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#4 – Alec Nezin

Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone, and welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast. Today, we’re going to be talking with Alec Nezin, who is the designer behind Forsaken Forest, which is a cross between Magic the Gathering and Werewolf. So I’m super excited to hear about how he designed it. Alec, welcome to the show.

Alec Nezin: Hey, Patrick. It’s great to be here.

How Did You Get Into Games?

Patrick Rauland: Okay, I want to talk about your game, Forsaken Forest. But first, how did you get into board games in general and board game design?

Alec Nezin: Okay, so I’ve always kind of been an avid gamer. I’ve been playing Magic the Gathering for over 20 years, but only in the last nine or 10 years did I really start to appreciate board games. I had a local get together with a group of friends, and we’d play every night. I started collecting more and more games, and it just became like a weekly ritual. It was pretty great, and I pretty much miss those times a lot. Game design wise, I didn’t actually set out to make a board game, interestingly enough. Rather, a card game, but it turned out that my vision was a little better translated to a board game.

Patrick Rauland: Sure.

Alec Nezin: When I actually started doing that, I wasn’t really familiar with board games to the point I am now, obviously. A lot of online communities such as Reddit and Facebook Groups really helped me get into that community. Also, I don’t know if you ever heard of Jamey Stegmaier?

Patrick Rauland: Oh yeah.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, so his blog was absolutely instrumental in learning about the community, so that was just insanely helpful.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. Yeah, no, Jamey Stegmaier has awesome stuff. I read his book. Did you read the A Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide? Something like that.

Alec Nezin: Yep, yep. Basically everything he’s put out there has just been amazing. It’s just gospel. It’s unreal how much he’s put out there and how great all of it is.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. No, it’s fantastic.

Alec Nezin: So I really look up to him.

Tell me More About Magic The Gathering

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. Okay, so first of all, what was your favorite edition of Magic the Gathering?

Alec Nezin: Well, if we’re going to compare it to my game, I’d say Innistrad, which is basically what my game is inspired by. But I’m probably going to have to go with original Ravnica was pretty great.

Patrick Rauland: Whoa. Okay, so I stopped playing long ago. I don’t recognize either of those.

Alec Nezin: Oh, no.

Patrick Rauland: So, wow. I mean, the game, I’m sure, has just continued to evolve and progress, so that’s pretty cool. Okay, so tell me a little bit about what do you like about Magic and what do you like about Werewolf? Because you kind of described your game as Magic the Gathering and Werewolf/Mafia.

Alec Nezin: Right. I think Magic is probably one of the best games ever made. I’ve [inaudible 00:02:49] a lot, but I do believe it’s true. But the thing I like about Magic is how deep it is, strategy wise. There’s so many different components, so many different variables to think about. It’s really a thinking game. Then the other side, Werewolf is a social game. It’s kind of the opposite of Magic, in some ways. It’s more about reads and tells and social deduction. Magic does have that, but it’s more logical and thinking. So I like both of those elements of the games, and I wanted to combine it.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Alec Nezin: They’re two things that are very distinct, and I think they also go well together. Which, if you play poker, for instance, it’s like … I wouldn’t say my game is like poker, but the elements are there, where you’re using social tells but also thinking deeply about what they’re doing, if that makes sense?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, yeah.

Alec Nezin: Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. So from what I’ve seen on the Kickstarter page, it really does look like a combination of both of those. Because there’s a ton of different roles, and then each person has their own deck, which I think is really, really cool. I think, for me, I don’t like the games where it’s just sort of all conjecture. Like Werewolf is just too much … it’s all about convincing everyone else of a certain thing without any evidence.

Alec Nezin: Right.

Patrick Rauland: I really like that your game, I think, and I’m guessing because of the mechanics, the things you do in game, there’s sort of evidence of what side you’re on.

Alec Nezin: Oh, definitely. Yeah, that’s a point I talk about on the Kickstarter. A lot of times Werewolf is just talking and arguing, and it’s just like your word versus mine. It’s like that’s the end of it. You can just talk all day, but you have to make a decision.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Alec Nezin: So in this, there’s more variables and more information to go off of.

How Long Was the Design Process?

Patrick Rauland: That’s awesome. So how long did it take you to design this game?

Alec Nezin: I’ve been working on it for a little over two years, since I first came up with the idea. Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: This is probably hard for you, because it’s hard for me to answer this question. But two years, but is that like five hours a week? Is that 40 hours? Is it one hour a week? Is there a ballpark? I’m sure it’s hard to get that.

