Tuesday, June 4, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 174: William James Wilson

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:William James Wilson
Location:Kansas, U.S.A
Day Job:I deliver papers for the Manhattan Mercury newspaper for 10 years now. Before that, I was working as a Security Guard on Fort Riley for 9 years and 10 months, where most of my board game came to fruition. Showcasing and bouncing ideas off the other guards.
Designing:Five to ten years.
Facebook:Hot Rod: The Drag Racing game
Instagram:Nature's Force: To Be Born Strong
Find my games at:Not accessible to play at this time.
Today's Interview is with:

William James Wilson
Interviewed on: 1/11/2019

Today we get to meet William James Wilson, a game designer, author, artist, and poet. After spending several years working on Hot Rod: The Drag Racing, he set it aside, and has recently come back to the game with input and support from other designers in the online communities. To learn more about William, read on!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Five to ten years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I am more creative than social, so time was spent on writing, poetry, sculpting, drawing and the like. My love of board games fully started when my PS3 died, and watching reviews of board games on Youtube and investing time in it, helped me understand board game mechanisms, graphic designs, and the love of sharing my creative side. I was inspired by a dice app, Formula D, a drag racing app, and one board game that was on Kickstarter that featured dice as archetypal characters (wizard, barbarian...): from there on, Hot Rod: The Drag Racing game was created.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I am about 90% through on my first game: Hot Rod: The Drag Racing game. The work into calculating the currency is above my head on finishing it the right way. All the other mechanisms are sound, with great and helpful input from the fellow gamers of the board game groups I am a part of. I could not have designed it further without them.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
No I have not. I am hoping to one day find a publisher that would be willing to take that chance. I have even contacted the NHRA in seeing if they would be willing to sponsor me in developing my game. No response from them as of yet.

What is your day job?
I deliver papers for the Manhattan Mercury newspaper for 10 years now. Before that, I was working as a Security Guard on Fort Riley for 9 years and 10 months, where most of my board game came to fruition. Showcasing and bouncing ideas off the other guards.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Most of the time spent gaming is at home, usually family game nights once a week depending on everyone's schedules.

Who do you normally game with?
My gaming group involves my stepson and his cousins, during Black Friday, we game all night til morning while my wife, her sister, their mother and my stepdaughter do the crazy shopping for Christmas. They are pros at it. I am not. I'll just stick to my cardboard pieces.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Very thematic games is a must. Either quick and luck based games like King of New York, or strategic and tactical ones also Conan.

And what snacks would you eat?
The basic 101 of snackage: sodas, chips, candy for in between and during. A special meal I cook up in advance during the big break. I really make a big deal out of my gaming nights.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Absolutely!...and maybe not at times too, because of a person's mindset at the time. I do keep the music play lists in tune of the theme of the games. Like Bang! The Dice Game, "I Shot The Sheriff", or any of the bgm of War of the Monsters PS2 video game for Smash Up and King of New York. Even spooky sound fx I play for Betrayal at House on the Hill, lights out with only flashlights.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
I forgot the name of the one in Junction City that I used to buy loads of Marvel Comics before the closed down, my intro to HeroClix was born in that store. Since I moved to Manhattan, not too much time was spent at Goblin Games before our devastating flood several months ago. They were a very FLGS.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
My current favorite has to be Memoir '44 that I bought specifically for my stepson and I to play. He is a major WWII history buff, and a strategic/tactical gamer. He fell in love with the first dice roll. The "least" as a loosely worded tag for this one is my wife's copy of Lord of the Rings: Monopoly. I do dislike the generic Monopoly, but the Ring variant I really enjoy playing. The Resistance was the worst, ONLY because of my gaming group did not mesh well with the lying and calling out type game play.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Resource Management via Conan from Monolith games and on the sidestep of that, the "River" mechanism of the Overlord. Fantastic in design and game play. The least is a general answer where the game is on rails. No real choices that the players make. Where the game plays you. Best answer I can give on that. I have yet to see one mechanism I really dislike.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Heroscape. Hands down. Only because of the set up and tear down, which I love also. Make the landscapes is like playing with Legos.

