Game Geek for a list of all the tabletop games of the year.
So, without further ado, here are the projects I'm currently watching as of the second Friday of November, 2018:



HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
Zoo-ography
  • GJJ Games Review
  • GJJ Games Backed
  • I had the good fortune to review Zoo-ography and I found it to be a fast, fun filler game that would be great for casual gamers, newer gamers, or as a fast diversion for more experienced gamers. There's hidden depth and variety in the objectives and attractions that you can add to your zoo that experienced players will appreciate, yet a simplicity of play and great theme that will attract casual players.


Create custom habitats, populate them with a variety of animals, and strategically build attractions to earn the highest rated zoo! In Zoo-ography, you've been asked to design a new city zoo. Build custom habitats, draft animals for exhibits, and strategically place attractions. Meet the city's unique objectives, and you'll earn the highest rated zoo! Featuring:

🐘 Animal Drafting - over 40 animals to choose from!
🦒 Tile Laying - build and manage your zoo's habitats and attractions.
🦏 Variable Objectives - Over 200 objective combinations means endless replay-ability!
💵 Awesome Value - 1-4 player Zoo-mongous game play and a great price!





Atlantis Rising
  • I think I've mentioned before, but I'm a big fan of the Atlantis story, so anything related to Atlantis immediately catches my eye. Here we have a cooperative game that was originally released in 2012 being brought back to life by Elf Creek Games. The original game was great and they're making this edition even better.


Welcome to Dino World
  • Welcome to Dino World looks like a fun roll-and-write game about designing your very own dinosaur theme park. While the theme seems especially popular recently, the gameplay also looks fun. Plus it has art by Beth Sobel, one of my favorite board game artists.


City of the Big Shoulders
  • I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, so I'm familiar with a lot of the history and lore surrounding the city. City of the Big Shoulders is a heavy game that takes you on a journey from the years immediately following the Great Chicago Fire into the early 20th century and you try to build a great investor and entrepeneur rebuilding the city.


Terminus Breach TD
  • This is a fun looking, tower defense style game where the players cooperate to protect the city, but the most successful player is the winner.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 145

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:Tom O'Halloren
Email:tohalloren@gmail.com
Location:Great Meadows, NJ
Day Job:Freelance Illustrator
Designing:Two to five years.
Webpage:https://tohalloren.artstation.com/
BGG:WIP Witches Sabbath 2 Player Skirmish Game
Facebook:Noirtoony Games
Instagram:@ohalloren
Find my games at:https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/sugarplum-chronicles
Today's Interview is with:

Tom O'Halloren
Interviewed on: 6/16/2018

This week we get to hear from Tom O'Halloren, a designer that's working on two games. The Sugarplum Chronicles is currently available on The Game Crafter and Witches Sabbath is his current project. Tom is also an illustrator and does the artwork for his projects. Read on to learn more about Tom!

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?
As an illustrator I decided to design my first game to showcase my work. I eventually fell in love with designing.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Witches' Sabbath, a 2 player skirmish game featuring teams of witches casting spells, wielding brooms, and shifting the terrain to their favor.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
I self-published my first game, Sugarplum Chronicles, through The Game Crafter after a failed Kickstarter campaign.

What is your day job?
Freelance Illustrator

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Right now I mostly play at home with friends. I love to attend playtesting events as well, to help other creators hone their visions.

Who do you normally game with?
My wife and a few other friends.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
We enjoy lighter party games like Castle Panic, Telestrations, and Scattegories.

