Tuesday, February 25, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 212: Kennedy Goodkey

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:Kennedy Goodkey
Day Job:I used to work in film. Nowadays I do data analysis for a major Canadian telecom.
Designing:One to two years.
Blog:I do but its not game relevant at this time
Facebook:Hobbyists or Dabblers
YouTube:I do but its not game relevant at this time oh wait... how about a film I produced that is now available for free on YouTube? https://youtu.be/whW57js2XjA
Find my games at:Best to reach out on Facebook and I can direct people to appropriate PnP or TTS locations (the picking are pretty slim right now)
Today's Interview is with:

Kennedy Goodkey
Interviewed on: 8/26/2019

This week's interview is with Kennedy Goodkey, an independent film director and screenwriter turned game designer. In addition to his involvement with several movies, Kennedy has been designing games for the past few years. Read on to learn more about Kennedy and his current 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 did it in my teens and 20s. Got busy for a few decades (the film industry is a time-intensive life), then got back to gaming as a Dad (and having left film)... and the bug struck again - in part because my daughter started getting into games with me, but also because I had a creative hole in my life where film once was.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I've got about 4 that are getting regular attention from me right now...

"The Queen Must Die" - a reversed dungeon crawl where the players are the Kobolds working together to save their warren and queen... except that whoever is "winning" at any given time wants the Queen to die, so they can rule.

"Drive" - a tile-laying race-game in the spirit of awesome/terrible films like The Cannonball Run and Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

"Drop-Stix" - A dexterity game that turns the classic Pick-up-Sticks on it's head.

"Bishop, Baylies & the Baron" - A fast paced card game of aerial dog-fighting in WWI.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Nope. But I have a good track record at design jams.

What is your day job?
As noted above, I used to work in film. Nowadays I do data analysis for a major Canadian telecom.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Anywhere there is a game. I get anxious when I leave the house without a deck of cards (I also do card magic) "just in case."

Who do you normally game with?
#1 - my daughter. I have 2 small groups of "the guys" who I play with at least once a month each. And I attend several open gaming nights - with various 'regulars' - sometimes with my daughter, and sometimes not.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
My #1 for close to a year now has been Root. I do like getting my games to the table too. The rest rotates based on whims that last weeks at a time.

And what snacks would you eat?
My daughter and I usually go out for "muffins and coffee" and games at least one morning per weekend. And "beer" is probably the most reliable staple of the other events.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I do. I'm pretty open to whatever - my tastes musically speaking are pretty broad. But... "the guys" ...we are collectively getting long ion the tooth - and there is a lot of "I can't hear clearly with too much background noise" ...so music is normally only pre/post game. :-(

