What You Missed

26 10 2012

Well today brings to a close another week here at TOG. We’ve been busy this week not only churning out more fun gaming news, reviews, and interviews, but we’ve been working at a feverish pitch in the background preparing some really big stuff to be dropped in in the near future! Stay tuned over the next couple weeks—things are going to get fun!

Here’s what we brought you this week:

Monday’s news: We found out that Alien Frontiers is hitting iPads the world over!

Tuesday’s Review: Jeremiah took a look at Stone Age, and the cup that stinketh within.

Wednesday’s Interview: Mythic Battles designer Benoit Vogt, took a few minutes to discuss the game with us.

Thursday’s Kickstarter Weekly: Featured a 3-in-1 campaign from Small Box Games!

As always, we sincerely appreciate you reading our humble little blog, and ask that you help spread the word about us!

Thanks again, and we’ll see you Monday!

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An Interview with Benoit Vogt – Designer of Mythic Battles

24 10 2012

Benoit, this is my first international interview; thanks for agreeing to answer our questions!

You are welcome.

Tell us a little bit about life in Luxembourg, and what the gaming culture is like.

I’ve worked and lived in Luxembourg for 7 years. In Luxembourg people enjoy getting together after work to relax and have fun… So that’s a great place for gaming.

How did you first discover gaming; what game got you hooked?

I discovered gaming with RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons, and then Magic: The Gathering. Then I started extensively playing board games such as Agricola.

Tell us what games you find yourself playing the most of late, and why.

I currently play games like Ascension, Zombicide and Quarriors. I enjoy these games because they are fast-paced and there are not a lot of rules to learn.

So what gave you the idea to design Mythic Battles, and how did you and Pay & Win Games come together to get it published?

I enjoy strategy and confrontation games. I designed Mythic Battles because, with my job and family life, I could no longer dedicate a lot of time to learning new games. In addition, most confrontation games require spending quite a lot of money to play them. So I had three goals with Mythic Battles: I wanted to deliver a real strategic game, with little impact of chance. It is easy to learn, and more accessible than games of the same category. Finally, for 40 euros you can afford a game with two complete armies.

What is it about Mythic Battles that makes it unique compared to other games of the same genre?

I think Mythic Battles is unique as it is a new kind of game: a BBB (Board Building Battle). The game takes place on a gridded board (Board) on which units move. There is a strong deck-building side because the constitution of armies is like building a game in Magic The Gathering (Building). Finally, it is a battle where strategy is a key element (Battle).

In Mythic Battles, are there defined roles for the armies…such as good guys and bad guys? Or are the lines between good and bad blurred, and less defined?

Mythic Battles features battles in Mythic Greece. In this world good guys are not so good and bad guys are not so bad… Clearly good and evil is blurred in Mythic Battles. Warriors are the gods’ toys–they don’t really care about their lives…

Do you think today, in the real world, there are still good guys and bad guys? Or are those lines blurred?

The same way as Mythic Battles, I think these lines are blurred in reality.

Are there any other games you’re working on designing, or will you be focusing on expansions to Mythic Battles for now?

I am currently finalizing the first expansion of Mythic Battles to be released at the beginning of next year. I am also working on other projects. I will be able to tell you more about them when they will become more concrete. Hopefully it shouldn’t take long.

The next set of questions are what we call the 1-Word Response questions. They only require one word (or phrase) responses. Aaaannd GO!

Favorite country you’ve visited?

USA

Favorite American cuisine?

Burger

Favorite day of the week?

Saturday

Have you ever jumped from an airplane?

No

Sausage or Bacon?

Bacon

We’d like to thank Benoit for taking some time to chat with us about Mythic Battles! You can order your copy of Mythic Battles through Iello games right here! 





Hail to the Chief! An interview with Pixel Lincoln and Jason Tagmire

17 10 2012

It is with great pleasure, and an extreme sense of patriotic pride, that we bring you this week’s interview, with not only Jason Tagmire, designer of the Kickstarter smash hit “Pixel Lincoln,” but today he’s brought along his close personal friend the pixelated President himself, Pixel Lincoln!

