Patrick: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week, and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I'm going to be talking with Charlie Labuz, who designed Parched, which is a game that uses coasters, which we will definitely be talking about in the show. Charlie, welcome to the show.

Charlie: Hey Patrick. Thanks for having me.

Introduction

Patrick: So, I know you. I found your game on Kickstarter, I discovered your game on Kickstarter, and we've emailed back and forth a little bit. But the audience doesn't, so I want to help them get to know you. I've got a lightning round in the beginning. Are you ready?

Charlie: Sounds great.

Patrick: All right. What is your favorite drink?

Charlie: I'm drinking coffee right now. I take it black, but recently, before when I was going to cafes more often, I was doing a shot in the dark. So, black coffee with a shot of espresso. That was my go-to when I needed a kick.

Patrick: A shot in the dark? I have not heard that before. That's great. Black coffee with a shot of espresso? Wow. I'm drinking– Just so you know, I'm drinking the sugariest sugar coffee that– This should not be called coffee. So we have different coffee styles, I love it. Do you have a favorite–? I'm going to call it a “Drinking establishment.” It could be a bar, and it could be a coffee shop. But do you have a favorite place to get drinks?

Charlie: I live out in Seattle, and I'm actually in the Ballard neighborhood, and we're blessed to have an awesome bar scene and a lot of craft breweries. My favorite of the many is called Peddler, and it's this bar that has this bike theme, but the reason we originally fell in love with it is my buddy is vegan, and they always have a vegan food truck there. They make the most amazing, greasy, dense vegan food. Just things I would never describe as vegan, and having that alongside this bar that serves pretty good beer. Peddler's awesome if you're ever in the Ballard area.

Patrick: Fantastic. There is a restaurant in Denver called Water Course that happens to be vegan, and I take people there all the time, and they're like, “No. I don't want to go.” Then they try the food, and they love it. I love those places where the food is great and happens to be vegan, rather than things that are like—

I don't know, maybe I think sometimes those vegan and vegetarian places get a bad rap if they don't do a good enough job standing up and having their own really good food that's good on its own. It sounds like that place has really good food on its own.

Charlie: The number of people I've brought there that have enjoyed it, whatever [try vegan food is]. It's been great.

Patrick: All right. So, last one here. What is a game you would play with someone every single time at a convention? Every single time you're at a board game convention, someone's like, “Do you want to play this game?” And you can't resist, what is that game?

Charlie: I've never actually been to a convention, which is maybe an interesting thing to unpack. I'm relatively new to the industry and the space, and just this past year, with everything being so crazy, it would have been the ideal time for me to jump into those waters. But it hasn't happened, and I lived with a buddy who was a huge board game nut.

He got me into games, and one game that we loved playing was Kemet. I do love those longer, intense games like that, and I haven't been able to play it for like two years because I haven't lived with them for that long. So, if someone asked me to play Kemet, I'd have to sit down immediately and play.

How did you get into board games and board game design?

Patrick: Awesome. I haven't played that game, but I've heard it numerous times, and it looks really good. So, cool. How did you get into board games and board game design?

Charlie: I started answering how I got into them a second ago. It was through my friend Pat, we both did a teaching program together down in Louisiana, and we were brought together through the struggles of teaching. The way we blew off steam after we came back from teaching for the first time ever was to play board games together, and he had a giant collection.

Up until that point, I was pretty white bread American as far as board games go, my family grew up playing Monopoly and everything like that. I liked it because I was competitive, but he opened up this whole new world to me. I was excited about that, I played Dominion and a lot of Doom Town and whole a whole host of other games with them. I got into board game design just because I was playing board games.

It seems to be something that happens with whatever interests I get into, I have a novel right now that I'm trying to shop around to publishers. Just when I get into something, I end up wanting to create something of that sort. Which is a particular kind of mindset, it's a creative or a design mindset that I enjoy making things just as much as I enjoy taking them in, and probably more.

Patrick: So, I'm hearing– Boy, I don't even know what to call you. I want to call you, like, just a general creator. You just like making things. Do you like challenging yourself, is that why you do this?

Charlie: I do call myself a creator, and I don't know. I guess I like a challenge as much as anybody, I don't know that that's why I do it. I don't like being pushed into the corner and being forced to do any one thing, which is maybe why my interests are so diverse and why I work in so many different mediums.

But there is definitely great joy in creative freedom and being able to make something that no one else has made before, and make it your own. I do definitely find joy in that, and there's a challenge in that, but I guess it's not necessarily why I enjoy it.

Patrick: That's awesome. I love it. OK, so just one more one more follow up there. Do you think you'll continue making board games, or is this probably like you're going to make this one game, and then you're going to find another passion to pursue?

Charlie: No, I don't think this is going to be something that I just leave behind me in my rearview mirror. I have a few other ideas that are already somewhat in the works, and I think what's cool about board games is that they aren't– Is there another medium for me?

I don't intend to leave a medium behind like I'll continue writing my entire life, and I've been doing a lot of sketching that probably will never make it out into the world, but I will sketch my entire life. I think board game design is also another medium that I won't leave behind, where something like, I don't know, basketball. My knees are getting bad, so I can't do that anymore for various smaller interests.

How did you decide to make a game using items you could find in real life?

Patrick: Sure, got it. Cool. OK, so let me get into your game because I think it's cool. It's called Parched, and listeners, I'll have a link for it in the show notes to the Kickstarter campaign. It did recently end, I think, just a couple of days ago if I'm remembering correctly.

So, there's a couple of really cool things about it, but just looking at it's literally a game that uses coasters for your drinks, your coffee cups, your glasses, whatever. There's basically little bits of blue around the outside, not all the way around, part of the outside there's little bits of blue and you want to connect a line of blue all the way from the starting source all the way to your side of the board.

You're either hops or beans, and you want to bring the blue line, a direct blue line, all the way to your thing. But I think the coolest thing here is that it uses real-life objects like it uses a coaster. It's not, there aren't special cards. This isn't a cool domino set, it uses coasters. So why did you decide to make a game using items that you could, I guess I'll say, find in real life?

Charlie: To begin with, I felt really sad every time I saw boardgames hidden in a closet or on some shelf in the basement, they're such beautiful works of art. Especially, I don't know if you– Like, board games keep pushing this even more and more and focusing on the artwork, that it is sad to just have them boxed and put away. It should be something to be featured, and this was one way to get a board game out of the closet and have it live out on your coffee table or out on your bar top.

To have it be functional and have something elegant, useful, and fun. Bringing all those ideas together. Now that's the nice story about it, but in reality, I more stumbled upon it. Much like I stumbled upon octagons, which is weird as well, so I was playing with a bunch of tiles that I picked up from Home Depot and realized that they would make good coasters as well as good test pieces.

So those ideas just became linked together, just from having to use that material as my playtest material. Among some of the hexagons, I also had octagons, and I was like, “Why don't I try these out?” It took me a while to– I was surprisingly slow to realize that they don't tessellate very well.

Patrick: What does “Tessellate” mean?

Charlie: Just how they connect. The idea that octagons will always have a square in between their edges when you try to line them up. Which works out very well for the game that I made because it's about the path-building on the edges, and it doesn't necessarily matter that they fit together perfectly. So from that initial happenstance play testing with these weird tiles from Home Depot, I ended up getting a lot of character and different concepts for the game.

Patrick: It's very cool looking. I love it. So, I'm just looking at it, and it looks like there's maybe about 20 of them. Is that correct? Maybe a little more.

Charlie: Yes, that is the case. It's a little excessive for a coaster set, but it's what I ended up needing for the game.

Patrick: So, my actual question is if people come over and you have a party, and then they want to play, do they steal coasters from people who are already using them? Like, how does that happen?

Charlie: In my house, I have plenty of seats, so that isn't too much of a problem.

Patrick: Nice, awesome.

Charlie: But I guess if you're one to play a two-player board game in the middle of a party, then you might run into problems.

How did you decide to manufacture the game? Can you even go through a traditional game manufacturer?

Patrick: Yeah. OK, that might be a “Me” problem. Got it, cool. So let me ask you about manufacturing, because– Or, whatever term we want to use here. Just to make the game, because it is a wooden coaster set. How did you decide to manufacture it? Did you–? Are you doing it yourself with a laser cutter, or are you using a manufacturing company? How are you doing that when it's not a standard board game component?

Charlie: I have been making them myself in my house for the past year, largely for playtesting, but also, I've just gotten a few beta sets out into the world, and that has taken a ton of time. The laser cutting process is just pretty slow, given that I'm trying to get a fair amount of detail onto the coasters themselves.

I wanted to go through manufacture, even though I like having the control of the process myself, so I've been searching. It was a bit of an interesting search because I didn't imagine that I could go through the traditional board game manufacturer, so I talked to woodworkers in the US, and I talked to some people who worked with plasters and porcelain.

There was a possibility that I could have gone with them, but it would've been a very different product because it would have been very expensive to go with those people. I could have sold a premium product through a premium home goods store, but it wouldn't have been the board game market anymore. So I did, I had a contact who knew someone at Panda, and I went through Panda not having too much hope, but they were into it.

They're making it happen, and ultimately I think the construction is going to end up being– The construction is pretty simple because I'll just give you a couple pieces of wood that are glued together. A coaster isn't that complex of a thing, but I was excited that they were willing to try and do something custom like this.

Kickstarter-wise I noticed you had 313 backers and you raised $26,000. How did you get there?

Patrick: Yeah, that's cool. I wouldn't even know if a board game manufacturer could do it, but they can. Awesome. The other thing I wanted to point out with your campaign is I just noticed that you had like 313 backers, and you raised $26,000 dollars, which is a pretty high dollar amount for a small amount of users. I did some quick math and assuming I didn't do it poorly, and I think that's like $83 bucks per user on average.

So I guess, did you spend a lot of time thinking about the different tiers on Kickstarter? Because I noticed you have people can pledge $5 dollars and get nothing. You did do the T-shirt thing, which some people recommend against. You have the main game for $40, you have a twofer for $70, and you have the premium set for $100 bucks.

