Tuesday, May 14, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 171: Ron Halliday

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:Ron Halliday
Location:Sao Paulo, Brazil
Day Job:I am a cartographer!
Designing:Two to five years.
BGG:Ronald Halliday
YouTube:Ron Halliday
Today's Interview is with:

Ron Halliday
Interviewed on: 1/11/2019

Today we get to meet Ron Halliday, a designer currently living in Brazil. Ron has one game already published, a second coming soon, and just recently had another signed! Keep your eye out for Seven Bridges coming to Kickstarter this summer from Puzzling Pixel Games. Seven Bridges is a roll-and-write dice drafting game in which players explore the historic city of Königsberg and learn about the logic puzzle that made its bridges famous!

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?
I make maps for a living, and in 2015 I had the option of either looking for a short-term contract or taking the year off to try to get a game signed. My wife supported my crazy idea and by the end of the year my first game was published.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Seven Bridges

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Psychomachia was published at the end of 2015 and Revanche is coming out this year. Also, keep an eye out for Seven Bridges coming to Kickstarter this summer!

What is your day job?
I am a cartographer!

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At other people's places where drinks, snacks and laughter are requirements.

Who do you normally game with?
I can usually get out once a week, so I usually game with a friend of mine who loves having people over to play and is ready at the drop of a hat.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Fillers and gateway games, and if they're not locals, South American games that they haven't seen before.

And what snacks would you eat?

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
If the game is an IP like GoT or Star Wars, music from those universes.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
The Board Room Game Cafe in Halifax, Nova Scotia (with an honourable mention to the R. D. Chisholm store in Kentville, Nova Scotia which has a HUGE selection of games for a town of only 6,000 residents)

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favourite: Root Lease favourite that I still enjoy: Dixit Worst game I ever played: In respect to fellow designers I would prefer not to answer this question.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
That's a funny question, because I do enjoy card drafting, but I don't like deck builders!

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Guerra en el Pacífico (War in the Pacific), a war game that pits Peru and Bolivia against Chile. It's in Spanish so it takes me a long time to explain to my Portuguese-speaking friends here in Brazil.

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

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Card Games, Other 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?
It's always different. Sometimes the concept starts with a name. Sometimes it starts with a mechanic. But more often than not my thought process is "What kind of game would I like to play with this theme, and can I bring something new to the table?"

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Never entered, never won. Being a Canadian living in South America, the only country here that has awards is Brazil, and I just moved back here in 2016 and haven't published any games here yet. I was going to send Revanche to a French unpublished game competition (I can give you the name later) but because I self-published 100 copies it was disqualified from entering. I was also going to send Seven Bridges to a couple of unpublished/prototype competitions but it looks like I may have a publisher for it shortly!

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Dr. Gordon Hamilton, the designer of Santorini. He had the idea for the game back in the 80s (I'll double check the date) and stuck it out long enough to find a publisher that did a great job with his game.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
When I turn off the lights to go to bed, I usually think about one of my current projects. New ideas often come from random documentaries on TV that I'm half-watching on Discovery, History, etc.)

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Events, events events! Once the rules are finalized and written, I look for blind playtesters to give the PNP version a whirl as well.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I like to take my own ideas as far as possible by myself, to the point where I feel that any changes a publisher would make would be more cosmetic than fundamental. That being said, I would enjoy working with some designers I have met, and had a great time at last year's Global GameJam designing a game with three other people I had never met before the event.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
My anti-social tendencies!

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Maybe a French comic called Les Maîtres Cartographes, about a chaotic world where paladin-cartographers are some of the most powerful and respected members of society!

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
That I should have started 20 years earlier!

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Start small, and don't do it for the money.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Psychomachia
Games that will soon be published are: Revanche
I'm planning to crowdfund: Seven Bridges - Coming this summer from Puzzling Pixel Games!
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: do you have all day? ;)

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 Trek; Coke; VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Watching documentaries (including UFO shows, because aliens).

What is something you learned in the last week?
That the magnetic north pole is migrating closer and closer to the geographic north pole.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
90's Canadian Rock; Atlases; cult comedies like The Princess Bride, MP&THG and High Fidelity

What was the last book you read?
Anne of Green Gables

Do you play any musical instruments?

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
For a year I was an assistant coach to the Peruvian beach handball team.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I met my wife online (ICQ, anyone?) and moved to Brazil.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I couldn't play handball for three months because I seriously twisted my ankle, and had more time to contemplate getting into game design.

Who is your idol?
I don't know if he qualifies as an idol, but James Rolfe (AVGN) is someone who looks like he's having a ton of fun doing what he does and making a good living at it, and that's something we all envy a little bit. right?

What would you do if you had a time machine?
It's a coin toss between solving the Oak Island mystery and the Shag Harbour UFO sighting. Not the universe's largest mysteries, but the ones I grew up with in Nova Scotia.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Omniglot Boy, the speaker of all languages!

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?
Hockey would be nice, with all that extra ice. It would be ironic and fitting if the asteroid landed on a flat-earther conference.

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):
Shoutout to Andres Paredes! He's the owner of Navespacial, the publisher that published my first game and got me into my current state of affairs.

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

My personal quote: It's hard being a perfectionist when you don't know what you're doing.

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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