Alec Nezin: Oh, yeah. I guess I’ve been progressively more and more involved in it. I wrote a little blog post on Reddit about it. But basically when I started it was like when I’d go to work, I’d work on the LIR on the way to work, and just dream up ideas for the 40 or an hour every morning and on the hour way back. That was pretty nice to have a scheduled thing where I just work on it. But then eventually I started working on it after work at a coffee shop, and just progressively invested more and more time until I’m thinking about it from the second I wake up till the second I go to sleep, and every weekend. It’s a lot of work, so, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: That’s amazing. Well, and just to go back, what is LIR?

Alec Nezin: Oh, I’m sorry. It’s the Long Island Rail Road. I’m from New York.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, okay.

Alec Nezin: I sometimes forget that non-New Yorkers have no idea what that is, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: I was like, “Living rule book, maybe? I don’t know, like what is … He’s working on the LIR, what is that?” All right, cool. So you’re writing all the stuff down. That sounds like a lot of solo time. I imagine you also did a ton of play testing, but it sounds like a lot of solo time up front.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, definitely. I’m kind of like, I guess you could say, a lone wolf type of developer. I don’t like to outsource stuff, but I begrudgingly do. But play testing is super important, and I have a few resources that I use for that. I’m lucky enough to be close … I’m in New York City, obviously, so that’s a great place to do anything. But I’m near NYU, which has a great game center for their game students, game design students, actually. So that’s a really good resource for me, personally, because every week they have a game night where literally dozens of game designers come and play test their games.

Patrick Rauland: Wow.

Alec Nezin: So yeah, it’s really sweet. Yeah, and there’re just a bunch of events in New York City that kind of cater to designers and play testing, so it’s really nice.

Patrick Rauland: Okay, so that is amazing that you have that resource near you. We have one meetup group that meets once a month. I’m in Denver. One meetup group that meets once a month, and then there’s a sort of a board game cafĂ©, and they have typically a once a month thing. So I feel lucky with a twice-a-month thing at two totally different places, but wow. Once a week is fantastic.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, it’s pretty great. Yeah, once a month is rough, that is.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. But I mean, most people don’t even have that. I’m lucky, in Denver, that we have that. A lot of other people have basically nothing, you know what I mean?

Alec Nezin: Oh, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Just no meetup groups. You just go to your friendly local game store and ask around, I guess? I don’t even know what you do at that point.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, that’s always awkward, too. Like forcing it.

Was There Something You Wanted to Add but Couldn’t?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. So is there something you wanted to add to the game but you just couldn’t fit it in? Like was there something at a play test like you loved but play testers didn’t?

Alec Nezin: Well, I have a lot of ideas that I want to implement. But at a certain point, a game gets a little too bloated, and it starts becoming … What’s the word? A bit inaccessible to new players, and you have to just limit the number of mechanics and keywords. So, I have a ton of ideas, but some of them are just left for expansions, at this point. I think the base set is what it is, and it’s not going to change. So yeah, I’m happy with it.

Patrick Rauland: That’s awesome. Yeah, I’ve been working on this microgame for a little bit, and I’ve had this one card in since the beginning of the game. I kept hearing feedback about how only advanced players … because it’s like, “Name a card that someone else has and you can use it.” It’s a really cool card used in this game, but only advanced people can use it. So after, I think, after like 30 play tests, after version 30, I finally took it out. But it took me like … I think like six months, you know what I mean?

Alec Nezin: Yeah, I’ve had cards like that, where it’s like, “No, I can’t cut it.” But you have to just cut it, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Alec Nezin: It feels bad when you have a card that’s your baby.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. But I think it’s smart to keep them as an expansion, or keep a [inaudible 00:09:26] card as a promo, or something like that. So you can still keep it in the game somehow, but not in the core, in the core game.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, I’m pretty forward thinking with cards like that, yeah.

Tell Us About Your Design Process

Patrick Rauland: Okay, so at a high level, what does your design process look like? How long do you spend designing it? How long do you spend play testing it? What other steps are involved?

Alec Nezin: In terms of my design process as a whole, I like to start with the mechanics and work my way down, if that makes sense? I usually start with a cool idea. In the instance of Forsaken Forest, it was adding destinations to the game Werewolf, and I worked my way down from there. Then it’s like what style of game is this going to fit into? A simple talking game, a card game, a board game? Then once the style of game was determined, the hardest part is obviously designing each individual piece of the game, getting it balanced and working as a system. Then finally, after all of that, after you’ve figured out what you’re doing, figuring out the individual cards, then the lore and the flavor comes, for me.

