Tuesday, April 21, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 221: Kenny Schumacher

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:Kenny Schumacher
Location:San Jose, CA
Day Job:Entrepreneur. I run Delesign (www.delesign.com) and am always working on a few side projects.
Designing:Less than six months.
BGG:Oh Sheep
YouTube:Oh Sheep
Find my games at:https://ohsheepcards.com/print-and-play/
Today's Interview is with:

Kenny Schumacher
Interviewed on: 3/25/2020

This week's interview is with Kenny Schumacher, a newer designer from California who has been working on a game called Oh Sheep with his friends. They're planning on Kickstarting the game soon, so keep your eye out for it! Click through to learn more about Kenny, Oh Sheep, and more!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Less than six months.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
My best friends and I met and bonded over 10 years ago through board and card games. These games sparked our friendship, and even when we all moved away from each other (location) our friendship stayed close (one in Guam, Germany, southern California). We're now all living in San Jose again and have been able to spend much more time together and play games once more. Board and card games sparked our friendship, and we wanted to share this with others by creating our own game.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Oh, Sheep! (www.ohsheepcards.com)

Have you designed any games that have been published?

What is your day job?
Entrepreneur. I run Delesign (www.delesign.com) and am always working on a few side projects.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Every weekend (prior to COVID-19) we would meet at a friend's house and play board and card games all day/night.

Who do you normally game with?
I game with my group of friends, most of whom I've been friends with for 10+ years.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
That's tough, as there's always so many I want to play that we don't have time for. My favorites would include Dominion, Shadow Hunters, and Exploding Kittens for a fun casual game. I've also recently played Monopoly Deal as well as 5 Minute Dungeon and have been having a lot of fun with them!

And what snacks would you eat?
Oh boy, I'm a big eater as all my friends know. Pizza is my go to for before/after the game night, but really anything salty that I can munch on I'm all for (popcorn, chips, frozen burritos ...).

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I've never paid too much attention to this. Thinking back, the majority of the time no, but if anyone wants to play music they're always welcomed.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Isle of Gamers (Santa Clara, CA)

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Dominion is my favorite. I love the concept of building a deck through shared resources. Least favorite would likely be 5 Minute Dungeon as some of the cards really annoy me (like a curse that results in you only being able to say the word 'waffles'), it can get a little too chaotic, and with the skills like freezing time and some combos we've discovered, it's pretty difficult to lose unless you're extremely unlucky, but overall it's been a fun game for the <10 times I've played. I don't know if I can really pinpoint a worst game easily. I suppose that I don't really like Monopoly that much :).

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Any mechanic that involves drafting or deck building I love. I'm not a big fan of game mechanics that are based entirely on luck such as dice rolling. That's not to say that dice rolling can't be used effectively to make a great game, as chaos mechanics can be , or that I don't enjoy games that involve dice rolling, but in general I'd like to keep the luck mechanic to a minimal level.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Exploding Kittens! Most in my friend group are more 'serious' gamers so we really will only play this game when we have a lot of other casual players, or people who don't play games, with us.

