Print and Play Games News

New game announcements, interviews, and print and play news.

Archive for Interviews

Recommend
88 
 Thumb up
13.27
 tip
 Hide

Interview with Todd Sanders

Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
flag msg tools
designer
If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
badge
I have two new 9 Card Games: 300 Spartans and Franky's 1st Christmas
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Welcome back to the PNP News! Today I'll be interviewing Todd Sanders. Todd is very well known in the PNP community for designing classic games like the Shadows Upon Lassadar Series, the Aether Captains Series, Odin Quest, and Bibliogamo. He's also well know for doing redesigns of older games, such as Hammer of Thor, Citadel of Blood, and Barbarian Prince. (His complete list of designs and redesigns is available on his design geeklist.)

Todd is an active participant in the Design Contest Community and his designs have won the grand prize in the Solitaire, Two-Player, and 18 Card Contests. He also is very generous with his time and helps new users get into game design and will even occasionally volunteer his services as a graphic designer to help someone else's game stand out.

Todd and I talked about his history as a PNP player and designer. We also discuss a subject I've wanted to discuss in this blog for some time - how to promote your PNP games. I had a terrific time doing this interview and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

todd sanders
United States
pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb


The interview is in audio format and can be downloaded at the link below. It is almost two hours long but I think the discussion is very interesting and I hope you'll enjoy it.
PNP News Interview with Todd Sanders



I'm not going to transcribe the whole thing, but I would like to highlight a few things from our discussion of how to promote PNP games. (Don't worry, we don't only talk about design contests. If you're not interested in that subject, there should be plenty of the conversation that you'll still enjoy.)

1 Todd maintains a design thread where he discusses his games and artwork. This allows people a behind the scenes look at his design process.
Todd Sanders: Current Projects
This is a brilliant way to help players get engaged with your work. I have hosted six design contests and I've seen a tendency from some designers to not reveal anything about a game until it is complete. This doesn't give people time to get excited about a game, especially if it released close to a contest deadline. By posting his ideas and his progress, Todd has been able to get help when he needed it and get a large group of players ready to print his games as soon as they're available.

2 He's not afraid to show his progress on a game (and sometimes his mistakes). If you go back and read Todd's design thread, you'll find several posts where he is teaching himself vector artwork. His early efforts weren't always the best, but he shared them regardless. Through feedback from others and a lot of practice, he's become much better and has produced beautiful original artwork. His openness about his learning process inspired me to do the same and share my artistic ideas and drafts on my design thread for Yeomen. I found that people responded very well to the work, even though I was a little embarrassed to share my very amateurish efforts. More importantly, I think that engaging with players from the beginning and showing them my progress helped bring in more playtesters than I might have had otherwise.

Some of Todd's recent artwork for Odin Quest. Image credit: Chris Hansen

3 We also discussed the importance of engaging with other designers, especially when participating in a design contest. One of the best ways to get noticed in a contest is by leaving feedback for others. Most people are very willing to return the favor. Todd has always been an incredibly active playtester and has generated a lot of goodwill from that. If you take the time to play other people's games, you'll find that your games get a lot more attention too.

4 You need to be excited about your game! Take a look through the older posts on this blog and count the number of times the phrase "Image credit: Chris Hansen (composite image from game files)" appears. Typically, when you see this next to an image, it means the game had no images available so I put an picture together using screenshots of the PDF file. I don't mind doing that, but I'd rather share images of the actual game being enjoyed! It always surprises me how many games are released with no images, no session reports, and no comments at all from the designer. You cannot release a game and expect people to come seek it out on their own. A PNP game with no images or posts gives the impression that the designer isn't excited about their game. And if that's the case, why would a player get excited about it? Take the time to photograph your game, write session reports, and post updates about it! Your enthusiasm will rub off on other players.

5 Promote you game! Obviously, no one wants to be a spammer and post about your game where it doesn't belong, but there are many avenues available to help designers get the word out about their game. Every design contest has a discussion thread where designers are encouraged to share updates about their game and even ask for playtesting help. There are also blogs (such as this one) and podcasts that will interview designers and help bring new eyes to their games. For example, Morten Monrad Pedersen maintains a very popular blog where he will interview designers who have created a solitaire game for a design contest.



As part of this post, I'll be reviewing a few of Todd's games. I haven't finished writing all the reviews yet, but I will keep this list updated as they are completed.
Achieving Balance - A Review of Shadows Upon Lassadar
Books for Sale! A Review of Bibliogamo.
The Draugr - Coming Soon
Diatomica - Coming Soon
Odin Quest - Coming Soon
Mr. Cabbagehead's Garden Game - Coming Soon



That's all for now. Thank you for reading and thanks as always for your thumbs and geekgold tips to the post.

There is a microbadge available for fans of the blog designed by Jake Staines. Thank you to everyone who has purchased it!
 Print and Play Games News fan

Please geekmail me if you:
1. Have any PNP news that you would like to see covered in the blog.
2. Have an interesting PNP story to share and would like to be interviewed.
3. Have an older PNP game you would like to see highlighted.
4. Would like information about buying sponsored content on the blog.

If you have questions about the blog or sponsored content, please see the PNP News FAQ.
Twitter Facebook
8 Comments
Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:41 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
51 
 Thumb up
3.25
 tip
 Hide

An Interview with Mary Russell of Tiny Battle Publishing

Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
flag msg tools
designer
If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
badge
I have two new 9 Card Games: 300 Spartans and Franky's 1st Christmas
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I recently talked with Mary Russell of Tiny Battle Publishing. All of their games (as well as many of the games from their associated company Flying Pig Games) are released in both a published format and a PNP format that players can assemble themselves.

For my take on a few of the games published by Tiny Battle Publishing, see my reviews:
My review of Stamford Bridge
My review of A Hill Near Hastings
My review of Invaders from Dimension X!



Chris Hansen: First off, I'd like to introduce you to the PNP community. Can you talk a little bit about yourself and your gaming history?

Mary Russell: I’ve been playing games since I was little, mostly older, “traditional” games, such as Cribbage, Dominoes, and card games. My dad taught me to play Cribbage and we used to play it a lot. My dad read a lot about the game at some point and started playing “scientific”, but instead of winning every time, he lost pretty much every time! And he would say, “How did I lose? I was playing scientific!” I have really fond memories of playing with him, and playing Scrabble with him and my mom. They’re both gone now, sadly. After I got married, I taught my husband Tom Russell to play Cribbage. He was doing alright with it until he started reading up on it and playing “scientific” too. My husband and I got into “modern” gaming relatively recently, in 2010. We kinda stumbled upon it by accident, three different ways in the space of couple of weeks. We tried some games, and by the end of the year, Tom had started designing games, more in the Euro-style. He never really made much headway with those, unfortunately, but has had more success with train games (he’s had one in each of the last three Winsome sets) and historical wargames. Most of the games we play though are still light and medium-weight Euros. How I got into running a wargame company (though Tiny Battle isn’t strictly a wargame company) is that Mark Walker needed someone to run it, and Tom, who edits Yaah! Magazine for Flying Pig Games, recommended me.

CH: How is Tiny Battle different from Flying Pig Games? What is the relationship between the companies?

MR: They’re both owned by the same guy, Mark H. Walker, but they have two very different models/niches. Tiny Battle is all about small-footprint, affordably-priced games, with components that are reasonable for that price-point and market. Flying Pig releases big boxed games with deluxe components, thick counters, mounted maps, etc. Flying Pig also publishes Yaah! Magazine, which uses the same printer as Tiny Battle and so has similar components. We’re doing some reprints of popular Yaah! games in the Tiny Battle format, such as Stamford Bridge, and Yaah! is publishing some scenarios for some of the Tiny Battle titles to cross-promote, but otherwise there’s no overlap: they’re completely separate entities, and I don’t have anything to do with Flying Pig or Yaah!

The Tiny Battle Publishing version of Stamford Bridge (PNP Edition). Image credit: Chris Hansen

CH: What is your history with PNP games? Have you built or played many of the free PNP games that are available on BGG?

MR: I don’t have much personal history with PNP, actually. I’ve assembled a few small ones that my husband was interested in, especially when we were just getting into the hobby. I’m more likely to be printing and assembling prototypes to playtest. (Incidentally, we definitely prefer designers to send us playable prototypes via snail-mail, as we’re able to get the game on the table right away without any printing, stickering, or scissoring.)

CH: All of the products from Tiny Battle have PNP options. Why did you decide to offer this option?

MR: It just seemed like a smart thing to do, especially with the low number of components. If someone’s on the fence about a $20-$25 folio game, they might be more likely to take the plunge with a PNP. It just increases our market, especially for our overseas customers, and that can’t be a bad thing.

CH: Old School Tactical and '65 both had PNP options available in their Kickstarter campaigns. Do you feel that offering a PNP option increased the visibility for the game? Did the PNP options contribute to the success of the campaigns?

MR: That’s a good question, but that’s not something I had anything to do with. But sure, it probably helped. I know from looking at photos on BGG that some people have done PNP versions of the Flying Pig Games. With the number of components—multiple countersheets, cards, and mapboards—it’s going to be a much larger and time- and ink-intensive undertaking than our standard one-map, 88 counters Tiny Battle releases. My assumption is that while people are purchasing the PNP versions for Flying Pig, you’re going to get a lot more people going PNP for Tiny Battle style games.

CH: Are the PNP options for Tiny Battle successful? What percentage of the sales are PNP vs published editions?

MR: They are successful. I’m not sure of the exact percentage, but it definitely helps put us in the black and keep us there.

CH: You've worked with many established designers such as Hermann Luttmann and obviously Tom Russell whose works aren't normally associated with PNP games. Have any of the designers been concerned with the non-traditional publishing option of PNP?

MR: Nope! So far, everyone’s been cool about it.

Hermann Luttmann's Invaders from Dimension X! (PNP Edition) Image credit: Chris Hansen

CH: What are some of the benefits of offering PNP options for your games? You mentioned that they help out better overseas customers. Is that due to the high cost of international shipping.

MR: That’s a big part of it. It helps increase our customer base, and it helps series like the medieval games that have a larger market overseas than they do in the US.

CH: Are there downsides to offering PNP options, such as file sharing?

MR: File-sharing, as in people might share the file illegally? That’s not a huge concern for us; gamers are a pretty trustworthy bunch. File-sharing, as in the mechanics of sharing the file? Well, we’ve run into quite a few problems there, where customers will order a game and then not get the link, which is set up to be sent to them automatically. Then they send me an email, I verify the order, I send them the link, etc. Most customers have been very understanding, but some have been rather unpleasant about it. To save us from all of those headaches, we’re going to be offering our PNP versions exclusively through Wargame Vault. It definitely cuts into the money we’re getting for offering it directly, but it’s going to be a more reliable delivery mechanism.

CH: Do you feel that PNP games will continue to have a place in your business model going forward?

MR: Yes, I think so.

CH: Tiny Battles recently published Neuschwabenland, which was previously available as a free PNP download. How did that come about? Did you find the game online or was it submitted to you?

MR: Mark had found the game online and really dug it. It was one of the first titles we had signed.

The original PNP version of Neuschwabenland. (This is not the Tiny Battle Publishing edition.) Image credit: Chris Hansen

CH: Do you frequently evaluate free PNP games for publication?

MR: We do. It’s difficult cutting the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. I’m not necessarily talking about the quality—though there are games where the development has been fairly minimal, which is always disappointing. It’s more about finding PNP titles that will fit neatly with our production model/specifications: 88 counters, 11x17 map, few pages of rules. A lot of PNP games have extensive components—there was this card-driven game that sounded really great, until we realized it had over a thousand cards! Some have odd numbers of counters that can't be changed to 88 or reduced to 176. It may be a great game, but if it doesn't fit our model or the ziploc bag then we can't use it. In some cases we'll work with the designer to adapt it, but that's only if adapting it makes sense and won't damage the design.

CH: Do you think that PNP options will become more popular for other publishers in the industry?

MR: Depends on the game and the market. I don’t see it being super-successful or vital for components-rich games, ala Fantasy Flight or Plaid Hat, nor for a lot of Euro-style games. It’s probably more viable for wargames or other conflict games that utilize counters and paper maps. And the reason for that is someone’s homemade PNP version can often have comparable components to the printed edition. Sometimes better! A paper map and cardboard chits isn’t an obstacle for a wargamer, whereas a Eurogamer wants to have those little wooden cubes, the mounted boards, etc. I wouldn’t want to play a homemade version of Tzolk'in or Agricola, for example.

Detail of the PNP counters from A Hill Near Hastings from Tiny Battle Publishing. Image credit: Chris Hansen

CH: Can you talk about upcoming titles that will be published by Tiny Battle?

MR: Sure! We have several games in the pipeline. There are sequels and expansions for some of our series: Space Vermin From Beyond is a new game set in Hermann Luttmann’s Invaders universe, designed by Fred Manzo. The third game in the Blood Before Richmond series, Savage’s Station, just came out in December, and the last two will be out sometime next year. We have expansions for John Gorkowski’s In The Trenches coming which will be reprinting scenarios from the original 2009 releases. Mark Walker’s Platoon Commander system, which debuted with Sticks and Stones (one of our best-sellers), has a historical Korean module coming early next year. Christian Sperling is working on a sequel to Neuschwabenland, as well as a brand-new post-apocalyptic game.

We also have non-series stuff, of course. Plan Crimson is an alt-hist game about a US invasion of Canada. Next month will see the release of David Cuatt’s horror-themed Swamp Devils From Blood Bayou. (Note from Chris: the game has now been released.) Tom Russell is working on a sci-fi title for us, High Speed Hover Tank. We have another ACW title, this one from designer Sean Chick, which should be coming out soon, and some more WWII titles in the works. We’re evaluating a Napoleonics game, and there’s a Nappy card game we have in development as well.



I'd like to thank Mary once again for taking the time to talk about her company and specifically the publication of PNP games. Thank you for reading and thanks as always for your thumbs and geekgold tips to the post.

There is a microbadge available for fans of the blog designed by Jake Staines. Thank you to everyone who has purchased it!
 Print and Play Games News fan

Please geekmail me if you:
1. Have any PNP news that you would like to see covered in the blog.
2. Have an interesting PNP story to share and would like to be interviewed.
3. Have an older PNP game you would like to see highlighted.
4. Would like information about buying sponsored content on the blog.

If you have questions about the blog or sponsored content, please see the PNP News FAQ.
Twitter Facebook
9 Comments
Sat Feb 27, 2016 5:51 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
38 
 Thumb up
2.00
 tip
 Hide

An Interview with Mattox Shuler - Designer of Control

Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
flag msg tools
designer
If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
badge
I have two new 9 Card Games: 300 Spartans and Franky's 1st Christmas
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hello everyone! I recently did a short interview with Mattox Shuler about his new game Control and his experience with offering a PNP version of it during his Kickstarter campaign.

Control is available on Kickstarter until February 19, 2016. The game is available for $15.00 and PNP files to make the game yourself are only $1.00.
Control on Kickstarter

For my take on Control, please check out my review:
Five Minutes to Time Travel. A review of Control

Image credit: Mattox Shuler

Chris Hansen: Can you talk a little bit about yourself and your gaming history?

Mattox Shuler: Hey yeah, my name is Mattox Shuler. I’m 27 and live in Athens, Georgia with my lovely wife, Kasey, and 2-year-old, Ellie. I have been designing typefaces (fonts) for a living for the past three years and before that I dabbled in web and graphic design.

Board games have always been a part of my life growing up, but I never really discovered the hobby board game genre until college. Catan—obviously a first for many—was the gateway that lead me deeper into the world of board games. I lived in Seattle for three years, and Café Mox was always a fun place to go with friends and try out new games. Now, we live in Athens where often frequent The Rook & Pawn to play games and sometimes playtest our own.

CH: Tell me a little bit about Control. What were your design goals with the game?

MS: Control is a sci-fi themed card game with some light strategy. Rounds can last 5–15 minutes with a range of 2–4 players. The main design goal was to make a game that would be easy to pick up for people who might not play a lot board games, yet the game would have a depth of strategy that was learned as you play.

Collectible card games like Magic the Gathering or Hearthstone have always struck a chord with people. These are great games with rich strategy, but they’re often hard to teach in a sitting and require a significant time investment (and sometimes money) to feel competitive. We strove to capture some of the strategy that goes into a combat-card game like these, but on a lighter level with less of the learning curve. We want Control to be a game you’d bring out, teach, and play a quick round with a friend or a family member who might not be into a collectible card game.

The game in play. Image credit: Chris Hansen

CH: How long have you been working on Control?

MS: I tried designing a more involved game before Control for a year or so. That one’s still evolving, but it taught me a lot before I began making Control seven months ago. That might seem like a short timeline, but we were able to start with similar mechanics to Cuttle, while iterating on the balance and nuances of card abilities. We used Paperize.io to quickly prototype the game. The fact that the game round only lasts 5–15 minutes makes playtesting a lot easier. And basically, I took every chance I found to play during work breaks or with people over weekends.

The cards in various stages of development. Image credit: Mattox Shuler

CH: The game has a unique theme of time travelers trapped in a spacetime void trying to repair their machines. How did you create that theme?

MS: I’m often inspired by the things that are currently a part of my life. Lately, I’ve really been into older sci-fi short stories or books by Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and the like. This inspired some of the background story and naming conventions on cards. For example, a Nova was the fuel source of eternity, a place outside time in Asimov’s The End of Eternity, so I wanted that to be the most powerful fuel cell in the game. The titles on cards were formed once we nailed down the abilities and the setup of time-travelers was refined and shaped by playtesters like Matt Wells along the way. It was also really fun working on an intro comic in the rulebook that seeks to capture some sentiments of the sci-fi short stories of old.

CH: Control is the first game published by Keymaster Games. How did Control get chosen for that? Were you and Kyle Key friends before arranging for the publication?

MS: Kyle Key, who is Keymaster Games, has some really fun games in the works. Before I even started making Control, I played a couple of his games that are continually getting refined and iterated on. These are not published yet and would be more of your typical 30-45 minute gateway game.

Control seemed like the best launching point though because it’s a much smaller game from a new publisher. This means we can make the barrier to entry a lot lower for a person to become familiar with Keymaster Games. It fit to launch with because the price point could be lower and the total campaign goal could be lower than the other games because the time and components are less involved in Control.

CH: Why did you and Keymaster Games decide to offer a PNP pledge level for the game?

MS: We wanted to further lower the barrier to entry in order to build trust with people since this is Keymaster’s first Kickstarter campaign. A PnP seemed like the best way to achieve that goal. It’s been really encouraging to hear backers who just pledged for the $1 PnP say they’ve upgraded their pledge to a copy of the game because they enjoyed it so much.

CH: What is your history with PNP games? Have you built or played many of the free PNP games that are available on BGG or PNP games from other Kickstarter games?

MS: PnP games were a huge resource when designing Control. I would scour as many as possible to see the dispersion of cards and how it played out with the different strategies involved. People say to play as many games as possible when designing a game, and PnPs makes that a much a easier reality that doesn’t destroy your wallet.

As a (graphic) designer, I love holding a published version of a game in my hands though. So if I personally love a game design or PnP, I’ll have to go out and buy the published version to see how all the art translated to the components.

CH: The Kickstarter for Control includes a PNP copy of the game with full art. Has the PNP option for the game been successful? What percentage of the pledges are PNP vs published editions?

MS: Yeah, I love it when someone backs for the PnP because it means they’re interested and usually invested in giving Control a run. It takes time out of someone’s day to print the files, and cut, and assemble them in sleeves. The fact that someone would do that to play a game I’ve created is not lost on me. One of the ways we wanted to honor people’s time and money in doing that and trusting a first-time publisher was giving them the full art in the PnP. Currently, 410 backers have pledged the PnP level which is 15% of the total backers.

The PNP version of the game with full art. Image credit: Chris Hansen

CH: Are you aware of anyone who heard about your game due to the PNP option?

MS: No one officially has said I found you from the PnP, but we’re able to track how people get to our Kickstarter page and PnP posts like yours on BGG have been a huge help in sending people toward the campaign.

What are some of the benefits of offering PNP options for your games? I imagine they may sell better overseas to customers that would otherwise have to pay international shipping.

MS: Yep, you hit the nail on the head. It makes it much easier for international backers to get a version and offers others an idea of what the game is like if they were unsure of committing to buying a copy.

CH: Have you noticed any downsides to offering the PNP option, such as file sharing?

MS: We’ll have someone back for a $1, download the game, and then pull their $1 pledge. Losing a dollar here and there isn’t the issue or downside here, it’s more seeing that people would do that is a bummer when it’s just $1 for something we’ve poured months of our time into crafting.

CH: Do you feel that PNP games will continue to have a place in your (or Keymaster's) business model going forward?

MS: Yeah, I think Kyle is looking for what type of PnP makes sense on his next game and whether the PnP is free but half color / half B&W, or something along those lines.

CH: Do you think that PNP options will become more popular for other publishers on Kickstarter?

MS: I hope so. It’s a great way to build trust with people, reach international backers, and build a bridge in the gap between when the campaign ends and when someone gets a real copy of the game.

CH: Will players be able to continue to access the PNP file once the Kickstarter campaign is complete and the game published?

MS: Anyone who’s already backed for the PnP will continue to have access. It’s up in the air if we’ll continue to offer the PnP being sold after the campaign as we’re looking at all the different options of how we want to do pre-orders of the game.

CH: Can you talk about upcoming games that you are working on?

MS: I’m not sure how much I can say, but we definitely want to get this KS fulfilled first and into people’s hands. Again, hopefully that builds people’s trust in Keymaster’s ability to deliver on promises. After that’s all done, Kyle will be looking at launching his next game which might or not deal with mining for gold.

CH: Sounds good! Mining for gold is a cool theme! Thank you for doing the interview! Best of luck on the campaign for Control and for your future designs!

MS: Thanks so much for the great questions and having me on here as a part of this.



I'd like to thank Mattox once again for taking the time to talk about his game. Thank you for reading and thanks as always for your thumbs and geekgold tips to the post.

There is a microbadge available for fans of the blog designed by Jake Staines. Thank you to everyone who has purchased it!
 Print and Play Games News fan

Please geekmail me if you:
1. Have any PNP news that you would like to see covered in the blog.
2. Have an interesting PNP story to share and would like to be interviewed.
3. Have an older PNP game you would like to see highlighted.
4. Would like information about buying sponsored content on the blog.

If you have questions about the blog or sponsored content, please see the PNP News FAQ.
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Mon Feb 15, 2016 8:07 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
90 
 Thumb up
8.00
 tip
 Hide

Interview with Nick Hayes

Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
flag msg tools
designer
If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
badge
I have two new 9 Card Games: 300 Spartans and Franky's 1st Christmas
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Welcome to the PNP News and to the first post of 2016! I wanted to kick off the year strong and I'm incredibly excited about this post. If you're a PNP designer who dreams of getting published someday, this should be very inspiring for you.

Today I'll be interviewing Nick Hayes. Nick is well known in the PNP community for designing classic games like Jasper and Zot, Utopia Engine, and Chunky Fighters. Nick and I talked about his history as a PNP designer and his new role designing strategy and mass market games for Mattel. I had a terrific time doing this interview and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

Nick Hayes
United States
Los Angeles
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
"Gargoyle's Quest" Gameboy, 1990
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb


For my take on a few of Nick's games, see my reviews here:
Know Which Way the Wind Blows - A Review of Djinn's Game
An Arcade Game on Your Table - A Review of Jasper and Zot
All the Fun of the Board Game with A Few Original Twists - A Review of Stratego Battle Cards
Paw Patrol is on a Roll... er Spinner - A Review of Paw Patrol Adventure Game

Chris Hansen: You've been active in the PNP community for a long time. How did you first discover PNP games and what got you interested in them?
Nick Hayes: I discovered print-and-play games just about the same time I joined BGG. Prior to that I was really into papercraft, which are paper models and toys you can print at home. I immediately fell in love PNP games because they are like a spiritual cousin to papercraft toys.

CH: What is the most recent PNP game that you've built?
NH: I built Roll Player just yesterday. It was a very quick and dirty build I threw together just to see if I would like the game play.

CH: How many PNP games do you think you've built?
NH: Oh that's hard to say. So many. Over a hundred for sure.

CH: What is your favorite PNP game?
NH: Can I list three? Silk Road Maker, Castle Builders, Utopian Rummy.

CH: Very nice choices! What are your top three non-PNP games?
NH: Tobago, Wiz-War, Euronimoes.

CH: Do you remember the first PNP game that you built? If so, do you still have it?
NH: I think Island Trader was one of the first PNP games I built. I still have it, it's a great game.

CH: You were my Secret Santa target in the first PNP Secret Santa exchange back in 2009. Do you still participate in the PNP Secret Santa exchanges?
NH: I do. I love the PNP Secret Santa event. Although starting this year I believe I will only give games. I don't need to receive them anymore.

CH: The artwork in your PNP games is always phenomenal. Did you train as an artist?
NH: I did have a lot of art training - the majority of my schooling was focused towards art.

CH: What tools do you use to create your artwork?
NH: I primarily draw in Photoshop or using pencil and pen and ink. I do all of my color work in Photoshop.

CH: You've designed some of the most well known games in the PNP genre, such as Chunky Fighters, Utopia Engine, Jasper and Zot, and No Good Gremlins. Do you have a favorite PNP game that you've designed?
NH: I would say my favorite is Djinn's Game. I just wish more people would play it!

CH: What about Djinn's Game makes it your favorite?
NH: I like it because it's very simple to learn and also fun to play. It's a good filler, especially if you're waiting for your fourth player to show up. I also had a lot of fun creating the artwork for the game.

Djinn's Game in play

CH: What are the pros and cons of releasing your games as free PNP games rather than trying to publish them? Especially for a new designer?
NH: I would tell any new designer to design PNP games first. Get the first 10-15 games out of your system. Get feedback, learn your trade. As you do you will become a skilled designer. Then, as you wisen up to what is good and what is not, you will see which of your designs are worth showing to publishers. You do not want to pitch your first design to a publisher because either a) it is not good, or b) you don't have enough experience, or c) both of those things.

I can point to two designers who exemplify this advice: Todd Sanders and Daniel Solis. When Todd began designing PNP games, and he designed a ton of them, not every one was something to write home about (no offense Todd!). But with each new release his game design skills grew and grew. Now he has games in the works from a number of known publishers who recognize and desire his abilities. Daniel Solis, another accomplished hobbyist designer, has found the same thing. In fact he recently wrote a blog post where he talks about learning to take his designs in a more publishable direction.

The cons to releasing PNP games are minimal in my opinion. Some companies may not want to consider your game for publication if it was once a free PNP title. Your idea may inspire another designer who later releases a game with a similar theme or mechanic. For the new designer however, none of these frankly rare possibilities come close to cancelling out the sheer amount of skill building you will gain from just practicing your craft.

CH: Do you plan on releasing more PNP games or participating in PNP design contests in the future?
NH: I really wish I could but it's just not in the cards at the moment. I am currently working at Mattel, and one of the conditions of my employment there is that I am not allowed to do outside design work anymore. That means no new PNP games and no updates to my existing PNP games for as long as I work there. It is frustrating, but what can you do? I have a dream job - it's my hobby and I get paid to do it.

CH: Do you think that your experience designing PNP games has helped with your career as a professional game designer?
NH: Without a doubt. You don't become a professional in any field without first learning the trade on your own. But game design aside, the experience of building PNP games helped out in other ways. For instance, when I have to build prototypes at work for playtesting, that's PNP right there!

CH: Have any mechanics from your PNP games made it into a published game?
NH: Does Chunky Fighters count? I can't think of any instances where I've purposely reused mechanics from my PNP games in a published game.

CH: You've designed board games for several television shows and movies, including Paw Patrol (which my daughter enjoys), Storage Wars, and even Star Wars. How did this come about? Were the producers familiar with your previous PNP work?
NH: These were all games I designed while working for Spin Master, a major toy company. In these cases our company would get the rights to produce games for the specific license and then the games team would design the appropriate games.

CH: You've recently designed updates for some very popular board game titles, such as Battle of the Sexes and Stratego. How did you approach designing for such well known games?
NH: When designing for a known brand the first thing you need to do is understand what makes that brand. What is the core of the game? For Stratego it's all about hidden units, capture the flag, and piece rank. If you design a Stratego game without those things, it's arguably not a Stratego game. There are other things that go into it, like understanding the target audience, but making sure that you don't stray too far from the source material is key.

CH: I received Battle of the Sexes for a wedding gift. Were you a fan of that game when you worked on Battle of the Sexes Toplist card game? (I must confess that I didn't particularly enjoy the original...)
NH: I'm not really a fan of Battle of the Sexes either but I am proud of the Toplist card game. It's actually a great party game mechanic that is suitable for any type of content. It is easy to understand and plays well with any number of players.

CH: Did you want to work on new games in these franchises or did the company ask you to create them?
NH: Sometimes I get to choose the projects I work on and sometimes I don't. In any given year the games team decides ahead of time how many games it will publish, in what category, and at what price point. At that point we divide up those projects between the available designers and go from there. At companies that have known brands, often a designer is assigned an entire brand. When I started at Spin Master for instance, I was responsible for Stratego. I was tasked with inventing a card game, a dice game, and a four-player "Risk killer" board game. I also designed two games for The Hobbit which never saw print. So sometimes you get to choose what you work on and sometimes you don't.

CH: For that project, you designed the Stratego Dice Game, Stratego Card Game (also known as Stratego Battle Cards), and the multiplayer Stratego Conquest. What are the similarities and differences between these games and classic Stratego?
NH: The Stratego Card Game takes the essence of classic Stratego and distills it into a quick playing card game. You still get all of those things that are core to Stratego but you get them in a smaller footprint and shorter play time. Stratego Conquest is a four player game that really ramps up the tension and speed of classic Stratego. Classic Stratego is a steady game of attrition where you can feel safe for a long time and watch your strategy play out slowly over a number of turns. It's built on defense and probing. In Stratego Conquest, the game begins with you facing danger on all fronts right out of the gate. You are never safe. Your safety only comes through attacking and defeating your enemies before they do the same to you.

CH: In the BGG forum, there is a new rule for Stratego Card Game that says you can keep attacking as long as you were successful. Did the publisher eliminate this rule from the game or is it a rule you thought of after the game was published?
NH: This is a rule that Royal Jumbo removed from the game before publication. It was in my original submission. The funny thing is, during testing we played the game quite a bit without the "press your attack" rule and found that without it, it is not much of a game at all. When you only have to replace one card each of your turns, there is no incentive for you to place your flag on the battlefield early. So every single match will end the same way: you will keep your flag in your hand until you are forced to play it as your last card. Then your opponent will attack that card and win the game. When played with the "press your attack" rule, you can sometimes force your opponent to put his flag out early, making him sweat for a turn or two and giving you a chance to end the game early with a surprise win. This makes for a much more exciting game.

Stratego Card Game

CH: Have you played Hera and Zeus? That game was originally designed as a Stratego Card Game but was rethemed before publication (or so the story goes).
NH: I have heard of Hera and Zeus but I've never gotten the chance to play.

CH: How have fans of the original Stratego reacted to your new versions?
NH: I am very excited to see how players react to Stratego Conquest. It has only just been released though, so there aren't a lot of reviews yet.

CH: My children really enjoyed your Paw Patrol Adventure Game. Did you enjoy designing a game specifically for young children?
NH: I do enjoy designing games for young children. With Paw Patrol Adventure Game I really didn't have enough time or resources to design a great game, we were in a rush to get it out the door. I later designed a better Paw Patrol game (Paw Patrol Beach Rescue Play Mat Game) and I am more proud of that one. It is for very young children though.

CH: You've recently worked with Chris Taylor, the designer of Nemo's War, Legions of Darkness, and a few PNP titles on a project for Star Wars called Box Busters. How did you and Chris start working together and how did you get involved with the Star Wars license?
NH: I've known Chris for a number of years now. We met at Strategicon, a game convention that happens three times a year here in Los Angeles. So I was familiar with his work. At the time I was working on Box Busters at Spin Master I also had a number of other games to design and carry through the development process. I didn't have enough time to do it all at once so we hired Chris as an outside designer to finish up Box Busters. The Star Wars license was something Spin Master had the rights to at the time.

CH: I noticed that you were not credited as the designer in the rulebook for either Paw Patrol or Stratego Card Game. Why do you think mass market games don't credit the game designers in the rules?
NH: Games designers are only really named by hobby and specialty games companies here in the U.S. Mass market companies don't do it as a general rule. I don't know why, it's just always been like that. Part of it may be that it's difficult to trace who exactly "designed" a particular game. In many cases the games began as outside submissions - sometimes designed by a single person and sometimes designed by an outside design house. And those games are often heavily modified far beyond their original forms on their path to publication. Even internally designed games are usually the result of a team effort. Another thing to consider is that designers move around a lot inside large toy companies and projects can end up passing from person to person, each adding their own touches. In each of those cases, who can be said to be the game designer?

CH: You are credited as the designer of your mass market released on BGG, but the average person who buys the games in Walmart will never know your name. Is that frustrating for you? Do you think that will change in your future designs for Mattel?
NH: It doesn't bother me that the average consumer doesn't know who designs their games. We're not at a point yet where game designers are as popular as movie directors. There are signs of it happening though. I know of at least two publishers - Peaceable Kingdom and Educational Insights - who sell games at mass market retailers and who make it a point to name their games' designers right on the box. They even go so far as including a photo and a short bio. It's a great practice that I hope the larger toy companies adopt. Incidentally, I am only credited on BGG because I made it a point to add myself as the designer of those games. I usually try to do that with as many mass market games as I can, especially now that I am working on the inside. I can ask around to find out who designed what and add that info onto each game's entry. BGG is an amazing resource. I like to think of it as a historical record of the tabletop games industry, so the more complete the data, the better it will serve us and future generations.

CH: I know that Brian Yu has worked on bringing Strategy Games to Mattel, such as Voltage. Are you involved with that? Would you say that you are you working on mass market style games or deeper games for Mattel? Are you working on any brands we'd recognize?
NH: Brian Yu is still at Mattel but he no longer works on the games team. I took over the strategy game segment when I was hired on, but that is just a part of my job. I am responsible for designing both traditional mass-market games and strategy games. You may know that Mattel has a line of strategy games for the German market, Bania, Kronen für den König, Geister, Geister, Schatzsuchmeister!, etc. I am working on those in addition to the standard fare like UNO, Pictionary, and Scrabble.

CH: Can you talk a little about some of the upcoming games you're working on for Mattel?
NH: Nope!

CH: Fair enough. I was in Walmart the other day and saw several of your designs on the game shelf. It must be fun to have your work presented to such a large market.
NH: I do have a few games out in the mass market. These are games I've done as a part of my day job. One thing I like about having games out in the mass market is that you can check the reviews on Amazon to see what the average consumer thinks of your game.

CH: Do you feel mass market games get a bad reputation compared with designer titles? Are there any "Walmart games" you particularly enjoy? I'm a big fan of Stratego myself and also playing games with my kids such as Ants in the Pants and Don't Break the Ice.
NH: Mass market games are much simpler than any of the kinds of things you'll find at hobby game stores, but even still you will find that there are a lot of people out there who cannot grok new game mechanics or lots of rules. This is why mass market games are often so dreadfully simple. We have to design to the audience.

On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to design well for the mass market. Designer games can use complexity to provide an interesting play experience. For the mass market, games must be simple as well as compelling. Most of the time the game's rules have to fit all on a single page.

But there are a number of good mass market games out there. Off the top of my head, some of my favorites are Blokus, Yamslam, Tapple, and Boggle.

One of Nick's mass market releases, Paw Patrol Adventure Game.

CH: In addition to your mass market games, you've also had Chunky Fighters published by Robin Red Games. Did you send the game to publishers or did they contact you?
NH: Chunky Fighters is the only game I released as PNP that went on to get published. I was contacted a few times by small publishers interested in publishing the game but none of them had the capabilities to do it justice. That was until Robin Red inquired. They're a very small outfit, but it was clear they had the skills to pull it off so I agreed to license the game to them.

CH: Are you happy with the published version?
I am very happy with how the game turned out. They had been big fans of the game and knew it very well. The rules they added or modified were fantastic and make the game that much better. The artwork is top notch, too. I always thought that the artwork should be redone for publication and Pascal Boucher did a great job.

CH: Robin Red Games is based in France. Is the game available to English speakers?
The rulebook is actually in French, English, Spanish, and German and there are both French and English cards in the box. So it's completely playable in both French and English right now. Unfortunately it is only for sale in France I believe. I know the company would love to distribute the game in the US, they just don't have the means to do so yet. They need to find a partner willing to help them with access to the North American market.

The Robin Red Games edition of Chunky Fighters



I’d like to thank Nick for his willingness to discuss his games and experiences transitioning from a PNP designer to a game designer at Mattel. We emailed back and forth many times and Nick was very patient with my many followup questions. Nick's PNP games are all available here on BGG (including the original version of Chunky Fighters) and his published games are available everywhere from big-box stores to specialty board game shops. I'm sure that Nick will be around in the comments section if you have additional questions for him.



That's it for now. I will be posting the regular PNP News in a few days and an additional interview. Thank you for reading and thanks as always for your thumbs and geekgold tips to the post.

There is a microbadge available for fans of the blog designed by Jake Staines. Thank you to everyone who has purchased it!
 Print and Play Games News fan

Please geekmail me if you:
1. Have any PNP news that you would like to see covered in the blog.
2. Have an interesting PNP story to share and would like to be interviewed.
3. Have an older PNP game you would like to see highlighted.
4. Would like information about buying sponsored content on the blog.

If you have questions about the blog or sponsored content, please see the PNP News FAQ.
Twitter Facebook
10 Comments
Sat Jan 9, 2016 3:27 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
46 
 Thumb up
2.00
 tip
 Hide

Interview with Nicole Kline - Designer of RESISTOR_

Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
flag msg tools
designer
If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
badge
I have two new 9 Card Games: 300 Spartans and Franky's 1st Christmas
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Today I’ll be talking with Nicole Kline who, together with Anthony Amato, created Cardboard Fortress Games to publish their new game, RESISTOR_. The game was successfully funded on Kickstarter and backers have started receiving their copies this week. Nicole and Anthony decided to release a free PNP version of their game during the campaign and then kept it available on the game’s BGG page even after the game was published. (Available here: Cards and Rules.) Nicole was kind enough to talk about the game, her personal history with Print and Play, and the reasons they decided to make a Print and Play version available in their Kickstarter campaign.

Game Cover

Chris Hansen: Tell me a little about RESISTOR_.

Nicole Kline: RESISTOR_ is comprised of double-sided cards - they make up the board as well as the players' hands. The cards have lines on them - either red, blue, or red and blue - and each player is trying to connect their line to cross the board and enter the other player's base.

CH: What genre is the game?

NK: It's a light-medium two-player competitive card game with board manipulation and puzzle elements.

CH: How long have you been working on RESISTOR_ (Designing/Playtesting/Artwork/Etc)?

NK: We made RESISTOR_ for a game jam in August of 2013. By March of 2014, we had the art nearly finished, and the gameplay mechanics were done.

CH: The game reminds me a little bit of connection games like Twixt or PÜNCT. Did those game inspire the creation of Resistor_?

NK: We haven't played either of those games, though now that I've looked them up, I'd really like to! The main inspiration for the game was the jam theme. The theme was "Choose an Oasis song title and make a game out of it." The song title we chose was "Roll it Over," which is what really inspired the idea of using double-sided cards and flipping them over on the board. Once people started playing it, we got a lot of questions about our inspiration. The question we got the most often was, "Was this inspired by Hanabi?" We hadn't played that, either, and when we finally did, we understood why people asked us that! But the main inspiration was the jam theme, and the main inspiration for the game's theme was War Games.

CH: Often times, connection games are purely abstract with no theme attached. There are obviously exceptions such as Through the Desert but Twixt, Hex, PÜNCT, etc are all simply abstract yet remain very popular. How did you decide on the warring computer theme instead of leaving it abstracted? (Just to be clear, I think the theme is awesome, I just don't often see themes in these types of games.)

NK: About a month after we created the game, we talked to Christopher Badell, one of the brains behind the Sentinels of the Multiverse series. One of Christopher's recommendations was to make sure we themed our game. We had already been kicking around theme ideas, but once he said that, we cemented the computer idea into place, and went from there. Anthony did all of the artwork shortly after that, and I have to say that I agree with you - I wasn't sure about picking a theme at first, but once I saw Anthony's artwork, I was so glad we went with that. And from there, it's grown into its own little universe, with DEEP RED and BLU9000 really developing little personalities of their own.

The two supercomputers.

CH: Let’s talk about the Kickstarter campaign. Why did you decided to offer a Print and Play version as part of the Kickstarter campaign?

NK: Anthony and I went back and forth on this topic for a while. We weren't sure if it would be a good idea to offer the game for free - why would people want to buy your game if they could just play it for free? But there's no way to offer the full game as a Print and Play - the art on the tarot cards would be costly to replicate as a PnP. So Anthony made a simple and elegant PnP, and we put it up for free in the hopes that people on the fence about buying the game would download it, print it, put it together, and fall in love with it. And it turns out that's what happened. It also seems that people who were on the fence ended up buying the game once they saw we offered a PnP - I think it was a good faith kind of thing. What I mean by that is: people saw we were confident enough in our game that we offered it for free, so they were willing to trust in us and buy it.

The full art in the published game. (Image credit: Daniel Thurot)

The minimalist art in the PNP version of the game.

CH: The PNP file is simple but gets the job done very nicely. While I love the artwork in the full version, I appreciate that the PNP file requires very little ink. It is very cost efficient to print. I appreciate games that don't drain my printer. I've noticed that the PNP community on BGG takes a lot of interest in Kickstarter games that come with free options, even if they don't include full game art. Did anyone hear about your game because of the PNP option?

NK: I don't recall anyone directly mentioning that they were drawn to the game because we offered a PnP version, but we definitely had a lot of messages of people talking to us about it and thanking us for offering it. Several international backers were hoping for a full art PnP and even offered to pay for one, but we had already made the decision that we didn't want to do that - partly because of what you mentioned about ruining people's printers, and partly because the game really needs to have long cards in order to fully be able to display the options on the backside of the cards to your opponent. It didn't seem feasible to try to recreate that in a PnP version.

CH: Some games offer a full art version of the PNP for a certain pledge level. Did you ever consider doing that?

NK: Ha! I feel like I might have already answered this in the previous answer. Part of this was because Anthony had already created the PnP, and he felt that creating a full art PnP that worked well would be an enormous amount of work.

CH: Can you talk a little bit about becoming a Kickstarter Staff Pick? Did you contact them or did they find you? Did you notice an increase in orders when you got that?

NK: The Kickstarter Staff Pick happened so late in the campaign that it almost seemed pointless! They emailed us to let us know it happened and that was all the communication we got about it, other than them sending out a tweet from their Staff Pick Twitter account. It was in the last 48 hours, so we were already getting the 48-hour spike, and I'm not sure how many of those were a result of getting Staff Pick, unfortunately.

CH: Are you a PNPer? Have you built a PNP copy of RESISTOR_ yourself?

NK: We haven't made our own PNP, but people have sent us (really amazing!) pictures of their homemade copies. So we know it works! Plus, our early prototypes were very, very close to the PnP.

CH: In addition to the files offered in the campaign, will players need to provide other other components like dice or cubes?

NK: Nope! Everything is included in the PnP - even a box! You'll need some glue or tape, scissors, and some thicker paper.

The PNP box to hold the cards.

CH: Do you have any suggestions for those printing your game?

NK: The PnP should be printed on thick sheets of paper in color. The instructions are five pages and can be printed on regular paper or just accessed online if you don't want to print them! But if you do, those should also be printed in color.

CH: How long do you anticipate it will take players to build a copy of RESISTOR_ from the PNP files?

NK: It shouldn't take more than an hour at most, but the tricky part is getting thick enough paper so that you can't see through it. You might need to go to an actual copy shop for that.

Building the PNP version of the game. I used 110lb cardstock for the cards and box. Click on the photo for more details about the assembly.

CH: Do you feel the free PNP version increased sales/interest in the Kickstarter Campaign?

NK: I think that people either made it, liked it, and bought it, or saw that it was offered for free and were impressed by our confidence in the game and bought it. So yeah, I think the PnP helped our sales. All of that is based on feedback we've gotten!

CH: Are you concerned that some people may have downloaded the PNP version without purchasing the game?

NK: I wouldn't say I'm concerned... I would say that I would rather have people download it, play it, and discover early on they don't like it, rather than buy it, play it, and not enjoy it. I don't want to take anyone's money if they aren't going to enjoy the game. The concern I do have is that people downloaded the PnP but didn't play the game right and disliked it because of that. That bums me out a little.

What is concerning is that the full version of the game has variants and expansions that aren't included in the PnP.

CH: Will players be able to continue to access the PNP files now that the Kickstarter campaign is complete and the game published?

NK: We're not sure! It's up on Board Game Geek now, and we don't have any intention of taking it down!

CH: Do you worry about the PNP negatively affecting the game? Such as people not buying the game because they can get a free version?

NK: No, I think if people are ok with just the bare minimum of the game, then I'm ok with them just using the PnP. I think if they really love the game, they'll want the artwork. Anthony made all the artwork and I might be biased but I think it's gorgeous, and I think anyone who truly loves the game will want to own that. But I also understand not everyone has the money to buy games - truly, board games are a luxury. If people can't afford it, I want them to be able to play it.

CH: Are you interested in PNP games generally? Have you made very many PNP games?

NK: I wouldn't say I've made a lot, but we've made a handful. Kickstarter has really taken our board gaming in a whole new direction, and I love it. We've printed out several games we were on the fence about and ended up backing them all. And I've made some friends at events and online who send me their PnPs to test their games out and it's amazing to be able to play their games even though we don't live close to each other.

CH: What's your favorite Kickstarter PNP game?

NK: That's a really tough question. I had a lot of fun with a PnP for a game that was on Kickstarter recently called JunKing. We made the PnP to see the effect a certain rule had on the game that we weren't sure about from just reading the rulebook.

In a totally different vein, my friend made a game based on Dune that is gorgeous and I'm in love with the art. He doesn't have the license so obviously he won't be selling it commercially, but I just adore it. And, way way back in the day, when Cards Against Humanity was sold out everywhere, we did a PnP of that. The first ever Kickstarter PnP we ever did was a little game called Space Base Race, which we backed.

CH: How did you first discover PNP games?

NK: I always knew they were out there, but it wasn't until we started seeing them become more prominent on Kickstarter that we started utilizing them. There are so many great looking games on Kickstarter that testing them through PnPs may become more and more of a good practice for us and our wallets!

CH: Will Cardboard Fortress be releasing future games in a PNP format?

NK: We would love to, and some of our next game ideas are limited to just cards, so it could be something we do - and soon!

CH: One of the coolest things about releasing a game online is seeing it crafted by gamers all over the world. What is the farthest location that you know of someone building your game? (i.e. Did anyone in Europe in Asia build it?)

NK: I know we had a backer from Japan, but I'm not sure if they built the PnP. If so, they would be the farthest location! But I'm not certain. Maybe we could do a poll and find out!



I’d like to thank Nicole and Anthony for their willingness to discuss their new game. RESISTOR_ is currently available for from Level 99 Games for $20.00 or you can check out the PNP files for free from the game’s page.

For more details about the game’s play, please see my review. (Spoiler alert: I liked the game a lot!)
Thin Red Line (...and Blue Line) - A Review of RESISTOR_



Thank you for reading and thanks as always for your thumbs and geekgold tips to the post.

It has been awhile since my last update. I’ve been busy with the game design contests, some playtesting projects, and other various real world issues. I will start publishing some catch up posts in the next few days, starting with a contest-focused post that will cover the winners of recent contests and the currently active contests.

There is a microbadge available for fans of the blog designed by Jake Staines. Thank you to everyone who has purchased it!
 Print and Play Games News fan

Please geekmail me if you:
1. Have any PNP news that you would like to see covered in the blog.
2. Have an interesting PNP story to share and would like to be interviewed.
3. Have an older PNP game you would like to see highlighted.
4. Would like information about buying sponsored content on the blog.

If you have questions about the blog or sponsored content, please see the PNP News FAQ.
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:18 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
42 
 Thumb up
5.00
 tip
 Hide

Interview with Seth Van Orden - Designer of Stockpile

Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
flag msg tools
designer
If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
badge
I have two new 9 Card Games: 300 Spartans and Franky's 1st Christmas
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Today I will be talking with Seth Van Orden, a designer who has created a new game company called Nauvoo Games with Brett Sobol to publish their first design, Stockpile. The game is currently on Kickstarter and includes a very affordable Print and Play option. Seth was kind enough to talk about the game, his personal history with Print and Play, and the reasons they decided to make a Print and Play version available in their Kickstarter campaign.

Image Credit: Brett Sobol

Chris Hansen: Tell me a little about Stockpile.

Seth Van Orden: Stockpile is an economic board game that combines the traditional stockholding strategy of buy low, sell high with several additional mechanics to create a fast-paced, engaging and interactive experience.

In Stockpile, players act as stock market investors at the end of the 20th century hoping to strike it rich, and the investor with the most money at the end of the game is the winner. Stockpile centers around the idea that nobody knows everything about the stock market, but everyone does know something. In the game, this philosophy manifests in two ways – insider information and the stockpile.

First, players are given insider information each round. This information dictates how a stock’s value will change at the end of the round. By privately learning if a stock is going to move up or down, each player has a chance to act ahead of the market by buying or selling at the right time.

Second, players purchase their stocks by bidding on piles of cards called stockpiles. These stockpiles will contain a mixture of face-up and face-down cards placed by other players in the game. In this way, nobody will know all of the cards in the stockpiles. Not all cards are good either. Trading fees can poison the piles by making players pay more than they bid. By putting stocks and other cards up for auction, Stockpile catalyzes player interaction, especially when potential profits from insider information are on the line.

Both of these mechanics are combined with some stock market elements to make players consider multiple factors when selling a stock. Do you hold onto a stock in hopes of catching a lucrative stock split or do sell now to avoid the potential company bankruptcy? Can you hold onto your stock until the end of the game to become the majority shareholder, or do you need the liquidity of cash now for future bidding? Do you risk it all by investing heavily into one company, or do you mitigate your risk by diversifying your portfolio?

In the end, everyone knows something about the stock market, so it all comes down to strategy execution. Will you be able to navigate the movements of the stock market with certainty? Or will your investments go under from poor predictions?

CH: What genre is the game?

SVO: Stockpile is an Economic game by theme, but most people who play it, agree that it doesn't feel like your typical economic game. It's probably similar to the relationship between 7 Wonders and your typical civilization games. It stream lines some of the best parts of economic games. I guess you could also classify it as a medium to light weight Euro.

