Tuesday, September 28, 2021

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 300: Nero (Ondrej Sova)

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:Nero (Ondrej Sova)
Day Job:web developer
Designing:Over ten years!
BGG:Nero Games
Find my games at:BGG
Today's Interview is with:

Interviewed on: 7/24/2021

This week marks a major milestone, it's my 300th People Behind the Meeples interview, almost exactly 5 years after the first one (a lot has changed since then, so maybe I should share an update)! Take a look back at some of the amazing designers I've featured since I started this series in 2016. This week we get to meet designer Ondrej Sova, better known in gaming circles as Nero. Nero has designed several games that have been published, including Kombo Klash by HubGames, and has plenty more designs that he's working on. To learn more about Nero and his projects, read on!

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 actually started with card games, as a fresh fan of Magic:the Gathering at 12 or so. Even before that, I made little parodies of Monopoly and similar roll+move games to make them more exciting, but M:tG as the first contact with modern games started my game-design adventure. And why? Everyone knows why design a game - it's awesome.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Most work these days goes into Controller - a hacker/coder themed game about building the world's first "real" AI. Features a minimalist modular board, set of cards full of combos and several interconnected systems. It's far cooler with pictures, check it out: https://nerogames.sk/en/controller

Have you designed any games that have been published?
The most successful one is Kombo Klash, published by HubGames this year - a wildly clever game about crazy kombos: https://www.wearehubgames.com/our-games/komboklash Which is the international edition of our earlier success, Kombo Afrika: https://nerogames.sk/en/kombo

Other published projects include Bombovo, a set of quick and innovative card games themed around a summer camp and Kozmo - Space Journey, a cooperative space-travel game teaching kids to overcome differences and to work together, published locally.

What is your day job?
web developer

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
in a game-friendly pub, or at home.

Who do you normally game with?
mostly my testers :)

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Really depends on the mood and who joins the party. We like shorter, action-packed games, or creative ones, so a round of Jungle Speed, maybe Block Happy, Exploding Kittens, occasionally Just One or Truth Bombs. Earlier, Carcassone was a must.

And what snacks would you eat?
Whatever gets brought. Most frequently chips :)

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Most of the time we forget to turn it on, but when we do, it's either rock or liquid DnB.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Must be ihrysko.sk

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I mostly dig half of the games I try, and then forget all of their names. I know I enjoyed a game of Secret Hitler once, despite being nowhere near a fan of that genre.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Push-your-luck, secret choice and simultaneous action are my favourites. Most hated for me is probably resource management.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Arkham Horror and Megacity: Oceania.

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

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, Other Games?

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Depends on who with.

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?
Most of the time, mechanics-first.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I think I entered one, can't recall. Definitely didn't win.

Do you have a current favorite game designer?
Rory O'Conor is my fav. As designer, as person.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
In the middle of the night, often in the busiest time of the month or so.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Self-play to carve out the roughest parts, then with friends to develop and simplify, eventually local event to balance and make "final" touches.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
For the time being, it's me and the testers.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
To let go of older projects and come up with something fresh.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Either Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Artemis Fowl.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
It's really worth the work.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
1. Get to know about those who came before you. 2. Don't be afraid to start from sketch.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Kombo Afrika/Kombo Klash https://www.wearehubgames.com/our-games/komboklash
Games that will soon be published are: Bombovo/Hocičo - set of quick, generic but innovative card games (under re-design)
Currently looking for a publisher I have: HexDragon - a mind-tangling game about building dragons. https://nerogames.sk/en/hexdragon
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Controller - a hybrid hacker game about creating the world's first real AI. https://nerogames.sk/en/controller
Games that I'm playtesting are: Cu[o]be - a cooperative horror game https://nerogames.sk/en/cuobe

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. Vinea. Cini-minis.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I draw.

What is something you learned in the last week?
How to tie the clove hitch knot

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
The good ones.

What was the last book you read?
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Do you play any musical instruments?
Tried a piano long ago.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I am actually friendly to people by default.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I swear I thought it would turn out differently.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I'm the one stealing those labels off of people.

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):
Shout out to Roman, my all-in-one complice, for showing me this interview.

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.

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