Thursday, July 30, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 236: Eric Manahan

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:Eric Manahan
Email:eric@bardshark.com
Location:New York City
Day Job:Architect
Designing:Two to five years.
Webpage:bardshark.com
BGG:Antematter
Facebook:BardShark
Twitter:@bardsharkgames
Instagram:@bardshark
Find my games at:BGG, Facebook, Twitter
Today's Interview is with:

Eric Manahan
Interviewed on: 7/18/2020

Earlier this week we got to meet the founder of BardShark. Today we get to meet Eric Manahan, the BardShark Creative Director working with Aaron on their new game AnteMatter. AnteMatter will be on Kickstarter next month, so keep your eye out for it! Read on to learn more about Eric and the projects he's working on.

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'm a working architect, and have always been drawn to methodical and pragmatic design, while also maintaining a level of aesthetics. I am also a lifelong gamer and have been designing board games on construction paper and making figurines from clay since I can remember. I honestly can't remember a time I haven't been designing games in some fashion. Be it learning to code in Game Maker and developing an RPG Platformer - LUCID by MatteBlack Studio, or being asked by friends to join their team and help them develop a new game idea they have, which came to be known as AnteMatter. I just love games and really believe they've helped hone the analytical and creative sides of my brain.

What game or games are you currently working on?
AnteMatter by BardShark

Have you designed any games that have been published?
I have not, the closest I came was a video game named LUCID, but I put it on the backburner when I was asked to join the BardShark crew.

What is your day job?
Architect

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Anywhere :D I think that is why I love my Switch so much. But when it comes to board games, definitely a great way to end the week, on a Friday, with good friends, fiance, food and drink, that's my happy place.

Who do you normally game with?
Friends, the BardShark crew, fiance.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Oh man, that varies on the mood. Recently we have gotten into Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics. But before that we played a bunch of Monster Hunter, Jackbox Games: Quiplash and Fibbage, and my favorite: SMASH BROTHERS ULTIMATE!... but my friends don't like playing with me... they just can't seem to win ;)

And what snacks would you eat?
We live in the city, so we do a roulette of take out, anything from pizza to cricket tacos, yumyum.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I do, we fluctuate from nostalgic 90s rock, to nostalgic 80s rock.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
I grew up in New Jersey, and my favorite store was The Game Zone. It was the first experience I ever had with EXCHANGING old games for other games. It was sorcery to my young mind. Unfortunately, I think I traded in my OG ALttP cartridge... but some say it was worth it, cause I got Super Metroid in return.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite tabletop game right now is Codenames. It's especially fun when it's me and my fiance vs. our married friends. Least favorite that I still enjoy; Monopoly... Worst game I ever played; an incredible boring DnD campaign...

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Um, not sure if it's a mechanic, but I love games designed with an "easy to pick up, difficult to master" sensibility. Least favorite, are any mechanics that reward the player for losing, unfair comeback mechanics.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Risk. I love it. But no one else wants to play that long without a campaign.

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 Board Games, Card Games, RPG Games, Video Games, Other Games?

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Yes

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?
Most often I design a game that I would want to play. Flesh out the mechanics, polish them up, make sure the idea on paper is fun in execution. Then the coat of paint that is the world and story. That said, building a world and story is a design in its own right. I love to write, and making a believable and lived in world is very important to me.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No... not yet :D

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Satoru Iwata / Masahiro Sakurai / Shigeru Miyamoto / Jonathan Blow / Ken Lobb / Edmund McMillen

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Shower

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Play it over and over and over and over and over again. Then show friends, and play it over and over and over and over again. Then show strangers and play it over and over and over and over again.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Both for sure. Solo dev is great when you need the space, but collab is great for fleshing out ideas.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Finding the fun.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Zelda

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
If you love it, do it. I have this vivid memory from my childhood. I was in the backseat of my parents car. We were driving on the highway at night. I was drawing, using the passing road lights to see, Megaman X and creating my own Megaman X Mavericks Bosses for him to fight, along with their respective levels. My parents looked back and asked what I was doing. I said "Making Megaman levels. I want to grow up and make games." My dad responded with "You don't want to do that Eric, there is no money in making games. That's just a hobby. You need to make money when you're older if you want to support a family." I 100% know he wasn't trying to be mean, and was trying to do what was right in his mind. But, that stuck with me my entire life. It's taken me years of doing something I like enough, to realize I should be doing something I love.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Have fun, be original. That doesn't mean you can't use your childhood favorites as inspiration, but add to it. Don't replicate it.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games that will soon be published are: AnteMatter
Currently looking for a publisher I have: AnteMatter
I'm planning to crowdfund: AnteMatter - In August
Games that I'm playtesting are: Twin stick couch co-op
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Tabletop RPG, party card game,