Jason, Mr. President, thanks for taking a few minutes to answer some questions for us today.
Jason, could you explain a little bit about how you approached the President about creating a card game based on his adventurous life?

JT: I didn’t at first. I saw his shiny face on a penny and decided to use it as a token in a prototype. Eventually that penny became the main character, and I had no other choice. I made a few phone calls, pulled a few strings, and the rest is history.

Mr. President, tell us about your first meeting with Jason.

PL: He came into my office with a prototype of his game, Pixel Lincoln. Now, this was not the deckbuilding game that we all know about. This was a terrible little card game where you roll a die and move a penny around the cards. I told him to give it another shot and we would talk about it.

Jason, so Pixel Lincoln is a deck-building, side-scrolling card game; how does that work? And what’s different about this deck-builder than the others out there?

JT: It’s deck-building in that all players start out with the same basic cards in their deck, and throughout the game the players will obtain new cards, making a better and better deck.

It’s side-scrolling in that you have a meeple that moves throughout the cards that are available, simulating a side-scrolling video game.

And it’s different in that it takes a very different approach to the style of game, and will probably be compared to Megaman before it’s compared to a game like Dominion or Ascension. I designed it to first and foremost feel like a video game. The cards that are available for purchase are only available for a certain amount of time before the screen scrolls, or they are purchased/defeated by other players. There are checkpoints and boss battles that come in after so much time passes. Players can switch between levels for a different experience, with completely different cards available.

Mr. President, can I call you Link? Nevermind… Did you sign off on the game, and if so, how historically accurate did you find the game play experience?

PL: The game is 100% accurate. This was the story of my life that I always wanted people to know, but the government is pretty good at covering things up. I signed off without hesitation, and I can’t wait for the truth to get out there.

Jason, you’ve been creating games for about 5 years now, which of your previous releases still holds a warm spot in your heart?

JT: Famous Missions. It’s a game where one player provides a mission (“Dismantle A Bomb”) and the other players choose their 3 best celebrities to complete that mission. Some celebrities may be helpful in these scenarios (Chuck Norris, Albert Einstein, Mr. T.) and others less so (Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, Carrot Top). After players choose their teams of three, they get to argue on their behalf, and the judging player chooses the best team for the job.

The game is always a good time, especially with a creative group. After a few years of self-publishing it, I listed it on Kickstarter in Sept 2011 and it failed miserably. There are a few reasons why, and I’ve learned so much since then, that it turned into a very positive experience for me. But as for Famous Missions, I’m not going to give up on it. It’s too much fun to forget about. Plus it was my second game with my good friend Lincoln in it.

Mr. President, do Mary and the boys know about the game? What do they think of your pixelated adventures? I bet the boys think it’s cool that you’re also going to be the star of a video game too!

PL: Shhhhhh. I haven’t told Mary yet. She is not a big fan of the video games. But the boys are very excited about it. Although you can’t get their hands off of Borderlands 2, they do love the classics. Battletoads is a big hit in our house. That level 3 is impossible!

Jason, speaking of the video game version: What format will it be available on? Am I going to have to break out my old NES system for it? (Because I will!)

JT: It was originally being developed for DS, which was as close to NES as we could get, but we’ve switched over to Steam. It will initially be PC and hopefully Mac will follow, because I do not have a PC and I want to play! If it’s successful, we can make the transition from Steam to PS3/Xbox 360 to 3DS.

This question is for both of you. What are your top 3 games right now?

JT:

Alien Frontiers
Cosmic Encounter
Battle Beyond Space

I guess I’m going through a space phase right now.

PL:
Food Fight
Junta: Viva El Presidente
Chrononauts

Jason, outside of designing games what inspires you to “carpe diem”?

Definitely my family. My wife and I have a 4 year old daughter, and 2 year old twins, and they are all crazy. We’ll play and make games together, but more often we’ll just take off and see where we end up. It’s not unusual for us to drive 3 states away just to go to some silly little burger stand.

The next set of questions only requires a one word (or phrase) response!

Jason –

Favorite time travel movie?
12 Monkeys

Favorite snow creature: Wampa or Bumble?
Wampa

Who wins in a fight: Iron Man or Hulk?
HULK SMASH!

Best sandwich EVER?
The Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh.

