Tuesday, December 1, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 255: Brent Keath

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:Brent Keath
Location:Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Day Job:Senior Software Developer/Analyst at Weidenhammer Systems
Designing:Two to five years.
Facebook:Flannel Games/
Find my games at:Amazon, Kickstarter or BGG for PnPs
Today's Interview is with:

Brent Keath
Interviewed on: 9/2/2020

This week we get to meet Brent Keath, founder of Flannel Games and designer of Furtherance and the upcoming The Paper Company. Brent has been working hard to come up with some great games and get them published on his own. Keep an eye out for The Paper Company coming to Kickstarter soon, and read on to learn more about Brent 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?
I started with designing video games when I was 10, but found that they were too difficult to develop without large teams of developers. In high school I designed some small games (and even made one as my graduation project for my finance class). But I really got into hobby board gaming in 2013 when I went off to college. While in college I came up with the idea for Furtherance and my friends loved it and supported me as I built it out. Later I got married and my wife partnered with me to design and develop games. Furtherance went on Kickstarter last year and is now available in retail.

What game or games are you currently working on?
We are currently working on a game called Paper Company, which is a light, engine-building, simultaneous action selection tycoon game, where players balance making employees earn money while also maintaining their morale so they can stay productive.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Depends what you mean by "published." Our first game, Furtherance is available in select retail stores and online marketplaces (like Amazon) but we self-published it through our company Flannel Games.

What is your day job?
Senior Software Developer/Analyst at Weidenhammer Systems

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At gaming groups and conventions (though, for the past few months, we have only been gaming in our home and on Tabletop Simulator)

Who do you normally game with?
My wife and a couple of our friends (we used to have a weekly game night in our home)

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Depends on the group of friends, but right now I'm really enjoying Wingspan and Sushi Roll. Though we have been playtesting Paper Company a lot lately as well.

And what snacks would you eat?
Peanut butter pretzels, Cheez-Its, or wheat thins

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Usually no, but depends on the game. Recently we broke out LOTR Journey Through Middle Earth and we obviously had to put on the LOTR soundtrack while we played that.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Six Feet Under Games (the game store I grew up with)

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Furtherance, though I'm probably biased there. My current favorite that my wife and I haven't designed is Wingspan. A fan favorite that I don't particularly enjoy is Goodcritters. I hate take-that games, so either Munchkin or Unstable Unicorns.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Engine-building; take-that

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Mage Knight

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card 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?
Depends on the game. For Furtherance the theme came first then the mechanics. Paper Company came about from stripping all of the war mechanics out of Furtherance and playing around with a game that just used simple economics, the theme came after. Some of the other games we are working on typically came from mechanics first, then theme.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have never entered one (I always seem to find out about them after the deadline has passes)

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Elizabeth Hargrave

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
When I am on walks with my family

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Starts with friends and family while we work out basics, then we expand to conventions/game groups, then we expand to testers from Facebook groups we are a part of

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
My wife and I work as a team, and we have a go-to artist we currently use named Maura Elko. She's amazing at what she does, and knows how to stick to a timeline!

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Figuring out how to convince strangers to sit down and try our games.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I might be convinced to make Paper Company "Office" themed, if it could be done. I'm a big fan of the Office.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
That I should have started going to conventions years ago to make friends.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
This is the nicest industry I have ever been a part of. Ask questions, and always share knowledge, others will too.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Furtherance
I'm planning to crowdfund: Paper Company
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Political Power, Stock Market, Word Frenzy, Adventure Game Deckbuilding

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Yes, so many. IGA's developer group, Game Designer's Guild, Game Maker's Lab, and the Media and Reviewers Group, to name a few

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. Coke. VHS.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Reading books with my wife and daughter, watching Marvel movies, and playing games on my Oculus Quest

What is something you learned in the last week?
That I should have been targeting other board game ASINs in my Amazon advertising campaign

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Lincoln Park (and anything like them). Self-help books. Marvel movies and others that mix humor with action/adventure.

What was the last book you read?
Jesus Freaks do Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs

Do you play any musical instruments?
No, but I wish I had stuck with piano

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I know how to break dance

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I quit my job to travel to South America with my wife for 5 months.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Accidentally forgot to sign-up for UnPub as a designer and ended up testing a bunch of people's awesome games (including one by Elizabeth Hargrave)

Who is your idol?
I know it sounds cheesy to say, but Jesus, no one else lives up to the term.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Destroy it; it's too dangerous.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

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

Have any pets?
Not at the moment, though hoping to get fish soon (once the tank passes my water test)

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 games make it through! There are still so many I haven't played yet! I hope all symbols of hate are under that asteroid (no people though).

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 George! What's up!? I certainly hope you're reading this...

[GJJ Games] I definitely am! Hopefully others are as well!

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

The board game industry is awesome and it's an honor to be a part of it. But I'm also excited for the direction we are moving in and hope that I can be a part of that too.

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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