Tuesday, August 17, 2021

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 294: J.D. Brown

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:J.D. Brown
Location:Fremont, Ohio USA
Day Job:I'm a forklift driver of 23y and an author.
Designing:Over ten years!
Webpage:Hexagames LLC
Facebook:JD Brown
YouTube:JD Brown
Find my games at:https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/hexagames-llc
Today's Interview is with:

J.D. Brown
Interviewed on: 7/7/2021

This week's interview is with J.D. Brown, a prolific designer on The Game Crafter. He has 19 games currently available on The Game Crafter with a ton more on the way! So read on to learn more about J.D. and his projects, and be sure to check out his Hexagames page on The Game Crafter!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Over ten years!

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I couldn't afford the games l wanted so l started making them for, then with, my kids, who at the time were 4, 6, and 10

What game or games are you currently working on?
Oh, where to start...! LOL This 2021 year, Hexagames is focusing on just card games, with an exception of a spy-themed board game that will be 100% artistically done by a comic book creator and illustrator in Pittsburg; an old junior high school friend of mine.

With a 2nd "3-In-1 Box" shortly on the way, our next big games for a party crowd is called "Blank Minds". Here's a teaser YouTube link: https://youtu.be/unN2ktSXGJw This interactive, 4-to-10 player guessing game has been tested several times over the last 5 years and is perfected enough to debut this year.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes, several, thanks to TGC! (The Game Crafter) www.thegamecrafter.com We're looking to submit some games to the big companies but I'd like to have 20 games with TGC before then, just to show our variety and stock. I'm very confident in "Blank Minds" to potentially accepted, but if not, TGC will print it guaranteed.

What is your day job?
I'm a forklift driver of 23y and an author.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
With family or where there's a large group/gathering of people.

Who do you normally game with?
My kids, nieces, nephews, and a select few of siblings. I wish l could play more with complete strangers (as if at a convention or something) for their feedback is the most unfiltered.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Literally anything they'd like, except for Deck-Building games. (I simply can't grasp them.)

And what snacks would you eat?
Pretzel Rods.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Funny you should ask, my neice just created a Marvel-MCU themed concept and as we played it, we played Guardians Vol.1, Vol.2, IronMan 2, and Cpt. Marvel soundtracks. (The mood was perfect!)

I'm an 80s music guy, so that's usually what I'd be playing in my setting, but I'm not against music that fits the theme of the game or surroundings.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong (or) Scattergories. Apples To Apples. Any Deck-Building game.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like games with large groups of people or 4-Playered. The mechanisms of the gameplay don't matter, as long as players are enjoying themselves and anxious players are watching to potentially get involved the next round.

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, Card Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, RPG 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?
Typically, the theme and name pop first (same when l write) but I've created mechanics first, too. When the theme is created, l have an audience in mind and their emotional expectations to anticipate. When it's mechanics, l have my own expectations to making it work smoothly. (If I'm not enjoying it, l know other's won't either.)

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No. TGC has plenty but that's when I get a game that interests me to help that game maker get noticed. I don't know anywhere or anyone else that has competitions.

Do you have a current favorite game designer?
Chris Williams, Alright Games.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Family interactivity, various game involvement, and themes towards/for specific people. I can ramble for hours on the psychology of board games and human interactivity, but to simply break it down, if you simply watch and listen to people as they play literally anything, they'll tell you everything they feel about the game (likes/dislikes) and you can create from that basis alone. My Rule: If your 1 game can make 1 person happy, it's a success!

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Again: family. Various ages! Preferably if they have a friend (a stranger to me) over and playing. That's the best constructive criticism feedback!

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I typically create/work alone but l constantly accept opinions and feedback. A true writer never writes a single book alone!

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Having The Time!!! Job, kids, responsibilities, appointments, prior commitments, etc.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
...and that is...?

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Nothing. I believe l started making games in life right when l was supposed to and thankfully, TGC started right about the same time!!

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Just Make Your Idea; whether it works or not , whether it's fun or not. Just make it a physical reality, or else you'll never know and that monkey on your back will NEVER go away!!