So did you think a lot about that? Because I think that's a great way to do it, to have a premium version, so you don't need hundreds and hundreds of backers, you need maybe three hundred backers, and you can still make a ton of money on Kickstarter.

Charlie: I was honestly surprised that it's huge so heavily towards the more premium set, I initially was just thinking about it as “OK, I need 625 of my backers at the $140 dollars level, and that's going to be my bread and butter.” But the $100 dollar tier ended up being a godsend because I needed that with a number of people who ended up contributing.

I will say I think that a lot of my contributors were people that I ended up knowing, and that helped with the size of the contributions, which was good. I do wish that I could have spread my net a little wider and gotten some of the smaller backers, too, as well. A little larger amount of smaller backers, but definitely having that option was integral to getting my campaign.

Patrick: Cool. I dig it, and I'm just looking at the game, and it's a two-player game. Did you spend any time thinking about how to make it three or four players? Or did people not care or think about that?

Charlie: I played with it just a little bit, and the way the game is set up, it didn't work out perfectly, given that I was trying to work with a set amount of coasters, and including more players would require more coasters. Then just the concept of the game fell away.

There is the possibility of trying to figure something out like that in the future or some kind of expansion, but I don't know that necessarily makes sense. Just with the simple two-player coaster based concept, it's very intimate. You're sitting down, you're having a coffee with one person, and then you're going to play this board game with these coasters that are right there.

Patrick: It's super cool. I totally dig it, so I guess how long did it take you to design this game? Was it an hour on a day, or was it five years?

Charlie: Time has ceased to exist for me. I guess I started playing with Parched two years ago, and it was just under two years ago that I stopped, I was teaching before this, and then I had some mental health things, and I took a step away from teaching briefly, and then it became permanent.

So what was great was that I had this board game project to work on and threw myself into that, and then also my writing, which I was doing a lot of, and I've been doing a lot of. How many hours a day? That's hard to say. I don't function well in that way.

As we were talking earlier, just about me being a creator and having many interests, I'll do something for a couple hours, and then I'll work on something else. Doesn't mean I'm not committed to that idea, it's just– I don't know, I'm fresher.

Patrick: I get that.

Charlie: Yeah. When I can, like, focus on something when I want to. But it's been over the course of the past two years, and it's seen a lot of refinement and development, particularly just in the gameplay mechanics. Some more in the card laying aspect and how things get manipulated and how the coasters get manipulated. But the coasters have remained more or less the same throughout that process.

Patrick: OK, so speaking of the coasters, are there other items–? Are you looking around your home now, and you're like, “I wonder if I can replace these items with a game?” Like, are there other items now you're thinking about making games out of?

Charlie: No, not– That's a great question.

Patrick: I'm trying to think of items that you have multiples of, like hangers. I have too many hangers. What can I do with hangers? That's probably a pretty boring game, but there's nothing else.

Charlie: I like that vision. I think I've been thinking about coasters a lot still, and I think it's very fruitful ground, and I don't know. I think every household around the world could use a set of coasters, and I'm hoping to– What I would want to do with my next coaster based board game would be to simplify it and get something down that's a six coaster set, something that you would–

Patrick: Sure.

Charlie: It's more reasonable, and maybe I can make it very premium if I wanted.

Patrick: Sure.

Charlie: I could have this nice plaster or even some kind of stone, I don't know. But designing a game that's interesting and replayable that only has six components or maybe six coasters and a deck is difficult, so that hasn't– I haven't quite figured that out yet.

Patrick: But even, what– Even tic tac toe is, I think you need five of each circle and X, so you need at least 10 pieces just for tic tac toe.

Charlie: Right.

Patrick: It's hard to make a balanced, replayable, fun, abstract style game with six pieces. That is a challenge, sir. So when you figure that out, email me, and I'll get you back on the show, and we'll figure out how you did it.

Charlie: Sounds good.

How did publishing your first game change your process?

Patrick: So this is your first game that you published, now that you've done one, and obviously you have stuff to go through the fulfillment process and deliver it to people, but what would you do next time? Let's say a year from now, two years from now, five years from now, you have a new game. What are you going to do differently in your process now that you've gone through the whole thing once?

Charlie: I'm excited to, with my next game, get more into the board game community and attending conventions and taking advantage of all those opportunities once they open up again because I have been flying. I think I've done things very well; I think I've created a cool game and a very well designed game, but have largely been flying blind and just leading myself in a lot of ways and experimenting.

That's led me into a lot of bumps in the road that I probably could have avoided. Also, it's lonely to work by yourself all the time. So just being able to engage in a community is something that I'm craving right now, so that's something that I hope putting Parched out there can be an entrance for me into this community. Then I want to bring more to the community as well. So definitely, that's going to be the key to me moving forward.

Do you have a white whale of game design? Something you try to figure out every time but you haven’t quite cracked it yet?

Patrick: I love that. I'm very fortunate that before the pandemic, Denver had, I'd say about twice a month board game design meetups, and those got me moving. It was really fun, and they're people I recognize, and they're people that I have relationships with. Like, we're friends. Without that, it's really hard to make games for me right now, so I hugely miss that community part.

So, I definitely get that. Do you have a white whale of game design? And by that, I mean, is there something that you tried to either put into this game or a different game, but is there something you've tried hard to get it to work, and you just you haven't been able to get it yet?

Charlie: I mean, I would also say a more simple coaster design, like I mentioned earlier. Definitely something I played with, but I also have a concept for another one of my interests is climbing and a bouldering based game.

Just the way I'm trying to set it up, it's very numbers intensive for me to get it balanced because I'm trying to grade 100 different climbs and give them different difficulties and different skill aspects. It's just something extremely different than what I'm doing with Parched, so it's something that I think I will eventually complete and bring to the world. But right now, just figuring out the numbers of it is has been a little intimidating.

Patrick: So, I was thinking snarkily that a game about bouldering would have to do a lot with finger strength. So, you are you fighting over cards with your thumb and your index finger? Are you trying to pull a card towards you? Just because that's been my experience with climbing, is I apparently need more finger strength somehow.

Charlie: I do like that idea. I might have to build that in.

What one resource would you recommend to another indie game designer or an aspiring game designer?

Patrick: All right, this is great. OK, you've been doing this for a little bit. You just had your first game fund, congrats. What is a resource you would recommend to another indie game designer? What is something–? And by resource, I mean something that's free or easily available.

Charlie: Honestly, I don't have a single resource or a single person that I go to. I am a huge proponent of typing a question into Google or just going straight to YouTube and looking at a video of someone going through their design process. I'm trying to revamp my logo, I was recently told that it looks like it was made in the nineties with Microsoft Paint.

That's just my personal brand log, so I'm trying to redo that. But I mean, there's just so much good material out there for free, just like on YouTube. People walking you through step by step of their amazing designs, and it's a great place to start. It's not board game-specific, but I don't know if board game design doesn't need to be board game specific either.

What was the best money you ever spent as a game designer?

Patrick: That's great. I love it. What is the best money you've spent in game design? What's worth every single cent that you put into it?

Charlie: It's a premium investment, but I would definitely say it's been worth its weight in gold, has been my laser cutter. I don't know that's something– I will say that it's not something that everyone should buy, it certainly isn't. But it has paid off in terms of production, and it's going to continue to pay off in the future in terms of playtesting.

It's going to be able to create premium quality playtesting components for anything I want to do in the future, and it's basically– It will be essentially paid off after my first shipment of games and the Kickstarter and all that, so that's been awesome.

Patrick: So, just roughly speaking, how much is a laser cutter?

Charlie: What I have is about $3,000 dollars, but there's a variety of different options out there, and you could definitely get something a little bit cheaper, and I would– There's always other options. You could do a CNC drill for drilling away wood rather than using a laser, it could be a slightly more affordable option, or even a small 3D printer might be cheaper than the large laser cutter I have.

What does success in the board game world look like to you?

Patrick: Sure, love it. OK, so then what does success in the board game world look like to you?

Charlie: I wish I could say. I've heard people answer this question before and say things that are very positive, just like “I want to make someone happy with my board game.” And I do, I do want that, but I think I'd be somewhat dishonest if I didn't say I want to see my game go out there and be financially successful.

That, to me, is somewhat, and it isn't about the money, it's more about my own personal insecurities to a certain extent. One way that I know that I have been successful in this area is if I win the capitalist game of board game design.

Patrick: Sure.

Charlie: I don't know. That's why I ended up going through a Kickstarter and why I'm not doing just small sales, small craft sales. I wanted this thing to succeed on a larger scale to a larger audience, so I'm hopeful that can happen to that. I hope people are happy with the game, and that's the only way it's going to be financially successful anyways. So I guess those goals are intertwined.

Overrated/Underrated

Patrick: No, I totally love that. It's going to sound so silly, but just because someone else has a different vision of– Like, I'm literally asking, “What does success look like to you?” Financial success is just as valid as “I want someone to have fun.” I think I agree with you where I've done lots of little entrepreneurial things.

I have lots of little side hustles, and part of the thrill is going, “Did I make something good enough that someone's willing to buy?” Which is different than other goals, so I appreciate that challenge. Let me move on to the Overrated/Underrated game. Now, I think you've heard of this. Correct?

Charlie: I have, yes.

Patrick: Great. So I'm going to give you a word or phrase, just for new people here– I'm to give him a word or phrase. He's going to tell me if it's overrated or underrated and a one-sentence description of why. If I said printers, you're going to say “Overrated” because they always break. Something like that. Cool?

Charlie: Got it, OK.

Patrick: First one here, 3D printing. And I mean this in the context, just in the context of board games and maybe making your own pieces or designing your own board games or something like that. Just 3D printing in the board game design space, overrated or underrated?

Charlie: I'll say underrated, just because I think 3D printing is so cool. Just the idea that you can create something that wasn't there before just by, I don't know, plugging in a little design into your computer, and this printer just spits it out in 3D. It's world-changing in a lot of ways, and I don't know how it could be overrated. Especially if we're talking about playtesting.

Patrick: Cool. Let's go with koozies, the little things that you put around your beer cans to keep them cool, that type of thing. Overrated or underrated?

Charlie: I'm going to say definitely underrated. I saw an amazing koozie the other day, it was a glove, so this person's hand went all the way into the koozie and was permanently attached to their beer. It was incredible.