Patrick Rauland: That’s really cool, and most game designers don’t get to that.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, that’s something I think is super important, though. I think art and lore and flavor are what draw people in. Ultimately, the storyline is what matters, for me.

Patrick Rauland: Can you elaborate on that? Why is it so important for you, and maybe why don’t other people value it as much?

Alec Nezin: I don’t know. I don’t know why other people don’t value it, but for me, it’s like … In my mind, there’s only so many mechanics, there’s only so many games on a base level, you know? Obviously, every game is different, a different variation on a mechanic or on an idea, but I think that the thing that really separates games from one another is the storyline and the background of the characters and the universe. Yeah, I just think it’s super important to differentiate yourself from other games, because mechanics … they repeat themselves, through time. There’s only so many different types of games, but stories are unique, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: I think that’s really, really forward thinking. I mean, when you have sort of … I’m going to say IP. Let’s say over the next five years this Forsaken Forest grows. Maybe you have a little short story and the characters are all named and even the wolves are named, whatever. Then you can go off and make a … You could make a microgame. You could make a role playing game. You could make a whatever, and use all of that existing knowledge and that fan base, which I think is really, really cool and really forward thinking.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, that’s something I’m actively thinking about, yeah. I really want to expand upon the universe and make it its own thing, which, yeah. Not a lot of games really think about that, but yeah.

Any Advice for Ambitious Projects?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. That’s awesome. Okay, so to me, I’d say, I would call this project ambitious. If someone else wanted to do something this ambitious, do you have any advice for them?

Alec Nezin: When I started making it, I didn’t think it was ambitious. Now I’m thinking a little bit like, okay, maybe I’m in over my head a little bit, but I think I’m okay. My biggest piece of advice would be to know what you’re getting into. Designing cards is easy. Designing games, I’m learning now, is the easiest part of making a game, designing it. Like just writing ideas down. Building a system is hard, but ultimately, writing things down is pretty easy compared to launching a game. I think, in game design, designing a game is one of the easiest parts. People don’t realize that designers have to wear a lot of hats, especially if they’re working alone or in a team of one or two. You have to be an art director. You have to be a graphic designer. You have to be a publicist. You have to do social media. You have to do outreach, advertising, manufacturing, shipping, logistics, editing. Editing video and sound, and rules. You have to craft rules. So there’s a lot of stuff that goes on that people don’t realize.

Alec Nezin: So I think just understanding that game design is not just game design, unless you’re pitching to a publisher, which a lot of people do themselves. That’s not what I wanted to do, but it is an easy way out. Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff that goes into it, and I think that’s … yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. There’s a huge amount of stuff that goes into it. I’m curious … Okay, so, from what I got, it sounds like game design is sort of the easiest part, because there’s all this other stuff that goes around it. Why didn’t you pitch to a publisher?

Alec Nezin: You know, I think I just wanted to do something myself, you know? I don’t want to offload this game to someone and just let them take care of it. I kind of want to see it through, you know? I want creative control. That’s another thing. When you pitch to a publisher, they’re going to reskin it, they’re going to do what they want to it, if they even take it. So I kind of wanted the opportunity to just like build something of my own and keep control of it creatively, and keep that IP, if that makes sense, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Totally. Yeah, I can totally see a publisher not wanting to build your IP for you.

Alec Nezin: Right.

Patrick Rauland: So yeah, if you want to build your own IP, I’m guessing self-publishing is the way to go, yeah.

Alec Nezin: Yep.

Patrick Rauland: Okay, so you finished … I’m going to just call this a big project, and … Hold on, let me just double-check the numbers here. You’re just about halfway to your goal, and you’re halfway through the Kickstarter campaign. To me, this is looking good. Now that you sort of finished your design, what are you going to do next time? What will you change in your process?

Alec Nezin: Yeah, I think the first time is definitely the hardest. Okay, so to start, I think that there’s just a lot of connections you need to make before you get into this type of thing. You need to find artists. You need to find graphic designers. You need to find your factory. You have to find your shipping logistics. There’s a lot of connections that just need to be made. Obviously, building an audience is just like a huge obstacle.

Patrick Rauland: Yes.