Favorite A-Team member?
It’s hard to top Mr. T, but I do love B.A. Baracus.

Mr. President –

Favorite non-confederate state?
New Jersey

Favorite Gilligan’s Island castaway?
Thurston Howell III

Favorite vampire slayer?
Simon Belmont

Favorite campaign slogan?
Where’s The Beef?

Captain Kirk or Captain Picard?
Captain Kirk

Thanks again for taking time to answer our questions! If you want to check out Pixel Lincoln the game you can visit their Web site right here! And while you’re there you can pre-order your copy of Pixel Lincoln, which is due for release this year! Thanks again for reading!





Kickstarter Odds and Ends

12 09 2012

It seems like more and more often there are more and more games being brought to market through Kickstarter. Today I thought we’d take a quick peek at a few up-and-coming titles, and some that are giant successes already!

The first is the quirky “Salmon Run” a modular board/deck builder that recreates the epic struggle of fish to make babies… Designed by Jesse Catron.

Airborne in Your Pocket which only has a few hours left, is flirting with the $100,000 mark! That’s $70,000 OVER the funding goal! The game is a co-op tile=laying WWII action game. It looks fun, but a little pricey too.

Heroes of Metro City – Another deck builder with a role-playing twist. Looks a bit like Dominion in spandex, with some fun superpower action tossed in.

Get Bit! Deluxe  Mayday Games is Kickstarting a new pirate themed version of their 2012 Origins award winner, with new graphics and dismemberment. And it comes in a nifty tin too!

There are just a few short hours left in the Resistance: Avalon campaign.

And don’t forget, Mars Needs Mechanics! Nevermore games is still in the middle of their campaign for their second title. We interviewed designer Ben Rosset, and Nevermore games’ co-founder Bryan Fischer, click their names to find out more about what’s going on at Nevermore games!

And we watched Dice Hate Me Games’ Great Heartland Hauling Co. roll in hitting their last stretch goal with seconds to spare! Read our interview with designer Jason Kotarski here!

So, what Kickstarter campaigns are you backing? Leave ’em in the comments!





Hail Caesar – an interview with Bryan Fischer

10 09 2012

If you went to Gencon this year, there’s a good chance you heard the buzz about Chicken Caesar. Or you may have been lucky enough to sit in on a demo of Nevermore Games big box game of Roman/poultry politics. More than a tasty salad, Chicken Caesar is hitting hobby stores this month and the buzz has gamers waiting with baited breath to see what the excitement is all about. So we had a little chat with Bryan Fischer, co-designer of Chicken Caesar, and co-founder of Nevermore Games about Chicken Caesar, Nevermore Games, and life in general.

Take us through the story of how Nevermore Games got on the map?

My friend, Corey Phillips, and I started Nevermore back in 2010. He was the business guy and I was the creative guy. It wasn’t long though before I realized we really needed another creative guy, so we brought John Sizemore on board. I had been working on Chicken Caesar at the time and pitched it to John. We ran with it and started Nevermore’s mission: to facilitate friendships through strategic and innovative games.

For those of us who didn’t make it out to Gencon, can you give us a quick overview of Chicken Caesar?

Sure thing! In Chicken Caesar, players represent chicken families who are sending their roosters into coop politics, which of course are modeled after the Ancient Roman Government. Through deal making, breaking, bribes, and manipulation, players will compete for legacy.

There are five offices in the game where roosters have actions they have to complete. The roosters in the Aedile’s office decide the tax rate for the round, which in turn determines how upset the coop guards are (and how many will betray the coop by letting the fox in to gobble up politicians). The roosters in the Praetor’s office decide where loyal and traitor guards go. The Censor can exile people, and the Consuls can take bribes to “rewrite history” and give roosters additional accolades they never earned in life. And of course there is Caesar, who gets the all-powerful Veto token and makes lots of corn (money).

So which came first, the Chicken Caesar or Nevermore Games?

Chicken or the egg, huh? Well, both. They happened simultaneously really. I had been designing games for years and about the same time that Corey and I started Nevermore, I was also toying with Chicken Caesar. Of course, Chicken Caesar didn’t really take the shape of its current form until John came on board.

