Tuesday, August 24, 2021

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 295: Matt Clarke

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:Matt Clarke
Day Job:Currently, I print t-shirts at a screenprinting studio. I'm also a freelance web-designer.
Designing:Two to five years.
BGG:Designer: Matt Clarke
Facebook:Tekamutt Media
YouTube:Tekamutt Media
Find my games at:https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/tekamutt-media
Today's Interview is with:

Matt Clarke
Interviewed on: 7/9/2021

Today's interview is with Matt Clarke, the designer of Shipwrecked, which is self-published on The Game Crafter. The Game Crafter is a great way for designers to get their game out there, without having to work with a publisher (or while waiting to work with the right publisher). Read on to learn more about Matt 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?
This is a very random story, actually. I was working as a maintenance man at a white water rafting company, surrounded by adventurous, sporty, athletic people who weren't nearly as nerdy as I was, but who surprisingly enjoyed playing Catan after a hard day of rafting. I always found Catan quite dull, and I wanted to show these outdoorsy people that games didn't have to just be mindless dice rolling. I ended up making a simple choose-your-own-adventure type game about navigating a river, fighting a few sea creatures, and facing a simple challenge at the end. The rafting crew loved it, so I was quickly inspired to try and design something a bit more ambitious. That summer, my prototype for a game called 'Shipwrecked!' was born.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Shipwrecked! It's been my passion project for the last 4 years, and it's finally ready for sale!

It's about being stranded on a mysterious island and you have to find a way to escape it before a volcano erupts and blows the whole place to smithereens. You work together with your friends, but ultimately there can be only one winner, the one who finds the most buried treasure. Watching my friends betray each other has been one of the most thrilling and satisfying things to witness again and again as I used them as playtesters and slowly tweaked the game to its final, devious form.

I filled two entire notepads up with sketches and ink drawings, scanned them all into the computer to digitally colour them, and designed the island as well as over 150 unique playing cards. I have lost count of the number of hours that have been put into this game, but it's well over 1000 by now, more than any of my three self-published novels!

I'm also working on a casual battle card game about Cats vs Dogs, but its a little too early to start talking about that one...

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Shipwrecked is my first available game, self-published on The Game Crafter. Get some friends over, and you're sure to have a good, backstabby time. https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/shipwrecked-

What is your day job?
Currently, I print t-shirts at a screenprinting studio. I'm also a freelance web-designer.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home with a few friends. Can't wait for board game nights to become a regular thing again. I used to run a board game night at a local cafe, and that would be great to be able to start hosting that again someday!

Who do you normally game with?
My nerdy friends.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I'm craving another Game of Thrones board game night. That, and Zombicide.

And what snacks would you eat?
Pizza is our go-to. I am also partial to corn chips with spicy cheese dip.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
The World of Warcraft soundtrack has been accompanying our Gloomhaven sessions recently, which really sets the mood.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
I live in a small mountain town in BC, and there are no game stores here! The Hexagon in Calgary was the last one I visited and had a really good vibe.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Gloomhaven is excellent right now, we are still on our first characters but the story is very fun.

I have to enjoy Settlers of Catan because so many of my friends love it, but it's never really grabbed me.

We found a game called Dogs in the thrift store, and it was abysmal, but managed to cross that line into so-bad-its-good. We laughed the whole way through at how ridiculous it was, so despite it being the worst game I've ever played, it holds a special place in my heart.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I love any game that lets you betray your friends in a sneaky way. I can't see the point in playing games that rely on sheer luck and require no skill or strategy.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
The Game of Thrones board game. To this day, I've only played it once, during a marathon 6 hour session with 3 of my best friends, and I have never managed to play it again since, despite how awesome it was!

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, 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?
In the case of Shipwrecked! the theme came first, followed by mechanics. I always knew I wanted exploration to be a key part, so the mechanics grew around that core idea.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?

Do you have a current favorite game designer?
I don't really know any personalities in the game design world!

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
It sounds cheesey, cliche and non-commital but honestly ideas just come to me at very random moments. Every day life can be surprisingly inspiring!

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I bribe my friends with pizza and sit back to watch them play. "Blind playtesting" has been so rewarding and entertaining.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I have started numerous projects with various friends and am very open to the idea of collaborating with the right people as I believe that's how you end up making something truly special. But so far, I have only had successfully completed creative projects by myself! I've written 3 novels, and now produced a survival board game by working alone. Maybe one day I'll manage to break the curse of the collaborative project...

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Somehow pulling abstract rules and ideas out of your head and writing them into a functioning, easy-to-understand rulebook. Seriously, Shipwrecked! has been playable and finished for over a year, but nailing the rulebook has been without a doubt the toughest challenge of the entire 4 year journey!

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I'd love to design a game set in Chris Wooding's 'Tales of the Ketty Jay' world. It's steampunk, swashbuckling fantasy awesomeness!

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Start writing the rules early. Playtest, playtest, playtest... Take criticism and learn how to filter out constructive, useful feedback.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Shipwrecked!
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Shipwrecked!
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Cats vs Dogs

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

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?
Android > Apple.
PC gaming > consoles.
Dogs > Cats.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Videogames, reading and writing novels, travelling. I'm a skiier and love to go hiking in search of waterfalls.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I'm all about oldschool punkrock like NOFX, Blink-182, Offspring and Sum 41. The Lord of the Rings trilogy are my favourite films of all time, I watch the extended editions back-to-back in the same day at least once every couple of years.

What was the last book you read?
The Witcher - Lady of the Lake. That series is fun.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I can bang a spoon against a table.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I'm scared of heights, so decided to bungee jump and do a skydive. I'm still scared of heights...

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I performed at a male stripper show... it was amazing.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I want to ride a motorbike between the legs of a dinosaur like that one guy in JP2 The Lost World.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I believe we're all on a spectrum of the two, and I lean towards introverted most of the time.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be and why?
The guy in Chronicle before he turns evil. Telekenesis is the BEST power of all - it lets you do mundane things like pick up the tv remote from the other side of the room without having to get up, and it can let you FLY if you hold onto the tv remote tightly and send it into the sky.

Have any pets?
I want my own dog more than anything in the world.

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 George R R Martin survives to finish his series! Also, I'm still waiting for Half Life 3. After the apocalypse, maybe I'll be able to afford a house.

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):
Hi mum!

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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