Alec Nezin: I think launching your first game is just huge because you’ve kind of built all those connections already. You found your teams or the people you want to work with, moving forward, and just like a huge burden lifted off of you because you don’t have to worry about all those things that starting designers have to. So I feel pretty relieved that I found all those people, and now I can focus on potentially moving forward and not having to look for them. So, yeah.

What Will You Change For Your Next Game?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. Okay, so let me change the question a little bit. Let’s say you have all the knowledge you do now, but you’re transported into a new body so you don’t actually know those people, or something like that. Then what do you do? Does that make sense?

Alec Nezin: Yeah, just starting from the ground up?

Patrick Rauland: Yes.

Alec Nezin: I know what to do, but it’s still hard to find those people. Assuming I don’t find the same people … Artists for instance. The process of finding artists, for me, was super important. I explained why I think that artists are important. Actually, in the beginning, I reached out to about a hundred Magic the Gathering artists. Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Holy cow.

Alec Nezin: They’re expensive and super busy, but I was super ambitious about it. I got turned down by everyone except for three of them.

Patrick Rauland: Wow.

Alec Nezin: So in the beginning, I thought one artist was going to do all the work, and learning that that’s like basically impossible was part of the process. It was like 50 pieces or something I wanted them to do, and they were just like, “That would take me two years.”

Patrick Rauland: Oh my god.

Alec Nezin: But the process of reaching out to people and reaching out to artists helped me learn as I was going. It taught me that even though they’re these awesome Magic artists, they’ll still respond to you because they’re just normal people in the end of the day. But the process of reaching out to hundreds of people on ArtStation, also, taught me that you just have to keep trying as many people as possible. ArtStation, if you’re not familiar … Are you familiar?

Patrick Rauland: No. No, tell me about that.

Alec Nezin: ArtStation is basically like this website where artists show off their work, and it’s like a giant … It’s kind of organized by theme, sometimes. Sometimes you can scour through thousands of different pieces by, I guess, trending, if they’re trending, or by how many fans they have. It’s just a great site for finding new artists. Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Great. Is that like DeviantArt?

Alec Nezin: Yes.

Patrick Rauland: Is it similar to that?

Alec Nezin: Yeah, I wasn’t sure if you were familiar with that, but it’s similar to DeviantArt. I think it’s better.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, cool.

Alec Nezin: It’s just better organized and a little cleaner. But, yeah. So I scoured that for literal weeks, maybe even months, just looking through pieces. Basically, my process here was I divided each of my pieces that I was aiming to create, and divided them by landscape, character, action scene. Then I picked out the artists that fit those descriptions best. Just picking out hundreds of artists and going through their work, and then cold calling them, basically, cold emailing them.

Patrick Rauland: Oh my gosh, yeah.

Alec Nezin: Yeah. I know we’re a little far from our initial question, but just like, that process, I’ve become okay at it, of just like having the, I guess, gumption to just reach out to people. Because that’s the only way that you find a team, is reaching out, you know? So, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Sure. Yeah, so be … I would say, to summarize that, you would be relentless in building your team?

Alec Nezin: Exactly, yeah. Literally hundreds of people. Basically, my strategy in game design is just reach out to as many people as possible.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Alec Nezin: Don’t generalize them like just robo-call them, but be personal, obviously.

Patrick Rauland: Sure.

Alec Nezin: But yeah, you have to just be relentless and contact as many people as possible, because they’ll never contact you. You know? They won’t come to you.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Alec Nezin: You have to go to them. So, yeah.

What Else Do You Want to Design?

Patrick Rauland: Wow. All right, okay, so let’s say this launches, it’s hugely successful. Let’s not cover expansions. What other type of game would you design? Maybe in the same universe or maybe a different universe.

Alec Nezin: Oh, okay. Excluding expansions, I think I want to continue with social deduction, because I think it’s a very … It’s not a bland game genre, but it’s getting a bit old. There’s not much variation in terms of the genre itself. There are little twinges, but I think there’s still a lot of room to expand upon it. So yeah, I want to maybe do that, and maybe eventually make a CCG of some sort. Because I’ve been playing Magic and other CCGs for so long, I feel like it’s something I could pull off. But, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Alec Nezin: So this is kind of like the testing ground for the mix of a CCG and a social deduction game, obviously, but yeah. Kind of testing the waters.

