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Subject: Geek of the Week #330 - AEGTodd rss

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Teh Slipperboy

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AEGTodd wrote:

Quote:
d10-3 Can you describe yourself as a gammer ?


Despite my above traits listed about good gamers, I think I tend towards the cutthroat. Not because i want to beat the other player, but because i want to beat the game or the system. I think it comes from my CCG background and its why I love Thunderstone so much. That said Mike Webb (my old SW gm) did put into me a sense of the theatrical, and i have been known to theme up stuff for game night (cups, table mats, etc.). I'd put an HGTV show to shame...


I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to see a picture.
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Adam
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Congratulations, Fellow Geek of the Week!

What's your favorite Thunderstone expansion?
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Todd Rowland
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tscook wrote:
Why don't we see you in the fighting pits RSP forum anymore?


Time. I just don't have as much time at work anymore to spend on stuff like that, there or on any other site!
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Todd Rowland
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vacekrae wrote:
Congrats, Todd. I love AEG games, especially Thunderstone!


Thank you!

Quote:
1 Do your children look forward to playing your games as they get older?


My oldest already plays Abandon Ship and Monkey Lab with us. On the occasion they've seen Thunderstone or Nightfall at my office they ask why there are so many scary monsters. That said they are very interested in my current project though its a little over their heads. But they like the art.

Quote:
2 You say that you like making games. What kinds? What have you been working on lately (that you are able to share)?


At my core I'm really a Creative Director. I am usually able to develop the thematic vision of the game. So one may come in as a game about the old west, but after a few plays I'm already seeing the parts, art, box design, and marketing message of it as a game about aliens (or whatever). I've actually sold our boss on one future game on the title and art concept alone, we don't even have the foggiest idea what the game part is, but we know we want to make this product in the next year or two!

Currently I've been working on several. I produced Nightfall from the base set to the one after The Coldest War. I was art/creative director for Thunderstone Advance. I was the producer/brand manager of Legend of the Five Rings for 4 years. And I've got a brand new one in the works for Gen Con 2012 that I've been dropping hints about on Twitter and in this thread.

Ironically I'll never be credited on any here on the geek because they only show designers and artists. Production staff unite!!!

Oh and there's one that I'm not on right now, but I was the early creative director on that we've been developing for about 3 years, and is looking to come out at Essen this year. Should knock BGG's socks off, in my humble opinion.

Quote:
3 What is the best feedback you've ever gotten on the games you make (whether AEG or not).


Well it's always great to get the "we had fun playing." Ultimately that's the most important. But most of the better feedback has been good constructive feedback on the lesser parts of the game. We all learned a big lesson from the first Thunderstone rulebook and we're still trying to get better at rulebooks in general.

On the Legend of the Five Rings side, the best feedback I ever got was after we had started the Race for the Throne mega-game, from people who had not been tournament level players who now felt just as empowered to change the storyline as they did. It was really a monumental moment, and probably the thing I'm most proud of that I contributed to that game, really opening up the storyline interaction to all levels of players, from complete newbie to seasoned veteran.

Quote:
4 What is the best piece of advice you could offer to those new to game design?


Well, first off be patient. There are A LOT of designers out there trying to get their games published, and most publishers have existing lines that keep the doors open, put food on the table, etc. Getting the time to try out a prototype is tough sometimes, and then it has to be put through the wringer of "is the time spent making this going to improve the company's situation enough to do it." So it can be a big process.

Be willing to put in a lot of work after acceptance. Just because a game is accepted doesn't mean its ready. Most publishers will have quite a bit of adjustments they'll want. So that's another point, stick up for what you believe in in the design, but also don't be married to too much of it. Let it change when there is good reason shown.

There are tons of ways to get your game self-published these days, and if that's what you want to do that's great. But if you want to go with a publisher (who comes with all the support structure you would have to put in place yourself), just be ready for the time it may take.

Also, in the design of the game and the concept, do spend some time to think about marketability. If your goal of making the game is to just get it in print, that's easy. If the goal is to make a successful game that can make you some money, spend time thinking about what people like to play and themes they gravitate towards.

Thanks for the questions!
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Todd Rowland
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Spirit of 70 wrote:
Congratulations, Fellow Geek of the Week!

What's your favorite Thunderstone expansion?


I like Doomgate Legion because the Evil Druids were my idea. I've always liked blighters and oozemasters, so it was nice to get them in there.

I like Thornwood Siege for the chaos it adds, the extra pressure on the players.
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Todd Rowland
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sdonohue wrote:
AEGTodd wrote:

Quote:
:d10-3: Can you describe yourself as a gammer ?


Despite my above traits listed about good gamers, I think I tend towards the cutthroat. Not because i want to beat the other player, but because i want to beat the game or the system. I think it comes from my CCG background and its why I love Thunderstone so much. That said Mike Webb (my old SW gm) did put into me a sense of the theatrical, and i have been known to theme up stuff for game night (cups, table mats, etc.). I'd put an HGTV show to shame...


I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to see a picture.


I actually don't think we took any. It was for a game of BSG and the wife and I were just coming off the "finally watched it and watch it all in like a week" phase, so we went all out.

Total goobers.
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Sim Guy
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Has it really been a week already?
CONGRATULATIONS! Todd
You just gave me a reason to go for a beer!
.
..
...
I'm back.

Wow, a professional game designer.
1:Are you truly living the dream?
2:Back in the day, all but a couple of the SPI design staff seemed to have 'real jobs' to go along with their game design duties. Is AEG like that?
3:Is the bulk of your staff part-time or some-time, while a small core runs the business full time?
4:And how in the world are you making a go of it it California?
5:With the margins on game sales as slender as they are, would you do better in a more business friendly State?
6:Either you guys are doing better than I think or there is some other compelling reason for staying - What could it be?

But let's not get all business worldly:
1:What is the most favorite thing you've ever worked on in gaming?
2:What's your current favorite project?
3:What one thing have you worked on that you would like to do over?
4:Are you playing in the Mountains of Madness?
4A:If so, how's it going for you?

Have a great week! I'm going to have another beer.
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Mike Beiter
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CONGRATULATIONS!

LOVE your games!

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Todd Rowland
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While I have the attention of the class, just going to point you to this thread:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/8200453

Legend of the Five Rings CCG is now FREE Print and Play!


For the next two months. Due to the delays with the new base set we've put the entire thing up as a PDF (save it, do the print 9 per page thing), and you can use them legally in tournaments for the next two months. It's really a great game, it's the CCG that got me into the career I have today, and i can't recommend it enough. The game is extremely immersive and the community is outstanding. I don't think you'll find a more welcoming group of gamers out there.

The rules are there for download too (and yes they look oversized but that's because it's to be printed on a small sized book).
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Daryl Wilks
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Congrats! Good to hear from someone in the business. Thanks for sharing about your life, work & family. Here's to another dad of young boys!

-If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

-What's your favorite breakfast?

-What do you drive to work?

-Any upcoming game you're looking forward to?

-What was your greatest failure and/or worst success?

-Why can't a bicycle stand on its own?

Peace,
Daryl
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Todd Rowland
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SimGuy wrote:

Wow, a professional game designer.
1:Are you truly living the dream?


Yeah, honestly I really am. OK maybe I'm not jet-setting around the world on the earnings of my games, but hey, I have a nice house, I have time to spend at home, and I get to make games. It's pretty sweet.

And believe me, I try to stay thankful for it each and every morning.

Quote:
2:Back in the day, all but a couple of the SPI design staff seemed to have 'real jobs' to go along with their game design duties. Is AEG like that?


Nope, we're all full-time AEG. In fact, the only major AEG employee with another job is Shawn Carman, the lead writer for L5R who is also a school teacher. The rest of us, AEG from 9-5.

Quote:
3:Is the bulk of your staff part-time or some-time, while a small core runs the business full time?


It's all full-time. We bring in some volunteer help on busy pack-out days, like with a new promotion going to stores or a new L5R release event, and we hook them up with product and pizza. Artists and such are of course freelance, but if you work with AEG you get a salary.

Quote:
4:And how in the world are you making a go of it it California?


Well I don't actually! I live in Mobile, Alabama. Most of the company is remote, only the owner, accounts, production, and customer service are in California. The rest of us are Nor Cal, Scotland, France, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and me.

Quote:
5:With the margins on game sales as slender as they are, would you do better in a more business friendly State?


Possibly, but John was born and bred Californian, and I don't see him moving it any time soon. Of course, we do well on our margins. But we run our business pretty tight. We are all responsible for accounting, budgets, projections, etc.

And it's kinda nice, my wife and I are going to stay with him and his wife in February so we get all the perks like In-n-Out burgers, Trader Joe's stores, etc.

Quote:
6:Either you guys are doing better than I think or there is some other compelling reason for staying - What could it be?


See John's answer above. And we do well. We decided a long time ago that the whole meme about "yeah i make games but I have to have a second job" did not have to apply. We decided to run our company so that we could all have a good home life, good pay, and make games, and we've done that so far. It requires good choices and conservative planning, but it is possible. We also only produce products if they are expected to make the company a certain amount of profit. We've passed on a lot of very cool products that simply didn't have enough broad appeal.

It's a strength to strength thing. It doesn't always work out, but it does more often than not.

Plus Legend of the Five Rings CCG is doing better than ever. It's having a really great time in the market.


Quote:
1:What is the most favorite thing you've ever worked on in gaming?


The Race for the Throne mega-event for L5R. It dominated my life for a year and half but the results and the energy from the player base was incredible.

Quote:
2:What's your current favorite project?


My new one of course! I'm always looking over the hill. But the one i have coming at Gen Con 2012 is a lot of fun and quite accessible. I'm sure before the week's out I'll end up telling more about it...

Quote:
3:What one thing have you worked on that you would like to do over?


I would really like to do Monkey Lab and Abandon Ship over, not for any changes to the games, but to have had the knowledge of the board game market back then and have been better able to market and promote them at the time. I still think they are great family games, we just didn't really know how to market to families at the time.

Quote:
4:Are you playing in the Mountains of Madness?
4A:If so, how's it going for you?


I so meant to play in that! But as usual life gets too busy and I failed to get started... you guys will have to fight it out for me!

Quote:
Have a great week! I'm going to have another beer.


Thanks, and have several for me!
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Jeff G
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Congrats Todd! Enjoy your week.
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Todd Rowland
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Scruffdog wrote:
Congrats! Good to hear from someone in the business. Thanks for sharing about your life, work & family. Here's to another dad of young boys!


Here here!

Quote:
-If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?


Super-strength. I'm always assigned the role of Mr Incredible whenever the kids make us into the Incredibles. Plus there's just so much you could get done...

Quote:
-What's your favorite breakfast?


Fried Egg on Toast. Just a little runny.

Quote:
-What do you drive to work?


A Nissan Murano. My father-in-law is an accountant and owns his own firm, and had an extra office in his firm, so i have a place i can set up to work away from the house. Let's me have a place to focus. I used to work out of the house but the kids getting older makes it more difficult.

Quote:
-Any upcoming game you're looking forward to?


I haven't yet, so i want to see what FFG does with Star Wars.

Quote:
-What was your greatest failure and/or worst success?


Oh wow, you mean out of everything? Or just in games? This one will take some thinking so write back and clarify.

Quote:
-Why can't a bicycle stand on its own?


Lack of self-esteem.

Turning in for the night folks, see you tomorrow!
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Matthew Williams
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Hi Todd,
Congratulations, enjoy your week in the spotlight.

Matt
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Congratulations Todd! I used to playtest for you for Warlord, great times

Would you mind going on a memory trip back to the card game I loved the most?

- Do you remember Warlord as a successful game?
- Could you identify some reasons for its downfall?
- What was the most memorable experience you've had managing Warlord?
- Compared to other AEG's CCGs, what was Warlord's greater strength?
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Chris Oldgeorge
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Congratulations Todd, well deserved
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Congrats Todd! May you release many more awesome games for us to buy!
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Todd!

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Ludovic Roy
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AEGTodd wrote:
Spirit of 70 wrote:
Congratulations, Fellow Geek of the Week!

What's your favorite Thunderstone expansion?


I like Doomgate Legion because the Evil Druids were my idea. I've always liked blighters and oozemasters, so it was nice to get them in there.

I like Thornwood Siege for the chaos it adds, the extra pressure on the players.


First off, congrats Todd!

I'm also also a big Thunderstone fan and love DL & the Evil Druids, one of the best monster group in the game

1- What is your favourite hero class (or dual hero class)?
2- What are your favourite 3 Heroes?
3- Which are your 3 favourite villain groups?
4- Any village card you found to be extremely underrated?
5- Diseases or Special Diseases?

Cheers!
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Michael Fox
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Congratulations Todd - well deserved!

May as well throw in a few questions as I'm here...

1. What's the last song you chose to listen to? Like, selected on an iPod or fired up a CD?
2. What's your favourite TV show at the moment?
3. Worst movie you ever saw?
4. What was the last game you did *really* badly at, and why do you think you did so poorly?
5. Will you be getting your ass to Essen 2012 so I can buy you a beer?
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Meshell Heelbeck
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Congratulations
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Canadian Dave
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Congrats! Well deserved nomination.

What's your favorite LCG?
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Alex H.
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Congrats. Enjoy your week!
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Congratulations!

Also, the first one is the obvious lie.

After you got your $100000 prize revoked, you took your gun and shot at the gas pump.
Now you're posting from the prison library's computer.
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