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Dashboard Forums Ask Me Anything Jamey Stegmaier from Stonemaier Games (Feb 10)

  • Jamey Stegmaier from Stonemaier Games (Feb 10)

  • Gabe Barrett

    Administrator
    February 2, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    Jamey Stegmaier, founder of Stonemaier Games and designer of games such as Scythe, Viticulture, and Tapestry, joins us this week. Hit reply to ask him anything! (Jamey will respond to your questions on Feb. 10th.)

    • This discussion was modified 5 months ago by  Gabe Barrett.
  • Gabe Barrett

    Administrator
    February 2, 2022 at 2:30 pm

    How does it feel to be the most downloaded guest in BGDL podcast history? 😁

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:18 am

      I’m honored to hear that, especially given how many amazing guests you’ve featured on the podcast! Thanks for being such a great interviewer, Gabe.

  • Devon Mettlin

    Member
    February 2, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    Hey there Jamey! I’ve been extremely curious to learn all about your Brand Ambassador Program with Stonemaier Games. This is something that I definitely want to learn more about, as I want to attempt to implement this for other Indie developers and publishing houses.

    With the Brand Ambassador Program, did you come up with this idea completely on your own, or did you look at other groups and companies and adapt and implement their program, but in your own way? What was the inspiration behind this? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:21 am

      Thanks! Our Stonemaier Ambassador program originated back in 2012 or 2013, sometime soon after I realized during the original Viticulture Kickstarter campaign that there were people who wanted to volunteer their time and talent. I’m always looking to other publishers for inspiration, so it’s quite possible that was the case here, but I can’t remember a specific inspiration.

  • Nick Chamberlain

    Member
    February 2, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    When you have a lot of game ideas in development that look like they have a lot of potential, how do you know which one you should give priority to to move to the next step?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:23 am

      It’s an organic process, not necessarily one where I’m picking one game to prioritize over another. That is, some games just move faster through the design or development process, and so they end up moving up the chart faster. Though we have many schedules to work around (artists, graphic designer, etc) that can result in projects moving faster or slower.

  • Johan Falk

    Member
    February 3, 2022 at 1:50 am

    Do you think that board games in 10–20 years will have made any significant leaps compared to today’s board games? Will people in 2040 think of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Power Grid and Puerto Rico like we think of Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:24 am

      In terms of how well-known and well-played those games are, I hope so!

  • Johan Falk

    Member
    February 3, 2022 at 1:51 am

    Are board games and board gaming important? Why?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:27 am

      I think anything is important if it brings joy to people. There are many ways to answer this question, so I’ll just focus on one: I think tabletop games are incredibly helpful for introverts like me to have enjoyable social interactions with people.

  • Rob Seib

    Member
    February 5, 2022 at 11:42 am

    Hi Jamey,
    I know you have been hoping to finish developing an open world game.

    How do you make time to design games, develop them, and run your company (in addition to all the other things I’m sure you have going on)?

    Thanks!

    Rob

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:30 am

      That’s a keen observation, as I think sometimes people think that 90% of my job is game design, while 90% is really about doing all the other things I handle at Stonemaier Games! 🙂 Something that’s been helpful for me in recent years is that after dinner every night, I try to have around 2 hours of game design time, and any other work can wait until the next day (I take the opposite approach during the 10 hours of work I do during the business day–that’s when I prioritize business stuff).

  • John Wright

    Member
    February 7, 2022 at 10:01 am

    If you were to start your game company today, what are the 3 most important things you’d do to give yourself the best chance of success? Also, what’s the fastest way to grow an audience for a new venture?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:33 am

      I understand the question, though the first thing I would do is not limit myself to 3 things. 🙂 However, if I needed to prioritize a few things, I would start to build an audience right away by openly talking about what I’m working on in a way that adds value to other people (and give people a way to subscribe while doing so), I would continually research what other publishers, designers, and crowdfunders are doing, and I would find a business partner (having my friend Alan join me early on was critical, especially for playtesting).

  • Ian Reid

    Member
    February 7, 2022 at 11:13 am

    Jamey, Gabe, thank you for so generously contributing to the board game community and openly sharing your experiences. I think many like myself are very grateful for the wealth of experiences and resources you are putting out there.

    My question: Much like writers, board game designers start with either a core idea, a narrative, a mechanic, a theme, and expand this kernel into something much bigger. Eventually, if all goes well, a fully functional board game.

    How do you deal with “board game design block” beyond the inception point? In my case, I’m thinking of a case where there is a well-developped idea, perhaps components of a prototype, but you find yourself slowed by an overwhelming crowd of parts?
    Assuming you are not Gabe or Jamey with a very large captive audience and community, but rather a covid-isolated amateur BG designer. Many thanks!

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by  Ian Reid.
    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:34 am

      That’s currently happening with a design I’m working on, and it happened with Charterstone too. The way I’ve tried to overcome it is to make a little bit of progress every day, even if it’s as little as designing 1 card.

