Tuesday, September 26, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 88: Carla Kopp

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:Carla Kopp
Location:Huntsville, AL
Day Job:Software Engineer
Designing:One to two years.
Blog:Weird Giraffe Games on The Indie Game Report
Facebook:Weird Giraffe Games
YouTube:Weird Giraffe Games
Find my games at:Stellar Leap has a print and play here: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/230570/stellar-leap Super Hack Override can be bought here: superhackoverride.com
Today's Interview is with:

Carla Kopp
Interviewed on: 9/21/2017

Although she currently resides in Alabama, Carla Kopp is originally from Illinois, and even went to my alma mater, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign! Last year she successfully funded and published Super Hack Override and right now she has her second game on Kickstarter. Stellar Leap! is already funded with about three weeks to go. To learn more about Carla and the other awesome projects she's working on, read on!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
One to two years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I went to a panel at Dragon Con about designing games, tried it out, and got hooked!

What game or games are you currently working on?
Stellar Leap, Observance, and Drapple

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Super Hack Override

What is your day job?
Software Engineer

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home or a friend's house is best, but I also have a game night at the local cupcake place, Sugar Belle, which is pretty awesome! Cupcakes, milkshakes, and games just go together.

Who do you normally game with?
Friends and whoever shows up to my community game night! Usually these people end up being friends.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Something new! I have a stack of unplayed games and my favorite thing to do is to explore new games' mechanics.

And what snacks would you eat?
Unless it's cupcakes / cookies at Sugar Belle, we tend not to eat while playing. Less chance of hurting the games!

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
If there is any music, it's typically some sort of video game music or something thematic, like Moana when we play anything Island themed.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
JC's House of Cards. It's close and has AMAZING chairs.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
The Great Dinosaur Rush is my current favorite game! Least favorite that I still enjoy is Cat Box. It works with 5 players and is fast and easy to teach, so I tend to play it when there's people that don't like heavier games. I'm not really sure about worst game... I tend to not play games I know I won't like, like party games. I get surprised every so often, but I can see how others might like those games.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Worker Placement is my favorite and I hate trick taking and take that games.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Near and Far! I haven't gotten it to the table yet, but I know I'll love it. Just gotta find the time and right people.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG Games, Video Games, Other 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?
I tend to get both at once!

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I haven't entered, but I plan on trying soon!

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Jamey Stegmaier is amazing; he makes great games and is also super nice!

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Usually either when I'm in the shower, right before I go to sleep, or right after waking up. I have my phone for when I get ideas around sleep, but for the shower, I just have to hope I can remember the ideas until after I'm finished!

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I start by either playing it myself as multiple players or getting my husband, Nick, to play with me, then iterate to get all the obvious kinks out. Then I go to my friends and my local design group and iterate a ton more, usually over several months. Once the game gets to be better, then I start playtesting in the community and at conventions, to get people I don't know to tell me how they feel about it. After all that comes blind playtesting, which always lasts a lot longer than I think it will, but is super important and rewarding. Blind playtesting tends to convince me that I need to simplify all the things!

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Mostly alone for the design process. Nick helps out with playtesting, brainstorming when I get stuck, and is good to bounce ideas off of. I'd love to have a co-designer at some point! I just haven't had the opportunity to do so at this point. I also HAVE to work with an artist for all the art as I'm terrible at that.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Time! There's never enough for all the ideas I have, so I really have to focus and iterate on a game, instead of trying to prototype everything. A lot of my time also goes to the publishing related tasks which sometimes feel never-ending.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Ender's Game! It was one of my favorite books growing up and has a cool space theme. A few of the other IPs I would have chosen, like Star Wars or Star Trek, already have a few games dedicated to them and I'd prefer to be one of the first.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Ask for help! There's tons of people in the community that are willing to help you, if you're just willing to ask. I used to get so nervous asking for help and not wanting to bother people, but I'm in the process of getting over that an

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Don't give up! If you keep at it, you'll find the thing that can make your game really great, but that won't typically happen in a day or month. It takes time and lots of playtesting to make incredible games.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Super Hack Override
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Stellar Leap
Currently looking for a publisher I have: maybe Drapple
I'm planning to crowdfund: Observance, maybe Drapple
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Stellar Leap
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Observance and Drapple
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Tons! I got a folder of ideas. We'll see what makes it out of there.

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

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?
I LOVE BOTH STAR TREK AND STAR WARS. They fill different niches and I can't have enough of either. So excited for the new Star Trek series and for all the Star Wars movies. Pepsi, DEFINITELY. Neither?

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Software! I like to program and learn more about it, so I do that on the side. I even made my own website!

What is something you learned in the last week?
Asking people when they are planning to post their articles is super important! If you don't, they might post before the kickstarter and you can lose some potential backers. I'm going to be better about this next time!

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Pop Punk! Science Fiction. Science Fiction and Super Heroes.

What was the last book you read?
The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals

Do you play any musical instruments?
I used to play Oboe and Cymbals in college.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I'm really passionate about my car. I drive a BMW Z4 and I love it so much. It was the first thing I bought after I got my first fulltime job and it just makes me happy to drive.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I followed a band on tour for two weeks and it was one of the best experiences! I got to hang out with them every night and see almost all of the midwest. It was definitely one of the more exciting vacations I've ever done.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I was playtesting Drapple and making a color wheel out of the cards to show the color gradient. While I was doing that, Tony (Bearded Rogue) and Jeremy (GameGeekNinja) were at the same table and were like "YES! You have to keep that!" and that's how we fixed the starting player disadvantage in Drapple.

Who is your idol?
I don't really have one, outside of Jamey Stegmaier. There's tons of people I'd like to be more like, but I wouldn't say idol.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go see what the future was like! I'd hope we'd have fixed a bunch of the problems of now, especially health related ones. I have quite a few health issues and if I could get a miracle pill that would be fantastic!

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Definitely an introvert.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Flash! He has all the time in the world!

Have any pets?
3 cats; Fluffins, Klaus, and Frozen Custard.

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'd think board games would survive, as you don't need power to play them!

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):
Tony Miller and Dan Letzring have been so helpful to me throughout my game design career! They always seem willing to help and give feedback, plus the feedback they give is always incredibly helpful! Jeremy Davis and Derek Maggs are also incredible! They've had my back since I've met them and they're just great people to know. All four of them are just fantastic people.

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

Feel free to reach out to me for anything! I love to talk about game design and I'd love to get to know you.

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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