Patrick Rauland: 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 experience in game design.

Patrick Rauland: My name is Patrick Rauland and today I'm going to be talking with Arthur Franz who is the designer behind Breakaway Football through Uplink Underground Games, which is his publishing company.

Continue reading “#43 – Arthur Franz”

Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone and welcome to Indie Board Game Designers podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned to get where they are today. My name is Patrick Rauland and today I'm going to be talking with Christina Scamporrino who is the designer behind Money Buns, which sounds … just has like a lovely … it just rolls off the tongue. It's on Kickstarter right now as we're recording. And it will probably finish when this episode comes out. Christina, welcome to the show.

Christina Scamporrino: Thank you so much Patrick, it's nice to be here.

Continue reading “#42 – Christina Scamporrino”

Patrick Rauland: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers Podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer each week, to talk about their experience in game design and the lessons that they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland, and today, I'm going to be talking with Dirk Knemeyer, who runs a company called Artana, as well as he is the host for The Game Design Roundtable Podcast. Dirk, welcome to the show.

Dirk Knemeyer: Oh, thanks so much for having me, Patrick.

Patrick Rauland: So, I just want to get started with your podcast was one of the first podcasts that I found in the game design world, so it's cool to chat to you, I don't know, like a year later, to do that.

Dirk Knemeyer: Oh, great. I'm so pleased. I mean, we do the show to be of service to game designers, so that makes me really happy.

Introduction

Patrick Rauland: So, I always like to ask people a couple questions, just to give the audience an idea of who you are, so I'm going to ask you just a couple of very quick questions. If I met you at a convention, what is a game that you would play every time no matter what?

Dirk Knemeyer: Oh, gosh. You know, there's no game I'd play every time no matter what, but I love Diplomacy. Diplomacy is a game that I really enjoy.

Patrick Rauland: Nice. Who is your favorite, Tesla or Edison?

Dirk Knemeyer: You know, I'm going to defy conventional wisdom and go with Edison.

Patrick Rauland: All right, and since you do historical games, maybe like a favorite moment in history, or a favorite thing that happened.

Dirk Knemeyer: Oh gosh. Favorite, huh? I don't know, it's always what I'm learning about now, I have to say, and I've been learning about Iranian history, and Zoroastrianism, the religion, and that's really fascinating. I'm enjoying that at the moment.

How Did You Get Into Board Games & Board Game Design?

Patrick Rauland: Very, very cool. All right, so let's talk about games. First question, first real question, is how did you get into board games, and specifically, board game design?

Dirk Knemeyer: Yeah, so board games were something I was into from the time I was a little boy, you know, growing up in the '70s and '80s, so I was sort of a child of my time, you know? Dungeons & Dragons was probably the most important game for me, and of course, played all the staples, the Monopoly type of classic game that probably everyone has played. So, you know, the board gaming, and then moving into computer gaming, you know, were parts of my life really all the way through, other than maybe a 10 year period, when I discovered girls, and college, and you know, there's sort of a dark period. But otherwise, gaming has probably been my biggest hobby throughout my life.

Dirk Knemeyer: I got into game design sort of by accident. I just woke up one morning with the idea for game design, and it was a moment in my life where I wasn't fulfilled creatively. I was kind of looking for something new to do, and was really excited about the idea, and just kind of dove right in.

Patrick Rauland: So what was that idea? What was the thing that sort of brought you in?

Dirk Knemeyer: Yeah, you know, it was a game about the age of enlightenment. It was called Road to Enlightenment, and it was just the game design, basically. Again, I just kind of woke up with it and wanted to bring it to life, so yeah.

How Did You Decide to Self Publish?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. So I've been listening to your podcast for a while, and I'm pretty sure that I downloaded a bunch of old episodes, so I think I've listened to the vast majority of them, and when you started getting into this, I think you started your podcast before you had any signed or published games, and I remember there was some hesitancy, reluctance, or problems getting your game signed and published, and I could have sworn there was like an episode, where you were like, “Oh, I don't know if this is the right thing for me,” and then you started switching to your own … You started making your own games, so can you I guess tell us a little bit about that journey, which I'm sure was very long?

Dirk Knemeyer: Sure, sure. Yeah, you know, a lot of the specifics of the journey just come down to who I am as a person. I love to make things. I like to nerd out and be curious, but I'm also very introverted, very shy, and I also have a philosophical problem with sales and marketing. I'm an anticapitalist. I have different beliefs than those prevalent in our system, so the process of marketing and selling my creation is inherently odious. So, as I started on the process, and talked to a couple of publishers, you know, there was either a lack of interest, or else making me jump through a lot of hoops that were ambiguous, you know, “Oh well, make these changes to the design and then send it again. Okay, now make these changes and send it again,” with no clarity about what may or may not happen.

Dirk Knemeyer: So at some point, you know, I just said, “Look, I'm going to make this for myself.” I have been an entrepreneur previously, and I've been a creative director and designer for, I mean, at that point over a decade, so I have a lot of experience and confidence in making something sort of cradle to grave, taking it to market. So it was for how I'm oriented as an individual, but also for my experiences and sort of preparation for the process, that was definitely the right choice for me.

Patrick Rauland: Totally. That totally resonates with me. I wanted to make a board game this year. That was my challenge to myself, and one of the things I said, I think like early in the summer, was, “If a publisher picks it up, great, but I'm just going to keep moving forward,” because it just … The speed that publishers move is just a little bit too slow for what I want to do personally, right? Like, I want to put out a game this year, and I would have had to pitch it last year for that to happen, so yeah.

Dirk Knemeyer: Yeah, or earlier, yeah. Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Or earlier. Yeah, a friend of mine … So, he and I got started in game design at the same time. We went to some of the first … There's a meetup here in Denver. We went to some of the first meetups together. He got his game signed, but I think it's coming out in like 2020, so he got his game signed way … Mine's not signed, but like, I'm probably going to release mine in 2019, so I just … I think that's funny.

Dirk Knemeyer: Yeah, yeah.

Why Focus on History?

Patrick Rauland: So Artana, you have a bunch of games that involve real history. There's Lovelace & Babbage, which just came out or is on Kickstarter. You have Einstein, which came out last year, Tesla Vs Edison, and Speakeasy Blues, which all involve periods of history, which I think is really cool. Was this a conscious decision, to move into a space where you're riffing off of real ideas in history, and there's a little bit of education there, right? Not just there was a war, we're going to reenact it, but like, you're talking about really cool turning points in history, I guess.

Dirk Knemeyer: Thanks. Yeah, I mean, that question has sort of layers for me as a designer, and then there's sort of a second layer to it, as a company. I mean, as a designer, I've always made games that relates to my interests, and I'm just not someone who's excited about zombies and dwarves. I'm someone who's excited about history, and the stories of the world, and where we've been, and where we're going, the future, as well. So, you know, I was making games that I would be interested in telling the story for, so the way I kind of say it now is whenever I read a book, at the end of the book, I generally have a game designed in my mind.

Dirk Knemeyer: And obviously, you know, to be a good game that's in the market, it needs more design work. It needs development, whatever, but I have something that is sort of a fully realized first design after reading a book.

Patrick Rauland: Wow.

Dirk Knemeyer: So, as I read a book about Tesla and Edison, which was a while ago, that even preceded my getting into game design, you know, that had me excited. Reading about Albert Einstein had me excited, so it's really just a manifestation of my personal interests. A couple of the games that you mentioned, Speakeasy Blues and Lovelace & Babbage, those are being published by my company, but they are being designed by other folks, you know, Daryl Andrews and Adrian Adamescu did Speakeasy Blues, Scott Almes did Lovelace & Babbage, so that's more of a business decision of saying, “You know, we're known for these things. Let's bring some other things in that are complementary.”

Patrick Rauland: Okay, so you put out Einstein and Tesla Vs Edison, and then Lovelace & Babbage and Speakeasy Blues came later. I guess my question is, did they approach you with a game and mechanics, and you were like, “Cool. Let's make it historical,” or did they come to you with, “Hey, we know you do some of these really neat games that involve history, and we think … You know, I had this idea about Lovelace & Babbage, which was about, you know, the first computer, and I would love for you to publish it”?

Dirk Knemeyer: Yeah, in both cases, it was the latter. It was the theme was already integrated into the game. And going back to philosophy, I mean, I philosophically believe that games should be driven by theme as opposed to mechanics, and you know, there's other people who believe differently and do different things, and some of them are brilliant, smart, and interesting people. They're not people I'd be interested in collaborating with, in terms of what my company's doing, because for me, the soul of it, it lives in the person being passionate about and loving the topic that they're covering and they're dealing with. I'm interested in working with people who are an expert in what they're talking about, and they're really wanting to tell that story, that it means a lot to them to tell the story of the dawn of computing, of Lovelace & Babbage. So yeah, in both cases, they had already figured out those things, and just in general, you know, those would be the type of folks that I'd be looking to partner with.

Opposition To Marketing

Patrick Rauland: Okay, so I want to ask you kind of about more stereotypical game themes, but you said something really interesting about having an opposition to marketing your own games. And I see that a lot in … I'm in the WordPress world, and it's a very open source, collaborative community, and people don't like marketing and selling their products. There's just like a … It's a conflict between you know you need to sell it, but you just hate overly exaggerated marketing claims. But I think there's a lot of game designers who are like that as well, who just want to … They want to make a game. They know it's good, but they just don't like this marketing part. What would you say to them?

Dirk Knemeyer: If you want your game to see the light of day, you either are going to need to do everything for yourself and publish it, or you're going to need to solve that. You're going to need to take that challenge, just like you took game design. You're going to need to take the marketing, and essentially sale of your game concept and design, just as seriously, and really invest in getting it right and putting yourself into it.

If you want your game to see the light of day, you either are going to need to do everything for yourself and publish it, or you're going to need to solve that. You're going to need to take that challenge, just like you took game design. You're going to need to take the marketing, and essentially sale of your game concept and design, just as seriously, and really invest in getting it right and putting yourself into it.

Dirk Knemeyer: And it's difficult, because few people have, both from the standpoint of skill and temperament, real strength in both the areas of product design and development and product marketing and sales, so if you're starting from the point of making this thing, it's unlikely that the sales and marketing things are comfortable for, you know, things you have experience in. But, you know, I'm not much of an alpha male guy, but I like to use the alpha male context of winning in this way. Like, if you want to win, with winning in this case meaning your game is out there, you're getting feedback on it, you've arrived, you're a designer, and your game is one that people are familiar with, if you want to win, you've got to do this. You've got to get into the sales and marketing and solve it, either from the standpoint of selling to publishers or packaging, marketing, and selling to the public. It's every bit, if not more important, than the design and development itself.

Patrick Rauland: Sorry, I have another follow-up here. Have you held yourself back in any … Because you said you were an anticapitalist. You know, everyone says, in the marketing world, “Oh, you've got to use Facebook ads,” as just one example. “You have to use Facebook ads to market,” and let's say you don't like Facebook ads. Have you ever held yourself back in one of those common sense marketing strategies that everyone says works, and you just don't believe in it, and don't want to pursue it, and you don't do it?

Dirk Knemeyer: There's not going to be one that I can remember. I mean, in the context of my gaming things, with my early games, I really didn't do much marketing. I kind of threw it out on Kickstarter, and said, “Here I am. Please love me,” and I got lucky enough that enough people loved me that I could then do the next game. Now that we have a company, I'm only peripherally involved in those things, so you know, part of it is just sort of ignorance, but yeah. I mean, there certainly are limits, you know, philosophically, where I wouldn't want to be on a certain platform or in a certain way. There's nothing that jumps right to mind, that I would pound my fist on the table and feel strongly about, but I certainly would put principle over monetization at the end of the day.

How Do You Market Non-Traditional Themes?

Patrick Rauland: Awesome. Okay, so the next question that I actually had written down was if you don't do these, you know, the zombies, and the wizards, and the dwarves, and the stereotypical themes that we … and the farming, and the stereotypical themes we see in gaming, do you think that's going to hurt your sales? Do you think people are turned off by that?

Dirk Knemeyer: Will it hurt sales? Yes, absolutely. Are people turned off by it? No, but they just aren't necessarily as interested in it. I mean, making that choice is making the choice to be almost certainly, forever, a somewhat niche creator, and I'm okay with that. I'm okay with that.

Patrick Rauland: I like that. I was just thinking, like, when I started this podcast, someone said the game … Like, if you make a podcast for game designers, like, it doesn't matter how … Like, it's always going to be a small podcast. I wonder if it's almost the same thing, where like, if you choose to make a game on this very niche topic, just, at most it's going to be as big as that niche is, and you know, you make that choice and you live with it.

Dirk Knemeyer: That's right. That's right, and you know, the things I'm doing aren't super niche. I mean, Albert Einstein is someone that a relatively broad swath of people would have some degree of interest in, but it's not the type of thing … I mean, for whatever reason that I don't understand, and I say that without casting any judgment on it, when it's zombies, people are excited. People are going to put their money down and want to see what that's about. Einstein does not necessarily generate the same degree of passion, but it's also not sort of a niche thing.

Dirk Knemeyer: I mean, in my early time of game design, I was coming more from the war game community, which are much heavier, more arcane, sort of poor user interface experiences. Those are more niche, from my perspective. I mean, most people are going to say, “Oh yeah, I like Albert Einstein.” Very few people are going to say, “Oh boy, I'm really passionate about the Korean War,” or whatever the case may be.

Do you Have a Favorite Game?

Patrick Rauland: So do you have a favorite game that you published, designed?

Dirk Knemeyer: No, it's always the one I'm working on now. For me, it's all about the creation. Once I'm done with the creation, I've moved on. You know, within six months, I can't remember rules. You know, people ask me how to play, I'm like, “I have no idea.” I'm in the future. I'm not in the past.

Patrick Rauland: That's funny. So, let me talk to you about your podcast. You're the host of The Game Design Roundtable Podcast.

Dirk Knemeyer: Yeah. One in a group of hosts, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Yes. How did that come about?

Dirk Knemeyer: You know, I have … I mean, I'm in my 40s now. Through my adult life, when I learn, I like to share, so going back to the early days of blogging, as I was getting into design for the first time, not game design, but design in sort of a broader sense, that process was one where as I learned, I blogged, and I shared, and that worked really well, because I very quickly developed a strong network of people. It led to me getting a lot of conference talks and things, that had sort of benefit to my career, so without sort of strategically thinking about it, I just adopted that cycle, that whenever I changed into a new context, I tried to share it through whatever sort of the current appropriate media was.

Dirk Knemeyer: So it was, I was getting into game design. I was super excited about it. I wanted to learn as much as I could. For me, that process is one that involves public sharing, and at the time, you know, 2000 … I don't know what year, '11, '12, podcasting just seemed like the right media to do that, and so I wanted to do a show. A friend of mine, Bill Abner, who had a podcast of his own at the time, I mentioned to him that I was looking to do that, looking for a partner to do it with, and he joined hands with me and Jon Shafer, the designer of Civilization V, who I don't know if he was explicitly looking for the same thing, but he too was sort of searching for a platform of some kind, and it just clicked, and we ran with it.

Patrick Rauland: Did you say 2012 is when it started?

Dirk Knemeyer: Something around there, yeah. Yeah. I'm a big picture guy. I'm kind of bad on specifics, but yeah, it's been at least 5+ years, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: I did listen to your 200th episode. That's super cool.

Dirk Knemeyer: Thanks, yeah. It's a little surreal. You're like, “Wow, you know, a lot of years have passed, and a lot of stuff is here now.” It's neat.