What’s your favorite FLGS?
RainCity Games in Vancouver. That's where everybody knows my name. And it's a block away from home.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Fave... Well, Root. ...but Point Salad is making a hard play for that position over these past few weeks. Least favourite that I still enjoy... Pandemic is probably my all-time fave, but I've played-it-out. I do still like "playing" it... but that really means I sit and watch others play - 'cause I can't open my mouth without having an Alpha opinion about the situation. Worst game... I've probably deliberately forgotten. However, this past weekend my daughter and I took a game off the shelf of shame - Barcelona - and confirmed that our year-long resistance to playing it was WELL founded.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Being VERY specific - the way the infection deck is handled in Pandemic - adding a new card from the bottom and then reshuffling all that has already appeared together and putting it on top to go through again... it seems so pedestrian now all these years later, but DAMN - it's a simple piece of genius. Being considerably less specific... I'm a sucker for legacy games. Least favourite... well any of the 54(?) mechanics singled out on BGG have a place and time... but dice rolling really needs to earn it on my game table.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
I could probably say "Root" again, 'cause it doesn't get to the table anywhere near as often - or with as many players as I'd like. But... I'm going to cheat this question in another way... Dune. I owned an AH copy of it in the 80s and played it until it was hardly usable. I traded it, in all it's literally broken (yet complete) glory for a nearly mint copy of Supremacy with ALL expansions. That trade says all you need to know about either game, no? I'd been considering hand crafting a bespoke version [of Dune] for quite some time... but I'm glad that I won't have to... geez, almost any time 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?
Theme MOSTLY comes first. But there are exceptions.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes. I've entered a few. The only ones I've won have been design jams though.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I could go top 3... in no particular order: Garfield, Daviau, Leacock. All for very different reasons... and the connection between Daviau and Leacock I will staunchly deny has anything to do with their partnership of note.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Tough to say. "The Queen Must Die" began life as a screenplay that I couldn't finish. Years later it popped into my mind and I thought - THATS A GAME! "Bishop, Baylies & the Baron" - I'd wanted to design a dogfighting game for quite some time (I've always been fascinated by the arithmancy of Ace of Aces) and at a game jam, it fit the constraints we were given, so a game was born.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I go regularly to a design night at my FLGS. But I'll also post on Facebook or elsewhere that I'm looking for players when I want to go deep. I'll solo or play with my daughter too - for as much as that is worth. And I've uploaded "The Queen Must Die" to Tabletop Simulator, but haven't yet tried the on-line play test... but will soon.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Yes. I really love the autonomy of working alone. I like trying my hand at all aspects - though I'm not really good enough at art or graphic design to do those at a level that could sell. I'm also not the greatest businessman. I have designed two games - probably two of my taughtest - with others, but even so I have a habit of running head of the pack at the slightest hint of foot-dragging. I'd love to have a dream-team partnership with a better artist and graphic designer than me, and someone with a better grasp of business.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
... I feel like I'm answering these questions ahead of when they are being asked! The business. Yeah, I co-produced a movie that sold to broadcast, theatrical and DVD (oddly in that order), but I hated every single step of the business part. I resist it and let my contempt for it get in the way of doing it efficiently at every step.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I saw Star Wars on my 7th birthday. I left the theatre and said "I want to do THAT" - meaning making films. I did - though not Star Wars. So perhaps there is a Star Wars game in the future with my name on the box.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Don't stop. Keep doing it in the vacuum - a renaissance is coming.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
(Again this comes from film (and theatre).) Never toss an idea away entirely. No matter how dumb it seems, or how much it doesn't work in the current situation, you never know when it will be the key to something good. Don't dismiss something because it's impractical - it may seem weird and counter-intuitive, but in the right context it may be exactly what you need. Both those ideas are adjacent to one another. I have personal examples of both.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Nothing as of yet.
Games that will soon be published are: Ditto.
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: See above re my taste for business.
Currently looking for a publisher I have: The Queen Must Die; Bishop, Baylies & the Baron Both are ready. I have plans to pitch both in October [2019].
I'm planning to crowdfund: :-)
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Pixie Dust; Drop-Stix
Games that I'm playtesting are: Drive; Pirates v. Robots v. Ninjas v. Zombies v. Lemmings
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Legacy version of a major license that I will NEVER get and that should probably never actually get a legacy treatment - but was fun to dev anyway. (It's a game about real-estate - yeah, that one.)
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Un-named Palace Intrigue - Hidden Identity game that I'd call "Love Letter" except...

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Yes, each of those and many others - Board Game Design Lab springs to mind

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, but only if I had to pick; Coke; VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
We love music in our house. I still get the occasional call for help on film... for fun. And (largely due to having a wife with loads of insider experience) a lot of world travel.

What is something you learned in the last week?
The connection between Depeche Mode, Erasure and Yazoo. ...and here I THOUGHT I knew my 80s music trivia.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Punk / Post-Punk, Space (not specifically sci-fi - but at least as much about real world space exploration and astro-physics). Obviously Star Wars... but I really enjoy Nordic Noir too.

What was the last book you read?
Game Tek by Geoff Englestein

Do you play any musical instruments?

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I paid for most of my university by touring Canada in a comedy troupe.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I paid for most of my university by touring Canada in a comedy troupe.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
... no doubt I have one... it's just not springing to mind.

Who is your idol?
Joe Strummer, The Edge, David Brin, Trevor Linden

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I'd call my friend Keith five minutes earlier than I did on the day he died... so he wouldn't have been at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I am an awful lot of both and not much of the middle.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
The Flash has always been my favourite, so it'd probably be wrong to say Batman.

Have any pets?
A fish. (Sigh, apartment life.)

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?
As much as I have all manner of utopian ideals of what I wish the world was like, I kinda feel like people suck and so long as we are around, the worst aspects of human kind will always be there to be fought - so... nice idea, but I just don't kid myself anymore. I sure hope people keep playing hockey and curling. The ice age should about that.

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):
Hey Keith! Hope you're doing well. Miss the hell out of you still. Can you believe I'm older than you ever were?

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

Geez... this is a lot of questions.

Curling. Once upon a time my Dad was one of the top 100 curlers in Canada. At that time, being one of the top 100 curlers in Canada pretty much meant you were one of the top 100 curlers in the world.

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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