Steven Aramini

#46 – Steven Aramini

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.

I'm Patrick Rauland, and today I'm going to be talking with Steven Aramini, who is actually a pretty well-known game designer, and by pretty well known, I mean I have actually heard about him before he came on the show, because he's made games like Sprawlopolis, which I love, Tricky Tides, and a game that's currently on Kickstarter, Animal Kingdoms. Steven, welcome to the show.

Steven Aramini: Hey. Thank you for having me.


Patrick Rauland: So, I like to start my show with a little game, just so I get to know you and the audience gets to know you. If I met you at a convention, what is a game you would play with me every single time?

Steven Aramini: Any game out there?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah.

Steven Aramini: Oh boy. I will always play Splendor.

Patrick Rauland: Splendor? All right. Good choice.

Steven Aramini: It's super simple, and anyone can get into it. It's just like a quick little half-hour thing that I think has just such a wide range and appeal, so I'd go with that.

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Now, if you could make a game with only one of the following components: dice, cards, tiles, or the board itself, meaning … So if you pick dice, then you can't use cards, tiles, or board, which one would you go with?

Steven Aramini: Oh, cards for sure.

Patrick Rauland: Cards for sure? All right. And your favorite show on Netflix?

Steven Aramini: I guess Stranger Things.

Patrick Rauland: Ooh. Oh, see, I haven't been able to get into that one yet. It's on my list. I've heard it's really good. I just haven't like dedicated the time.

Steven Aramini: Yeah. I can't wait for it to come back. I think it's coming back in June, so-

Patrick Rauland: They have like two seasons, three seasons?

Steven Aramini: Two seasons so far, so this'll be the third season.

How Do You Win So Many Design Contests?

Patrick Rauland: All right. Maybe I have to get into it before June, and like catch up, and then hopefully finish right as season three's coming on. We'll plan. Cool, so I first heard about you when I started paying to design contests, basically at the start of 2018, and you won the Cardboard Edison 2018, which actually is funny enough, happens to be Animal Kingdoms, which is now on Kickstarter. So I guess the first question I just want to ask you, because I've never won a design contest, like what advice do you have for winning contests like this? What is the magical formula to kick butts at these design contests?

Steven Aramini: Well, I think it kind of depends on which contest you enter, because they all sort of have different requirements and stuff. And I've entered actually quite a few. The contests have been really a big part of how I have gotten into the game industry, really. Because I've entered ones through The Game Crafter, and one of the published games, called Circle the Wagons, we entered that, myself, Danny Devine, and Paul Kluka, as co-designers, so we entered Circle the Wagons in the Button Shy 18-card challenge, and then I've also entered the Cardboard Edison award. And I've also, a long time ago, what really got me into it was the Ion Award for SaltCON.

Steven Aramini: So I've had a lot of good luck with contests. I've done well with them, and so for anyone out there, I would just say that entering them is great opportunity, because if you don't enter, you can't win, so at the very least, it's an opportunity to get in front of publishers and to get in front of judges and industry professionals that otherwise, you just wouldn't have that avenue, so whether you win or not, you know, it's a great opportunity. It gives you a deadline on your project, and just makes you create something. So that alone makes me tell anybody who's trying to break into the industry to seek out these contests and enter it just for the experience, and you know, you might get lucky and you might win or get some great feedback.

If you don't enter, you can't win.

Steven Aramini: As for my personal, I guess advice, you know, for like The Game Crafter, they require final art, so with those contests, I've entered three contests in there in the past, and with those, I'm not an artist, you know? I like game design, but I am not a good graphic artist, so what I did with those is I partnered up with people who were artists, so I handled the game design and I let them handle the illustration and the graphic design. That's one thing you could do, is seek out somebody who's really good at art, or really good at graphic design, to kind of help you for those types of contests.

