Interview with a designer: Jordan Goddard

In a brand new feature for this blog, I was lucky enough to interview Jordan Goddard, designer of the soon-to-ship successful Kickstarter project, Collapse.

I recently reviewed Collapse, and thoroughly enjoyed it, so sit back and enjoy a Q&A with the man himself.

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What is your background, and how did you get into board games?

Mandy and I have both played games our entire lives. It is an important part of our relationship and a real source of joy for the both of us. We decided to get into game design because we both have fairly stressful jobs and we wanted a creative outlet that we could do together when we get home from work.

How long was Collapse in development for? Give us an idea of the process the game went through to arrive at the final version.

Collapse is the first game that we have taken from concept to production and publication, but it is far from the first game we have designed. In fact we have developed tons of games that we just didn’t feel were good enough to bring to market.

Since it was our first major effort, Collapse took longer that it probably should have to develop. All in all it was 11 months from brainstorming till placing the order with our manufacturer.

Any highlights? (Or moments that made you think, ‘I give up!’?)

There were tons of highlights… But there are two that jump out at me.

Firstly I loved working with our illustrator and shaping the graphical aesthetic of the game. I had to learn how to speak in visual terms and it was a real challenge, but once we learned how to communicate with one another, it was very fulfilling.

The other major highlight was the first time we saw someone play testing the print-n-play on youtube… It is soo cool to see other people enjoying something that you have put so much hard work into… I specifically remember how excited I was that they set up the play area the way I wanted them too… I mean you put these things in the rules, but you never know if people are going to really get what you were trying to explain until you see it… I know that is weird, but that was really cool to me!

As far as moments when I wanted to give up… Not really. But I do remember one moment where I was sure we would never get done. I kinda lost it on Mandy one night when she found like 10 major revisions in the rules after we were sure that they were ready for print… Stuff like that can be really disheartening.

What made you choose the end-of-the-world / survival theme that you went with for Collapse?

So this is actually a funny story… First I should explain that Mandy and I are not Preppers, nor do we necessarily feel like the world is really in all that bad of shape…

Collapse is actually the product of a conversation with a buddy of mine James who is VERY MUCH a prepper.

One day James was telling me about all the things that he had gathered and stored in his house and I stopped him mid-sentence… “Doesn’t prepping kind of remind you of a deck builder?” I asked… “If you make a deck building game about prepping… I will be your first customer” he said…. So I thought it must be a pretty good idea, so I got to work…

As a side note I should say… He still hasn’t bought a copy. I think he expects me to give him one for free since he inspired the whole thing… I guess I will probably have to do that since I probably would have never come up with it without him.

What has your experience of using Kickstarter been?

Great! The Kickstarter community is beyond fantastic. They are tremendously supportive, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the level of participation and partnership we have received from all of our Kickstarter backers.

Any advice for people looking to get into game design?

I would share two things. Firstly. Give your self permission to design a terrible game. It is exceedingly likely that your first several designs are going to be pretty terrible… Don’t sweat it, just keep plugging away until you have something that you want to share with the world.

Secondly. Stop thinking that someone is going to steal your idea. So many good games never see the light of day because people are so tied up in keeping them secret for fear that someone will rip them off.

Share your design early and often. Get feedback from forums and playtesters. I can almost guarantee that none of these people are going to steal your idea, and if they try… You will have a community of people that will help you defend your intellectual property because they have been following along the whole time.

What are your favourite games, and what do you enjoy most about them?

Which are my favorites? Or which am I good at?… Those are two very different questions… My favorite game right now is Caverna… I love Uwe Rossenburg and I am always inspired by his work. That being said, I am not very good at Caverna, Agricola, or Viticulture… Mandy beats me almost every time. I am much stronger at Economic Sims and math heavy games. I really like (and am fairly good at) Power Grid… But it is tough to get Mandy as excited about it.

To find out more about Collapse, visit the official site here.

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