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#162 – Joe Slack & The Board Game Designer’s Guide to Working in the Industry

I get Joe Slack back on the show to:

  • Give us an update on Relics of Rajavijara on manufacturing and fulfillment
  • Tell us about his new book The Board Game Designer’s Guide to Working in the Industry
  • and his thoughts on when we can get back to board game events

Introduction

Patrick Rauland
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Indie Game Designer podcast, breaking down the different independent game designer, most weeks to talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland. And today, we're going to be talking with Joe Slack, who was on an episode 147. And he talked about relics of Rajavihara. And he's back on here to update us on that game and the Kickstarter in the progress, and also to talk about a book he's writing on getting into the game design world. So Joe, welcome back to the show. Hey, Patrick.

Joe Slack
Thanks for having me on again.

Patrick Rauland
So now, if the audience has been listening since last fall, then they know who you are. But we're still gonna have like a lightning round introduction game. You ready? For sure. All right. What did you like your favorite nonfiction book in the last year? Oh,

Joe Slack
I was reading the building blocks of game design I by Jeff Finkelstein, and Isaac shella, which is really good.

Patrick Rauland
Yep. Yep, I got some like cool cards that are based on the book that they gave out some convention. Awesome stuff. So I have to read the book. Would you rather have so this relates to your relics of Roger vihara? Would you rather have a torch that never goes out? Or a flashlight that can see like, cool, like UV light and stuff like that stuff we can't normally see.

Joe Slack
Okay, well, as thematic and awesome as it would be to have a torch, I'd probably wind up burning myself in some way. So I'll go with the safer bet of the flashlight.

Patrick Rauland
Love it. Ah, and how soon? And this is an assumption. But how soon after you get your vaccine, are you going to be going to like board game clubs and just like playing all the games?

Joe Slack
I would love to be doing that where we're at. We're kind of spreading out where the doses are coming. So it might be a little while. But I'm hoping that shortly after I get the vaccine that yes, you'll be able to get a little bit more to normal and playing games with people in person and a little bit more.

Patrick Rauland
Is that Canada or is that somewhere else?

Joe Slack
That's in Canada?

Patrick Rauland
Yeah. Yeah, I was surprised to see how far behind they were with vaccines. And it's it's so local. It's so local to like, whichever countries make them right now, which is a weird thing. But it might be a while. Um,

Joe Slack
yeah. Hopefully things get better before before too long ago.

Fulfillment & Manufacturing for Rajavihara

Patrick Rauland
I hope so. Yeah. So So I've asked how do you get into board games in the last podcast? So I kind of want to follow up on relics of Rajavihara, which was a very cool puzzle game that funded and Kickstarter, it looks like I have my notes, July of 2020. So it's been about eight months since that happened. So I yeah, I don't do enough of this on my show. So eight months ago, you funded a campaign? Where are you now? And did you run into any roadblocks? And how do you get over them?

Joe Slack
Yeah, I certainly did. I mean, as a first time successful creator on Kickstarter, you're always going to, you know, find some things out along the way, or something's going to take a little longer than expected. So I was actually expecting to have the game delivered in March 2021. So, you know, just prior to when we're recording this. And, you know, that was my goal, I thought, you know, leaving enough buffer and everything. But the process of getting all the files into the manufacturer, getting them proofed, making sure that everything was you know, lined up correctly, getting a sample back, reviewing that and getting to manufacturing took a lot longer than expected way longer. So definitely some lessons learned there first.

So for my next one, I will definitely have all my files already ready as much as possible into the manufacturer, and maybe even a sample then so that we can move along a lot faster. Yeah, so I've found some delays in the, in that kind of process between the the preparation of the files, and the manufacturing. And unfortunately, I was trying to get everything done well before the Chinese New Year, because that's always a slowdown period. And because all of these delays happen, we went into that period of time. And the other thing was, they had a separate manufacturer that was making the wooden blocks.