Patrick Rauland: Sure. That’s great, yeah, and I think I’d agree with you. I think I don’t love social deduction games, and maybe it’s because they’re … I don’t want to say played out. But because I’ve played a number of them and they’re all so similar, it just doesn’t feel like I’m doing that much. So I think I’d agree with you that I think there’s room for innovation.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, definitely, that was my goal here.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Alec Nezin: Just something extra than just talking, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, yeah. Cool. So are there any games out there that inspired you. Other than Magic and Werewolf, are there any games out there that sort of inspired you to make this, or that inspire you in general? Or maybe game designers?

Alec Nezin: You know, I don’t really have any game design people I look up to, necessarily.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Alec Nezin: I would say, yeah, I’m mostly just kind of doing my own thing, here. Not really relying on any designers in general, but I have a bunch of … I’d say there’s a few influences in general that apply to the game. I was definitely influenced by Evil Dead, if you’re familiar with the movie franchise.

Patrick Rauland: Ooh. I mean, just, was it the third one that’s the good one?

Alec Nezin: Army of … Wait, which? Army of Darkness, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Yes, Army of Darkness. There we go.

Alec Nezin: Yeah. Then H.P. Lovecraft is another, and then Innistrad block from Magic. You’ll have to check it out later.

Patrick Rauland: I will.

Alec Nezin: In terms of … You know, I lied. I did watch a ton of game design videos, like for months leading up to this. Mark Rosewater of Magic actually did inspire me. He has a video called 20 … What is it called? Twenty Years, Twenty Lessons. Sorry. He goes through his last 20 years of being a game designer for Magic and the 20 lessons he’s learned. It’s a great video, and it really inspired me to just be better, yeah. So I suggest you watch … Even if you don’t play Magic, even if you don’t know what it is, it has just this really good game design principles and game design lessons, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Great. The reason I started this podcast is so I can learn about game design, so yes, every game design resource you have, please share with me.

Alec Nezin: Awesome.

Patrick Rauland: I’m going to check ArtStation after this.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, you definitely should. Awesome.

What is the Best Money You’ve Spent?

Patrick Rauland: All right, so you’ve hired a lot of artists. You’ve done a lot of stuff yourself. I’m curious, what is the best money that you’ve spent, as a game designer?

Alec Nezin: Ooh, that’s hard. It’s definitely the art. Let’s just be honest. That’s the base of the … That’s the biggest cost of the game, or it should be the biggest cost of most games, besides marketing. It’s what everyone in the entire world sees when they look at your game. People can’t necessarily judge your game based on mechanics or based on how fun it is by just looking at it. I think art is definitely number one, the far and away leader of best investment.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. Ah, man, so art’s hard for me because the art is something you have to pay for in advance, right? Like before the Kickstarter, so it’s … There’s a part of me that’s like, “Oh, sure, I’ll get the fancy box of the game, once it’s gone through the Kickstarter, as a stretch goal, that’s fine.” But that’s like no risk to me, right? Whereas art feels a little bit scarier, but I totally agree, it’s so important.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, it’s paramount, for sure.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. All right. Okay, so we’ve talked a little bit about marketing, your own Kickstarter. I’m curious, what do you think is the best way to market your game? I mean, you’re halfway funded already and you’ve got another 17 days to go. What is the best way to market your game?

Alec Nezin: That is obviously a tough question. There are, obviously, infinite ways to spread the word about your game. One that I found is pretty great is Reddit. Leading up to making the game, all throughout the process, I used a subreddit called Tabletop Game Design. Just really great feedback and it’s a really great community. But just Reddit in general, I feel like, is a underutilized marketing platform. You can pay for ads, but I think, in terms of just getting the word out and reaching a community that actually cares, Reddit has so many subreddits that are receptive to listening to you and to hearing what you have to say about your game or your project or anything. So I’ve used that to pretty good effect. BoardGameGeek, obviously, is a very important website, in terms of … Integrating yourself into the community is super important, but also just paying for ads. I’ve heard the returns are extremely good because it’s a site for people who want to buy board games, you know? It just makes sense. So, yeah.

Alec Nezin: Also, just having a big social media presence, or just a social media presence in general. I’m not a big social media person. I’m not the type who posts selfies or updates everyone. That’s not me at all, but I had to make a social media profile on every platform. I think that’s just super important, to just at least put the effort into making a profile and updating something for every platform that’s available. So, yeah, I’m on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, BoardGameGeek. I have my own subreddit. Tabletopia. Tabletop Simulator.

