Tuesday, March 24, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 217: Chris Rio

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 Rio
Day Job:Digital Marketing
Designing:Two to five years.
Find my games at:On Amazon, on cheerupgames.com, and Swearmints is on The Game Crafter.
Today's Interview is with:

Chris Rio
Interviewed on: 2/13/2020

Let's get to meet Chris Rio, a designer out of Boston who has a Kickstarter running right now for the first expansion for hid party game, Cheer Up. The expansion, Cheer Up! - The Big D Pack! adds locations and more to the game. In addition to designing fun party games, Chris also self-publishes his games. Read on to learn more about Chris and his other 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?
I play a lot of party games, but the quality varies wildly in the casual market and it's hard to know what's good. I developed my first game (Cheer Up!) as an antidote to what I saw were issues with certain games (like the popular one that rhymes with Lards Protest Calamity.) I literally just made the exact game I wanted to play.

What game or games are you currently working on?
The one that is public is called Master of Pieces and it's a painting party game where you don't have to know how to paint! I think it's going to be really unique when it's finished.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
I self-published my first one, but stay tuned for the others!

What is your day job?
Digital Marketing

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At my house on the big wooden dining room table. I like games with a lot of table presence and I like to be able to see everything. No buckets of Cheetos!

Who do you normally game with?
Friends and family! You'd be surprised how much your parents can enjoy it if you find the right game.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I like to play something big but light weight that's easy to teach (like The Grimm Forest, or Deception) and then maybe end with either a new prototype or a staple party game

And what snacks would you eat?

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No. The laughter is the music.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Diversions in Portsmouth NH! They were one of the first stores I sold to and the nicest people ever!

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I'm gonna go with an underrated party gem: The Metagame. It's a more clever twist on Cards Against Humanity and even funnier. I'm not gonna tear anyone else down!

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Judging. Almost all of my designs have incorporated it in some way, and even though most people knock it, I think it's the perfect social mechanic. It instantly designates the game as "just for fun" and isn't that the whole point? Least favorite: deck-building. I think I'm too dumb to get it.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
I can sometimes handle heavier games, but most of my groups are pretty casual. So I basically have to go to a con if I ever want to try something like Root!

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?
Yes. It has it's issues but I wouldn't be here without it.

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?
This is not the way they tell you to do it, but honestly I almost always start with a title. It will just be a funny theme idea or a visual element that I can picture in my head. Then I build the mechanics out. When coming up with Master of Pieces, I thought "wouldn't it be funny if you could mix up all the famous paintings? Oh I have the perfect title!" I'll figure out how to actually do it later.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
My second game Swearmints did pretty good in The Game Crafter's Mint Tin contest!

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Not a specific person, but Big Potato Games are my business idols. I'm obsessed with what they are doing from a marketing standpoint and they are really doing a great job standing out from the crowded field of party games. Just look at their con photos and you'll see what I mean!

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
In dreams - I'm not kidding. Sometimes I'll see an image or a visual cue and a complete game idea will pop into my head, like it's hidden in there and I just have to unlock it. For Master of Pieces, I think I just saw a picture of the Mona Lisa and it just popped in. I'm not claiming to be a genius. It's completely accidental and I can't control it.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I start with my very close friends and family. I know you're not "supposed" to do that because the feedback can be biased. But because I design casual games, that actually IS my audience. If they like it I'll take it to the next level. If they don't like it, I can tell! They won't tell it's great just because they love me.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Absolutely alone and it's a huge problem because I get stuck in my own head. My future goal is to maybe start a co-design and branch out a little more.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Art. I have a great eye for design and know what kind of artwork I like, I just can't draw for crap. I'm jealous of designers that can put a prototype together with full artwork because they can do it themselves.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. I already have the game in my head!

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Take your time. Every time I have failed or been rejected in some way it was always for the best. The present always seems like the best time because you haven't been to the future yet.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Don't ignore the casual audience! There is a huge market out there of people whose last game they played was Battleship in 5th Grade and who have never heard of Kickstarter. Make stuff for them, and they'll love you for it!

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Cheer Up! The Ultimate Party Game, Swearmints
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: The first expansion to Cheer Up! - Cheer Up! - The Big D Pack! (through April 1, 2020)
I'm planning to crowdfund: Master of Pieces (eventually)
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Many.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: A million things.

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

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 but only because of nostalgia (the new stuff is hit or miss). I try not to drink too much soda anymore. And who would pick Betamax?

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I am not a bad drummer.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Modern rock I can blast and sing along to.

What was the last book you read?
Dan Brown's new one. It was ok.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Drums and a bit of guitar.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I'm a straight white male. Oh, you said surprise?

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Yup, not touching this one.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My daughter. That's a joke, honey.

Who is your idol?
Kurt Cobain

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go back to college. Don't laugh, I genuinely liked it!

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
The gaming community has made me MUCH more extroverted. I'm practically a Used Car Salesman now.

Have any pets?
Yes. I made him our company mascot because I could.

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 has lasted pretty long so far. Branded Monopoly boards can probably go though.

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):
Hey you big bullies from middle school, look how successful I am. Also, can I borrow some money?

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?  Please 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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