And the one thing I didn't find out until after we got back from the Chinese New Year break, I came back and said, Okay, well, we should be almost done, right? And they said, well, it's gonna be another 20 days, because the company that's doing the blocks has been off for the last six weeks. I was well, I thought it was just like two or three weeks for them. But no, this other company was off for six weeks. So they're a little bit behind. But at this time that we're recording right now, the manufacturing is all been done, the games have all been assembled.

And I'm working with the fulfillment partners, and we're just getting things lined up to get everything onto boats, we have some tentative dates for getting everything on to new freight shipping. But as we've experienced, and they know, those timelines can be pushed a little bit, because there's backups, you know, the the ship that was stuck in Suez Canal, for example. And just because shipping has become more expensive and harder now, there's so many more things being shipped. It's delayed a little bit right now.

How Do You Manage Shipping Delays with Your Backers?

Patrick Rauland
Yeah. Is that so I've been I've been playing a miniatures game and they've you know, they they Come up with a couple of new miniatures every month. And recently in the last month or two, they started having some delays, presumably because of the Suez Canal and just general shipping. backups, in, in lots all over the world, are people understanding of that? Because in this community in this in some Facebook groups for this miniature game people like oh, like, I get it, I understand, like, you know, shippings crazy right now. But I always wonder if like, you know, two people on Kickstarter get that sometimes things are backed up, and it's kind of out of your control, are they demanding? for like, well, I guess

Joe Slack
depends on the campaign. And the individual, the backer, you know, you hear these stories about, you know, just a couple of backers, that kind of sour the campaign, because they're, you know, that even if something's delivered early, they find something to complain about. But I have to say, I've been extremely fortunate. All my backers have been incredibly supportive.

Anytime I've said, you know, we're a little bit behind this is kind of my new timelines that I'm looking at right now. incredibly supportive. Some people even gone as far as saying, oh, only like three or four months later, well, I pretty much say anything, I expect it to just be delayed six months right now, because of COVID. And because of all these other problems out there, so people have been very, very good and very supportive and saying, Yeah, I, I'm willing to wait for a really good quality product.

I don't, I don't, I don't mind. Because I know when I get it, I'm going to really enjoy it. So I've had very, very few minor issues, and a couple of people that did kind of say, Oh, well, you know, I want an update what's going on here, and I was very, you know, diplomatic and, and answered all their questions. And then a couple of times, they came back and, and said, Oh, you know, sorry, I might have been a little bit snarky, I'm having a bit of a bad day or whatnot.

But in general, people have been super, super supportive, and just happy that, you know, I've taken the time. So and rather than, you know, rush it to get it, you know, out to everybody on time, I've taken the time to make sure it's going to be a really, really good product. So I mean, my, my philosophy is I'd rather deliver something to somebody, three or four months late, that is just amazing than deliver something on time, that's going to be a subpar experience. So that's basically the philosophy I've got,

How Do You Prepare Your Budget?

Patrick Rauland
yeah. Love it. Was there any. So I'm just because of shipping delays and shipping prices going up. And I mean, it's such a, I feel so bad for Kickstarter creators where, you know, through no fault of your own, there's a global pandemic, people are stuck inside, all of a sudden, people still have money or just buying everything they can. So all the ships are filling up with stuff and shipping costs have gone up because of that. has that affected your budget? Like did it? Is your project still profitable?

Joe Slack
Did did it run into any serious cost constraints? Come on, we'll have to see when it all comes out in the wash, because definitely my fulfillment partners and shipping partners have said, you know, the rates have gone up for freight shipping. Yeah. But when I was getting quotes, they had already started to go up a fair bit. But yeah, they have said for freight shipping, it has gone up as much as three times. Yeah, from pre pandemic, to to now. So just kind of depends on your timing.

And then with Chinese New Year, things got backed up in the Suez Canal, things got backed up. So all these things can have a big impact. So I'm hoping it's not going to have a huge impact. Definitely, there are a lot of things that you know, you can try to account for, but you don't know exactly till till the end exactly how much freight is going to be if shipping prices are going to change how much your custom fees are going to be that and things like that.

