Jason Tagmire是《Pixel Lincoln》的设计师。
Bellwether Games：你的游戏《Pixel Lincoln》已经完成了在Kickstarter上的集资！现在能否跟我们介绍下这款游戏，以及你们在发行过程中的下一步是什么？
Jason Tagmire：《Pixel Lincoln》是一款横向卷轴冒险纸牌游戏，突出了16位体的美国总统形象。有点像《超级玛丽兄弟》或《洛克人》，但是用纸牌替代了控制器。
Game Salute和Island Officials负责游戏发行，并且现在正处于等待阶段。我已经递交了所有内容并等待着下一阶段的消息。希望能够尽快明确具体的发行日期。
JT：对我来说与Game Salute进行合作是一次特别的经历。在过去我习惯自己完成一切工作。而在与Game Salute的合作过程中，当需要执行某些任务时，我只需要发送一封电子邮件，团队成员便能够去落实行动。他们拥有一个坚实的团队，成员们具有各种专长与满满的责任感，这一点真的很棒！一开始我与Dan进行合作，他真的拥有非常出色的想法，所以才能推动着我们的Kickstarter项目超越了最初的目标。从那时起我开始与来自Clever Mojo Games的David合作，而David拥有许多出色游戏的相关记录。
而最近我玩过的一款让人欲罢不能的游戏便是《Escape: The Curse of the Temple》（Ostby，2012）。我喜欢游戏的快速设置，经过10分钟的混乱后便结束了。我们总是会连续玩两款游戏，并最终感到非常疲倦而想转身离开。但是这款游戏却与之不同，它具有合作性，每个人在此都是平等的。并不存在领导者或发号施令的玩家，每个人都必须通过合作而赢取胜利。
Jason Tagmire Interview
Jason Tagmire, designer of Pixel Lincoln
Bellwether Games: So, your game Pixel Lincoln (Tagmire, 2012) has finished fundraising on Kickstarter! Could you tell us a little bit about the game, and what is the next step in the publishing process?
Jason Tagmire: Pixel Lincoln is a side-scrolling adventure card game, featuring the 16-bit President of the United States. It looks and feels like Super Mario Brothers or Mega Man, but played with cards instead of a controller.
Game Salute and Island Officials are publishing the game, and it’s currently in the waiting stage. I’ve handed everything off and just waiting for the next batch of information. Hope to have some solid release dates soon enough.
Mock card artwork from Pixel Lincoln
BG: Could you describe your experience working with Game Salute? Is this an avenue that you would recommend to other designers to publish their games?
JT: Working with Game Salute is a completely different experience for me. I’m used to doing everything by myself. When something needs to be done, an email is shot out and the team gets to work. They have a solid team with varying specialties and responsibilities, and that has been great. I worked with Dan in the beginning and he has such awesome, grand ideas, which pushed our Kickstarter project beyond all original intentions. And from there I started working with David from Clever Mojo Games. David has a track record with wonderful, beautifully produced games, and having that experience working on your game is unreal.
They also vary from a lot of publishers because you, as the design house or independent designer, continue to work with them throughout the process. For Pixel Lincoln, this was very important to me because it isn’t just a card game, it’s also a video game. We have ideas and plans for the future and it was really important to be right in the middle of all of it.
I would definitely suggest them to other designers. We had originally planned to “Kickstart” Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game ourselves, and we wouldn’t have had the budget to print up a few dozen review copies, or the convention support to promote the game throughout the rest of the year. Those are the hidden costs that can be forgotten, and can cripple a solo designer or small design group.
Card artwork from Pixel Lincoln
BG: What has been the most difficult aspect of the design to publication process so far?
JT: For me personally it has been the amount of work involved. On Pixel Lincoln, I was involved in much more than the design, so it’s been a few months of late nights handling final art and layout and tightening up the rules, and Kickstarter itself was a beast—a beast that takes the life out of you in the most exciting, educational and stressful way possible.