Patrick: Very cool, I haven't seen that. So this one's a little bit weird, I don't know if it's going to work, but we're going to try it. Games with sound, overrated or underrated?

Charlie: I can't say that I've played one, so I couldn't tell you–

Patrick: All right. So, let me tell you what I was thinking of. What is the game where you–? Taboo. Now, this is not a board game, strictly per se. But it's the little device, and there's the time, you can hear a thing go, and you need to have your team guess the word and pass off the device to the next person before it buzzes in your hand.

Charlie: Gotcha. I mean, just based on that example, I have to say “Overrated” because I can feel the anxiety building.

Patrick: OK. We are recording this on Election Day in the US, so I wanted to go with the Electoral College. Overrated or underrated?

Charlie: Massively overrated. Sorry, founding fathers.

Wrap Up

Patrick: Years ago, I used to think it was a neat system, and now I'm like, “I don't know. Maybe it's not so good.” So cool, I love to hear that. Charlie, thank you so much for being on the show.

Charlie: Thank you very much for having me. It was great to be here.

Patrick: Where can people find you and your games online?

Charlie: You can find me at CharlieIsCreating.com, and then same thing on Instagram and same thing on Facebook, @CharlieIsCreating.

Patrick: Got it. No Twitter, you're against Twitter?

Charlie: Yeah. I am not currently on Twitter.

Patrick: Cool. Listeners, if you liked this podcast, please leave a review on iTunes. If you leave a review, Charlie will pick up a beer that you ordered at the bar, and he'll deliver it to you. That's as much as he's willing to do here. Instead of talking about my Patreon, I did want to mention that for Black Friday, I am doing a big sale.

If anyone wants to get ten copies of Fry Thief, I'm going to give you 50% off. I don't know if I'm going to do an email sign up, but just go to my site, LaidBack.games on Black Friday weekend, and there will be a super-duper cool discount if you want to get a whole bunch of copies of games for friends and family and all that stuff.

You can visit the site at IndieBoardGameDesigners.com, and you can follow me on Twitter and BoardGameGeek, I'm @BFTrick on both platforms. Until next time everyone, happy designing. Bye-bye.

Hello & welcome everyone!

It is a special bonus episode and I’ll keep it short. As of this moment right now I’m opening up my Black Friday discount. I’ve mentioned it a few times so far. Here’s how it’s going to work.

If you order 10 copies of Fry Thief I’ll give you 50% off. Use coupon code BF2020.

Don’t worry about memorizing it. It will be all over the site.

Again 50% off the order total if you order 10 copies of Fry Thief. If you want to get a bunch of copies for friends or relatives this is perfect opportunity.

And you can get this on Laidback.Games 

Just a note – this only applies to Fry Thief – the regular 2 player version. I only have a handful of the 2-4 player copies remaining from the Kickstarter and this deal doesn’t apply to them.

And since you’re a podcast listener I’ll give you free shipping (in the US) if you use a super-secret coupon code PodcastLover2020

This deal is valid from right now when you hear this – until the last day of November which is Cyber Monday. The sooner you purchase the sooner I’ll send it out.

So thank you very much for listening. As a reminder:

  • The main coupon code for 50% off (when you order 10 copies) is BF2020. And that’s all over the site
  • The free shipping coupon is PodcastLover2020
  • You can purchase at Laidback.Games
  • And this runs through November 30th which is Cyber Monday 

And with all of that said it’s been a really hard & trying year. I hope all of you unplug, relax, and enjoy the holidays. And maybe even get some game design in.

Patrick: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week, and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I'm going to be talking with Charlie McCarron, who designed Four Humours, which we're going to talk about a lot today, Dragon Insurance, Alphabet Sloop, and he also worked at Fantasy Flight and helped with Star Wars: Destiny, if you've played that game. Charlie, welcome to the show.

Charlie: Thanks, Patrick. Thanks for having me.

Introduction

Patrick: Yes. We talked a little bit by email and on Facebook, but the audience doesn't know you, so I like to introduce you with a lightning round. Ready?

Charli: I'm ready.

Patrick: All right. Favorite Star Wars character?

Charlie: I have to go with Chewbacca. He's loyal, and yeah, he's great.

Patrick: Yeah, he's absolutely great. Do you–? So, it's obviously not the dialogue that impresses you.

Charlie: Maybe it's more of the feeling of him as a dog. Like, you just appreciate him at all times. That reminds me that my parents bought me a Chewbacca card for– I don't know if you remember the old Decipher CCG, but it was one of my favorite games as a kid growing up. For some reason, people would pay $20 dollars for a Chewbacca card, and now it's worth 50 cents, maybe. It didn't quite age like Magic.

Patrick: Yes. Man, I remember buying some Magic cards back in like '95, or something. I remember getting a Shivan Dragon or something online, and I'm sure now it's like– I think I've seen them recently, and now it's gone up $500 or $5,000, whatever it's gone up to. I should have invested in Shivan Dragons and not in stocks, that's what I should have done.

Charlie: That's amazing.

Patrick: That is crazy. So, second question. What is your favorite pandemic activity?

Charlie: My friends and I invented a new game called Soccer Tennis. I love playing soccer, and I'm sad that it's a little bit too close contact, so we started thinking, “How can we play and keep each other away?” So we go on to the tennis court and basically play tennis with a soccer ball, and you can only kick it and head it. It's awesome. Highly recommended.

Patrick: Can the ball bounce more than once, or is that with tennis rules? Where if it bounces twice–?

Charlie: We're easy on each other, and we say you can get two bounces on your side.

Patrick: Got it.

Charlie: We've tried different ball deflation to see what's ideal, and then we tried it with a kickball for low-gravity mode.

Patrick: Low gravity mode?

Charlie: Yeah.

Patrick: That's great. You are– I think you might be the first person to make a physical game in addition to a board game on my show. So, thank you. Then back in non-pandemic times, what's a game you'd play with someone every single time at a convention? Like, what is something you just want to– You're exhausted, but you still want to play that game?

Charlie: I guess I'll have to go with a shout out to my favorite pandemic-era game, The Crew. My friends and I have been playing The Crew throughout all of quarantine, and it was just the perfect play it over and over again– I don't know if you're familiar, but it's like–

Patrick: No.

Charlie: It's a co-op trick-taking game. And I love trick-taking games, and I've never thought that “Let's have it be a complete co-op where we're all trying to do these missions.” The reason it's fun to play over and over again is you're going through these missions that make it harder each time. So, we'll see–

Patrick: That's cool. I'll have to check that out. I do love trick-taking, it's just– I think I played a lot of games as a kid that involved trick-taking games, but a trick-taking co-op game? I have not played one of those. All right, I'll have to look into it. The Crew.

Charlie: Love it, yeah.

How did you get into board games and board game design?

Patrick: All right. So first real question is, how did you get into board games and board game design?

Charlie: Like I said, the Star Wars cards were really my intro, and I just loved the idea. I used to make my own illustrations, and I loved cartooning as a kid, so I'd make my own cards. I never actually played a game, but I'd always enjoy making stats for all these characters. That's where my love of card games came from. Boardgame design, though, came a lot later. I guess it came back around.

I always wanted to be a video game maker, so I would do calculator games, graphing calculator programming. Finally, years later, one of my friends, just out of nowhere, was like, “I want to try this game with you guys.” Just a very crappy prototype and I'm sure this is the case with a lot of designers where you see something that a friend made, and you're like, “I could do this myself.”

For me personally, once I get into something, I want to figure out how to make it myself. So whether that's music, I do music composition, art– I just love making things. So, once I started playing games on a weekly basis, it just had to be something I wanted to create myself.

You once worked for Fantasy Flight. What is the difference between working at a game company versus designing things on your own?

Patrick: I love it, I love the– This is one of my favorite things about humans. Just when we're like, “I can do that.” Just like, “I can– Sure. I'll try this new thing.” It's one of my favorite things about humans, so that's cool. OK, so in an email and I looked at your website, you worked– Or, maybe I should say you interned at Fantasy Flight, which must have been a very cool experience.

They make some of my favorite board games in the world. What is the difference between working at a game company like Fantasy Flight, where there's numerous employees? I assume they do different things, versus designing things on your own?

Charlie: Yeah, the main one is I'm probably not going to be working on an official Star Wars game by myself. That was the most fun; it came back around to my childhood love of Star Wars and the Star Wars card game. Suddenly I'm working on a new one, and it's just like my 12-year-old self would just have his mind blown finding that out.

The great thing about it too was that was my first time collaborating with other people on a game, so [Lucas Litzinger] was the designer, and I basically every day got to sit down with him, play through the game, come up with new ideas and test him right on the spot. The idea of just being able to do that as your day job is very fun.

Obviously, you don't have as much freedom as when you're an individual, and if you're an actual employee, you can't work on your own games at the same time for legal reasons. But as an intern, it was inspiring. I learned a ton.

Patrick: That's cool. Man, I wish. I'm playing a lot of this miniatures game right now called Marvel Crisis Protocol. It's all the Marvel miniatures, like Spider-Man and Wolverine is coming out, Iron Man and Captain America, all the bad guys too. It's so much fun to work with– Or to play with a big IP. I think that's hard to do unless you work at a famous– It's really hard to get cool IPs like Star Wars or like Marvel or like whatever unless you're at one of these big game companies. That's a cool, unique thing.

Charlie: There is the drawback to those too, where you have to fit everything into that world.

Patrick: Sure.

Charlie: Versus coming up with stuff from scratch.

Patrick: Sure.

Charlie: I realized myself, I'm probably more of a designer than a developer because a lot of Fantasy Flight, we were working on a new game. But if you apply for a position at Fantasy Flight, they'll put you in the developer role, which is helping with an existing game. So some people excel at that, like figuring out expansion ideas, new ideas. But I've realized myself, and I like coming up with the code of the game to begin with. Like, what is the initial design?

Patrick: Like the philosophy behind the game?

Charlie: Yeah.

Patrick: So, what is–? Is there–? Let me ask you the same question in just a slightly different way. What is something besides the IP, what is something you miss from Fantasy Flight?