Patrick Rauland: What? Cool.

Alec Nezin: NeonMob is this other website that I’m associated with. Also, having your own website. Yeah. So you just get yourself out there, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: So, I’m curious … Okay, so I want to go back to two points, there. I totally want to ask about Reddit, because I’m not a … I have a Reddit account. I post like twice a year, and it’s not even for a board game. So here’s my question. For Reddit, can I go on and say, “Hey, in the last play test people didn’t quite understand what it was this card was supposed to do. How can I reword it?” Can I go for really specific feedback?

Alec Nezin: Oh, yeah.

Asking for Feedback

Patrick Rauland: Can I ask for art feedback? Maybe, what are some guidelines on how to use Reddit the best?

Alec Nezin: Yeah. Just knowing what subreddit you want to use for feedback. There’s tabletop game design, as I said. There’s game design in general. There’s a gaming specific subreddit, which probably wouldn’t work for tabletop, but there’re just so many subreddits. There’s art subreddits where you could say like, “Hey, can you critique this piece of art?” You could do that in specific game design subreddits, also, but yeah. Just for every issue or feedback that you want, there’s a subreddit, probably. I don’t want to exclude Facebook or Twitter as feedback points, but yeah. I found Reddit to be the best, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Sure. Okay, so you said, “I’ve heard BoardGameGeek has good ads.” If you’ve heard that, did you buy ads, or did you not?

Alec Nezin: Ads are like … I don’t know. I don’t know now people feel about ads, but they’re kind of a necessary evil. Yeah, I bought a few ads for the campaign. Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Okay. Then my question is how did they turn out for you?

Alec Nezin: Yeah, they’re going really well.

Patrick Rauland: Cool, okay.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, like on Kickstarter you could see where your funders came from. I have a constant number of how many funders came from BoardGameGeek, so it’s going … I think it’s a good investment.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, good. Okay. Because when you said, “I’ve heard they did good,” I’m like, “Wait a second. Did you hear this and not actually use it?” Okay, so in your experience, they worked. Cool.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, and Jamey, on his blog, says it’s had the best return, I think, from his experience.

Are There Any Mechanisms You’re Looking Into?

Patrick Rauland: Oh, that’s funny. Cool. Okay, so what other fun mechanisms are you looking into for expansions or for future games?

Alec Nezin: I don’t know if I should talk about specifics, but definitely the next sets are going to revolve around … You kind of have to know the gist of my game, but basically every metric in the game is modular. It’s destinations, things that you travel to in the game. I’m going to add new destinations. There’s roles, obviously, as you explained. New roles. There’s a number of different card decks, and those will all include different mechanics. So I’ll drop a hint. For the next expansion, the theme is going to be more towards vengeful spirits, but also include steampunk elements. So there’s going to be a few cards that are kind of like contraption-like in a steampunk way, so I think it’s going to add a new mechanic. Yeah, and also new theme and storyline. I have a ton of ideas. I’ve basically built the expansion, but just not ready for …

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Alec Nezin: Basically, yeah, just working on it.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, yeah.

Alec Nezin: Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: So if you want to see the expansion early, you have to go to your once-a-month game design test.

Alec Nezin: Once a week.

Patrick Rauland: Or, sorry, once a week. What am I saying.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, we’re not even at a testing point. I just want to finish my Kickstarter before I start working on the … That would be a little bit forward of me.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, totally.

Alec Nezin: Yeah.

What Does Success Look Like?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. All right, so you’re halfway. Your Kickstarter is halfway funded. You got over half of the time left. What does success look like in the board game world, for you?

Alec Nezin: Well, success, first and foremost, is getting that complete funding, obviously. That would be pretty bad if it didn’t fund. I’d be pretty crushed. But in terms of moving past that, it would definitely be building a community around the game. I mentioned, I have a subreddit. No one has commented on my subreddit. I have about 30 posts that are all me. But I’m just waiting, just waiting for the day where people start coming and commenting about, “Hey, I just played Forsaken Forest. I just did this.” Or, “Have you ever had this strategy?”

Patrick Rauland: Oh, cool.

Alec Nezin: I’m waiting for that moment, for it to have some conversation, but right now it’s a ghost town. Hopefully it won’t stay like that for long, but yeah. That’s the goal, a community based around the game.

Patrick Rauland: Cool. I love it. I love the answer community. That’s great. Cool. All right, so I got one more question, then I got a little game. Last question. What one resource would you recommend to … just any resource, to another indie game designer or aspiring game designer?