How Has Your Process Changed?

Patrick Rauland: So, how did publishing your first game change your process?

Dirk Knemeyer: Oh, dramatically. I mean, when I did my first game, I didn't know … I mean, I truly did not know what I was doing. It was a process of total ignorance, and now as someone who has a lot of experience in the industry, the way I would characterize it is the game was almost completely designed, but wasn't in any way developed. So, you know, it was, let's say less than half of … I don't know want to say effort, because I put a lot of effort into it, but I'd say less than half of sort of the diligence that needs to go into a complete and properly developed game had gone into it. I learned, you know, as a result of the failings of that game, part of where I had fallen short. My next game was much farther along, but still wasn't developed enough. My next game still wasn't developed enough, but each time, I was getting closer and closer.

Dirk Knemeyer: And since then, now the games are fully developed. Some of them, I did myself. Others, I've had collaborators on the development side, working with me, and I mean, one thing that I've surely learned, not just what is sort of the correct process to get to a complete game, but also what should my role be, and the role of the artisan, soup-to-nuts, cradle-to-grave game designer is probably not the right function for me. You know, I should be in the context where I'm either working with a co-designer, or I'm working with a developer who is really engaged and carrying a lot of water, because if I'm going to fall short, it's going to be on that endurance, that diligence of just grinding through test, iterate, test, iterate, test, iterate. I'm not going to give that the due that it needs, to have the game I want to have at the end of the day. And it just took time to learn that, and trying different things, and yeah, just becoming more conversive in game design [crosstalk 00:20:08].

How Do You Know What Part of Game Design you Like?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. So, if you don't know what you are, let's say you're an aspiring game designer, and maybe you have a couple ideas in your head, and maybe you've play tested a couple of times, like, how do you know maybe what you're good at? Because then you can try to find another designer friend to help you out with a part you're not good at. Is there a thing you can do, a thing you can test, or do you just have to do everything and then feel it out?

Dirk Knemeyer: I mean, I think the most sure way is to go through the process and learn, but you know, I mean, you certainly too can look at yourself in other contexts and transfer that. I mean, for example, as a writer, I have fantastic concepts. Like, my first draft of writing is really strong, but I don't tend to … Don't tend to is even wrong. I resist or refuse to do edits. When I do drag myself through edits, the grammar is not going to be right, so I could tell, from my much longer experience as a writer, that upfront stuff, big picture stuff, sort of complex system stuff, I'm great at. Detail stuff, things that to me are more grindy, are a problem, and game design has mapped similarly. So, I do think there's a likelihood that if you look at yourself in other contexts, and map that onto a total game design and development process, that there will be overlap, that how you are in one context will be similar in this one, but I can't guarantee that, and I don't want to steer you wrong.

What Research Do You Do for a Game Design?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, yeah. Love it. So you talked earlier about, you know, you read a book, you get a game design idea. Do you do any extra research? Do you ever seek out specific books for that purpose? Like, what research do you do and how long do you spend researching before you maybe start that new game design?

Dirk Knemeyer: I do a lot of research. The game design is happening in my mind from the earliest moments of the research, so there's not a staging, where I'm off doing research for a long time, and then I start doing design. Like, as I'm diving into a topic, I'm starting to create a mental model of what are the important things that need to be part of the story? How can those things manifest? So yeah, I mean, the design and research, for me, are really intertwined. There is the initial book, like I mentioned, but yeah, there's a lot of extra research after as well. The different games are different amounts of research, more recently in part because it's where the market is going. I've been doing lighter games. My earlier games, for the most part, were much heavier, and the lighter games need less research.

Patrick Rauland: Sure.

Dirk Knemeyer: Which is a bad thing, because I love the research, but it's a good thing, because it takes a lot less time, to not have to do as much. But yeah, I mean, Road to Enlightenment, I had hundreds, if not thousands of hours of research into it, whereas Einstein would be certainly dozens, but certainly short of hundreds of hours. So that's almost an order of magnitude less research work from my heaviest to my lightest game.

Patrick Rauland: One of the things I'm a big fan of is sort of like setting yourself up, so that you … Like, building habits, so that you don't have to try to do a thing. Going back to reading books, do you specifically read history books now, or something similar to those, so that you get game design, or do you read history books just completely separate, just because you love those books, and the game design is purely an added benefit?

Dirk Knemeyer: Yeah, the game design is an added benefit. I'm reading things that interest me. I mean, one of the things that I love about myself is I'm interested in almost anything. Like, if somebody came to me and said, “Dirk, I've got this book on knitting. It's great, you know? You've got to read this book,” I'm going to read it, and if it's a good book, I'm going to get excited about knitting. I'm going to want to make a game about knitting. So in that way, I'm very pliable, because for me, it's just about getting excited about a topic and then telling a story about it, and ultimately, even though I will tend to pick history a lot of times, when I'm reading, it could really be pretty much any topic, and I can get excited about it.

Does Game Design Energize or Exhaust You?

Patrick Rauland: Love it. So, just game design in general, does that energize or exhaust you?

Dirk Knemeyer: It depends. The early stages are energizing. The later stages are exhausting.

Patrick Rauland: Do you-

Dirk Knemeyer: And it's very binary. I mean, I love game design when I'm getting all the way through to the first playable prototype, and then even some N number of revisions from first playable to more refined, more refined, more refined. At some point in those revisions, it flips from being energizing and exciting to, “Oh my god, get me out of here.” And that's the point at which I really should change my role in the process.

How Many Unpublished Games Do You Have?

Patrick Rauland: And then, so, how many games do you have that are unpublished, half finished, or somewhere stuck in the pipeline?

Dirk Knemeyer: It's a lot. It's double digit, for sure. You know, I'd say there are at least half a dozen that are truly half finished, which is to say well through a design process. You know, if they were released as they were, people would say, “Oh, it's not finished, but it's pretty good” kind of thing. And then, I mean, it's dozens that are in some stage of research and early design.

What Does Success Look Like To You?

Patrick Rauland: So, my favorite question that I tend to like to end the show with is, I mean, what does success look like to you? And maybe since it seems like, I think, some game designers would say you're running your own publishing company, you're already successful. Maybe what did it look like and what does it look like now?

Dirk Knemeyer: So let me be clear. I am not enjoying financial success from this.

Patrick Rauland: Okay, yeah.

Dirk Knemeyer: Yeah, so I am running my own publishing company, but, I mean, we're just sort of breaking even. I mean, we're just sort of scrabbling along. When the company started, I put money into it to get it started. I've never gotten that money out, but I also haven't put more money in for a long time, so that's a success in and of itself, but it's not … You know, I can't quit my day job so to speak. You know, I need alternate sources of income, because I have a family and other commitments.

Dirk Knemeyer: So at this point, having done it for a while, I've become convinced that it's really hard to make a living as a small indie publisher. I think you have to get incredibly lucky, and I'm still open to that happening with Artana and my game design stuff, but I no longer am expecting it, you know? I'm focused on having other parts of my life that are providing the income to live and make the commitments that I have fulfilled, so success, that would be a form of success, if I could start making enough money that I could stop doing some other things, but definitely not looking for that.

I've become convinced that it's really hard to make a living as a small indie publisher. I think you have to get incredibly lucky

Dirk Knemeyer: I mean, right now, you know, success for me … The greatest joys that I've gotten from game design are when at a convention and somebody who's a specialist in the area that I've made a game on comes to me and is excited, and just shares their excitement that I've brought it to life. I've probably had the most of that with my second game, which was called The New Science. It's a game about the scientific revolution, and it's in the dozens now, where people have come up to me and said, “I'm a research scientist. Oh my god, you nailed it. It is so cool. We love playing this game. It's exactly what it should be,” and that, for me, is success, because at the core of it, that's what I was trying to do. I was saying, “Here's the story of the scientific revolution and research science. How can I bring that to life?” And when the thematic experts tell me I've done that, that feels great.

Dirk Knemeyer: And you know, from a commercial perspective, that's not necessarily good, because the nerding out of a research scientist often has little overlap with the excitement of a hobby board gamer who's not interested in research science, but in terms of my personal motivations, and where I'm fulfilled and getting feedback that makes me feel like this was really worth it, I'm feeling good about myself, that would be it.

Patrick Rauland: I love that answer. And as I'm talking to you, I'm kind of picking up that you like learning new things, repackaging them into like a new container, a new context, a new format, delivering that to other people, and then hoping they get something out of it. Like, it seems like you really like that almost transference of knowledge. You know what I mean? It's like you read the entire encyclopedia, and then you tell someone the coolest, top five things you read out of it, or something like that. But I just want to go back-

Dirk Knemeyer: [crosstalk 00:29:26] think of it. You know, there's other storytellers, who when it comes to a subject like an Einstein, or a Tesla Vs Edison, they're going to write a book, or they're going to make a movie, and the medium that I've chosen instead is games.

Patrick Rauland: That was exactly what I was trying to say.

Dirk Knemeyer: Sorry, I didn't mean to-

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, yeah. No. No, no, no, as in I was not very eloquent, and you were able to put it in better words than I was. Can I go back to not being financially … I don't want to use the word solvent, but you know, not making money with your business.

Dirk Knemeyer: Sure.

Patrick Rauland: That is so, so common, from everyone I talk to. Almost everyone I talk to is not … If they are making money, it's like part time, and they have to have a full-time job on the side, or something like that.

Dirk Knemeyer: Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: God, I don't even know what the question is here, other than like is that just the industry? Is that just the industry of board games? For an amateur designer like myself, how does Fantasy Flight Games make money and employ dozens, I don't know how many employees, but let's just say dozens, maybe hundreds of employees, while all these small little companies can't make a run of it? How does that work?

Dirk Knemeyer: Well, it's like any business. I mean, there's two parts. There's the any business part, and then there's the game design industry part. For the any business part, one in five businesses survive past the first two years after they've been incorporated, right? And then of that, only 20% that even survive, how many of them become Google, or Apple, or Amazon, which are … let's say are roughly equivalent to Fantasy Flight, in the context [inaudible 00:31:02] It's a microscopic number, right? So, you know, yes, there can be a microscopic number of the game publishing companies that have ever been made, that are huge, huge corporations, that relative to our industry are making money hand over fist. But, the reality of business is just most companies fail, and/or most companies just kind of drag along for a while.

Dirk Knemeyer: And in game design, you know, it's really an economics 101 thing. You have an industry where all kinds of people, endless, limitless people, virtually, will give away labor for free. I can get free anything I want. I can get free design. I can get free development. I can get free art. I can get whatever I want for free, if I really want to, and as a company, I mean, for the most part, it's paid relationships that we have, but if we're in an industry where there's tsunamis of free labor at every part of the human capital spectrum, there's going to be more product that's being able to put out more cheaply, and can be priced more aggressively. So it just becomes a race to the bottom, and it becomes a really difficult environment to make money in.

Patrick Rauland: You know what? One of the things I was just thinking about as you were talking about this is maybe there's a bit of a survivorship bias. That's not the right word, but you know, if I'm listening to a podcast about accounting, and someone can't make their accounting business work, they quit the business and they get a full-time job in some other industry. In game design, people, like if you can't make money, but you love games, you still might keep doing that.

Patrick Rauland: So I talk to, I think, a lot more people who have … Maybe they tried to make it full time and they couldn't or they just never … You know, they've just been doing it part time the whole time or whatever, but they're still in the industry, whereas if it's a … Yeah, you're an accountant, you're a lawyer, you're an attorney, whatever … Oh, that's the same thing, you know, you just drop out and you change industries or get a full-time job somewhere else. So I wonder if there's just … It seems like there's more people who haven't made their dream work. You know what I mean?

Dirk Knemeyer: Sure, sure, and you know, also, I mean using those examples, even if someone professionally enjoys being an attorney or an accountant, there's few to none of them, in any universe whatsoever, who in their free time would choose to be chunking away on law work and on accounting work, unless it's for some game company that they're excited about, or some nonprofit that they're passionate about. Like, the tasks inherent in that are not the way they want to spend their time, whereas as game creators, that is how we want to spend our time when we have control over it as well, which sadly only further waters down and jeopardizes the marketplace.

Overrated/Underrated Game

Patrick Rauland: Well, awesome. Well, thank you for going very deep on this. I like to end my show with a little game. It's called Overrated Underrated. Have you heard of it?

Dirk Knemeyer: Not in this context, so let's-

Patrick Rauland: Excellent. So I'm just going to say a word or phrase, and then you have to pick if you think it is overrated or underrated. So I might say the weather in Denver, and you're going to be like underrated, because it's sunny and wonderful, something like that. Got it?

Dirk Knemeyer: Got it.

Patrick Rauland: All right, cool. Number one, Kickstarter. Is it overrated or underrated?

Dirk Knemeyer: Underrated.

Patrick Rauland: Underrated? Why's that?

Dirk Knemeyer: Kickstarter has transformed game publishing. It's had a seismic impact in the way that it has democratized the ability to make and publish something, and I just think it's underappreciated. I think, yeah, we all know it's a big deal, and we all, or many of us, will spend a lot of money on it, but the impact that it's had, sort of from a sociological perspective, on our community, I just don't think it can be overstated.

Patrick Rauland: Love it. What about teaching history classes in high school? Overrated or underrated?

Dirk Knemeyer: I guess I'll say underrated, because I think history is just fantastic, and relative to other topics, it should get more love.

Patrick Rauland: How about tile laying games? Overrated or underrated?

Dirk Knemeyer: I don't know how they're rated. As someone who doesn't particularly care about tile laying games, I'll say overrated.

Patrick Rauland: There we go. All right, last one here. Twitter, is it overrated or underrated?

Dirk Knemeyer: I'm going to go underrated.

Patrick Rauland: Ooh. Tell me why.

Dirk Knemeyer: It is magical that we can now write directly to 99.9% of the celebrities and famous people of the world from our desk in real time. Like, that's insane. Like, before Twitter, we wouldn't even have a vehicle to get something within the view of those people. It was impossible. And now Twitter not only makes it possible, but it facilitates that happening. So, even if Twitter ends up shutting down, and at some point, it will inevitably, that function of connecting each individual to one another in a direct way, that doesn't require leaving your chair, or your bed, or your toilet, is amazing.

Patrick Rauland: Awesome. Dirk, thank you so much for being on the show.

Dirk Knemeyer: My pleasure.

Wrap Up

Patrick Rauland: Where can people find you online?

Dirk Knemeyer: People can follow me on Twitter @DKnemeyer. That's @D-K-N-E-M-E-Y-E-R. I'm also happy to converse on email, and for that, you would email to Dirk@artana.com. That's A-R-T-A-N-A .com, and Artana is my game company, at artana.com.

Patrick Rauland: So, since you just had that answer on Twitter, I think they should definitely just start sending you messages directly that way, right? That's like the best way?

Dirk Knemeyer: They're welcome to. I'm here and available, and I've responded to every email or note that I've ever been sent. I will engage people who engage me.

Patrick Rauland: I will say, I just randomly emailed you out of the blue and said, “Yo, do you want to be on my podcast?” and you were like, “Yep,” so yes, you do. One out of one in my history, or experience. You've answered all my emails. So, thank you again. Listeners, if you enjoyed this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes, or wherever you're listening to this. If you leave a review, Dirk said he'd make a mini-game involving your family history, or does that sound reasonable? Some ridiculous thing like that?

Dirk Knemeyer: I'll take it on a case-by-case basis.

Patrick Rauland: Case-by-case … All right, fair. So you can visit the site at indieboardgamedesigners.com. You can follow me on Twitter. I'm @BFTrick. That's B as in board games, F as in fun, and Trick as in trick-taking games. That's all we got, so until next time, happy designing. Bye bye.

