Game Designer Interview with Calvin Keeney

Game Designer Interview with Calvin Keeney

I wanted to take the time to interview myself so you can have a better understanding of my game making experiences. Enjoy!

About

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1. Name – Calvin Keeney

2. Where are you from? – Central Texas

3. When did you start playing games? – I have enjoyed playing games my entire life with family and friends. The first games I remember playing are Don’t Break the Ice and Chutes and Ladders. Though the first game I “mastered” was Monopoly when I was about 7 years old.

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What is Your First Game to Create?

1. What is the name of the first game you created? – “Memaws’ Monsters”. A game based off of my grandmas’ (Memaw) stories.

The first prototype I made was a deck building, tower defense game. My family and I had just returned from Gencon (2012?) and were just introduced to deck building games there.  So I wanted to make one with a genre I loved from pc and mobile games: tower defense.

2. When was the first time you remember wanting to create a game of your own? – 2007. I started playing tcgs (trading card games) competitively when I was in college. This is what made me want to actually publish a game of my own. I wanted to make something just as fun as the games I loved.

Up until this point, most of my game design had been mixing 2 or 3 games I liked together and making up my own rules. The creative process of taking several already made games and making a new game with my own set of rules was very fun for me. Actually, it still is. You should try it!

3. What steps did you take in planning your game? – I spent several days thinking of how the game would play out. But once the gameplay made some sense in my head, the first prototype was thrown together rather quick (within about 2 hours). The plan was to see how close my idea played out in real life compared to how it played in my head.

Though I should also mention that after I made my initial prototype of notecards and proxies, I did some quick playtesting myself (an additional hour).  Nothing too in depth, but I wanted to run through the game real quick and see if there were any major issues before presenting it to my playtesters.

4. Was it difficult finding playtesters? How did you find them? – It was rather difficult. I pestered my brothers to play and they did, thankfully. Though finding playtesters outside of my close friends and family was pretty difficult. I was surprised how unappealing a game looks to potential playtesters without proper artwork/icons.

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Interesting Questions

1. What are several things you wish you did differently when creating your first game? – I don’t really regret anything I have tried. And I don’t know I would do it differently.  But I do wish I had someone that could have taught me how to use NanDeck before I wasted a hundred hours trying to find the best solution.  NanDeck is also a lot more user friendly now than it once was and is well worth learning.

Some established game designers I have talked to use Adobe InDesign for similar affect. I use NanDeck because it’s free and that is what Greg taught me! Oh, and because it was made specifically for game designers.

2. Why did you set out to create your first game? – I simply loved game design.  The mental challenge and problem solving is very exciting to me.  Also, honoring Memaw and her stories were reasons I wanted to publish a game.

3. What is your least favorite part of game design? – Initially, prototyping was my least favorite.  I mean, I liked laying out the cards and making them look cool, but it took forever until I finally learned NanDeck.

Since I have learned how to use NanDeck, I would say that finding playtesters is my least favorite aspect of game design. My family and friends usually play and I enjoy that, but finding others is difficult/time consuming.

4. What is your favorite aspect of game design? – Thinking of new and fun ideas for games (Planning phase) and sharing my ideas with my family and friends (playtesting). It truly is awesome when one of my ideas works so well that people ask ME to play the game (as opposed to me asking THEM constantly).

5. How long did it take you to create your first game?

Note Card Board Game CardI would say it took about 20 hours from thinking of the idea to getting my first working prototype. The first prototype being made of notecards and proxies.

“Memaws’ Monsters” went through many updates however.  So I think the tower defense version ended up taking over 100 hours. During this time I was constantly looking for and learning new ways to efficiently create a prototype.  One that was easy to update and efficient.  The notecards and pen method took too long and just looked plain bad.

6. Additional Comments – I’ve never published a single game in my 25 years of game design. While I have done an extensive amount of research and interviewing others on publishing and promoting, I’ve never published a game of my own before. I think that I have had 2 games in my life (out of about 15) that were “publishable” by my standards.  But haven’t taken that leap of faith myself yet.

“Are you published?” – Everyone

I have been serious about wanting to publish a game on and off for 9 years now.

In that time, I have been mastering the first 3 (of 5) phases of game design. Though I honestly find them the most entertaining.

I’m sure others are different, but I have always loved the challenge of creating new games that I can share with my family and friends.

Maybe one day I will jump into the vast ocean that is the publishing world. As for now, I continue to plan out my own masterpieces and enjoy them with the ones I love.

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Do have questions for Calvin? Ask him in the comments below!

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