Tuesday, March 26, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 164: Chris Cummings

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:Chris Cummings
Day Job:I am a software engineer.
Designing:One to two years.
BGG:Broken Archer Games
YouTube:Broken Archer
Other:We are an active member of the Indie Game Alliance!
Find my games at:On our website is the best place or at any events we are attending in 2019!
Today's Interview is with:

Chris Cummings
Interviewed on: 1/19/2019

Today we get to meet Chris Cummings, the founder of Broken Archer Games. Chris has been designing for a few years and has been self publishing his designs. He has a whole bunch of projects in the works, so read on to learn more about Chris and what he has coming soon!

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?
I’ve always loved games; video games, board games, sports, it doesn’t matter. I knew since I was a kid that I wanted to make games. I created random games when I was younger just for fun and it was not until a few years ago that I really pushed to make something more legitimate. I wanted a game that was pure chaos in a box. Something that even if you had the best plan, you could not predict what was going to happen. There was not a single game out there that fit into the category that I was looking for. That’s how Just Survive The Game came about. From there, I looked into selling it myself or getting it published. A few days later I had started a company. A year later I had a handful of games, and soon thereafter a full company selling our games at massive conventions.

What game or games are you currently working on?
There are always games in our pipeline. I'm very excited about our newest game that is making a debut at PAX EAST. It is called Alma Magic, which is a game where you are a wizard in school going to class. Along the way you learn new spells and eventually have to battle teachers to graduate. It has strategy, dice rolling, and teamwork. It’s easy to learn however, has a lot of depth. We also have a Greek hero game, a party voting game, and a robot building game in the works. The ideas are never an issue; the real challenge is finding the time and capital to develop them.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes and no. All of my games are published through our company Broken Archer. So technically We are self-published.

What is your day job?
I am a software engineer.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
There are a multitude of places that I like to play games. My favorite of course is my home. As an introvert that’s obviously where I feel most comfortable. I enjoy playing games with small groups of my closest family and friends. When it comes to play testing however, nothing beats a convention or game nights at local shops. I love having people who you don’t know give feedback, as it’s usually the best.

Who do you normally game with?
I normally have game nights with my closest family or friends. My family loves bigger games that we can all play together like Cranium or Taboo. They are more into party games that are quick to learn. My friend group prefers smaller indie games from developers I've met at conventions. We all know the type of player one another is in a game and that makes things very interesting. I know my brother is going to play as honorable as possible, while I am going to do everything I can to stab you in the back.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I never want to force my games on anyone so unless they ask specifically I won’t bring them up. My go to game is One Night Ultimate. I absolutely love it. I will use logic to figure out who the werewolf is and constantly yell the whole time. When I’m the werewolf I stop talking and everyone knows it’s me. It’s simple, creative, and can be played over and over without every experiencing the same game.

And what snacks would you eat?
If your hands are greasy, cheesy, or somehow sticky get away from the table. Just go away. Anything else is fair game. There should always be cake.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Normally no. There’s usually a lot of yelling when we play just so music just gets drowned out anyway.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
There are FAR too many amazing gaming stores for me to pick just one. I’ve demoed at tons and they are the most thoughtful and welcoming people. If you find a bad one I’d want to hear why.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current Favorite : Code names Least Favorite: Risk. I’ve loved it since I was a kid. Whenever I play it I always start off regretting it but it just brings back a ton of fun memories as a kid, 12 hours later though I’m ready to flip the table. Worst game: In my opinion Pie Face.. because who really wants to get hit in the face with pie??

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
My favorite gaming mechanic is dice rolling for damage/luck/whatever. Most of the time it comes down to luck and with my limited skill set, luck is all I have. My least favorite would be more Euro style gaming in general. Managing resources isn’t my strong suit in both real life and gaming.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
A good friend of mine, Dan Hundycz, made a game called R’LYEH and it’s fantastic. It really is one of the best games out there. The problem I have getting it to the table is the time in general. Our schedules are so hectic that if the game cannot be learned and played in 30 minutes or less, my go to group of gamers tends to reject it. I’ve been lobbying for it for a while now.

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, Card 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?
Every time is different. Sometimes the mechanic that I really want needs to be married with a good theme to match or vice versa. For instance, Tower Beast Slayers – the mechanic was being tweaked over and over again but the theme was the same from the start. However, Alma Magic is the exact opposite, I had an amazing idea for a game mechanic and had to really try to find a theme that was worthy.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Never entered one.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
DPH Dan.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Honestly, when I’m most stressed designing games is an outlet. My best ideas come from my most stressful situations.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
First my team and I play the game a few times through before I even think to show it to anyone. We usually print it out on paper from the home printer (or even sometimes hand write things on index cards). We then see if the mechanic even works. From there I go to my close friends and family, then to my great friends at local game stores and sometimes even at conventions.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I do things with my personal team only. My team consists of Erica, Maggie, and our artist Alexx.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Getting my name/games out to the general public. Designing the games is fun. The business side can be challenging.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
ANYTHING SUPERHERO RELATED... (especially The Flash).

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
The internet can be a mean place.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Keep moving forward and keep going.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Just Survive the Game. Stick Figure Fighters. Stick Figure Fighters Superpower Expansion, Best Pitch, Tower Beast Slayers, Tower Beast Slayers Catacomb Expansion.
Games that will soon be published are: Alma Magic, Extortion.
Currently looking for a publisher I have: We are always open to discussion.
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Alma Magic.
Games that I'm playtesting are: "The Greek Game"
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: "Circuit Destroyer"
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: 7 Swordsman.

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
We are a part of tons of different game developer and design groups.

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, Coke, VHS.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Video games, playing sports, watching movies.

What is something you learned in the last week?
3D printers do not do well in the cold.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Music: Country, Books: Scooby Doo's Guide to Life. Movies: Suspense and action.

What was the last book you read?
The Iliad.

Do you play any musical instruments?

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I was 6th in the nation for cinnabon eating and I'm second in cannoli eating in Scranton PA.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Held a nerf war on my college campus.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Broken Archer.

Who is your idol?
Ellen DeGeneres

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go to the future and see how dippin' dots changes.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Flash of course. Fastest man alive.

Have any pets?
Two cats, Hawkeye and Nightwing.

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?
All of my games and only my games so I can rule like a king. I would hope Avatar the Last Airbender movie.

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):
Erica Longstreet, Maggie Jones, Alexx Smith, Hawkeye, Nightwing.

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

If you ever see us any any convention please stop by! We love chatting with fellow gamers/designers/players etc.

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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