Industry Interviews – Matt Quock, Mountaintop Games.

Greetings All,

Today I’m bringing you an interview from Matt Quock. Mountaintop Games is small company that is hoping to put their game The Primary on Kickstarter next year. The Primary is actually on their site and available for PNP Playtesting for those of you that are interested. If you’d like a good in-depth look at their game, you can check out The Board Game Workshops interview with Mountaintop! Enjoy!

Mountaintop Games Logo

1)      How did you get into gaming – what made you want to have a gaming company?

a.      I’ve been playing games of all kinds my whole life, but only got into hobby board games two years ago when I moved back to Madison, WI. Some old friends from college re-introduced me to board gaming and we formed a regular game group. I had such a good time that I figured I would try designing one myself. The idea for a company came after stumbling across a fun game design and falling in love with the idea of running my own Kickstarter.

2)      Your company is out of Madison, WI – is that the reason for the name Mountaintop Games?

a.      There aren’t really true mountains close to Madison, though there are a few small ski hills I like to frequent during the winters. The name Mountaintop Games came from my first game design, which had a backpacking theme. I’ve always loved the outdoors and I felt like reaching a mountaintop was a good metaphor for the quality of games I want to create.

3)      Is this your primary job or do have employment elsewhere?

a.      I wish board games could be a sustainable full-time endeavor for me, but that’s currently not the case. I work as a product development manager at Spectrum Brands, where I help design small kitchen appliances, like blenders and food processors. There are definitely parallels between game design and product design, and I like to think each can make me better at the other.

4)      I understand that you are wanting to self-publish your game The Primary on Kickstarter next year, will this be the first game published under your company?

a.      Yes, The Primary would be the first game published by Mountaintop Games and my first published game as a designer. During this process, the amount of work that it takes to publish a single game has definitely been eye-opening and I have a ton of respect for all the other part-time designers and publishers out there. Despite the challenge, I have enjoyed it a lot and would love to continue doing it.

5)      What contributed to your decision in going forward with a political themed game?

a.      The political theme of The Primary is the biggest hurdle that I worry about, as I move towards Kickstarter. I feel like it could be something that limits the overall market for the game, but I hope that potential backers can look beyond the theme if it initially turns them off. The mechanics and gameplay came from the idea of a primary election, and at this point, I feel like they are too closely intertwined to re-theme the game and maintain the same overall experience.

6)      Do you believe a voting game will spark an interest in gamers to get involved in real life elections and get out there and vote?

a.      I’ll be optimistic and say yes. The game is much more strategic / tactical than it is political in nature, but I think there are some concepts mentioned in the game (like Super PACs, gerrymandering, and plutocracy) that may spur players to do some research and get more involved in the political process.

7)      Are there other games in development at Mountaintop Games right now?

a.      I have a few other games in the works, but only on the back burner. It has been my main focus to perfect The Primary as much as I can, and get it out into the world. After the Kickstarter, I’ll try to re-evaluate my design and publishing approach, and maybe work on more games in parallel.

8)      What is your favorite Mountaintop and non-Mountaintop tabletop game?

a.      I go through phases, but right now I’m into deckbuilding and worker placement games. If I have a few spare minutes, I enjoy a quick game of Star Realms on my phone. With my girlfriend, I really like the 2-player Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. Of the few game concepts I’m working on, my favorite at the moment is probably a necromancer-themed game that is a little too ambitious at the moment.

9)      Does your family also enjoy tabletop gaming?

a.      We played traditional board games like Monopoly growing up and I have recently tried to introduce them to some lighter games. Lately, we’ve had fun playing Hanabi, Love Letter, and Patchwork. I’m excited to continue trying out new games with them and hopefully getting them as hooked as me!

10)   I see that on your Design page on your site, you have lists of resources used for learning how to design board games. It is seriously one of the neatest things I’ve come across doing these interviews. What is your one bit of advice for people hoping to get involved in the board gaming industry?

a.      Thank you, I hope others have found it useful too! The board game industry is incredibly welcoming and friendly – ask anyone and they will agree. My advice would be to get connected and soak up as much information as you can. Everyone I have come across is not only willing, but genuinely interested to help out however they can. Don’t feel afraid to ask anyone for advice or input.

I’d like to thank Mountaintop Games and Matt Quock for the chance to interview them and wish them luck on their Kickstarter next year. 🙂 Thank you everyone for reading. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard

Anniversary Prep – Wife Edition, Vol 2!