So I'm guessing that, you know, that's going to cut into my profits a little bit more than expected. But I think I left enough of a buffer there, that, you know, I'm not going to be in a bad situation or anything, like guaranteed no matter what happens. I'm going to get my games to my backers, that's, you know, that's my guarantee to them, they're going to have their games,

Patrick Rauland
it just seems like a good idea. If I was going to run a Kickstarter campaign. Now I've only run one. But it seems like a good idea where I would just have 5% something is going to go wrong. Like just 5% extra guaranteed something will go wrong. And you just need to have that that set aside. In your brain. Cuz then when something goes wrong, Oh, good. Got it?

Joe Slack
Oh, I would say yeah, at least that I would say a lot of other recommend 10 or even 20 accounts, buffer on top of it, just just to be cautious. Because you never know when you know, postage rates are gonna go up and other things are gonna come along. So yeah, it's just to be prepared.

Expansion for Relics of Rajavihara

Patrick Rauland
Cool. So I think you mentioned right before we started recording that you are also working on an expansion for the game?

Joe Slack
Yes, yeah, I'm working on expansion. That's going to be my next game on Kickstarter. Obviously, I'm going to be waiting until everybody's got their initial game. But I've been working on an expansion that's going to take it from the original 50 levels and the replayable levels that go along with it. And it's going to add 30 new levels. It's going to be three new floors with all new different tricks and traps and things like that and brand new mechanics. So every floor you open up, there's going to be a brand new challenge that people are going to take on and another 10 levels that are increasing difficulty level that you're going to go through as another progression.

Patrick Rauland
Awesome. Love that. Did you did you have any consideration for like timing like have you have you strategized about the best time to launch a follow up campaign? So I have some ideas from One one campaign where I was a backer, no two campaigns where I was a backer and one of them happened to interview the person on the show. Do you have any thoughts on that of like, you know, should you release the expansion before people will receive as the receiving, after they received a year after they've received? Like, what is the right timeframe for that,

Joe Slack
um, from what I've researched and understood from other creators, it generally works well, to make sure people get their game first, before you start putting new things out, because you'll get at least some number of backers saying, Why are you talking about this, or you're launching this when I haven't gotten this previous one yet. I mean, obviously, if you're a big company, and you're putting out tons and tons of games, and they know, you're going to put them out, then you know, maybe you have a little bit more leeway.

But when you're a smaller, independent creator, you want to make sure everybody gets their stuff before you start, you know, going too far into next one. So from, you know, my experience, and what I learned, I think was from everdale. Actually, I learned that releasing an expansion, while people are still really interested in the game. So they've just received it, within a couple months of of getting the game, they've been playing it, they've been enjoying it, and then you know, your release some new content or new expansion, they're really saying, oh, wow, like, I already love this game.

Yeah, let's let's, let's go into this. Because, you know, by the time we get that next expansion, because with Kickstarter, it takes a while to get everything through, we will have played this game a fair bit, and now we'll have something else to add to it, we already love this game. So that's kind of a good strategy that I've heard just within a couple months of the previous release.

Patrick Rauland
So that's what I was gonna say is, I kind of think the sweet spot is like, immediately after people receive their games. So if you have some sort of, you know, the earliest people will receive it on the first light, people who are a little bit later will receive it on the seventh, and people who are really late, or people in Europe, or even in the 14 from people in Australia receive it on the 28th, you know, whatever, like near the end of that. So people in the US have had a week or people who are closest have had a week or two to play it, and everyone else is just sort of receiving it.

I feel like that's the magic time in terms of business wise, when I would want to release it. But as a game designer, I would want to hold that off for three to six months, and get as much feedback as possible. In case there's a weird thing, like a weird balance issue in the game. And like unless I can actually like fix it in the expansion. Like I've always, I've always liked that idea. I'm just curious, have you thought of that? Like, has there been any hesitation on your part to like, maybe I should hold back just so I can get as much feedback as possible.

Joe Slack
Like, I can definitely respect that completely. Because, you know, they say that your as much as you play test your game, it will never get played, tested, or never get played as much as it will the first week it's released basically, like, that's when you're going to find out any bugs that you maybe didn't catch or whatnot.