Alec Nezin: It sounds like I’m just promoting Jamey, here, again, but his blog really is the best thing that I ever read. James Mathe also has a blog. He’s another sort of indie game designer who makes board games. So, those two together are just basically everything you need to get started.

Patrick Rauland: Awesome. Okay. All right, so got a little game here at the end. Because we’re a board game design podcast, we should talk about it.

Alec Nezin: Okay.

Overrated Vs. Underrated

Patrick Rauland: We’re going to play a game called overrated/underrated. I’m going to give you basically a word or a concept, and you need to tell me if you think it’s overrated or underrated. Sort of, not your opinion, but what does everyone else think of it, or what does the board game community think of it. So, the first one. Collectable card games, are they overrated or underrated?

Alec Nezin: I think that they’re overrated, just because there’s just so many of them and so many of them are just the same game. Yeah. In game design, if anyone ever asks, “Should I make a CCG?” The answer is almost resoundingly, “No, you’ll get crushed.” It’s just never profitable, so I think they’re a little bit overrated. It depends. Are we talking about as a designer or in general as a consumer?

Patrick Rauland: I would say, in this case, as a consumer.

Alec Nezin: Okay, yeah, still a bit overrated, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: All right. What about Spotify?

Alec Nezin: Spotify is underrated. Spotify is just like, how are they making money? I don’t know. Well, probably by stealing from the artists, but who knows. Yeah, just basically the best thing ever. I just couldn’t live without it, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: I totally agree. It took me a long time to pay for music, and now that I am, I’m so happy. Yes, totally agree. All right, you’re probably familiar with this. The Two-Headed Giant format of Magic the Gathering?

Alec Nezin: Yes.

Patrick Rauland: Okay, cool. Just for people who don’t know, it’s basically you play one big giant monster with like 30 life points, and you play your turns at the same time. So, tell me, overrated/underrated?

Alec Nezin: That is my absolute favorite Magic format. It is criminally underrated.

Patrick Rauland: Yes. Yes.

Alec Nezin: I have a friend who I basically always teamed with, and it was just the best time ever, yeah. Just so good. But, you know, we kind of felt like a married couple when we played, but it was … yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Well, I think that works. I think that works for the format, right? Because it’s like a two-headed giant? I can totally imagine a two-headed giant fighting with itself.

Alec Nezin: Yeah, they’re stuck to each other. You know everything about them, but you know everything that you hate about them. But it’s still great, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: That’s awesome. All right, overrated/underrated, cosplay?

Alec Nezin: Cosplay. That’s kind of tough. I think, currently, it’s a little underrated. I don’t think people realize how much work goes into it and just how awesome it is, in general. Yeah, I think it’s just a ton of work, and I kind of look up to people who actually commit and make those costumes and put all that work in. Like have you seen the Thanos cosplay, recently?

Patrick Rauland: No, I haven’t.

Alec Nezin: It might be like a pro that’s sponsored, but it is just amazing. Yeah, it’s this guy who just does like superhero … or just like big-bodied characters. He has a Thanos one, and it’s just amazing, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Alec Nezin: Yeah.

Wrap Up

Patrick Rauland: That’s amazing. Cool. I’ll have to look it up. Awesome. Well, hey, Alec, thank you so much for being on the show. Where can people find you and your games online?

Alec Nezin: Oh, as I mentioned, there’s about 18,000 different social media pages. The best one would probably be Kickstarter, right now. Search for Forsaken Forest. But you could find me on Twitter, @ForsakenForest, or on Facebook, Forsaken Forest Game. The website is forsakenforest.com. I think those are the best, yep.

Patrick Rauland: Awesome. So you go [crosstalk 00:36:24].

Alec Nezin: There’s a lot more, but I think those are the main ones, for now. Oh, you can check it out on BoardGameGeek, and you can actually play it on Table Top Simulator as a workshop, if you search for Forsaken Forest. So, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Awesome. Awesome. Thank you again for being on the show. By the way, listeners, if you want to be a werewolf, just leave us a review on iTunes and I will send your contact info to my lycan friends, and they’ll scope you out and see if you’re worthy. I can’t promise you’ll turn into a werewolf, but I’m pretty sure if you leave a review it will increase your odds. So until next time, happy designing and thank you for listening to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast. See you guys. Bye bye.

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