Tuesday, May 19, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 225: Brendan Mills

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:Brendan Mills
Location:London, United Kingdom
Day Job:Escape Room Owner
Designing:One to two years.
BGG:Stop the Train
Facebook:Stop the Train Game
YouTube:Escape Plan
Today's Interview is with:

Brendan Mills
Interviewed on: 5/4/2020

This week's interview is with Brendan Mills, who designs escape rooms in London along with board games. He has a game on Kickstarter, launching today! To be sure to head on over to Kickstarter to check out Stop the Train! This is a social deduction game about discovering the sabateur and saving the train from disaster. Read on to learn more about Brendan 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've been creating escape room games for 5 years and this kind of became a natural progression when the right idea surfaced!

What game or games are you currently working on?
My first kickstarter: Stop the Train! (a social deduction board game) and a new bluffing card game called (working title): Jump!

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Fingers crossed soon!

What is your day job?
Escape Room Owner

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Friend's Houses

Who do you normally game with?

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Avalon, Quacks of Quedlinburg, Pandemic: Rising Tide, Telestrations

And what snacks would you eat?

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Sometimes we choose atmospheric mood music or sounds (e.g. Spaghetti Western if playing Colt Express!)

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Zatu Games (not local to me, but an FLGS to many!)

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
We're playing a lot of Quacks of Quedlinburg right now. Just bought a small push your luck game called Rollecate, which is keeping my daughter entertained. Worst game... I think that's anything that needs quick dextrous reactions!

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like card drafting - makes you feel excited about the possibilities of actions that lie ahead. I'm not a fan of worker placement or commodity speculation.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Werewolf (lack of players!)

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Video Games, Other Games.

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, Other 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?
I think the theme first, but not without some idea of the mechanics. It's a bit more hand in hand, but the spark of inspiration is usually the theme married with an inkling of how it might play.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No - now I'm feeling like I should have!

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I'm impressed by the work of Matt Leacock, but can't say that he'd earn idol status!

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Inspiration is like the wind, it comes and goes and you just have to let your imagination get captured by the intriguing thoughts. Sometimes that is 11 at night when you are settling down to bed and sometimes when you're looking at the sea. Other times, you are in the company of someone and the idea just hits you and you spark off each others' energy.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
The more you can do the better. I usually start with a homemade option, then a prototype and then begin showing some trusted friends to feedback and help refine. The more playtesting the better.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
As a team - I'm not strong enough alone on graphics, objectivity and decision making...

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Marketing - for me I find it personally quite tiring but hugely necessary.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Really good question! Genuinely, I'd like to have a crack at a famous thriller movie.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I'm still exploring - I think I'll be able to answer this question further down the line...

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
As a rookie designer, I feel it would be a little pompous to advise, but I'd definitely like to encourage people to pursue passing thoughts and get curious about where they might take you. Maybe if I had to advise from experience of designing escape rooms, I'd say be humble and take the feedback you keep hearing.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Stop the Train launches 19 May (today!)
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Jump!

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 / Neither! / VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Distance Running, Escape Rooms, Community Volunteering, being Dad

What is something you learned in the last week?
I confess I've learned very little - we're living in strange times with the Pandemic, so I'm learning how to be kinder I guess.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
This is so varied, but I'll give you a snapshot of each: Jack Johnson, "100 years of Solitude" and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

What was the last book you read?
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall - it's great!

Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar, but I'm an amateur.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
Everything here is a surprise given I'm largely unknown in the world of board games!

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
No chance, my daughter might read it!

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I can't think of one!

Who is your idol?
I'm a Christian, so you can probably guess from that!

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Playtest it!? I think I'd go forward in time to when time machines were first completed. I'd bring one back so that I could have ongoing use of it. If I am limited to one time use, then I guess I'd save it for a critical moment of saving someone's life somehow?

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I'm both. I draw energy from crowds and people but then need to retire from it.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I don't have a good knowledge of superheros, so not entirely sure what's available. Maybe a Jedi?

Have any pets?
Not presently.

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?
Sports, Word games, Party games.

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):
Board Game Review UK have been awesome in supporting our first project. Thanks!

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

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