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Subject: Meet the Designer, Shawn Macleod rss

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Julie Ahern
United States
Marlboro
Massachusetts
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Hey folks, this was the first update of the Kickstarter:

We’re so glad to have you here! While we will go over some of the game components and play as we go, first we’d like you to meet the designer. Shawn Macleod.
[ImageID=Shawn in astro.jpg]

When you are not designing games, what do you do for a living?

I’m a Strategy and Business Development Manager for a large aerospace and defense company. My job focuses on creating life support solutions that enable humans to explore deep space. I also spend a lot of time collaborating with private industry partners on the commercialization of human spaceflight. In a nutshell, my job is to collaborate with a bunch of smart people to make access to space more affordable, and to develop technologies that enable humans to explore deep space.

How did you get into game design?

Creating innovative strategies and being able to out think the competition has always been a critical trait for my job. The energy and excitement generated from creating these strategies is very similar to those feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction I get from playtesting or developing a board game. After years of playtesting some of the industry’s most successful games I got the opportunity to become a board game developer and get paid for my services. As part of my developer responsibilities many of my publisher friends would have me review game design submissions. I quickly grew tired of reviewing games that “worked” but offered nothing new to the hobby. It was at that point I decided I would take my experience as a developer and design games that filled those gaps. My first objective was to design and develop a 4x board game that played in less than 60 minutes. I hope people find Helios Expanse satisfies this objective.

What drew you to this game?

Like I mentioned previously, my mission was to create a 4x board game that played in less than 60 minutes. I wanted this game to be easy to teach (less than 5 minutes), highly interactive, and tactical. It was also very important to me that the game provided a satisfying experience for both experienced gamers and the hobby’s new entrants. Those were my “must haves” and my design finally got traction in the fall of 2014 after two things happened. One, I was fascinated by the film Interstellar, and two I played Colt Express and Historia back to back in the Hot Games room at BoardGameGeek (BGG) Con. Together, those experiences became the inspiration behind Helios Expanse.

What do you hope gamers enjoy about Helios Expanse?

I hope gamers find the gameplay experience enjoyable. I know that doesn’t sound like much of an answer but balancing the gameplay experience was very important to me. Not only in terms of the “math” behind the game, but also in terms of accommodating different play styles. I traveled all over the country as part of my day job dragging my prototype along with me. In the evenings I would check out the local game shops and try my design out on different gaming groups. Every game group has its own tendencies, and I didn’t want to make changes to my game or finalize elements of the design without considering these different play styles and tendencies. Gamers should have comfort in knowing this game went through extensive play testing. Then again, what else would you expect from a board game developer.

Last question - what's your favorite planet and why?

Mars, the bringer of war. Gustav Holst’s orchestral piece for Mars perfectly captures my ideas and emotions towards Mars. Mars is all about motivation, initiative, aggression, confidence and inner drive. BTW, I love the Mars faction in Helios Expanse.


Thanks Shawn, we do too!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gbg/helios-expanse/post...
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Rob Hogan
United States
Illinois
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judging by the picture, i have to ask....was this playtested in space?
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Shawn Macleod
United States
Pearland
Texas
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Ha! It was not play tested in space. But, I did have a lot of my colleagues from the NASA community help with the play testing.

Cheers,

Shawn
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