Tuesday, November 14, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 94: Andy Zeller

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:Andy Zeller
Email:azeller@atkgame.com
Location:Pennsylvania
Day Job:Stay at home Dad and recording engineer. I converted my garage into a recording studio and occasionally record songs for local bands.
Designing:Six months to a year.
Webpage:www.atkgame.com
BGG:ATK!
Facebook:ATK Board Game
Twitter:@atk_boardgame
YouTube:ATK! Adventures
Instagram:@atkgame
Find my games at:Kickstarter coming in December
Today's Interview is with:

Andy Zeller
Interviewed on: 9/22/2017

Andy Zeller is currently getting ready to launch a Kickstarter for his first game, ATK! This is a 2-player game where you control a team of elemental heroes and try to take over your opponent's base. Keep an eye out for it next month on Kickstarter. In the meantime, if you're at PAX Unplugged this coming weekend, look for the ATK! team and try out the game! Read on to learn more about Andy and his other projects.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Six months to a year.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
Board and Card Games were always a focal point of family get togethers as a child and young adult. I owned several mainstream games that I played with my brother, Pokémon TCG, Operation, Life, Monopoly, etc. As a young adult I was introduced to Catan and that really triggered my entry to the hobby/boutique end of the spectrum. I wanted to try and create a game that combined a few of my favorite things, board games, strategy and collectibles.

What game or games are you currently working on?
ATK! the board game.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
This is the first attempt at developing a game.

What is your day job?
Stay at home Dad and recording engineer. I converted my garage into a recording studio and occasionally record songs for local bands.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
My local comic book store, Comic Store West.

Who do you normally game with?
My wife, friends and family.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
King of Tokyo and Sushi Go are quick picks for most of our friends.

And what snacks would you eat?
Popcorn and candy was what we had last time.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Usually we don't so that everyone has ultimate concentration.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Comic Store West

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favorite game is honestly our game. As egotistical as that seems, it would be silly to be pouring as much money and time into the development of something I didn't love to the fullest. Least favorite that we still enjoy would be Munchkin. Worst game, in my opinion, Candyland. Lol. Though I love the art update that I've seen at least to the box, I played this game a few years back and was reminded how much I did not enjoy it. Just not for me I suppose. However it's counterpart chutes and ladders is in my opinion the better option.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I really like most card games. Probably as they were a majority of the entertainment provided at family outings. I love that there are so many games that play completely different with the same elements. Also to mention I really enjoy any game that includes a collectible element. I mean each game can become a collectible for someone that collects games, but I loved when I was younger and searching for the hard to find Magic and Pokémon cards. This was something that we wanted to incorporate into our game for sure.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
I luck out that most of my favorites find a way to get to the table, I would say the only games that don't make it are the games I don't own. For most of my friends it's up to us to provide what we play.

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

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Ehh I have very mixed feelings. Depends who I am playing with really. I feel that my humor is never carried through this game and it frustrates me. Lol!

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?
Both games that I have thought of so far have been mechanics first. For our game it was the unique battle system that we actually filed a patent on, that centered where I game was going to go. Equally we had character concepts and direction at the same time.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Haven't entered anything to this point.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I don't know that I could choose just one honestly. There are too many talented designers and teams out there. Kickstarter is constantly loaded with new projects that are put together so well.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
The ADD that has plagued much of my childhood is actually one of the biggest sources for inspiration for myself. Sometimes when my mind wanders it tends to find something I couldn't have thought of otherwise.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
FLGS, friends, family and we are going to PAX unplugged in Nov. Hoping to find more local and national conventions in the near future as well.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Our game is being developed by myself and my partner and artist, Eric Streed. We work extremely well together and clicked right away.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Managing all of the tasks of development while managing the business end as well. It is a constant tug of war.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I would love for our game to include trademarked characters at some point, Pokémon, Mario, League of Legends, etc. That would be incredible!

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I'm still searching for that critical information haha.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Join as many facebook groups as possible. There are some incredibly wonderful people out there willing to help you. If you plan to go to kickstarter, go on kickstarter and back games. Not only do you research and see what's out there, you get to support other artists and play these awesome games when they're shipped to you.

