Tuesday, July 16, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 180: Jeremy Davis

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:Jeremy Davis
Location:Birmingham, AL (or close anyway)
Day Job:I'm a Children's Librarian, so basically it's doing anything that I can to make Kids' lives better. I've been at my job for 25 years, so I guess I enjoy it. ( I really do!)
Designing:One to two years.
Find my games at:Not yet, but they can get Bag of Spiders real soon.
Today's Interview is with:

Jeremy Davis
Interviewed on: 7/11/2019

I know Jeremy as a fellow reviewer with the Everything Board Games Reviewer Network. In recent years he's left reviewing to focus purely on game design and now he has his first game hitting Kickstarter today! Bag of Spiders is just one of many games that he's working on, so hopefully you'll see a lot more of his work very soon. In the meantime, read on to learn more about Jeremy and his projects.

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 started reviewing games in 2015 and have gradually shifted in the community towards being a designer. I made the full conversion late last year. Designing allows me to use more of the creative side of my brain, and feels less like work.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I have lots. Bag of Spiders is going on Kickstarter July 16. Chicken Coup is probably a year out from being published. Awful Waffles is the one I want to work more than any other. And then I have Robots Need Love Too, My Cape is in the Wash, and Nebulous (all a ways away from finished).

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Just now my first game is going up on Kickstarter, so we'll see how that goes.

What is your day job?
I'm a Children's Librarian, so basically it's doing anything that I can to make Kids' lives better. I've been at my job for 25 years, so I guess I enjoy it. ( I really do!)

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Anywhere really, but I'm usually the one teaching games so I play a lot at my library with kids and adults and sometimes at friends houses, but if you want to play on a table in the middle of the street, I can probably get behind that.

Who do you normally game with?
My family, my friends and anybody at the library. But my favorite game buddy is my niece Olivia(7).

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
As many games as possible. So probably fillers and gateway type games, but we also play Gloomhaven and other campaigns, so bring it on, we'll try it.

And what snacks would you eat?
Do you have any Twizzlers?

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I don't mind it at all. At our library game nites for adults we play Geeky music. Usually at home it's just whatever we have on.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
We don't have one close to us. We used to have a couple, but now they are at least 30 minutes away and that is sad.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I lot of my favorites are still prototypes of my friends, but I will always play Azul or Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters. My least favorite is Munchkin...I just don't enjoy it anymore. As far as worst game ever played goes, I reviewed games for a while and came across some stinkers, but I'll keep those to myself. I don't know that saying would be good form.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like most things. If it's got a good twist on an old mechanic, I'll usually enjoy it. I don't like bluffing.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Probably either Raptor (because it's 2 players) or City of Spies (because no one is ever in the right mood).

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures 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?
Not anymore.

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 come up with a name, or find pieces laying around and make something out of them. Awful Waffles came from the name. Chicken Coup came about late one night at a con when me and a friend had a bunch of chickens laying around. Bag of Spiders was a joke my wife made. She still says it is.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Not yet, but I haven't entered any either. I was gonna do the Haba one this year, but ran out of time.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Nope, but I have a lot of really cool friends who are designers that help me out a lot.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Usually in flashes, like the name hits or my wife says something funny.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
This is extremely hard for me. I can usually get my family to play them a bit, but a lot of times I have to get random people at conventions and at game nites to buy in for a session or two.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I love co-designing. 3 of my 6 games are co-designs.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Finding time to work on changes and playtest them. I have to keep my family first and my job second, so games end up being put on the back burner for awhile, but the good ideas keep coming back.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Avatar, the Last Airbender (hands down)

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Take feedback from playtesting with a grain of salt. Don't change the game fifty times before you need to. Not everyone is going to like your game . If you don't like the direction it is going after changing it, then you've done something wrong.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Make games about something you know or are interested in. Or about Spiders, spiders are always cool.

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 soon???)
Games that will soon be published are: Chicken Coup (year or two out??)
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Bag of Spiders (July 16, 2019)!!!
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Awful Waffles
Games that I'm playtesting are: My Cape is in the Wash
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Robots Need Love Too, Nebulous

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

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?
Both, Diet Dr. Pepper, VHS (although the clock is still blinking)

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Cartooning sometimes

What is something you learned in the last week?
Baby gates bite back, they really pack a punch

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
All types of music, this year I will see Metric and King Crimson in concert. All books, (I am a librarian) but I mostly read kids books. I watch any movie that's on, and my wife ridicules me constantly for my choices

What was the last book you read?
Ronan Doyle and the Bridge of Riddles

Do you play any musical instruments?
I played the Saxophone in Elementary and Middle school, but I tried it again 2 years ago and it was not good.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I'm older than I look, does that count. I don't look 46.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I once ate a 5 year old Pez.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My job. I started working at the library in college just to make money. Turns out it was exactly right for me.

Who is your idol?
My wife Jamie. She is beyond patient with me, my daughter and my niece. I will never understand how she does it.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I used to think I would go back and tell myself not to be an idiot, but now I know it made me who I am. Lame I know. So probably go get myself a baby T-Rex.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Spiderman or Gambit - I need the agility/dexterity

Have any pets?
3 dogs / 2 cats

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?
Dear Asteroid, Please leave me some Co-Op games, and Aussie Rules Football thanks, also we could do without Politics for a while. Sincerely Jerm.

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):
Olivia, here's your name again in a board game setting. (She will eventually design a game).

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

The lyrics to the jingle: "Bag of Spiders, Spiders in a bag, Bag of Spiders!"

A little bit about Bag of Spiders, you say? Sure.

Bag of Spiders is 8 games in 1 that you play with a bag and 55 plastic Spiders. The games are based on all sorts of mechanics including Push Your Luck, Social Awkwardness, Dexterity, more Dexterity, even more Dexterity, Bluffing (not designed by me), Abstract and more. So far it has involved the talents of at least 6 or 7 different designers, but has been ridiculed and laughed at by many, many more. My wife wrote the lyrics for a jingle 5 seconds after the joke she made and my friend who is a sound engineer mastered it and produced it to make it sound real nice.

This game is silly and fun, and I hope you get to try it.

Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html

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