MyJourney is a series about the people in the board gaming world. In this series, I invite people passionate about tabletop gaming, from gamers, reviewers, publishers, to distributors, and artists to share their experiences with board gaming.
This week’s myJourney Wednesday features Jay Treat, an indie game creator based out of Pennsylvania, who I met serendipitously through a couple of friends. Funny how things work out sometimes. Jay has been creating and publishing his own games for 8 years, and is currently working on a game called Cahoots, which will launch on Kickstarter very soon and is a physical version of the iOS game of the same name, which he also created! It’s always a blast meeting smaller game creators, whether it’s at game cafes or through friends. Jay has helped me a lot by introducing me to a number of really great collaborators and great resources like Unpub, an unpublished games network that helps creators find playtesters by hosting local events all over the country. I will be going to my first meeting in a few weeks.
So Jay, what was the first game you played that really set off your passion for them?
I've always played board games. I was playing Cosmic Encounter and Wizard when Settlers of Catan came out and we learned about euro games. I think HeroQuest was the first board game I made content for.
Awesome. I love Cosmic Encounter and Settlers. I’ve never heard of Wizard though, I’ll have to check it out. What are some of your fondest board game memories?
Visiting my extended family and playing card games and some classic 3M bookshelf games with aunts, uncles and cousins.
As a creator myself, I have found that I’ve benefited greatly from following a few great creators who’ve really influenced the industry. Who are the top 5 people you follow in the board game community?
Tough one. There are so many good designers and content creators on Twitter. @CardboardEdison, @JayAhre, @Maro254, @TheUnpub, @PuppyShogun
Those are all good follows. I’ve already added the ones I wasn’t following to my growing list! What was your first project or projects like? What have you learned along the way these past 8 years?
Early on, my games were me trying to be clever creating systems disguised as games. One was a dungeon crawler where players could explore the negative space of tiles. They were long and failed to leverage players as the most fun element of play. Since then, I've learned to design around the player's first, to find mechanisms that let the players be clever, rather than me.
What do you find most challenging about designing a game? What was your biggest failure & How did you get past it? What has been your greatest success?
The hardest part about designing a game is getting regular playtests where you're getting honest feedback. My biggest failure might be making the top 8 of the second Great Designer Search for Magic but crashing and burning first among the finalists.I got past it by using the minor celebrity that generated to start an amateur Magic design blog where I practiced my Magic design skills in public and used that feedback to grow and learn. Daily Magic Games released Merchants of Araby at Origins, and the production value on it is ridiculous. I never would've expected a magnetic box that turns into a game board.
That’s wild. I can’t imagine what it’s like to produce that much of a success. Shifting gears to some other people’s games, have you seen any upcoming games that you are super excited about playing?
Because I playtest a lot of my fellow designers' prototypes, I see some very cool stuff before it gets made. Kids on Bikes is an RPG coming soon from Jon Gilmour and Doug Levandowski that lets you play Stranger Things.
Do you have any of your own upcoming projects that you are super excited about?
Mayday Games will be launching the Cahoots Kickstarter any day now. I've been working on this game forever, and I'm excited people will finally get to buy the physical copy (there's a version on iOS right now) . Mayday's done a great job making it look beautiful.
That’s great! I cannot wait to see it and get my hands on a copy of the game. Hopefully there will be a copy at the unpub meetup on October 21st. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me and for helping me with advise. Good luck with the kickstarter launch!
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