Tuesday, June 9, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 228: Tony Vasinda

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:Tony Vasinda
Email: Tony@Plusoneexp.com
Location:Philly PA
Day Job:I am a beard balm magnate and community builder who does missionary work in my community.
Designing:Two to five years.
Webpage:TonyVasinda.com or BeardRPG.com
Twitter:@PlusOneExp or@TonyVasinda
Instagram:@PlusOneExp or @Tony_Vasinda
Find my games at:PlusOneExp.com
Today's Interview is with:

Tony Vasinda
Interviewed on: 5/19/2020

This week's interview is with Tony Vasinda, someone I knew for something other than gaming first. Beard balm! A couple of years ago my wife convinced me to try using a beard balm on my beard and she bought me a sampler of various balms from Tony's Catholic Balm company and I loved it! (I've since tried a few other companies' balms. and Tony's are tied for my top two companies.) Last year I noticed a new RPG on Kickstarter all about beards and I was surprised to see it was by the same guy I buy beard balm from! Since then I've gotten to know Tony as a game designer as well. in April, Tony organized a 48 hour game design jam where two teams of designers had 48 hours to design a game. My team designed a semi cooperative press your luck game about aliens capturing dinosaurs! It was quite fun to design a game as part of a team and to meet a group of designer, so thanks tony for organizing that! Read on to learn more about Tony and his myriad of awesome, uplifting projects.

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?
I love them. I was also designing a lot of social games, challenges, and play experiences for outdoor education experiences and many of them were basically scaled tabletop games.

What game or games are you currently working on?
We are finishing up Beards & Beyond and looking at our next game "Cascade".

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Just Beards & Beyond which is self-published.

What is your day job?
I am a beard balm magnate and community builder who does missionary work in my community.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Yes. Afternoon into evening with long play sessions and breaks for meals and drinks.

Who do you normally game with?
My family (4 teenage kids) right now, but typically with groups of local friends.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Start with a few quick tactical games while we wait for the late comers. I adore Smash Up, Shobu, and others for this. Then start with a large scale social deduction game like Two Rooms and a Boom or The Resistance. Then break people into groups based on interest and experience. Assuming by a few friends you mean 12ish.

And what snacks would you eat?
What people bring. I typically make some homemade pizzas or flatbreads and then add homemade pickles and salsa to the mix. I'll grab some corn chips and kettle chips from the store. Good local beers with some soft drinks.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Not typically. For RPGs we might toss an ambiance track on though.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Hands down Around the Table in Lynnwood WA and Madness Comics in Plano TX. I have a great local comic shop called JD Hero Complex locally that I am just getting to know. The owner is a great artist who did some work for Beards & Beyond.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Dialect is probably my current favorite. I think about it all the time. I'll still happily break out munchkin after decades of playing it, and it having run it's course for personal enjoyment. Worst game ever... it was a zombie game with horribly written rules. Can't remember the name, but also I loathe candy land.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I am currently obsessed with card/tile flipping and I don't know why. Outside of storytelling I love blind bidding mechanics. I don't have a least favorite... but like to avoid high luck elements.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Never played it. Deeply want to. The Great Space Race.

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

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Card Games, RPG Games, Other Games.

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
It was fun the first time.

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?

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I think Phillip Reed (CEO of SJ Games) is prolific and makes amazing RPG supplements for his personal projects. I love playing games with designers, but I don't really get attached to them.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Jokes. I make a joke and a game comes out-sometimes. 75% of my current designs start with, Wouldn't it be funny if we...

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Most of the time it's actually just writing up the rules and sending them to friends who are smart players to get their input and feedback. Then prototyping, then playtesting personally. Then doing a creator jam, then going to my local FLGS and sharing it.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
With a team, but not a set one.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I wish game designers had had more opportunities for community a long time ago, but I made my first game at 19, so I am good.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Your mechanics and materials are not the point. Playing is the point. A game can be pretty, ugly, simple, complex, lite, deep, whatever, but it has to be played to be a game. Don't make a game that will sit in a box. Make a game that will be played.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Beards & Beyond
Games that will soon be published are: Cascade, Forts, BrandStanding
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Cascade
I'm planning to crowdfund: Forts, BrandStanding
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: BrandStanding
Games that I'm playtesting are: Cascade
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Forts
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: BrandStanding

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Soooooo Many. Shout outs to BGDL, Tabletop Backer Party, BoardGame Spotlight, and my own folks in Beards of Tabletop.

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!

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Talk radio. Yes (fiction, business, theology, creativity). Josie and The Pussy Cats and The Forbidden Planet.

What was the last book you read?
I read a crap ton of lit RPG and I just finished The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

Do you play any musical instruments?
Kazoo at a way more "in to it" level than you would expect.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
...hmmm. It really depends on the people.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I just quit a steady paying job, moved my family across the country, and started a new missionary project.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Hopefully the above, but I made beard balm a few years ago that went viral in it's niche and has funneled around a million dollars into philanthropic work.

Who is your idol?
I don't really have one. People are people. Some of my heroes are St Augustin, Plato, Allen Ginsburg, this guy named Mike Bishop in Memphis (he's not anyone that anyone would ever have heard of). Just a great guy.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go Forward 100 years. Interact with no one. Just see what life is like.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Extroverted Introvert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
The Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)

Have any pets?
A dog.

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?
Wait... Isn't that happening right now? Community Storytelling.

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):
Ryan Boh, Chris Pesagian, Mark Guiney, Michael Marchand. You know what you did.

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

If you are looking for a solid Beard Balm, Lotion Bar, or Lip Balm and want the proceeds to support the indie game community head to PlusOneBalms.com.

[GJJ Games] I can attest to the awesomeness of Tony's beard balm. The scents are awesome and it really does a great job of keeping my scraggly beard in check. Plus, your purchase goes to help some pretty great causes.

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?  Please 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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