I had a great time at Protospiel Madison. If you haven't been to one before protospiels are absolutely fantastic! In this episode I chat about:

  • Upcoming guests
  • Games played
    • Beard Snacks
    • War Torn
    • At What Cost
  • Feedback on Fry Thief & my new witch game
  • What you can learn at a Protospiel

Patrick Rauland: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the new board game designers podcast where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned to get to where they are today. My name is Patrick Rauland and today I'm going to be talking with Jeremy Holcomb, who is the designer behind The Duke, Toboggans of Doom among many other games as well as the White Box, which is a collection of components and lessons I guess to get new game designers started. So. Jeremy, welcome to the show.

Jeremy Holcomb: Absolutely. It's a pleasure to be here.

Introduction

Patrick Rauland: Yay. So I have a little game that I do in the beginning just to sort of get people to know you. Just very quickly and sort of lightening answer round fashion. If I met you at a convention, what is a game you would play with me every single time?

Jeremy Holcomb: I would play any game that I've never played before. I will always play something new over even my favorite games, just to explore new stuff.

Patrick Rauland: Even if it's eight hour for Eight X game, let's say?

Jeremy Holcomb: If that's the only new thing available, that's what I want to play.

Patrick Rauland: Wow. Awesome. What is your favorite components in the White Box?

Jeremy Holcomb: Well, I, of course, love the Book Of Essays because that's the thing that I think imparts really the knowledge and that's what the White Box is trying to do. The bits of here's some quick ways to do prototyping is great, but the knowledge is there to help people avoid a lot of the mistakes I made.

Patrick Rauland: Got it. Now, I believe you currently live in the Pacific Northwest. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would you go?

Jeremy Holcomb: That's a really good question. I would maybe go to Essen, Germany because Essen, but fundamentally, I've lived in the Pacific Northwest forever. I just love it here.

How Did You Get Into Board Games?

Patrick Rauland: Perfect. Love it. All right. So first real question is I read your bio on Board Game Geek and it's quite long and I actually love your story. So tell us how did you get into board games and board games design?

Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, I mean, of course, I played board games as a kid, role-playing games, dice games, all kinds of stuff, Magic when it first came out. That was just what I did for it, for a hobby. It never occurred to me that board game design was a thing that somebody could do as a living. I went to school and got a degree and went into industry and did normal boring things with ties and suits, but I was always making games in my spare time.

Jeremy Holcomb: It was the thing that I was doing when I got to decide what to do, and that gradually led me into, “Oh yeah, I'll help you do some playtesting for your game.” “Oh yeah, let me help you be a playtest lead for this project.” “Oh, hey, here's some ideas for how you might design this differently.” Gradually, I got more and more involved in the development process and at some point, I looked around and I'm like, “Wait a minute, I'm doing this for a living.” That wasn't the plan, but it's enormously satisfying.

Patrick Rauland: It's pretty cool that it seems you almost fell into it, right, you didn't, because I think some people they're like, “Oh, this is like a dream,” and they planned their Kickstarter for years and in your case you just kind of just did cool things until you happened to be in it.

Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, absolutely. It was never this sort of thing where I was planning on it from a guidance counselor sitting down saying, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Sort of standpoint. It was more, “This is what I'm doing in my spare time. This is what I'm doing with my free clock cycles, so I guess this is who I am.”

What is it Like Teaching Game Design?

Patrick Rauland: That's really, really cool. So you currently teach game design at a university? That is a first for me. I don't think I've talked to anyone who does that. That is awesome. I guess the first question actually just because I imagine, this is an assumption, so I did not go to college for game design, so I have no idea what that program is like. Are they mostly there for video games or are they there for board games or how does that work?

Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, absolutely. Most of my students are designers who are anticipating growing up and going into the video game industry, but the fundamental concepts of design are not different from tabletop and computer games. Right. They have different implementation, but many of the core concepts are the same. So for me, they're making board games as freshmen while we explore sort of basic design concepts.

Patrick Rauland: Got it. Why do you think that is? Why do you think people are going into video games and not board games? Is there just not money in board games like there was video games?

Jeremy Holcomb: Well, I think primarily, right, the allure is very exciting, but the people really like eating, and having houses and that does lead them to the video game industry a great deal. I love the board game industry. That's my world. I'm from analog design. But I would not bet my house on my ability to consistently make money in making board games. Video Games are just a whole different space and it's a worldwide phenomenon, right? Many of my students will get their degree and go to Europe, get the degree and go to South America, you can make games anymore.

Patrick Rauland: Got it. I just find that fascinating that the digital version has taken off and I don't know, thousands of video game developers in the world? Tens of thousands probably?

Jeremy Holcomb: Well, and I mean the difference between analog and digital is increasingly going away, look at the new XCOM game, which not only has many games have an app, as an assistant or as a point tracker or something like that. This is one of the first games to just go, “No, we know you have a phone, you have to have the app to play this game.” But because of that, we can create a really powerful experience that would not otherwise be possible. Right. You're seeing a lot of attempts to move into an AR (augmented reality) game space where, “Am I playing a board game or am I playing a video game?” I don't know that the answer to that is useful. “Am I having fun?” Now? We're having a conversation.

Do You Challenge the Medium Your Students Use?

Patrick Rauland: Very, very cool. So are there any projects where you're like, “Make a board game,” and people are like, “No, I want to make a video game.” Do you ever force them into a different medium than they're used to?

Jeremy Holcomb: Oh yeah. No. Many of the students hate board, which is completely fine with me. And part of becoming a professional designer, and this is just as true in digital and analog, the difference between a professional designer and an amateur is whether or not you can make games you don't want to play. One of the most important things that I'm trying to teach my students is, “Hey, it's not important at the end of the day if you want to play your thing, it's important that you understand your audience and what they need their needs are. And if you happen to fall into that, great, but you probably won't. And they need to have a good time.” That's a very different space. The Duke is the game that I'm the best known for and I'm totally in that game's target audience and I totally do not want to play that game because I built it, right. I put it together and once it's on a shelf with my name on it, I'm sort of done with it. So it's not about my fun.

What Concepts Do You Teach?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. Love it. I mean tell us, what sort of things do you teach at a game university? I'd like to know.

Jeremy Holcomb: Sure. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And you can actually find all the course descriptions and stuff at digipen.edu. The core fundamentally is about engagement. It's about trying to understand how to see if somebody else is having a good time with your game, with your product, with your whatever it is you're creating, and try to measure that and try to use that to make real meaningful changes to your game. All game designers are game testers, are people who go out and ask questions and try to make games better. But learning how to ask really good playtest questions and how to measure very abstract concepts like fun, like engagement, like how invested somebody is in a particular experience is a very specific skill. And learning to do that for board games, for video games for a party, for a mall, for any kind of experience, right?

Jeremy Holcomb: If you can make a really powerful board game, you could make a really powerful website. You could make a really powerful mall kiosk, right? A lot of what we're talking about is user experience design. Again, I'm teaching freshmen, so I'm also trying to go, “You want to be a game designer? Huh? Okay. Show me. Right. Let's just make a lot of games.” Nobody becomes a game designer by listening to the melodious sound of my voice. You do it by making a lot of games and I help them figure out if that's really what they want to do or perhaps put them on some other paths.

Patrick Rauland: I have no idea what game education looks like. I live in Denver. Is there probably a game school or game curriculum near in a big city like Denver or is that [inaudible 00:08:59]?

Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, well, it's something that more and more schools are doing and more and more programs, both online and at physical universities, and at just afterschool programs for high schools and community college events and things at libraries. It's becoming much, much more mainstream. I, obviously, think that DigiPen does a very good job at what we do. I'm the program director. Never ask a barber if you need a haircut. But yeah, there're lots of ways now for people to look around them and get their hands dirty with game design, with a little bit more guidance than I had when I started just to help with some of the initial bumps and I think that's really valuable.

Patrick Rauland: So I know a lot of universities have lecture series. So here's my real question, is that the reason I wanted to ask, is there something in Denver is, do you think it would be, is it in the realm of possibility that there is a place that does video or game design and they occasionally have lecturers that are either open to the public or for a fee that I could just, I don't want to go back to school, but I would like-

Jeremy Holcomb: Sure, sure, sure.

Patrick Rauland: … if there's a roaming expert and he wants, do they do that in that world?

Jeremy Holcomb: Well, I would be thrilled to come out and give a tour. And yes, we do. I will be teaching over the summer in Peru and in Taipei for a couple of weeks. And yeah, there's a sort of lecture circuit for design professors just as there's a lecture circuit for experts in any particular field. But yeah, I mean certainly reaching out to any local university and going, “Hey, I either full-on want to audit a class, which many universities will let you do. Or I just want to come by and sit in on a couple of lectures and figure out what this stuff is.” Every school has some system for that. Some of them will be more or less interested or want you to be in this class or not that class, whatever. But if you call them up they can help you with that.

How Did You Decide on 25 Lessons in the White Box?

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. All right. So I want to talk about your White Box because that's actually how I found you on Twitter is you made this White Box which includes a lot of cubes and zeppoles and coins and tokens. But it also includes, as you said, those 25 essays on game design. I can't imagine, how did you whittle down all of game design to 25 lessons?

Jeremy Holcomb: Well, that's a really good question. Of course, I didn't whittle down all of game design to 25 essays. What I tried to do was go, “Hey, I was new and I've spent a lot of time going to conventions and sitting on panels, going to game design contests and watching a lot of other people who are new, what is the most critical information?” I don't want to go, “Oh, you want to be a game designer? Great. Here's 75 textbooks that you have to read in order to start doing anything.” That's just nonsense. Instead, I'm like, “Okay, what are the core points that are either really useful sort of best practices for how to get started or can help you avoid some very expensive mistake that lots of people make.” If the essay covered one of those two topics, it generally went in.

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. I think that would be helpful. It doesn't seem like there's an entry point into game design, a lot of people just stumble on it. If there's just like a 101 class or 25 essays, right, where it's like, “If you read this you will at least have the foundation and then you can go off and learn, read all the blogs and videos and all the book groups.” But it does seem daunting at first because there just isn't that foundation anywhere. So I think it's really cool that you made a foundation.

Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, and that's the thing that I hope that people have access to where they go either, “Oh, game design, that sounds cool, I'm interested in that.” Or, “I have a friend who's interested in that. This makes a great gift.” Just to kind of go, “Look, here's what this actually entails, here's what this work looks like and here's what is our responsibility. Here's what maybe is a responsibility of some of a publisher that we might work with or artist we might work with if we want to self-publish.” Right.

Jeremy Holcomb: As you mentioned yourself, there're lots of games coming out on Kickstarter these days and I think that's really wonderful. It's a very powerful tool and I'm excited that people have access to it, but a lot of people think that that's just the only way to make games. The only way to self-publish games at all. And I don't think that's true and I think that can lead people to some sort of dangerous spaces. Learning how to do playtesting, Learning whether or not you want to work with publishers are not, learning how much you should spend on art for your game. Pro tip, that number is zero. Every question that I got asked over and over and over again at every convention I went to went in the book.

Should You Get Art to Pitch a Publisher?

Patrick Rauland: Love it. So sorry. Can we go back to the art for a second? Is that if you're self-publishing?

Jeremy Holcomb: No. That's if you are trying to pitch something to a publisher or even if you are self-publishing, early on in the process when you're still doing playtesting, when you're still trying to figure out, you will eventually recognize, “Oh, if I'm going to publish this myself, I have to have the art,” but don't pay for art until you know that you want to self-publish and you actually know what your game is because all the time I watched people where they're like, “I'm going to make a game. This game is about dragons. I'm going to do some playtesting. I'm going to buy $5,000 worth of dragon art and then I play my game for a while and I can do good playtesting and I iterate it and make it better and I discover, “Oh, my game is about Max. That's a much better story, but now I have all this dragon art that I paid for.” That's just a loss. Right.

Jeremy Holcomb: And if instead, you go “I think my game is about dragons. I'm going to google dragons and slap in some clip art that I'm never going to be allowed to use and that is not intended to final art, but just to kind of go look, “This is the general. Oh, hey, this game is about Max. Okay, let's try some clip art about that. Oh, I like that. Okay, cool.” And then if you're going to, and even then, if you were going to Kickstart it, you go, “I would like to buy, I would like to pay for a nice cover and a couple of character pieces, not the full art and go, Dear Kickstarter, this is generally what I'm talking about. If you would like this, part of the funds that you are giving me is going to be used to pay an artist to do the rest of this.” But if your Kickstarter doesn't fund, you're out five pieces of art and not 500 pieces of art.

Patrick Rauland: Exactly. Okay. So the reason I was asking that question is because I just got four new pieces of art for my game today. Of course, I've already gotten to the point if I'm going to self-publish this, so. Okay. [crosstalk 00:15:29]

Jeremy Holcomb: Right, right, right, right. Then you know that ahead of time because when you're self-publishing you essentially are the publisher and so then as a designer you've gone, “Oh, I love being a game designer, but I would also like to do these other five jobs.” And that's fine. I don't want to discourage people from doing that. I just want them to understand the thing that they're jumping into.

Where Did The Duke Come From?

Patrick Rauland: Love it. See, there's a part of me that feels like I've already gone too far and now we don't need the 25 essays, but there's another part of me just wants to go back and read them to make sure I didn't miss anything obvious. Maybe I'll put that on my Christmas list or something because I feel like I've come far enough where I've heard that advice before. But I'm sure there's really good stuff in there that I haven't yet heard. Okay, so why don't to change gears a little bit, I want to talk to you about … so I actually played your game, The Duke, a couple of years ago with a friend who's really into abstract games. How did you, I guess, what was your design process like for The Duke? Where did the idea come from? How did it take shape? All that?

Jeremy Holcomb: Absolutely. I am a huge fan of working with other designers. Most of my best stuff has been done as a pair or triad with other designers. In the case of The Duke, I worked with Stephen McLaughlin, who was an absolutely brilliant designer. I think the original idea might have been his, I don't really remember at this point. I worked with Joe Huber who had a lot of good input and we just bounced ideas off of each other for a bunch of games. We made The Duke at the same time we made Toboggans Of Doom and Timestreams and Zombie Marsh and a bunch of other stuff that we put out largely at the same time, maybe even printing them a little bit faster than we should have. But that ability, working with somebody else means, I have to explain the ideas in my head in a way that can be understood by another human.

Jeremy Holcomb: And while the idea is in my head, it's brilliant, right? It's happy idea land. As soon as I have to explain it to somebody else, I get to go, “Wait a minute, I don't actually know what I'm talking about. Let me refine this.” And then we bounce ideas off of each other. I love working. I worked with Brian Reece at [inaudible 00:17:42] back in the day, who I also quite respect as a designer. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is he's very passionate and I like working with passionate people where we can go kind of offscreen.

Jeremy Holcomb: We'll go into a back room and will scream at each other. Right. We'll throw stuff. We'll really try to tear into each other's ideas. Not out of hatred or thinking that the other people are foolish. I wouldn't be in the room if that was true, but where we're like, we both are invested in the project and we both believe our ideas are the best way to make that game happen. So let's try to destroy everything because whatever lives through that is pretty good. And then when we walk out of that room, we both go, “Hey, this is our idea,” And did I say it, did he say it? It doesn't matter and I don't even really remember because the result is a much better game.

Patrick Rauland: It's interesting. I think the way that was coming across to me is you're basically hypercritical, overly, overly critical of the game and then whatever is left is that is the core of the game and maybe there's other stuff comes back and later after playtesting. But the core of the game has to survive that hypercritical phase, I guess.

Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah. And we want to give each other permission to do that. We want to give everybody involved permission to do that because it's not … this is something that every designer has to get through where I have created this brilliant work and I've put it out into the world and it's my baby and I love it because it was my idea which is perfectly reasonable and normal. And then somebody is going to come along and stab it and we have to go. “Yes. Good,” right? Be critical. Give me good feedback.

Jeremy Holcomb: Here's a great tip. Anytime you're doing playtesting with somebody who you feel like maybe likes you, I'm going to go to my friend, who isn't a designer and ask their opinion and they may be, you know, they don't want to hurt my feelings or something. Tell them, “Hey, I'm helping a friend of mine test this game. This isn't my game. This is their game. What should I tell them? How can I help them?” Because then if they go, “Well, it's fine.” I'm like, “Well, that doesn't give me anything to say to my friend. Give me something.” And then they'll start to be critical. Designers will usually just lay right into it. But that's a good way to get some data.

How Has Your Process Changed?

Patrick Rauland: Got it. I love that. Love it. So what is maybe what has changed with your process since The Duke? Have you added something to your game design process? Have you removed something? Changed something?

Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, I mean it's hard to say, of course, because I'm so close to it. I think the one thing that I try to do now that I think I'm getting better at is having more ideas quickly and figuring out how to build something that I can test quickly. Anything that I build and I can't see where it's going. I have a lot of ideas right now that are like, “Okay, I still love this concept, but I don't see where it's going.” I'm going to focus on the stuff that seems to have a real seed. And I'd rather just have 10 ideas, find one that's good and roll with it rather than beating my head against a wall going, “I love this idea. I will make it work.” No, let's not do that.

Patrick Rauland: So kind of letting some of your mediocre ideas go so you can focus on other ones?

Jeremy Holcomb: Even letting some of the good ideas go. So I can focus on something that I can see how to make great, or, here's one way that my process has changed. I interface more with a more publishers and more other people in the industry. So one criteria I can do is go, “Here is a game that I know how to get it published. I know who wants this. I know where it goes, I know the kinds of things they're looking for.” I will prioritize that over some idea that I think is cool, but I have no idea where it would go because I like money and I like putting games out to the world. And so something that's going to do that wins over something that's not.

Patrick Rauland: I believe you said earlier, people like eating and living in houses and that one-

Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, it's exciting.

What's the Best Money You've Spent?

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. So speaking of eating and living in houses, you need money to do that. Now, I'm pretty frugal with money and I think we know, we think game design is just cardboard so it should be cheap. But is there something that you've spent money on that is just the highest value that you could imagine?

Jeremy Holcomb: Yes, weirdly the most valuable 60 bucks I think I've ever spent as a game designer I used to buy dinner. And follow my logic on this. This was at a point in my life when I did not have a lot of money. So a $60 dinner was a massive splurge, right? That was a big chunk of, I could eat for quite some time on that, but that let me be in a room with Mike Selinker and James Ernest and Andy Looney and a variety of other professional board game designers just at the start of my career. And networking is even more critical in this industry than any other industry.

Jeremy Holcomb: So that 60 bucks for that dinner, I don't even remember what I ate. I don't remember the food at all and it's not important, but it just gave me the opportunity to continue developing relationships with some people, all of whom are absolutely brilliant and who I respect greatly and who I've found over and over and over again in my career have been resources to recommend me to people or to suggest things or to help me make games better. I was sitting there going, “I don't have the 60 bucks, I don't have the 60 bucks, how am I going to make this … But we did it. And then I ate pancakes for a week and that was a good deal.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, eating pancakes, that sounds great. Okay. I guess I want to give people like a practical takeaway. So I went to Tabletop Network earlier this year, which is a thing, a game designers conference in Utah. I mean now that was several, I think I was like 300, I forgot, but it was like something like $300. I mean if you can afford the 300, do you think that's, it's along the same lines of just being able to talk to other game designers.

Jeremy Holcomb: Correct.

Patrick Rauland: Do you think you had it more? Probably more valuable than $300 on every game component ever?

Jeremy Holcomb: Yes, yes. Yeah. If for no better reason than because you can scavenge virtually every game component you want from thrift stores and such. But yeah, and going to conventions is incredibly valuable. And one of the things that has developed in the last 10 years, that I did not have when I was starting out, the unpublished, the local conventions, the 300 person events, the 1000 person events, the 5,000 person events are so valuable. You get way more of people's attention and time. You get way more ability to show off your stuff and ask questions. If they do have people like me or other guests, then you have more ability to interface with them, which is valuable. Like Gen Con is a great show. Essen is a great show, but I would not start out there trying to figure out how any of this stuff works. And if you throw a dart into a map, there is probably an un pub near that. And that is a great use of your time and resources.

What Resources Do You Recommend?

Patrick Rauland: Love it. All right, now is there some sort of resource, let's say not a convention that you would recommend to another indie game designer? And how about this, let's say the first resource is the White Box, but besides the White Box, what would you recommend to an indie game designer or an aspiring game designer?

Jeremy Holcomb: Sure, absolutely. BoardGameGeek, of course, is a great resource. Partially for the information, it represents on its own, but also again from that networking standpoint where you're like, “Oh, hey, are there playtesting groups near me? Are there other people who are making games of the kind that I'm looking at?” And I would also recommend, and almost everybody's already doing this, but one of the most critical tools in your toolbox is your friendly local game store. Going there and working with people and going, “Hey, like can I do some playtests here? Can I help show off a game? Can I … It just keeps you involved in the industry and it's a great resource that everybody has in their backyard. In some cases that backyard is a little bit of a commute. A friendly local game store is just such a great resource.

What Does Success Look Like?

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Now, I always like to ask people, what does success look like to you in the board game design world?

Jeremy Holcomb: That's a great question. It's different in different ways. It's very satisfying the first time. We did a lot of self-publishing work and that involved, China printed a bunch of our games and then shipped it to us in a giant shipping container and standing on a dock, unloading a giant metal container full of thousands of games with your name on it is uniquely satisfying. But that actually pales in comparison. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so I go to PAX West, PAX Prime all the time. They have a game lending library. I try to make sure that they always have my stuff. Every year without me promoting it, without me prompting it. I mean this was a relatively small game with a relatively small print run, but the game Toboggans Of Doom, it's a great title. It's a great IP, it's a lot of fun. And at almost every PAX I have randomly stumbled upon people I don't know, playing that game that I made and having a great time and watching other people have fun because of something I put out to the world is so satisfying.

Jeremy Holcomb: I had a dad come to me at PAX and talk to me, because I was doing a signing for The Duke, and he's like, “This is the game I play with my kid.” Right. This is the father, son bonding game and you know, if I hadn't made The Duke they would've played something else. There're many wonderful strategy games out there. But the fact that I made something that let that interaction happen. Wow. That's satisfying.

Patrick Rauland: I mean, just seeing people happy is one of the best things, one of the most successful feelings for you?

Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, I mean I feel stuff that I have created, the world is better because it has stuff that I made in it, right? I didn't land us on Mars, I didn't save the whales. But at the same time like we're all having a little bit more fun and we all have another way to talk to each other and I think that's important.

Underrated Overrated Game

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Alright, so I like to end my show with a little game called overrated, underrated. Have you heard of it?

Jeremy Holcomb: I have not.

Patrick Rauland: Excellent. It's great. I love throwing in new people into the grinder. So I'm going to yell out a phrase or a word or phrase like let's say fancy microphones and then you have to say if they are overrated or underrated.

Jeremy Holcomb: Absolutely.

Patrick Rauland: Perfect. Now, the first one I'm going to make an assumption because your bio on Board Game Geek said you liked chess in high school, so I'm going to assume you were part of a chess club. Is that correct?

Jeremy Holcomb: I lettered in chess.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, my God. All right. So I think I know the answer to this one, chess club is an overrated or underrated?

Jeremy Holcomb: Overrated.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, that's surprising to me. Why is it overrated?

Jeremy Holcomb: Because at this point I think we're better off focusing on a single game for a club I think has a lot of danger and mistake to it. And if you want to play a lot of chess, that's fine, but I would love to have a chess club that says strategy game club. Right? I wish I'd spent more time as a kid playing Go, a game that I'm terrible at or just being exposed to more games. Or, you can go very deep into chess, obviously, but looking sideways at some other strategy games I think would have some value to it.

Patrick Rauland: Oh cool. I just have to know how do you let her in chess, how does that happen?

Jeremy Holcomb: Well, first you have to be a nerd and then you have to develop into kind of the king of the nerds and then you have to be a weasel. And then you have to buy a letterman's jacket and all of that stuff results in lettering in chess.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, my gosh, I love it. All right. Now, you're in the Seattle area, so amazon.com. Overrated or underrated?

Jeremy Holcomb: Underrated. I feel weirdly the same way about Amazon that I do about the Post Office, in that it's very difficult from the outside to understand exactly how powerfully game-changing a lot of this stuff is. The world with or the world without this is very meaningfully different and it alters a lot. I mean, certainly from a game design standpoint, thinking about the value of friendly local game stores, right? I've run a couple of games stores. I want to provide a good value, but I'm not competing on a pure dollars and cents standpoint. Right? You can't, but you can add value in so many other ways involving the social dynamics and places to play and places to playtest and all of that other stuff.

Patrick Rauland: So the next one is local conventions and I'm going to exclude PAX's because by local conventions. I mean, not the giant ones like [crosstalk 00:31:03].

Jeremy Holcomb: Correct. So if you're in Indianapolis, Gen Con does not count as a local convention. That is not what that word means. So grossly, grossly underrated. They are some of the most valuable, again, just from that networking standpoint, right? And here I will include PAX Unplugged, which I think right now has started as a local convention in terms of size, in terms of your ability to interface with the space. It may leave that quickly. But yeah, all of the pubs, I go to Game Storm every year, which is a very, very small local convention. Dragon Flight is right in my backyard. I would not be where I am at anywhere close if I had not gone to Dragon Flight a ton as a kid. It was the only thing I could afford. I couldn't afford to go to Gen Con, but Dragon Flight was right in my backyard. That's how I started.

Patrick Rauland: Very, very cool. Last one I think I saw you're writing a book on protesting, is that correct?

Jeremy Holcomb: Have written, in fact. Yes.

Patrick Rauland: All right. So protesting overrated or underrated?

Jeremy Holcomb: Grossly underrated. There needs to be a great deal more of it. I wrote a how-to book on protesting, which is actually weirdly similar to the White Box in that it's a toolkit, right? I'm like, I don't care what it is you're protesting. I don't care whether I agree or disagree with your idea. The book is called Speak Up, Speak Out And Be Heard. It's available on Amazon and everywhere books are sold. But yeah, if you want to get out there and protest, this is how you do a protest sign. This is how you run a letter-writing campaign. This is how you run a march. It's just some event planning stuff. It's thinking through how to interact with the media stuff so that when people are full of energy, they don't waste that energy because they don't know how the system works.

Patrick Rauland: I actually really appreciate that because I sometimes find it frustrating when people will yell about something on Facebook, which ultimately doesn't make a difference in how the world works.

Jeremy Holcomb: Right. Yep. Yep. Like if you're angry enough to want to make change, I want to provide you the tools to at least make your case right and succeed or don't succeed. But if we can all put our best ideas forward and all articulate why we're angry and what we want to have happen, what the specific measurable goals are, then we at least have the ability to get to a better place. And that's good.

Wrap Up

Patrick Rauland: I love it. This has been very enlightening. Thanks for being on the show, Jeremy.

Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Patrick Rauland: Where can people find you online?

Jeremy Holcomb: I don't Tweet or blog a great deal. I can be emailed at jeremy.holcomb@digipen.edu. And again, I will be thrilled to come out, do tours, do guest lectures if people need somebody to come talk game design. Getting me to talk about game design is not a hard task.

Patrick Rauland: Thank you again. So, dear listener, if you listening to this podcast and you like it, please leave us a review on iTunes. If you leave a review, Jeremy, said he would teach you your own protest chant. That seems pretty welcome. I mentioned in previous updates that I put up a landing page for my game, Fry Thief, and recently I put up some benefits of joining said newsletter. So I've literally, in the last week, decided that one lucky person can add their likeness to the game. So if you want to be immortalized in a game you can sign up on the landing page, which is, I think for frythief.com, which I also set up. So things are moving.

Patrick Rauland: Lastly, you can visit the site at indyboardgamedesigners.com. You can follow me on Twitter. I'm @BFTrick. B as in board games. F as in fun, and trick as in trick taking games. That is all for me, everyone. And so I just pressed the wrong button. There we go. Until next time, happy designing. Bye. Bye.

Jeremy Holcomb: Have Fun. Make games.

Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone and welcome to The Indie Board Game Designer Podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer each week to talk about their experience in game design, and the lessons they've learned to get to where they are today. My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I'm going to be talking with Dan and Connie Kazmaier from Deep Aqua Games, who are the designers behind an upcoming game called Chai. Dan and Connie, welcome to the show.

Connie Kazmaier: Thank you, Patrick.

Dan Kazmaier: Yeah, thanks.

Patrick Rauland: So you are the first … so you are the guinea pigs, I'm trying a new segment out with you.

Dan Kazmaier: Awesome.

Patrick Rauland: Are you ready for this exciting new segment, where there's a little game in the beginning?

Connie Kazmaier: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Dan Kazmaier: Yeah, we were born ready.

Continue reading “#38 – Dan & Connie Kazmaier”

Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone, and welcome to Indie Board Game Designers podcast where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week to talk about their experience in game design, and what they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland and today I'm going to be talking with Jackson Pope, who is both a game designer, and I'm going to say game maker or game crafter, as in someone who actually likes making the components for games, which we are definitely going to talk about. He's the publisher behind four different games, and he's working on FlickFleet, which should be on Kickstarter by the time you hear this. Jackson, welcome to the show.

Continue reading “#37 – Jackson Pope”

Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone, and welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast where I sit down with a different independent game designer each week, and we talk about their experience in game design, and the lessons they learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland and today we're talking with Nicole and Anthony Amato, who are the designers behind a ton of games. One of which is one of my favorites called RESISTOR_, and I play that game a ton. Nicole and Anthony, welcome to the show.

Continue reading “#36 – Nicole & Anthony Amato”

Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone and welcome to the Board Game Designers podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week and we talk about their experience in game design, and of course lessons they've learned along the way.

Patrick Rauland: My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I'm going to be talking with Carla Kopp, who is a publisher and the designer behind Stellar Leap and Super Hack Override, which I actually got to play just a few months ago at Origins.

Patrick Rauland: So, Carla, welcome to the show.

Carla Kopp: Hey, I'm so excited to be here.

Patrick Rauland: So Carla, I like to start with the most important details. The most important detail is at either Origins or Gen Con I think it was Origins you had a guess the number of meeples in this jar game.

Carla Kopp: Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: I won that. I have a skill. It's guessing meeples in jars.

Carla Kopp: Oh, awesome.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, I know you guys sent me a game. I was very excited.

Carla Kopp: Okay. Well I didn't really handle that, so that was, okay.

Patrick Rauland: I think that was your partner.

Carla Kopp: Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Boyfriend? Husband?

Carla Kopp: Yeah he takes care of shipping stuff.

Patrick Rauland: Ah, nice. Anyways I'm, I haven't won one of those like silly games in a while, so I think I appreciate whenever a game company has a silly game for me to play.