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/hexagames-llc
DirtSlingers: Fremont Speedway Edition
Hunters & Demons
Iced Cubes
IV At War
Get To'da Choppa!
Battle of the Ballads
Will You Survive: Mortey
Will You Survive: Mansion
Here Thar Be Pirates
Showdown At High Noon
Clans of Theives
Princess Wardrobe Race
Monster Mansion
Goofy Golf

Games that will soon be published are: The Mission Colorominos
Blank Minds
Monster Castle
Monster Closet
Monster Town
Trackmasters 'series'
Lie...I Dare You!
8 more Will You Survive games
The Hostage
Tank War
A.L.S. Raid
Inanimate Objects
Worst/Best Week Ever!
Cli'che TV
Do You Remember The 80s?
Do You Remember The 90s?
Do You Remember The 2Ks?
Blank Books
Witches Brew
The Killer In The Woods
A Nightmare On Maple Avenue
Thursday The 12th
Shut'em Down
XXI Heroes
...and Survial are all I can think of without looking at my notes.

Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Inanimate Objects. (Needs a solid theme.)
Games that I'm playtesting are: The Mission. (Theme and artist are set, gameplay still in works)
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: The Killer In The Woods. (200 card game, thinking about dropping to 100 cards and using the other 100 as an expansion pack.)
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Colorominos. (Still trying to make this mental image a physical reality without paying a fortune.)

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?
Trek/Wars? BOTH! Whichever is coldest! VHS! (Ahh..the 80s!)
(For you now...) Cake or Ice Cream? Alien or Predator? Waffles or Pancakes? Harry Potter or LOTR? Cats or Dogs?

[GJJ Games] First time I’ve ever been asked questions back in an interview! So we’ll go with Cake (as long as it’s chocolate, otherwise Ice Cream), Predator (though I’ve seen more of the Alien movies), Neither (I’m not a breakfast person, I’ll wait for lunch), Harry Potter (it’s a tough choice, but the Harry Potter books I found more enjoyable), and Dogs (by far)!

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I'm an author. I collect video game consoles. I'm a Friday the 13th fanatic. I love Craps!

What is something you learned in the last week?
My 8yo can ride rollercoasters!

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Various variety of 80s music (rock, pop, retro, metal, new wave, novelty, etc.) I have a huge Stephen King collection. I think I'm short 5 books... Action and Horror. Favorites of movie series': Friday the 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Pirates of the Caribbean, Saw, Indiana Jones, Star Trek/Wars, Marvel MCU, LOTR, and Police Academy just to name a few...

What was the last book you read?
Year One: Nora Roberts

Do you play any musical instruments?
Air Guitar! (I'm Flawless!!!!)

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I have 5 kids, been married for 16y, and I'm not an alcoholic or a smoker! LOL Scout's Honor!

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I rode the Magnum XL200 with the lapbar broken. (A rollercoaster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH.)

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I shot off Roman Candles for my oldest brother's 50th birthday but the rods were some 8yo. So after a few duds, l discarded the rods into the lit fire pit. After a few minutes, the rods went off from inside the fire pit and they all aimed at our 69yo dad. My brother Dave said watching him flee from the onslaught was the best present ever!

Who is your idol or hero?
Idol: Wile E. Coyote. (He never gives up!) Hero: Jason Voorhees (He never stops!)

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would go ahead in time, discover the next lotto numbers and then return to the present to play the lottery. That way, I could be financially secure to make my games and makes Hexagames my source of income to care for my family.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I'm an Introvert with personal daily affairs of family, job, and life but I'm an extrovert with gaming, at social functions, and gatherings.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be and why?
Professor Xavier, founder of the X-Men. I'll admit, I'd use my mental abilities to make select people, select businesses, and select organizations do What's Right, not What's Profitable.

Have any pets?
I have a 5yo blue piti named Belle.

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?
As long as that rock lands on the entire Kardashians family, I don't care if the Earth's civilization turns into Kevin Costner's Waterworld!!!

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):
My 5 children: Jacob, Harrison, Saphyre, Melody, Jerrica. BE WHO YOU ARE, DREAM BIG, and REMEMBER, YOUR FATHER LOVES TACOS!! (Hint hint)

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

Just something I like say from time to time: In A World Full of Dungeons, Sometimes You Have To Be The Dragon!

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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