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Steven Aramini was inducted into The Game Crafter Hall of Fame because his game, Tricky Tides, won the Trick Taker Challenge. Congratulations Steven! His designer interview is below.
Note: The official announcement was posted on our news blog at http://news.thegamecrafter.com/post/168790864099/steven-aram.... Read the interview there for all of the photos and links in the article.
Tell us about yourself and how long you’ve been designing games.
I live in Reno, Nevada with my wife, 2 dogs and 2 cats, and I am a Creative Director for an ad agency. I’ve been designing games since 2014, when my first game “Yardmaster” by Crash Games came out. Additionally I have designed or co-designed “Circle the Wagons” by Button Shy Games, “Barker’s Row” by Overworld Games, “Groves” by Letiman Games, “Coin & Crown” by Escape Velocity Games and, next up, “Tricky Tides” by Gold Seal Games. I also have a game that’s available in The Game Crafter’s shop called “Flipside,” a solo word game.
Please tell us about Tricky Tides.
“Tricky Tides” was created for The Game Crafter’s Trick Taker Challenge. The game is a blend of trick-taking and pick-up-and-deliver. Players manage a hand of Navigation cards, trying to win tricks to sail from island to island, collecting goods and then delivering them to earn the most gold.
Where did the idea for this game come from?
I always wanted to do a nautical theme that used map monsters. I approached my friend Naomi Ferrall, the game’s illustrator, about this theme and she liked it and thought it would be a good way to explore her stippling style, which fit perfectly with the nautical look and feel.
What makes this game special/unique?
I think the fact that it takes a very traditional game mechanic – trick-taking – and uses it in a unique way that pulls it away from the traditional card game approach. Plus, because of the illustration style, it just looks so different than anything else on the table.
Did you create a design journal for your game? If so, did you publish it somewhere we can link to?
No, I don’t have a formal design journal, although I do blog about my games and design approach on www.TheIndieGameReport.com in a recurring feature called “The Indie Jungle.”
Did you already have the idea for Tricky Tides in your head before the Trick Taker Challenge was announced?
No, after the contest was announced the theme just popped in my head. I remember that one of the earliest ideas I had was to create the Navigation cards with 8 compass directions, but you could only sail in directions that were highlighted, forcing you to not only try to win the trick but also strategize your whole hand to ensure you leave yourself in a good position later in the round.
What made you decide to enter your game into the contest?
I love The Game Crafter contests for a few reasons. First, I have had great success with them, having entered three contests and won two (Sprue Challenge won with “Reign Makers” now titled “Coin & Crown”; Survival Challenge placed second with “ICELAND”; Trick-Taker Challenge won with “Tricky Tides”). These wins have led to two publishing contracts. Second, the deadlines force me into action to design something and not procrastinate. And finally, whatever the contest theme, it’s always been a really fun challenge that has gotten me involved in TGC/gaming community.
Would you have been motivated to work on the game as much as you did without the contest?
No, I probably wouldn’t have taken on the challenge of working trick-taking into a game, as trick-taking tends to not be my favorite game mechanic. But I’m so glad I did because I feel I was able to bring something fresh to that genre.
Has winning inspired you to enter more contests or design more games?
I am fully addicted to game design now. I typically have six or more game designs in various states of development at any given time. Some move on to success, while others wither on the vine. I will probably enter the Cardboard Edison awards again in 2018. Last year, I was a finalist for one of my unpublished games and it was a great experience to have so many publishers and industry pros provide feedback on your game.
Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter has had on your success as a game designer?
The Game Crafter has had a huge impact. It has opened the doors to a lot of great relationships, from Mike Wokasch of Fairway 3 Games and The Indie Game Report to Dan Letzring of Letiman Games to Andrew Smith of Gold Seal Games to Jason Glover of Grey Gnome Games to Steven Cole of Escape Velocity Games, and many others. All of those relationships started through The Game Crafter and have been key for me to get my foot in the door in the gaming world.
What’s next for you?
“Tricky Tides” hits Kickstarter sometime in early 2018, but a date hasn’t been set yet. “Sprawlopolis” is a tile-laying style co-op game that is coming from Button Shy Games also in early 2018. I’m also hoping to revive “ICELAND” after a long time on the shelf, so you may see that one resurface in 2018, too. After that, who knows!
Any last words of encouragement or advice to all of the designers reading this?
Just keep at it, learn from every experience and try to play as many games as you can for inspiration and motivation. Hit Unpub and Protospiel events whenever you can. And don’t forget to have fun along the way!
The official announcement was posted on our news blog at http://news.thegamecrafter.com/post/168790864099/steven-aram.... Read the interview there for all of the photos and links in the article.