Tuesday, September 22, 2020

People Behind The Meeples - Episode 242: Steven Ridings

Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers.  Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before.  If you'd like to be featured, head over to http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples. Support me on Patreon!

Name:Steven Ridings
Location:Pennsylvania - United States
Day Job:3D Modeler - Environmental Artist
Designing:One to two years.
Facebook:Cretaceous Board Game
Find my games at:Cretaceous: A Dinosaur Hunting Adventure is on Kickstarter in August 2020, Gamecrafter after the campaign
Today's Interview is with:

Steven Ridings
Interviewed on: 7/17/2020

This week's interview is with Steven Ridings, the designer of Cretaceous: A Dinosaur Hunting Adventure, on Kickstarter right now! Read on to learn more about Steven and his projects.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
One to two years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I wanted to create something people could have fun with. I am a 3D modeler professionally and I got into it in order to make video games to give people fun, emotional experiences. However I found myself in the government contracting side of the field and while I enjoy what I do, it doesn't scratch that itch to provide people with a fun experience and since I get that from board games it seemed like a great hobby to get into the design side of things.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Cretaceous: A Dinosaur Hunting Adventure

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet!

What is your day job?
3D Modeler - Environmental Artist

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home or at a friends house. I definitely feel the most comfortable to be loud and just relax.

Who do you normally game with?
Well I have two real groups. One I grew up with in Winchester VA and try to play anytime I swing through town. Another my wife and I met online playing video games and dungeons and dragons.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I'd say my top two would be Clank! and Evolution. Some runner ups would have to be Dinosaur Island, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Arkham Horror.

And what snacks would you eat?
Red Baron mini frozen pizzas have kind of become a signature food over here when friends visit. Maybe add some cheetos or chips too.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
We don't, but a buddy of mine always had it when we played Magic and it was cool. Maybe it's something we should start.

What's your favorite FLGS?
I have two since we travel a lot back and forth to VA normally. In Winchester VA there is Kung Fu Comics. It's run by a long time friend and has everything from MTG, board games, and miniatures. In Pennsylvania I would have to say New Dimension Comics. They have a HUGE store at the waterfront and I met my D&D group there.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favorite would be Dinosaur Island. Making Cretaceous really got me more into a dino mood. Least that I still enjoy would be Joking Hazard as you seem to get the same cards pretty fast so if you play it a lot it starts to get a bit repetitive. I feel a bit bad putting a worst but I would have to say Keys to the Castle. I saw it on sale and I should have known better with no gameplay art on the box but we gave it a try. It's been gathering dust since.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Tile placement and map building are my favorite. I want at the end of the game to look at something and see something that wasn't there when we started. That's one of the main reasons Cretaceous makes the map as you go and spawns dinosaurs during the game, so the map comes to life as you play. My least favorite would be games that put too much power in the cards to draw like Cards Against Humanity or most card only games that have a random draw. It seems that based on what you draw you win or lose and sometimes you know you have lost early based on a "bad hand" and you get to wait for the next round without much of a chance to change that.

What's your favorite game that you just can't ever seem to get to the table?
Arkham Horror. Since there are so many parts to it, it seems a bit overwhelming to new players.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?

You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.

When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
I definitely do the theme first. I want to pull a certain feeling out of people and I can get that from the theme. For Cretaceous I wanted the feeling of going through a jungle or forest not knowing what dinosaurs or hazards there would be. It started as a game where you were trying to escape an island and avoid the dinosaurs but slowly the mechanics changed to something far more fun but still gave that same feeling.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No, I have not entered any. I've only really been focusing on Cretaceous and I didn't want to submit it without all the artwork done. Maybe now that it is at a place I am happy with I can submit it to a few.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Definitely Dominic Crapuchettes. The first Evolution really pulled me into the modern board game world and I was so into that game I took it every time I visited friends. They now request and make sure I bring it. And the story of how he came to design board games is amazing as well.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
I'd say my best ideas would come from when I can just sit for 30-60 minute sessions by myself and just write down any ideas for the game. I wont keep most of them, but being able to compare the pool of thoughts easily lets me narrow down to the best ways to accomplish what I want.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Annoying my wife with countless index card prototypes! But in all seriousness for Cretaceous I remade it a few times with her until I found something I thought was a good base. Then I took it to VA when we visited to get more feedback. After some Game Crafter prototypes to get a feel of costs and components I took it to Tabletop Simulator and reached out to people online. I was planning on more local game store tests instead but with 2020 being what it is, that moved online.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I'd like to work with others in the future. Specifically an artist as I believe my skills are limited. Although through all the playtesters I got a lot of great ideas that improved the game, so I can't really say I made it alone.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
That this is my first game and nobody knows whether to invest in anything I make.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
The cast of Critical Role for a board game based on one of their two campaigns. They have such rich lore and worlds built that they could go into any media!

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I didn't know the Game Crafter was a thing until a little over a year ago. I just had ideas in my head but didn't know how to get it on a real product easily.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Make sure to playtest even a really early draft of your game. Even if it is just on index cards. No matter how well you think it will work out, just playing it once will expose things you need to change. Once you finally don't see any major issues, then grab a few more testers and maybe make a better prototype.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Cretaceous: A Dinosaur Hunting Adventure
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: An interesting crafting and creation game is looking pretty fun

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker's Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
TGC Designer Discussion

And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I'm sure are on everyone's minds!

Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Star Wars / Pepsi / VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Retro Video game Collecting and Fishing

What is something you learned in the last week?
Taco Bell has a Grilled Cheese Burrito

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Comedy / Parody Music Fantasy Books 3D Animation Movies like Pixar or Dreamworks

What was the last book you read?
Does the Baldur's Gate campaign book count?

Do you play any musical instruments?
Nope! But if I could, I would choose Violin.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I don't really like horror movies or books, but for some reason I really like the game Dead by Daylight.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I put Cheetos on a pizza. I used the Joey Tribbiani approach. Pizza? Good. Cheetos? Good. What is there not to like? (It didn't go well)

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I didn't know those could turn out well. I'll keep a lookout.

Who is your idol?
Weird Al. He did something he loved that did not fit any of the norms of the time. Accordion parody music wasn't really "in". But he brought so much joy and laughter to the world because he was just himself.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I think I would be worried about screwing something up in the present. So I guess drop it in the ocean.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert. Extremely so.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Superman. I don't really like DC but the guy has it all. It's like getting to choose multiple choices on this one.

Have any pets?
2 Cats - Nami and Jinx 2 Rabbits - Kisa and Roshi

When the next asteroid hits Earth, causing the Yellowstone caldera to explode, California to fall into the ocean, the sea levels to rise, and the next ice age to set in, what current games or other pastimes do you think (or hope) will survive into the next era of human civilization? What do you hope is underneath that asteroid to be wiped out of the human consciousness forever?
Survive - A thumb drive that some Pirate has filled with all the ROMS of classic video games from NES, SNES, and 64. I bet they would fit. Destroyed - Durian Fruits

If you'd like to send a shout out to anyone, anyone at all, here's your chance (I can't guarantee they'll read this though):
I'd like to thank my wife Kathleen the most. She helped push me to thinking my games would be worth making and not to doubt myself so much. It's really hard to get over the self doubt sometimes.

Thanks for answering all my crazy questions!

Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html

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