Tuesday, May 11, 2021

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 279: Ben Downton

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:Ben Downton
Location:United Arab Emirates
Day Job:Security Consultant
Designing:Six months to a year.
BGG:Micro Dojo
Facebook:Prometheus Game Labs
Find my games at:Micro Dojo is on Kickstarter, May 10, 2021
Today's Interview is with:

Ben Downton
Interviewed on: 1/3/2021

This week's interview is with Ben Downton, who just launched his Kickstarter for Micro Dojo yesterday and it's already over 750% funded! Ben has only been designing for a short while now, but has a long-term vision of building a publishing compny with a whole line of games. Read on to learn more about Ben and his projects!

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?
It started as a creative outlet during lockdown, but now it's evolved into long term planning to build a business with multiple games.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Micro Dojo

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet, but Micro Dojo has already funded on Kickstarter!

What is your day job?
Security Consultant

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At a lively board gaming meetup

Who do you normally game with?
The local board gaming group, or some of many gamer friends (including my neighbours)

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Something epic to make the most of it. Recently that was the West Kingdom Tomesaga

And what snacks would you eat?
Whatever it is I'd eat too many...

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Retro/Synthwave is great background game music.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Back to Games. Also the only FLGS.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Currently in love with anything Shem Phillips has made. I enjoy the playing of Tapestry but I never feel good about it afterwards because of balance issues. As for worst game I rarely see any truly terrible ones, but I get disappointed with games that are average but could have been great with just a bit more tweaking.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I do love drafting dice and placing them on things. I hate games with high amounts of negotiation

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Twilight Imperium. That needs the right time and place.

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

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?
For my first I started theme first which gave a really good anchor to build around. Micro Dojo started mechanics first which is much easier to build around as a micro game, where the unique mechanic *is* the game.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I've entered an adaptation of Micro Dojo to fit into a coil bound book for The Game Crafter Compendium contest. Let's hope it wins.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Shem Phillips

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
I usually find I think of ideas whilst listening to a podcast or whilst driving. It's quite easy to come up with lots of ideas, and the hard part is building them into something that's worth spending more time on. Otherwise I get a lot of ideas from playtesting (both mine and others’ games).

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Online testing with Tabletop Simulator has been almost 100% of my playtesting, including some solo testing. It's much easier to make quick changes and test games than with physical or in-person testing.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I currently work alone, though generally prefer to work with a team that is invested in the idea.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Designing the 'next' game. Once you have a game that is working well it's hard to go back to the early stages of a new idea when it's clunky and not working.

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

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
To try doing it!

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Build a prototype and playtest it asap. It won't work nearly as well on paper as it does in your head, but you'll get to a playable game way quicker than trying to solve everything in theory first.

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: Micro Dojo
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: It's About Time.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Two Tribes. Many more...

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

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!

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Acroyoga, cooking, snowboarding

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I enjoy nonfiction books around behavioural economics and decision theory, and fantasy fiction.

What was the last book you read?
Dune (still reading it). Before that, Jamey Stegmaier's Kickstarter book.

Who is your idol?
I don't have any particular idols - when I see something impressive I'm inspired to go and learn about it myself.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

Have any pets?

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'm certain there's a board game for everyone out there no matter what your interest, so I hope more people can discover how great board gaming is

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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