BG: Sounds a bit scary! What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone who is planning a board game Kickstarter project?
JT: I would say plan, plan and plan just to reiterate the importance of being prepared, but I’ll keep plan as the first piece of advice. You really need to do as much research as possible on your costs because chances are, you will lose money. Even if you overfund, you still may lose money. Shipping is killer. You will need to ship from the manufacturer to you, then from you to the backers. And then when some of the $40 overseas packages come back to you (for many reasons), you need to pay $40 more dollars to ship it back out. You’ll need to plan stretch goals if you overfund. Many creators get caught up in the momentum and offer stretch goals that weren’t researched as well as everything else, and they wind up costing more money than intended. There is so much to plan.
For a second piece of advice, I would say that you need to put everything you have into it, before and during the project. You need to get your game into people’s hands and also into their minds before you launch. Treat the launch day like a movie release. When a movie is released, we’ve already seen trailers and heard all about it for 3 months before hand. That is to insure a successful day one release. I would apply the same to a Kickstarter project. Then when it launches, you need to work it like a day job. Every single day you should be putting out images and information to every outlet that you have. Your own Twitter and Facebook feeds only go so far, so you need to go beyond that. Podcasts, BoardGameGeek, local media, YouTube, reviewers, board game blogs, gaming groups… That is just the start of it.
And for the third, as crazy as it sounds, having a failed Kickstarter project is one of the best ways to learn. I wouldn’t suggest failing, but I’ve done it and learned so much from my own mistakes. I learned that backers want solid art, first and foremost. Without it, they may not even click on your project. I also learned that backers want good rewards. Having your reward levels consist of 1 copy of the game, 2 copies of the game, 3 copies of the game, etc… is not exciting at all. And finally, I learned that I didn’t have the reach to get the 300 backers I would need to break even. So you may need to put in a little time, developing a following to hit that number. Obviously some projects break the mold and succeed with no promotion, or bad art, but you can’t only look at the breakout projects. Look at the ones that just hit their number and see what they did right. And if you haven’t failed yourself, look at the projects that did fail, and see what they did wrong. It’ll really stand out and make you think about your approach.
Card artwork from Pixel Lincoln
BG: Great advice! I’m sure there are many designers out there who are considering Kickstarter and your advice may come in very useful! Now back to game design: Do you have a guiding game design principle? What is it?
JT: I design every day. I’ll take a few minutes out of the day and challenge myself to design something around a single word. It could be a theme, mechanic or just something completely random. The design doesn’t always end up being a game, but it’s the creative spark that leads to bigger things. I refer back to these notes all the time when I’m in a pinch, and the spark comes right back each time.
BG: In your opinion what are the three most important elements of a great game?
JT: Theme – I play plenty of theme-less games, but I want to get sucked into a board game. Not to the point where I’m playing an RPG, but enough to keep things exciting.
Length – A game shouldn’t be too long or too short, in relation to it’s theme, mood and gameplay. A game could be 5 minutes or 5 hours, as long as it feels right.
Fun – This could almost double as mechanics, but the bigger picture is how much “fun” it is. Very important!
BG: What are one or two games that you have the most fun playing? What makes these games fun to you?
JT: I love Cosmic Encounter (Eberle et al., 1977). The gameplay at its core is very simple (higher numbers win battles), but there are so many variables that twist the core ideas around. There are so many alien roles that I will probably never even be able to try half of them, and I love that. The game is a different experience every time I play. I also love the social side of it. Ganging up on one player and having a team victory is so satisfying, even if you are the one player that lost.
A newer game that I can’t stop playing is Escape: The Curse of the Temple (Ostby, 2012). I like that it’s a quick setup, 10 minutes of chaos, and then it’s over. We’ll always play two games in a row and be completely tired and beat up at the end of those games that we need to put the game away and move on to something else. What I love about this is that it’s cooperative and everybody is basically equal. There is no leader, or dictating player, yet everyone must work together to succeed.