Greetings All, 
This is going to be short and sweet because I am sleepy. As some of you may remember, my husband and I have a big anniversary coming up. Five years! We decided to utilize games that we both love to create anniversary gifts for each other. My husband is doing homemade Mice and Mystics campaigns and I am doing homemade characters, rules, and an adventure book based on Above and Below. 
So far I have written my rules, adventure book, and designed my characters. I still have to design my rulebook and adventure book. I have my backgrounds picked out and my laminating paper ordered. I just have to get the umph to finish. 
So there ya go, short and sweet. I’m going to go pass out now. Good night everyone. Thanks for reading and until next time… Live by the board. 
-livingbytheboard 

Anniversary Prep – Husband edition vol 2!

Good evening loyal readers!  …I WILDLY regret announcing my project!  In the interest of transparency, let me explain.  I’m not going to say I underestimated the scope of the project at hand, however…I did not anticipate the amount of busy work this would entail.

For instance, I am not an artist.  It never even registered to me that I’d need to confer with any sort of application that would require I create a scene or image freehand.  The end product of my first MS Paint images looked like the initial phase of rehab for a traumatic brain injury.  Not pretty to say the least.  It was very surprising just how much time was lost to this endeavor, to the pursuit of making images that didn’t look like finger paint therapy for the criminally insane.
The second major issue came in the form of a problem I’d not dealt with for quite some time…being properly articulate and elaborate.  I finished the story draft for the first two chapters fairly quickly, maybe a few hours tops. Upon proofing them for application into an articulated story…it read like the script to a 2003 movie vehicle starring Shia LaBouf…it had “Holes,” dude!  (For all 3 of you out there who caught that reference, thank you for judging me only passively.)  Either way, revisions galore on my end.
And, the real obstacle in all of this, an overabundance of overtime at work.  There was about a month and a half period where I was working LITERALLY HALF of the time.  For clarity, that’s 12 hours a day, every day, for many consecutive weeks.  Without being overly verbose about it, it was conducive to the creative process.  Luckily, this appears to be ending soon…or at least slowing down.
Thank you all for suffering my list of excuses and (hopefully) not judging me for God awful references.  Hopefully the next update comes with proper progress, or maybe even SOMETHING being totally completed.
Until next time, insert a cliche sign off catchphrase here.

Industry Interviews – Ryan Laukat, Red Raven Games.

Greetings All,
Sorry about the long wait between posts. I have been working on my anniversary gift for my husband and therefore have been a bit preoccupied, however, I have been doing some sharing and interacting on my Facebook and Twitter so if you’re hankering for some Living by the Board love please give us a follow! 🙂
Today I get to bring you a lovely little interview from Ryan Laukat of Red Raven Games. My favorite Red Raven game is Above and Below. Oddly enough my anniversary gift for my husband is a mini adventure of our time together in the format of Above and Below including new adventures and character cards. If you want to hear more about my gift and my husbands Mice & Mystics gift, please stay tuned! Until then, enjoy the interview folks!
red raven.png
1) When you were younger you did some commercials as a boy Soprano, correct? Can you provide me with a link to see one by chance?
(I have a solo at about 19 seconds)
2)I understand that you currently have a second job at Cannonball Musical Instruments. My daughters were super excited to learn about that because they play flute and saxophone. Outside of this, what job(s) did you have before your gaming career?
Because Cannonball is a family business my parents started when I was young, that was my first job, and I’ve worked there since I was sixteen. Before I started Red Raven, though, I did freelance illustration in the board game industry for companies like Rio Grande and Z-Man Games.
3)I’ve read that you and your wife both participated in Missions. You lived in the Dominican Republic for a spell, how did you enjoy that?
I have a special place in my heart for the Dominican Republic. I loved the time that I lived there. Coincidentally, my love for euro games came from my time there. I had a copy of Puerto Rico which I played many times there.
4)What was the first game you ever designed?
I was twelve years old. It was a card game inspired by trading card games. I painted cards with monsters and creatures that would battle each other with different abilities.
5)You created Red Raven Games in 2011. What was the inspiration for the company name?
I had written a short story with a red raven in it and decided to use that for the company name.
6)What was the first title published under Red Raven Games?
Empires of the Void. It’s a space exploration game and we only made one print run. Now, years later, we are publishing its sequel: Empires of the Void II
7)What is your favorite Red Raven game and Favorite non-Red Raven game?
My favorite Red Raven game is City of Iron. My favorite non-Red Raven game is Agricola. But I also really like games that are immersive of that tell an intriguing story.
 