But I think in my case, this is an expansion. It's it's not like standalone, but it's levels that are separate from the rest. And I know I've played tested all the initial levels very, very well. And you know, like the thing with a game that is essentially a collection of different puzzles, one of the things you have to make sure is they're all actually solvable.

And definitely, as I'm planning to play testing the expansions right now, the expansion levels, you know, I've got a whole bunch of different play testers working on them right now. I will get feedback from them once in a while saying, Yeah, I wasn't able to solve this. And I'll go back and play through it.

And I'll say, How did I solve this? And I wish I had recorded all them before, because now I'm looking back at them and saying, Oh, yeah, I don't think this one is solvable. I look back and say, oh, in this picture, this block was supposed to be actually one place over here. And now it is solvable. So there's, such little intricacies. And that's why playtesting is so important.

But yeah, I've definitely fallen into that trap, where if I put something out there for play test or not, you know, released out to the wild at any, you know, distribution or anything. But that isn't solvable. So that's why I want to make sure to get all those levels confirmed, you know, make sure that they are a good challenge. Not too easy, but that they are solvable.

Definitely. So I think there's there's definitely some logic in that. Because, you know, some games they come up with, you know, a second edition, a third edition where they fix little, little problems. So it just depends on the nature of your your own specific game and how ripe it would be for potential balance or flaws or something like that that might might be caught.

Your Board Game Design Book

Patrick Rauland
Yeah. Cool. So you've written a few board game, board game and board game design books, and you're coming out with a new one. And so we're recording this in early April, I believe it's coming out end of April. Is that correct? I get that, right.

Joe Slack
Yeah, the launch date is expected for April 26.

Patrick Rauland
Awesome. And it's called the board game designers guide to careers in the industry. So you know from the title, I think that's pretty obvious what it is. But why don't you tell us a little bit about it, and also why you wanted to write it?

Joe Slack
Sure. So the inspiration really came from a talk that I saw from Scott geita from Renegade games. He did a great talk at pro to CIO rather, which is a local event here in Toronto. And he talked about all the other roles in industry, you know, that go beyond designer and publisher, which are the ones that most people tend to think of. And he said, You know, there are there are so many other positions that They're, that are really, really needed.

And that are gaps, things like you know, marketing and project management and, and that there are other roles too, you don't have to just be a designer, like, it's the whole thing is like everybody wants to be a game designer, it's like that's, you know, where you get the credit, you get your name on the box, and everything. But there's so many other things that go into it, you know, rulebook editing, and graphic design, and art, and all these other things that, you know, that really inspired me.

And I thought, you know, I'd love to write a book about that and show people, other avenues and that type of thing. So I reached out to well over 40 different people, professionals in all these different fields to get their take on, you know, how they got into these rules.

How do they go about doing it, what advice they have, for others, that kind of thing. And it was just really interesting to see how many other possibilities are out there for people, because you know, not everybody is going to be a game designer, and everybody can make it as a game designer. But there are, there are so many other things that people can really think about.

Are There Both Full-Time & Part-Time Positions?

Patrick Rauland
are so are these all full-time sort of positions? Or are they also part-time things like working in a booth for a convention?

Joe Slack
Yeah, I think there's, there's a good mix of them. Um, and a lot of people will start, you'll see through a lot of stories in the book, a lot of people did start with, you know, playtesting, games, reading rules, doing demos, a convention, that kind of thing to kind of get their foot in the door and get known by the publisher.

And then, you know, an opportunity may come up for, you know, development work, or graphic design or something like that, where they have the specialties and the expertise. And, you know, hiring somebody who you already know, who you know, you know, delivers good results, works, you know, works well delivers on time, that kind of thing, you're much more likely you're going to reach out to that person and say, you know, I've got an opportunity here, would you be interested in this. So a lot of the jobs that come from that are, you know, maybe they first start off, as you know, part time or contract, there's a lot of jobs in the industry that are actually freelance.