When and how did the idea for Chicken Caesar hatch? (Okay, I promise that’s the last chicken pun!)

These puns are getting pretty fowl 😉  Actually, my wife came up with the name. She was eating a Chicken Caesar wrap, and I was of course annoying her with talk of game ideas I had and she said “Why don’t you call a game Chicken Caesar?” We both had a good laugh. Little did she know I was seriously storing that one away.

What were the pros and cons (if there were any) to co-designing Chicken Caesar instead of going it alone?

For me, co-designing is the ideal situation. I don’t think any game in history has been designed entirely by one person. Whether it’s through co-authorship or not, game designers have play testers and friends, critics and spouses who influence the design process and often come up with ideas for mechanics and theme. Having people to bounce ideas off of is a huge necessity in game design.

John and I make a great design team. He’s a walking economics textbook and calculator rolled into one. It compliments my theme-centric approach to gaming and I believe that’s the greatest pro of co-designing games. Complimentary designers can take collaborative game design efforts to a new level. That being said, John and I argue a lot. That’s what happens when you spend so much time together trying to get something right. It can be stressful, but ultimately the arguing leads to better communication and therefore better game design. I guess that would be a con that turns into a pro.

What’s the one element of Chicken Caesar that makes you all giddy?

Well, mechanically it’s the Suffragium (the voting marker) that makes Chicken Caesar unique in its approach to luckless negotiation and shrewd bargaining. But really, for me, it’s that moment when a player about to be passed the Suffragium suddenly realizes… “I’m going to be deciding the fate of someone else’s rooster; I have the power, and I can be bought!” that gets me. Well into the testing of Chicken Caesar, players were discovering new ways to bribe each other and get epic revenge. Fantastic!

How do you balance being a person of faith and a big geek?

It’s funny how faith and being a geek interact sometimes. Some geeky endeavors, like science fiction, beg answers to questions of morality and truth. They present impossible and (often) unnatural circumstances where people have to make decisions often alien to us. It’s fascinating. Fantasy can often blur the lines for people of faith through use of magic and divination, but it’s not always the case. Look at Tolkien for instance. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is touted as a great Catholic work by many theologians. C.S. Lewis was much more overt. Read A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. and you’ll see how faith can only make a science fiction experience even deeper.

I find the best way to reconcile something that might be offensive to my faith is to first learn about it. If it’s a game, I’ll look at the rulebook or play it. If it’s a film, I’ll usually watch an excerpt or do some reading about the story. There have been times when, after researching something, I have still found it offensive. And the opposite has also been true.

What has been most surprising to you about the response to Chicken Caesar from the gaming community?

The fact that people know of the game! It’s been incredible. At GenCon we had the game set up in a number of places and people walked by and said “Oh yeah, it’s that Chicken Caesar game!” On top of that we met a ton of our Kickstarter backers there and sold out every demo event for the game through Saturday. John and I walked over to the Asmodee booth one morning and while chatting with a French guy working the booth, he says “Wait, you two are the Chicken Caesar guys?! Very cool!” So cool.

So, we’ve been following the Mars Needs Mechanics Kickstarter; beyond that, what’s in the future for Nevermore Games?

We actually have quite a few things lined up for the future. We’re working with some really awesome designers to bring the world an awesome, big game next Spring. We have some others in the lineup for after that, so expect plenty of games in 2013 from Nevermore.

Okay, the 1-word 5! Give us your 1-word answers to these questions. (For names we’ll allow 2 words!)

Favorite doctor? (In the BBC Series Doctor Who, please don’t tell us your dentist’s name!)  David Tennant

Who shot first, Han or Greedo? Greedo

Favorite salad?  Potato

Favorite game?  Lifeboat

Cylons or Sleestaks?  Caprica-Six 😉

If you’d like to place your pre-order for Chicken Caesar you can do so RIGHT HERE!

You can also find out more about Nevermore Games RIGHT HERE!

And of course they’re on Facebook and Twitter as well!

A big thanks to Bryan for spending some time with us, and as always a big thanks to you for reading!





Mars Needs Mechanics–An Interview with Ben Rosset

28 08 2012

Last week, game designer Ben Rosset took a few minutes to answer all the burning questions we had about himself, his new game Mars Needs Mechanics, and the meaning of life.