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 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?
With Hot Rod, the theme came later which in hindsight, was an obvious choice. Since I had that drag racing app, which solidified the theme, I built the dice mechanisms first. The gear dice ala Formula D, but instead of turn based, it is real time.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No, but I would love to enter. So many ideas to run with. Get that creative mind going. It is why I pursue so many venues of creativity. Maybe a true renaissance man?

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
My idol off the top of my head is Eric Lang because of his diversity in his creativity of his games. I admire the scope of that.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
When I am at work. My best ideas started from there and I let time take care of the rest. Time spent in hours drawing, redrawing and reworking. Time spent away from it. To regain that focus and not burnout. For me, I cannot make myself "create", only a blank page is the result. I look at the surroundings: sounds, images, feelings and situations that feed those needs for me to put ink to paper.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I have spent more hours play testing my mechanisms than creating the game itself to prove it is sound. Then I get the help of the guards and new soldiers to try it out. Family and my game group. Unfortunately, I put my game on the backburner before I could blind playtest it, for my other project at the time.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
For several years I have worked alone on my game. Too scared to even share it, besides the guards I trusted. After hitting that roadblock for several months, I took the chance to join my current facebook board game groups. Received a lot of helpful input. Took the critiques to heart to create a better product than it was originally.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Once it is a physical product, that is the game good enough to even call myself a board game designer.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Mighty Max! As said by Tiny Ninjas😎, they were inspired by Mighty Max for the board gaming INSIDE the box, just like the toys. I would love to really design with that IP.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Do not treat it like Golem and the One Ring. "It's mine, everyone is going to steal it. Keep it hidden". Take a chance to share it, embrace it, let it evolve into a game that it needs to be. Not just to stay as it was from the beginning.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Keep creating. Do not let one idea go unwritten. It could just be the creativeness you are looking for tomorrow.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Yes.
Games that I'm playtesting are: Right where I put it on the backburner. I reached the point I need more of a professional help. >

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Yes. Board Game Revolution Community, and their sister pages. I cannot remember their exact names for the others.

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. (My dad still has his Betamax. I miss those small cassettes)

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I sculpt out of FIMO polymer clay: selling Angel figurines named after my stepdaughter. I write poetry. Even won editors' choice with "Dream Girl". And writing a five book series and illustrations called "Nature's Force: To Be Born Strong".

What is something you learned in the last week?
The do's and don'ts of running a Kickstarter. I try to keep up with the trends.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Rock/Metal. SciFi books. Action/Adventure movies.

What was the last book you read?
Conan the Cimmerian

Do you play any musical instruments?
No, but would love to learn the drums...do to my love of japanese lore, Raiden.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
That I fell in love with Elsa from Frozen the moment I saw the movie. My favorite color is blue and if you know Mortal Kombat, that means I always choose Sub-Zero.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Challenged my oldest brother, with a bet attached...again, that I could beat him in Jenga. During Christmas of last year, I won several games, as "the board gamer" of the family, beating out my mother and nieces. I thought I was hotstuff. One last block. If I made it, he WOULD have lost. The bet...a haircut, including beard. I now look stunning.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Bowling with my own family, my brother's family and our parents, as the ball slipped out of the hands and flew backwards, the momentum carried me forward onto the oiled floor. I did a comical slip and landed on the back. Laughter ensued. Couple years later, seeing my stepdaughter laugh and smile while reminiscing my goofy tropes with my parents.

Who is your idol?
My parents. Through the calm and rough times, in the end, family will always be family. What I need to remember at times with my own family.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Find the technology of the future to record dreamscapes and nightmares and watch them like movies. Why I got into art in the first place, to draw out the dreams as if they were tangible.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert most days.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Moon Knight. My wife's favorite, and I love Egyptology. And better than Batman?...

Have any pets?
My stepson's service dog, Kipper. A maltipoo. Born on my stepson's birthday.

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?
Apples to Apples is the Alpha, Cards Against Humanity is the Omega. 'Nuff said.

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):
To Board James and Board Games with Scott. My first channels that got me hooked into board gaming. Much appreciated.

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

I am also a lyricist, but cannot sing to save my life. I wrote lyrics inspired by the DooM video games, that hopefully will catch the attention of those involved.😎

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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