Today I am pleased to bring you a really fun interview with Michael Coe from Gamelyn Games! My favorite Gamelyn Game so far is Tiny Epic Galaxies, if you haven’t had a chance to play yet, you really should! Mr. Coe was a pleasure to talk to and his answers to my questions were truly fun to read. Did you know that Mr. Coe is also an actor? Check it out below and visit the Gamelyn website to find out more about their awesome games! Enjoy!
1)With such a large family growing up, were board games common in your household?
Yes and No. Like most households we certainly owned a lot of games but they weren’t as cool as the games coming out today. We played them on family nights or when company came over but otherwise I was sinking my game time in the NES, SNES, PC etc. Board games back then just couldn’t compete with video games. That’s not so much the case anymore imo. Video games have seem to have gone the way of Michael Bay movies, lots of graphics but lacking in meaningful content. Board games however are currently seeing a huge improvement in meaningful decisions and overall experience.
2)What was the first game you can recall playing, and the first game that made you realize this is what you wanted to do for a living?
I played all the classics as a kid, Monopoly, Sorry, Life, Mouse-Trap etc. Life probably being the game that had the most impact on me as a kid, because it was easy getting into “character.” In my elementary years though, my dad brought home Hero Quest and that blew my mind! Unknown to me at the time, it laid a foundation that I’ve drawn upon as a game publisher. Though it wasn’t until games like Carcassonne and Stone Age were introduced to me that I thought, “okay, wow! Games are not what they used to be, I could really get into this!”
3)Why did you choose the name Gamelyn Games?
Gamelyn goes way back for me. During Jr. High and High School I played a lot of D&D. I quickly found my passion for that game was in being the Dungeon Master, writing my campaigns and creating my own worlds. Gamelyn was one of the key NPCs I created in my favorite campaign setting, Aughmoore, which I wrote and used for countless game sessions. Gamelyn just kind of stuck with me. The name became my gamer tag in PCs games and was the name of a Human Paladin I played for 5 years in World of Warcraft. I started Gamelyn Games as part of a WOW exit strategy. I was playing WOW too much and needed to do more productive things with my time. So in honor of quitting the game I loved so dearly, I named my company after my character.
4)The Tiny Epic series is one of my favorites, how did the idea for these Tiny Epic adventures come about?
It all started with a Tweet. I put it out on Twitter that I was taking submissions for the first time to publish games other than my own designs. I received many offers that week but one by the name of Tiny Epic Planets by Scott Almes really caught my attention. My wife and I printed it out and gave it a whirl and knew right away that it was something special. It was small, easy to learn, quick to play but offered a lot of meaningful decisions. These were all things that I was focusing on as a publisher. So I wrote back to Scott and shared my enthusiasm for his design but that I fancied myself some Orcs vs Humans more than one random alien faction against another. He willingly obliged and responded with a rewrite of the game that became Tiny Epic Kingdoms. Once that blew up on Kickstarter I knew we were onto something, so I asked if he had anymore “Tiny Epics” up his sleeve. While he hadn’t quite seen it as a series at that time, he saw what I saw and knew it had legs. It was clear to us that people were responding to the small box-big game experience. Then came Tiny Epic Defenders, Tiny Epic Galaxies, so forth and so on.
5)What was the first game published under Gamelyn Games and what was the first game you ever designed?
Dungeon Heroes was the first published game under Gamelyn Games. I designed it to be a fast and approachable rogue-like dungeon crawl. Some of thought of it as a “Tiny Epic” before “Tiny Epics,” but it wasn’t my first published design. That belongs to a little abstract strategy called Rise! that I published with game company I co-founded called Crash Games. Though it still wasn’t my first design, that is a game called Lords, Ladies & Lizards that not seen publication yet… maybe one of these days I’ll just up and publish it.
6)What is your favorite Gamelyn game and your favorite non-Gamelyn game?
My favorite Gamelyn game is Heroes of Land, Air & Sea. It is the culmination of Gamelyn Games as a publishing company and Scott Almes as a designer. It is our magnum opus. My favorite non-Gamelyn game is Carcassonne and its many renditions and spin-offs. It just always delivers a good time and with very little setup!
7)Are you still acting and what was your favorite role?
I haven’t acted in some time, though I’m focused on getting back into sooner than later. My favorite role and my favorite job are two different things. I loved my time in theater where my roles were more developed but my favorite single acting gig is surely Urban Legends Bloody Mary. I had a super bloody death scene after all, killed by Bloody Mary herself! That was a very compelling experience.
8)Do you ever grow weary of playing board games now that you make them for a living?
No. My love for board games continues to grow more fond as I discover new ideas actually. There’s so much that can be done in board games and I love being surprised by a mechanic that unfolds to be more than it appears.
9)How did you and your wife meet and have board games always been a big part of your relationship?
My wife and I met at McDonalds of all places. We were both on our lunch break in Scottsdale, Arizona and I had the nerves to randomly introduce myself. It was Valentine’s Day, so maybe it wasn’t so random. Board games really wasn’t part of our relationship until I started making them. Our appreciation for board games has developed together and she’s been a key player in helping me keep our games approachable.
10)Do you have any advice for someone whom aspires to be in the board gaming industry?
Lots, but I’ll simplify it for now. Don’t let your worries hold you back. Don’t be so afraid that someone will steal your idea that you don’t share it. Get your game in front of as many people as possible. If it is good, it will resonate. Exposure, exposure, exposure.
I hope all of you enjoyed this fun interview and I just want to say thank you to Michael Coe and Gamelyn Games for doing this interview with my little blog. 🙂 Until next time… Live by the board.