So it's a matter of more, getting in with a bunch of different publishers or organizations, depending on what the job is, and piecing together all these jobs to make it a potentially a full-time thing. But a lot of people do have to start off, you know, maybe with a full-time job, and they do it on the side. Because it's really hard to just, you know, just drop everything and do this.

Because you know, you need to build up a portfolio, you need to get a reputation, you need to get all these contacts and network. So a lot of people do start off that way. Just start off small, do some freelance stuff, and then when they realize it's picking up enough, then they might have the opportunity. Not everybody does, but some might have the opportunity to make it a full-time thing.

Biggest Takeaway from Book?

Patrick Rauland
Cool. So what was what were some of the biggest takeaways from the book?

Joe Slack
Well, one we already talked about was, you know, volunteering, helping people out kind of getting your foot in the door. And networking is a huge part. It's it's often who you know, not what you know. But I mean, also, you don't have to have necessarily a specific educational background.

In most cases, it depends on the role. But in a lot of cases, it's it's skills learned on the job kind of thing. So the more experience, you can get, you know, writing and working on rural books, or doing graphic designs, for games, or doing development work and that kind of thing, the more opportunities you're going to have, and you're going to build up that reputation, it's all about building up that portfolio, you might have to take some jobs off the top that are either, you know, free or lower paying that kind of thing, just to get your foot in the door.

So those are some of the big takeaways, but also some of the real big gaps that we have in the industry. I mean, marketing is a huge one. I mean, there's so many creators who can make a fantastic game and put it up on their Kickstarter and everything. But unless they know how to build an audience, use social media well, and find people organically run ads, that kind of thing.

They're going to run into a lot of trouble. So there's a huge need for people who have that marketing expertise that can help get your game out there. Because a huge part of that is selling your game. Yeah, that's that's one of the one of the big pivotal roles that's really needed.

How Do You Get Noticed?

Patrick Rauland
So So I'm curious if someone one of the people you interviewed or one of the other things that you added to the book will will give you some insight here. So my day job is e-commerce to help people set up online stores. And this is not a board game problem. I mean, it is a board game.

But it's a it's it's the internet problem. Everyone is online, everything is online, and everything is competing for our attention. Boy, do you have some just general and you've launched your own game on Kickstarter, do some general marketing tips and just how to get above how to get noticed. That just seems like the question we'll be asking for forever is how do you get noticed in a noisy world?

Joe Slack
Absolutely. And that's a really tough one. But it depends what you're doing. If you want to be like a content creator, or reviewer, that kind of thing. A lot of it. It just comes down to consistency and quality. So putting something out there all the time. So if you're writing a blog, you're doing a podcast, whatever it is, figure out what your schedule is, especially if you can do something on like a weekly basis people people run their lives on a weekly basis.

You know, They're, you know, start there, you know, get up Monday morning and do their thing Friday, they're done. They're off in the weekend. Yeah. So if you can get some kind of a routine on a weekly basis and put out quality content, and the one thing is, you can't be afraid to just keep going and doing it. Because, you know, a lot of people will go there, they'll write, you know, three or four blogs, oh, nobody's reading it.

And I'm going to do a couple podcasts to do a couple YouTube videos, nobody's watching, I only have two followers, I only have three likes, I'm just gonna give up. Well, I mean, that's the time where you really honing your craft your, you know, figuring out your lighting, figuring out your, your voice, figuring out how you're right how your style is, and that kind of thing.

And you want to have that opportunity to, you know, make, make the mistakes and, and have the flaws and figure out exactly what direction you want to go with it. And then as you're building building, building, people will start to recognize you. And, and it'll take some time, for sure. But if you are consistent and keep doing this, you know, you're going to build that fan base.

And you'll be glad that you know, you made all those mistakes early on, because nobody's gonna go back to you know, your first episode, your first blog, and that kind of thing. But by the time you know, you get a bit of a following, you're gonna get a lot better at what you're doing. So, you know, that's one approach. And then if you're like a game designer, and you're, you know, trying to build a following that kind of thing. I always suggest find, or figure out who your audience is for your game, and then go to where that audience is.

