Friday, June 24, 2016

DML's First Ever Interview! Game Designer Diego Ibañez

I had never heard of Diego Ibañez (pictured with his game Banjooli Xeet) when I met him this year at Origins. He politely walked me and Mike through a demo of his new two-player game, Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft, and earned himself two sales for his time--neither I nor Mike could resist owning a copy. I was so impressed that I reviewed it with Ty as soon as I returned home, and sent Diego a quick message of praise on BGG.

Later, I mentioned the note I sent, and someone suggested I do an interview for the blog... Wait, my first interview? Well, okay, since I wanted a little more insight into the development of the game anyway, I contacted Mr. Ibañez, who was happy to be my first victim! Let's see how this goes!

So, how did you get involved with designing board games?
Prototype of Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft
Since I was a child, I have liked to create stories, or change the rules of some games.  A few years ago in Spain, some game design contests appeared, and that represented an incentive for all designers, because it created an opportunity to show your games beyond your circle of family and friends. Several of my games have been finalists in the "Granollers" game design contest, and two of them have been published, Banjooli Xeet and Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft.

Sherlock continues to be a popular theme in board games. Aside from the obvious, what makes your game different from others on the market?
Basically, for better or worse, the main difference is that it is not a deductive game. Some people think that a game with Holmes necessarily has to be deductive, but in this case, the background is a "nice dress" for a set collection and worker placement game (originally, the game takes place in a "Narguille" market). If you love light games for 2 players, this may be one of your favorite.

Did you feel there was any kind of risk releasing a game with Sherlock Holmes in it in the current market?

Continuing with the previous answer, the main risk is the expectations of a deductive game by some players, but it is something that can be solved by reading reviews or looking for information on the Internet.

With the popularity of the BBC television show Sherlock was there a discussion about making the art style more modern?
The game art was developed by Pedro Soto, who decided the final theme of the game (there were other proposals such as presidential elections, for example).  We always think of the classic Holmes for game background.

I love the inclusion of Mycroft in the game. what made you decide to have him as the second player instead of Dr. Watson?
The first option to be Sherlock's rival was not Mycroft, was Arsène Lupin, a notorious French thief, but finally decided to include Mycroft, as he did not appear in many games, and in any case, not as a protagonist. About Watson, just this year he has appeared in a game by another Spanish author, called "Watson & Holmes." That would have been an unfortunate coincidence!

The back of the board really impressed me. Most developers would not take the time to put something on the back. What made you decide to put Dr. Watsons' diary on the back?
I also was impressed, because I did not know until I saw the game released!!!
The idea was also Pedro Soto's, who is a great artist, plus a great gamer, and always has remarkable details in games. Besides this, I think the Polish edition of the game will also include on the reverse a track to count the final score.

When you were developing the game, did any strategies or game play mechanics change during playtesting?
One of the mechanisms that radically changed the game is blocking advanced actions. Before this, the game could have an "actions loop," causing some of the other actions to cease to be interesting. But for me, one of the best things about the game is the scoring system, and this was in the game from the beginning

Finally, what is a game that you love that we may have not heard of?
I do not know I've heard of it or not, but for me, San Marco is one of the most elegant games I know. Regretfully, it has gone for many years without being republished. You can see a funny picture on BGG of my mother-in-law and me playing this!
And, if you love games for two players, 1911 Admunsen vs Scott should be in your collection.  It is a game also drawn by Pedro Soto, and designed by my friend Perepau Llistosella.
Thanks for the interview and the positive comments about the game, I hope you enjoy it for years!!!

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