Tuesday, November 2, 2021

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 306: Amelie Le-Roche

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:Amelie Le-Roche
Location:Los Angeles, California
Day Job:When I'm not designing games, I'm a senior animator in video games. I've been in the industry for about 15 years, and have gotten to work on some pretty great projects with very talented people. Being so familiar with video games has definitely helped me design and develop board games.
Designing:Two to five years.
BGG:Zerua Games
Facebook:Zerua Games
Find my games at:The Game Crafter or on my website
Today's Interview is with:

Amelie Le-Roche
Interviewed on: 10/28/2021

This week's interview is with Amelie Le-Roche from Zerua Games. Amelie has a number of games available on The Game Crafter, including several of which she donated for the Extra Life Charity Auction this year! Amelie is very active in the game design communities on Facebook, so you may have seen her around. Read on to learn more about Amelie and her many 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?
My first game was a present for my partner. I had so much fun that I refined it post-celebration and went on to develop more ideas.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Oh goodness! Lots. I'm currently refining tweaks on a dice trick-taking game, a unicorn token drafting game, and a cooperative story game. There's still a few other shelved games I'm always brainstorming in the back of my mind, trying to solve gameplay blockers.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
I've successfully funded two Kickstarters, one of which is Synchronized and is currently in production. The rest of my games are put on my Game Crater store and/or available on my website as a print and play.

What is your day job?
When I'm not designing games, I'm a senior animator in video games. I've been in the industry for about 15 years, and have gotten to work on some pretty great projects with very talented people. Being so familiar with video games has definitely helped me design and develop board games.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Anywhere among friends. Someone's house makes it a nice intimate time where we can also bring kids and pups.

Who do you normally game with?
We have a few friends that we consider family, and like to get together for game days. It's pretty casual and has equal amounts chatting, playing, and eating.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I'd really like to play the whole North Sea trilogy in a day. I really like Raiders and would be fun to get really competitive over several games.

And what snacks would you eat?
Always mini hot dogs. They're delicious and don't make a big mess.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Not often. There's usually a lot of chatter from catching up, dogs barking, television in the background. Kind of chaotic.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
I really like Geeky Teas in Burbank because they have a lot of games and some great playing areas.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I have several favorite games as there's different categories of games in my opinion. Favorites are Quantum (best strategy), Startups (best casual), and Cryptid (best thinker). I don't want to name my least favorites as there's a game for everyone, so don't want to paint any game as "worst."

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I really like set collection and worker placement. I feel they're approachable mechanics, but can have some depths and create cool decisions.

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

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?
Usually I'll start with a theme and often that will inform the mechanics. There are a few times I've had mechanic ideas and write them down for future use.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I've entered a lot of contests. I've had several games make semi-finals in a few Game Crafter contests, and one of my games won Edo's first stay at home contest! That was a pretty surreal moment.

Do you have a current favorite game designer?
Yes, many. But most aren't signed yet! I love attending Protospiel because that's where I see all my favorite designers. They're friends I've made, people I admire, and designers that inspire me.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I'm part of the LA playtest group here, and have been attending the weekly Seattle group remotely during the pandemic.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
My biggest challenge is advertising. I guess that's more of a publisher problem, but since I'm kind of doing everything, it's where I struggle the most. I'm an artist and an introvert, so building a crowd is very hard for me. But I've still managed to build a small following, and those fans really make my heart explode.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Just test it. You might be struggling with which direction to take a game. Just try one way and test it as soon as you can. Find the answers and don't keep it in your head too long.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Dino Dig: Risky Sites, Circus Corgis, Road Trip, Cacti, Tack (all available on The Game Crafter). Synchronized is in production

Currently looking for a publisher I have: Artish - I've been working on this game for 3 years. It's a fast paced, set collection game that uses color mixing as the main mechanic. My favorite part is that you can collect sets of different icons to gain extra abilities during the game, but then you only score sets of the same icons at the end of the game. So you have to find the perfect balance. You also have wild tokens you may use, but those will lower your hand limit. Again, you have to really balance your game strategy, especially since it's only a 30 minute game. I'm really happy with it and hope to find a publisher. If not, I'll probably launch a Kickstarter for it.
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Teatime with Miss Crumpette - this is my dice trick-taking game. Miss Crumpette is basically a tea snob and likes her tea juuuust right. There's 3 ingredients/suits (dice color), with uneven number of dice. The goal of the game is to have the least disappointment. Every round you compare your end score with Miss Crumpette's daily flavor score. The difference is your earned disappointment. So you'll play tricks with your dice. The neat thing about using dice is that there can be duplicates and you can change their value. I use this as a benefit in the game. For example, you may play off suit, but must lower a dice "in hand" to do so. I'm just tweaking a few things, making sure the game is balanced at all player counts.
Games that I'm playtesting are: Hue-nicorns - this is a color drafting game with a tic-tac-toe element. Players try to line up tokens in a row, but wherever you place your token determines where the next player may draft from.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Lab Meltdown - a cooperative, rondel, math game.

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, Board Game Broads +

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 was the last book you read?
Most recent favorite book was One Last Stop. It has fun and quirky characters and poignant moments. The book took some unexpected turns that made it such a fun journey.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Not well.

Who is your idol or hero?
Commander Shepard. Fictional but still.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert all the way.

Have any pets?
A dog. He's the best snuggler ever.

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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