(Preface: Followers of this blog may have noticed a delay between the previous interview and this one. To put it simply (and mildly), life got super busy, and looks to remain as such for the foreseeable future. That surge has resulted in me having to pull back from one interview a week to one a fortnight. But, enough about me, we’re here to talk to Peter Seiler of YubNub Games...)
Like so many game designers out there, Peter was struck by the idea for his game while shovelling horse poo.
*double checks info*
Yep, seems that’s correct. But let us rewind a little from that fateful day...
Peter Seiler likes a challenge. He grew up in the mountains of Northern California (whether he was raised by human parents or a pack of wolves, he didn't clarify), he served 5 years in the Marine Corps and did two tours of Iraq (respect!), he holds a BS in Computer Engineering and designs Z Desktop Workstations (Pete, you’re making me feel very lazy here, mate!) and now he is in the midst of his most gruelling challenge yet… the dreaded Kickstarter (https://tinyurl.com/y2tk23u2) for his game, Top Tale (https://tinyurl.com/y6yqmy2u)
Ok Peter, let’s answer the burning question for our dear readers… the game-design-horse-poo connection. How does that work? Should all us designers grab a shovel and go stand behind a horse?
My wife trains wild American mustangs (no, not the cars), and we end up with a lot of horse manure that needs to be moved. My wife broke her back four years ago, and despite making a nearly full recovery, cleaning stalls really aggravates her back (plausible excuse at least). I happen to have a back injury from my Marine Corps service, but mine hurts less. So I get to clean stalls. Honestly it provides a great opportunity to think. I’ve invented many things for HP during such thinking sessions, but one day the concept hit me for a card game, and it seemed so good (I was literally giddy with excitement) that I started developing the game. After playing it a few times, and seeing the impact it has on people, I committed to bring it to market and have never looked back.
You currently have a Kickstarter campaign running for Top Tale. Give us a pitch that will have us begging to throw money at you…
Top Tale: The O.G. Volume 1, is the first game in a family-friendly card game series, where players tell stories relating to topic cards, then vote on the top tale. The game is designed for ages 10+, 2-10 players, and it takes less than two minutes for anyone to learn. You can play as long as you want, but a solid game typically lasts 30-60 minutes. While playing Top Tale, you are guaranteed to get to know your fellow human, and in many cases you’ll develop a deeper respect and understanding for them. For only $20 USD, you can get your copy on Kickstarter until November 21, 2020. Act now to get free US shipping, or discounted international shipping. With any luck, you’ll be able to tell your friends that you helped Top Tale happen, before it became a classic card game series.
What other games do you most enjoy? Did any of them influence the design of Top Tale?
I grew up playing games like Yahtzee, Trivial Pursuit, and Scrabble, and those types of games will always be special to me. In college I played lots of Catch Phrase, Cards Against Humanity, and Apples to Apples, so I think that’s where I got most of the “party game” influence that led to Top Tale. I wanted to keep it super simple, and focus on the outcome, rather than the game play itself. It’s not your typical game in that respect, and although there is typically a winner, rarely do players end up caring much about winning. It’s more about getting to know each other in a safe environment, and on an equal playing field. Since I started developing Top Tale, I’ve done a lot of “research” and have played all sorts of amazing games, both published and unpublished. The Top Tale series may be how Yub Nub Games (www.yubnubgames.com) gets its start, but a whole new world of game mechanics and styles has been shown to me, and I like them!
I like the tone behind Top Tale. I was noticing a trend of darker, sarcastic games. Top Tale, while mildly competitive, also seeks to build a bond between players. What inspired your game’s lighter direction?