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

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?
ooooo... OG Star Wars... and Star Trek TNG... I like those... Coke 100% ...VHS??? cause i only had 100 disney VHSs as a kid

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I make music, played in a few bands, was DJ with my fiance through college. Paint, draw, cook.

What is something you learned in the last week?
That drinking a large cup of coffee after not drinking coffee for 3 months is a bad idea.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Post-Hard Core / Prog Rock / Math core - the Illustrate Man - Blade Runner/Aliens/Donnie Darko

What was the last book you read?
I Am A Strange Loop

Do you play any musical instruments?
Yesh, Guitar, Drums, Bass, Piano, DJ in Ableton

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I can lick my elbow.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
In college, I scaled a 2 story wall in UGG slippers and pajama pants...

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Got lost in the city, stumbled upon a speakeasy, one of the best nights ever... could never find it again...

Who is your idol?
Nonna, my grandma, she was always supportive, strong, and kind, even when she was hurting. She always put others first. She was also creative and taught me to draw. Something I never stopped doing. So she's kinda still here.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Everything.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Iron Man - Ability to do good, yet still human.

Have any pets?
Yes, my dog angel Zoe.

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?
I hope all of 90s gaming is intact, and I hope the asteroid created a time anomaly, and we can avoid 2020 all together.

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):
If the asteroid hits and something really had to be saved it's this: "I love you, Euna!"

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 comfortable with it, please consider signing up here: https://bit.ly/2xLF0rB For updates and notifications about ANTEMATTER's Kickstarter, launching August 2020! Thank you so much!




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.

Press Release: GAME-CHANGERS FROM PAIZO


Did you like this review?  Show your support: Support me on Patreon! Also, 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.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 235: Aaron McDonell Moline

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:Aaron McDonell Moline
Email:aaron@bardsharkcom
Location:New York City
Day Job:I am a journalist by profession, but I've been working on Antematter full time for the past many months.
Designing:Three years.
Webpage:bardshark.com
BGG:Antematter
Facebook:BardShark
Twitter:@BardSharkGames
YouTube:Bardshark
Instagram:@bardshark
Find my games at:On Kickstarter this August!
Today's Interview is with:

Aaron McDonell Moline
Interviewed on: 7/18/2020

In 2017, Aaron McDonell Moline founded BardShark Games with his friends and family with the goal of designing and publishing exciting, new games. His first design, Antematter, will be on Kickstarter next month. Read on to learn more about Aaron and his current 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?
Because I love games, and because I think that working on what you love is the best kind of life.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Antematter, and some preproduction stuff I'm not gonna get into just yet.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet!

What is your day job?
I am a journalist by profession, but I've been working on Antematter full time for the past many months.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
In my home.

Who do you normally game with?
My wife, my friends, my brother. Basically all the people I work with at BardShark.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Something fun and not too rules heavy, like Codenames.

And what snacks would you eat?
New York has the best delivery in the world, so we tend to vary our team meals.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Depends on the game. For Antematter, some Jazz might be what I'm looking for.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Hex and Company

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
It's a hard one. I love Boss Monster. I wanted to love Scythe and I've enjoyed playing it, but it's not for me. I've played a LOT of very bad games over the years. Have you ever heard of Floating Runner?

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I dig games whose narrative and mechanics are blended together to form a whole better than the sum of its parts. My least favorite things are just bummers like durability or inventory systems that take you from playing something fun to managing something clunky and boring.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Man, what I wouldn't give just to have my friends over for a regular old game of Poker.