8)Given market trends and the performance of Red Raven Games catalogue, what do you believe the future holds for the company, such as expanding the company and it’s game library?
There will probably be lots of new story games throughout the years. 
9)Obviously your wife is heavily involved in the company and therefore gaming. Do your children enjoy tabletop gaming as well?
Our kids love board games. Every time we sit down to play, they want to come and join. They help us play test and they’ve even started designing their own games.
10)Do you have any advice for someone aspiring to be involved in the gaming industry?
The most important thing about getting involved in the gaming industry is doing it because you love it. Also, get involved in-game groups, design groups, trade shows, demos–anything you can. It’s important to meet people and make connections, not just to get started, but because this industry is very interactive and friendly. Everyone is there to help you and give you useful input.
I want to thank Ryan and his wife Malorie, as well as Red Raven Games for this interview. It is greatly appreciated. Thank you everyone for reading and until next time… Live by the Board.
-Livingbytheboard

“Junior” Game Versions

Greetings All,

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about “junior” versions of games or more kid friendly versions of games. I grew up with a lot of Hasbro games and their Junior versions. I have a 20 month old and obviously a good amount of time before he is old enough to really get into gaming, but I started thinking about Euro games and their “junior” versions. Please keep in mind that my list(s) are not complete and when I locate more example games I will be adding them.

Before I go into “junior” games, I just want to mention a company called Haba. Obviously there are tons of companies out there making games for you kids and toddlers, but Haba has a collection called “My Very First Games“. They are so cute and I am looking forward to picking a few out for my son. My biggest thing about them is that their games are rather expensive for little kid games. Regardless, please go take a peek because they are adorable… or maybe I’m just a sucker for the whole “My first” thing. 🙂

We’ll start with your basic Hasbro Junior Games listed by youngest age first!

Boggle Junior, ages 3+, 1+ players.

Yahtzee Jr, ages 4+, 2-4 players.

Monopoly Junior, ages 5+, 2-4 players.

Junior Scrabble, ages 5+, 2-4 players.

Clue Junior, ages 5+, 2-6 players.

The Game of Life Junior, ages 5+, 2-4 players.

Cranium Junior, ages 7+, 2 players.

Trivial Pursuit: Junior, ages 8+, 2-4 players.

Taboo Junior, ages 8+, 4 players.

Non-Hasbro Games.

Sequence for kids, Jax Games, ages 3-6, 2-4 players.

My First Carcassonne, Z-Man Games, ages 4+, 2-4 players, 20 min playtime.

My First Stone Age – The card game, Z-Man Games, ages 4+, 2-4 players, 10 min playtime.

My First Stone Age, Z-Man Games, ages 5+, 2-4 players, 15 min playtime.

Junior Labyrinth, Ravensburger, ages 5+, 1-4 players, 15 min playtime.

Catan Junior, Mayfair Games, ages 6+, 2-4 players, 30-40 min playtime.

Ticket to Ride First Journey, Days of Wonder, ages 6+, 2-4 players, 15-30 min playtime.

Ticket to Ride First Journey Europe, Days of Wonder, ages 6+, 2-4 players, 15-30 min playtime.

Krosmaster Junior, Ghenos Games, ages 7+, 2-4 players, 5-15 min playtime.

I hope you’ve found some new additions to your game library on this list and hopefully you can find that perfect gateway junior game version of your favorite games! Know of anymore? Let me know! Until next time… Live by the board.

-livingbytheboard

Industry Interviews – Plaid Hat Games, Colby Dauch interview!

Greetings All,

Today I get to bring an interesting little interview from Plaid Hat Games own Colby Dauch! Did you know that he used to work for Hasboro and Wizard’s of the Coast? Well… now ya do! Keep reading for more info! Enjoy!

plaid

 