How did you become interested in designing board games?

I always loved playing board games from a young age. In junior high school, I asked my teacher if I could design a board game about a book instead of doing a book report. She said yes, and the game was a big hit! More recently, though, I need to credit my good friend Mike Swiryn, an amazing designer. We had been hanging out and playing games quite a bit (this was about 4 years ago). Then one day, he said, “Dude, check this out. I designed a game!” And that was it. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to get into board game design. I went home that night and wrote down some rules for an idea I had, and I was on my way. I haven’t stopped since.

What sparked the vision for Mars Needs Mechanics?

My goal was to make an easy to learn Economics game where players could only indirectly control the market price of goods, and where players would have to predict the behavior of everyone else in order to be successful. That led to the “Sales Order Line,” the driving force behind Mars Needs Mechanics. It’s a unique timing mechanism for controlling the price of the game’s components (Boilers, Wire, Lenses, Piping, etc), and it’s what makes the game hum. People really love it. Its something new, and it’s a very simple system.

So, the Berkeley Breathed book and subsequent Disney film Mars Needs Moms didn’t come into play? Or are you tired of being asked that?

No, Mars Needs Moms didn’t come into play. To be honest, I didn’t even know about that film (which I hear was a flop) before I named the game Mars Needs Mechanics. However, I did know about the 1967 film Mars Needs Women. It was more a play on that than the Disney film. And yes, people ask me this question a lot, but its ok…we invited the question when we decided on the name. If anything, its helped to spark a bit of interest in the game.

How did you land at Nevermore Games?

I was a slow-comer to social media, but I must credit Twitter here! Twitter recommended that I follow Nevermore Games. That’s how I first connected with them, about 3 weeks before PrezCon in February 2012. I met Bryan and John at PrezCon, they played the game, they loved it, and a week later they called me to say they wanted to publish it.

Mars Curiosity, legit, or TV studio production?

Legit all the way. I have faith that Curiosity is really on Mars. It would be too big of a production to fake it. They’d never keep everybody quiet. I’m now following the Curiosity Rover on Twitter, but I’m also following the Sarcastic Rover, a spoof of the real thing. They’re both great.

What are the top 5 games you’re playing right now, and why?

With all the time we’ve been spending with Mars Needs Mechanics, I haven’t had much time to play other games. So I’ll give you three. First, I’m playing States: After the Fall. It’s an unpublished game by Mike Swiryn, Aaron Winkler, and David Golanty. I won’t give too much away about the game, but I know it’s received tremendous feedback from publishers at conventions, and I suspect it will get picked up by a publisher very soon. After that, I’ll say For Sale, by Stefan Dorra. This is a game that has been on my list to try for quite a while, and I finally did a couple weeks ago. Short, simple, and addictive, I loved it right away. Third, Agricola is always on my list. Its still my favorite Euro game, and it’s hard to imagine it ever getting knocked out of my top 5!

Is Mars Needs Mechanics your first game design, or are there others we should be checking out?

Its my first design that’s being published, but stay tuned. I’m working on others, and hope to be lucky enough to have more games published soon!

Other than “42,” what is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?

Wow, this is a great interview! I’m quite confident that I will get closer to the answer to this as I get older, though I’m humble enough not to believe I’ll ever know it all. But for me, the meaning of life is to contribute as much as we can toward the increasing of peace and happiness, and as much as we can toward the cessation of suffering in the world.

Ok, the next 5 questions only require a one word response. The answer will explain it all!

Star Wars, or Trek?

Spaceballs

Favorite color?

Green

Marvel or DC?

DC (because I live there)

Aslan or Gandalf?

Aslan

Favorite pizza topping?

Artichokes

—-

Mars Needs Mechanics launches a Kickstarter campaign on midnight Aug. 31! As soon as we have a link, we’ll post it here for you! But for now, click here if you want to check out Mars Needs Mechanics!

Our thanks goes out to Nevermore Games and Ben Rosset, you can follow them both on Twitter, @BenjaminRosset and @NevermoreGames. And of course we thank you, our readers, for your support!





An interview with Jason Kotarski, designer of The Great Heartland Hauling Co.