Charlie: I miss being around people, as we all do. It was fun just being around a dozen designers and just getting that space, you can walk in the office and work on this. If it ever worked out that I'd get a job at Fantasy Flight, that's one of the few office jobs I would do. Since I'm a freelancer, my main job is doing film scoring. I do actually like working on my own at home, but game design is different. You got to be with people and playing around with ideas on the table.

You presented a very cool talk about the Building Block of Meaning. Can you tell us about that?

Patrick: I hear you. OK, so at your local game design group, you presented this very cool talk called A Building Block of Meaning, which, by the way, listeners, I will put a link to in the show notes. I just thought it was a cool lens to think about games and about how people look at games. Maybe you can walk us through the building block of meaning and give us the high-level concepts here?

Charlie: Yeah. So I obviously am a nerd about thinking about what makes a good game, and for me, it's like, “How does the meaning come through in a game? Like, why does one game mean something and then one prototype you make means absolutely nothing?” So I thought of this three-prong idea, and the– If you can think of or picture a cube in your head, there's three axes to this cube.

All three dimensions and the volume of the cube itself is the amount of meaning in a game. So what are those three axes? I was thinking, and I thought that, for one, having a challenge in the game is important. Sometimes if the game is too easy, no decisions, that is not going to give you any meaning out of the game.

Challenge Appeal is the other axis, so aesthetic appeal, is it bringing out fun at the table and provoking emotion? That's the second one. Then story, and when I'm thinking about story not just in a narrative sense, but “What is the overall arc of the game and why do you feel like there is progression in the game?” That's like the time aspect.

If you think about it, it's like the appeal is instant. You look at the game, “That's appealing.” The challenge is tactical in the moment, “What are you being challenged by?” And then, the story element is overall, “What is your plan throughout the entire game? And why are you doing this activity for an hour?” Or, “Are you just repeating the same thing and it doesn't have an overall arc?” So, that's my thought there.

Patrick: So, OK. How would you use this idea? The building block of meaning, how would you use it in a game design? Would you–? As an example, would you look at one of your games through this lens and then make a change to it? Like, how do you use this idea, this framework?

Charlie: Yeah, I think it sparks some really good questions to ask about your game. The challenge, for example. What are your choices that you're making? At any time, it's good to ask that in your game. What are the decisions people are making, or are they non-decisions?

Because if you're just doing something repetitively without thinking about it, what is that adding to the game? I love having tight design where everything you do has an impact on the game and everything. For me, that's the main point of trying to find what the meaning of the game is.

Is each thing I'm doing having an impact on the course of the game? There's other ways where the appeal comes in, sometimes it's not a strategic game but a party game, and sometimes that's the main reason there's meaning to it. It's just a fun activity.

Patrick: Cool.

Charlie: I'm not sure where else I was going with that, but yeah.

Four Humours will be on Kickstarter when this episode comes out. Tell us about the game?

Patrick: No, it's cool. I think it's always– The way I look at this stuff is it's always good to have new lenses and frameworks to look at your game, and not every game needs every lens, but it's just another way to think about it. I think I like story and appeal, and it's nice to think about games on those axes. That's cool.

OK, so basically, we got in touch because of your game that's coming out shortly and should be out when this episode comes out. It will be a couple of weeks from after we record it. But it's your new game called the Four Humours, which is not about or for comedians. It's about the Four Humours from the Middle Ages where– I'm sure you can give me a better description of this, but it's how they thought the world worked.

Can you tell us, I guess, tell us a little bit about the game? And actually, I think the thing I love from reading about the game is the work replacement system. I'd love to hear a little bit about that.

Charlie: I've had this theme for five years, the Four Humours. For people who don't know, the whole idea is that they used to think the different fluid levels in your body would change your personality, so if you had too much yellow bile, for example, that would make you choleric and aggressive.

If you had too much blood, for example, that would make you friendly and extroverted, creative. Too much black bile would make you melancholic, so introverted and perfectionistic, and too much phlegm would make you lazy and submissive. So I just love that idea, it's just such a weird concept and very hard to make into a game, it turns out. It took four years or something, and I don't know, probably seven totally different games.

Finally, I came to this idea of this secret work replacement, we were calling it. Overnight this came to me, and suddenly it just worked, but the idea is each card– There's four location cards out on the table at any time, they are little scenes from medieval times. Imagine the royal latrine where all the peasants are cleaning up, the dungeon, the battleground field, and each of the characters—

There's characters on the cards themselves. It's a little bit of a different style of work replacement where the characters are on the cards, and you're placing a token in their belly. The token you're placing is the humour, and each character has a dual personality that they could be.

So a peasant could be sanguine or phlegmatic, red blood or white phlegm, and you place your token down, so your opponents won't know which you've done. That's the core concept, it's binary work replacement. The way that the cards resolve has to do– There's a whole hierarchy of how you win on a card. But yeah, I just love that idea of secret work replacement.

Patrick: Absolutely. I like– Actually, what's great is you just corrected me. The thing I think is– The secret work replacement is amazing, and the scoring is cool. That was the part that I like.

So I think I was looking at it on the website, and maybe it was based on one location, but in this location– Or maybe it was for all locations. If you have one choleric humour, that that one wins. Or if you have the most blood humours, they win. Or if there's two black humours, that one wins. It's this crazy– It's complicated and really interesting. Just like choices, right?

Charlie: Yeah, and once you start playing, it's not too complicated. But the thing that works well, it's also a prisoner's dilemma. Each card has a different scenario on it, so the most– The easiest one to comprehend is the royal bedchamber. That's the true prisoner's dilemma, where if both players who play on the—

There's two nobles lying in bed together and they can either get along, or they can fight each other. So you're secretly placing on one of them, and if you pick choleric, you're going to fight the other player. If they also pick choleric, you kill each other. But if I pick choleric, you pick sanguine, the friendly one, then I just kill you, and I take the card.

However, if we both played sanguine, we would both win together. So if you can imagine those kind of scenarios but with more characters on them, that's– It's funny that prisoner's dilemma itself is kind of a boring game. It's only really got one outcome.

Patrick: Sure.

Charlie: But when you expand it out to multiple options, it's more about where you place on any of these cards.

What challenges did you run into and how did you solve them?

Patrick: It's really fun. I think what's fun for game design, in general, is taking a concept like work replacement and then go, “OK. Now there's secret workers.” They could either be option A, or they could be option B, and based on the location, B might win here, or A might win here.

I think it's just really interesting that there's just so many dimensions there. I think it's also going into hobby board gaming, like when everyone knows what work replacement is, it's really easy to explain your game. You're like, “Cool. It's like Agricola, or any of these other work replacement games, but here's the differences.” I think it's cool to build on these existing concepts.

So, I like asking people what challenges they run into in their game design, and I think I want to zoom into one that you just mentioned. You said you've been working on this for, I think you said 4-7 years or four-plus years?

Charlie: Probably like five years total, something like that.

Patrick: Right, and I hear this all the time. It's really interesting to me that you said, basically, you want to have this one idea. It clicked. My question for you is– I have many games that are pretty fine, and I know they just need something, but I don't know what.

They're definitely not good enough to publish right now, so how do you know when to give up on a game design? Because, how do I–? Because it seems like you were struck by a bolt of lightning, and maybe that's incorrect. Go ahead and correct me if that's wrong, but how do you foster those brilliant ideas that make your game design work or know when to give one up?

Charlie: Sure. So, I still have lots of games that are on the back burner from years ago that I'm not giving up, but I'm putting them on my shelf and my Google doc that has all these mechanics in it, and maybe I'll look back at them. But I think my advantage as a designer is I've been OK with starting from scratch if I need to, like rip up the game and start a new one.

If I love the theme, and because all these ideas will filter back in if they're still good, for me, one thing I like to do is I'm a very visual person. So for me, actually sketching out what the game might look like is very inspirational to how the design plays out. For this Four Humours, the current version of it, I wanted to have some work replacement where the characters are already on the card, and you're already seeing this fun, “Where's Waldo?” type scene.

Suddenly it just came to me that, “Maybe each of the work replacement spots on the belly is a dual nature,” and so I think just sketching it out, and it was– It felt like a bolt of lightning, but in reality, it was me one step at a time coming up with these concepts, and suddenly they merged together in a great way. So I had this concept of each of the peasant, the knight, the noble, all of these different factions had these dual personalities. But I just couldn't figure out how they played out and simplifying it into this simple work replacement thing just worked.

Patrick: Yeah, that's great. Just to be clear, I never want to– Like, when I say “A bolt of lightning,” that doesn't mean “Random.”

Charlie: Sure.

Patrick: I feel like you worked hard enough until inspiration came, and you thought long enough on it. I never want to take someone's hard work away from them.

Charlie: Oh, no. It's still a mystery to me. Sometimes I do songwriting too, and sometimes I just come up with a song in a dream or–

Patrick: There we go.

Charlie: Like, there is preparation behind that too, like I've been working at it. But I love when I get those bolt of lightning moments.

With this Four Humours game you were able to art direct for the first time. What did you learn about that?

Patrick: Very cool. OK, so something else I want to talk about is you said that in the Four Humours is that is the first time you were able to art direct a game. I would love, and I think a lot of the people here will eventually need to know how to art direct a game, so I'd love to know what did you learn about art directing?

Something, maybe just give us a very– I know what it is, but give us a very brief explanation of what art directing means to you. And then, what did you learn about it that you can share with another new game designer?

Charlie: First of all, shout out to my publisher, Adam Reyberg of Adam's Apple Games. He's also here in Minnesota, we met at a Protospiel, and that's where we started collaborating. But he's been so awesome about involving me in every step of the way, so art direction, what I'm doing is overseeing the illustration by our talented artist Shirley Gunn. She's working over in China, and so what I do is I will sketch something out for her, whether it's a card or my map, send it over to her, and then she comes back with a super awesome polished version.

It also involves word descriptions of scenes, but the thing I have learned is that having an ability to just do a sketch, even if it might look like a first grader sketched him out sometimes because I'm just quickly– Like, I can do a good painting or drawing if I want. But really, it's all about just getting something down quick that you can send-off.

