Friday, November 24, 2017

Eye on Kickstarter #33

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 fourth Friday of November, 2017:



HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
Gearworks
  • GJJ Games Backed
  • Gorgeous artwork, original gameplay, and deep strategy make Gearworks a game like no other in your collection! Each turn you'll be presented with a Sudoku-like puzzle for placing cards into a grid to maximize your benefits while adhering to some placement rules. If you like puzzle-y games where you get to build awesome contraptions, check out Gearworks. It's accessible to gamers of all experience levels (gateway to hard-core) and a very reasonable price, too!


Sudoku meets steampunk in a visually stunning card game for 2-4 players. Gearworks is a steampunk strategy card game featuring card placement, hand management, and a "twist" on area control. Strategically position your gears to fix a mysterious clockwork machine in the corner of the workshop. Collect parts and build fantastical contraptions! Will the other tinkerers sabotage your efforts or will you earn the workshop owner's favor and become the master tinkerer?




Living Planet
  • This looks like a pretty amazing game with a cool narrative element about colonizing a planet that is alive! Certain elements of the story remind me of a novel by Greg Bear that I read years ago called Legacy where people attempt to colonize a living planet. This is by the same designer as Archipelago, so he's got a good reputation, but it's curious that the only review on the page is actually an interview with the designer...


Animator vs Animation: The Official Card Game
  • This is a pretty light take-that style game, but I loved the Animator vs Animation videos.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 95: Johnathan Ness

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:Johnathan Ness
Email:jnesscpoa@gmail.com
Location:Pinehurst, TX (near Houston)
Day Job:Financial Analyst
Designing:Five to ten years.
BGG:hyraxwthaflamethrowr (stupid character limits)
Facebook:Hyrax With a Flamethrower Games
Twitter:@JohnathanNess
Find my games at:They're not currently available for sale. Of course, for anyone willing to massively overpay, I'd make an exception. :D
Today's Interview is with:

Johnathan Ness
Interviewed on: 8/1/2017

While John Ness hasn't published anything, he's a frequent participant in several of the game design groups on Facebook. He has a bunch of projects in various stages of completion that sound pretty interesting. So read on to learn more about John and his projects and keep an eye out for him to hit the big time soon!

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 a tight-knit group of friends that enjoyed Fluxx, so I worked up a version of it that had our group, hangouts, etc. in it, along with some fun new rules. I then expanded to designing my own simple games with an emphasis on humor rather than deep, strategic gameplay.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I have more ideas for games than current projects. I eagerly get started on an idea when I have it, play with it for a few hours or a few days, have another idea, and leave the first. There are a few, though, beyond the fledgling stage. One is called Villainous Plots, in which everybody is a supervillain trying to collect the 5 necessary components to build their superweapon. They do this by completing villainous plots, which require the use of henchies (our gender-neutral term for henchmen), not-so-super-weapons (one-time use gadgets), and mad skillz. They also have to fight the resident superhero, aptly named Sue Perhero. The game is filled with puns and jokes, as every card has flavor text. This one is pretty nearly done as far as gameplay and has been tested on various groups, though never blind-tested. It needs a massive upgrade to its graphic design, though, before it's marketable. The second one is a party game called Trade-offs, which is like Cards Against Humanity (except way more family-friendly) meets Would You Rather? Each player gets 5 green cards that start with "You could..." and 5 red cards that start with "...But". The green cards are good things that can happen and the red are bad. The mechanics are similar to Cards Against Humanity, except that the players must match a green card with a red card for each topic, with the bad always triumphing over the good. I have a third one in the early stages in which all of the players are trying to grab each of five gems from a mage in a cave. Each gem has its own negative effect and with each one a player takes, the mage sends out more monsters and traps to hinder them (these are placed by the next player in any cave that has at least one gem in it, but not at the end). There's also an economic component, as a player's meeples can be sent into the cave or put to work to earn money to buy equipment that will help them explore. They can upgrade their income capability or their hospital to care for injured explorers. It'll be my most complex one yet...provided I can get the mechanics to work.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet. I've improved a lot over the last year in terms of game design, but graphic design, artwork, and especially marketing are way beyond me. Plus, with the crowded market, limited time, and dubious likelihood of a profit, I'm still deciding whether I want to do a KS or try to sell my games to publishers, which I know has its own challenges and drawbacks.

What is your day job?
Financial Analyst

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
People's houses. I used to play Monopoly Deal a bit at restaurants with friends while we waited for our food or after we ate, but I generally don't like the idea of eating while playing.

Who do you normally game with?
My wife and I play games at home, sometimes with our renter, 3-4 times a week. I'm also a member of 2 game groups that meet monthly and occasionally have smaller gatherings during the month.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Anything I haven't played yet. I'm pretty open, so long as the theme isn't horror or overtly sexual.