And what snacks would you eat?
Chips, cheese and crackers, and sour patch kids mostly. We eat a ton of sour patch kids.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No, not at all. I think I would find it way too distracting.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
The Dragon's Hoard in downtown Hackettstown, New Jersey. The owner, Craig, has been super supportive in helping playtest my games.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
As humble as this sounds ;) my current favorite game is my own, Witches' Sabbath. It's a game I have been itching to make for years and I think the blend of mechanics scratch the itch pretty well. I think my least favorite that I still enjoy would be Zombies!! It's kind of a shallow game with not much in the way of choice happening, but I still dig the tile placement and zombie theme so I'll play it on a rare occasion. I don't know if it's the worst game, but Stuffed Fables really was not as fun as it looked imho. We got the game on a whim and there was just too much to keep track of for me. It's absolutely beautiful, but I think I'm more interested in lighter games with fewer bits to keep track of.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Pattern building is something I enjoy, in co-op and versus games. It's really the basis of the combat system in Witches' Sabbath; building your own patterns to perform abilities and trying to impede your opponent's pattern making efforts. I'm not a huge fan of trick taking elements in games. In trick taking games, I find there is often larger element of chance than I am a fan of, but it really depends on my mood, and the game.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
I don't have one. My wife says 'Scattegories'.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card 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?
In the right setting, with the right people, one or two playthroughs are fun.

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?
Something else. My first game, Sugarplum Chronicles, I came up with the theme first, which was a mistake. My newest game started as a 'vibe' that I wanted to get from playing the game. I wanted players to feel like they were controlling unique units in a dense swamp environment. Mechanics came first from that and I eventually found the right theme.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have not yet. I seem to just miss the deadlines, derp.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I'm working on illustrations for Witches' Sabbath now, and I find a lot of inspiration from the artist, Ivan Bilbin. I don't really have a single designer who I admire. I think generally anyone who can bring a game from concept to the table is worth admiration.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
For my current game I actually take inspiration from film and video games, and I spend a lot of time figuring out how I can replicate certain scenes or experiences on a tabletop. That's where I'm at now anyway.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I start with very rough versions of the game that I playtest with friends and family, and when the game is in a state where it can be boxed up and given a rule booklet I send it out to game stores for players to try.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I prefer to work alone right now. If I found someone I really mesh well with it might be a different story.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
I think my biggest challenge is that I came to the tabletop gaming community as an illustrator, and so I feel like I'm lacking some of the vocabulary and background to communicate my games effectively sometimes.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I have a game in mind that would be absolutely perfect with the Toxic Avengers IP.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Go for it. See your first game through to the end and then get out there and have people play it. I only regret that I didn't join the designer community sooner.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
This is a piece of advice that may not apply to anyone else, but for me it's important to complete one game and then move on. You can have half a dozen ideas in your head, or on note cards, but until you've taken one to the finish line it's hard to move on to the next level. Personally, I have a strict rule that I work on one game at a time. What that does for me, is it turns my new ideas into motivators for my current game. 'See this game through to the end and you'll get to start on that outer space dating simulator you've always wanted to make'.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Sugarplum Chronicles, available at TheGameCrafter.com
Games that I'm playtesting are: Witches' Sabbath

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 OS all day! No stance on Coke vs. Pepsi. VHS.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Illustration and bad movies

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Classic Rock, Post-apocalyptic books, and again bad movies.

What was the last book you read?
Wolf in Shadow, by David Gemmell, which is an interesting take on the post-apoc genre. I recommend it if you're looking for some weird sci-fi fantasy mash-up.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I bang on tables rhythmically.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I worked in radio for most of my twenties, first as an on-air newscaster, and then as the station's afternoon DJ. It was an awesome experience.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Randomly decided to get a job in the radio industry. I needed full-time work while taking night classes and was always fascinated with radio. I fell in love with radio, and the station is where I met my wife.

Who is your idol?
I try to stay close to home with the people I admire, and so I would say I admire friends and family for their kindness, intelligence, and work ethic.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would travel 400 years into the future and probably regret that decision almost immediately.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert to the extreme, but as I get older I find I'm more comfortable with that.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Superman seems to have the greatest powers with the least amount of baggage.

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?
Okay so... I don't think much of anything would survive under those specific conditions. I would hope at least some of our greatest literature is rediscovered by humanity at some point after the sun re-emerges through the heavy layer of ash in our atmosphere. I really hope they don't find the Fifty Shades series and assume they're some kind of religious texts :fingers crossed:.

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 all those kind and brave enough to play other people's untested games. You rock!


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

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.