8 08 2012

Jason Kotarski is a pastor in Michigan; he and his wife have a young daughter, and another on the way. His first game design recently debuted on Kickstarter, and as I type this, he’s 80% of the way to being fully funded. He took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions from us.

How did you first discover Euros?

My wife and I were out Christmas shopping one night at a local mall and we stopped to look at a kiosk that was selling games and puzzles. Her face lit-up when she spotted a little game called Settlers of Catan. She got super excited and told me it was an awesome game that she had played in college and that we had to buy it right then and there. We finally got it to the table some time later after we rounded up another couple to play with and I fell in the love with the game. I liked it because everyone played to the end and that game wasn’t focused on being mean and eliminating the other players. I had a bad experience with my brother-in-law taking the role of world dictator a little too seriously in Risk, so it was a nice change of pace to play a game that was about doing your best without dealing with direct conflict. After playing Settlers for a while, I remember I went to a local hobby shop because I thought I saw some more weird board games there. I ran into a friend from high school who worked at the shop and he convinced me to try Carcassonne and told me about a Web site called BoardGameGeek.com. Then, I Googled  “board games” and stumbled on the Dice Tower and the Board Games with Scott videos and I was hooked. I felt like I had discovered that secret clubhouse of awesome and started amassing my collection. I’ve come to see gaming as a social outlet and something interesting to bring people together. It’s also a nice option to have something other than flipping on the television as a form of entertainment. It’s good clean fun, you know?

What are your Top 5 games, and why?

This is such a tough question for me. I am one of those people who loves ideas and all kinds of different stuff so it is really hard to narrow down my favorites to 5 but I’ll do my best.

In no particular order:

  • Ticket To Ride: Marklin Edition—This one is the first Ticket to Ride games I played. I love how easy it is to teach and the streamlined game-play. I played a lot of Rummy growing up so the set-collection aspect of the game felt very familiar to me while the building train routes and hidden goals felt very fresh to me. You never have enough time to do everything you want to in this game so it always leaves me wanting to play just a little more. It’s also one of the go-to games for sharing hobby games with more casual folks.
  • Incan Gold—I love this game because it works with larger groups of people, is easy to teach, and it provides a very tense, engaging experience. It’s a great combination of press-your-luck and social experiment. It’s a game that allows you to learn a little something about the people you are playing with. The theme is great! Who doesn’t want to pretend they are an Indiana Jones-esque explorer for a few minutes with friends?
  • Pandemic—Pandemic sort of defined the cooperative game genre and it still holds up for me. Players work together to save that world from deadly diseases that are breaking out in epic proportion around the globe. This game also introduced me to variant player powers that give each player a unique ability. There is a lot to explore in this game. I love the rewarding feeling you get when you actually manage to save the world.
  • Carcassonne—This is my wife’s favorite game hands-down. We’ve played this more than any other game in our collection. It’s another one of those classic gateways that really leaves an impression and begs to be played again and again due to its simple rules and ever-changing play area. The expansions have really helped the game to grow with me as a gamer. We usually throw in Inns and Cathedrals along with Traders and Builders when we play this. It’s beautiful to look at, too. Great game.
  •  Stone Age—I remember playing this one pretty early on and loved how it built on the civilization expansion of Settlers of Catan with newer mechanics. I love sending my little caveman workers out to hunt and gather and help feed my little tribe. Stone Age is a great game to look at when you want to take a baby step or two up from Settlers.

Tell us the genesis (no pun intended) of The Great Heartland Hauling Co.

Ha! I was actually chatting with a truck driver who was bringing food to my church for a food ministry we were doing at the time. He told me that the company that hired him to bring up the food was paying him less per mile than what it cost to operate his truck. He then told me the only reason he took the job was to get most of his expenses paid on the way up so he could cross over to the other side of the state to pick up some greens to take to Florida. The job on the way to Florida paid him twice as much so he was still able to make a profit on the trip. When he was talking, I instantly thought there was a game somewhere in his story, so I went home and made one. It turned out pretty good, so I took it to a design contest and got some great feedback that launched me into a search for a publisher that eventually landed with Dice Hate Me Games.