Top Tale started out being called “Top That!”, and it was less about sharing stories, and more about topping other peoples’ responses to topics. The game evolved, and after some narrowly-avoided trademark infringements, the game name settled on “Top Tale”, and the focus became sharing experiences. As I mentioned, the outcome of the game is almost more important than the gameplay itself. I noticed in the countless play test sessions, that the topics where stories were told, and experiences were shared, are the most impactful. I’ve heard the full spectrum of stories, where the result may be laughing so much your face hurts, or shedding tears of both joy and sadness. After moments like those, people truly do bond. They become inspired by the courage of others to open up, and for the sake of the game, they open up themselves. That is why Top Tale evolved into what it is.
How did you go about playtesting Top Tale, especially in these Covid-stricken times?
I’ve been play testing Top Tale for nearly three years now, so luckily I had plenty of game tests at conventions, at Protospiel’s, at local breweries, and with friends and family. The game is honestly best played in person, but it can be played virtually. Since COVID, I’ve played it over Zoom, on Tabletopia, on Tabletop Simulator, and using the Top Tale Mobile App on Android. All work well, to varying degrees, but it works best when you can see and hear the emotions behind the stories. I’ve still had some pretty deep games with coworkers over Zoom, so even in these times where it’s hard to play games, Top Tale is truly one still works when social distancing.
What did playtesting highlight to you about the game? How did you overcome/enhance the game as a result?
Playtesting helped me identify the types of card topics that lead to a great game session. It’s rough when you start out with a few heavy topics in the first few cards, so I’ve attempted to balance the topics to favor the light-hearted topics versus deeper topics. The split is likely somewhere around 70% light and 30% dark. It’s a yin and yang thing where you really need both types of cards, but you need to avoid scaring away players at the same time. I have also narrowed down the first volume from over 450 topic candidates, down to the best 150 (or whatever the final count of cards is after stretch goals). I want “The Original Game Volume 1” to stand the test of time, but at the same time, there are still going to be plenty of great topics for additional volumes and expansions.
This is your second attempt at a Kickstarter for Top Tale. What are you doing differently this time to improve your chances to get across the line?
It’s tough launching a game on Kickstarter. Especially your first game… Especially a party game without miniatures or eye-catching artwork. I didn’t expect it would be easy, and for this first game, I grounded my expectations after the first campaign. My first campaign hit over $6k, and I already covered pretty much all the bases with paid previews/reviews, manufactured copies to show, a high-quality commercial, and all the other “necessities”. Honestly for the relaunch, I didn’t change a ton. I lowered my funding goal to what I hit on the first campaign, and I simplified shipping to offer free US shipping. I polished a bunch of other stuff, and added cards to the base game to add more value, but there’s not much else I could change. It is more about marketing, and promoting as much as possible. I’m doing that more, and I’m already at 90% funded being eight days in.
Peter, we thank you for taking the time to do a Small Ocean, Big Wave interview, and I wish you all the very best with your Kickstarter and any future game designs.
Thank you for helping spread the word! I am truly grateful for any and all such opportunities, and I’ve never been in such a warm and welcoming industry as the board game industry! Thank you Paul, and thank you readers!
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BGG Page for Top Tale: https://tinyurl.com/y6yqmy2u***
If you are an unpublished designer who would like to be interviewed, please either respond to the original post (https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2500668/unpublished-designe...) or geekmail me directly. I don't bite!
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This blog will serve as the home for all the unpublished designer interviews. I am aiming (even in my dad-of-two-young-maniacs-full-time-worker-game-designer life) to post one interview a week, and occasionally intersperse them with Spotlight interviews, which may cover interviewees that got published, ran a successful Kickstarter etc. When a new interview is posted, I will post link in my "Unpublished designer? Good! I want to interview you. Read why..." thread, and as separate thread on the Design Forum, as well as on my various social media accounts. I really want this be a success; to get eyes on designers that really do have a lot to say and to bolster the sense of community on BGG. After you read an interview, please take the time to subscribe give a thumbs up and even just a short reply. These interviews mean a lot to the designers and who knows, it may be you who wants people to read your interview one day. :) Cheers, Paul Bedford (Designer on a Map)
06 Nov 2020
- [+] Dice rolls