Victoria asked us a bunch of questions to show a little of our personalities on the site. Before reading this, you should know that Brian's super precise, Cody thinks differently than you do, and JR's... JR.
Q: Do you eat a fun snack every day?
Brian: Gummi Vitamins!
Cody: I don’t know anyone that eats the same snack everyday. Is that a thing people do? Wouldn’t you get tired of it?
JR: Dr. Pepper! And I guess whatever else is around. Ice Cream? Tomatoes? I like popcorn.
Q: Why do you design board games?
B: I have a hard time not doing it! Seeing others play games I’ve created is the best feeling in the world, and creating fun for everyone is the best job I’ve ever had.
C: The stories that come out of a well thought game surpass just about every other medium in the realm of suspension of disbelief, there is no limit to what can be represented by paper and ink.
J: The only reason I’ve found is “because I can’t not do it”. It sort of just happens. Now that I create everyday, I think I’m addicted to it.
Q: If you were a caveman, would you be a hunter or a gatherer?
B: Gatherer. I’m not one for hanging out in the woods and waiting.
C: Whichever one nets me a well trained tyrannosaurus rex the fastest.
J: I really want to say “hunter” because it sounds pretty badass, but I’d probably be a gatherer. And by “gatherer” I mean “would probably wander around aimlessly looking at things and get eaten by a bear.”
Q: Is game design similar to other forms of design?
B: Sometimes, Design is about thinking laterally about problems within constraints, and delivering an experience. Once we get a problem, an idea, or a suggestion, we have to relate that to an audience. Everything else is about fitting it into boxes.
C: I think the best board games not only showcase great attention to mechanical detail, but visual detail as well. Ease of user interface in terms of the layout of your game keeps them focused on the fun bits instead of needless bookkeeping.
J: Insofar as it’s crafting an experience for another person to have, absolutely. I think games bring their own challenges to design (and certainly tabletop games, within the field of all games). Movies can be happy or sad, meaningful or trite, but games have to be fun first, and then also deliver meaning. And making fun is sometimes hard.
Q: What do you think about in the shower?
B: Whatever I’m working on. Or pop song lyrics.
C: How Goku is technically the perfect organism and how disastrous that is for everyone in that universe. How bad Twizzlers are. Goblin darts. Lycanthrophy?
J: Almost exclusively my alternate reality life as the Quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.
Q: What is it like to make board games?
B: It’s work! But it’s rewarding and wonderful. Whenever things go just right, and you see people having fun, it’s all worth it.
C: Frustratingly beautiful.
J: A lot like walking in circles with people reminding you how badly you form circles while you walk, except they think you’re trying to walk in squares.
Q: Who would win in a fight between Captain America, Eternal Warrior, and One Punch Man?
B: Eternal Warrior. Hands down. I will fight over this.
C: Saitama all day evry’day. (Brian disagrees strongly)
J: Captain America because LEADERSHIP
Q: Where do ideas come from?
B: I grew up playing video games before I transitioned over to board games via Magic and Dungeons and Dragons. I think that we can learn a lot from other types of media, and the best ideas are yet to be had.
C: Beneath the cracks in the floorboard and the webbing of your fingers.
J: My brain, and sometimes my stomach. And like… really weird places that are difficult to describe. I try to experience new things often, and to try to frame comfortable experiences in new ways (like walking backwards in the mall). Sometimes new perspectives provide ideas. Sometimes I trip and fall on my butt.
Q: Are you good at arguing your point?
B: I’m actually J.R.’s Lawyer (not really)
C: Nope. I have enough of that with Brain and JR.
*but probably not as good as Brian.
Q: When making prototypes, what supplies do you use most often?
B: Notecards, Google Documents, Sharpies, salvaged bits of other games.
C: Index cards. This is because Brian used one of his three wishes to have an infinite supply of them on hand at all times.
J: I’m all about digital prototyping whenever I can do it, but when it’s time to hit the table I’m printing on cardstock, cutting, and taping. Dice, meeples, coins - I use a lot of those things.