So whether it's, you know, Facebook groups, other forums, you know, wherever that that group is going. So for an example, for relics of Raja hora, it's a solo adventure game. So I, you know, I was already involved in, you know, some of the Facebook solo groups, there's one that's, you know, over, well over 20,000 people now, and there's like, at least four or five of these solo groups.

So I was already in there. So I was posting about, you know, other games, you know, publish games that I played, commenting on other people's posts, and engaging getting people to know me kind of thing before I ever said, Hey, I'm working on a solo game. Here, you know, here's, I'm trying to reform it, like, here's some ideas.

And that's actually what I put up there. I put up kind of a poll like, do you want it to be like more of an Indiana Jones adventure game kind of like a pixelated eight bit game or some other idea. And, you know, got some ideas. From there, people started saying, Oh, this looks really cool. And then and then you know, every once in a while, you know, posting about that, but it's, it's about being part of the community. Before you start, you know, spamming, look at my game, look at my game, sign up for my Kickstarter kind of thing.

And if you're involved in the community, people are going to start to notice that and not just be spamming your link, but you know, letting people naturally and organically ask about, oh, where can I find out more about this, and then in the comments, then you can say, Oh, well, you can set it for notifications here, oh, you can get on my email list here. And then it's much more natural, because people are asking you and they're excited. So I mean, that just comes out way more natural and doesn't cost any money. It just costs the time and getting involved in the community in a natural way.

What's Changed in Your Process?

Patrick Rauland
I love love all that. I have to say, I think my favorite part there is if you can post or talk about the thing you're working on in a way in a subgroup in some sort of whatever subgroup that people appreciate it. And then when they ask you, hey, how do I set up and by this great, drop your link, right? Like, here's this cool thing I'm working on? Like I asked a lot of game designers like, you know, do you like logo up? cover one or cover two? Oh, cup, lots of people said cover to great, I learned something. And then like three people are like, hey, I want this game. When is it launching? Great. Here's the link like that's, like, that's a non spammy way to get your stuff out there still contribute and obviously talk, you know, comment on other people's stuff. And be a be a part of it. But I love that great. Um, so you've now so this so you've launched a couple other apps, or I should say you've signed a couple of games to other publishers. But Relics of Rajavihara was your first solo self-published game. Now that you've done that you've published your own game? What about your process? Are you going to change for games number two and onward?

Joe Slack
Yeah, for any games that I'm especially games that I'm thinking about self publishing, but but also for the ones I pitch because I work with other publishers, too. I think definitely about the game as a product more. So it's, you know, it, you definitely want to create a great gaming experience for people, that's, you know, first and foremost, what you want to do. But at the same time, you want to make sure your game is a marketable product.

So you have to think about that in terms of, you know, how is your game going to look? What are the components? What are the cool things? What are the people saying about it? And and can it be an actual product, because there's a lot of great games out there, but a lot of them, you know, you put them on the shelf, and they're not going to sell very well.

Maybe because, you know, the price point is going to be way too high for the experience, you know, if it's 10 minute game, but you know, somebody has spent 60 or $70 or, you know, whatever it is about that game, it needs to be a nice, I feel like a good product, good perceived value when people look at it.

So those are those are some of the things that I I'm definitely thinking a lot more in my own designs, whether going to be self publishing, or pitching to other publishers because they're going to be thinking about that too. Like they're they're running a business. So as a game designer, I think that's a super important thing to think about is Is my game a good product? As well as being a good game?

Patrick Rauland
Yeah. Love that. Is there anything? Is it just thinking about it being a product? Or is there anything like tactical or strategic? Or is there something you would write down about? This is what I do different? Is it just the price point?

Joe Slack
Well, not not just the price point. But what what's going to be exciting to somebody to like, it's always coming down to like, what, what's the hook of your game, what's what's different about it's something that's innovative and new, whether it's a really cool component in the game, or the way it really stands up and takes up a lot of pay table presents and looks awesome.