BG: Do you have a “go-to” game mechanic? What is it? Or what are some of your favorite mechanics?
JT: I’m kind of all over the place, and I usually start with whatever feels right, or whatever the situation calls for. For Pixel Lincoln, I went with deck-building because 1) it fit in with the gathering of items in video games, and 2) a new mechanic was a great contrast to a retro throwback.
I also constantly try to use dice in a new and clever way, and it’s really tough. I’m constantly pulling out dice, and then putting them back away just as quickly.
BG: In your opinion, what is the most important skill for a game designer to have?
JT: Game designers need to be jacks of all trades. They need to be super creative, logical and in most cases, mathematic. Then they need to be an artist and graphic designer. With prototyping there is a big hands-on stage where any carpentry or assembly skills come into play. And then it’s time to market your game, so you need to be a writer, blogger, editor, proofreader, and promoter. And if you are pitching your game to publishers, you need to be a salesman. If you go to conventions, you need to be a good teacher and speaker. It’s a lot to take on. Now, you could just design and sell your games and not have to do all of the rest, but I think it’ll take a few years of all of it before you even get to that point.
BG: Is there anyone who has been a big inspiration or help to you in your game design endeavors? If not, why do you like to design games?
JT: The design community in general is extremely inspiring. If I had to pick one person who inspires me on a constant basis, it would be John Moller. John’s Unpub events are an inspiration to take your design to the next level, to focused playtests with other designers and gamers.
BG: How important to you is collaboration in the game design process?
JT: Very important. The level of collaboration depends on the project. If it’s a collaborative design from the start, it’s felt the entire way through. Bouncing things off of another designer with different strengths is a great start. But even if you design a game alone, collaboration comes into play once you start playtesting or get closer to publication. I used to be very closed-minded and thought that my ideas were final, but once I met other creative people who point out weaknesses and suggest improvements, that method was thrown right out the door. It’s eye-opening, and very important when making the best game possible.
BG: Could you describe a time in one of your games when a playtester’s feedback convinced you to “throw a method out of the door?” How did you arrive at the conclusion that this feedback was correct?
JT: We had a few high level playtests of Pixel Lincoln at Origins and the playtesters wanted the side-scrolling mechanic to better emulate the side-scrolling in a video game. At the time, new cards were revealed each turn to simulate movement, but they wanted to see actual movement. I woke up at 6am the next day (after playing games until 3AM) to start testing it on my own, and then a few of us got back together for another session. The difference really made the game click. It was the final modification before review copies went out, and made a big difference in the overall feel of the game.
Mock card artwork for Pixel Lincoln
I knew the feedback was correct because it was something that I wanted to do the whole time, and I resisted. I thought that moving tokens or cards around each turn would be a little fiddly and for that reason I kept avoiding it. But it really turned out to be the opposite. Whichever player reaches the end of the level resets the cards, and it doesn’t happen every turn. Plus the movement of the character exactly emulates a side-scroller, and that is what I was going for. I just got lost in the thoughts of fiddlyness, and needed somebody to snap me out of it.
BG: Anything else you would like to highlight about your projects? Any links/pictures you would like to share?
JT: Buttonshy.com is my cardboard home away from home. I’m posting news and info about my games there as well as convention and event recaps. I’m kind of in a rare “in-between” project mode right now, so hover around Button Shy or twitter (@JTagmire) for all of the updates.
BG: Are there any ways that that the online community can assist you right now?
JT: Retweet this interview! Seriously, everyone has been very supportive over the past year, and just to continue that into 2013 would be amazing. I don’t like to ask anybody for help, but they sure like to give it.
BG: Thanks again to Jason Tagmire for speaking with us and sharing some great advice! Good luck with Pixel Lincoln sales and on whatever your next project may be! You can get the pre-order of Pixel Lincoln from Game Salute’s website.(source:bellwethergames)