Q: Do you have a favorite ninja turtle, if so which one and why?
B: Donatello, because he does machines.
C: The turtle that painted the Sistine Chapel.
J: Donatello because when I was a kid I was smart but not cool, and Donnie was smart AND cool, and I tried to wear a purple bandana and be cool too but it had the opposite effect.
Q: Do you prefer to write RPGs or design tabletop games?
B: Which of your kids is your favorite?
C: The pure world building that RPGs provide let me vent my creative steam in a single glorious one-shot. While boardgames need that creative steam to push an idea onward and upward consistently. Just depends on the mood I’m in that day as to whether I want to work on one or the other.
J: Tabletop games, if only because I’m more familiar with the genre. I sometimes get ideas for narratives I’d like to craft, and when current projects are complete I may walk down that path a bit.
Q: What’s the last book you read?
B: I’m currently rereading The Dictator’s Handbook, by Bruce Beunos De Misquita and starting Damocles by Ben Counter
C: Predation, by Shanna Germain (Cypher System RPG standalone)
J: I’m stuck in the middle of the Wheel of Time series. So, book 8? Book 9? Book 1,345, 821? I can’t tell.
Q: Do you wish a certain board game mechanic was more popular?
B: I wish more games had LARP elements.
C: Spontaneous tests of dexterity during a non-dexterity game.
J: I really love drafting, but it takes so much time and it requires so much table attention that its difficult to implement in casual ways.
Q: What would you name a boat if you had one?
B: H.M.S. Floaty
C: Little Bird :)
Q: What is more important, the theme or the game mechanics?
B: Neither is more important. Players need to be able to tell the story of their narrative, and the story of their experience. While games can function without theme, they can’t come to life without it.
C: They are so intertwined it is tough to nail down which is the most important. Context is everything for me and I would have to know who I was trying to sell the game to first, before I decided which was more important.
J: Neither, and both - both are tools to use when creating an experience for players. The physical components, the box, the colors, the art - all of these things come together to deliver something to the people playing your game. Whether or not its the experience you intended to deliver is an evaluation of good design.
Q: If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
B: Who IS a good boy?
C: What was the source of the power that could grant me this request?
J: Is there other intelligent life in the universe?
Q: How does it feel to cut elements you introduced from a board game?
B: Not as bad as it used to. It used to be pulling teeth for me to make necessary revisions, but now it’s part of the process. Ego is dangerous when it comes to design, because it can get you sunk into some bad ideas.
C: It is like that feeling you get when you get home and can finally take off your pants. It is freeing, yet makes you feel a bit vulnerable.
J: When I started making games I found it impossible - I would say something like, “I could remove that, but it would be a different game, and I want to make THIS game.” Yes, I was a pretentious ass.
Now I don’t find it as hard because I get less invested in the tools I’m using and more interested in the final product. There’s still ego involved, and it hurts to cut something I’ve put a lot of time into, but it’s a part of the process that I recognize as required.
Q: If you could pick an exotic pet which one would it be and why?
B: I Want a sloth buddy to nap with.
C: A tailless whip scorpion or a vinegroom! Spiney baaaabbbyyyy.
J: I think I’d want an elephant, but only if I had enough space for it, and food, and elephant friends, and a bunch of trees and giant soccer balls and a big pond to splash in.
Q: How do you feel after a game you designed has been finished and published?
B: Surprised, mostly. It usually takes a little while for the publication process to make sure that art and packaging and the like are all finished and ready, and so much can go wrong between the end of design and publication. If everything aligns, and one of my designs makes it out of the Thunderdome of game development, I can breathe a sigh of relief, and re focus on the other projects.
C: No solo designs from me just yet!
J: I almost always feel nothing. Maybe a little pride, and certainly happiness for my co-creators. Generally I’m already working on the next thing, so I’ve sort of divested my emotions about the finished product when I turned it over to the publisher. Ask me how I feel about the things I’m working on NOW - that’s where I get emotional.