Tuesday, April 30, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 169: Geoff Graham

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:Geoff Graham
Location:Houston, TX
Day Job:Director of Marketing and Sales
Designing:Two to five years.
Facebook:Cheese Viking Games/
YouTube:Cheese Viking Games
Today's Interview is with:

Interviewed on: 1/11/2019

This week we get to meet Geoff Graham, who runs Cheese Viking Games. Geoff not only designs games, but he also does reviews and Kickstarter previews on his blog and does digital game runthroughs on his twitch channel. Read on to learn more about Geoff 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?
Games are fun, it's very interesting to me to create a system that is engaging and provides fun and joyful moments. Plus, there's always that voice in the back of your head that goes off when you play a game that doesn't quite work. "this was neat, but I bet I could improve it or do something better..."

What game or games are you currently working on?
I have a few games in the early planning stages. One is an area control/majority game based on powering neighborhoods in different cities. I had a baking show competition theme that got stuck in prototype, and then was stolen with some other prototypes in a backpack from my car in early 2017. It was hard to come back from something like that and I took a long design break.

Have you designed any games that have been published?

What is your day job?
Director of Marketing and Sales

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
I like to play physical games at a home, either mine or a friend's. I stream digital tabletop games on twitch. www.twitch.tv/cheesevikinggames

Who do you normally game with?
Family and friends. Solo or against AI for digital games

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Spiel Des Jahres or Kennerspiel winners hit the sweet spot for me. Something 60-90 minutes with easy rules and enough time to form an act out a strategy. A little luck is good for games, but not too lucky.

And what snacks would you eat?
Chips, pretzels, cheeseballs.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Haven't tried playing with music.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Before moving, I enjoyed going to 8th Dimension Games for International Tabletop Day

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Hare and Tortoise (SDJ winner) and Fearsome Floors are tied for my favorite. Viticulture never stuck with me but the family really likes it so I enjoy it in that aspect. I found Tsuro to be pretty pointless but the worst game I've played is Munchkin. Just not my type of game!

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I really enjoy most mechanics if they make sense in the game. Drafting, Area Control/Majority. I hate memory or hidden but trackable information because I am bad at remembering them! Worker Placement games typically fall flat for me, even though it is an abstract form of action drafting.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Witch's Brew

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?
It's fine for a few rounds but there are way better games spend time on.

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 usually focus on mechanics first and then add a theme on top.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I entered a board game geek solo design contest

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Alan R Moon tends to make games I really enjoy. Incan Gold!

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
During my commute home from work

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Generally I try to play as all the players first before introducing the game to friends and family. I have not had a game progress to blind playtesters yet.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Collaboration is always nice, it's great to bounce ideas off of more talented people, but my games always start as a solo project until I get stuck. I enjoy bouncing ideas off hot shot new designer and game developer Mike Mihealsick of Coalition Game Studios.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Confidence in the prototype

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Star Wars

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Don't be afraid, test, test, test

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Do it for fun

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: 2
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: 4

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, VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Streaming tabletop and video games, pinball

What is something you learned in the last week?
Pizza math.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Video Game music, High Fantasy, Offbeat comedies like What We Do In The Shadows

What was the last book you read?
Probably a book about Marketing strategies. Boring.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Not anymore, I played clarinet and bass clarinet once upon a time.

Who is your idol?
My dad. RIP.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Know things. Charge people to know things.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Too many choices! Someone who could keep a low profile or turn invisible.

Have any pets?
Not anymore

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?
Chess is timeless, let's wipe out "party games" :)

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 Natalie!

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?  Pleasse 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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