And what snacks would you eat?
Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite, especially if they're cool enough that chocolate doesn't get on my hands. Basically, though, whatever won't cause me to make a mess on a game.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No, I prefer it to be quiet to allow for easier interaction.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
The Gaming Goat, easily. Other stores may have a larger selection, but none that I've been to can compete with them on price. Plus, if I ever do get a marketable version, they're willing to let me blind playtest it on their customers and might even buy some copies for the store, which is really cool of them. [GJJ Games] Yes, The Gaming Goat is an awesome chain! I have one just down the street from me and it’s my FLGS of choice. I love the fact that they’re spreading across the country (the flagship store is about an hour away from me).

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favorite: Pandemic Iberia. It's just such a tough co-op. If you waste one turn, you could lose. I love a good challenge. Least favorite that I still enjoy: probably Smallworld. It's hard, though, because 2 of the 3 times I've played this have been with fewer than 4 players, and I think this game is best with 4 or more. Worst game: The Oregon Trail. Just flat broken. With their rules, especially with losing supplies while trying to ford a river, I don't see how you can possibly win with 3 or fewer players.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite: either co-op or deck builder. Naturally, this makes Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle another favorite, though it is a little too easy. Least favorite: Hidden identity or card drafting, but that could be because I suck at both. :)

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Through the Ages, just because it takes quite a while to play. Very in-depth and we still haven't played with the military aspect of it.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card 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?
Occasionally, but the shock value gets old quick.

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?
It depends. Sometimes an idea just hits me; I've even dreamed up an idea for a game (still in my list of unstarted projects). Usually, though, I start with a theme and try to develop my mechanics around it. I do my best to make the rules intuitive, so that by the time everyone's had 2 turns, most of them know what they're doing. I think it adds to the experience more to have mechanics that fit the theme and make sense for the world I'm creating.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Not yet.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Not really. I don't mean disrespect to anyone, but I try to view each game as a different offering. Vlaada Chvátil, for example, did Codenames and Through the Ages. They're both good, especially the latter, but they're so different I was surprised when I found out the same guy did both. It's like movies in that, even though I may like most of what a given actor is in or most of what a director has done, there are still movies I may not like or parts I'd have done differently. Who's to know what the next one will be like? Besides, with a limited budget, I can't afford to get too many games from a single designer; I like to experience a broad variety of games.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Sometimes, I base an idea for a game on a game I like, but think could be improved. Castle Panic is fun, but very simple and too easy, so I started designing a game that would be more in-depth and difficult. Usually, though, my best ideas just hit me out of the blue when I'm focusing on something else.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
90% of it is done with my endlessly patient wife. We do try to be methodical, though, altering our personas to be aggressive, defensive, shunning "take that", and trying to find different ways to win. The rest of our testing is done with our gaming groups or at our FLGS, though the latter's only happened once.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I design the game, bouncing ideas off my wife as I go. Then we playtest a few times, work out most of the kinks, then take it to our gaming groups for feedback. We haven't really tried to make the games marketable yet, so we haven't paid for graphic designers, artists, etc.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
The market is so crowded with talented people that it's hard to stand out, especially since I don't know how to market. There's also the time issue. I could pour in all my spare time into this, but with little chance of being able to do this for a living, it feels like I'd just be banging my head against a wall.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Probably Game of Thrones. So much complexity in the books, and so many characters...I think you could make an extremely challenging and fun war and diplomacy game out of it. It'd be difficult to make, but would be one of those massive epics if done right.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Dig deep and play lots of different games so you can know what works, what doesn't, and why. My first few games were based on my sense of humor. My friends liked them well enough, but (and I'm embarrassed to admit this) my first entirely new game was a roll-and-move. At the time, Catan was the most complex game I'd played. With each new game, I'd introduce a mechanic I'd not seen yet, but the games were still very simple and light. It's not that there's anything wrong with that market, but unless they're party games, they're not the games people are often that interested in.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
1. Don't do it for the money. There are a few dozen people who are famous designers or own a publishing company and can do this for a living. Most of us would be thrilled to not lose money on a funded Kickstarter. If you're not in it for the love of games and to make others happy, you're not going to be happy yourself. 2. Find people who will give you honest feedback without being jerks about it. In the early stages of one of my games, I took it to a group that absolutely shredded it, offering lots of insults but next to no constructive feedback or ideas. Thankfully, this has only happened once. You'll need a thick skin as a designer, but you also need people to give you constructive criticism, people who won't just tell you your game is broken right now, but will offer their thoughts on how to fix it. 3. Be prepared to hate your game. To get all the kinks out of any game of appreciable depth, you'll have to playtest it til you're sick of it. And then playtest it some more. My wife and I have played Villainous Plots with each other far more than any other game we have. And we had to keep testing it, trying new ideas out several times a week, until it was balanced and worked.

