Monday, April 24, 2017

4-24-2017 - An interview with Jason Miceli of Geek Fever Games!

While looking around on The Game Crafter i stumbled upon a game that was a finalist in one of the contests called trick legacy. It really intrigued me as something me and Tyler would play. This lead me to the website for Geek Fever Games! I asked Jason Miceli if he had some time to talk about that game and another game that right now is just crushing it on kickstarter of theirs called Dead Man's Doubloon. He graciously obliged.

On the website it shows that there are three members in geek fever games (like a cerberus). How did the three of you get together?

Matt and I have been making games together for the better part of 20 years. Back during our college years we attempted to launch a game company, without the benefit of today's tools. Needless to say it was a great learning experience and tremendous tax write-off! He and I came back together back in 2012 to discuss kicking off something that might actually be viable, this time leveraging the great resources available today, such as The Game Crafter, Kickstarter, and the Boston Festival of Indie Games. Later that year we were proud to launch our flagship game, Mars vs. Earth.

Fast-forward a couple years, Tim and I met while working together at our day job. He and I quickly discovered our mutual passion for gaming and game design. We became fast friends and built up a thriving lunch-time gaming crew. Before long, we were discussing options for expanding the Geek Fever Games team. In the middle of 2015, we sealed the deal. We added several games Tim had published on The Game Crafter to Geek Fever Games' lineup, as well as the one that was active on Kickstarter at the time, and we welcomed Tim as an equal partner. Since then we have enjoyed the tremendous benefits of having a team of 3.


Your the grand geek admiral? is everyone in the company ranked? can i be the official geek ensign of geek fever games?

Haha - we all had fun coming up with our names. They're not all ranked in this particular theme, but essentially yes - you could imagine a Geek Ensign alongside our Grand Geek Admiral and Gamengineer!

Dead Man's Doubloons has really taken off on kickstarter. What do you think separates it from other pirate games out there?
Well this one be the Piratyest! To be honest, we do love many other pirate games, but this one was explicitly designed to fill a void. I wanted to create a game that would be elegant in its simplicity, yet deep enough to attract faithful gamers. Dead Man's Doubloons has quite a lot going on inside - unique ship captains and ship abilities, pirate ship skirmishes, boarding, pillaging, treasure hunting, winding path choices, action programming, stealing, crew management, and even playable ghost ships! Yet with all this depth, turns are fast and simple to execute. Most of the game is played simultaneously, making it super accessible even for groups of 6 players. So with its many paths to victory, its interesting action choices and strategies, and its high visual appeal, we believe Dead Man's Doubloons will absolutely stand apart from others.
For me the sweet spot for playtime is under 1 hour, was there a conscious decision to try to keep it under an hour or did it just work out like that?

This was 100% a conscious decision. Earlier versions of the game were definitely taking too long. Over the past year and a half, we've spent a lot of effort streamlining and optimizing the game to fit inside an hour, even for groups of 6. From the get-go the game was intended to be a shorter game, yet critically deliver a deep and immersive experience. It took a lot of hard work to get it to where it is today, and of course we're super proud of the results.

How important to the success of the campaign do you feel it was to have the game available on tabletopia?

You know, probably not super important to be honest. We definitely had a few of our backers try it out there, but I don't know as it made a huge difference from a Kickstarter perspective. We had an earlier prototype up on Tabletop Simulator, which is how I originally presented and landed the deal with ThunderGryph Games to begin with, so I feel that had a greater impact in the game's long term success. Tabletopia is great in its ability to have anyone play the game via a browser (for free, no less), but I'm just not sure how wide spread that will go...  of course we will be keeping it up to date so it's fully available for anyone who wants to try it out there. Likewise, we are also working with Berserk Games to create a full DLC module for Dead Man's Doubloons on Tabletop Simulator, so we'll have all options available!
I stumbled upon Trick Legacy when i was on game crafter and right away i felt this is a game me and Tyler would play for sure. What were some of the challenges in developing this game?
As you can imagine with any legacy-style game, playtesting can be a challenge, since you need to physically alter and/or destroy components in order to get through the campaign. However, in this case, Trick Legacy is designed to be "reset" by simply adding 2 new decks of standard playing cards, so it's relatively easy and inexpensive to try out another campaign - this made playtesting far easier and faster than I suspect games like Seafall or Gloomhaven took. Aside from that, we experienced typical obstacles such as art direction, game balance, and rules simplicity, but honestly those were a breeze compared to our other projects from over the years. Trick Legacy is a great little game with a super neat twist - if you like trick-takers, and you want to experience what a legacy-game feels like, definitely check it out!

Finally, what is a game that you love that we may have not heard of?

This is an awesome question! We do play a lot of amazing games, but you want to know about the more obscure ones. There's one I backed on KS last year that I should be getting my hands on not too long from now: Originz: The Superpowered Card Game. I played earlier prototype and digital versions of it, and can't wait to get the final copy in my hands! It's a super-hero themed card game, with 12 different origin decks (such as Super-Speed, Dragon Mutation, etc.) that you can play independently or mix and match the originz using some simple deck construction rules. There are many modes of play too, allowing for a ton of replayability. It's a simple game to pick up and play, it plays fast, and there's just so much rich theme to soak in. Hats off to the folks at Flavor Faction!
* Mine and Tyler's review of originz can be found here.

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