Steven Aramini: Now, the Cardboard Edison award did not require any sort of final art, so that was just me entering it, and I think honestly, the first hurdle is creating a good pitch video, because the first round of Cardboard Edison, they don't even play your game. You know, they don't even play your game. You know, they're just going to look at your rules and your pitch video. Excuse me. But, I think that the pitch video is really critical to helping them understand what your game is, and what I ended up doing was just … I created a pretty simple video. It was just a locked off … You know, I just put my iPhone on a tripod and shot down at a table, but it wasn't a shaky cam. It was very straightforward.

Steven Aramini: I wasn't trying to be funny, or cute, or clever with it. I basically set up the game in sort of a mid-game state, and tried to explain a turn and the general gist of how the game worked, and you know, I got feedback from the judges that said they liked that approach, and appreciated it, that it was clear, concise, and it gave them a good sense of what the game played like, because it was sort of a mid state of game, that they could understand how the turns worked. So, I think at least for Cardboard Edison, I'd say really take the time to try and craft a video that will appeal to the judges.

I wasn't trying to be funny, or cute, or clever with it. I basically set up the game in sort of a mid-game state, and tried to explain a turn and the general gist of how the game worked

Patrick Rauland: Love it. There's a purist part of me that wants to believe that if you make a good game, it doesn't matter how good your video is, but I think there's so … I mean, I don't know how many people enter Cardboard Edison, but I'm guessing that there's just so many people doing it that you have to have a good video to get to the second round, so they can actually play your game. Is that right?

Steven Aramini: Yeah. I mean, I don't know that you need a good … Like, I wouldn't say my video was good. It was just, like I said, there was no bells or whistles to it, but I think it clearly communicated the theme, and the mechanics, and why the judges might want to play it. So I think that's the thing, is you have to sort of tap into what would make the game intriguing and make it feel like it's a unique experience? And yeah, for Cardboard Edison, I think there were almost 300 entries, so you know, they're going to be looking at a lot of different things. So, I think they want something that just feels fresh and feels like it's well thought out. Whether or not it's pretty or not, I don't think they really care about that. I think they just want to see that there's some interesting mechanics that are working together, or an interesting theme that they would be curious to learn more about.

How Much Time Should You Spend Editing?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. I really like hearing that, and it's nice to know you don't have to have the best video. I mean, just as a ballpark, like if I spent an hour recording the video and an hour, maybe two, editing it, is that going to be enough, or do I need to put more time than that in?

Steven Aramini: I did mine in … I don't have editing capabilities. I don't have those skills, so I literally like pressed play on my iPhone, and I did it all in one take. I didn't do any editing. I stopped and started a few times, just to make sure I communicated what I wanted to, but that was it, you know? So I don't think you even have to have editing skills to do something for that. So I wouldn't let that stop you. But I think my video might still be up on the Cardboard Edison site.

Patrick Rauland: Yes.

Steven Aramini: So, if anyone wants to see it, they can see, you know, it's really not a fancy video, but it does, I think, communicate, “Hey, this is how you play a game,” and I think it gave them a good sense of how it worked. And I think just in talking with other judges, and this year I'm a judge in the Cardboard Edison award, so I can speak for me personally, I don't really care about if it's funny, or if it's trying to be entertaining, because we have to look at quite a few videos, so you really just kind of want to get into, “Okay, what makes this game clever, and what makes it feel like it's intriguing, has tension, and is just, you know, well designed?”

Patrick Rauland: Love it. I'm actually really, really happy to hear that. Oh, and I should say yes, you can either Google “Cardboard Edison 2018 awards” or I will link to it in the show notes, yeah, because your video is still up.

What Do You Do After You Win a Contest?

So there's actually something else. When I was actually looking at that page, you actually won this contest, and one of the things I noticed is, like, you basically had … I don't know what type of art you had, but the art in the finished game that's on Kickstarter right now, Animal Kingdoms, is basically like you already had the theme down. You had, I don't know if it was like stock photos, or clip art that you found online, or whatever, but like you had the essence of the game already. Maybe my question is how much more work is there? So you win a design contest, a publisher is interested. Did you have to do another two hours of work for them? Did it take another 20 hours of balancing? Did you advise them on it? What comes after you … Maybe if you're lucky or you get noticed by a publisher, what comes after that?