Or, you know, combining a couple mechanics in a way you haven't seen before. Like I'm working on another game right now. That's, it's worker placement. But I'm not unlike a huge fan of worker placement on its own. So I'm always trying to find different innovative ways.

And this is a co design I'm working on. And we've come up with a way to be kind of a semi cooperative worker placement game, where, what you do it and what other people do, it impacts each other greatly, cuz you're all going to kind of move together.

So you have to decide kind of where you're going and moving together. So thinking about like an innovative way to do that, like not just oh, this is another worker placement game, but this is a worker placement game was something you've never seen before.

What Types of Games Do You Like to Design?

Patrick Rauland
Love it. Fantastic. And give me one second here, I was just pulling up a link. So I was gonna ask you moving forward, what type of games do you want to design.

Joe Slack
Um, I just love designing all types of games, I mean, an idea will just come to my head and I'll just make it and whether or not you know becomes something that's you know, worth continuing on.

Or once upon the shelf, I just continue on it. But I'm, I'm really, really drawn to games that are puzzly in nature, and they don't have to be like a distinct puzzle like Relics of Rajavihara, each level is essentially a different puzzle you're trying to solve. It can be something that's much more replayable.

Like, for example, I'm working with a couple different games that use polyoma nos, so almost like Tetris style pieces that you're placing. But they're totally different games, and one is called BBQ SOS. And it's a, it's a game where you're, you know, trying to be kind of like king or queen of the grill at a backyard barbecue. But there's only one shared grill.

So you're putting all these pieces on the grill, but you have to figure out how you're going to put yours on there. And if there's space for yours, and when you're going to take it off. And it's like a time and resource management, same time. And then I've got another one, these is polyoma knows as well. And it's a cooperative real time game where you're being chased in a like a mad scientist lab you're trying to get out in time. But you have to work your way out of the rooms by completing circuits.

So you're putting down these Tetris, these sell pieces cooperatively, and you only have access to the your own pieces, and your fellow teammates only have access to their own pieces. So there's hopefully breaking that kind of alpha player quarterbacking kind of thing.

Because you have to only do your own thing. But you have to work together to complete a circuit, and they get progressively harder and harder. So it's like solving a puzzle every time but every time you play that it's gonna be a different puzzle, because you're gonna have different combinations and different exits, you have to sort of connect to

What Resource Would You Recommend to Indie Game Designers?

Patrick Rauland
very cool.

So I've only done this once before, but I'm very excited. I'm going to ask you two questions that I asked you last time. And I'm curious that the answers are gonna line up. So that's what I was. That was a link I was pulling up before. So what is the resource you would recommend to another indie game designer?

Joe Slack
Oh, I think would have to be right now the building blocks of tabletop game design that I just read recently that I mentioned, just because I got it in the mail very recently, and I've been reading it and I think it's a it's a great resource. But I mean, also, tabletop simulator is a fantastic one as well. If you're into digital gaming, it can help you through these times where it's really hard to get together with other people to play test.

What's The Best Money You've Spent?

Patrick Rauland
So you recommended a book last time last time it was Jamie stag, Meyers. blog and book. So yeah, similar. You're on a similar path here. And then they're all good. Yeah. And what's the best money that you would? Uh, what's the best money you've spent as a game designer?

Joe Slack
Oh,

I think? Well, two things. One that's more virtual. And one thing that's more physical. My Exacto guillotine cutter is amazing. I use that for so many my game designs, and it's you know, saves my hands. This is my time time of doing that. And then on the kind of digital side tabletop simulator that I mentioned for, I think it was only like 10 or 11 bucks when I bought it on sale, and I've done so much playtesting through it. It's been phenomenal for that.

What Does Success Look Like?

Patrick Rauland
And I think you I'm looking through the show notes from last time you recommended tabletop simulator. So you are consistent. Good job. being consistent. Awesome. Very good. I love it. I'm great. So so sorry, one more question. Actually. That's the same as last time. What does success the board game world look like to you know?

