Tuesday, December 31, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 204: Chris Romansky

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:Chris Romansky
Location:Minneapolis, MN
Day Job:Civil Engineer - mostly designing rail transit systems around the US.
Designing:Over ten years!
Facebook:Chris Romansky
Find my games at:The Game Crafter and my website.
Today's Interview is with:

Chris Romansky
Interviewed on: 8/14/2019

This week's interview is with Minnesota designer, Chris Romansky. Chris just finished up a campaign for his first game to be published outside of The Game Crafter this past October. Hamsterdam is a family friendly tower defense game. He also has a number of games available on The Game Crafter, some of which he plans to also bring to Kickstarter. Read on to learn more about Chris and his current projects!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Over ten years!

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
It was a mix of trying to improve upon some of the games we liked to play as a group and trying to come up with something new and fun.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Refining Apocalyptic Attraction, a dexterity social deduction game and playing around with a few thoughts on the scrap heap leading up to Protospiel Minnesota.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
I successfully funded a Kickstarter for Hamsterdam, a family-friendly tower defense game. Self-published and a very fun experience.

What is your day job?
Civil Engineer - mostly designing rail transit systems around the US.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
We usually vary our game nights around my group of friends. When at my place we play on my custom-made DIY game table.

Who do you normally game with?
Friends and family

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
We vary it quite a bit, but lately it's been Root, Captain Sonar and Ponzi Scheme.

And what snacks would you eat?
We'll usually rock a pack of Oreos and if we're doing dinner, pizza or Portillo's.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
I usually hit up Games by James, but there's so many great ones in the Twin Cities area.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
My favorite game is Dominant Species, it's so brutal for a euro and the rule book is rock solid. My least favorite that I still enjoy is King of Tokyo. It's a common one for our group and I tend to be horrible at rolling, but it's still fun. Worst game I've ever played, let's just say if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
My favorite mechanic is generally seeing the boundaries pushed by a mechanic, but if I have to pick one, I do like area control for the main reason that it generally allows the ability to organically cede one victory path to attempt another. A lot of times other mechanics will rigidly allow for a few paths, but area control generally has flexible paths to victory. My least favorite mechanic is co-op. There are a lot of issues with one dominant player taking over the game decisions or there's a lot of blah decisions where the game doesn't ratchet up the stakes because if the team loses the game ends.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Innovation. It's brilliant in its simplicity and there's nothing like beating people over the head with Agriculture. Just one of those games where I'm super excited, but doesn't have the glitz of some other titles out there.

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?

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 have a killer mechanic I want to try and then the theme comes later on, although I've had some run counter to that and those turn out pretty alright as well.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have entered 15 game contests on The Game Crafter. I've won a contest to build an Adventure Game with my world-builder platform video game spoof 2-Bit Bandits and I've also won a contest to build an escape room game with my game Casino Heist. I judged TGC's Legacy contest as part of a prize for winning their previous contests.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
My best ideas come to me when I have a chance to to just clear my head. One fun trick I use to come up with ideas is to have a discussion with somebody else and just kind of throw some wacky ideas at the wall. Then one tends to stick and it ends up as an interesting game.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I start out solo, then when I get it where I want it I bring it to friends and family and after that I hit up the protospiel scene.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I typically work alone, but I do enjoy having design discussions with others and chat about game design in general with whomever wants to chat.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
My biggest challenge is developing artwork that makes my designs pop.

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

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Get your game to the smallest viable product. Always good to trim the fat in a game and realize what is the fat in the game. You can make a lot more elegant and cheaper designs that way.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Fail fast and get on to the next design. If it isn't working don't spend a ton of time perfecting something that isn't working.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Hamsterdam self-published through a Kickstarter, Self-Published Print-On-Demand: 2-Bit Bandits, Block Friday, Casino Heist, Comeback City, Contested, Pink Slip, Disc Golf: Birdie Blitz, Duck, Duck, Grey Duck, Kingpin, Presidents and Sanity Holes, Sanity and Skyscrappers
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Rumble Rally
I'm planning to crowdfund: Possibly: Apocalyptic Attraction

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Card and Board Game Designer's Guild, TGC Designer's Discussion, Board Game Design Laboratory, BoardGameGeek Crowdfunding Group, Protospiel, and Grey Duck Lodge - Social Retreat for MN Game Designers

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, Pepsi, VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Disc Golf, Politics, Aquariums, Road tripping around the US.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Classic Rock, Stephen King, Mostly comedies, but the collection of horrible SYFY movies are great from time to time.

What was the last book you read?
Political Order and Political Decay by Francis Fukuyama

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I make treat boxes with 36 different flavors of Rice Krispie Treats squares from scratch every year around Christmas for family and coworkers.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Got Throw, Throw Burrito delivered from the Kickstarter, played it a few hours later and managed to get a concussion dodging a burrito. I ended up being okay and the other gamers we're telling of how epic game night was that blood was drawn.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

Have any pets?
Two dogs and a bunch of fish

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?
Survivors: Baseball, Primanti Bros. sandwiches, all the games, I'll take running water, sanitation and a nice bed to sleep in too. Wiped out: Student loan debt, diseases, mosquitoes, days where the windchill drops below -40 degrees.

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):
Shout out to my wife Rachel and son Andy. Love you guys.

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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