Steven Aramini: Well, in the case of Animal Kingdoms, I worked with those guys, and what they really were pushing for was making it a little bit less abstract, because that game was strictly a card game, and then they … Because the main mechanic in that is area control, they really felt like they wanted a board to just give it a better table presence, as well as to just make it feel a little less abstract so you're more like you're actually going for these different kingdoms, which I thought was a great edition.

Steven Aramini: So beyond that, we worked on a few minor tweaks and stuff, but otherwise, it didn't change a ton, but that's not to say we didn't do a lot more playtesting. We increased it to five players. We added a solo. We tried a lot of other things to try and see if it was going to, I guess you could say get a little bit more complex. Ultimately, a lot of those things, we stripped back down to the original state, but there was a lot of testing. Excuse me. There was a lot of testing, and there was a lot of just back-and-forth between myself and the designers.

Steven Aramini: And I think the main difference with me mentally, is like I make games just for fun. You know, that's why I do it. It's just a hobby, but when I sign a contract and it becomes a real thing, you know, then I'm in a contract with a company, and it's … You know, for them, it's a business, so I really just do a little bit of a mental gearshift knowing that I have some responsibilities, and I have to hold up my end of the bargain, in terms of testing things, and collaborating with them, and doing things like going on podcasts, and helping promote the game, and things like that. So, I think at that point, it's just recognizing that it's more than just a hobby. It's also a business.

How Many Islands Can You Buy With All Your Game Design Money?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. Now you've signed a couple games, so I assume by now you have several Lamborghinis paid for by board games. Is that correct?

Steven Aramini: Oh sure. All I do is sit around and play games and make games all day. No, I mean, I know a lot of other designers have said it, and I would just echo it. It's like you don't go into game design to make money. There's just not a lot of money in it, unless you get very fortunate and hit a game that really takes off. But yeah, you know, I still have a full-time job, and I still do this on evenings and weekends, so any money I make through royalties is just gravy, but it certainly is not buying me any Lamborghinis.

What Does Your Design Process Look Like?

Patrick Rauland: Yet. Yet. So, I would love to know, you know, what does your design process look like? What are the stages you go through? What are the things you think about? And maybe also, like what is your design … If your process has changed at all, I'd love to know that.

Steven Aramini: I think it's just incrementally evolved as I've done it, because I've started … You know, the first game I designed was in 2013, and I've just kind of been doing it for now five years. So I'm sure the process has changed, but for me, like probably most game designers, I have a game design journal, several really. I mean, over the course of the years, I've probably gone through 10 different journals, and that's where I just scribble down ideas and notes, and for me, that's really the first step in the creative process, is I do a lot of thinking about the game, and the mechanics, and the components, and the gameplay, on paper and in my brain, before I ever actually put a prototype together.

Steven Aramini: So, I go through a lot of like, “Will it work? Will it won't work?” at that stage, and only when I really feel kind of confident that I'm going to get something that may function as a game do I even bother putting together a prototype. And then from there, you know, once I have a prototype, I go to a lot of self-playing before I get it in front of anybody, just to make sure it's not a total piece of garbage.

Steven Aramini: And then when I feel like it's at a stage where I might actually have a game there, that's when I usually open it up to my core playtesting group, which is just, you know, my local friends that we have a group of buddies that we test each other's stuff. And one of the people in that game group is Danny Devine, who also lives here with me in Reno, and he's great, because he's also a published designer, and he's really good at giving feedback, and we're kind of our own best playtesters. So he's kind of the first wave, him and some other friends of ours that are kind of the core playtesting group.

Steven Aramini: Yeah, so then from there, if I still think it has potential, I keep tweaking, and then I open it up to a wider net of other playtesters in the community, and then eventually, you know, a lot of times, I'll reach out to the Twitter community or the greater gaming world, to see if anyone wants to check it out, or test it, or do a print-and-play, or something. So yeah, that's kind of the process.

What Percent of Ideas Turn Into Prototypes?

Patrick Rauland: Oh. One of the things I … I've heard a lot of that type of thing before, but I always want to know, like if you write 100 ideas in your game journal, what percent of those actually turn into a prototype and what percent of those go past one playthrough, let's say?

Steven Aramini: It's probably like 1%, really.

Patrick Rauland: Really?

Steven Aramini: I mean, like … And that could be like an idea … I could have 10 ideas in a night, you know? So they could be super fleeting, and I might just write them down or jot them down and never pursue them, or I might just kind of start to think about something and it just loses steam, so you know, my brain is like always going through ideas and stuff. So I couldn't tell you why I start to latch onto things and then start to pursue them versus abandoning others, but you know, with me at least, ideas are never the barrier to game design. It's always just time and knowing you can only kind of work on one thing at once, and then you have to sort of prioritize what you're passionate about at the time.

Do You Have A White Whale of Game Design?

Patrick Rauland: Love it. So do you have a white whale of game design, something that you try to figure out, and maybe you've tried to put it in several different games, and you just haven't quite cracked it yet?

Steven Aramini: Yeah. In fact right now I'm still working on it. It originally started as a war game, where you had a B-17 Bomber, or was it a B-52? I don't remember. It was a bomber. It was kind of a war game. It was a solo game. Then I changed it to like a pirate game, and now it's currently more of like a fantasy themed game, but it's just a dice chucking game that I've just been … I've liked certain aspects of it. So now it's in its current state, and I'm putting it together again. Yeah, so I've always wanted to do just like a solo card and dice game, that would be the type of game I'd want to play, and I've been trying to hammer it into shape over the course of a couple of years, and that's kind of my white whale one.

Editors note: It's the B-52 Bomber.

What Resource(s) Do You Recommend to New Designers?

Patrick Rauland: Love it. So it's like one specific game that you can't quite get. That's cool. One of the things I like to ask other people is, like, what … Okay, so there's a lot of games. There's a lot of contests. There's a lot of blogs and podcasts. Like, what is a resource that you would recommend to another indie game designer or an aspiring designer?

Steven Aramini: For me, like early on, I turned to The Game Crafter a lot, not just for the contests, but also for the game pieces, because I ended up shopping through a lot of the game pieces, and a lot of times, those gave me sort of inspiration for ideas. But it was also just kind of like … It was kind of fun to just find those game pieces, and be able to apply them to your games, and just kind of make it feel a little more real, by having these actual cool little game pieces.

Steven Aramini: Then, I think for playtesters, it makes it a more fun experience if they're getting to play with some of these cool things, and to me, The Game Crafter now, they have a really good quality, you know? In terms of boxes, and cards, and components, and stuff. So, it sort of helps … It helped me early on, for sure, in terms of just being able to put together prototypes that felt a little more approachable to people. So for me, The Game Crafter was huge.

Steven Aramini: And just as far as social media, I'm on Twitter a lot, and I've found that there's a really good gaming community on Twitter, so early on, I joined, and just started following other designers, and started following publishers, and started following game industry professionals and stuff. And that has been great, because it opens the door to, I think just the huge range of things that are going on in that industry, and it just makes you feel part of that industry, and it's an interactive part of it, and you know, I think my self and all kinds of designers out there, I think everyone's very willing to just interact with their fellow designers, or aspiring designers, or just fans of games. So to me, it's a great community to be a part of.

Patrick Rauland: Love it. I really like that, and I actually have to say, the first game that I got to like … I don't want to say a finished state, but something resembling like not just a crude prototype, was because of a Game Crafter contest. Like, if it wasn't for the contest, I think it would have stayed in the scribbled notes, handwriting on cards for months.

Steven Aramini: Yeah, yeah. Totally.

Does Game Design Energize or Exhaust You?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. I guess I'd like to know, you know, you go through … It sounds like you do this on the nights and weekends. Does this process energize or exhaust you? Is it something that builds you up and makes you excited, or is it something that does take energy?

Steven Aramini: So far, I mean, I am like all energized by it. I never feel … Honestly, if I ever feel exhausted, I just don't work on it, because I never want to burn out or make it feel like work, because I am doing it for fun, and I like games for fun, so that is … You know, it's never been a problem for me. I will say, like, when I have to get into rules, man, I hate writing rules. It's just, to me, that's like homework. That's the hard part. Designing the games, playing the games, and testing, and stuff, that's totally a fun experience.

Steven Aramini: And one way I sort of combat the fatigue or the sort of burnout factor is I usually have like three or four projects going on at once, and usually in different states, right? So I'll have a couple of … I'll have several ideas that are just in the journal stage, where I'm just kicking around if there are ideas, and then I'll usually have one or two that are in more of like a rough prototype stage, and then I'll have maybe one or two that are in tighter prototype stage, and then you know, I've been fortunate enough to have a couple of projects that are in signed or contract stage, so bouncing around between all of those just totally keeps it fresh for me, and I never feel burned out, because I'm always just jumping to a different project, and I'm not focusing solely on one game and one project, and falling so in love with it that it's becoming frustrating or something.

One way I sort of combat the fatigue or the sort of burnout factor is I usually have like three or four projects going on at once, and usually in different states

Steven Aramini: So I think for anyone who's kind of getting into it, I would just say don't be afraid to work on a couple of projects at once, and you know, sometimes that can be healthy, to kind of step away from that project and get a little distance from it. Then when you come back to it, you kind of have fresher eyes.

Patrick Rauland: I love that. I think the one concern for me is I would lose focus. You know what I mean? And like not finish a project, but I think as long as you're … Yeah, I think that'd be my concern, but I think you're right, where you don't want to burn out. If you focus too hard and you're hitting a wall, sometimes you just need to change gears, or you know, change projects. But I like that advice.

Steven Aramini: Yeah, totally. I mean, it's different for everybody, you know? I think some people may hate that concept, and like you said, they might … If they feel too scattered, they're not going to be able to focus on anything, and feel like they're not going to move forward with anything, so I don't know. I think everybody's process is going to be different, but for me, that's kind of how I approach it.

What Does Success Look Like?

Patrick Rauland: I love it. So, what does success look like in the board game world to you? I mean, do you have to win every design contest, or are you happy just winning the occasional one?

Steven Aramini: No, I think to me, I think I'm kind of at a stage where I have had several published games, so to me, I am sort of designing now, with a goal of finding a publisher, but I don't think that should be necessarily the end-all-be-all if you liked game design. I don't think people should be discouraged if they aren't finding a publisher. For me, I think ultimately, I've had such sort of positive feedback with it. You know, I'll work on a game, and then you get to sign it from a publisher, and then you get to see it turn into this living, breathing thing, you know? And then it gets these amazing artists that get attached to it, and it starts just to turn into an actual game. So you know, it's definitely a feeling of satisfaction.

Steven Aramini: So, you know, I don't really put any stock into if it's … how well it sells or whatever. I think other than the fact that I want the games to be successful because the publishers put their trust in me, so I want it to be successful for them, because I want them to feel like they made a good investment if you will, in signing my game. But it's really not about that to me. To me, it's just like there's definitely … Success is seeing a project through to the finish, and being able to hold it at the end of the day and go, “Man, I made that.” So that's like a really satisfying feeling.

Success is seeing a project through to the finish, and being able to hold it at the end of the day and go, “Man, I made that.”

Steven Aramini: And that's where like The Game Crafter is great too, or just Kickstarter in general, is like if you can't find a publisher, or you don't want to go through that, or you're just … that's not an avenue that's working for you, you can self-publish through Game Crafter and sell the games that way, and they now have a quality that … And they're not the only ones, you know? There's like Drive Thru Cards and there's a bunch of other print-on-demand sites out there that are doing that. And then Kickstarter too.

Steven Aramini: You know, I know a lot of people that believe in their own game, and they put in the work and the effort to get the quotes and do all the homework of Kickstarting it themselves. And that's how, quite frankly, most of the independent game companies started. You know, they just wanted to do it themselves, and be in control of that, and they made the effort to learn the ins and outs of Kickstarter, and fulfillment, and distribution, and all those good things, and they've sort of made their own success. So I think there's a lot of different avenues and a lot of different definitions of success, and honestly, they're all correct.

Do You Pitch Publishers In Person?

Patrick Rauland: So I just want to go back. You want to finish projects, either self-publish them or find a publisher to publish them. Is it worth it to you to go to conventions specifically to pitch games, or is that not worth it? Because that, to me, is like I don't mind going to a convention and spending a little bit of time pitching games, but I can't justify going to a convention and purely prototyping, and playtesting, and purely pitching publishers. Do you do that?

Steven Aramini: No. In fact, I need to go to more conventions, just because I enjoy going to conventions, but I haven't ever even been to a major convention. The biggest convention I've been to is SaltCON, and then I've been to RAGECON. I've been to some Protospiels. In March, I'm going to be going to Dice Tower West, which will be the biggest convention I've ever been to. So I would love to go to more conventions, but really not for the purpose of pitching. I just want to play games, and go to conventions, and meet people, and see what's cool and what's new going on in the game industry.

Steven Aramini: Having said that, I have heard that game conventions are one of the best ways to get your game in front of publishers and get eyes on your game. So, I think it's definitely a good opportunity, but for me, that's never been like a priority to me. All of my games have been pretty much sold, or you know, I've made those connections with publishers a little bit more organically, like with Cardboard Edison, it just got noticed because it won the Cardboard Edison award, so that opened up a lot of channels and communication with several publishers that way.

Steven Aramini: And I think ultimately, it's just the more I'm involved in the industry, the more people I know, and just the easier it becomes if I did want to reach out to somebody. And I think a lot of it's also identifying what companies are looking for submissions, and I want to say Cardboard Edison has a list. I think it costs money to get it. I'm not sure how much, but I think they have a list of, “Here's all the publishers that are currently accepting submissions,” so if you want to go that route, you can kind of seek out publishers that are accepting submissions, and you can enter a sell sheet or fill out the forms and get your game in front of them that way.

How Do You Win Sprawlopolis? It's so Hard!

Patrick Rauland: Cool. That's really helpful. Now, I have one selfish question before we finish with a game. I love Sprawlopolis, and it's one of the very few games that I play solo, but I lose like 2/3 of the time. Do you have any tricks, since you designed the game, so that I don't get crushed as bad? Because I love that game.

Steven Aramini: Well, we hear that a lot, actually. We weren't sure how difficult people were going to find it, you know, until it got released out in the wild, and it seems like a lot of people do have more losses than … more in the loss column than the win column. But I mean, pretty much what we usually do, like when we're playing, is we try to focus on two of the three goals, and sort of scrub one of the goals, and just kind of consider one of the goals not as important. So I think up front, that's the most important decision, is deciding which two goals, if they do synergize, you know? What you want to concentrate on, and then just probably abandoning the one goal that you think is going to give you the least pain at the end. Certainly it's probably not going to be one of the ones that gives you the negative points. But yeah, when you try to do all three at once, it usually never ends well.

Patrick Rauland: You know, Steven, secretly I did this entire podcast, 30 minutes, just to ask you that question. All the rest of it was a façade. No.

Overrated Underrated Game

So I like to end my show with a game called Overrated Underrated. Have you heard about it?

Steven Aramini: I haven't, unfortunately.

Patrick Rauland: No, excellent. I'm going to give you a word or a phrase, like pizza, and you're going to tell me if it's overrated or underrated, and you would clearly say pizza is underrated, because it's the most delicious food of all time and you can put anything on it, something like that. Got it?

Steven Aramini: Okay.

Patrick Rauland: All right, trick-taking games, overrated or underrated?

