Industry Interviews – Level 99 Games, D. Brad Talton Jr. interview!

Greetings All,

I’m happy to bring you an interview from the head of Level 99 Games today. Mr. Talton is a really down to earth guy and it was a pleasure talking to him about the digital conversion of the Level 99 game library. I am hoping to see a Disc Duelers conversion. Level 99 has a new game out called I Can’t Even With These Monsters, it looks like a really different game then what I am used to from Level 99 so I am super excited about it! Could you tell that Mr. Talton is an anime and manga fan by the art? Read on to see!

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1) I understand that you started designing games at a young age and a great deal of them were collectible card games. Have any of your childhood games made appearances with Level 99 or influenced their designs?
 Most of my childhood designs were inspired by specific video games that I played, and were somewhat derivative. There are a few that were pretty good, and which I might want to bring back and tune up someday–but none that are on the market at present.
2) Your games have such a distinct art style, what was it that made you decide these styles were right for your games?
I’ve always been a fan of anime and manga art styles, and I used to do a lot of my own art (though not anymore these days). This has influenced how we contract with and partner up with artists. All of our artists get larger project contracts over months, instead of individual pieces, and they get a cover credit alongside the designer as one of the principle creators of the game. Furthermore, we ask our artists to help out when building character designs, worlds, and storylines, so that everything is a unified vision. I think this is what helps our games to feel distinctive.
3) BattleCON was he first to be published through Level 99 in 2011, how have you been able to keep the series alive and well for 6 years?
 I mostly have the fans to thank for the popularity of the series. We’re had a lot of attempts and fumbles at creating organized play, online play versions, communities, and information websites. We’re finally getting the hang of all that stuff nowadays, but a lot of it has been about the fans who keep the community together, run events, and create content like tutorials and original character designs.
4) What work did you do before your gaming career?
*Please see #5.
5) What was the deciding factor for creating Level 99?
I was involved with iOS app development (my formal training is in computer programming), but I was a junior programmer at my company and so was laid off in the big financial crisis of 2008. I started doing freelance work, and making some apps on my own, and that became a regular source of revenue. From there, I discovered Kickstarter and saw the success of early KS board games. I thought “hey, I can do this!” and so I decided to try my hand at publishing. The rest is history!
6) You’ve done several Kickstarter campaigns. Do you feel crowdfunding has been essential to your company?
Absolutely. Crowdfunding is more than just an essential tool for us at this point–its the way that fans expect to find and get involved in our new projects. I would say its an important part of the company’s identity at this point.
7) You have games online as well through Mac, PC, IOS, and Android. Have you enjoyed converting your games digitally?
We’re still in the process of converting our most popular games, but we anticipate that the reception will be good. Look out for them later this year! 😀
8)What are your favorite games? One Level 99 and one non level 99 please.
I really love Libertalia, a game about pirate crews raiding ships. It’s the board game I’ll always be interested in playing. As for my own stuff, I really enjoy the development process, so my favorite game is whatever’s in development right now! For the moment, that’s our castle-exploration adventure game, Seventh Cross, which is scheduled as a next year release.
9)Is your family also involved with tabletop gaming?
Not too much, actually. It’s something that I pursue with friends, while for family (just my wife and I) we enjoy travel, hiking, cooking, and reading/discussing fantasy novels.
10)Do you have any advice for someone who aspires have a career in the gaming industry?
Think about what you want to be doing, and go do it. Don’t wait to start on your own projects, but as you’re building that portfolio, also look for ways that you can work into the industry with your skillset. Make sure you’re making things that you want to play, and then look at the skills those creations have forced you to learn, and find a way to integrate those talents into team efforts and professional projects.
I hope everyone enjoyed this mini interview! I want to say thank you to Mr. Talton and Level 99 games for giving me the chance to do this interview and I look forward to more game releases! 🙂 Thank you guys for reading and until next time… Live by the Board.
-livingbytheboard

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