Joe Slack
To me, Well, I think success is different for every person. You know, personally, I want to just get the satisfaction out of what I'm doing. If I didn't if I didn't enjoy this, if I was not enjoying this any It wouldn't matter, you know how much money I was making, or anything else it's really comes down to, am I doing something that I really enjoy? And am I bringing joy to other people through the games I'm doing through, you know, helping other people through, you know, the books, I'm creating the courses I lead that type of thing.

That success for me is feeling good about myself at the end of the day, and you know, having a job that doesn't feel like work is fantastic. Because, you know, you just want to do more of it. You never feel like Oh, God, like there's always aspects of it that you know, aren't as fun as as other aspects when you know, you're running a business or publishing a game, but overall, as long as I'm, you know, happy and what I'm doing I feel personally, that I'm successful.

Overrated Underrated Game

Patrick Rauland
Love it. Okay, so I like to end with a game called overrated underrated. So for listeners who are new, I'm going to ask you a simple word or phrase, like water glasses, are they overrated? underrated? You're going to probably gonna say underrated because you need him to drink water. Something like that make sense?

Joe Slack
Of course. Yeah. Let's do it.

Patrick Rauland
Alright, first one is Comic Con. overrated or underrated?

Joe Slack
Oh, some people might hurt me over this, but I will say it's overrated.

Patrick Rauland
Oh, and look at me like a one sentence reason why.

Joe Slack
Sure. Um, it's just just for me personally. events of that nature. I've not been to a Comic Con. But I've been to, you know, Fan Expo and similar ones to that. And I just find there's just like, just way too many people. I like, you know, smaller groups of people and stuff. And I just find it's just like way, way too crazy. Way too much craziness. It's just too many people at one place.

Patrick Rauland
Makes sense. What about? So I've seen this all over mentioned all over Twitter. What about the new app called clubhouse overrated or underrated? Oh, well,

Joe Slack
I actually haven't used it because as I understand it, it's only on iPhones. I think it's moving to iOS. So I don't have an iPhone. So I've been able to experience it. From what I understand though. It's a great place to connect and chat and everything. But I would say as of this moment overrated because not everybody has access to it. It's limited to those people. And I read Jamie Stig Meyers recent blog, and he was talking about how it it's limited because everything is not kind of recorded. You can't go back to a kind of thing so it can be good for similar conversation, but you know, it doesn't really live on.

Patrick Rauland
Cool. What about just the idea of having game conventions in 2021? overrated or underrated?

Joe Slack
Oh, I don't know, overrated underused? I don't know. I almost go more to the realm of is it realistic? I think overrated right now, I don't think we can say that we're quite safe and quite ready enough around the world to be ready for that. I'm certainly really, really looking forward to to going to these events in the future to attending them again, because I miss people. I miss playing games and maybe with publishers and everything. But for right now, I don't see it happening quite yet.

Patrick Rauland
Got it. And last one, this was just last weekend, Easter as a holiday overrated, underrated.

Joe Slack
Wow, that's a good one. I hadn't thought about that. Easter. Easter is underrated. Because I mean, for for, for me. And for you know, my wife, who's a teacher and my son who's in school. It's a four day weekend, which is awesome. We don't we don't get enough of them. So I'm all for it.

Wrap Up

Patrick Rauland
Love it. Joe, thank you so much for being on the show.

Joe Slack
Thanks for having me on. Patrick. It was a lot of fun.

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

Joe Slack
Yeah, you can check out my board game design resources at board game design course comm you'll find all my blogs, books and courses and if you want to check out in my any my games, you'll find that on crazy, like xbox.com

Patrick Rauland
listeners, if you like this podcast, please leave a review on iTunes or wherever you heard this. If you leave a review, Joe said he would make it rain nipples over your house. I don't know how but he's gonna figure it out. And then if you want to support the show, I have a Patreon. It's patreon.com slash indie board game designers. I occasionally post some behind the scenes stuff, but generally it's just sort of little bit of money for hosting. So I do want to support the show that that means a lot. You can visit the site at any board game designers calm and follow me on Twitter and board game geek I'm theatrical, both platforms the season board games, episode fun and trick as in trick taking games. Until next time, everyone, happy designing

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