  • Seth Jaffee

    Member
    February 7, 2022 at 11:30 am

    Jamey, you’ve talked a lot about publishing games, running kickstarters, interacting with fans, etc… but not as much about the actual design process you use. I’d love to hear more about the thought process in general behind the design and development of your games, the way you choose mechanisms for them, failed attempts at different aspects and how you turned those around into successes, etc.

    I guess that’s pretty open ended – I just like hearing how designers go about their craft 🙂

    In the interest of time, could you give 1 story of how a particular part of one of your games went from idea, through potential challenges and iterations, to a final mechanism that you were happy with?

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by  Seth Jaffee.
    • Jeremy Hansuvadha

      Member
      February 7, 2022 at 11:24 pm

      ^^^Seth’s question!

      I’d also love to know more about Jamey’s design process. Since I’m so familiar with the games in the SM catalog, it would be delightful to hear a story from one of the SM games about challenges overcome and/or previous iterations. I read all the Designer Diaries, but I feel like those are written with brevity in mind. I’d love some juicy details!

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:41 am

      Thanks Seth (and Jeremy)! The game I most recently worked on was Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest (I’m not the designer, but I was heavily involved in the development. One of the elements we wanted to “fix” from the original Libertalia was the tiebreaker system, which was originally built into the cards. In-game tiebreakers are a bit tricky, though, as they need to be instantly identifiable. I proposed a concept for a long reputation track where players could never share the same space (always leapfrogging over each other), and Paolo pointed out that we really only needed a 6-space track (for 6 players). It worked right away, and we later added to it by associating each round’s starting wealth per player based on their reputation level. Based on playtester feedback, we also added a reason not to go lower than the lowest reputation (and a reason to gain even more reputation when you have the most). We also debated whether reputation should give players a choice as to who breaks ties, but we decided to keep it entirely clear cut: Just as a higher-ranked character goes to the right of a lower-ranked character, a tied character from a player with higher reputation would go to the right. Last, with all those mechanisms in hand, we incorporated the concept of reputation as something to gain/lose into several of the character cards themselves.

  • Andrew Magus David Wargo

    Member
    February 7, 2022 at 12:50 pm

    How many designs do you work on concurrently? How long does it take you normally from concept to completed game ready for playtesting?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:42 am

      I like to work on 2 designs at a time, bouncing back and forth depending on what I’m the most excited about. I typically try to enter local playtesting within a month or two and blind playtesting within 3-4 months, though that really depends on the project.

  • Ben Morayta

    Member
    February 7, 2022 at 3:05 pm

    Hi, Jamey!
    I’m wondering – being as active as you are in your blog and many other forums where designers “hang out”, you probably come across many projects that look awesome.
    Do you ever (or did you, since now you probably have your plate full, and scheduled for the next 10 years) approach designers asking them to consider you as a publisher, if you see a game you like?
    Do you know if other publishers do?

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by  Ben Morayta.
    • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by  Ben Morayta.
    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:44 am

      Definitely, it’s happened a few times–among other reasons, I think it’s to a designer’s benefit to share that type of content. It’s how we discovered My Little Scythe and the early concepts for expansions like The Wind Gambit, The Rise of Fenris, and Arts & Architecture.

  • Dan Hull

    Member
    February 7, 2022 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Jamey!

    I’m working on a game design and it’s kind of stalled, but still seems like a good base for a game. How do I know if it’s time to try and find a collaborator, or if it’s time to shelve it?

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by  Dan Hull.
  • Jamie Sutanto

    Member
    February 7, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    With your very full schedule, I was wondering how you balance out all of your game design with spending time with your family? I’ve been looking at setting up a time block where I will intentionally spend time with family, so just wondering if you had anything similar, or any good approaches for setting up that balance.

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:46 am

      I have a small immediate family (just a girlfriend and 2 cats), so I can only answer from that perspective. I’m intentional about taking short breaks together for lunch every day and long breaks for dinner. We also play games together, typically at game nights, but also on the weekend. And we try to share other hobbies for the weekend too (like rock climbing and disc golf). I think it would be pretty difficult if we didn’t share those hobbies.

  • Fritz Paull

    Member
    February 7, 2022 at 3:32 pm

    Hello!

    Your bonus episode on BDGL giving Tips and Tricks on making a great rulebook is the #1 episode I keep going back to and have found useful to return to time and time again.

    Since that episode in 2017, have you picked up any additional tips and tricks on making great rulebooks? Are there any rulebook examples from other games that have totally blown your mind and changed the way you do rulebooks?

    Thanks!

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:49 am

      Thanks! I’ve actually been wanting to do a video on this, so I’ll have to go back and find that episode. Do you have a link handy? 🙂

      I can’t remember what I said then, but one thing that we recently started doing (with Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest) is that we made the rulebook much smaller (length x width) than previous rulebooks, as it means the rulebook can much more easily remain on the tabletop for easy reference. I learned this from Jack at The Cardboard Herald. I also really like what the recent Caper: Europe rulebook does in highlighting tips, tricks, and reminders in a bold banner at the bottom of every page.

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