AN INTERVIEW WITH JAY

In addition to my freelance game design, I also teach game design at UW-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Back in January, I had the opportunity to teach a brand new class I had pitched to the curriculum committee -- Board Game Production & Processes. It was an intense, three week course that was a hybrid between traditional methods and a mock studio experience.

We met 8 AM to 5 PM every day. After a morning of lecture, assigned reading, and research, we spent the rest of the day working in a design studio / prototyping lab. Students were assigned roles in different departments and that part of class worked on projects in an environment trying to model an actual small size publisher in the tabletop industry.

One of the key projects was to fully develop a game from start to finish over the course of these three weeks. While other students were charged with marketing, production, distribution, and other tasks, I tasked two of the students with the game design itself.

Lucas Zerby was a senior in the video game design and development program who had a lot of experience with hobby games and was a regular gamer. Dylan Shepherd was an incoming freshman who hadn't declared a major yet, and was a video gamer who didn't have much experience with tabletop gaming. Lucas was able to tackle design leveraging his personal gaming knowledge and preferences along with four years of study in the game design program, while Dylan offered fresh perspectives and creativity that wasn't influenced or limited by existing games or what may have previously been done.

Given the time available, I set some constraints and guidelines for the game:

      1. It had to accommodate 2-4 Players
      2. Have a play time of 30-40 minutes (a "lunch time" game)
      3. Feature "two phases" of gameplay that offered different types of strategy
      4. Use a relatively small "footprint" in terms of size and components

They had a few other games to use for comparison and reference, butI left it up to them to figure out what "two phases" of gameplay meant. That first week, the class worked out a project proposal, outlined a production schedule, and developed a budget. Then design began in earnest...


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