Carla Kopp: Oh, yeah and like I really liked it cause like I had this big jar, and I had just gotten in like the Star League shipment, and they had like this big bag of meeples and I was like, I mean this is perfect, right? So I just put all the meeples in there and like they looked really bright and colorful so maybe they brought in people just to look at the meeple jar.

Introduction

Patrick Rauland: I think so. I, yes, I think so. Let's just say yes. Alright, so I like to start with sort of a very quick lightning round I guess. Basically who are you? So, first question. If I met you at a convention what is the game you would play every single time?

Carla Kopp: Every single time would probably be Azul. I love that game.

Patrick Rauland: Nice. Alright. Besides giraffes what's your favorite animal?

Carla Kopp: So, a giraffe isn't my favorite animal. So my company is Weird Giraffe Games so the weird giraffe is this thing called an okapi. Have you heard of it?

Patrick Rauland: No, no what is it?

Carla Kopp: Okay, so it's the only other thing that's in the giraffe family. So, one I'm also a big animal nerd. I grew up, and I didn't watch all those TV shows and movies that everyone else watched so I missed out on like all the culture references.

Patrick Rauland: Kay.

Carla Kopp: Instead, I watched Animal Planet, so I know all these weird things about animals. So okapi is one of my favorite. I also like the pangolin, because when it's a baby it's like this little anteater thing, but when it's a baby like the tail of it is like a foot, but like it's not a foot, like the entire like length of it's like a foot in like four inches if you can picture this like super like anteater with super long baby tail. I don't know.

Patrick Rauland: Cool. No, that's super cool, I like it. So, pangolin and the okapi.

Carla Kopp: Okapi.

Patrick Rauland: Okapi. Okay so, last one in rock paper scissors what is your like default move?

Carla Kopp: So, I don't have a default move. I just watch the person and then I like think about who they are, and then I do the thing that would beat them.

Patrick Rauland: Okay, so I know we're not looking at each other right now, but pretend I'm doing rock paper scissors, what do you go with?

Carla Kopp: So I think you would go with paper, so I'd go with scissors.

How Did You Get Into Board Games & Board Game Design?

Patrick Rauland: Ooh, alright, wow. You super analyze this. Alright, cool. So first real question. How did you get into board games and board game design?

Carla Kopp: So, board games. Originally I got into Magic while I was in college, and the place you go to get Magic cards is actually the place you can also see board games at. So I kind of started like looking at board games at that point, but it wasn't until after I graduated college, and so I moved to a whole new city. Huntsville, Alabama, and one of the only people I like kind of knew, her name was Sarah, and like she had gone to the same college as me, but I didn't like super know her, but she was like “Hey, let's hang out, let's play board games.” And I was like yay, I want friends, and so we started playing board games, and I realized that board games were like this really easy way to socialize.

Carla Kopp: I'm not a, I'm a super introvert. I'm not great at just like talking, like talking about like small talk and stuff is like the worst. I don't wanna do it ever, but instead like when you meet somebody you can be like, “Okay, we're gonna play this game, and we're gonna like do minor talking while we also play this game. Like and there all the basic rules and stuff. So, you don't have, it doesn't take a lot of effort. You're just playing a game, but you're also getting to know someone.

Patrick Rauland: I love that. No, and I totally, totally agree. It's like a secret way to talk to someone for an hour without them realizing you're having an hour long conversation.

Carla Kopp: Yeah, and like it just gets right of all the pressure of like entertaining someone because the game should be entertaining enough.

What Game Got You Into The Hobby?

Patrick Rauland: I like it. So what is your go to game in that regard. Like what, or maybe what is like a game that got you into the hobby?

Carla Kopp: Agricola, actually.

How Do You Balance Game Design, Publishing, & Everything?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. Very cool. Okay so you do a lot of things. You, and I should, I know you designed games. Now you are your own publisher, Weird Giraffe Games. You're also signing other peoples games, and you have a day job. How do you balance game design, publishing, your day job, and everything else under the sun?

Carla Kopp: So, if you want like a super long answer for this I recently gave like a 45 minute talk in the Board Game Design Lab Ignite Conference on this, but the short version is that I try to be really super efficient, and I also try to be like really focused. So, when I do get design time I make sure that I'm like super prepared. I have everything I need, and then I also turn off all like, I turn off Twitter notifications, emails, etc. I just try to focus, and get things done. So, I've read a bunch of book like on efficiency, and like deep work. Deep Work is like, like when you're really thinking and stuff, to try to get better at that sorta thing.

Patrick Rauland: Cal Newport right?

Carla Kopp: Maybe. I'm not great at authors.

Patrick Rauland: Okay, yeah, yeah I think so. Yeah, cool. Cool, no that's a lot. That's, I mean I am running a podcast and a day job is hard enough. Like, but also game design, I guess, but as a publisher then you have like customers contacting you, and “This piece was broken”, and “Can you fix this?,” I think, let me ask you a follow up, I guess. Like how do you, so like when you have like design time, let's say, you know you turn off your phone for two hours, and you spend two hours in the night designing a game, or, or something. Or planning on KickStarter. What about all the small stuff? Like when people just email you about “Hey I'm missing a meeple from this bag.” Like, doesn't that get over whelming?

Carla Kopp: It does, because there's so many emails. Like, if you ever like watch my Twitter account I always like complain about the number of emails I have because there's so many. But, one thing I do, is I try to get up early int he morning, and early morning time is like get caught up on social media, answer a bunch of emails. So is like lunch time. So, I have like an hour or two in the morning, an hour at lunch. So then, after I get off work, then I can actually do like a big thing, because I have gotten rid of all like the small little tasks.

Patrick Rauland: So sometimes it's helpful to clear up those small tasks just so then. So then you feel less burdened I guess?

Carla Kopp: Yeah, yeah well and you have to like care about your customers, and answer them in like a reasonable amount of time. I don't answer like everyone. I usually take like a week before I answer things, but I let it build up. Like, “okay, now I have like three people that need like missing pieces, or games or something.” Like, so I do it all at the same time, because like when you're shipping stuff, like it's a lot better to ship like three or four things at the same time, than just shipping like one thing every day. I have to go to the post office, etc.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Carla Kopp: So, do everything that's like the same thing at the same time. And like, it's the same with email, when you're in email it's a lot faster to like answer like ten emails at the same time, than to answer one email and then do something else, and then come back to email, etc.

Patrick Rauland: Totally. Love it, love it. This is cool, cause I geek out about productivity, and I guess most board game people kind of skip that, and they just say it works. So it's cool that you think about that a lot.

Carla Kopp: Oh I definitely do, because like you also have to make time for learning and stuff, because I'm all about metrics and things like that. So, I used to do a [inaudible 00:09:21] graphs of all the things I've done. And it gives me a score and stuff, but I can definitely tell a difference between how productive I am right now versus how productive I was a year ago, and like a year, two years ago I was like, I did a lot less than I do now. So that's like all the more motivating for me to keep doing it and learning new things, because I mean I have to. I have to get a lot better than I am now so I can like put out even more games.

How Do You Design a Solo Mode For Someone Else's Game?

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Very cool. So, let's talk about that. So, you in addition to the games you design, you also sign other peoples games. And one of the things you told me just before we started recording, is that while you don't design a ton of games yourself right now, you're designing solo modes for other people's games. How, so for me I've never done that. I've never designed a solo game, really, and I definitely haven't designed a solo version of a game for someone else's game. What is that like?

Carla Kopp: It's actually, like for me it just comes really easy and naturally. So, first you have to play the game. Play the game a couple times. Figure out what it is that the player interaction. Like what do players do in the game. How do they effect you? And then try to figure out how like I do like a lot of like automatons or robot players. So, figure out how to emulate this player interaction without having an actual like player. Like, you don't wanna have the robot player and have to like calculate their resources, and make decisions for them. That would make the robot player just like you playing like two games against yourself, and like that's not fun at all. So, you wanna like really simplify it, and break it down to like how is the player gonna, like how is this robot going to like interact with you as if it was a real person. You wanna make it like super simple.

Carla Kopp: So I end up usually having like a series of if, then statements. Like, okay check this thing, if it's true, do this. If it's not true, do that. So it's like super easy and simple. The solo player like on their turn, it gets over with in like ten to twenty seconds is the goal. Like especially if you like know what the robot player's supposed to do.

Patrick Rauland: Got it.

Carla Kopp: If you know, you can just do it, you don't have to look at the card. And if you do like a like if, then statement that sort of format is actually pretty easy to get like a series of the robots. So you can have multiple different robots.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, cool.

Carla Kopp: Just changing up like what happens. Like, oh, okay if this is true instead of it doing what it did for the first robot, you just make it do something slightly different.

Patrick Rauland: Uh-huh.So.

Carla Kopp: That way you can get like a range of robots.

What About Solo Mode for a Card Game?

Patrick Rauland: Okay, so I have a game I'm working on where you're stealing fries back and forth, and but I guess what's hard for me is it's not like a work replacement game where there's like a ton of actions, and you can always say “like, use this action.” Like, should I just flip like a random card for the opponent or should I give them like a default action, and then flip a card and if the card is better then do that? Like, how do you, how would you if this was like a card based game? Sorry, I know that's really, really specific.

Carla Kopp: Oh, but I've done this with two card based games, so this is cool

Patrick Rauland: Oh, cool.

Carla Kopp: One thing I really like is, so I'm also a publisher so I don't like adding in extra components. What I do like is taking your current components and adding like little solo icons on them. So, you flip over a card on the deck, you look at what the solo icon is, and then you do something based on what that icon is.

Patrick Rauland: Cool, okay. So I've actually played Super Hack Override. Is there a solo mode in that?

Carla Kopp: There is not.

Patrick Rauland: Ah, darn it. I was just trying to think if like I'd played, I was like I was trying to imagine a game that I've played of yours that has that. Cool, I'll have to dig a little bit more deep into this, but I think that's really interesting to just add a couple extra icons to a card as opposed to, as opposed to something else. I like that, cool.

Carla Kopp: Yeah, it keeps it really simple. So, Fire in the Library, this game you're pulling cubes from a bag, and you're pressing your luck, and you don't wanna like make the fire burn things down, okay? So, in this game, one of the solo modes you flip over the card, and the card shows you how the AI scores, like how many points it gets essentially based on … So, the books are different values as time goes on, but it says what books it scores, but it also says how it burns the library down, because one you want the robot to be competitive scoring wise. But, one thing the players do in the game is that they burn the library down and you don't know how they're gonna do that. So, that's really simple, easy. You know, instead of icons.

Patrick Rauland: Got it. I've have to look into that. That sounds really really cool. I like it. Okay, so I guess I wanna ask you about like why you do that. Like, is, does that add a lot of value to your games to add solo mode, cause you don't have that much time, and you're spending time doing this like why don't you ask the original designer to do it? Why do you think it's so important?

Carla Kopp: So, why I don't ask the original designer to do it is most of the designers I've worked with haven't designed solo modes.

Patrick Rauland: Okay.

Carla Kopp: I mean if they did, then they'd probably already have designed it already. But also solo modes are really easy to test because you just need you. So, when you're designing like a two to four player game you're like “oh, okay. I need to go find another 1-3 players to play this with me, or I need to play like four different players.” And that's not like a real true play test. Like, you can see if things work, but it's not like real, you know. But with a solo game you can be like “Okay, I think this might work, and now I'm just gonna sit down here and immediately test it because that's all you need.”

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, that is really really nice. And you obviously don't need, yeah.

Carla Kopp: Yeah, you obviously, you can just do it yourself and play it repeatedly, and like make it harder. Play, usually it takes like a shorter amount of time to play than a regular game. Like, Dreams of Tomorrow takes about 30 minutes to do the solo mode, so I would play the game and be like “Oh, okay, so this didn't work out that well, that didn't work out that well.” Well, I just take a pen, change the values, change what the like solo card said, and do it again. And like, you can iterate so fast.

Does Adding a Solo Mode Increase Popularity or Sales?

Patrick Rauland: So, okay so here's my next question, like is there any evidence that there's like more sales or people like posting pictures on Twitter saying “I love the solo mode.” Like is there, is there some sort of metric? I think you said you like metrics. Is there some sort of metric that says this is a good idea to spend time developing this solo mode?

Carla Kopp: I think so. So one thing that you could look at is when people actually get the game like who posts pictures of it. Do people post pictures of the solo mode. And usually I get like, so Star League I just shipped it out to people and I feel like about half the people have taken pictures and posted about it have been solo people.

Patrick Rauland: Wow. That's really cool. Alright, so worth doing.

Carla Kopp: Well and I also, so I know a number of solo reviewers, like Beyond Solitaire, Cardboard Clash, Jambalaya Plays, and I give them the games to review so I like really emphasize the solo mode, so I think like as time goes on, like I'll become more known as solo person, so I think it's definitely something worth doing.

What Excites You In The Game Design?

Patrick Rauland: Got it. Love it. Very cool. So, let's change gears just a little bit. So what type of games do you like designing in general, like what is, what is exciting to you in the design space.

Carla Kopp: So, I like a lot of different mechanics. I've never used the same mechanic twice, but I really like lighter games or like ish games. I like games that take about like 45 minutes to an hour to play. Mostly because I play chess a lot, and I tried so Star League, that game it goes for about an hour, hour and a half, depending on like the people, if they're learning or not. Or if they don't want the game to end. And that was a lot hard to get people to play test, but Fire in the Library the game I did after that, that game takes like 20 to 30 minutes to play. So, going from a big like oh, okay, doing one play test full game and then talking about it might take like two hours. But doing the same thing for Fire in the Library, that took like half an hour to 45 minutes. Like, it was just so refreshing.

Patrick Rauland: Got it. Got it.

Carla Kopp: Like where you could just go, and I could go like “Oh, okay let's play again, let's play again.” And then you'd get people that would actually like know what they're doing, and you get the experienced player like so much faster. So I like shorter games like that. I'd say light games, but I try to make every game that I like work on, like the cognitive load a lot smaller than other games, but I like, I think the term light is weird for people because I say it, and you might be thinking something completely different than I am.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, it's ambiguous.

Carla Kopp: Yeah, and there's like so many ranges of what light means. Like, because I've played like a large range of games my version of light is a lot different than somebody who's only played like one or two games. But-

Patrick Rauland: Totally.

Carla Kopp: Yeah, I try to make it so that you don't have to remember a lot of things, because remembering is never fun. So I use things like reference cards, and like reminders, and just like things out there, so you don't have to like remember stuff. So, that's what I mean by light.

Do Your Games Feel Similar?

Patrick Rauland: No, I like that. I'm curious do you, do people that play one of your games, let's say Fire in the Library, are they the same types of people that are gonna enjoy your other games. Like, do you have like, not a theme, I don't mean a theme in like the board game sense, but like do you have commonality between games. Like do they feel the same when you play them? Does that make sense?

Carla Kopp: Yes, yes. So, definitely. If you play like, so I have a play test group that has played ten games that I've worked on, which is a lot more than the average person, since those are all the games that have not gone to cons or seen the light of day really.

Patrick Rauland: Okay.

Carla Kopp: But, yeah there's a definite like feel to a Carla game where I want it to be really like enjoyable for the first play, even if you're not a gamer, but also it has like layers of, okay the first game you think that the strategy is this, and then the next time you might try a different strategy. Like, you realize different things as you go along.

What Concepts or Mechanisms Are You Working On?

Patrick Rauland: Yup, that makes total sense. Very cool. So is there something in your designs that you've tried, let's say is there like a mechanic that you really like and you've tried to get it in, or a game concept that you really wanna get in there, and you just haven't been able to get it to work yet. Is there something you're still like really trying hard to work on?