Steven Aramini: I'm going to say underrated, since I have a trick-taking game coming out in a couple of months.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, okay. But is there a specific reason why they're underrated, you know?

Steven Aramini: Well, I think the cool thing with trick-taking games now is I think trick-taking games are seen as such a classic mechanism, and sort of associated with stodgy games, but I think that nowadays, like what I tried to do with Tricky Tides, which is the trick-taking game that I have, or a game like Honshū is another one, and I know there's a couple other games coming out. It's just interesting to see how they're taking the trick-taking element and sort of weaving it into some more modern gaming. So to me, it's an untapped, still, mechanism for how you can kind of turn it into some really kind of creative gameplay.

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Cooking shows, overrated or underrated?

Steven Aramini: I guess overrated, because my wife watched Food Network all the time, but it's kind of like background noise, because they all sort of blend. It's like, if I watch Chopped one more time, I don't know.

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Spiel des Jahres award, overrated or underrated?

Steven Aramini: Oh gosh. That one's kind of right in the middle. I guess I'd say underrated, because I think if you're in the hobby, you definitely know about it, but I still think there's such a huge audience out there that just hasn't tapped into board games, and I think anything that can help clue them into games that can get them into the hobby, I think is a good thing, so I think that's a really good award in terms of cluing people in on, “These are some games that have sort of raised eyebrows this year,” and if it can get more people into our hobby, I think that's awesome.

Patrick Rauland: And because your game is about lions, or sorry, animals, what about The Lion King, overrated or underrated?

Steven Aramini: Underrated. I love The Lion King. We actually saw The Lion King on Broadway. Well, not Broadway. In London, but on stage, and we loved it, so yeah. I'm a big fan.

Patrick Rauland: I've seen it as well, on the stage here in Denver, and it was an awesome production. It was very, very good. Quick note on that. Are you excited for the live action version of The Lion King coming out, I think this year?

Steven Aramini: I haven't seen anything about it, but I'm sure it will be well done as is all of their stuff. I don't know. Live action of that. I don't know, is that going to be like real animals?

Patrick Rauland: I have no idea. I have absolutely no idea. I just know they've announced the cast, and the cast is epic. Like, I think Beyonce is Nala. John Oliver is Zazu. Seth Rogen, I think his name is, is Pumbaa. Like, it's just a hilarious cast, so I'm excited, but I could be getting my hopes up.

Steven Aramini: Then it'll probably be really good, so I'm going to give it a chance, I'll say.

Patrick Rauland: Nice. Well, so Steven, thank you for being on the show. Where can people find you online?

Steven Aramini: Like I said, mostly Twitter, @stevenaramini. I'm on BGG under that name as well, and yeah, if you want to reach out to me, I'm always happy to chat and talk games.

Patrick Rauland: And the game that you designed is currently on Kickstarter. This'll probably come out like a week after we record this, but it will still be on Kickstarter. I think if you just search for Animal Crossing, it'll come up.

Steven Aramini: Or Animal Kingdoms.

Patrick Rauland: Sorry. Sorry. This is why I need to put a script in front of me. Animal Kingdoms. Do not search Animal Crossing. Different game. Okay, thank you again for being on the show, Steven.

Steven Aramini: Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

Patrick Rauland: Listeners, if you enjoy this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to us in your ear holes. If you leave a review, Steven said he'd be willing to name his next pet animal after you.

And then, in other news, I have less than a month until I launch Fry Thief on Kickstarter. I have 20 zillion tasks to do, and I think at a certain point, I've learned to just say, “Good enough,” so that's where I'm currently at. But if you want to, if you're interested in the game that I've been developing the entire time I've been running this podcast, go to and sign up. I think you can win the top pledge on Kickstarter just for being on the list. And of course, I'll email you when the campaign is ready to go.

If you can visit the site,, we will have the show notes there, and you can follow me on Twitter. I am @BFTrick, B as in board games, F as in fun, and trick as in those awesome trick-taking games. So until next time everyone, happy designing. Bye-bye.

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