The other thing I enjoy about it is that I can put in all these little Easter eggs on all the cards. Like for me, my goal was to make it a combination of a “Where's Waldo?” and “Monty Python” mashup. So I have all these little Monty Python references, like a swallow going through a coconut. So all these little Easter eggs are, I feel, what makes art in a game fun. Like, when you can zoom in on some details.

What one resource would you recommend to another indie game designer or an aspiring game designer?

Patrick: Yeah, I love that. OK, so this is great. Because this is what I did when I art directed for some of my games, is I will draw horrible sketches, like stick-figure level sketches, and then point to something and be like, “Make this really long, or make this big, or it should look like this.”

It's cool to hear you have, I think, a similar experience. Where you don't need to make the illustration, you just need to get the idea across even in a silly stick figure, hand it off to an illustrator, and then they can do the actual work for you. But you've clearly communicated your idea, and they just implement it. I didn't do any Easter eggs in my games, so I feel like you just taught me something right now.

Next time I'll have to add some Easter eggs. That's awesome. So moving on, just to some of the– Boy, what am I calling these? The final approach questions, there we go. What's a resource you'd recommend for someone, an aspiring game designer?

Charlie: I would say the book Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Shell. That one and they have an app too, that you can have on your phone. It'll give you a random lens to look at.

Patrick: What?

Charlie: Yeah, it's great. The great thing about that book is for people who haven't read it, each chapter is dedicated to one lens you can look through your game with, so it's a little bit like my building block of meaning, where you see it from one point of view. Like, “What is the story arc of your game?” And then each of those questions will, I'm sure, inspire a different thing you can do to make your game better.

What was the best money you ever spent as a game designer?

Patrick: That is very cool. Listeners, I put a link for that in the show notes just so it's easy for you to find. The official name is The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, but you should be able to find it. I did not know that there's an app, so I'm going to try to download that right now. But while I'm downloading that, what's the best money you've spent as a game designer?

Charlie: I would say Protospiels. It's like $50 bucks for the weekend. I haven't done the online ones yet, but at least when we get to do in-person ones, that's one of the best weekends of the entire year for me.

Patrick: Yes.

Charlie: That's actually where I pitched Four Humours to Adam, and it was the very last day, the end of the day Sunday when everyone's tired, and they don't think they're going to find anything else. But Adam stuck it out, and lo and behold, here we are getting the game published on Kickstarter here soon.

What does success in the board game world look like to you?

Patrick: Congratulations on that, that's fantastic. I miss Protospiels. I do miss them, and they are very fun. I miss– You know what it is? I think a Protospiel is, in addition, to obviously just getting your game– You get to meet new designers and get new feedback from people who are outside of your usual groups, and you also get to play other people's games, so that always inspires me.

But it's also a dedicated weekend to game design. Like, next weekend, I'm not just going to block off Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If I'm going to spend the next 48 hours on game design, I need an event to give me that excuse. So, that's the other cool thing about Protospiels. That's great. So, this is one of my favorite questions here. What does success in the boardgame world look like to you?

Charlie: For me, I think success is getting this one game published. I realized now that I've done this, I would be happy even if I never got another game published. I can say, “Yes. I did this game.” That is not to say that I am not working on more game designs, and I'll continue working on it because it's super fun, but success to me is just getting to this point with the game.

Overrated/Underrated

Patrick: Fantastic. I like to end with a game called Overrated/Underrated. Have you heard about it?

Charlie: Yes.

Patrick: Fantastic. So for new listeners, I'm going to give him a word or phrase, like “Coffee,” and then he's going to say if it's overrated or underrated. For coffee, he would obviously say, “Underrated. Because it gets you going in the morning.” Something like that. Cool?

Charlie: Except I would have to disagree with you because I just don't drink coffee. But yeah.

Patrick: Oh, boy. We'll have to talk about this later. First one here, Cones of Dunshire. Overrated or underrated?

Charlie: I will say overrated because I don't know if you've looked at the actual rulebook.

Patrick: I haven't.

Charlie: It is ridiculous, and obviously that is the intention, but imagining playing that game– It's yeah. I think games that have super simple rules like Just One or Codenames. Those types of games, as a design, I think, are underrated.

Patrick: Love it. Bob Ross, overrated or underrated?

Charlie: I think you can never have enough Bob Ross because his method and everything he would say, it's just such an inspiring message. I can't even imagine how many new painters he's inspired. Also, I went as Bob Ross for Halloween one time. I have Bob Ross hair, so.

Patrick: Fantastic. Third one here, Game Associations. Overrated or underrated? And by that, I just mean your chapter of game designers. In Colorado, we have the Colorado Game Designers Guild, things like that. So a regional or professional group for game designers.

Charlie: Underrated, because I feel like a lot of game designers maybe don't know these things exist. Any sort of organization where you're getting creative minds together just is awesome.

Patrick: Perfect. Last one, humorism. As in, “Humor is an ancient and medieval medicine.” Overrated or underrated?

Charlie: Definitely, underrated. Because everyone makes fun of it, and my game does also, but it was one of the first times– It started in Greek times, and it was the first time that people were like, “Maybe it's something inside our body that's causing different things to happen to us.” Versus like, the gods or something like that.

Wrap Up

Patrick: You know what? That is an interesting lens you just gave me, where it's a– Maybe obviously far wrong, very wrong with today's modern science, but back then, maybe it was a step in the right direction? I did not think about that. Very cool, thank you. And thank you, Charlie, for being on the show.

Charlie: Yeah. Thanks for having me, Patrick.

Patrick: Where can people find you and your game online?

Charlie: If you go to AdamsAppleGames.com, that's where we're having Four Humours up. For myself, personally, if you just look up my name Charlie McCarron, I'm on all the social media stuff. Happy to connect with you.

Patrick: And the game should also be on Kickstarter when this launches, right?

Charlie: Yeah.

Patrick: Perfect. Cool, so just look for the Four Humours on Kickstarter or go to Adam's Apple Games?

Charlie: Yeah.

Patrick: Cool, all right. Listeners, if you like this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes or wherever you hear this. If you leave a review, Charlie said he would help you find dragon insurance for your home just in case you want to buy that.

And then, instead of talking about my Patreon, I just want to mention that I am planning something for Black Friday. I am basically putting together a giant discount for Fry Thief. It's going to be something like, if you order ten copies of Fry Thief, I'm going to give you 50% off. So, if you want to order up a bajillion copies for you and your friends and your family, you can get 50% off of the whole thing.

So, I think that's it. You can visit the site at IndieBoardGameDesigners.com, you can follow me on Twitter and BoardGameGeek, I am @BFTrick on both platforms. Until next time everyone, happy designing. Bye-bye.

Patrick Rauland: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer, and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I'm going to be talking with Sam and Ed Stockton, who designed Cult of the Deep.

Now, normally I talk with people right before their Kickstarter comes out, right after the Kickstarter comes out, or maybe a little bit later after that. But in this case, what's cool is the game is done, Cult of the Deep, but the Kickstarter is going to be coming out next year, so we might be able to get into some different topics in this interview. With that, Sam and Ed, welcome to the show.

Sam Stockton: Thank you.

Ed Stockton: Thanks for having me.

Introduction

Patrick: Yay. All right, so I have an intro round of questions to introduce you to the listeners. Because obviously, we've been emailing back and forth, and I know a little bit about your game and your background, but the listeners don't. So I'm going to start with you first, Ed. Favorite magical spell in any universe, in any IP?

Ed: Arcane hand. I really enjoy doing an RPG with Arcane Hand where– I don't know, maybe I don't play it right, but I usually get the GM to allow me to– It's a hand that you can control wherever you want type of thing, so I usually play some rogue or some conceited, stupid character who likes to do stupid stuff all the time. What better way to do stupid stuff than with some hand that you control in another room?

Patrick: This is like a Dungeons and Dragons spell, but my history of DnD and role-playing games is I tend to like the computer games. Things like Arcane Hand is not a fun game in a video game, but when you have a live DM, and you can you ask him ridiculous things, like “Can I do this?” Then it's great. So, I love that answer. What about you, Sam?

Sam: Well, just real fast– As the DM on some of his adventures, it's more out of a sense of “I don't care anymore. Stop asking, just do it.” But for me, my personal, I've always been the Paladin type. For me, an aura that grants armor to your buddies is my favorite magical spell of all time.

Patrick: I dig that. All right, Sam, we're going to start with you this time. I don't even know if there is an answer to this question, so let me know, but is there a favorite magical cult from an IP? Is that a thing? Does that exist, do you have one?

Sam: Actually, we do. Surprisingly, the one we made– I mean, the game. We started a cult, so to speak.

Patrick: OK, so do they–? Sorry. Is there a specific cult in the game, or are you just saying the name of your game? The Cult of the Deep?

Sam: The cult in the game, which we should have some surprises down the road that should illuminate more about the cult in the game, but it's probably so far been my favorite cult.

Patrick: OK, what about you, Ed?

Ed: I don't have a favorite cult in the game or something, actually on the side when I'm bored on the internet, and you look up different cults and things like that. Maybe it's weird, do you ever do the Wikipedia and look up all the mass murderers? Anyways, I've done that before.

The subcontinent of India has a lot of interesting cults with a lot of things like that. But I think my favorite cult that I've come across so far is the Russian gadget cult called Gadgetology. The central character is Gadget from Rescue Rangers. I think that's pretty epic. I'm not sure if it's a giant internet troll or not, but it's pretty interesting.

Patrick: All right. I know it's something I would click on. Like, if I saw that link on Wikipedia, I would definitely click on that.

Ed: Right?

Patrick: So, I get that. All right. Ed, what is a game that you play with someone every single time at a convention? And by that, I mean, it's the end of the day, and you're tired, and you want to go back and sleep. But someone's like, “One more game of this.” What is that game?

Ed: I want this to happen. I'd love to– I would literally play Diplomacy with anyone, but that's never going to happen. So I would say anything new and anything I haven't played before. If someone asked me just any new game, I'd play a new game.

Patrick: Cool. And Sam?

Sam: Anything, not Diplomacy. My brother broke me of that game, and never again.