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: ATK! The Board Game.
I'm planning to crowdfund: ATK! The Board Game. Hopefully by December
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: ATK! The Board Game
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Body Language - Card Game Concept

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/TabletopKickstarters/

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

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Playing music, Fishing and Salt Water Aquariums

What is something you learned in the last week?
I just found out about the game crafter last week. A little late in the process but it is incredible! I was using another provider for prototyping and the game crafter is wayyyy better.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I like a lot of pop rock, pop punk stuff, I grew up with Blink 182 so similar music that's newer and a little bit of everything else. I love any movie with sharks honestly. I love the ocean and it seems like there have been a bunch of shark movies lately.

What was the last book you read?
I can't even remember, I read articles and news and end up neglecting books. :(

Do you play any musical instruments?
Yes, Guitar, Drums, Piano, Bass, and more.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I have never gone to college for anything that I am able to do. I would've liked to go but I guess I am just good at learning things on my own.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Record the best songs of all time as my own.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Both, I am an introvert who can overcome that (sometimes) to be an extrovert.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Aquaman, easy.

Have any pets?
Yes, we have 2 dogs: a pit bull and a corgi, and 3 cats.

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?
I feel like the classics would make it because I feel like they're outside of the hobby and everyone knows about them. So monopoly, risk, etc. I really don't wish anything out there to be forgotten. It takes so much effort and work to bring a game to life that I would hate for that to ever be wasted.

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):
Daniel Zayas, he is a really good guy and has helped us out a lot.

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

Visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/TabletopArtDesign/




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?  Pleasse 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.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

This is not a game...yet. - Game Designer's Kit by WinGo Games

This is not a game...yet.Game Designer's Kit
Publisher: WinGo Games
Quick Review - This is not a game...yet. - Game Designer's Kit
Disclaimer Support me on Patreon!

So, do you like to play board games and have a few ideas of your own?  You're thinking of starting on the creative journey of designing a board game?  That's great!  Now you're probably wondering where to start.  Personally, I start out by writing out a rough draft of the rules.  Once I have those written I'll have a better idea of the components I'll need to make a playable prototype.  Then comes time to build a prototype to start testing out the rules and mechanics I've been thinking about.  But building a prototype is one of the more challenging parts of designing a game.  You can have all the wonderful ideas you like in your head, and even written on paper, but until you have a prototype to actually test things out you'll never know if your game works, if it's fun, or what it's missing.

So now that you've gotten to the point where you need to make a prototype you'll need to find appropriate components.  Some games use standard dice, cards, pawns, tokens, tiles, and boards, but chances are you'll also have at least a few components that are different than your usual fare.  Maybe miniatures, custom dice, custom shaped tokens or tiles, wooden bits, or something more exotic.  For the custom components you'll probably have to spend some time in a craft store and then at a desk with a knife and markers or spend a lot of money for custom pieces from The Game Crafter.  For the standard components you'll be able to piece together bits from older games, thrift store finds, or just buy them from a source like The Game Crafter or Print & Play Games.

There must be an easier way, you might say, than piecing everything together from scratch.  So you search for a game designer's kit, and one of the things you'll find is this kit from WinGo Games.  Is this what you're looking for?  Let's look closer and find out.

Overview:
The first thing you'll notice when you receive This is not a game...yet. - Game Designer's Kit, is the box.  This is about 7"x4.5"x1.75" and looks just like a game on your shelf.  On closer inspection you'll see that, where a typical game box has short blurbs about the game, player information, component lists, barcodes, logos, etc. this box is blank except for a sentence or few words giving ideas of what you can put on the box.
Need ideas for what to put on the side of a game box?  Check the box!
The box has all sorts of useful tips for information to include.