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, RPG Games, Video Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
I like cards and 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 that development is an iterative process that should intertwine story and themes with the gameplay. In our case, the theme and world our games take place in was devised over the course of years, but the mechanics of the game were built on their own and have shaped and been shaped by the theme we've chosen.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Nope.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I think what Jamey Stegmaier is doing over at Stonemaier Games is pretty awesome.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
I think the best ways to get inspiration are to immerse yourself in games, talk about games, and collaborate.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
First we do a whole mess of internal playtesting. Then we bring in trusted friends and family who like to play games. Then we playtest it ourselves some more. Then we take it to conventions where enthusiasts can get their hands on it and provide feedback. Then we go back and playtest it some more, and repeat the process. So far it's worked out for us.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I have the best team behind me. Artists, mechanics, problem solvers, all friends and family.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Coming from out of nowhere and trying to get people as excited as we are about this new game we've been working on.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Our IP. The Engine Star Universe. Although if you twisted my arm to mention an outside IP, I'd have to confess that I would love to do something in fantasy, like A Song of Ice and Fire or Lord of the Rings.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
That I'd love it this much, and to start earlier.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Work with people you trust, and learn how to juggle.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
I'm planning to crowdfund: Antematter

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Board Game Reviewers and Media Tabletop Game Kickstarter Advice The Boardgame Group

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?
Wars/Coke/VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Video games, for sure. I'm a voracious reader of nonfiction and history. I also love a bad/good B-Movie.

What is something you learned in the last week?
I learned that getting the first prototypes for your very first game feels pretty freaking awesome.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
My music taste is pretty broad. Books I tend to read mostly nonfiction but I do read science fiction and fantasy. Lord of the Rings, Dune, A Song of Ice and Fire, classic Asimov.

What was the last book you read?
Gods of War, a look at various military rivalries throughout history from Scipio vs Hannibal to Patton and Montgomery vs Rommel.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I am pitiful at guitar.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I don't eat cheese. Except on pizza. (I am so sorry).

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Right after college I moved to Prague, a city I had never been to and where I knew absolutely no one.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I met my wife entirely by accident in college. My friends and I had the last open room on campus and she became our fourth roommate.

Who is your idol?
I tend not to idolize. But probably an artist who is unapologetically themselves creatively, like Tarantino or Paul Tomas Anderson, or Wes Anderson. What is it with Andersons?

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would go back in time and convince myself to start making games much earlier.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert by temperament, extrovert by necessity.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
When I was a kid and we played superheroes, I would invariably pick Wolverine.

Have any pets?
Not yet, but hopefully a dog soon.

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?
Hopefully some of mine! I think that there are games out there that absolutely will pass the test of time, and I think lots of the most popular ones now will recede into the background. I'm at pains to try to wish oblivion on anyone's creative work, but I must confess that I think some of the lazier installments of certain long and tired games series could stand to be culled.

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):
To our fans and the friendly people who helped us test our game and gave us such fantastic feedback, I'd just have to extend a sincere thank you.

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

Just to feel free to reach out to learn more about us or our game.




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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 234:Nikolas Lundström Patrakka

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:Nikolas Lundström Patrakka
Location:Germany
Day Job:Music and language teacher.
Designing:Two to five years.
Webpage:https://perditionsmouth.com/
BGG:Nikolas88
Facebook:Nikolas Lundström Patrakka
Twitter:@PhilipUbik
Find my games at:In the Dragon Dawn Production catalog
Today's Interview is with:

Nikolas Lundström Patrakka
Interviewed on: 5/29/2020

This week I'm happy to introduce you all to Nikolas Lundström Patrakka, a designer who has been working with the team that brought us Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift. He's worked on several of the expansions for the horror themed rondel based dungeon crawler. That's not all that Nikolas has worked on though. Read on to learn more about Nikolas and his 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?
A passion for gaming and an abundance of ideas made me want to create and participate.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Perdition's Mouth: Soul Spire and a yet to be announced card game.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
I've worked on several expansions for Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift such as Traitor Guard and the scenario pack.

What is your day job?
Music and language teacher.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home or at the store.

Who do you normally game with?
Friends, family and people I meet at local meetups or at my FLGS.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Likely one of the many prototypes I am working on. Among the people I tend to invite co-ops, resource management euros and Magic: the Gathering tend to be popular.

And what snacks would you eat?
Snacks? while playing...?