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: Hoping to get Trade-offs published first. As a party game, there's a ready market for it, considering that it seems many people have cooled to over-the-top shock humor, but still like the base mechanics.
Currently looking for a publisher I have: None yet. Trade-offs needs an upgrade in graphic design that I'm debating whether or not to invest in.
I'm planning to crowdfund: If I was going to crowdfund, I'd probably do it with Villainous Plots. With my weak marketing skills, though, it's probably not going to happen.
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Villainous Plots is very near completion; there's just one more thing I need to add (all game designers have said this, I'm sure). Trade-offs is done, though I may try to make just a handful of the cards funnier. Both need graphic design and art upgrades, but since I can't do that myself, my part in their design is nearly done.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: The game about gems in a cave is starting to take shape. I need to print off and cut out the pieces and start testing it this weekend.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Too many to count. :)

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
On Facebook: The Boardgame Group; BoardGameGeek; Kickstarter Boardgames,Wargames and other Geek stuff; Tabletop Game Kickstarter Advice; Card & Board Game Designers Guild; Art & Graphic Design for Tabletop Games.

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 (except for the prequels and episode VII), Pepsi, and VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Reading, flash games on the computer, writing, and baseball

What is something you learned in the last week?
It was just a thought that struck me, but if Kermit and Ms. Piggy had kids, they'd be hamphibians. [GJJ Games] HA!!!

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Music: eclectic. Books: sci-fi / fantasy. Movies: sci-fi / comedy

What was the last book you read?
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

Do you play any musical instruments?
Nope.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
Kind of an odd question, since few people have ever heard of me. How would they know enough to be surprised? Ummm, my favorite thing about myself, though, is that my sense of humor never dies. I was in the ER once and while they were still trying to figure out what was wrong with me, I was cracking jokes. Life is too short and too dark to not laugh when and where you can.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Got stung by a scorpion and then went to a concert instead of a doctor. Some friends from college were playing so I figured if I had a bad reaction or passed out, they'd take care of me. As it turned out, I was fine, just the initial pain and an upset stomach for the rest of the night.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Dropped my dorm room key down the elevator shaft on accident freshman year. After a week, my roommate demanded I get a new one rather than keep leaving the door open, so I did. Next year, I'm in the same room, but work a part-time job on the other side of campus. It was in the basement (A/V Dept.), a labyrinth that few non-science majors ever went. One day, the key I'd lost just showed up on the computer in the office. Nobody who worked there had put it there and I hadn't mentioned it to anyone since over a year before.

Who is your idol?
Don't have one. There are people who I respect a great deal, but I want to be my own person. Everyone else is already taken, after all.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Assuming it wouldn't muck up the current timeline too much, go back in time and tell myself to invest in Amazon, Netflix, Apple, and Google at the right times and give myself other stock advice for when a company was about to double overnight. Once I was set for life, I could design games full-time. I'd also like to go back to various events in history and just be an observer.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert, but playing games helps me socialize.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Thor - extraordinarily long life, can go toe-to-toe with Hulk and live, no major weaknesses (unlike Superman and kryptonite), and still looks like a human. Wonderman is also cool, but not having kids and being immortal might suck after a while.

Have any pets?
A year-old golden retriever named Gypsy. She's a beautiful klutz.

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?
Baseball has a depth of strategy that few casual fans seem to appreciate. I'd also want a variety of board games to last. As for what I'd want to be wiped out forever, the man bun and skinny jeans.

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):
My wife, though she probably won't read this. A few people on BGG helped me come up with the title for Villainous Plots. The game groups at the Tomball Lone Star Library and the Spring Young Couples Game Night meetup for playtesting my games and giving me helpful feedback. The Gaming Goat for letting me test my games their on unsuspecting customers.

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

Three horses were talking before a race. One says, "I don't mean to dash any of your hopes, but I've been in 19 races and won 10 of them." Second horse says, "Not bad, not bad, but I've been in 25 races and won 17." Third horse says, "You're fast, but I've been in 42 races and won 37 of them." Just then a greyhound walks up and says, "Overheard you guys talking and just want to say that I've been in 104 races and won them all." The horses' mouths drop wide open. They look at the dog, then at each other, then at the dog again. Finally, in unison, they all say, "Wow...a talking dog!" [GJJ Games] I love this joke! I used to tell it, but extend the horses’ conversation to about 10 minutes before getting to the dog and the punchline. People hated it! :-D

--- EXTRA ---

One billion dollars (you said to put anything I want, and I want that). [GJJ Games] Fair enough...




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.

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?

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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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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
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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!



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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.