Upon opening the box you'll find it packed with all sorts of goodies.  There are two punchboard sheets, a small quad fold game board, custom dice, cubes, a mini, metal coin, tuck box of cards, 'rulebook', and more.  These are all great, but you'll quickly realize that this is not a game designer's kit.  There's a very limited number of components in here.  However there is a pretty big variety of components.  It's a great sampling of the types of components that WinGo can produce for your games.
This is everything that's included.  Not quite enough to really design a game, but still pretty useful.
The first punchboard contains a number of tokens: 15 coins, 15 blue flames, and 12 hearts.  The second punchboard contains a character standee (there's a plastic base in the kit), TNT token with a countdown spinner (there's a plastic axle for the spinner in the kit), and a WinGo logo 3d construct.
A great example of how to plan bleed areas for tokens.

Showing how punchboard items can be used to make 3D objects.

These are pretty cool once punched and constructed.
There are nine meeples in three different colors (red, orange, and yellow) and each color has one each of three different designs.
Meeples can be custom shapes!
The kit also contains 18 high quality acrylic cubes (they almost feel like glass).  There are three each in six different colors: red, green, blue, purple, black, and white.
These are actually pretty awesome.  I'd love to have a huge bag of these!
A plastic miniature of a character (a cave man shaman in a bear skin?), two custom dice, and a sample metal coin round out the bits and pieces in the kit.
This is the same character as the standee.

The coin is slightly bigger and thicker than a US penny.
There's also a small quad fold game board that measures about 13.5" by 8.5".  The game board has, lightly printed, outlines of ideas for things to print on a game board.  There are a few spots outlined for tokens that could be used in a worker placement game, outlines of cards for decks, a sample score track, and a section for an area control map.
It's a small board, but gives some good ideas for how to use a board.
Inside the box is also a smaller tuck box filled with cards of different types and sizes.  Just like the main box, the tuck box has labels for all sorts of information you may want to print on a tuck box.
Just like with the main box, the tuck box is filled with helpful tips.
Inside the tuck box are four different types of cards.  They vary in size and material, including a small deck of 300gsm black core mini cards as well as several larger decks: 300gsm blue core bridge, 300gsm purple core poker, and premium 350gsm ivory core linen finish poker.  These provide a great example of the different types of cards available and let you see exactly what the difference between 300gsm and 350gsm is, or black core vs blue core.  Honestly, I couldn't tell much difference between the different cores (although you can see the difference when the cards are stacked), but going from 300gsm to 350gsm with a linen finish is a really noticeable jump in quality.  

Four different card types and sizes.
Several of the cards from the mini deck and the purple core poker deck also include some printed guides for how to lay out graphics and text to ensure that nothing gets cut off and that edges remain crisp and clean.  The cards also have various corner cuts ranging from 2mm to 4mm radius.

The mini cards have the exact same tips and examples on them, just smaller.
Probably the most interesting item included with the kit is the pseudo rulebook.  This is a 16 page booklet that contains all the rules for laying out and choosing the correct components for your game.  From general requirements, like providing files in CMYK format and keeping a 3mm margin and bleed area, to more detailed, specific requirements, like how to create and send 3d models for miniatures and choosing a type of material to use.  Unfortunately some of the language in the booklet suffers from poor translation to English, e.g. "As an add onto the regular production, special treatment will certainly has deviations (1 or 2mm) because of the production tolerance."  In most cases context clears up the rough translations (the above text is basically saying that if you need a tolerance of 1-2mm instead of 3mm that they can work with you).
The rulebook is filled with all sorts of useful information if you intend to have your game professionally produced.
Finally, the box also has a plastic insert that has a spot to hold the mini as well as a depression for the dice (although it was too tight of a fit) and another depression to hold the tokens and other components.  There's also a cardboard divider that holds the insert on one side and the tuck box on the other.
The insert is more example than useful.

Final Thoughts:

WinGo Games calls this a Game Designer's Kit, however, I'd call this a game publisher's kit, or a game developer's kit.  As a game designer I'm looking for a quantity of mostly generic components rather than a few very specialized components.  I'm also not concerned with the difference between types of card cores or weights, although it's nice to see first hand what someone means when they say 350gsm linen finish ivory core cards are a stretch goal on a Kickstarter.
From the side you can see the different core types: purple, blue, ivory, and black.

