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 or in the index.
Interviewed on: 2/7/2017
Last July I reviewed a game called Collectors and Capers by designer Trevor Harron. The game was successful on Kickstarter and is now available in retail. Trevor has been working on more games that he'll hopefully be publishing, too. To learn more about Trevor and his current projects, read on!
Tell me a bit about yourself.
How long have you been designing tabletop games?
One to two years.
Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I always loved games and eventually started designing them, first as a side project, to help make better sense of the world around me.
What game or games are you currently working on?
Currently I am working on a simple dice game Affectionate: Cats and Cuddles and a political intrigue game Eminence Grise.
Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes! Collectors and Capers!
What is your day job?
I am a Software Engineering Contractor
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
That depends on the game, personally I love to play games in bars, cafes, or game stores!
Who do you normally game with?
I normally game with my friends and family.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Hmmm, that is a tough one. That depends on the friends but I would want to start off with a co-operative game like The Grizzled and then move into competitive games such as Carcassonne, Hansa, or even Collectors and Capers.
And what snacks would you eat?
Mainly beef jerky and fried peanuts
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
For Tabletop RPGs, absolutely yes! For other nights if it sets the mood of the theme and isn't distracting yes.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
The Raygun Lounge
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
My current favorite game is Hansa. Ascension and Cards Against Humanity are my least favorite I still enjoy. As for worst game the Germany board of Powergrid.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I love bluffing and negotiation mechanics and my least favorite would be straight race mechanics.
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures 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?
Depends on the group.
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 personally like to think of an experience or metaphor the game will work around and then find the mechanics that best compliment that metaphor.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have entered a few of my games for Awards, Collectors and Capers was a Luci Award semi-finalist in 2016 and I have submitted Eminence Grise for the Cardboard Edison and will submit it for the Luci Award in 2017.
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Jay Schneider, Jonathon Tweet, Daniel Smith.
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
I think some of my best ideas come from observing the world around me and also come from asking questions about how can we push the boundaries of games as a whole.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
Typically, I work with Playtest Northwest as well as a few of my own groups to play with looking at a specific mechanic or flow in mind and iterate over the various parts of the game and then playtest the full experience and refine from there.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I like to design alone but of course listening to feedback from the playtesters and like to hire artists to work with me on ensuring the artwork matches the game.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Well I think multi-tasking and marketing are the biggest challenges I face.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
The Warhammer 40k Universe.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
How awesome it is! Honestly I wish I had learned about the powerful storytelling and metaphoric abilities games can have for understanding complex systems.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Always thank your playtesters, especially if there feedback is critical.
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Collectors and Capers
I'm planning to crowdfund: Affectionate: Cats and Cuddles
Games that I'm playtesting are: Eminence Grise
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
I am a member of, I believe, all of the pages you mentioned on Facebook.
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, Neither, VHS.
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I do enjoy writing poetry (though I am by no means a publishable) and listening to opera.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I have eclectic tastes in Music depending on my mood, love Fantasy and political books, and like the more recent Martial Arts movies.
What was the last book you read?
The Dictator's Handbook
Do you play any musical instruments?
I have played the French Horn and can play Guitar.
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I used to throw javelin in College.
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
My 21st Birthday was the Pokemon Drinking game with several of my friends in College,
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Designing Affectionate: Cats and Cuddles
Who is your idol?
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Destroy it, time travel is dangerous and an overused cliche.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
The Green Arrow
Have any pets?
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?
Well I would hope some of my games would survive but also Hansa and I would hope the infrastructure of the internet so it could be rebooted. I would hope some of the disastrous choices that have been made in 2016 could be forgotten.
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):
The folks, past and present, in the Xenia house at Middlebury College and my parents.
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
I really hope you get a chance to try my games and love to hear about your experiences!
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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