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Gandalph

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I would have to pick Magic: the Gathering as my favourite. Despite all it's issues, the design, history and richness of formats puts it in a category of its own. The old Swedish version of Dungeon Quest (Drakborgen) is probably the worst game that I still enjoy. The potential of getting stuck in some rubble in the very first room you enter to then die from running out of time before being able to leave can feel pretty back breaking. It does feel "realistic" in a sense and is so far away from modern design philosophy that I can't help but to love it.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Drafting is definitely up there. The way drafting allows a game to evolve according to what your group thinks is good or not, really allows well crafted drafting games to play out differently every time. Action selection in the style of Race for the Galaxy and Puerto Rico is also something I really enjoy. I don't know that I have a least favourite mechanic. I think it all comes down to how it is implemented and in what context.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Star Craft the Board Game

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, RPG 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?
Never played

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?
It really depends. Each game tends to have a first "Hook", something like a component, a theme or mechanic that becomes the first seed. From there, I try to have the mechanics feed into the theme and vice versa.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Richard Garfield and Eric Lang.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Mostly other games but sometimes works of fiction like films and books.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
A lot of solo testing to start and then slowly expanding to family and friends. Once the game plays well in those settings I'll start bringing it to meet ups or organize playtests at home.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
While I've done work for other people's games I haven't actually co-designed anything so I can't really answer that question.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Finding time to work on all of my ideas.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Travellers is a lesser known Sci-Fi show which has a theme ripe for a great social deduction game.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Ideas are worthless without action.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Reach out to publishers and designers and see if you can help in playtesting. This is a great way to learn. Make variants for games you like and post them on BGG for feedback.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: The Scenario Pack expansion for Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift.
Games that will soon be published are: A yet to be announced adventure card game.
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Doing development and playtesting on Perdition's Mouth: Soul Spire.
Games that I'm playtesting are: A yet to be announced adventure card game.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: A fantasy themed I split you choose game.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: A semi cooperative dungeon crawling card game.

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
No

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, either, What is Betamax?

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Music and computer games.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Classical, Sci-Fi, Mixed

What was the last book you read?
Tiamat's Wrath

Do you play any musical instruments?
Yes, Guitar.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
As a kid I made my own version of Monopoly :)

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
As a kid I played said version of Monopoly solo!

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Probably break it, time travel does not sound like a good idea.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
introvert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Batman

Have any pets?
No

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?
The standard deck of playing cards.

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):
Dragon Dawn Production for being a great publisher publishing unique and exciting games!


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

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.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 233: Sandy Petersen

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:Sandy Petersen
Location:Rockwall, Texas
Day Job:Game designer is the only full-time job I've ever had as a grown-up.
Designing:Over ten years!
Webpage:petersengames.com
BGG:Just search for my games. They're all there.
Facebook:facebook.com/PetersenGames
Twitter:@SandyofCthulhu
YouTube:Sandy of Cthulhu
Instagram:@PetersenGames
Find my games at:Petersengames.com; Amazon; Miniature Market; and your FLGS
Today's Interview is with:

Sandy Petersen
Interviewed on: 6/4/2020

This week's interview is with Sandy Petersen. Sandy is probably the most prolific designer I've featured in this interview series so far. Sandy has been designing games of all sorts since 1980, including RPGs, video games, and board games. Read on to learn more about Sandy's projects, past, present, and future!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Over ten years!

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I backed into it by accident, while looking for a job to support my family while attending graduate school. Liked working at Chaosium so much that gaming, my avocation, became my vocation instead.

What game or games are you currently working on?
A tactical game about starship combat, a co-op game about exploring ancient terrors, and a team game called Dinosaur 1944 about dinosaurs vs. army men.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
I have designed many many games that have been published. Am I supposed to list some of them here? The Call of Cthulhu RPG, the Ghostbuster RPG, Doom, Doom 2, Quake, Age of Empires series, Cthulhu Wars, Planet Apocalypse, Glorantha: The Gods War, etc.

What is your day job?
Game designer is the only full-time job I've ever had as a grown-up.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home.

Who do you normally game with?
One of my three gaming groups! Or my adult sons when they're in town.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
We sometimes play a tabletop RPG, and sometimes playtest one of my upcoming board games. Every few months we play something else.

And what snacks would you eat?
We have kind of a contest to bring in weird stuff from Asian markets, but we also eat pistachios, chips & salsa, order in Chinese or pizza, etc.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
We do not normally play music while we play games, unless it's relevant to the game.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Boardwalk Games in Dallas TX

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
My current favorite is always whatever game I'm focused on finishing up. The least favorite game I still enjoy is probably Feast for Odin. I enjoy playing it but never ever win. Argh. Worst game I ever played was the old EA game Arctic Fox. You played white tanks. On the tundra. In a blizzard. Ecch. Makes me snowblind just thinking about it.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Not sure if it counts as a mechanic but interesting asymmetry is always fun. My least favorite "mechanic" are games that force you to earn the right to have fun. I prefer the very first game turn to have interesting decisions.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
World in Flames. Its major drawback is it takes about 6 months to play.