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

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design 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?
When creating Oh, Sheep! we started off knowing that we wanted to build a casual game in which all players needed to be engaged (and one where players were encouraged to be engaged). We didn't want a game in which you could go on your phone when it wasn't your turn. We knew we wanted to have a simple battle mechanic of attacking and defending. From there, we then created the theme of the game knowing we wanted a good representation of attacking and defending. In our case, we figured sheep and wolves would be perfect for that.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I don't know if this can really count, but I'm a huge fan of Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal. I love his creation of Exploding Kittens, and think it's genius. I love his art style, and the simplicity, replayability, and excitement of his game.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
I get my best ideas bouncing thoughts and ideas with my friends. We'll spend the whole day bouncing back ideas, playtesting them, revising them, and then getting feedback from others in our group.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
We will generally playtest internally within our team (3 of us), and after confirming that ideas are viable, we'll test them with our group of friends who range from more serious gamers to casual players. After that, we'll ask those in our game's Facebook group to try out the new features, as well as reach out to the online community. We recently released our print and play and have received a great personal success of around 60 downloads in the past 24 hours (which is a huge win for us): https://ohsheepcards.com/print-and-play-download/.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Team. It's me and 2 other creators and our designer.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
We plan on launching our game on Kickstarter. The biggest challenge is ensuring we are able to build a community big enough to ensure our game's successful launch on Kickstarter. We understand the importance of not only creating a great game, but in marketing it effectively. As such, we're focusing just as much time, if not more, on ensuring our game reaches its target audience.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I would love to create an expansion pack for Exploding Kittens. It would be 'Exploding Sheep' and could see fun cards like "Go Baaack In Time" that can result in any previous player having to take their turn again (like a "Slap" card). I think the game and the artwork of Exploding Kittens is just so fun.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I've been fortunate enough to have connected with a lot of creators from the community who have shared with me many things they wished they knew before designing a game. Some of them include:
-Spend just as much time as you do building the game, if not more, on marketing the game. You should not count on growing your following through Kickstarter.
-Get feedback as early on as possible. If you're not a little embarrassed by your game before asking others for feedback, you're sharing it with them too late.
-When sharing your game with reviewers, make sure to give them ample time (at least 1-2 months to review your game).
-Mechanics that let you reuse already used mechanics are easy to exploit and can break the game
There will probably be many lessons that I will learn as I go through this process though :D.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
I would like to share the above advice.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games that will soon be published are: Oh, Sheep!
I'm planning to crowdfund: Oh, Sheep!
Games that I'm playtesting are: Oh, Sheep!

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
I'm a part of many FB groups, such as: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1212875912074863 https://www.facebook.com/groups/840061516035389 https://www.facebook.com/groups/630412297019422 https://www.facebook.com/groups/281973812325263 and many 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 Trek. Coke. VHS (I never experienced Betamax)

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I love staying active with playing sports and exercising. I enjoy going on hikes and being outdoors. Anything related to water I love - whether that be watersports, the beach, lakes, etc. I have a parrot named Mango I spend a majority of my time with. I also love RPG video games, like Fire Emblem (been playing since FE 6).

What is something you learned in the last week?
I should be more careful when shorting stocks.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Honestly I'm not a huge music guy. Whenever I'd be in a situation where I can listen to music (mostly driving or at the gym) I'll just listen to an audio book. I spend a lot of time listening to business-related audio books, but for recreation I love sci-fi books, with a guilty pleasure being the Red Rising series. When it comes to movies, I love anything sci-fi or thriller with a good twist. I'm on the AMC A-List which lets me watch up to 3 movies a week, which I definitely abuse.

What was the last book you read?
I listen to a lot of audio books, with the last book I listened to being Untethered Soul. The last book I physically read is likely the Maze Runner series.

Do you play any musical instruments?

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I live in San Jose, CA and own a property in Alabama.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I decided to quit my full time job out of college a month before it started and pursue my entrepreneurial passion.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I'm not sure if it can be considered an accident, but there was a certain college that I had no desire to attend, but my mom forced me to at least apply (she may or may not have applied for me). Through a series of events, I ended up attending the college, met so many amazing and lifelong friends, and am so thankful.

Who is your idol?
I really like Michael A Singer.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Something to get rich lol, like buy a lot of Bitcoin, buy lots of stocks with leverage before huge spikes, and things of that nature. I'd like to believe I'd do something noble too if I had a time machine.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I'd love to be any hero that can fly - anything else would just be an added benefit. The idea of being able to fly high into the sky and see everything below me, to fly up into mountains and see the scenery, to feel the wind, all of that sounds so amazing to me. Having laser eyes would be pretty neat too, so I guess I'd say Superman.

Have any pets?
Mango, my sun conure.

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?
Hopefully the asteroid doesn't result in the breakdown of the internet so that we can still have everything! It would be nice if COVID-19 could somehow be wiped out by that asteroid.

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 Mango!

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

I would love to connect with anyone, whether you be a creator or just a lover of games. Feel free to connect with me via email or social and I'd love to chat.

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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