This kit doesn't really contain enough of anything to work as a creative kit for a game designer.  If that's that you're looking for, check out the Board Game Creative Kit on Kickstarter for just a few more days, or see if you can get your hands on the White Box that was on Kickstarter a few months ago (and can still be preordered).  Or just buy a bunch of stuff from The Game Crafter.  That will get you a true game designer's kit that will have enough stuff to be useful.
All of this is useful, but there's not enough to truly be a designer's kit.  It's a great manufacturer's sample kit though!
Where the WinGo kit is really useful though, is for those thinking about self-publishing.  For those that want to go further than just designing a game, but actually producing a game, this kit provides a wealth of information.  The samples are great for seeing what can be done and helping you decide between different options.  What kind of cards do you want?  How should the artwork be prepared?  Do you want wooden components?  How about standees vs miniatures?  Can you get the box embossed, foil stamped, or spot UV treated?  What can custom dice look like?  What kind of information should you have on your game box?  These are all questions that this kit answers or at least guides you in the right direction to learn more.
There are tons and tons of tips in the rulebook.  This is super useful if you intend to self-publish.
So, while the title of this product is misleading, if you are thinking of publishing games, this is a wonderful sample kit that is well worth grabbing at the next convention you see it at.  It'll start you off in the right direction for completing your game efficiently and effectively once the general game design is finished. 
These may make it into a prototype of mine...  We'll see.
Will I use this kit to design a game?  Probably not, although I may use a few of the components here or there.  Do I think this is a useful kit?  Definitely, if you want to take your games to the next level on your own.  There's a ton of information, some great samples, and some cool examples of the quality product that WinGo Games can manufacture.  And keep an eye out in the future for updated and larger kits, too!



Did you like this review?  Show your support: Support me on Patreon! Also, 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.



















GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends. Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games. Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play). I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game. Quick Reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first few times playing. Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Eye on Kickstarter #32

Welcome to my Eye on Kickstarter series!  This series will highlight Kickstarter campaigns I am following that have recently launched (or I've recently discovered) because they have caught my interest.  Usually they'll catch my interest because they look like great games that I have either backed or would like to back (unfortunately budget doesn't allow me to back everything I'd like to).  But occasionally the campaigns caught my attention for other reasons.  Twice a month, on the 2nd and 4th Fridays, I'll make a new post in this series, highlighting the campaigns that have caught my attention since the last post.  In each post I'll highlight one campaign that has really grabbed my attention, followed by other campaigns I've backed or am interested in.  I'll also include links to any reviews I've done.  Comments are welcome, as are suggestions for new campaigns to check out!

You can also see my full Kickstarter Profile to see what I've backed or my old Eye on Kickstarter page that was too unwieldy to maintain.  Also, check out the 2017 Kickstarter Boardgame Projects geeklist over on Board Game Geek for a list of all the tabletop games of the year.
So, without further ado, here are the projects I'm currently watching as of the second Friday of November, 2017:



HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
Gaming with Edo
  • GJJ Games Backed
  • People Behind the Meeples Interview
  • Ed Baraf is quite the personality in the board game industry. On top of designing some pretty great games and publishing both his and others' designs through Pencil First Games, he also produces several videos a week. He not only reviews games, but he also produces a ton of videos covering other topics, from game design to publication to industry news. All of this is filmed on his cell phone, balanced on a stack of games, with a cheap earbuds mic, in his home. He's running this Kickstarter to raise some funds to buy some more professional equipment, and if he can produce such excellent content with such limited resources, I can't wait to see what he can do with better tools.


Help make Season 4 of Gaming with Edo better than ever! Welcome to Edo's first Kickstarter as a content creator! Over the past three years, he has been thrilled to contribute to the board game and Kickstarter community with Game Reviews, KS Advice, and Industry Q&As on his Gaming with Edo YouTube Channel.




Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings
  • People Behind the Meeples Interview - Daniel Grek
  • People Behind the Meeples Interview - Dan Letzring
  • Dino Dude Ranch was a big hit for families and now Letiman Games is back with an expansion that looks great. Letiman games has a great track record of putting out some great, family friendly, medium weight filler games and DDR: Hatchlings makes a great game in their catalog even better! Be sure to check out Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings today, and maybe plan on picking up the base game, too, if you don't have it already. There's also a pledge level that'll get you a copy of Gadgeteers, which I really enjoyed!


City Park
  • Joe Bergmann of Just Because Games is a Patron of GJJ Games and he's just launched his first Kickstarter for City Park. This looks like a light, fast, filler game that would be great for families or for a quick 15 minute game while waiting for game night to start. Be sure to check it out and throw some support Joes way!


Downfall - Deluxified
  • ENDS TODAY!!!
  • Downfall initially slipped through my radar, but last week I took a closer look at the game and it looks pretty awesome! An engaging 4x game with incredible components, this one blew up and is well over 225% funded, with just a few hours left. If you haven't checked it out yet, check today before it ends!


Mountaineers
  • Are you tired of flat board games? Mountaineers includes an 18 inch (45 cm) high mountain that you get to climb! But Mountaineers isn't just a race to the top of the mountain, it's a game about completing challenging climbing routes. You'll need to manage resources, match patterns, and control vital climbing routes to win. This is quite the eye catching game, and is sure to turn some heads.


Envy
  • WARNING: ADULT CONTENT - I usually don't cover adult themed games on my site, but I'm making a small exception here. While I don't generally play vulgar themed games and focus on family friendly titles, I do have to say that this one is actually a fun game, despite the theme. I played it at Protospiel Milwaukee in April and it was a lot of filthy fun. No, it's not a thinky game, yes, the theme and jokes it produces are crass, and no, it won't win any awards. But it's not just another CAH clone and does have some fun, take-that gameplay. It's not terribly original, but it works well. You won't see me review it on my site because of the theme, but I can say that, if you are the right audience for the theme, the gameplay is fun.


Monster Slaughter
  • Have you ever watched a horror movie and thought the bad guys were all incompetent fools and if you were chasing those teenagers they'd have been wiped out in the first ten minutes of the movie? Well, here's your chance to lead a team of monsters to attack the group of teenagers experiencing all the monster movies at once. Show the other monsters how to properly hunt teenagers in this game with some fun mechanics, great artwork, and cool minis.


War Room
  • I'm not usually a huge fan of war games, although I'll play them when friends want to. However, War Room looks like it does some interesting things, and I love the polar projection map. Plus, it's the first game that my friend Tony has ever backed. He said he'd never be interested in backing a Kickstarter, but since Axis & Allies is one of his favorite games, he's been sucked in by this one by the same designer. So, down the rabbit hole he goes!


Stumped
  • Deck-builders are everywhere nowadays, and it seems they're all trying to do something new and unique without really accomplishing that. It's rare for a deck-builder on Kickstarter to capture my attention lately, but Stumped has managed to do that. Not only do you have to manage your cards like a traditional deck-builder, but you also get to grow a tree!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 93: Daniel Grek

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:Daniel Grek
Email:concretecanoegames@gmail.com
Location:Somerville, NJ, USA
Day Job:I teach civil engineering courses at a community college near me and will be inspecting buildings over the Summer while school is out.
Designing:Five to ten years.
Webpage:letimangames.com
BGG:dcgrek
Facebook:Concrete Canoe Games
Twitter:@concretecanoegames
Other:Daniel (Concrete Canoe Games) in The Game Crafter Chat
Find my games at:Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings hits Kickstarter on November 7th. Dirigible Disaster is available from Letiman Games and on Amazon. My Unofficial Pandemic the Cure Expansion is available on The Game Crafter.
Today's Interview is with:

