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 and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples. Support me on Patreon!

Name:Eric Manahan
Location:New York City
Day Job:Architect
Designing:Two to five years.
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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

Are you an extrovert or 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: 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:

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment