Tuesday, March 16, 2021

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 271: Justus and Andrew Meyer

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:Justus Meyer and Andrew Meyer
Location:Los Angeles, California, USA and Ames, Iowa, USA
Day Job:Justus is a commercial and film director. Andrew studies law and is preparing to take the Bar exam.
Designing:Six months to a year.
Find my games at:Doomlings is on Kickstarter!
Today's Interview is with:

Justus Meyer and Andrew Meyer
Interviewed on: 1/2/2021

This week we get to meet game design duo Justus and Andrew Meyer. Even though these brothers live in different states over 1400 miles from each other, they still manage to work together to create games. Their first game is currently on Kickstarter, so be sure to go check out Doomlings on Kickstarter now! It's already over 2000% funded! Yay! And read on to learn more about Justus and Andrew.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Six months to a year.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
My brother and I live 1700 miles apart, but games have been something for us to bond with over the holidays. Like many gamers, tabletop games have been an outlet for social connection with friends and family. We wanted to design a game of our own--something that could satisfy our needs as gamers, but be palatable enough to share with our cousins and aunts and family. Though we have been unable to visit each other during the pandemic, designing a game together has brought us closer together.

What game or games are you currently working on?
We are developing a card game for the end of the world, called Doomlings. No components, no pieces, just a deck of cards. It's a handy little game that fits in your go-bag. It's a palette cleanser between more committed board games, or something you can pull out and play on a holiday with some of your uninitiated family members.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Doomlings is our first step into the world of game design, though we have plans for a followup boardgame after we get Doomlings out into the world.

What is your day job?
Justus is a commercial and film director. Andrew studies law and is preparing to take the Bar exam.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
If the game is lightweight, I like to take it to a quiet coffee shop where we can stay caffeinated for a few hours.

Who do you normally game with?
A few groups of close friends, and our family on the holidays!

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Justus: What have you got? I like to sit down with new games, when the mystery of the strategy is still fresh.
Andrew: Same. I have a friend who always brings a new game - but I like seven wonders and Dominion, and on more relaxed nights I'd go for a game of Azul.

And what snacks would you eat?
Andrew: Cheese balls, popcorn shrimp, and a milkshake if I'm at a coffee shop.
Justus: Crab legs if it's on the menu.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Not usually. We prefer to get caught up in philosophy talks while we're nitpicking the rules.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Mayhem Collectibles in Ames Iowa. It's got a location in Des Moines, and it runs the gambit with comics and games.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite: Agricola. Least favorite that you still enjoy: King of Tokyo. Worst game: Candyland. There's a great Existential Comics panel about this. I encourage anyone to google it.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Andrew: Worker Placement. It's hard to find mechanics I don't like. Justus: Resource management. I don't like take-that mechanics. I don't like feeling like I'm screwing over my friends...

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Andrew: Agricola. Justus: Andrew's really good at Agricola so no one will ever play it with him...I don't mind losing to my brother though.

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, Card Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Sure. Why not.

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?
Justus here: I'm a storyteller, so I always start with theme. I'll speak for Andrew here: He's kind of the rules lawyer. The same thing that attracted him to the law is probably the same thing that attracts him to mechanic design. For our current game, we knew we wanted something lightweight, 20-60 minutes, and cards only. I've sort of been driving the world and the story, giving us a sandbox like "a doomed planet with Catastrophes, an emergent species growing through the Ages." Andrew would kick the tires on some abstract ideas with me, and then translate those elements into functional gameplay. Once we were set on the theme, we found the structure and the objective, and it made executing our ideas a lot easier.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
We have not! But we've been lurking around seeing what's out there, so maybe one day...

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I don't know if this is a cliché but we love Stonemaier Game's journey. They are so generous with their experience in the world and we are forever grateful for the endless blog posts and lessons learned they provide. It's more than their brilliant game design, it's their generosity with the community. That's something we really admire, because a lot of their lessons really shaped our early decisions.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Justus here: In the shower or on a run. Those are the times when I'm not looking at a phone or watching TV, so my mind is left to wander. The problem is I lose my best ideas as soon as I'm out of the shower. I need a shower journal or something...
Andrew here: I think my best ideas come when I'm playing other games. I'm always taking a closer look at the rules, and that helps me figure out what they've done really well, but it also helps me work out what I think could be done better.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
In 2020 in the age of the pandemic, we do it online. There are a lot of great resources out there, but here's a shout out to patreon's gamestructor.com. It's a wonderful tool developed by an independent creator, and as independent creators ourselves, we've really enjoyed supporting other artists.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
We prefer to work as a team. Right now this is entirely in the game development side of things. We have a few silent partners who help us with our concepts, pushing us for better ideas, or pulling us back when we get too crazy. As far as artwork goes, Justus does it all in illustrator. We hope someday to afford a few artists to collaborate with, because we believe that with some guidance, ideas only get better with more voices in the mix.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
The biggest challenge is definitely wearing the hat of the first time player. We want rules that feel comprehensive, but are immediately understandable, and that's so difficult when you're aware of the genesis of every decision in your game. That's why playtesting is so important!

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Avatar the last Airbender boardgame would probably be INCREDIBLE.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
If it's your first card game and you can't hire an artist, start with fewer cards than you think you want...oh well, no regrets!

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Start with the story. The mechanics are just as important, because that's what keeps you around and makes you want to share. But the story is what sucks people in. I just saw a KS game about Dino Farmers...I had no idea what it was, but I decided to look into it because it piqued my curiosity about the world they were creating.

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: Doomlings - No pieces, no components, just 162 cards for the end of the world. The game is fully developed, with some on-going polishing between now and shipment. We've sent off prototypes to be reviewed, and we launched our Kickstarter on March 2nd!

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 the hell’s a betamax?

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Andrew: Biking, Camping, Video games / Justus: Hiking, Swimming, Writing

What is something you learned in the last week?
Andrew: Cy Pres is an equitable doctrine that allows a court to reform a transfer of property to avoid the rule against perpetuities.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Justus: Post-apocalyptic, war books and spiritual nonfiction
Andrew: I like a good John Wick night, science fiction, female singer songwriters

What was the last book you read?
No man is an Island

Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar and drums!

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Andrew: I solo paddled over 300 miles of the Missouri river. There was a weather system that followed me for three weeks. I was struggling, it was rainy, windy, I was alone. I did have a planned route and was going to be meeting someone, but about 3 weeks in I dropped my GPS in the water, and not long after I dropped my phone in the water. I started in Mulberry Bend just outside Vermillion SD, and made it to Kansas City.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
We'd probably seal it and bury it somewhere no one would ever find it. We can both agree we're generally happy with our lives, and the thought of changing one thing that might flip our entire being on its head is enough to keep us from changing the past. We have enough existential dilemmas without messing with time. There are things we each lament, but who's to say how such a change could impact where we are today.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
We're both Introverts.........but we're friendly introverts!

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Andrew: Wolverine / Justus: Spiderman

Have any pets?
Justus: A dog named Truffles / Andrew: 2 cats, Ash and Waffles!

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?
We hope Candyland is wiped out from existence. We also secretly hope it survives because we're not without a sense of irony.

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):
Hello mom! Also Anthony Miller, Chris Svehla, Eric McCoy!

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment