Hi everyone! As I promised, here's the interview we made to Andreas "ode." Odendahl!!
1. Introduce yourself a little
Hi, my name is Andreas Odendahl, but almost everybody calls me „Ode“. I am 40 years of age and live in north western Germany, close to the border to the Netherlands. I work as a personal assistant for a wheelchair driver. I am married to my wonderful wife Claudia and we have lots of pet animals living with us.
2. Are you actually live in a farm (or, at least, with a huge garden)? How many animals do you have (wooden and real ones)?
No, we just have a house and a big garden. We have three dogs of our own and three foster dogs from animal care. Another six cats living in the house or the garden. Two goats reside in our garage and the garden. And then there are six chicken and a rooster – also living in the garden…
3. Ok, donkey time! How many versions of the cards were made during the development of La Granja
Countless. When I was done designing the game I swore to myself that I would never do a game with multi-use cards again. But I am more experienced now. La Granja was not my first game, but it was the first one published and needed to be worked on seriously. I guess I made many mistakes I would be able to not do again. Maybe sometime there will be another game with multi-use cards.
4. Because of Twitter, we know that you have a really fine taste in music. Tell us more about your favourites.
I don't want to bore your readers with too many details about music they never heard of. Let's just say I like guitar-driven music. Mostly independent music like punk, hardcore, indie rock. But I also enjoy all other kinds of music. In smaller doses. Like pop music, jazz, blues, hip hop … sometimes even electronic or classical music. But all of the music I like normally has one thing in common: It is handmade by real people who want an outlet for their creativity. Music produced for the sole purpose to earn money is not my thing.
5. Theme or mechanic? Which goes first?
Life is not black and white. It depends. Sometimes the mechanic is first, sometimes the theme. It is important understand how they both work together and that they do in the end.
6. Show some pictures of the prototypes you have made and didn't get published!. It will be published any new game soon?
Right now I am working on a couple of games. All in different stages of the development.
There is one game called „Vamos a la playa“ which is a game by Harald Lieske. He asked me to join in on the development. I took over and it is quite some time now. I have a couple of new ideas I want to playtest eagerly.
Another game is a team work with my good friend Matthias Cramer. I played his small dice game named „Arriba!“ a couple of times and it has a unique dice draft. This was actually the game that inspired me to try a dice draft for La Granja as well, because before that in La Granja every player had a turn when he would roll the dice for a couple of times and had to deal with the result. I wanted something which is better with more players so I tried the draft.
Last year Matthias approached me and asked if I would like to join in on this small dice game. I loved that idea and I hope we will get there someday. The same here: I need to playtest a few ideas.
7. Which is the step you hate the most during the design of a game?
Wouldn't say I hate it. But what sometimes bugs me is that phase when you know you are not there yet and you keep on trying to desperately get there. In all of my games there was this turning point.
When I was unsatisfied with the elements, the design, whatever. Something is not yet feeling right. Sometimes it is best to put the game away for sometime – in some drawer, trying to forget it for a while. Or giving it to your publisher for some month like I did with the last game. And then, after a while you get closure and then you start working on it with a fresh mind, or some really good new ideas from my publisher, and then I can really feel that this is it! From this point on the development of the core of the game is done.
You know all the elements. Now the balancing part begins, finding the best way the elements intersect. It is a great feeling to finally get to that point.
But before finding that turning point it sometimes is very frustrating.
8. How do you work with Mike Keller? Who's always right? Because in every couple of designers, one is usually wrong and the other doesn't
Mike and I work over a long distance since he lives in Switzerland and I, as I said, in the northern part of Germany. We meet a couple of times a year when he visits Germany for some gamers meetings or to visit relatives. So most of the time is is e-mails, chats, video chat. It is kind of hard to work like this because we cannot discuss stuff on regular meetings eye to eye or just meet for a little playtesting. But I think we found a way. Mike is a very creative guy, full of brilliant ideas.
My job was more to transform these ideas into something that could work for our games and have a general survey on everything. I found this very nice way of working because I could always contact Mike for new ideas and pick the ones I liked best. Because he has lots of them! I just think that it was sometimes quite frustrating for him to work with me because I am so picky…
9. La Granja: No Siesta, probably you have crafted A LOT of dice. It was too painful to do so?
Actually not. No. I have an early picture of the dice when I just wrote the names of the goods on the dice. And it hardly changed since then. I started using symbols later when I playtested the game with other people. But I used big wooden dice without rounded edges. They are actually from an online shop providing school supplies. Which was a great tipp from my good friend Ralph Bruhn who was working on OctoDice for Pegasus Spiele at the time I started fooling around with No Siesta. It's pretty easy to make the dice. Since they are big and have square and plain surface you can easily make stickers for the dice. And since the dice almost never changed I had really not much to do. This is a difference to La Granja, when I also used dice with symbols on them for a long time.
And back in those days I was stickering real dice and most of them have round surfaces. This is a very extensive way of stickering dice when you have to cut a lot of round stickers. I was so happy when Ralph gave me that hint about the big wooden dice from that school supplier. So easy to make custom dice now.
Using dice with pips was a late change in the development of La Granja. Which was good back then because there cannot be too many symbols on the side of a die. Productionwise.
And I needed more symbols to balance the dice in La Granja. The dice in La Granja went to many several changes and it was a heck of work to always change them. Actually finding a better balance by using moe complex dice results and the constant redoing the dice was the reason for me to start using cards for the dice result and dice with pips in La Granja. It is way more easier to just change one card instead of changing one side of each of the nine dice.
That is why I designed the dice for La Granja: No Siesta in very reduced way. Just one symbol expect for the one side – and this side has just two symbols. I wanted them to stay in this simplistic way because this time I wanted to have dice with symbols on them. I just love games with custome dice. Like Octodice, Roll through the Ages, Roll for the Galaxy, Seasons.
I used these easy to make dice for Solarius Mission as well. Since I have a lot of those wooden cubes now I am not afraid of handi-crafting dice any more!
10. Thank you very much and we expect to keep the Llama-Donkey love (but a llama beats a donkey, is a fact)
I don't know if we should really have a competition here. But if you insist I have to say that any donkey would take your llama! No, just kidding... I love all the animals! I am sending you a picture my wife took when we went to an animal park. It shows me and a lovely donkey! But that mule was a beast! Right after the photo was shot he bit me in the arm! Did really hurt! Llama beats donkey Pah! I don't think so!
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