Tuesday, March 30, 2021

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 273: Tom Hughes

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:Tom Hughes
Day Job:I work as a Scrum Master currently - which is basically a Project Manager. Formerly I worked as a producer and designer with Activision most recently.
Designing:One to two years.
Find my games at:Currently nowhere :(
Today's Interview is with:

Tom Hughes
Interviewed on: 1/3/2021

Today's interview is with Tom Hughes, one half of the team that brought Factory Floor to Kickstarter last month for a successful campaign. A former QA tester in the video game industry, Tom started Space Duck Games and the Cardboard Designer blog to showcase and publish his tabletop game designs. Read on to learn more about Tom and his current projects!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
One to two years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I'm a former video game designer and a 33 year old "cardboard child". My wife and I love board games and have an ever expanding collection currently around 200 games. I was honestly tired of making other people’s games, and wanted to start making the games that I wanted to play - so here I am :)

What game or games are you currently working on?
I think it's important to drive several ideas through at once so my list is often bigger than some of the other designers I talk too...
Factory Floor - our first KS project is a light weight poly-omino game with elements of worker placement. The way players place tiles into their factories will allow them to produce more goods by the end of the working week.
Builders of York- is another poly-omino style laying game where players compete on the same board to build up their own bustling medieval metropolis. The buildings they construct will allow them to hire workers to produce specific actions
Hereditary - a tile placement game set around a family tree, it's all about becoming the most vile and corrupt family by the end of the game by increasing your greed, enemies and acts of villany
Festival of the Runic Forest - is a worker placement game with the addition of a tile discovery mechanic and unique movement mechanics for these ancient golems.
There are others in various stages of development - but the above are certainly the furthest along!

Have you designed any games that have been published?
To date no, but Factory Floor was successfully funded on Kickstarter earlier this month!

What is your day job?
I work as a Scrum Master currently - which is basically a Project Manager. Formerly I worked as a producer and designer with Activision most recently.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
On our lovely big table in the kitchen

Who do you normally game with?
My wife mainly - and a consort of friends when we can manage

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Nova Luna is always a favorite. I like longer games too with a bit of meat to them. Currently I am looking to getting Merv and Search for Planet X to the table

And what snacks would you eat?
I am on a big weight loss drive at the moment, so it's all about the emotional feeling of fulness from games :)

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
The popular pick is 90s Indie from the JBL at teh moment

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Gamers World in Dublin, Ireland

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favourite is Pandemic Legacy Season 0, least favourite I still enjoy is Azul. Worst game I've played is Western Empires

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Worker placement still gives me a good rush every time... I really struggle with push your luck games - way too stressful!

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

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Video 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?
Little of both. If I am sitting down to design, I will start with a mechanic - but if a strong theme comes into my head, I am happy to run with it.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I haven't. I plan to enter a few this year

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Big fan of Uwe Rosenberg - but that seems like a given in the bgg world :)

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Floating thoughts that occasionally I grab on to honestly. I really enjoy breaking down existing mechanics or components and seeing what else can be done with them

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Early and often. It's 95% of game design in my opinion. Most games won't make it past the first playtest scrutinizations!

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I have a good friend who works with me as an artist. That often drives theme and sometimes mechanics as he thinks about things in a different way!

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Saying stop and knowing a game is finished. Deciding that its as balanced and nuanced as it's going to get!

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I'd love to design a game around the Red Dwarf books. That'd be a great alt sci-fi game i think.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Never throw away an idea and playtest as early as you can!

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
No-one is born a great designer. You can always get better by playing games and breaking down games into their mechanics and component parts and seeing how they interact

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: 1
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: 1
Games that I'm playtesting are: about 2 games at the moment
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: maybe 4 or 5
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: too many to count

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
I am a member of most of the game design boards on FB - they are great communities.

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 Trek I think delivers a message about humanity we could all use post 2020. I'm slightly addicted to Coke - but Pepsi Cherry Max is the treat I'd do too. And I am a millenial so don't understand that mix of words at the end ;) although I do remember watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang so much that it was basically static by the time the VHS finally gave up.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I'm currently learning to draw.... I like to do the odd bit of coding here and there. I'm hoping to get back into weight lifting once the weather improves and the gyms are allowed to open!

What is something you learned in the last week?
I was literally today years old when I found out that John Connor’s step mum and the badass gun lady from Aliens were the same woman.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Nothing beats having background of Synthwave on the go for a creative spark. Books, I am big into graphic novels - with a particular penchant for Mr Wayne. Movies, anything Pixar have done basically - Zootropolis is also one of the best movies made I think.

What was the last book you read?
Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern - which is a wonderful book about love and magic

Do you play any musical instruments?
No :( I have tried in vain but the fingers and the rhythm never line up.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I used to be a stand up comedian.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I broke onto a golf course and stole all the green flags when I was younger....

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I honestly can't think of a time when things have panned out better than expected.

Who is your idol?
Stephen Fry I think has had just about the most wonderful output of creative material over his long and frutiful life.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I'd go back and talk to myself just before joining college and push myself in directions that I wish I had more knowledge in now - particulary software development.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert all the way - keep the curtains closed.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Dr Manhattan - so I can finally realise my dream of joining the Blue Man Group

Have any pets?
2 cats named Milo and Luna

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'd hope Wall Street was at the epicenter and the idea of massive wealth. Games I would like to see survive - maybe Terraforming Mars? That way we can retain some information on how we get to a planet where we can survive :)

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

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