The board game community is incredible, and there are tons of opportunities to help fellow designers and add value to what they’re trying to create. And in doing so, you build relationships that will likely lead to people wanting to help you when the opportunity arises.
Rob Daviau, designer of Pandemic Legacy, and I discuss how to run playtests like an absolute pro.
Rob started designing games for Hasbro before moving into the designer game space, and he has a TON of insight on how to playtest your way to an amazing game.
Brent Kinney, vice president at Panda Game Manufacturing, discusses the details and nuances of getting your game printed. We talk typical setbacks, what the different phases in the process look like, ways to make the process easier, and much more. Panda GM is one of the major manufacturers of board games in the world, and Brent brings a ton of experience and insight to the discussion.
Tom Vasel, founder of the Dice Tower, discusses some of the many things he’s learned after playing an astronomical number of games. We talk themes, mechanics, Kickstarter, publishing, trends, and tons of other stuff.
Tom has played and reviewed thousands upon thousands of games which has led to some interesting insight on what makes a great game.
Here are links to some of the resources mentioned in the show:
Edo Baraf, designer of Herbaceous, discusses the many different types of custom components you can add to your games and the challenges and considerations that go with each one. We talk custom dice, boards, boxes, inserts, meeples, sleeves, and more. (Not miniatures. That will be its own episode.)
Edo has experience with lots of custom components and offers a ton of insight on the things to be aware of when adding them to your game.
Dan Peterson, chief developer and head of new acquisitions at Mayday Games, discusses why a publisher might reject your game and how to handle it.
Dan looks at close to 200 unpublished games a year and has years of experience in finding new games to publish. This episode is packed with great wisdom for anyone wanting to travel down the traditional publishing path.
JT Smith, designer of The Captain Is Dead, talks about how to design a great cooperative game.
We talk creating tension, alpha players, and the math behind a good AI system. Personally, I think The Captain Is Dead is one of the best co-op games on the market today, and it was great to get JT’s insight on its creation.
Jamey Stegmaier, designer of Scythe, is back on the show, and we’re talking about what the schedule of a pro game designer looks like. It’s easy to have a romanticized idea of what being a full time designer is, but it doesn’t quite line up with reality.
We talk about the daily fires that have to be put out, how to be intentional with your time, ways to become more efficient, and much more.
Emerson Matsuuchi, designer of Specter Ops, goes into all the ins and outs of putting together a hidden movement game.
There are very few hidden movement games out there right now which means there’s still a ton to be explored. Emerson discusses the challenges he faced and his insights on the topic.
Ryan Laukat, founder of Red Raven Games, discusses how to create a beautiful game that is also functional. Ryan does his own art for all of his games, so he has an incredible understanding of the tug of war a designer and artist can have when trying to make a game look great but also work well for the players.
We also talk about some best practices when hiring and working with an artist.
Jerry Hawthorne, designer of Mice and Mystics, discusses the importance of story in games.
Jerry specializes in narrative driven games and has numerous games to his credit. He goes into why people enjoy story in games so much and how you can inject more story into your games. Finally, he gives great advice on what to do first when creating a story driven game.
My favorite idea from the interview: “Create a story. Not a series of incidents.”
Stephen Buonocore, president of Stronghold Games, goes into all of the ins and outs of researching publishers, contacting publishers, and pitching your game. We talk in depth on how to do things the right way to give your game the best chance of being signed. Then, Stephen closes the conversation with a couple funny stories about some epic game pitch fails.
JR Honeycutt, developer of SeaFall, goes into all the ins and outs of what game development is, why it’s important, and how you can become a developer.
People often don’t understand the difference between a designer and a developer. JR sorts out the difference and goes into the value of having a developer work on a game.
Check out JR’s article on what he learned from working with Rob Daviau on SeaFall HERE.
Richard Launius, designer of Arkham Horror, gives incredible game design advice, talks Cthulu and what makes a great Cthulu game, and goes into how to make games that create epic experiences that stand the test of time.
This episode is packed full of wisdom from a game design legend.
Jay Vales discusses how his game, Conquest at Kismet, came to be and how it got great reviews but underperformed when it came to sales. We go into the contributing factors and what other designers can learn from the experience.
We also talk about some interesting design concepts, dealing with real-life death, and how even Zee Garcia can’t guarantee you sales.
Colby Dauch, founder of Plaid Hat Games and designer of Summoner Wars, goes in depth on the challenges he faced when he started his own publishing company. We talk about business, life, and work/life balance, and we even get into not letting people discourage you from chasing your dreams.
The article Colby talks about in the show on barriers to entry in tabletop games can be found HERE.
Mike Strickland, designer of Tau Ceti, and I talk about his Kickstarter failure and what he did to relaunch the campaign to wild success. After an unsuccessful first attempt, Mike regrouped and brought in over $100k the second time around. We discuss what led to the dramatic difference.
Please note that Mike was in a spaceship while recording the episode, so you’ll notice the slight hum of the warp drive in the background. Or maybe it’s just the sound of his computer’s overzealous fan. But since we’re talking about a space game, let’s just pretend he’s on a spaceship.
Rahdo and I discuss 2 player games and how to craft an awesome 2 player experience. We go into specific mechanics that work really well in 2 player games, and we talk through how a designer can make a game scale down to 2 players effectively. After playing nearly 1000 games with just 2 players, Rahdo is an expert on the topic.
Check out Rahdo’s game runthroughs at https://www.youtube.com/user/rahdo.
Luke Laurie, designer of The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire, and I discuss all the ins and outs of working with a co-designer. Luke has worked with a co-designer on multiple projects and provides great insight on what’s good and what’s challenging about the process.
Check out more from Luke at The League of Gamemakers.
Jamey Stegmaier,Kickstarter guru and designer of Scythe, and I discuss all the things he wishes someone would have told him before he got into game design, kickstarter, publishing, and more. He gives a ton of valuable advice.
For more from Jamey, check out the Stonemaier Games website.
The Board Game Design Lab is a website and podcast that focuses on helping designers make fun and engaging board games.
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