How did you connect with Dice Hate Me Games?

I had heard about them through their Kickstarter campaign for Carnival and was struck by design work Chris Kirkman did for the game. They got my attention with the look of their games. I didn’t end up backing the game but I checked out the Dice Hate Me booth at Origins this year, met Chris and Monkey, and we just hit it off. I showed them my game and told them that I was going to request to be released from a contract I had previously made with another company called Cambridge Games Factory after some long delays. Dice Hate Me had a pretty full release schedule but they were enthusiastic about my game and offered to help me explore some other publishing options if I ended up leaving my previous publisher. They told me that they really couldn’t take anything else on but I was convinced after meeting them that it was time for me to move on. I did decide to move on and Chris and Cherilyn ended up showing the game to some friends that told them they had to publish it so I got a phone call the day I terminated my contract with Cambridge Games Factory and Dice Hate Me offered to publish the game and get it on the fast track to publication. Now the game is on Kickstarter headed for a January 2013 release and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it’s turning out.

What’s your favorite mechanism in The Great Heartland Hauling Co.?

Heartland Hauling is essentially a game of hand management with a bare bones pick-up-and-deliver system played out on a modular playing area. I think the mechanic I like the most is the simple pick-up-and-deliver component. In the game you use gas cards, or points, to move around the Heartland to pick up wooden cubes of freight (using goods cards), to deliver them (also, using goods cards) to different locations trying to earn the most profit. It’s a very tactile experience. You move your little truck, hand in the cards, and move around little wooden cubes. I had never really played pick-up-and-deliver games before so I didn’t have much to go on besides the name of a mechanic I had heard about that seemed to fit the theme of the game. I just made it up as I went along and I think it represents the theme well and has an interesting take on a familiar mechanic (at least to train gamers) that is fleshed out in a new way.

Is this your first attempt at game design?

This is my first design, which actually kind of blows me away when I think about it. I mean, who gets to publish their first game with a great company that puts out interesting games and has such a solid reputation? It’s super exciting for me and is really driving me to continue to stretch my creative wings. I have a few others designs in the works and one game that is currently being considered by a publisher in Europe. It’s a fun way to get to contribute to the hobby I love in such a big way.

Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars all the way! I mean, I dig the J.J. Abrams Trek reboot but I grew up on Star Wars. I’m pretty sure my first crush was Princess Leia so that shows you just how nerdy I really am!

Were you disappointed that Dice Hate Me decided to change the theme from your beloved Michigan to a broader “heartland” theme?

The theme didn’t really change at all, just the art and the name. The prototype, originally called Over The Road, had a darker, grittier feel to it. It looked a lot more like the game had an urban setting but that wasn’t the intent. Chris Kirkman brightened up the color pallet and gave it an Americana feel which I think goes with the new name, The Great Heartland Hauling Co., really well. I think the new art and name really captures the original inspiration for the game so I’m quite pleased. I’m just glad they didn’t want me to add aliens, or something like that, to the game. I wanted that Euro-game-meets-Middle-America feeling and I think we kinda nailed it!

How has being a pastor influenced you as a game designer—if at all.

I think that being a pastor has helped me grow as a thinker and as a person that can take an idea and bring it to life. I work a lot with communicating abstract ideas and planning concrete events in my church work, so I think the two kinds of work are similar in that way. I get to stretch my brain in all kinds of different ways as a pastor and as a game designer. And for me, the community aspects of gaming and the church are hugely important to me, so I think they fit together nicely. I’ve said this before, but the thing I love about games is the way that they bring people together in real life. I don’t think we have enough of that. Relationships are really important to me because people are really important to me. So if my games, or my church, can bring people together in meaningful ways, I believe that I am engaging in meaningful work.

Build your perfect sandwich for us.

I actually think I just had the perfect sandwich at a grilled cheese restaurant in Cleveland called Melt. The sandwich was called The Melt Pig Roast and it had Muenster cheese, chipotle pulled pork, fried sweet potatoes, and a spicy coleslaw. I’m pretty sure it changed my life.

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Many thanks to Jason for answering our questions. Head on over to Kickstarter and check out The Great Heartland Hauling Co. for yourself! And thanks for reading!








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