Carla Kopp: So, I really wanna make a game that has a simultaneous action selection. I haven't tried to work it in yet, but I haven't found the right design for it yet either.

Patrick Rauland: First of all, can you just give me an example of that, like what does that mean?

Carla Kopp: So, that is something where everyone is choosing actions at the same time, and they all reveal what they're doing at the same time.

Patrick Rauland: Got it. Cool, so you've, I mean I assume you've tried it and it just wasn't fun, or it just didn't work or…

Carla Kopp: So, I haven't tried it yet.

Patrick Rauland: Okay.

Carla Kopp: Like, when I design a game it takes me a long time up front where, because I think about it, I make the cards, and then I give it to the table, and then it goes really fast after that. But, I haven't found like a theme that really like calls for it. Like, when I design a game I have to have a story. I have to have a reason for why you're doing the thing that you're doing. Like, the theme and the mechanics have to make sense or I'm not gonna get it to the table. And I just haven't found like why on my doing this simultaneous action selection. Like what theme does that go with. I've played games that have it, but like I don't wanna like steal that thing.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Carla Kopp: Because it's already done.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, totally. Cool, no I like the sound of that, and I'm trying to think of games where there is simultaneous action selection. Off the top of my head the only one I can think of is like Gravwell where like you're trying to get out of a black hole, and you're trying to like balance off each other's gravity, but I can't think of that many games that do it. Yeah. Cool, very cool little idea. Okay, so we'll start moving towards the end here. One of the things that I… is there a resource and actually I'm gonna, I'm gonna change this question up for you, since I think you can do with a variant of this question. Is there a resource that you'd recommend to another game designer, and this doesn't have to be board game specific. Just something that would help them design games.

Carla Kopp: Okay, I think the thing that's helped me out the most with game design is Todoist, where it's just this app where you can do a to-do list, and the best part about it is that you can make like as many to-do lists as you want. You can reference a to-do list like “Oh, okay. I want to on Thursday actually look at this other to-do list.” And it just happens. It has reocurring things which is the only program I've found where you can just have a reoccuring, like say like “Oh, okay, make sure to check slack everyday.” And then I do that because I see it on the list so I do the thing. I'm really motivated by things like that, where like “Oh, okay, so I'm checking the list, I'm knocking things out. But it also gives you scores. It has like a little happy face when you've done like your suggested number of tasks, which you can change everyday if you want. But, yeah, it is so nice. And you could also work with other people on it. So, yeah, Todoist.

Patrick Rauland: Love it.

Carla Kopp: Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: And any like books or blogs or anything like that.

Carla Kopp: For blogs I've always like Jamie Stegmaier's blog, podcasts. I love Breaking Into Board Games. Another app that's great for working with people is Slack. I love Slack so much.

Patrick Rauland: That's so funny, because I'm in the web development space like everyone has a Slack. I'm in like ten Slacks and it's a little bit overwhelming, but it's because it's such a good tool that everyone has their own, right?

Carla Kopp: Yeah, so many game design Slacks are out there. You just need to find them.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, no I can't, I personally can not be added to another, I'm sure they add value but I'm just, I'm overwhelmed. There has to be like a way to like temporarily join, you know what I mean, for like a week, I wanna be in a Slack and chat with people, and then, and then get out, because it's overwhelming. I see the little, cause I have Slack open for work and I see the little dot that says there's like a notification in this group, and then I get exed out.

Carla Kopp: Yeah, so what I do is I just turn off notifications for the Slacks that I only wanna check when I actually wanna check them, because yeah that notification thing will like bother me until I go and see what it is, so.

What Does Success Look Like?

Patrick Rauland: Yes. Oh that's totally me. It's so funny. Okay, so what is success look like to you? What are you going for here?

Carla Kopp: So, I'm not really sure about this. I think one of the things I've really enjoyed about board game design and like publishing and everything is just learning and being better, and seeing myself change and just be more of an open person. Like if you listen to this you might think like “Oh, yeah, Carla can actually talk about stuff, but she says she's an introvert? That doesn't make sense.” But I'm gotten like a lot better at just talking and like going to like conventions and like being in the booth and being able to be like this happy friendly person for like eight hours, and like interacting with other people. I see my- it's already a success for me from that stand point, but I'm also one of those overachievers where I constantly redefine what success is. So, one thing that I would really like is to actually get into distribution, and like start selling a lot more games. That would be amazing. But, like, the ultimate success would be if I did this full time.

Patrick Rauland: Do you have a road map, or do you have like, you know what I mean, like do you have like projections of like when that will happen.

Carla Kopp: Oh, definitely I have like spread sheets and stuff. So one of the major things that is a roadblock for me is that I have a lot of student loans, because of yeah, I made choices and things, as we all did growing up, when we didn't know things. But those will get paid off in 19 months or less, so yeah. Yeah, I know it's intense. And like two months ago that was like 24 months or less. Which you know the math there, I really think it'll be less than 19 months, but it really depends on how life goes. If I get a promotion at work, you know, how good the KickStarters go, how good conventions go. Like any one thing in the future that just blows up will mean, you know maybe that'll be the thing that makes me actually do this full time.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, cool. So you're saying there could be a lucky break right? And even if there isn't a lucky break you'll still get there in the not too distant future, right?

Carla Kopp: Yeah, yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Cool.

Carla Kopp: Unless like bad things happen of course, but you know, that's life.

Patrick Rauland: That is life. What do you think the time, like let's say nothing explodes, like you don't have like a Kickstarter that makes 200 bajillion dollars. Do you think it's like two years, because by then you'll have paid off your student loans, and then it's one less thing to worry about, or do you think it's more like 5-10.

Carla Kopp: I think, it would be nice if it was like 2-3 years, because once the student loans are done then we have to like kind of like build up some sort of nest egg just in case things don't work out, but I think like just making games, having successful Kickstarters, going to conventions, and selling games, like I mean that makes me happy, and I don't need a lot of money to make me happy, you know. Like, you know, like as we go through life we learn different things, and at one time it was like “Oh, yeah money will probably make me happy.” And at this point it'll be more like okay not being in debt will make me a lot happier. But, yeah just doing what I like, and like the board game community is like really amazing and just being able to give back to the board game community and have it like respond so positively. I know I'm making an influence and that just makes every day better.

Underrated Overrated Game

Patrick Rauland: That's so good to hear. This is really cool. So I life to end my interviews with a little game called overrated, underrated. Have you heard of it?

Carla Kopp: No, I haven't

Patrick Rauland: Excellent, so basically I'm gonna give out a word or a phrase and then I'm gonna force you to take a position if you think it's overrated or underrated. So, if I said macaroni and cheese, you'd of course say underrated, because carbs and cheese is delicious. Something like that, got it?

Carla Kopp: Hmm.

Patrick Rauland: Alright, side-scrolling video games, are they overrated or underrated?

Carla Kopp: Underrated.

Patrick Rauland: Because, like a one sentence.

Carla Kopp: I haven't heard any that are super like popular. I mean like they used to be really popular, but I haven't heard any like nowadays.

Patrick Rauland: Hmm, okay, alright. How about giraffes weird colored tongues, which I'm pretty sure are black. Overrated or underrated?

Carla Kopp: Definitely underrated, cause like how many animals have that long of a tongue. It's like crazy long and weird.

Patrick Rauland: It is crazy, okay so you would probably know this. Why are they so long? I'm sure there's a reason for it.

Carla Kopp: Oh, it's cause they eat all the leaves from trees so they, that's why their necks are long, so they can reach the trees, but like having a long tongue means that they can have like a higher radius of the length that they can get them.

Patrick Rauland: Ah, reach.

Carla Kopp: Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Ah, very cool. Alright, okay what about 4x games. Overrated or underrated?

Carla Kopp: I would say properly rated, the third option.

Patrick Rauland: I don't know if there's a third option here. You think its, okay how about this, do you think they are… I'm trying to think of like a different way to word this. Alright, no we'll go with that, you're the guest. Properly rated. Alright, alright, but don't tell other guests that you can say properly rated. Gotta be a secret alright.

Carla Kopp: Okay, I won't tell anyone.

Patrick Rauland: Alright, alright. Cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. Overrated or underrated.

Carla Kopp: Okay, is it like cranberry sauce in a can or real cranberries? Or both.

Patrick Rauland: You can answer however you want.

Carla Kopp: Okay, I would say overrated, cause everyone has at least one of those.

Patrick Rauland: Overrated, got it. Okay, well this has been awesome and I've learned stuff about giraffes and things. Thank you for being on the show, Carla.

Carla Kopp: Thank you so much for having me. I've had a great time.

Wrap Up

Patrick Rauland: Yay. Where can people find you online and where can people find your latest game online?

Carla Kopp: So, online I have a website at WeirdGiraffeGames.com, I have a Facebook Weird Giraffe Games, Twitter is @WeirdGiraffes, if you go to WeirdGiraffeGames.com/dreams they can find my latest game Dreams of Tomorrow.

Patrick Rauland: Mm-hmm (affirmative), very cool. And that'll be, that should be on Kickstarter when this airs.

Carla Kopp: Yes, it's on KickStarter from October 15th to November 8th should everything go well, and if you don't like things like social media I mean you can feel free to contact me at contact@weirdgiraffegames.com

Patrick Rauland: Cool, and and just in case this episode airs late or something else happens there will be late pledging, right?

Carla Kopp: Oh, yeah. Yep

Patrick Rauland: Alright, very cool. So, if you like this interview, or if you like this podcast listener please leave us a review on iTunes. If you leave a review Carla said she'd let you pet her pixelated giraffe. So I think that's a pretty, pretty awesome reward. You can visit the site at IndieBoardGameDesigners.com. You can follow me on Twitter on @BFTrick, B as in board game, F as in fun, and trick as in trick taking games.

And super exciting news, I got this thing called a domain/website for my game FryThief. You can go to FryThief.com then there's a landing page and it'll, at some point when there's a Kickstarter the landing page will take you to the Kickstarter but I have a website so you can go there and follow along with the game. That's all I got until next time. Happy designing everyone. Bye-bye.

Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone and welcome to the Indy Board Game Designer's podcast where I sit down with a different independent game designer each week and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland and today I am going to be talking to Gabe Barrett, who is the designer behind … I guess he's a lot of irons in the fire. He's an upcoming Kickstarter, which we're gonna talk about, called The Final Flicktier. He's putting on Ignite Conference which is an event all about board game design. It's in a few days. And he's probably most famous for the Board Game Design Lab podcast.

Patrick Rauland: Gabe, welcome to the show.

Gabe Barrett: Patrick, appreciate you having me, man. Hey that was some really cool intro music man. I was digging it. I was dancing over here.

Introduction

Patrick Rauland: Isn't it good? Yeah, I got some good hip hop and sometimes on different shows I have a sweet, like a sweet filler beats in between sentences. I unfortunately don't have that button in front of me, but next time I'll have that button ready for you and we can put it in. You're like board game famous, Gabe. You have like-

Gabe Barrett: That means like 17 people know who I am. That's awesome.

Patrick Rauland: I mean for me it's just my mom, so it's like just me my mom-

Gabe Barrett: Your dog, man. Your dog knows who you are too.

Patrick Rauland: My dog. Yep. That's a huge audience. People probably know you from the Board Game Design Lab where you talk with lots of people about really cool things. You have a really focused show, which I like. I like to talk about … Or I should say, I want to show people what they haven't seen on your podcasts. I want to ask you a couple of questions about you as a person. If I met you at a convention Gabe, what is a game you would play every time no matter what?

Gabe Barrett: Ooh, a game I'd play every time no matter what. That is a really good question. Probably the new T.I.M.E. Stories. I love T.I.M.E. Stories. I don't ever get to play it now because I live in Honduras, and so it's super hard to get board games down this way as you might imagine. I would probably try to play whatever latest version of T.I.M.E. stories is out.

Patrick Rauland: All right. I like that. What is your favorite non-board game podcast?

Gabe Barrett: Favorite? I love Joe Rogan show. I love the just incredible people he has on that show from all different walks of life, all different political backgrounds, and different doctors and people way smarter than me. They just talk for like three hours. It's tons and tons of really cool information. I love listening to that show.

Patrick Rauland: Is that the Fear Factor guy?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, it is him from back in the day, old Fear Factor. He actually talks about how Fear Factor he thought was going to last like four episodes because it was so stupid and such a ridiculous show, and it went on for so many years. Yeah, that kind of launched him and his comedy career. He was a standup comedian, still does that, and then he started this podcast a while back and it's just taken off. I think it had over a billion downloads last year. I think in one year it had a billion downloads, so it's just kind of crazy.

Patrick Rauland: Wow, that is so cool. I didn't know anything that he's done since Fear Factor, so that's really cool to hear that he's doing good stuff I guess.

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, check him out.

Patrick Rauland: If you are stranded on an island, what game would you want to take with you?

Gabe Barrett: What game would I want to take with me? It kind of goes back to can a plane drop expansions down because again it goes back to that T.I.M.E. stories thing. Can a plane drop in the newest expansions?

Patrick Rauland: I'm going to say no, but you could bring all the expansions with you.

Gabe Barrett: Oh, there you go, okay. Also eldritch horror, big fan. It's got a lot of … Great thing about that game is it's got a ton of expansions that are already out, so I could take all those with me and the game would never get old.

How Did You Get Into Board Games?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. The question I love asking everyone is how did you get into board games, board game design, and for you specifically what about podcasting?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, so board game design definitely came first. I started designing games man years ago making the crappiest games anyone had probably played up until that point in history. They were so bad. But I was having a lot of fun. I didn't know anything about modern games. Honestly, I just got into things. I played D&D, I played some tabletop stuff but I wasn't aware of all the modern game stuff. Eventually I started playing Catan and some of those old school things that brings in everybody, Magic and all that. I just started designing my own stuff. I'm one of those kind of people that the way my brain works I love to create more than I love to consume.

I love to create more than I love to consume

Gabe Barrett: I love to write more than I like to read. I love to make games more than I like to play games. I got into it and I thought, “Man, I want to do this myself.” That's where it started. Then the podcasts came about, I don't know, two and a half years ago or so. I had this idea. I had a few different ideas. I was like, “Okay, what am I going to do with my spare time?” I wanted to write a book, and I wanted to do some other stuff that was like going around and speaking and doing different things like that.

Gabe Barrett: Then I had this idea for a board game podcast, and I thought, “Okay, well that's probably the one that's not going to work, and so let me put that last and let me try these other things first.” I went out and did those other things, and they didn't even work at all. Eventually, I was like, “Let's try this podcast thing because I'm really excited about it.” It has taken off.

Gabe Barrett: The thing that I thought was not going to work at all has turned out to be the main thing that worked. We're about 100 episodes in at this point, and it's just been a wild ride. Tons of awesome people have come together to make this awesome Board Game Design Lab Community. It's just been a ton of fun to do on a weekly basis.

Patrick Rauland: I should point out the community on Facebook is awesome. I think it's got 2,000 people in the Facebook group and I posted something earlier today about the packaging for my game. And I think I got like 19 comments on like, “Well, do this, do this.” They're all like very nuanced things. They're all board game designers, right? They all care about the nuance. It is really cool that you've built that community.

Gabe Barrett: It's been crazy. I never imagined it would take off the way it did. It's just been a wild ride, and I'm so thankful to be a part of it just a lot of amazing people. I actually saw your post earlier. You're trying to figure out is this a creepy looking hand basically on your box. I was really glad that you got so many responses to help you out. I think a lot of people are feeling the same way.