Daniel Grek
Interviewed on: 10/17/2017

Today is a good day for Daniel Grek. Today his second published game launches on Kickstarter. Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings is live with Letiman Games as of today! Daniel has also published Dirigible Disaster with Letiman Games and is an active community member on The Game Crafter's chat tool. He also has a pretty cool project coming up where he'll publish a series of 18 card games. So read on to learn more about Daniel and the projects he's working 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 had gotten into the hobby with Dominion and Race for the Galaxy after loving TCG's when I was younger. I was watching a lot of Food Network shows and wondered why (at the time) there weren't more games about food. Given New Jersey, my home state, has a lot of diners I set out to make a game about cooking in a diner style restaurant. That game is still one I take out and toy with every now and then but I moved onto other designs over the years.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I am currently working with Letiman Games on Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings, an expansion to their family friendly game Dino Dude Ranch. If you like adorable baby dinosaurs you are in for a treat. The expansion will be hitting Kickstarter November 7th and Letiman games will also be funding, on their own, a reprint of the base game. I have a few other, larger standalone games but my other main project is a series of micro games I will start Kickstarting next March through my own company, Concrete Canoe Games. The series looks to do small runs of simple 18 card games with limited stretch goals. I've also been developing a D&D 5e campaign that I hope to make available in the future.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
My first published game was a real time co-op released by Letiman Games called Dirigible Disaster. DDR: Hatchlings will be my second published game. I also have a fan expansion for Pandemic the Cure available on thegamecrafter.com and a few other designs I'm in the process of pitching.

What is your day job?
I teach civil engineering courses at a community college near me and will be inspecting buildings over the Summer while school is out.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
My wife and I moved into a small split level less than a year ago and have been turning the lower room into a game room. I like to play there whenever possible so I don't have to lug any games too far.

Who do you normally game with?
My wife and I have a small group of friends I went to college with that we get together every one or two weeks for a few games. This is also our main D&D group so we usually can get some type of game going once a week. We have enough other friends that will play board games so we try to meet once a week for games with someone.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Ideally, I like to pick one or two short games to have on hand. These are great for easing into game night, filling time if we order dinner, or even winding down after a long game or evening of gaming. We prefer to play games with less than 2 hours of play time so we can have some diversity in game night. If alcohol is consumed and there is no mental capacity to learn new rules we often default to Betrayal at the House on the Hill. This is a terrible idea because there are generally new rules each game but we get really invested in the story of the scenarios with a little wine.

And what snacks would you eat?
I like little fun sized candies because you can open up the wrapper enough that you can eat but your fingers don't get sticky.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
We tend to only have music in games that provide it for timers (Escape or Dirigible Disaster) or some ambient music for RPGs. Once we start listening to other songs the night slowly morphs into falling down the Youtube rabbit hole and it is all weird edits of Disney songs and mash-ups of KK Slider from Animal Crossing and Ice Cube. [GJJ Games] LOL, now you’ve got me searching YouTube!

What’s your favorite FLGS?
The Fallout Shelter in Highland Park, NJ is a comic shop that has started becoming more of a game store. They've always been a reliable place near me to pick up games or catch demos.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
My current favorite game is Empires: Age of Discovery (formerly Age of Empires III). Lots of choices and turns don't feel wasted even if someone beats you to the spot you wanted. Easy to teach and very well received. Least favorite that I still enjoy I think would be Vast: The Crystal Caverns. I really appreciate it from a design perspective and had won it before but unless everyone knows how every role works pretty well I find that you can do everything right and still lose. Very reliant on other players making choices to stop the right people at the right time. I try not to go too negative with this stuff but the worst game I have ever played was the Awkward Family Photos board game. I picked it up during the initial CAH craze in hopes that it would have a similar feel but it just didn't work. You'd choose an awkward photo, roll a d20, and answer the corresponding silly question about the photo with the best answer winning the round. Questions often didn't make sense to answer with every photo and it was kind of a mess.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
A lot of my favorite games have Worker Placement mechanics so I think that wins. I can appreciate Take That style games when done right but I often find myself trying out more non-confrontational routes when given the option. Roll and Move and Player Elimination seem like the most obvious answers, though.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Haven't played Empires: Age of Discovery lately. I wish I was playing it at least once a month.

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 Board Games, Card Games, RPG Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
I was a big fan initially when it came out. It got old with the same answers winning and the same jokes being made over and over again. Regardless of opinion on the jokes being made, I've found games like The Game of Things to be more fun as you can craft your own answers and tailor your content to the people playing. You can be blue with your friends and a little more polite with your in-laws and the game is still fun.

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 often like to work from theme first. Lately I have been giving myself initial constraints such as doing a Roll and Write game, but I still like to then come up with a planned theme and try to make specific mechanics fit thematically. If I do come up with an interesting idea for a mechanic but it doesn't fit the theme of what I'm working on I will break the mechanic off into another idea or look to modify the theme.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have entered a few on The Game Crafter and recently tried my hand at Button Shy's micro contest. I co-designed a cooperative action-point/deck builder set in WWII with Mike Wokasch (Starving Artists) that finished in the finals of a TGC contest earlier this year. That one I need to put some development work into but it is a really fun experience.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Andrew Parks has been a bit of a mentor at times. I've been impressed with some of his game ideas and his ability to adapt games to new themes or come up with games within parameters of various IP holders.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Dirigible Disaster from Letiman Games
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings launches TODAY! November 7th
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Highway to Shell: Turtles crossing the road to get to a nature preserve. A bit of lighthearted take that try to bonk turtles around the board and get yours closer to the goal. No turtles were harmed in the making of this game.
I'm planning to crowdfund: Itty Bitty Dungeon Delve (working title) and 2 other 18 card games from other designers as a line.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Spell Booked: A game of mages competing for the last room available at an Inn.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Too many to count...

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?
ST or SW? I say two great tastes that taste great together. Orange Soda. Betamax does have a nice little window...

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Sometimes stage combat. I'm also getting more into building inspection on the side and that is pretty interesting if you enjoy the practice of construction. My wife and I like to travel whenever we can as well.

What is something you learned in the last week?
Details on masonry wall requirements in the International Residential Building Code (I'm an exciting rebel).

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I think music is much better when you listen to a bunch of different types, I guess I prefer various types of rock but I just listen to stuff that fits my mood. I have read more nonfiction lately (tied to engineering or economics) but I do enjoy some medieval fantasy tales as well. Horror movies will always hold a special place in my heart, no matter how poorly produced.

What was the last book you read?
The Crap Kingdom. I think it is technically a YA book but the story is a neat take on the young person transported to a magic land to save it.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Not as well as I used to but the guitar. I also used to play a huge variety of woodwinds but I lost a lot of that ability after band ended.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
In college I was part of a national competition where we would make and race canoes made of concrete.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I once tried to get a group of people to do a dance from West Side Story through the Olympic park in Atlanta, GA. It took me a while to realize that I was alone in my endeavor.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Dating my now wife was entirely accidental. Long story short, we hung out as friends so we could commiserate about the people we wanted to date not dating us and one night it just clicked.

Who is your idol?
Don't really have one person I look at as an idol. As I get older that's been less important. When I was younger, though, I would probably say Weird Al Yankovic.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Break it. Too much uncertainty with messing with time.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Either an extrovert that frequently needs to recharge his batteries or an introvert with a good haz-mat suit.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Iron Man. Superpowers are nice but financial freedom is pretty compelling.

Have any pets?
Two beagles: Steve Rogers and Natasha Stark (my wife did the deep dive into alternate Marvel Universes).

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?
Other than board games I do like American football and hockey but I think my vote would be for bar trivia. Bar Trivia is pretty great. It's a little mean but we may need all the people that spent a huge amount of time preparing for said event to take an asteroid for the team. I just think they're going to have a real, "told ya so," attitude and I don't know if I need that while I'm making shelter from old jeggings and fighting bears for honey.

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 all the chat regulars at thegamecrafter.com. That community has been a big part of my tabletop life and has pushed me to do more in games.

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

Keep an eye on my Twitter and Facebook if you are interested in maybe testing out some 18 card games. We're putting the finishing touches on some and will need more playtesters soon.




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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