Sunday, 17 November 2013

Interview with Ben Rosset - #Boardgamersask

Our second crowd sourced interview using #boardgamersask was with rising star board game designers Ben Rosset. Here is the interview that the board game community helped create...

Robin Lees - @RMBLees asked:
#boardgamersask what part of game design do you find most frustrating?

Ben RossetBen Answers: "Finding enough play testers and having enough time to test. So often I feel like there might be 5 ways to solve a particular design challenge, and I'd love to build out and fully test all of them and compare to see what the right answer is, but that feels daunting when you have limited testing time. So I end up having to rely on pure intuition a bit more than I'd like, in a perfect world."

BoardGameTravel.com - @BoardGameTravel asked:
Ben, who is your biggest inspiration as a board game designer? #boardgamersask 

Ben RossetBen Answers: "My biggest inspiration are the guys (and girls) who are totally open about their process. They post all their new games as free Print and Plays, blog about the details of their design process, and are constantly looking for feedback from the community. It takes an incredible amount of trust, humility and passion to do that. I'm thinking of guys like Daniel Solis, Grant Rodiek and Chevee Dodd, but there are so many others!"

We continued with...

Maverick Muse - @NigelPyne asked:
Ben, did you get it right first time? i.e. was Mars Needs Mechanics your first ever game design? #boardgamersask

Ben RossetBen Answers: "I didn't get it "right" the first time, but I didn't get it "wrong" either. Mars Needs Mechanics was probably about the 8th game I designed. But that doesn't mean the first 7 were failures because they aren't published. They were invaluable learning experiences. If you're interested in designing, you can't be afraid of getting it "wrong". I'm a better designer today because of those first 7 games."

Nate Parker - @gamesophist asked:
@MofBG What led you to create Brew Crafters and Mars Needs Mechanics? Pure fun? Saw a hole in the market? #boardgamersask

Ben RossetBen Answers: "I don't think about my designs from the perspective of what the market wants or what will sell (I probably should, though!). I'm learning about those things through osmosis as I go. But I'm lucky enough to have a very good full time day job, so I can just design games for fun. To be successful, I think you have to design with your heart just as much as your head."

Nate Parker - @gamesophist asked:
Could you elaborate on some of notable design decisions you made for Brew Crafters and/or Mars Needs Mechanics? #boardgamersask

Ben RossetBen Answers: "For Mars Needs Mechanics, the most notable decision was building the entire game around the "Sales Order Line", which is the mechanic in the game that controls the prices of goods. Its easy to learn and (hopefully) feels really unique for an economics game. Check out this BGG article I wrote about it: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/856231/the-sales-order-line-explained-by-designer-ben-ros

For Brew Crafters, every design decision I made went to support the theme of building a craft brewery. I wanted the mechanics to match the theme as accurately as possible. This led to the design decision to split the worker placement into 2 distinct phases for each round of the game. The first phase is the market phase, where players place workers to compete with each other in the market for the ingredients, investors, and partnerships that are available. The second phase is the brewery phase, where players place workers to do work inside their own breweries. In this phase, players are not competing---all players can take the same actions inside their breweries. This is thematically accurate, because what I choose to do inside my own brewery doesn't (and shouldn't) affect what you are able to do inside of your brewery."

Robin Lees - @RMBLees went on to ask:
@BoardGamersAsk #BoardGamersAsk @BenRosset which boardgame designer would you most like to get into the mind of?

Ben RossetBen Answers: "Great question. I'm tempted to say Knizia, because I want his PhD level mathematics brain, but I think I'll say Antoine Bauza. His designs are so sleek. No unneeded rules. No unneeded pieces. He's great at distilling a game down to its core and just making that core work so well."

The Captain - @CapBoardgames asks:
"Which is more important to a successful game, theme or mechanics? #boardgamersask"

Ben RossetBen Answers: "Mechanics. A well-integrated theme can make a game go from good to great, but if the mechanics aren't sound and the game doesn't work, it will never be a great game (in my humble opinion)."


Indie Cardboard - @IndieCardboard asks:
If you could change one thing about the tabletop game industry, what would that be? #boardgamersask

Ben RossetBen Answers: "Make it bigger! Lets do whatever we can to grow the hobby, and bring more people to the table."

Ministry of Board Games say: "LOVE this answer!"

Nicole Jekich - @NJekich asks:
Okay, I got one: #boardgamersask for @BenRosset What theme deserves more board games?

Ben RossetBen Answers: "The things I want to list here are the things I'm passionate about...and I think that's very telling. My ideas come from my life, whatever it is that interests me. If you design from your passions, from your heart, you're on the right path. The answers I would give, the things that I'm passionate about, are 1) History/specific historical events, and 2) Science, and 3) Building communities (not sure what that means in terms of themes for board games, but just gonna throw it out there)."

Amy Reid - @ByAmyReid asks:
Ben, is there a theme you have in mind/ want to explore for your next game? #boardgamersask

Ben RossetBen Answers: "Currently I'm working on a game about the History of the British Royal Navy between 1815 and 1914. I guess this would quality as a "Historical event", one of the things I said I was passionate about in a previous answer. Its my first attempt at an auction/bidding game, and I hope to have it polished up to show off at Unpub 4 (unpub.net) in Dover, Delaware in January."

Chuck Hagerman - @WispHollow asks:
Ben, what inspires you the most. Do you look for inspiration in things around you or have another process for inspiration #boardgamersask

Ben RossetBen Answers: "Everyday things inspire me. I might be walking through a museum and see a particular painting, and something about it will just call out to me..."There's a board game in that painting." Or I'll be having a conversation with a friend about something totally unrelated to gaming, and it will be an interesting subject and topic of conversation, and I'll think, "What would a board game about this subject be like?" Or, in the case of Brew Crafters, I'll take a brewery tour, and think, "I want to design a game about building a craft brewery!" "

PBL - @WardenF16 asks:
@BoardGamersAsk Ben, how do you balance depth of play with accessibility in your games? #boardgamersask

Ben RossetBen Answers: "There is absolutely nothing wrong with prizing depth over accessibility, just know that by definition, you'll be designing for a much smaller audience, and your game might not really take off outside of that small circle. As a Euro designer, if I ever want one of my games to be a tournament game at WBC, for instance, then accessibility must be kept in mind and aspired to. That's one of the reasons I love Bauza so much. I think he achieves an incredible amount of depth for how accessible and relatively "light" his games are."

Ministry of Board Games - @MofBG asks:
And Finally... Do you have any projects or products you would like the board game community to be aware of right now?

Ben RossetBen Answers: My game Brew Crafters, about building a craft brewery and brewing beer, is on kickstarter until November 24th: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dicehateme/brew-crafters-a-board-game-about-making-beer.
My first published game, Mars Needs Mechanics, is now available online and at your friendly local game store.

Thanks to Ben for taking time out of this busy scheduled to take part in #boardgamersask

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Thanks for adding to the conversation on Ministry of Board Games ;-)