Patrick Rauland: What's kinda cool is I was talking to you about something kind of tangentially related, and then you mentioned that you had a Kickstarter. What's cool about that is I normally interview people after their Kickstarter, so you're one of the few guests that we … In this case, I think you're about … Are you about 30 days away from your campaign launch?

Gabe Barrett: Yep. Pretty much a month.

What Do You Do 30 Days Out From a Kickstarter?

Patrick Rauland: Okay, cool. One of the things I'm just fascinated about is all the logistics that go into a Kickstarter. What do you need to know? I'm going to ask you right now with a month out. I'm going to ask you, where's the check-in? Is the prototype done? Are the reviews done? Does that all sound good?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah. Sounds great.

How Many Prototypes Did you Create?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. I would love to know I guess where are you with prototypes? Have you made one? Have you made a bunch? How many are out there?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, as far as number of prototypes, I have the main one that I've been iterating and fixing. I started back … I don't know January, February, March. Probably back in May, early June of really taking the idea out of my brain, out of my notebook, and turning it into a prototype. And so that prototype from way back when I still have. It's not very good. The idea was there. The idea was good, but the overall execution had a long way to go.

Gabe Barrett: It's been I don't know how many prototypes I've gone through over the last few months, but anyway I have the pretty good looking one. I printed stuff off myself. I'm waiting on the Game Crafter version. I've got a little bit more art that needs to come in and then I'll start sending out pretty prototypes to some blind play testing. And I've got some people that are going to help me look at the game and look at the rules and help me make sure everything is where it needs to be developmentally wise.

Gabe Barrett: That is like right now-ish, within the next couple of days that will start happening and that will start shipping out. Almost there.

How Many Reviewers Are On Board?

Patrick Rauland: My next question is how many reviewers did you send it to? And sort of a followup, I guess, did you send the reviewers unfinished art? To mean pretty close, but not done yet art?

Gabe Barrett: Part of the shipping is actually going out to these previewers as well. I have two lined up right now, maybe a third. I'm waiting to hear back from a third. They're reviewing the rule book. Actually, there's two more. So, maybe four. A potential of four. These are really previewers more than reviewers. It's a little weird with Kickstarter game, the review versus the preview. One thing I really looked into is I've seen a lot of Kickstarter pages. They have like 10 reviews and previews, like all these different videos. A lot of the stuff you have to pay for. Any time you do a preview, you're paying money for that.

Gabe Barrett: I'm really trying to figure out what's the best bang for the buck. I don't have thousands of dollars to put into marketing. Like really trying to figure out what are the main ones that I trust, that I feel confident in and that are also going to be within the budget so to speak. I've only reached out to … I reached out to a bunch trying to get prices and different ideas about how much it costs and all that. But I've really stuck to two or three feeling like, “Okay, these are the ones I really feel like bring the most for the money,” so to speak as far as the production values and their number of subscribers and things like that. That you just want to … You don't want to waste your money. That's where I'm at.

Patrick Rauland: Totally. I actually have just run into this myself with my game Fry Thief. A reviewer came back with a number that was … I won't say the reviewer, but it was $600 … I should say preview. So $600 for a preview. I was trying to think of like … I honestly wonder like how many people could I get to click and buy the Fry Thief now button on Facebook with $600 for Facebook ads. I don't know how to do that math. I can come up with some rough model, but I really question the value if it is $600. Maybe could you give us a ballpark like whose … Do I say who is the highest or what is the average? Is there some numbers you can give us?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, I can give you … I don't want to their numbers and stuff out there. I don't to say things that change or anything like that. But anyway, I contacted one they were like it's about $800. I was like Wow! And kinda had the same reaction you did and even though this particular previewer, they have a ton of followers on Facebook, on YouTube, and all that stuff. It's like “but how many of those people are actually going to convert?” Is $800 worth it versus, like you're saying $800 worth of Facebook ads or I could get three previewers for $800, potentially.

Gabe Barrett: I've talked to some they were $250 and that seemed a lot more manageable. I've talked to some, they were free. And they said, “Hey, if I like the game, send me the rule book, send me some pictures and if i like it, I'll check it out.” And so, those were obviously like gold that someone with an audience would look at your game for free. I'd say cast a wide net and really try to find as many people as you can and check their track record and see how many subscribers are on it and see it. And see how many views they get too. Even if they have a ton of subscribers, if you only get 12 views on your preview, you've wasted your money. And so just doing your homework.

Have you Completed Your Kickstarter Video?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. Awesome. Okay, so something … I guess for me personally I get the prototype, I get reviewers. I have no idea how to make a Kickstarter video. Where is your Kickstarter video. Is that done? Is it scripted? What? Where is it?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah. It is planned, but I'm not doing the whole above and beyond crazy graphics and all this. No, it's just gonna be very straightforward. It's gonna be me, talking about the game and then showing people how to play the game. We're talking three minutes tops. Doing it all myself. I've got really pretty good camera. I've got a really nice microphone. The production value will be there. It's gonna look good. It's gonna sound good.

Gabe Barrett: I feel like at this point, I was talking to Daniel [inaudible 00:11:06] today about this. Kinda getting his ideas 'cause he's one of those Kickstarter experts so people pay him to consult and help them with their pages. So, he knows what he's talking about for the most part. I asked him about it, and he said “The main thing you need is to bring an audience with you. No one's gonna get to your Kickstarter page and watch the video and go. Now I'm gonna back the video or back this project.”

Gabe Barrett: The video is not gonna be the thing that gets them over the edge. Now it could be the thing that gets some away right? You could lose people but you're probably not gonna gain people based on the video. It's really about building an audience, building a base of support pre-Kickstarter, but then shows up on day one and then that gets the momentum going and then it goes on from there. So, I don't put that much stock in the video. You want it to be good. You want it to look good and sound good. But I wouldn't spend that much money on it or put that much time into it compared to some other things.

Patrick Rauland: Interesting. First of all, I totally agree with you need to bring the crowd with you. I totally agree with that philosophy. It's interesting because that's not the route that a lot of publishers go right? I've seen some really high-level beautiful videos. The one that's in my head right now is Tiny Epic Zombies. It has these cool 3D meeples running around with those cop cars and they're running over zombie meeples. It's a cool video that was clearly … I don't know how they make that, but I'm sure that cost thousands of dollars.

Gabe Barrett: Oh probably so.

Patrick Rauland: But it's cool to hear that you don't have to do that.

Gabe Barrett: No, definitely. Honestly, I don't remember the last time I watched a Kickstarter video. When I go to Kickstarter pages, I scroll right past the video. I look at the funding goal. I look and see how much the game costs. Then I compare that to what they're offering. I go, “Okay, this is a $49 game.” Then I start looking at it. I could tell by the art and the way the game is laid out on the table. Then I go to down to the “How to Play” video. I watch that on 2x speed. Right, trying to get as much information as quickly as possible. I make my decision pretty much right then, whether or not this is a game for me. I feel like I'm not alone. In fact there's a lot of people that aren't so much caring about the video overall.

Gabe Barrett: Now, there's a lot of people that do and so you can't just forget those people. You need to do some high quality and that it looks good and it explains the game or kind of what whatever route you take. But I feel like there's other things to be aware of and one of those like don't put everything in that video. Like there's gotta be more to it.

What About Manufacturing & Fulfillment?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. Alright. What about quotes from your manufacturer and fulfillment partners? Do you have those? Are those like down you already know who you're going to go with?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, I pretty much know who I'm going to go with. I got all the fulfillment quotes. I actually back a couple of days ago I got some and then today I sent in like getting stretched goals and okay. So if the game changes and always a little bit more, just trying to play in for all the different scenarios that came in today. I feel really good about that. You can't get everything because sometimes things can change if you have to airfreight some things. The air freight charges can be a little bit different depending on time of year and things like that.

Gabe Barrett: You can't get it fully solidified, but you can get a pretty good estimate of what it's going to be and then still waiting to hear back from some manufacturers. Again, you want to cast a wide net and get a lot of different quotes and hear from a lot of different people and see what they're offering and then make your decision. But I'm pretty … I'm about 95% sure who I'm going to be going with at this point.

Are You Excited to Go the Kickstarter Route?

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. Let's change gears a little bit. You've got all this work, you've done all this cool prep for Kickstarter. Are you still happy that you're going the Kickstarter route instead of selling to a publisher?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, I'm loving it now. This is the thing. If this game had miniatures, I would be losing my mind right now because I have no idea what that entails. But this game is cards, it's dice, it's neoprene mats, it's very straightforward, very simple game. It's not some crazy trying to make a million dollars on Kickstarter thing and so because it's simple, I feel really good. I'm excited. I got a whole bunch of art came in over the last couple of days and it looks amazing.

Gabe Barrett: It's art that I kinda had the vision for it. I've got some friends that are artists and graphic designers and I sat down with them and say, “Hey, this is what I'm thinking, and then you put your spin on it and then we'll come out. We'll figure this thing out together.” And it's been a lot of fun. That whole process has been a lot of fun. Then I probably wouldn't really be involved with had I gone the publishing route. Like this is not a game I even pitched to Publishers.

Gabe Barrett: I went into the game thinking, “I think I'm going to Kickstart this.” Now most of the games I've created … Or very much I wanted to get these published by a publisher. But this one even from the very beginning I thought, I think I want to do this myself. Both from, I want to control the whole thing. Start to finish. I want to control the art, the graphic design, how everything is laid out, all that stuff.

Gabe Barrett: Also I want to learn. I felt like this was a really good game to get my feet wet with Kickstarter and it's not going to be a super expensive game. Again, it doesn't have a lot of miniatures or anything like that. I was really excited just to learn the process and get to know all these different things for shipping and fulfillment. And understand the other side of the industry that I haven't really learned about other than just talking to people. I wanted to do it for myself.

Patrick Rauland: I find there's a huge difference between … I can read a blog post or a book or take a course on fulfillment and manufacturing. But you don't really get it until you have to do it.

Gabe Barrett: Oh, absolutely.

Tell Us About Your Podcast

Patrick Rauland: I think it's really cool that you're doing it. Okay. So I want to talk to about your podcast because that's your Board Game famous with your 17 listeners. You've talked to over a 100 people, right?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, just one. So episode 100 and I've also done some other series and things like that. Yep.

Patrick Rauland: You've talked to over 100 people, how has that changed your design process?

Gabe Barrett: I feel like it's helped me grow faster, if that makes sense. I feel like there's a lot of mistakes that I would have made had I not talked to all these experts that gave me great advice while they were talking to my listeners, right. I just kinda got to be there for all the information to … What's cool is I get to hear it twice. I hear it once during the actual interview, all their advice and then I hear it again during the editing. Every single episode I've heard twice at least and some of them I've gone back and listen again.

Gabe Barrett: I've just been able to absorb so many different pieces of advice and wisdom and ideas of, “Hey, do this, don't do that. I tried this one time, it didn't work so well, don't follow my mistakes,” or that kind of thing. And so I feel like my design level has gone up faster than it would have without it. It's been really great.

Patrick Rauland: You basically feel like it's helped you avoid a lot of mistakes?

Gabe Barrett: Oh yeah, definitely. Definitely.

Where Are You Taking the Podcast?

Patrick Rauland: I'm curious where you're going to … Sorry, this was not a prescriptive question, it just came into my head. But I'm curious where you're going to take Board Game Design Lab because earlier this year you had a really cool design competition and then just a few weeks ago you announced this Ignite conference. So you're doing other … It's not just a podcast, right? There's a contest, there's a little conference. What is your end goal? What do you want to have happen?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, I mean perfect world. Eventually I would love to get to a point where this is my full time job. Where it is my job to help game designers have everything they need to grow and become the best game designers on the planet, right. To have all the resources and whether it's through interviews and podcasts or blog posts or through conferences or contest, all these different things to basically build this community to help as many people as possible make great games that people love. I mean, ultimately that's the goal.

Gabe Barrett: It's to be able to do this as a full time gig. And it's a long way off from there, I'm doing it part time, I'm making money here and there and it's helping me pay some bills here and there, which is great. To be paid for your … How to be paid for something that you love doing and that you enjoy. It's amazing. But hopefully one day it'll get to the point where Kinda hit that critical mass. Where we have enough people and enough base of support and enough people willing to put in and help support the show and that kind of thing that it becomes the day job. So we'll see.

Patrick Rauland: Man, that is terrifying and exciting all at the same time. I started working for myself about two and a half years ago and I saved up so much money in my bank account because I was like, “Man, I got to make sure I don't … ” I have a mortgage, you can't … And you have kids. You have to be careful with that stuff. So it's cool you're, I guess taking baby steps and growing little by little and at some point I'm sure with good fortune you'll take that jump.

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, that's definitely the goal. And I feel really good about it .The trajectory is definitely headed in that direction if I'm gonna just keep things going and keep adding things here and there and providing people with more and more and more value. I feel really good about it.

How Do You Want to Branch Out?

Patrick Rauland: Do you think you'd want to do more podcasts, more audio stuff? Do you think you want to do more of these conferences? Would you want to do like one on one consulting for Kickstarters? Like what … Because there's so much space out there to help people make board games.

Gabe Barrett: Yeah. Well, I mean the answer to that question is yes. I mean, I'm already doing pretty much all that. I've been doing consulting calls where people, they need help with either the game design or they're trying to figure out their kickstart, like you said, all these different things. There's so many different avenues that this industry takes and there's a lot of people out there who are at step one or step three out of 100.

Gabe Barrett: I've been able to help a lot of people just get a little bit further down the path and all the wisdom and knowledge that has been imparted on me, I've been able to pass that along to other people. I'm excited to do more game contests and … Like the Ignite conference, I hope that becomes a yearly thing. You know, this is the first one we've ever done. I'm super excited. I feel really good about all the speakers that are involved in and the people that are coming.

Gabe Barrett: It's cool because it's on Facebook, right? You don't even have to go anywhere. You don't have to get a hotel, you don't have to get a plane ticket or anything you can show up in your underwear and nobody's going to know. And so I'm excited to do that and maybe some other types of things. Then with the launch Board Game Design Lab+, a BGDL+ a while back.

Gabe Barrett: It's basically it's through patriot and so you get a subscription … You pay a subscription fee and you get access to all sorts of other audio shows. I've been doing the thing called the Kickstarter diaries, which is almost like a separate podcast end of itself where I talked to people just about Kickstarter and the mistakes they've made and success they've found. And they've been doing a podcast for the BGDL+ as well.

Gabe Barrett: It's all about hacking creativity. Figuring out how to get motivated, how to stay motivated, how to hack your time and all these different … How to be efficient and all that kind of stuff. I'm excited to do more and more and eventually it hits the limit, right. There's only so many hours a day, but right now I'm excited to keep figuring out new ways to add value.

What is Your Design Process?

Patrick Rauland: That's awesome. Let's change gears back to board games. What is your … I mean, when you have … Give us an overview of your design process. What does it look like from start to finish?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah. So the initial idea and I've got countless all at the same time, just like any other game designer. Everything can be a game. As you walk down the street, you see 50 games on your way home. And so it always starts as an idea that sits in my head for a while. And it just kinda rolls around, right. And I have tons of ideas and I'll write them down. I'll write down different, “Okay, what about this mechanism? It might bring out the theme.” I start with theme almost 100% top.

Gabe Barrett: And can I have a game … I want to make a game about x and so what would support x? And I'll let those games just float around in my head for a while. And then I'll start working on one or two or three, typically no more than three at a time. Where I'll start prototyping bits and pieces. One thing that really bothers me about the way some people work and I feel like one of the reasons I get so overwhelmed is they try to prototype the whole game at the same time, right. They think I'm going to make this two hour game and I'm going to prototype the whole thing and then play test it.