CH: How long have you been working on Stockpile (Designing, Playtesting, Artwork, Etc)?

SVO: Only about 9 months. It's been a relatively short time period since this is are first game. Once we found out we had a hit on our hands, we went all in.

CH: The rulebook is released under a Creative Commons license. Are you hopeful that other designers will use Stockpile to inspire new games?

SVO: I believe it already has. There is a on Kickstarter right now, that I believe was partially inspired by Stockpile. The designer created it shortly after playing Stockpile. Now I'm not claiming he stole my game because I don't think he did. Nor do I have the right to the mechanics that I created, since they were inspired by other great mechanics. Our games are definitely different games and they both bring good things to the table, but they both share very similar central mechanic.

CH: Why did you decided to offer a Print and Play version for publication?

SVO: There are several reasons. Our goal as Nauvoo Games isn't to make as much as possible. In the end we want to share our games with as many people as possible. Before the Kickstarter we decided to give away copies of the print and play with almost finished art for free to all those who were willing to try the game. This was useful for more than one reason. It built good will and trust that the game was of a high caliber. We were able to get a lot more ratings on BGG by those who played it. We were able to get a lot more feedback on the art and rules from people who weren't being taught by us. This helped us make Stockpile a even better game. Even when the Kickstarter went live we still want to make the PnP available to all. We understand some live in places where it's very expensive to ship games. We want them to enjoy the game too. We offer a basic PnP for free on the Kickstarter page, and a full art version for only 1$.

CH: Have you built a PnP copy of the game yourself?

SVO: Yes, you have to for play testing and demoing purposes. I've made well over 12 version for myself, and I've made at least 5 copies for others.

CH: In addition to the files offered in the campaign, will players need to provide other other components such as Dice, tokens, or money?

SVO: We will offer files to print your own money, but I'm guessing most will use other options. You will need one token for each player and one for stock and one to keep track of the rounds and first player. You can use almost anything for these, people often use colored dice as player tokens.

CH: How large is the game? How many sheets of components will a player need to print to build the PnP version?

SVO: There are around 100 cards. 5 small player boards and 1 medium sized board.
PNP Version of the game. Image Credit: spike spike

CH: How long do you anticipate it will take players to build a copy of Stockpile from the PNP files?

SVO: Well it will depend on the person, but I could make myself a copy in around 2 hours or less.

CH: Do you feel the free PNP version increased sales/interest in the Kickstarter Campaign?

SVO: For sure, but not directly. I doubt we will really get much money out of the print and play pledge level since we made it so cheap, but we've gotten a lot of success because of the rating and reviews from those who have made it and played it. We believe it has been well worth the effort. Especially for first time publishers like ourselves.

CH: Will players be able to purchase PNP files after the Kickstarter campaign is complete?

SVO: That's good question. We haven't really talked about it, but I'm sure we would be willing if someone just talked to us about it.

CH: Do you worry about the PNP negatively affecting the game? Such as being traded illegally instead of people buying the game?

SVO: Do I think someone might do it? Yes. Am I worried about it? No. Even if someone did, I don't think there "business" would take away from ours.

CH: What's your history with PNP games in general?

SVO: I don't have a big background with PNP games. I really didn't know it existed until I started designing games. I've really only done PNP for the purpose of play testing my games or another player's game. I've got to say though, after getting involved with the PNP community on BGG, I think that has to be one of the best communities to be a part of. Everyone is extremely nice, supportive, and creative.

CH: How did you first discover PNP games?

SVO: Outside of play testing, the first contact I really had with it, was when we went looking for people to play test our game on BGG. This was a great decision.

CH: What's your favorite PNP game?

SVO: Stockpile

CH: Will Nauvoo Games be releasing future games in a PNP format?

SVO: YES! As of right now I plan running all of our games by the PNP play community on BGG. It's a great way to improve your game. I would recommend to other designers/publishers that your game be at an almost final state before sharing it with them. I can only image it would have the reverse effect if you shared a broken game with awful art and wasted their time.

***

I'd like to thank Seth for taking the time to do this interview with me. Stockpile is currently available on Kickstarter for $39 for the published game or $1 for the full art Print and Play version. The Kickstarter campaign ends November 20, 2014.
Stockpile on Kickstarter

That is all for now! Stay tuned for future Interviews, PNP Highlight, PNP Construction Tips, and of course PNP News.

There is a microbadge available for fans of the blog designed by Jake Staines.
 Print and Play Games News fan

Please geekmail me if you:
1. Have any PNP news that you would like to see covered in the blog.
2. Have an interesting PNP story to share and would like to be interviewed.
3. Have an older PNP game you would like to see highlighted.
4. Would like information about buying sponsored content on the blog.
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:04 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
48 
 Thumb up
2.00
 tip
 Hide

To boldly go where no publisher has gone before

Esteban Fernandez
Spain
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Minion Games are selling their games as PnP, via the Wargame Vault, but they are not a PnP company or a Print On Demand (POD) one. They are a traditional publisher that has their whole catalogue available for a small price to anyone who wants to make the game instead of buying the retail edition.

For me this a very brave movement. There are always publishers worried about even releasing game rules online, and the only close case to this that came to mind is Cheapass Games that have some old free games out of print on the website for free.

Minion Games are so into PnP that they embraced a new way of promoting the games on Kickstarter, which is offering the same game as PnP before even the game is out. You can see more games like that in Kickstarters with PnP versions available (& other crowdfunding). They did it in the past with The Manhattan Project, but they are doing it right now with a game that has a close feeling to Eclipse and are not afraid of marking the play time as 180 minutes. I am talking about Hegemonic, a game that has a preview that makes me wish I have the money to support it fully, but that you can get for $10 for the PnP version.



I've reached
James Mathe
United States
Greenfield
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
http://www.Game-Universe.com
badge
http://www.MinionGames.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
and asked him some questions.

PnP Blog - Aren't you afraid of getting less support for the full game on the Hegemony KS campaign, due to the availability of the game on PnP ?
James Mathe - No we aren't. No one really wants to build a board game unless they enjoy it as a hobby. Then there are people who can't afford the full price especially if it's overseas and includes shipping and VAT taxes. So, the people who buy the PnP wouldn't buy the full game anyway so they ADD to the overall total, not the reverse.

PnP - How did you come to the decision of releasing your games as paid PnP on http://www.wargamevault.com? Do you see that more as a way of making more profit or as marketing tool?
JM - First off, I'm a part owner in WarGameVault.com so it's an obvious place for me to sell at if I choose to do so. The reason I choose to do so is multi-fold:

- It helps us make sure all our ducks are in a row for the print version
- It helps promote the game
- It makes some money
- It is a great good-will gift to provide Kickstarter supporters
- It reaches an audience of PnP crafters without devaluing our product


PnP -
Did you get any backlash from distributors/FLGS/Retailers Online because you sell pnp version of the games online?

JM - No. Again, few PnP copies ever sell to matter much to anyone and they are a hobby more than anything that retailers really can't provide anyway. The retailers are more upset with selling on Kickstarter to begin with.



At the moment of the writing, 31 backers have pledged the $10 level on the Kickstarter campaign. It will be interesting to check out the final numbers when the campaign ends.
Do you know any other company that embraces PnP like this? Is the PnP backing level a good a idea on a KS campaign? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:36 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

Subscribe

Contributors