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!

Name:Jay Sears
Location:South Wales, UK
Day Job:Team Manager within supported living services.
Designing:Two to five years.
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?

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?

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

Have any pets?

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment