Jonah Kellman

#135 – Jonah Kellman

Patrick: Hello, everyone and 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 careers in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland and today I'll be talking with Jonah Kellman who designed Lucent, which recently funded on Kickstarter. Jonah, welcome to the show.

Jonah: Thanks for having me, Patrick.


Patrick: Lovely. So we've emailed a little bit back and forth and I found your Kickstarter so I know a little bit about you, but the audience doesn't. So I'm going to do a lightening round to introduce you to them, all right?

Jonah: Sure thing.

Patrick: All right, so do you have a favorite stone or a gem?

Jonah: So in Lucent, I think my favorite is fire. In real life, probably bismuth, the colors and artificial nature and shape of it, it's just really cool.

Patrick: Paint us a picture. What does it look like?

Jonah: Bismuth is pretty close to all the colors of the rainbow. You have little bits of yellow and gold and red and greens and blues. It's this tiered pyramidal shape. It's artificially generated crystals and it looks like nothing else.

Patrick: Very cool. Thank you very much. See now I get to learn something. Do you have a favorite pandemic activity?

Jonah: I mean, catching up on books, catching up on games. I have the free time to do that now. I can sit down and just jam out video games that take 30 or 40 hours, I now have the time to do that in the course of a week rather than months.

Patrick: Sounds great. Then so let's say you're tired, you're exhausted, you're at a Con or you're just at a friend's house and you're about to head home and they're like, “Wait, wait, one more game.” You're like, “All right, fine I'll play that game.” What is that game?

Jonah: I mean, so in my professional career I am a magic judge, Magic: The Gathering. So Magic: The Gathering will always catch my attention. Outside of that, Acsension or most other deck builders. Just putting something together, creating a contraption and making it run. Any game that does that, I'm in.

How Did You Get Into Board Games Design?

Patrick: Got it. Awesome. Very cool. So first real question is how did you get into board games and board game design.

Jonah: So board games have always been fun. When I was a kid back in elementary school, I would force my family to play Monopoly with me or Risk with me. Then when it got to point where they were like, “Jonah, we're not playing with you anymore. We have spent every weekend for the past three months playing Monopoly with you and you actually care and we don't.”

I would continue to play Monopoly or Risk by myself playing all the roles. Then I continued to do that with more and more advanced games. Playing something like Monopoly after a while playing by yourself, it's not a terribly interesting game, so I started changing the rules to make it more interesting.

From there, I started playing more games, playing video games and then when I started to get interested in the design of games and creating my own, as somebody who isn't really able to program all that well, being able to just rapidly iterate prototypes pushed me back into board games and that's how I ended up back in board game design.

Why Create Different Art Styles?

Patrick: Cool. I want to talk about your game Lucent. I found it on Kickstarter, I don't even remember how, but what I thought was really interesting, you created different styles for your games. So briefly, for people who are listening and have the ability, I have a link in the show notes you can click it and go to the Kickstarter page and see what I'm talking about, but there's basically five main cards in your game and then you created different looks for all these cards.

There's the classic look, the night look, the cosmic look and the bestiary look and probably more. But it's the same game, they're just really different styles for these gems or cards. I don't think I've seen that before on Kickstarter, that's very rare for people to have different styles of the exact same game. So why did you do that? Why did you go down that path of creating different styles of the game?

Jonah: First of all I want to shout out Toby Vasari, she's the artist who made all of this look the way it did. She's been fantastic to work with. The way we started on this, is she sent me what we call classic, now the original set of cards, being like, “This is what I'm working on. This is what I have.” I was like, “I really like these. These look really good. But I think they might look better on a darker background.”

So she swapped in a darker background. I was a big fan of that, she was not so hot on it. I was like, “Wait a second, we have these two, we don't have to decide for the people who want to play the game. We can trust them to make their own decision on this.” So we started with classic and night, which were the same art for the gems, the primary focus of the card just with a different background.

So the first set was very simple. From there we were thinking about stretch goals. There isn't a lot to add to the game, it isn't like we can terribly upgrade tokens. We don't have little paper cut minis that we can turn into full plastic mini or anything like that. We just have the cards, so what can we get to get people excited about this and we're like, “Oh, maybe the like the idea of game, maybe they like the art, but they aren't blown away by it. What if we just had something that might appeal to other groups of people.”

So we released a poll to our backers being like, “Hey, which of these variety of themes would you be interested in.” Cosmic was one of the more popular ones and one of the ones that Toby had a little bit of passion for herself. She liked the idea, she was like, “I can do something with this.” So we developed cosmic and then when we reached another stretch goal, we were like, “Here we are, let's give you another option.” Because Lucent is based on the aesthetic, a large part of the appeal to me is how simple it looks and how beautiful it looks when you play out the pyramid. The colors just blend nicely and it looks very nice. So focusing on the art was a big part of the design here.

Patrick: Yeah, it's a very visual game. It's not the type of game where you ignore the picture on it and you just read the text. When I play a game like Terraforming Mars, the picture is this background thing that I kind of only look at when I'm bored. You know what I mean?

Jonah: Right.

Patrick: But the visuals are very important to your game. I think it's cool that you started with two. I didn't realize this originally, but you just kept adding them as stretch goals. Let me ask you this, what did your backers think of the styles? I think I want to know did 80% of the people get one style and then there is one style and only two people bought it and it was kind of a waste of money, or what was the response to the styles?

Jonah: I don't have the responses of how many of each we're going to be ordering for folks, but the day that we released cosmic and the day that we released bestiary, we saw significant bumps in number of backers and we saw a significant bump in number of people who are like, I'm going to go up one tier and add another copy of the game to what I'm getting.

Initially we had get one copy or get two copies, because we had two designs. When we released cosmic, we added another tier that said get three copies of the game. Then four copies, five copies, six copies if in case somebody wanted to get multiples to give as gifts, something like that. Whenever I sent out the updates being like, “Hey, we have added cosmic and we have added a tier where you can get that and the other two styles, I'd see I think it was probably about 10 or 20 people immediately in the next 15 minutes that just like, “I want to add that.” I think we ended up having probably maybe as much as a quarter of our backers get more than two sets. Somewhere between three and six sets, which is crazy, because it's the same game.

Patrick: Wow. So I'm fascinated by that. Now I'm curious, do they already know what their set is the favorite, or are they going to wait for all of them to arrive, look at them and then give I don't know the rest of them out as gifts or something? That's super interesting.

Jonah: Yeah, I think that's what's going to happen. Some of the backers are people that I know personally of course. They've reached out to me being like, “I don't know which sets to pick.” I'm like, “I can't help you there.” But one of my friends is like, “Yeah, I'm getting this set for myself and these two other sets. I'm going to play them with my friends and family and if they like the game I'm just going to give them the copy that speaks to them the most.” Which is really neat, I think.

How Many Styles Should You Make?

Patrick: That's very cool. I always like to give take aways for the listeners here, so if there's someone else out there who has a simple game, it's like five main cards and there's many copies of those cards obviously, would you recommend that they create a different style like you did? And if so, how many styles should they make?

Jonah: I think that having multiple styles is a good idea. I mean, you can see even for more complex games like Monopoly and Risk, they have a million different flavors. I think though if you're just starting to get into things though as an Indie designer and you have a very simple game that as a small number of art assets, having a second or maybe a third option is good.

One of the problems is with printing, if you're printing different style decks or different themes, that's going to cut down on your bulk orders. While we may have had something like seven or 800 total copies ordered, we're not going to have more than 200 of any one printing, which means that bulk orders are a little bit trickier for us to do. So there is a real cost at smaller print runs, but it lets people get more excited about the set that they're purchasing and I think that more hype and more passion from your consumers, from the people playing your game definitely is always a good thing.

Do Additional Styles Help You Make More Money?

Patrick: Yeah. I don't know if you've run these numbers, but I know when I was running my Kickstarter campaign, there was a big difference between 1,000 games and 2,000 games. I imagine it's kind of like instead of putting in one 2,000 game order, you're putting in two 1,000 game orders. You probably don't have these numbers ready, but do you have any idea how much money? Here's a better way of asking this question. Do you think you made more money by people upselling and buying more of each copy than you lost by having slightly inefficient manufacturing processes?

Jonah: Ooh, that's a wonderful question. So, we are using The Game Crafter as our producer and distributor, because they do smaller print runs. The breakpoints if I'm remembering correctly are 100 and 500, so I think we're going to pass the 100 mark on all of these, but not pass the 500 mark. I think it's something like a 30 cent difference per copy, over the course of something like 700 copies, which starts to be real money, but I think that so many people were like, “yes, I want two or three or four or five,” was worth it financially in the long run. I like that question.

Patrick: Cool. Sorry, you didn't realize there was going to be a math quiz involved.

Jonah: No, as soon as we're done here, I'm going to off open up some tabs and do some math in a spreadsheet.

Lucent styles spreadsheet
A big increase going from 1->2 styles

Patrick: Excellent. If you do that math, share it with me, I'll put it in the show notes. But here's some, I was doing math when you were answering the question. Just did some math, so 700 times 30 cents is 210 bucks. So theoretically, you lost $210 by losing 30 cents a game over the course of all 700 games, but I bet you made way more than that by people upgrading and buying more games.

Jonah: Yeah. I'm pretty sure we definitely made more by having more sets. We have something like 50 or so backers who got four or five sets. One of the things that we offered towards the end actually, while not a set of Lucent cards, was traditional playing cards like a poker deck, just using Lucent art, because we already have these very distinct icons with these distinct colors and then because we had a vanity tier where we were drawing some backers as characters to put on cards, we already had effectively face cards.

So it cost us nothing in terms of artistic resources to just be like, “And here's a traditional set.” So we just added that on as something else people could pick up. Another add-on was a game that I had previously designed, after the first Kickstarter for that game brokered, I worked with Toby to update the art and I was like, “This hasn't been super available, if you're interested in this, this is the way to get it, but with the same partnership.” So again, another route of no new assets, but giving more options.

Patrick: Very cool. I think it's really interesting that you tried to have different … I mean, I'm just going to go back to the original thing, you have different styles, it's the exact same game and just having different styles, because what's super common on Kickstart is to just you also design an expansion then you have extra cards, which is what I did.

Then you upgrade components, and if you don't do the math right on those, you definitely lose money. I actually think it's probably easier for you as game designer, you're not creating a whole new expansion. You're just having different styles of the same game, I think it's really cool. If it costs you $210 to do that, and I'm looking at your backers right now, there's bunch of backers that got three, four, five copies of the game and each copy is like an extra 15 bucks. I think you more than paid for it, so it's great.

Jonah: A little bit of cost in art, but if you're doing the art yourself or you have a partnership where you're simply splitting the profits with an artist and you're doing this for the joy of making the game, I think it's definitely something worth doing, even if you have a more complicated game.

Even if you have say a deck builder that has 60 unique cards, if you want to create a fantasy theme version and then a space theme version, the cost isn't in design resources, it's just artistic resources. I don't want to downplay the cost of getting new art, because that is pretty significant, the amount of time that artist put in to make art look the way it does is incredible, but the artist or artists can do that on their own without having to go through the huge process of play testing an expansion.

How Important Are Rules?

Patrick: Yep. I totally agree. This is great. So move on to a different thing, you mentioned this in the intro, which I'm really happy you did, so you're a judge for Magic: The Gathering, and I'm going to assume that rule matter a lot to you. As someone who cares a lot about rules and interpretation and clarity, interpretation, ease of understanding, all that stuff, how did you make the rules for Lucent?

Jonah: Lucent at it core is a very simple game. For those of you who haven't gone over to the Kickstarter yet, haven't looked at the game and the rules, there is a deck of five suits, nine of each card, deal them across five players and you play one card in what is the base row of a pyramid. Players then play other cards to sides and then play cards on top of a pair of cards, as long as the card you play matches one of the two cards beneath it. So you're just making a pyramid where cards stand on the shoulders of other cards that match them.

It's very simple and with any sort of graphical demonstration, much more clear than me recalling the rules that I wrote a couple of months ago, just by voice alone. It takes maybe 30 seconds to learn. It's not a complicated game. But, there are some rules that are pretty important. Making sure that players are aware that the base of the pyramid is nine cards wide, four cards to either side of that first one you play is important.

So I made sure to put that in there in a couple of different places and with a couple of different wordings. I don't repeat the same words or the exact same phrase in two places, because that feels repetitive and makes players confused. They're like, “Is this different than that?” But if there's a little bit of difference it's easier to comprehend that this is different words talking about the same thing and it functions as a reminder.

It also means that if you're looking in the wrong place or not the first place where the rule is written, but it is still relevant, players are reminded. For more complicated games, rules continue to fascinate me. The rule book for Magic: The Gathering is 100s of pages and that's just, these are how the cards work, much less what happens when something goes wrong.

One of the things that's important is clarity of word. I'm going to talk about a magic card for a little bit. In Magic, creatures have colors. Most creatures have one color, but they can have multiple colors. This card, Dead Ringers, says destroy two target non-black creatures unless either one is a color the other isn't. This sentence has three negatives in it.

Patrick: That's so confusing.

Jonah: So target non-black creatures. That you can understand. Unless, either one is a color the other isn't. I have no idea what that means. It is my job to know what that card does. I've played that card because, I have known what it does. It makes no sense. Ordering, there was ways to say things in English.

Patrick: So wait, so let me go into, because I played Magic many, many years ago. Target two non-black creatures that can't be the same color.

Jonah: Right. So one of the problems that Magic faces is that, so the ruling on the card, and I've pulled this up, because I can't remember, both to the target creatures must exactly the same color or combination of colors. If they different in any way, you can still target them, because they meet the restriction of non- black, but it doesn't do anything to them, because the resolution destroys them with that, unless either creature is a color that the other isn't.

It's a bunch of nonsense. You want to make sure that you're technical language doesn't get in the way of understanding English. A lot of places, technical language is so, so helpful. For a Magic player, the phrase target a non-black creature, has a very specific meaning and most players will inherently understand that. However, they have written themselves into a corner where they can't use traditional English to say, “As long as there are the exact same color or colors.” Because that's not language that their rules support.

I think for a standalone game that isn't a massive system, like Magic: The Gathering or any other card game or a lot of online games, it's a little bit okay to deviate from the technical language and be like, “This is just English. We're just using English here.” I think that's something I did with Lucent a lot, just being like, “Here's another way of saying it with English words.” Source open, it was like, “This is what makes sense.”

Patrick: So I've played Magic: The Gathering and I've also played a lot of Warhammer 40,000. Both of those games have players, especially Warhammer 40,00, that's the one I've played more recently, it's like because the comma is in this part of the sentence and because there's a period after this thing, then the subject of this sentence has to be referring to this thing here.

So even though it says you can move the building because of the comma here, they actually mean you can move the … There's an expression in that world called rules lawyer, they probably exist in Magic too, it's infuriating. To be fair, I've also played board games with those people and it's especially frustrating when there's the rules as intended debate versus rules as written, which is we think the card means this, or it makes sense that the card would mean this, but the way it's written, it does this other thing.

So followup question for you, if you are playing a game and you have those gamer gamers, and enjoy men maxing, I enjoy a competitive game when that is known up front. “Hey we're going to smash each other's faces in, make the most competitive magic deck you can.” Great. Thank you for setting expectations. But I always wonder, have you ever though about doing like, “here's the rules for the majority and then here's the rules for the rules lawyers. Or here's the rules for the competitive tournament rules.” Have you ever thought about doing something like that for one of your games?

Jonah: I little bit yeah. So we Lucent in particular, one of my friends, another judge, is definitely a rules lawyer. He self-identifies as a rules lawyer. I believe he has reached out to the rules manager about a missing comma in the 200 page rules document for Magic: The Gathering, being like, “This comma changes how the game works and right now the game is broken.”

It's like, “We all know the comma should be there. We're going to act like the comma is there.” And he's like, “But the comma isn't there. The game is broken, we shouldn't do that.” I'm like, “Okay.” But I went to him and was like, “Here are the rules for Lucent, can you break these?”

Jonah: Lucent is simple enough that I don't think I need to have two sets of rules, but for a more complicated game like a deck builder, one of the things that I really like seeing is a glossary of cards just being for any card that has any sort of ambiguity on the card itself, just be like, “This is exactly how it works in the rules document.”

So when you're like, “I don't know how this works. I think it works like this, but my opponent says it works like this,” you have this document you can refer to, but it doesn't take up space on the card. I really like that idea, because it gives something to the rules lawyers and to the people who like reading rules, like myself, to do when there's an argument. You have hopefully a final source and just putting that in the back of your rules document, I think is a very good idea.

Patrick: Okay, so I don't know if I misheard this or if I was understanding you correctly. So slightly different question, what about here's the rules and here's at the end of your rule book for all the rules, FAQs and questions and clarifications and what's the other word that I hear in the Warhammer world all the time? Darn it there's another … For errata, right?

Jonah: Oh yeah.

Patrick: So FAQs, errata and updates, go here. Have you ever thought about having the physically printed book in the game and not for Lucent, because I think it's too simple, but I've even thought about my game, which is a very light game. I kind of want to have like, “Here's the text on the card and here's the expanded test, just to clarify exactly all the questions that I've gotten about this card.” You know what I mean?

Jonah: Oh yeah.

Patrick: Have you ever thought about doing something like that.

Jonah: Definitely. I think what I would do, is for a more complicated game, have in the rule book as many of the answers to the questions that I can think of, or at least ones that I think people will come up with. Like maybe I show the deck to a couple of friends who have played the game once or twice and be like, “What questions do you have?” Put those in the rule book.

Then at the end just be like, “And here's a link to the website that will be updated as we get more questions with all of the answers.” So if you and your friends have a disagreement and you don't think these rules cover it, send me a comment, I'll put it on the website. I'll answer your questions for you. Now that's only possible up to a certain scale, because eventually you just have this massive rule book and you have rules lawyers tweeting at you and you're like, “This is not my day job.” But I do like that idea. I would definitely have a rules lawyer of rule book.

How Do You Like Remotte Playtesting?

Patrick: Got it. Got it. Very cool. I don't think I've had many discussions on rules with people on this show, so it's nice to chat about that. I did want to go into something topical, so we're recording this, it's in the middle of a pandemic. How about this, have you thought about doing some remote play tests and if so how have you thought about doing that?

Jonah: Yes. So it's something that I've thought about a little bit, but it's not been a huge priority for me. Lucent has been mostly completed before the pandemic started, when working on that, didn't really need to do much play testing or prototyping. However, I do have a four player competitive cooperative deck builder that I'm working on.

That requires getting four people in the same place to play the game and that's not really possible right now, because I only have one roommate. My thoughts for that are, reach out to friends who have I've play tested with previously and just be like, “Here's a print and play copy of it. You have three roommates. Can you play the game for me? I can't be there, but your data is still valuable.”

Then I also have a friend who is able to use Tabletop Simulator to import games, so I can go to him and be like, “Hey, I want this game in Tabletop Simulator.” I pay him for his time. He imports the game and while making edits to it is a little bit haphazard, it does give me a very good basis, because Tabletop Simulator does what it says on the label, it simulates the tabletop. So I can get that experience a little bit just that way.

How Many Unpublished Games Do You Have?

Patrick: Awesome. Yeah. I've tried a couple of different methods and I haven't found something perfect yet. I'm going to have to just keep asking that question that works for me. But very cool to know your thoughts on it. So the other thing we chatted about right before the show, is you talk about other games you're working on, so how many other games are you working on? How many unpublished and half finished games do you have?

Jonah: Right now there are somewhere between one and 17 million. The realistic number is between one and four games. One I feel is close to a sharable state. It's something that I've play tested with friends. The one that I mentioned before. It's a cooperative competitive deck builder, I call it King Maker: Heir to the Throne.

It's this game where you are on the monarch's counsel. The monarch is slowly dying and you're there to solidify your power so that when the monarch dies, you can clam that seat for yourself. So you're working with the other counselors to make sure that the kingdom stays alive, there are quests that you have to do every turn. If you fail them, national stability falls. If it hits zero, you all lose because you're living in a burned out kingdom. However, the monarch is slowly dying and when the monarch dies, whoever has accrued the most favor and power throughout the game wins. 90% of the time, 90% of the players lose.

The other 10% of the time everybody loses. It's not a very easy game to win, but because of the way that players are able to interact, very often the player who is most likely to lose can say, “I can burn down this kingdom unless you help me do what I want or you lose.” So players get to be in this position of king maker and they get to decide who wins, even if they're effectively knocked out of contention, and it's a lot of fun and it's very complex, especially compared to the previous games I've made like Lucent.

Lucent has it's five cards times nine, fits in a small deck box. King maker has your starting deck that you have in many deck builders, then there are the basic cards that you can buy at any point. Then there's 150 cards in trade deck and then there's another 60 cards in the quest deck, then there are favor tokens and then there are life totals that you need to track and stability that you need to track.

So that's one that I'm working on and hopefully I can get it to the point where I can hand it off to artists and get it published. But I have a couple of other smaller games that I'm working on. One of them is based on the idea of cheating and breaking the rules, because I care about rules a lot, but I also realize that it is so, so, so much fun to break the rules especially when you're allowed to.

It turns the game into an unbounded game of wit in a way, because if you can figure out a way to break the rules and not get caught, you can do it. And that lets you have a lot of creative expression in games about cheating. I really like that idea, because having that license to cheat is fun and having that opportunity to figure out and outwit your opponents in an unbound way is fun.

How Has This Pandemic Affected Game Design?

Patrick: Yeah, that's very cool. I like that you have a whole bunch of other games going on. Let me ask you, so I know for me, some of my games, I don't want to say are on hold, but I've just been very lazy. I've done a little bit with some contests recently, but my game design has slowed down. Has your game design slowed down through this pandemic?

Jonah: I think it's actually picked up, because previously, I was traveling most weekends flying across the country to go work a Magic event and so, when I'd come home I'd come home Monday night at 10 PM and then take the bus to the airport Wednesday at noon, so I had Tuesday at home.

Now I've been home for a while. I don't know the last time I saw the sun. But that just means that I get to sit down with the board games that I own and just grab pieces and be like, “I can make a mess, I'll be here tomorrow and I can interact with it then. It will be gone in two or three days and my roommate doesn't have to dance around this pile of cards and tokens on the floor for a month or two.” So I've been able to sit down and focus and just be like, “This is something I can work on now and dedicate some time to.”

What Would You Recommend to an Indie Game Designer?

Patrick: Awesome. This has been really, really fun, so let me go on to some of these ending questions here. What's a resource that you would recommend to another Indie game designer?

Jonah: I think this is going to sound maybe a little weird, but I would say look at some of the biggest games, the biggest online games in particular, that have games as a service. Look at World of Warcraft or League of Legends. Counter Strike. Even if you hate these games, Destiny is another example. Look at what the designers are doing. A lot of times they're like, “We're making these changes for these reasons.” Seeing the insight on an already finished game and seeing the comments on the Reddit threads or the forum posts from the players being like, this is why I think this is a bad idea, you get so so much insight on why designers are making the decisions they are and why players think they're bad and then that the designer is coming back and explaining why the players don't understand game design.

Or in many cases other players being like, “You don't understand anything about game design. I once played a game that was different and I understand how game design works” just listening to other game designers. Reading articles. Mark Rosewater who's a designer for Magic, has written 100s of articles on the design of Magic, but he also talks about how to design rules and what makes a game a game. He also does a regular podcast and while it's about Magic by and large, there are a lot of lessons to be learned just by listening to other designers talk about games that have already been released to the public.

Patrick: Very cool. I love that. Really good resource. I have listened to a little bit of that. Isn't it called The Drive to Work podcast or something like that?

Jonah: Yeah. Yeah. On his literal drive to work.

Patrick: One of my favorite episodes was where he was, I think he got out of the car and it was extra long, because he had to pump gas that day and I just loved that because he literally had to pump gas that day, the episode was longer, which is just, I look at as fun.

Jonah: Any quarks to real life.

What's the Best Money You've Spent

Patrick: So how about this, what is the best money you've ever spent as a game designer? What's worth every single cent that you put into it?

Jonah: I think for me, probably picking up, this is going to sound a little weird, but picking up a set of Ascension. The deck builder. I wanted to build a deck builder and I'd only really played one before. I'd heard good things about Ascension and I picked it up.

Picking up that other game inspired me in a lot of ways, plus it gave me a bunch of resources that I can just throw into sleeves or use the little tokens that come with it. So not only do games like Ascension or Dominion come with cards that you can use and come with game design that you can study, but they also come with little pieces.

So you get pieces of other games that you can use for prototyping and as long as you throw them in a baggie and label, this came from Ascension, this came Risk, this came from Dominion, you can put them back and continue to play those games after you finish prototyping.

What Does Success Look Like?

Patrick: Sure. I totally get that. Love it. Then I think last question, what does success look like to you?

Jonah: That's something that I haven't considered a lot. Working on Lucent was something that became an option to me because of the circumstances that we're in. I was home and available and not working on anything. The artist was home and available and not working on anything. So we moved forward to create Lucent because it's something that we wanted to share with people. We were excited about it.

If you look at the Kickstarter, we were only looking for $500, which it wasn't initially and still isn't for the financial reasons. It was we wanted to create this and we wanted to share it. I think having people play my games is a success. Getting money from it, obviously great, but my goal here is to have people play these games and be like, “Oh, that was fun. I like that.” Getting people to play my games twice, that's great success.

Overrated Underated

Patrick: Awesome. Love hearing that. So I love to end my show with a game called overrated underrated. For those of you who haven't heard this before, I'm going to give Jonah a word or phrase like just water bottles, then ask him if it's overrated or underrated, and he's going to say, “They're underrated, because it's really hot out and you have to stay hydrated.” So just give me one sentence explaining why. Sound good Jonah?

Jonah: Sounds good.

Patrick: All right. First one, Clue, and just to be clear here, the game not the movie. So Clue the game, overrated or underrated?

Jonah: Definitely underrated, lying to your friends is so much fun especially when it's sanctioned.

Patrick: Great. How about best sportsman awards in game contests, overrated or underrated?

Jonah: Talking about sportsmanship in general?

Patrick: Yeah, best sportsmanship. I don't know why I said sportsman.

Jonah: I think underrated again. I think encouraging and foster positivity is something that we just don't do enough.

Patrick: Perfect. How about the Mario Brothers movie, overrated or underrated?

Jonah: Oh boy, I'm going to get slaughtered for this, but I'm going to say overrated. I'm not a huge Mario fan.

Patrick: I get it. It's not great. There's something I like about it because Mario is in the name, but I actually don't think the movie is good. I get that. Last one, we're recording right before Memorial Day, so Memorial Day, overrated or underrated?

Jonah: Can I split the fence on this? I think it's a great thing, but also I've had enough vacation for the past couple of months.

Patrick: Because it's a pandemic we'll let that one slide. Sound good? [inaudible 00:39:45]. Jonah, thank you so much for being on the show.

Jonah: Thank you.

Wrap Up

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

Jonah: Right now we have the Kickstarter page where I think the domain might have expired, which is I'll make sure I get that domain fixed, because Lucent has seen a lot of success and people are asking about it. So

Patrick: Great. Listeners if you like the podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. If you leave a review, Jonah will transfer your soul into a fire gem, which lasts forever. So if you're looking for eternal life, all you have to do is leave a review, pretty good deal.

As usual, I'm sharing all sorts of updates on Patreon. I recently submitted a game to two different game design contests, both of which only had 40 people on them, so this is my space game Sky Hook. So hopefully, I will hear back on Sky Hook in the next couple of weeks and give you all an update. You can visit the site at You can follow me on Twitter and Board Game Geek. I am @BFTrick on both platforms. That's B as in boardgames, F in fun and trick as in trick taking games. Until next time everyone, happy designing. Bye bye.

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