Gabe Barrett: Well good luck to you. That's going to take a long time to figure that out. And so I'll just start prototyping little bits and pieces. I'll prototype the combat system, I'll prototype the movement, I'll prototype the events card, vanguards and just start putting these pieces together one at a time and just making sure they work. Okay, this works. Let me change this here. And then eventually I'll get to a point where the whole prototypes done. Okay, great.

Gabe Barrett: And then I'll play a little bit and I'll typically have two or three prototypes at a time going and play testing and figuring out and staring at, and all that. And eventually I'll get to a point with one of them I go, “Okay, this is the one I'm going to focus on.” And then I'll just hold off on the other one or two, put them on the shelf for a little while and I'll just focus on one. And put all my energy into it. All the play testing, all the time, all the thought processes into that one until we get to the point where it's pitchable or sometimes I'll do this for a contest so I can submit it to the contest or whatever.

Gabe Barrett: And so it Kinda … It's a big filter, right. I start with a whole bunch and it kind of filters, filter, filters down until I've got that one game I'm working on and I put everything into that. So that's how my process works.

Patrick Rauland: I was actually surprised when you said … Did you say you made your first prototype for a … Oh I'm gonna forget the name. Hold on, I want to get it. The Final Flicktier, there we go. Did you say you start … You made your first prototype in May or June?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, May was the first prototype, but the idea had been in my head for a while. I had this … I actually talking to a guest on my own podcast, he mentioned something and he gave me an idea for this like 4x dexterity space game. I was like, “Man, that could be really cool.” It just stuck in my head for a while and eventually this summer I had some extra time and I thought I'm going to see what I can do. And I started prototyping it and putting the ships together and the planets and figuring out the mechanisms and all that. And then it was off to the races.

How Many Hours Do You Work on Your Designs?

Patrick Rauland: I have to give you Kudos because I've been working on my game since November of last year, so I don't know how … And you're going to launch way before me. I don't know how you put it together that fast, that is … All right, here's a question. How many hours a day do you work on your designs? Maybe you have 30 hours in a day.

Gabe Barrett: No, it's definitely not that. One thing that really helps, it's a very simple game, right. With the dexterity, you can't go too complex, right. You can't go too far out there. You don't want a two hour dexterity game. You know what I mean? Like this is a 60 minute dexterity game and the dexterity is it's part of the game, but it's not the whole game. It's not like flip ships where dexterity is the game. This is one of the main mechanisms but it's not the whole thing. But that's one thing. It's the complexity.

Gabe Barrett: And again, I talked to some people and they're were working on these like super complex euro three hour experiences. And of course those games take two years to develop because there's so many moving parts and so many things going on. But when you're making really thematic games, that are very simple. I mean the rule book Super short, there's not that many rules. It goes a lot faster. Right. And then when you can really devote time to it and you're just like, “Okay, this is the thing I'm going to work on.”

Gabe Barrett: And that's another thing when I talked to the game designers that are just starting out or just figuring things out industry, because you have to schedule this stuff. If you want to be good at this, if you want to make it something real, make it a job and make it … Scheduled the time and make sure you're sticking by that time. You're dying on that hill, so to speak. And you're walking away from watching TV or Netflix or video games, whatever it is and you're devoting time to this. Because when you do that, it's amazing how fast things can come together.

Gabe Barrett: It also helps I have some really good folks here that live close to me that are wonderful play testers. And we get together every Sunday night and we play one of my games and maybe another game that they bring or something like that. And so that's been a huge help as well, to have people that come around and go, “Hey, we want to play your game.” And that's been amazing.

Patrick Rauland: That's interesting. I've talked to a few different people about play test groups or a board game design meetup groups and most people do not have a weekly group. But if … And I think for me I'm lucky where I have a monthly group and that's above average, a monthly group. But having, it's probably just your friends not like a meet up, meet up. But it's probably just your friends and they can just come over once a week. You … I have no doubt you can get tons of work done. It just, “Hey, I have a new idea, let's test it. Nope, didn't work. Cool, try something else next week.” You know what I mean?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah. And my wife's a great cook. And so she makes dinner for everybody and they show up and they eat free food and they play one of my games and they leave fat and happy and everybody's … It works out for everybody.

Does Game Design Energize or Exhaust You?

Patrick Rauland: Very, very cool. So tell me about when you are designing games are you like … You finished updating a game, are you excited or are you exhausted?

Gabe Barrett: I am so pumped every time. I have to be careful not to design too close to bedtime because I can't sleep. My brain just keeps working. It just wants to stay at the table. That's one of those things like an object in motion stays in motion and that is definitely my brain. Like it's sometimes difficult to get in motion, I'm like “Oh I don't feel like working on it.” But as soon as I start working, like I can just go for hours and hours and hours.

Gabe Barrett: And I don't … It's weird. I'm one of those people that I don't really get tired so to speak. Like I never just fall asleep. I have to go to bed, I have to actively go to bed. And so I could easily stay up two, three, four, 5:00 in the morning and just not even realize it. Just working on stuff and figuring things out. So I love it.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, that is amazing. I'm kind of there with you. I don't ever accidentally fall asleep. I have friends that will just fall asleep 10 minutes into a movie and I have no idea how their brain … How does that happen? Cause I'm glued to a TV screen … Well as soon as they start telling me a story I'm glued. And I needed to do the same thing, like go to bed and not do anything too interesting before. Okay. So, I guess how many …

How Many Games Are You Working On?

Patrick Rauland: Okay. So interesting question. You're working on this game you're about to launch on Kickstarter and I should say to all the listeners, this podcast should come out while it's on Kickstarter's. You can find it right now. If you go on there. How many games do you have with publishers? Like are there … Because I know you mentioned before like a couple of your games are with publishers. How many of those are there because you're still spending some time on them, right?

Gabe Barrett: Well so like one of the games with the publisher right now it's under review, it has been there for a while. They're working on a licensed IP for it and that just kind of takes a while to get that figured out to see if that's going to come through. That game is just like I don't know anything else to do to it. This is done. And that's the football game I've been working on forever and I've talked a lot about them own podcasts.

Gabe Barrett: And then I've got another game that I talked to a poster about and they said hey can you re-theme it just a little bit and do some different things there. And so that one I'm still working on it but it Kinda on the back burner right now. It stares at me. It's actually sitting right next to me at my desk right now, staring at me, reminding me that I need to work on it very soon. And so that one's … That's that.

Gabe Barrett: And I've got … Let's see a couple more that I've sent off to publishers and either have gotten really good feedback back or just sitting here waiting on them to kind of give me something in return. So there's, I don't know four or five that are out right now that are in a good place that could be published or just need maybe a little bit more development.

Gabe Barrett: So yeah, I've got a handful out there and then a whole bunch and notebooks and whole bunch of prototypes. They're in a drawer. The drawer of misfit prototypes over here next to me. I don't know how many are in there, man. At least 20 of games that just didn't turn out for whatever reason.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. I feel like I need a basement for that. I live in a condo and I do not have enough space for all the unfinished prototypes. I don't know what … At some point I'm going to have to get rid of them.

Gabe Barrett: Or just pour them out and take all the usable stuff, find a box for it and then just … Yeah. [crosstalk 00:28:31].

What Does Success Look Like?

Patrick Rauland: So I think I know the answer to this, but what does success look like in the board game world to you? Actually, since I think I know your answer I'm gonna change the question. What does it look like for you in the next year? And what does it look like for you in the next five years?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, for sure. Let's start with a bigger one. Next five years is like I said, making this a full time thing. Where I can do the podcast and I can do the community and all the different stuff for board game designers. More books, I got the board game design advice book that came out earlier this year, I'm working on the second edition now. And just doing as much as I can to make this a full time gig. And so what that looks like in the next year is what basically can I do it in a year instead of five.

Gabe Barrett: I've read a lot about can you 10x your results over the next three months or the next 12 months or whatever it is. And so it's like, “All right, how do I do that? What does it look like to try to do it now? Not that that's really the goal, but what would it look like if I could? And so it's just add more value, trying to find more ways to help people, whether it's through contests or consulting or conferences or books or whatever it is.

Gabe Barrett: And just anytime an idea comes along, hey, test it, prototype it. Hey, ask the community, “What do you guys think? Would you guys want something like this?” And then if they do, if they say, “Yeah, absolutely.” If they raised their hand so to speak, okay how do I make that happen? And so we'll see where it goes.

Overrated Underrated Game

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. So I like to end all of my episodes, all of my shows with a game called overrated, underrated. Now I know I normally ask people, “Have you heard about it?” In your case, we just chatted about it right before the interview. So basically I'm gonna force you to take a position on a topic because it makes for interesting audios.

Gabe Barrett: Absolutely. Provocative listening.

Patrick Rauland: Yes. So sports games, are they overrated or underrated?

Gabe Barrett: Super underrated assuming that they actually feel like a sport and not just a math problem or they've taken all the fun out of it. I'm a huge sports guy. I played football through college and love football, love sports in general and I wish there were more sports games. I feel like they're underrated just because they need to be more represented.

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Okay. So here's an assumption that Honduras does not get sort of summer, winter, fall, spring, is that correct?

Gabe Barrett: For the most part, yeah. Where I live it's more like San Diego weather. So it's kind of cool, it's kind of nice all the time and then it gets a little bit chilly, and chilly here is like 50 degrees. And then it gets a little warm and warm here is like 85 and so yeah. It's just kind of nice all year round. It's rainy or dry, basically there are two seasons.

Patrick Rauland: Yes. So my question are having four seasons. Is it overrated or underrated?

Gabe Barrett: Oh, that's a good question. I really miss snow. I love snow. I don't want it to snow very long. I want it to snow for like a week and then be gone and then be warm again. But I would say seasons are underrated. My daughter actually today was saying how she wished it would snow in Honduras and I said, “Well good luck to you there. It's probably not gonna happen.” And so she has this like longing idea of the United States and wanting to go to Wisconsin or somewhere where it's snowing.

Patrick Rauland: Now aren't you from Alabama? Do you get snow there?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, we get it for like a week and then it gets warm again. It great.

Patrick Rauland: Wait-

Gabe Barrett: It gets cold enough to snow but not cold enough to stick, right. But it gets cold enough to wear a threatened snow, and then they cancel school because it might snow, which is awesome. So you get to stay home from school and they bottled the bread and milk. It's all gone from the grocery stores. We freak out. It's awesome.

Patrick Rauland: That is amazing. Okay. So getting in over 100 or more play tests and have a game before you sell it to a publisher, before you launch it on Kickstarter, is that overrated or underrated?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah. Depends on the context, right. Again, it goes back to the complexity of the game. But I would say for a lot of games especially games coming out nowadays that aren't these long drawn out thing, I would say it's overrated. I don't think you necessarily need a 100 to do it. I think you could probably do it after 20, 30, 50. I'd say 50 might even be the ceiling here. Especially I know there's a lot of people say, “100 play tests when you haven't changed anything.”

Gabe Barrett: So you kind of, if you change something, it starts the number of back over. I don't know about all that, especially with the publisher, right. Now it Kickstarters are a little bit different because Kickstarting, you're wanting to put out a pretty finished product. But with a publisher they're going to put it through some development. It's going to go through more play testing with them. And so if you're dealing with publishers, I'd say 100 is definitely overrated.

Patrick Rauland: Perfect. And last one American football, overrated or underrated

Gabe Barrett: Way underrated is the greatest sport in the history of mankind. It teaches every life skill that you need to know. Unfortunately, it causes some brain damage allegedly. I can't … I don't know if it does or not, I can't remember. But I think it teaches everything, especially young man needs to be aware of as far as teamwork, working hard, discipline, overcoming adversity, fighting through pain. I think it teaches every life skill you need, especially as a young man.

Gabe Barrett: And so I would say it is very much underrated. More people need to play it. I just hope they can find a way to make it just a little bit less brain damaging.

Patrick Rauland: So I will ask you a recent news question. So correct me if I do not watch football closes. Let's let me know if I'm totally off base here. Isn't there some recent stuff about getting … What is it called where you can't tackle the quarterback very hard?

Gabe Barrett: Roughing the passer?

Patrick Rauland: But I could've sworn like, people were making fun of how recent someone actually sacked the quarterback and they got a penalty.

Gabe Barrett: Oh yeah. I mean the rules have gotten so … I mean it makes sense if you think about how much the NFL is a product, right. And the best way to sell your product is to have the best players on the field. And so if Tom Brady or insert best quarterback here, Cam Newton, whoever gets hurt. Well that hurts your brand, that hurts your product. You're not going to sell as much because the best players aren't playing. And so you want to do certain things to protect them and it's just unfortunate.

Gabe Barrett: It kind of simplifies football sometimes where you have these rules that exist to protect players, but they … It's a little bit questionable. It's like well that really wasn't that big of a deal. It wasn't that bad, but you had the flag anyway. It's just kind of the nature of it being a brand and being a product more than just being a game.

Patrick Rauland: Got it. Also I'm really appreciating the distinction between the game and the product, right. Because the NFL cares about the product and people who play football in the backyard care about the game.

Gabe Barrett: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. The people watching at home, they would tell you they care about the game, right. It's when we had these conversations and we talked about the rules and that kind of stuff. But I mean ultimately it is a bazillion dollar product and they want to protect … Protecting the shield is what they call it. The NFL logo shield, and then you protect it.

Patrick Rauland: That is something good.

Gabe Barrett: Absolutely. It's what they talk about all the time especially with the commissioner and … That's one thing they talk about a lot too with like banning players or disciplined player, cutting and not cutting them, but like making them sit down for games and different things like that. They're protecting the shield because they're trying to protect the brand because they don't want all of the public backlash that goes along with domestic violence or whatever the topic of the day.

Gabe Barrett: So they try to protect that brand. It's been a really interesting thing with all the Trump stuff and all the kneeling. And it's been a very difficult time for the brand of football for the product and it's just interesting times ahead I think.

Wrap Up

Patrick Rauland: Well thank you for sharing. I learned something about football today. This is awesome. Gabe where can people find you online?

Gabe Barrett: Online? There's boardgamedesignlab.com. That's kind of the base of operations, bringing fun, all the stuff I'm doing over there especially with the podcast. You can find me on Twitter and Facebook. The Facebook group I think it's facebook.com/bgdl or something like that. Board Game Design Lab Community, if you search for that you'll find it. And yeah, that's the best place.

Patrick Rauland: Well thank you for being on the show. I appreciate it.

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, definitely man. And like you said, the Kickstarter is on right now The Final Flicktier two to four players, 60 minutes, a 4x dexterity game. And so there's not too many of those out there. It's been a lot of fun to put together a lot of fun to play test. People were really enjoying it and they're loving it. And so I'm excited to get it in more people's hands.

Patrick Rauland: Awesome. Listeners, if you're listening to this and you liked the show, please leave us a review on iTunes. If you do, Gabe said he would build you a house in Honduras. That sounds like a pretty good deal.

Gabe Barrett: Absolutely. Well, the building costs down here are a little different, so it's not that hard.

Patrick Rauland: You can visit the site indyboardgamedesigners.com. You can follow me on twitter. I'm @BFTrick. That's B as in Board game, F as in fun and trick as in trick taking games. I did … I finally finished putting up a page on my site for finalizing. If you finally go … If you go to my site, there's a thing where you can finally click the button that says, “Yes, I want to be on the email list.” So you can finally go there and do that if you want to. That's all I got for you. Until next time, happy designing everyone. Bye bye.