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 Board Games, RPG Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
No

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 is number one. The mechanics are draped over the theme.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I've won awards for my games, but I didn't submit them myself. Does that count? I'm an Origins Hall of Famer and got picked for two entries in Hobby Games' Best 100.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Shigeru Miyamoto. Man I'd have loved to be a fly on the wall when he was trying to pitch Pikmin to his team.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Well one interesting source is that I am plagued with nightmares. During the nightmare I hate it (wouldn't anyone?), but when I wake up I am often able to take ideas from that dream into a game.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I construct a prototype and take it the rounds of my three playtest groups. When possible I create a "how to make this game" playtest folder and post it to fans on my company forums for feedback.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I am solidly a team player.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
The occasional wall I hit when I'm working on a game and it is not doing what I want it to do. I hammer my head against that barrier for days, sometimes weeks. Once for months. It's awful when I'm not making progress and have to keep redesigning and redoing the entire game from scratch.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Godzilla

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Almost zero of the games you publish will be based on your original idea. But that doesn't mean you can't take that idea and make it your own.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
99% of teenagers are incapable of giving useful feedback. You can get good information from pre-teens or from adults. Something goes wrong in a teen's brain.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Lots. Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, Doom, Quake, Age of Empires, Cthulhu Wars, Planet Apocalypse, etc.
Games that will soon be published are: Invasion of the Brood - a two-player game about an attempted conquest of modern-day Earth by mind-controlling aliens. Dinosaur 1944 just completed crowdfunding at the end of June.
Currently looking for a publisher I have: I own my own publishing house. I guess I could count the games I'm trying to get published in other languages partnering with foreign companies.
I'm planning to crowdfund: A tactical space combat game
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: A more transportable version of my Cthulhu Wars game
Games that I'm playtesting are: A co-op horror game with separate chapters and settings ranging from a Yellow Sign rave, to an invasion from an advanced underground human civilization.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: A major return to roots for me - a whole new roleplaying game.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: A team effort with me and my son to create a strategic worldbuilding game in a fantasy universe.

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

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?
Old Trek. Dr Pepper. Well I owned a VHS ...

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
history, movies, zoology

What is something you learned in the last week?
The future existence of Roko's Basilisk. I urge you not to look it up. Seriously.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I have extremely broad views on music. Right this second I'm listening to country western, but yesterday it was Mongolian throat-singing. Favorite books are mostly non-fiction history or science but I do love a good horror, SF, or mystery. Favorite movies are almost all horror films. Got hooked on those at 6 years old, after watching Day of the Triffids.

What was the last book you read?
Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers, written in 1903

Do you play any musical instruments?
I played the viola and piano in my youth.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I am a faithful practicing Mormon.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I quit a six-figure job with a guaranteed future to found my own business. It totally failed. Later I founded another business, Petersen Games, which is still in operation.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I did a crowdfunder for a digital game about Cthulhu and it was a colossal flop. My partners urged me to try again, but as a tabletop game. I knew for a fact it could not succeed, but they tricked me. It was Cthulhu Wars.

Who is your idol?
Ulysses S. Grant

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Head straight back to the Permian, when monsters ruled the earth.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I enjoy other people, but over time feel drained and enervated by this, so I am an introvert. My oldest son is energized and invigorated by being around people and can't understand why I have to build up my resources before attending conventions or doing seminars.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I think I'd make a way better Green Lantern. For an ability that relies upon your creativity to work, Hal Jordan sure seems unimaginative at times.

Have any pets?
I have always owned pets, ranging from snakes to geckos to rats to ferrets to cats to solpugids. Currently have two mongrel dogs.

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 traces of how to operate a totalitarian state.

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 dad! Your tattered old book from 1942 got me into this career when I read it at the age of 8. Thanks!

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

I read every review. I rejoice in the good ones. I agonize and obsess over the bad ones.

The deepest game ever created was Culdcept Saga, a little known Japanese combination of MtG & Monopoly for the XBox 360. Now you know.




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