1) I understand that before Plaid Hat you did game design for Hasboro and Wizards of the Coast. Did you enjoy your time with said companies and can you please list a memorable game you worked on for each company?
The work I did for Hasbro and Wizards was as a freelance game designer.  I did enjoy it, especially working under the tutelage of the great Craig VanNess.  Heroscape would be the most notable game I worked on. In fact that’s the only work I did at Wizards after having followed the game there from Hasbro.
2) Have you had any employment outside of the gaming industry?
Yes, I worked doing in home service with the mentally impaired, I worked at an after school program for at risk youth and I worked media director for a church.
3) Why did you choose the gaming industry for a career?
There was no point at which I made  firm choice to make a career in the gaming industry.  Rather it was something that evolved over time.  Started doing development work as a hobby, then kind of became a community ambassador and organizer around Heroscape, then picked up some freelance work, then developed a game of my own, started a game company to publish it, then over time Plaid Hat Games great to the point where I was able to quit my day job and do it full-time.
4)You’re often seen sporting a plaid hat. What came first the company name or the hat? (Where did the company name from?)
That hat came first.  It kind of became an identity marker for me in the Heroscape community and a member of that community suggested the name Plaid Hat Games.  I like the quirkiness of it so I ran with it.
5)What was the first game you ever designed and the first game published under the name Plaid Hat?
The first game I ever designed from scratch was called Summoner Quest.  I scrapped it early on because it was a mess.  I followed it up with Summoner Wars, which was the first game I published under Plaid Hat.
6)A few years ago Plaid Hat joined F2Z, how has the company changed since then?
We joined F2Z, that then joined Asmodee, so we had a couple of years there where we were in a state of flux.  Through most of the life of Plaid Hat it has felt like a scrappy little studio just kind of winging it at every turn.  Now Plaid Hat feels more like it has grown and matured and it now has the support of the Asmodee group.  Our decisions feel more thoughtful and our work is more focused as we are now a game design studio rather than a full publishing company.
7)How do you see the gaming industry (as a whole) fairing in the coming years?
Oh man, I wish I had the power to scry that out.  The trend has been up and up year over year for a long time and I have no solid reason to believe that won’t continue.  There are still a whole lot of people out there that don’t know how fun hobby games are.
8)What is your favorite Plaid Hat game and your favorite non Plaid Hat game?
My favorite Plaid Hat game is Dead of Winter.  It never fails to immerse me in an emergent narrative each time I play it.  My favorite non Plaid Hat game has to go to Heroscape.  It will always hold a special place in my heart.  It’s a spectacle on the table and is just good rambunctious fun.
9)Is your family also big into tabletop gaming?
I found games as an adult.  I’ve spread games to some of my family, but I don’t think many of them are engaging in-game play without my initiating it and they don’t exactly have Board Game Geek profiles.
10)Do you have any advice for someone aspiring to be in the gaming industry?
I get this question a fair bit.  I wish I was better at answering it.  The question has only really existed for about a half-dozen years, so I don’t think anyone has a good answer.  There are questions like it surrounding other media: “How do I get into the Book – Comics – Film – Video Game industry?”  The answers professionals of those industries give to those questions are often nebulous and the question of getting into board games is an even tougher one because all of those other industries have the advantage of being larger and having been around for some time.  You can take college courses in them.  
I really need to develop a quippier answer to this question. It wouldn’t be anymore helpful, but it would sound more helpful and you won’t have gotten bored reading it.
I hope you guys enjoyed this interview. I want to say thank you to Plaid Hat Games and Mr. Dauch for this chance, it is much appreciated. Keep sharing these things on social media, so I can keep getting interviews! Thank you guys for tuning in! And until next time..  Live by the Board.
-livingbytheboard

Anniversary Prep – Wife edition

Greetings All,

As some of you may know, my husband and I have a big anniversary coming up this year. Five years married! We are not in the best of financial positions right now so our plans have been cut short. We decided to both work on a game that we can modify and add our own twists and stories to. Of course in the end it was easier to pick story based games. My husband chose Mice & Mystics and I chose Above and Below.

I am several weeks behind my husbands post, but I have been wracking my brain on how to possibly compare to his lovely explanation of his Mice & Mystics prep. Solution: I can’t. I’m not nearly as good at hiding my plans for my “expansion”. In fact, my notes have been sitting open on my night stand for weeks and my husband has been a good sport and not looked… I think.

So let’s do this as vague as possible. I am going to include a video and rules for Above and Below so that those of you that haven’t played yet can get a basic understanding of the game.

In the beginning of my prep I was having a really hard time trying to fit my stories into the actual game. Obviously I couldn’t explore the scenarios that I have written because I’ll know what is best to roll and what my outcomes will be. I want my husband to go through all of the scenarios I have written and in one play through at that, however, I do not want him to suffer during game play because I have all options and he is forced to explore every turn. So I decided that instead of fitting them into the actual game that it my scenarios would be an homage to Above and Below, but played separate if the actual game.

After prepping in that style for a month straight, I changed my darn mind again. I have now decided that at the start of the game we will start with one extra bed and one extra character. We will both explore each turn – He will explore my scenarios and I will explore the standard Above and Below scenarios. I am adding an extra bed and character for each of us so that we can still complete other tasks that we would normally skip exploration for.

Here’s a brief spoiler free preview of how I’m doing my scenarios. We have been together for six years, therefore I am doing six scenarios… something real that occurred each year we were together. There will be three outcomes for each – two positive outcomes based on the number(s) rolled and one negative outcome should he fail to roll enough to succeed. There will be characters he can acquire from successful roles and the characters themselves will have new abilities that can be utilized during gameplay.

That said, there are some things I haven’t worked out yet. For example during some explorations you’ll get 3 coins and a rope for successfully rolling. Well, I’m over here trying to figure out how the hell 3 coins and a rope fit into rolling during a vacation scenario. (There is not vacation scenario, but I wasn’t going to use a real one on here.) I’ve figured out how I’m doing reputation, but those freaking items are the bane of creative existence right now. I’m also creating actual character cards to print out and laminate.

So yeah there is my not nearly entertaining enough look at where I’m at in my anniversary prep. Stay tuned to hear more from my husband and I as our anniversary approaches. Thank you for reading and until next time… Live by the board.

-livingbytheboard