Tuesday, April 23, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 168: Rodney Owen

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:Rodney Owen
Location:Sydney, Australia
Day Job:I'm a Counsellor by background and I'm working full time in a Suicide Prevention Program. My clients have all had a recent suicide attempt and my role is to help them stay safe and link them in with services that will aid their recovery.
Designing:Six months to a year.
BGG:Rodney Owen
Find my games at:The Game Crafter and Robin Hood: Hero of the People on Kickstarter now!
Today's Interview is with:

Rodney Owen
Interviewed on: 1/13/2019 0:29:12

Rodney Owen is an avid gamer that only more recently has turned to game design. Last year he came in third in The Game Crafter's Solo Design Contest with his game Robin Hood: Hero of the People, which is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. So be sure to check it out now (the campaign goes until May 23) and read on to learn more about Rodney and some of his other projects.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Six months to a year.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I used to make short films and I loved the creative process. Back in 2015 I discovered The Game Crafter online. I loved the idea that I could make and sell games online and the creative process of making games was, for me, similar to making films.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I'm working on a game for that I'm bringing to Kickstarter this year called Robin Hood: Hero of the People. It's a solo adventure that came 3rd in The Game Crafter solo design contest last year. I've also created a game for this years Board Game Geek Mint Tin design contest called Mint Condition. I have also designed a game called Blind Trust where people take their turns with their eyes closed and must rely on others to make their decisions.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
None as yet but I am looking at self Publishing Robin Hood: Hero of the People myself through Kickstarter.

What is your day job?
I'm a Counsellor by background and I'm working full time in a Suicide Prevention Program. My clients have all had a recent suicide attempt and my role is to help them stay safe and link them in with services that will aid their recovery.

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

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I don't really have music on. I find that if there's a lot of background noise I find it hard to hear rules explanations.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
I tend to buy most of my games 2nd hand via Facebook. Otherwise I tend to go to where the game I want is.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
The games I'm loving at the moment are Black Orchestra, Fury of Dracula, Love Letter and Batman Fluxx. I find Terraforming Mars a bit overrated, but I'll still play it. I really didn't enjoy Tiny Epic Quest and Auztralia.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like anything that makes for quick and fun card games such as hand management, drafting, bluffing and take that. I'm really enjoying worker placement games at the moment and I'm quite good at hidden movement games. I don't really like Dexterity games.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Coup. My wife doesn't really enjoying the bluffing aspect and no matter how many times I've taken it to games group it's never made it to the table.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card 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 start with a goal and that goal could be anything such as make a solo game, make a game with only 18 cards, make a game that fits into a mint tin. Usually these goals are given to me by whatever contest I'm entering. I then design everything else to fit around that goal.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Several. All the games that I have developed the most have been for contests. My best result (so far) has been 3rd place in The Game Crafter solo design contest

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I've played and really enjoyed Phil Walker- Hardings games lately, particularly Barenpark. Not only is he an Aussie designer but he lives in the same city as me and doing really well overseas. I hope to meet him one day.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Most of my inspiration comes from the contests I enter. I find that the parameters contest impose and the time frame really helps my creativity.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Last year I discovered the local game design community who have been really great and encouraging. We sometimes hold unpub events were we playtest each others designs and I have some great friends who are willing to try out some new designs.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I mostly design alone but I am working on one design with a mate.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Getting my games out there into the world and published. At times Australia can be quite isolated. Getting to international conventions is expensive, shipping prototypes and product is expensive and takes time.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I would love to design a Batman or Star Wars game. I'm a big fan of both.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Start now! I discovered The Game Crafter in 2015 but it was a couple of years later that I made my first game. I'd be further along if I started in 2015.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Immerse yourself in games and game design. Listen to podcasts, read books and blogs, meet other designers and most of all play games. You learn so much at a faster rate when you totally immerse yourself in the world.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games that will soon be published are: Mint Condition, Blind Trust
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Robin Hood: Hero of the People (Kickstarter in April)
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Fagin, Devilish and Base Words

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

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?
Star Wars, Coke and Livestreaming

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
What, there's other hobbies?? I have done a lot of geocaching and I'm still a big movie fan.

What is something you learned in the last week?
I learned that Adam Lambert has a cameo in the Bohemian Rhapsody movie

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I like classic rock, true crime and biographies. There are far too many types of movies out there, I like anything that's well made.

What was the last book you read?
For Love of Board Games by Erin Dean. I recently received my Kickstarter copy.

Do you play any musical instruments?

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
In my younger years I did a lot of karaoke. There was one point where I would go to karaoke 3 times a week.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
In 2016 I participated in Charity Bike ride. We rode 500 kms in 5 days on bicycles in Thailand. We rode in 50 degree heat, along roads, dirt tracks and up massive hills for up to 8 hours a day and I raised over $5000 for orphans in Thailand.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
In 2010 I contracted swine flu. I ended up in hospital in an induced coma on life support for 11 days. It turned out awesome because not only did I survive, I made a full recovery, walked away with a different perspective on life and have a great story to tell.

Who is your idol?
Russell Crowe

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I'd go and see my Mum again at a time before she died.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I do consider myself to be an introvert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Batman- he's rich and has a cool car.

Have any pets?

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?
Wow, that's intense. I hope the games and pastimes that survive in the world bring people together as we will need it. I hope the need for people to bring others down is wiped out forever.

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):
I'd like to send a shout out to my wife Kim, my mate Rowan from Brand New Board Games, Sydney Beer and Boardgames group, my mate Josh at Shenanigames and the awesome community at Tabletop Game Designers Australia (TGDA).

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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