Patrick: It does seem– I haven't played it, but it does seem like a game where there can be lots of feel badsies.

Sam: Well, it's– I have no words for it. You go ahead, Ed. You describe it.

Ed: I didn't feel bad after playing, I'm just saying.

Sam: That's your answer right there.

How did you get into board games and board game design?

Patrick: Great. All right, so first real question is, how did you both get into board games and board game design? Whoever wants to lead off.

Sam: I guess I'll lead on this one. I was always the little brother to the older two, Matt and Ed, here. So basically, when I got into board games was how we spent time together, so we played Axis and Allies, we played Hero Quest, Battle Masters, Robotech RPG. We've done a lot of different games together, and it was something that we did a lot of and something that we've kept doing. So, that's been pretty awesome. Sorry, go ahead, Ed.

Ed: No, I was just going to say that pretty much sums it up, man. Growing up, there's four of us brothers. Me and Sam, I'm number two and Sam's number three. We have one older brother and two more younger brothers. So there's five of us. But that's how we kept in touch and how we've even after growing up, and as we've gone into adulthood and things like that, we still play board games.

Families get together, and we play board games, it's a way to stay together with family. It's something we've always done. We moved around a lot growing up, by the time I was 18, I moved 18 times. So, sometimes you don't have friends, but you've always got brothers.

What made you start BA Games?

Patrick: Nice. OK, so let me ask then, the second part of that question is how did you get into board game design? Maybe I'll merge this with the next question, which is why did you start a publishing company? Why don't we start with you, Ed.

Ed: Right. Our experience with playing a lot of board games, one of the first games we started messing around with game design would be Hero Quest. We started making our own adventures, making our own characters, our own special rules and stuff like that. That's a precursor to almost any tabletop RPG. Me and Sam when I was a little bit older, we designed a game called World War Toy.

So, we were taking our toys and making a miniature game with your toys and action figures. You created characters and stuff like that. I think the only other exposure I had to game design was in middle school, I was that nerdy kid that everyone made fun of. I had no friends except one other guy. So during our lunch hour, we used to go out to lunch and eat our lunch.

We created this game where you had an army base, an Air Force base, and a Navy base, and it would send up units with a number of steps, and that's how you could attack people and do stupid things. So that's how I spent my middle school lunchtime, was doing this stupid game that me and my friend had designed. So that's how we got into designing games.

Patrick: Cool. Anything to add, Sam?

Sam: For me, along the same lines, because we did create World War Toy, which is obviously the best game ever made. Right, Ed?

Ed: It was horrible.

Sam: It was so bad. But at the same time, it taught us a lot of lessons and things we started thinking about and that we were OK with exploring, so even throughout middle school and high school, we started experimenting with things here and there, and nothing ever really clicked for the most part. But then eventually, things got better over time, and suddenly our games got better.

How do you try to set yourself apart from other games like yours?

Patrick: OK, so let me go with– Maybe we'll be able to dig a little bit deeper by talking about your game. So Cult of the Deep is, there's a hidden role, and I'm just going to call it a Cthulhu style game, right? That's the thematic setting. It's very obvious from the website. It looks very Cthulhu.

Let me just start with the first question is there are– It seems like there's a couple genres in the board game world– Zombies and maybe vampire stuff, and then there's just a million games that have that theme.

How do you, first of all– Why do you want to create a Cthulhu style game, and two, how do you set yourselves apart when you make a game that a lot of other people have also made games about?

Sam: Cult of the Deep is definitely Cthulhu inspired. We've been avoiding using the H.P. Lovecraft, actual Cthulhu.

Patrick: Good choice.

Sam: If you notice, we just avoid it. But we're definitely inspired by it and a lot of the horror that comes from it, so that's where the game even came from was after reading a bunch of horror books. A number of those books has to do with cults, and like “Wouldn't that be a great game if you're in a cult stabbing people, or whatever?”

That's kind of where Cult of the Deep came from in a horror kind of way. But what makes the game separate, though, is because it's inspired by it, we're not necessarily railroaded to the mythos itself. We've created, I think, some unique aspects to the game in terms of the art. And I think that the game is just an interesting, different take that we like in the hidden role genre.

Patrick: Anything to add, Ed?

Ed: Yeah, I think we pay homage right, Cult of the Deep and things like the name “Deep,” you start talking about Cthulhu and stuff, you start talking about deep ones and things of that nature, and we pay homage to that. But it's more of a, and I'd say a horror genre. If you wanted to get into some of the historical backgrounds we've got in the game, there's some alternate history stuff going on and things of that nature that set it apart as well from a Cthulhu game.

Sam: Yeah, we definitely dwelled on the mythos, we definitely pull a lot from Greek mythology because the game is placed in Greece, but there's Mayans and other people who were there. So, it's interesting how it all works out.

Patrick: To that second part of the question, how do you set yourself apart? Because to some extent, aren't all Cthulhu games based in horror? Like, how do you imagine setting yourself apart in that crowded space?

Sam: There is a lot of horror games out there. There has definitely been a resurgence, and you see them a lot on Kickstarter. I think you're trying to capture some of those elements in the game, so how we do that is, for the most part, in a hidden role game, what we've enjoyed about Cult of the Deep is the actions are measurable. In many hidden role games, you have this aspect of “He said, she said. Did you see what he did? His eye twitched there, the guy's obviously lying.”

Patrick: Right.

Sam: So what we did is, we're like, “What if you actually had actions?” So we have rituals in the center of the board, you roll dice, and you commit those dice, so maybe you're playing as a person who's trying to help the high priest out, but you're going to be killed. Maybe you do something to hurt the high priest to throw everyone else for a loop.

They can't argue with the fact that you stabbed the high priest, so what are you going to do about it? Having that physical evidence in the game can sometimes play mind games with people and definitely get the sense of a definite betrayal that can happen in the game. So, that's one of the first things we're looking at. Actual, measurable, physical actions that help sell or not sell your cover story.

I notice that once you die, you take on a different role, and you can still win. Can you tell us about that?

Patrick: Sure. I totally dig that. I actually will say hidden role games, whether it's just someone's word like someone failed the vote and it's just my word against someone else's word– I would say they're uninteresting to me. I dig hidden roll games like Battlestar Galactica or whatever, where at least there's some actions being taken, and you can see what people are doing.

So I dig that, I think that's pretty cool. Let me get dig into something else in the game, the thing that caught my eye the most when I was looking at your website was when you die– So, you can die in this game. Number one, that's noticeable.

Number two, when you die, you take on the different role of a Wraith, and you can still win. I guess, how do you decide in a game that someone can die, and then how did you decide what to do after they die? And then how did you come up with a system so that they can still win after they die? I am super curious.

Ed: Oh, man. That's like a three-part question.

Patrick: Yeah.

Sam: Go ahead, Ed.

Ed: I'm not going to tackle all the questions, Sam is the main designer behind this. But one of the big things is when you're part of this cult you have a role to play, either you're for the cult, and you're a faithful guy, and you want to help out the high priest, and you're trying to make your cult successful and gain power for your cult.

There's a cabal who's trying to basically– They're trying to get their guy installed or be the leader of the cult, so you're trying to take out the high priest so you can install your own people. There's even a third faction, that's the heretic who's like, “I hate you all. I'm just going to kill you all and burn you all to the ground.” So you have these roles, but when you play, you've got to have an elimination.

I'm a fan of elimination, but I'm not a fan of games where you get eliminated, and then you're just sitting there doing nothing, and you go off to La-La land and do something else or play on your phone. That's no fun. So you've got to have some of that interaction because that's the whole reason you play board games. So what you do is when you die, you can still affect the game, and you can affect your other factions, but it has to be in a less way because you're dead.

Patrick: So, how likely is it that you're going to win after you've died in this game?

Ed: I'll let you answer that one, Sam.

Sam: Sorry, we're running some numbers on that. Actually, good.

Patrick: OK.

Sam: It's interesting, Because– So, here's the best way. Here's an example. I was playing a game the other week, I was on the cabal side, which our goal is to get rid of the high priest and their faithful. That's one of the three factions. I get taken out the second round because I was the creator, and apparently, that makes me enemy number one. So, I get taken out.

One of the things we did for ghosts is when you die, it sucks. When you get eliminated, it's a good feeling for the person doing the elimination, but it sucks when you're the person that receives it. It helps the game progress, so how do you deal with that? We created these wraiths like you said, and what you do is you haunt people. So when someone's rolling dice, instead of you rolling your own dice and doing your own actions, now you can just be blatant in what you want to do.

Like, “See that dagger you're going to stab that guy with? No, that's not– You're going to heal yourself? Yeah, No. Why don't you go stab your buddy over there instead?” So you just manipulate the rolls that are happening, which helps, and number two, when you die, you don't lose– Like, you get a once per game special power called a sigil, you can still use those later in the game. So even if I'm dead, I can still use that later for my team, as well as any tokens and things that have accrued throughout the game, I can still use those if I'm dead.

So when I'm dead, I get a little bit less in terms of I'm not rolling five dice and trying to do stuff, but I still roll dice, and I'm still affecting other people's roles. Plus, I still have my big, powerful abilities. So we were able to win because I died, my own cabal killed me, lying to the high priest that they were the faithful. A high priest totally bit into it, and the high priest ended up killing his own faithful because he wasn't being faithful enough, even though he was the faithful.

So there's this lying that happened, and then we were able then to– We were going to lose, and I used my ability, which added a dice to another player, he went all in and used his ability, and we killed the high priest before we were all wiped out. It was truly epic. But that's what we're looking for in the game, is you're out, but you're not. You can still win, and you can be very effective even as it goes.

How did you go about making art for this game?

Patrick: Yeah, I dig that a lot. I do wish some games had a little bit more like maybe you could be knocked out, but there's still a tiny percent chance that you win. I dig that you have that in your game. So, let me ask one more thing about your game here before we go into some different questions.

So, Cthulhu or horror-inspired games, they're very– They have a certain look and feel. How do you try to tell people that you're a horror game and or a Cthulhu game but not look like all the other games in that genre? How do you look close enough but still look visually distinct? Is that something you guys thought about?

Sam: Yeah, I had a lot of sessions with an art friend of mine, Chuck Walton. He does a lot of art, and one of the things that I learned from him after many conversations is that there are certain things that are iconic that call out to certain things. For example, if you see tentacles coming out of the water, there's only a few things it could be. Depending on how the art looks, it's either Cthulhu, it's a Kraken, or it's just a giant squid.

But it evokes weird things, so certain things are iconic. If you see a pyramid in the desert, Ancient Egypt. So there are certain key points that you have to think about when creating either creatures or designs or artwork that has to read a certain way, so one of the things about Cthulhu is it has to be dark to a certain extent, so it's not happy-go-lucky. There's no rainbows and dancing, so you try to avoid those for sure.

But at the same time, you have to also add in some other things. I like the culty aspect of the Cthulhu mythos, so with that, you've got to have robes, and then you've got to have torches. Instead of using a lamp, you'd use a torch. If you have some underground wet-looking areas that are suddenly kind of seedy looking.

That also sets the setting that “OK, it's underground. They're wearing robes. Man, this is totally a magic cult. Then here are some tentacles, crap, that's Cthulhu.” So those different things will trigger in your mind what it's going to be.

Patrick: Yeah, I totally dig that. Anything to add, Ed?

Ed: Nope. I think we did that, and to differentiate ourselves and stuff like that, some of the characters we made are based off of real people. If you look and you can see the Sorceress character, she's an amputee who is missing part of her arm. That's based off a player named Mandy Pursley, and she does cosplay, and she does a lot of cool things.

She's one of the people that inspired Sam to continue to do stuff, so we used her as a character model. But that's a real thing, you don't see that in board games a lot. People who have something like that, so we base the sorcerer character off that to help differentiate ourselves from a game.

Some of the models are based on real people who help inspire us to create the game and allows us to differentiate ourselves that way because then we're able to say, “In this universe, if someone were to be a sorceress but they were missing that arm, they could use some power arm or something that that they would be able to use.” What differentiates us some that way, as well as we get into the alternate history portion of it where you have Mayans in ancient Greece. Like, what's that about?

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a new game design?

Patrick: Cool. All right, so let me shift gears a little bit. Before you start a new game design, and I don't know if you guys are working on other games, but before you start a new game design, what sort of research do you do? How much and how long do you spend researching, and what kind of stuff do you look up before starting a new game?

Sam: For me, I have a notebook that I write my ideas down in. I'm apparently analog, and I like to write stuff with a pencil or pen, so I was writing stuff down because sometimes I get ideas– Even if it's just a “Wouldn't it be cool if I did this and this? OK, that's an idea. I may come back to that later.” I had that notebook where I'm working on ideas, and I want to spend some time working, I'll start looking at my previous ideas and see if I can expound them over time.

But for me, the big thing about research is you need references. Just as like the major artists, some of the best artists you ever seen. They use models and references. Chuck Ian told me, “Even if you're a great artist and you know the human anatomy so well, and you can draw perfectly almost every time, if you stop using models and references, you'll start getting strange proportions.

The eyes will be too big, or the neck could be too long, or the legs will get too long. Different aspects of the anatomy will change because, for some reason, your mind does weird things when it's trying to recall memories. Taking that in for references, and you see this advice all the time, play games. So my goal for this year has been to play 50 new games.

Patrick: That's fun. How is that going?

Sam: I busted it a couple of weeks ago, I did 54 so far.

Patrick: That's great.

Sam: The reason why you do that is one, it's awesome. I love playing new games. And two, it's so interesting now that I'm starting to do more game design to see how other designers solve problems. Just what you're doing, you're solving a problem.

How can we have fun using these components? And you see, “That's an interesting way of doing that.” Sometimes you're like, “I don't really like that way.” But at the same time, you watch someone else play it, and they love it. Why is that?

Patrick: Totally. This reminds me of one of my favorite questions, which I didn't ask, which is, were there any challenges in the game design, and how did you solve them?

Sam: Oh, jeez.

Ed: There was quite a few.

Sam: You can ask Ed, early designs were a little rough.

Ed: Yeah, early designs were definitely rough with some of the stuff. A lot of the problems were solved by just brainstorming sessions between my brother. For a while, we got in the habit– He's actually up in Nebraska, and I'm down in New Mexico, so we're physically separated by about 800 hundred miles, something like that.

A lot of our brainstorming session is Sam would go and playtest, and he said, “We ran into this problem here.” So we'd sit there and just brainstorm different design ideas or different ways to deal with a problem. “What if we change this rule?” Or “What if instead of doing this, what does this do? What is the overarching goal we're trying to reach?” Or “What is the root of this problem that this keeps popping up? Is it a rules problem? Is it a component problem, or what is the root of that problem? And how do you make that fun?”

That's one of the reasons why the race popped up, because being unlimited sucks. That's some of the reasons why some of the different mechanics of the game on the cards and rituals ended up the way they are because we tried doing them different ways, but it just wasn't fun for anyone, or it had a detrimental effect. For whatever reason, people don't like being punished when they do things in games. When you do something, you don't want to be punished for it. I find it weird, but whatever.

Sam: That's because you like punishing and doing terrible things to people.

Ed: I like horrible games that punish people. I know.

Sam: So, the game still does that, don't get me wrong. There's some gameplay elements that will destroy you if you left them unchecked, but for us– For example, we'll give an example. One of the characters is the alchemist, and that character has gone through 18 different iterations. It is the one character we could never solve, for whatever reason.

Something like the assassin, second iteration, pretty much done. Librarian had an unintended consequence on that one, which maybe we'll tell another time as a funny story. But the reality is we couldn't solve it, we kept doing this “That was too powerful.” We do this, “That's not good enough.” We do this “That's not interactive. That just sucks.

Ed: It's boring.

Sam: So we kept going over and over, and we finally got to a design where it was like, “This is actually fun, this is good. I think we're on the right track finally.” And some parts of the design are going to be this stubborn rock that you can't get over, and sometimes you've just got to keep trying and then work on other stuff too, at the same time. Don't let that one thing stop the entire design.

Patrick: Do you work on other games, or do you work on other aspects of the game?

Sam: I try to work on different aspects of the game. You can ask Ed when I get in the mode, it's one thing and all or nothing. I don't tend to branch out a whole lot. I tend to be focused, which can be a problem too because I don't see what's around me, I just see what's in front of me.

Ed: He is very detail-oriented with all the small details, and he gets focused in on things, so what we would tend to do is if we ran into a problem– We'd run into a problem like you mentioned with the alchemist and stuff like that. We'd work on that a little bit, but then we'd turn to another problem like game flow.

Game flow for a while wasn't wrong, but it was a little choppy or a little chaotic at times, which can happen with a hidden role game. So we're like, “How do we combat that?” We changed it, and we've had probably two or three iterations of how the game flow works or the number of phases in a game went from 2-5, and I think we're down to 3. So there's different phases of the game that helped chop up that flow and make it flow correctly, instead of being– It makes the game less chaotic and less harmful to the player.

Sam: That's where it was nice having a partner because honestly, I will spend– On the Alchemist, I'll spend three days on it. I'll just write out 180 different ways to do the alchemist, and I'll start going off one by one, which is great sometimes when you need to get things powered through. But having a brother to be like, “Dude. What are you doing?? And I'm like, “I'm doing stuff.” And he's like, “No. Stop it. Go over here.” And I'm like, “OK.”

What one resource would you recommend to another indie game designer or an aspiring game designer?

Patrick: Moving into the– What did I call them in the last interview? I think I called them “The final approach” questions. What is a resource you'd recommend to other indie game designers?

Ed: I'll go first. A printer that works, I hate my partner currently. It doesn't work. Outside of that, I think having an accountability partner or someone that can come into play. I do this outside of board game design with just different projects around the house and things like that. I do that with my wife; she's my accountability partner when it comes to different aspects of life that I'm trying to get under control and get certain things done.

There has to be that open, honest relationship where she needs to be able to tell me, “You done screwed up, you need to fix this or you need to get back on track.” And with game design, that's what Sam is for me, and I am for him, is an accountability partner. Even if they're not even related to you, just someone that you can say, “I'm trying to get X done by X,” and sets out that goal. It's verbally said, and that person can say, “Why isn't this done?” That's important to have that accountability partner.

Patrick: I love that answer.

Sam: Part of me does not like that at all, but it's needed. I don't want to be restricted by your deadlines.

Ed: I know.

Sam: Your nonsense. But at the same time, it is super important. It's helped us keep on track and to get things done, and to move the game design forward instead of just dwelling on elements that are, frankly, in the end, not as important as the other aspects of the game.

For me, the one resource I would recommend is find a mentor. Reach out to the community. We've had a great relationship with– It was 524 Labs, now it's [inaudible]. Rachel Blaske, I'm not sure if you know about her. She's a great person to ask questions to.

They've published multiple games now, they've done a Kickstarter well, they do a lot of things right. So she's been a great resource to pick her brain and be like, “What do you think about this?” And she's like, “Just let me tell you a story about that.” And I'm like, “OK. Yeah, maybe I shouldn't do that.” It's been really helpful to have a mentor.

What was the best money you ever spent as a game designer?

Patrick: I did have a Justin Blaske on in episode 61, it looks like. I talked through– Rachel set it up, so I had a little bit of conversation with her. They have a ton of great stuff, and I love following their rebrand to [inaudible], which seems to work perfect for Mint tins. Love this. So, Sam, I'll go back to you here. What is the best money you've spent as a game designer?

Sam: So this was something that I felt like it was needed, and it turned out I was right. Thank heavens, my brother was giving me the look, so when we created– We were going through the game design process, and we kept iterating, and we'd get feedback that “This game is fun once you get into it.” We kept getting feedback like, “That's cool. But I don't know how to use a dice, or I don't know how to use this and this.” And honestly, it was because my prototypes were bad.

So we stopped, we took the time, we made better prototypes with actual symbols and artwork and developed it to a much more polished date. Then we got it printed, I think it was Print and Play. We got them to print the game for us, and then when we took that to the table, we got taken a lot more seriously. We went from “OK. Here's a cool game.” To, “OK. This is a game? OK, let's talk about this.”

So people got much more into the game just because having a card in your hand, feeling an actual card instead of a piece of paper, having actual artwork, and having all these– I'm not saying go and commission some, but find artwork that matches your game style. Find different things, some basic graphic design elements to put it together. It's amazing the difference people react to it as well as yourself, like, “Oh my gosh, this is a real thing. I'm going to do this.”

Patrick: I love that, and I and I totally agree, by the way. People take you so much more seriously when it's a very pretty prototype. Cool. Ed, what about you? Anything–? What was the best money you've spent?

Ed: I'd say the prototypes being made. Between those stickers on dice that were look like the symbols as opposed to trying to translate numbers into other cards and things like that, especially– [inaudible]

Sam: Gosh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

Ed: It was atrocious the first couple of games. That makes a huge difference. Like Sam said, you don't have to go commission art. You ain't got to do whatever, and there's all kinds of free resources with 8-bit designs and things like that.

Even if it doesn't match your eventual theme of the game, it can match what you're trying to do with the cards and things like that. It makes a huge difference. That's probably the best money we've spent, and I hate spending money because I'm a cheapskate.

Overrated/Underrated

Patrick: I understand that point of view. So, I like to end my show with this game called Overrated/Underrated. Now for those of you who haven't heard of this, I'm going to give the guests a word or phrase, and they're going to have to answer with if it's overrated or underrated and a sentence why. So if I said, “LaCroix soda,” you might say, “Overrated. Because it's basically just water in a can,” something like that. Make sense?

Sam: OK, let's do this.

Patrick: All right, Sam, I'm going to start with you. Games that are specifically manufactured in the United States is that overrated or underrated?

Sam: Overrated, and I guess the reason for that is I love the US, and I want to manufacture in the US, but pricing-wise they are so used to doing such bulk production that as an indie startup who is hoping to do a couple thousand copies in their first game, they can't– They don't go down that low, they just don't. They're like, “We can do it at this price.” And I'm like, “OK, [let's let somebody else do that.]”

Ed: Moving on.

Patrick: Economically hard. What about you, Ed?

Ed: What did he say? Overrated? It's underrated, but once again, the price is a factor. Like, I want to, and I wish there was more things here. I'm sure it's doable somehow, but man. I love the US, I want to manufacture in the US. That's where I would rather do business in the US.

Patrick: Great. I think all three of us are in the same place there, where it would be great if it was economically feasible. All right, so Ed, I'll start with you this time. Peacock, as in the streaming service, which I think is– What is that, NBC? Is that overrated or underrated?

Ed: Overrated. We have way too many streaming services. How many do we–? It's becoming like cable channels, except it's more expensive if you buy all the cable. I got Hulu and YouTube and Disney+ and blah blah blah. No, it's overrated.

Patrick: Overrated. Sam?

Sam: Who?

Patrick: Same thing, Peacock. Overrated or underrated?

Sam: I don't even know that is. It's a streaming service?

Patrick: It's brand– It's pretty new, which is why not a ton of people are talking about it. But it's the NBC streaming service, so just for listeners who don't know, that would include things like Friends and include things like, my wife likes to watch Parks and Rec on there. So there's a couple of really good shows on there.

Sam: Friends? Overrated, sorry.

Patrick: Great. So, Sam, I'm going to start with you again. 20 sided dice, overrated or underrated?

Sam: This is controversial but overrated.

Patrick: Give me a sentence why?

Sam: I am a much bigger fan of using D10 systems or a dice similar to that, a 10 base, not a 20 base system.

Patrick: Cool. Ed, any thoughts on the D20?

Ed: Underrated. Love the D20, nothing feels better in your hand than a D20. They look so pretty, and you line up all your pretty little dice and your click clacks, and you're like, “Man, my D20s.”

Sam: You're a dice goblin, I forgot.

Ed: Don't judge me.

Patrick: All right, so– Sorry, did I–? Yeah, I think I got both of you. So, Ed this time, Thanksgiving. Overrated or underrated?

Ed: Underrated, because I love food, and we always play board games and hang out with friends and family. So, it's underrated. Never good enough.

Patrick: Love it. Sam?

Sam: Totally, underrated. I have to agree with my brother on this one, for the first time.

Patrick: A question popped up in my mind just now, like is Thanksgiving as good in a pandemic–? No, let me rephrase this. Is Thanksgiving better or worse in a pandemic year?

Sam: As long as everyone tests negative and you can get together, it is underrated. Because there's nothing like seeing your family and playing games and seeing people is nice.

Ed: I think it's worse, though. Because of Black Friday. Me and my wife, we like to go to Black Friday, not to buy stuff, but to just watch all of the nonsense. You wouldn't believe what people do in stores– Especially if you're not trying to buy anything and you're just there to watch people. It's hilarious. It's absolutely amazing to watch people do things. You're like, “Man, this is society.” I'm going to miss that this year.

Patrick: All right. Black Friday– We can make a reality TV show out of that. Like, a Black Friday Bloopers, basically.

Ed: That's awful.

Sam: There's a board game in the making there, by the way.

Patrick: There we go.

Sam: It involves a lot of hitting and lying and stealing.

Ed: People taking things out of carts and then guys yelling at other guys, and there are people with their significant other, like, “How dare you buy that? We've got to buy this $200 dollar thing here, not your $50 dollar thing that you want.” It's awesome. I just love it.

Wrap Up

Patrick: Awesome. So, Black Friday Chaos? Love it. Ed and Sam, thank you so much for being on the show.

Sam: Thank you.

Ed: Thanks for having us.

Patrick: Where can people find you and your game online?

Sam: Our website is BA Games Co, BAGamesCo.com. That's where we have our website, we have our weekly blog, we have cult of thee Deep landing pages there, there's more information there. Also, you can check us out on any of the– Instagram, Twitter, or–

Ed: Facebook?

Sam: Facebook. That's the thing, the Facebooks. Out there, we have BA Games Co. Is our tag there. But also, we have a Cult of the Deep community page. Anyone is welcome to join that, we have sneak peeks to the game. Also, we have an online board game night every Thursday on Tabletop Simulator.

So if anyone's ever interested in just hanging out playing board games, we don't play Cult of the Deep that night unless everyone votes for it, which is– Usually we're taking a break from playtesting, so I think last night we played Automobiles. We've played Sheriff of Nottingham, we've done Century: Gollum Edition, we've done–

Patrick: Cool.

Sam: Defenders of the Realm, we've done Power Rangers, we've done–.

Ed: All kinds of games.

Sam: Tiny Epic Dinos. We delve into all kinds of stuff, all kinds of games. Mostly we just hang out and play games. So, anyone's invited.

Patrick: Cool. Love it. Listeners, if you liked this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes or wherever you heard us. If you leave a review, Sam and Ed said they would promise not to haunt you if they get turned into a wraith. And that's in real life, not if you get turned into a wraith in the game they may haunt you in the game, but in real life, they won't haunt you. So, that's a pretty good deal.

Then instead of talking about my Patreon, I did want to mention that I am planning something for Black Friday. Basically, if you want to get a ton of copies of Fry Thief– If you order 10 of them, I'm going to give you 50% off. Which seems crazy, but if you want to get a whole bunch of games for your friends and family, then that's the way to do it. It's a cute fry game for everyone in your family.

So if you're looking for something like that, it's on the table. It'll be up on the website, laidback.games. I think I will put the link in my show notes, so you can find it there. But besides that, you can visit the site at IndieBoardGameDesigners.com, you can follow me on Twitter and BoardGameGeek, I'm @BFTrick on both platforms. That's it for me. Until next time everyone, happy designing. Bye-bye.

Patrick Rauland: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week, and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I'm very excited to be talking to Lea Velocci and Lori Love, who designed Word Hustle and BUNGEE, which are going to be coming out very shortly. Lori and Lea, welcome to the show.

Lea Velocci: Hi, Patrick.

Lori Love: Thanks for having me.

Continue reading “#150 – Lori Love & Lea Velocci”

Patrick: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week, and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I'm going to be talking with David Hayes, who designed Iron Cauldron with me back in Episode 26, the Roll and Write Game Jam episode.

So, David and I are going to be getting into– I think I would call David a games enthusiast, and a game designer dabbler. As in, someone who loves games but doesn't design them very often. He basically designed a game because I bugged him to design a game, so today, I want to get into that aspect of game design, where you don't have to do it super hardcore all the time. With that introduction, David, welcome to the show.

David: Thank you. It's good to be here.

Continue reading “#149 – David Hayes”

Patrick: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Indie Board Game Designers podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week, and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I'm going to be talking with Rob Newton, who designed Sonora, Shuffle Grand Prix— Sorry, it's the end of the day here, and I'm stumbling on my words. Mixtape and a bunch more. Rob, welcome to the show.

Rob: Hi. Glad to be here.

Continue reading “#148 – Rob Newton”

Patrick Rauland: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Indie Board Game Designers Podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week, and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I'm going to be talking with Joe Slack, who designed Relics of Rajavihara. Joe, welcome to the show.

Joe Slack: Hey, Patrick, thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Continue reading “#147 – Joe Slack”

Patrick: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer to talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I'm going to be talking with Aaron Moline and Eric Manahan, who designed Antematter, which is a combination of poker and space strategy.

It looks like a 4x game, it is launching on Kickstarter a couple of days after we record, and it'll probably be out for about a week or so before this episode comes out. So, I will have a link for the Kickstarter in the show notes. Last thing, Aaron is the co-creator, and Eric is the creative director. Aaron and Eric, welcome to the show.

Aaron: Thank you.

Eric: Thank you.

Continue reading “#146 – Aaron Moline & Eric Manahan”

Patrick: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer, and we talk about their experiences in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way.

My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I'm going to be talking with Pete Jank, who designed a bunch of games on The Game Crafter, including– I've got a whole list here. Pocket Slimes, Soda Pop City, Starfall, Quest for the Last Pixel, Villages, Master of Disguise, Drunk Driver, Amethyst, and Evolution X. That's a lot. Pete, welcome to the show.

Pete: Howdy. How's it going, everybody?

Continue reading “#145 – Pete Jank”