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

  • Jamey Stegmaier from Stonemaier Games (Feb 10)

     Jamey Stegmaier updated 6 months, 1 week ago 28 Members · 67 Posts
  • Conor Reed

    Member
    February 7, 2022 at 3:47 pm

    Has finding success in the board game industry changed how you approach new designs? What lessons have you taken from your most successful projects?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:51 am

      I’ve definitely learned a lot as a designer (I would hope!), though I wouldn’t say success itself has changed anything about how I approach designs. My goal is still to create joyful, memorable experiences for the tabletop. I do try to learn from the reception to our games (successful or otherwise), though it’s usually from something one of our games doesn’t do as well as I’d hoped it would do. Like, with Red Rising, I learned that clarity is more important than aesthetics for the metal tokens in the Collector’s Edition.

  • Allan Crossley

    Member
    February 7, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    How do you establish game complexity to reflect the target audience & are simpler games more fun?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:53 am

      In a way, I think you’ve answered the question: If you have a target audience, pick the complexity level that’s right for them (how hard is it to learn the game and retain the game, how broad is the decision space, etc). For me, the games I have the most fun with are those that are easy to start to play within a few minutes but offer a broad range of interesting decisions throughout the game.

  • Michael Mulherin

    Member
    February 7, 2022 at 7:29 pm

    Jamey –

    Where do you draw inspiration from, in any aspect of design. Such as theme, mechanisms (drawing from existing, or coming up with whole new ones). Or even inspiration for new components, like cards/events/tokens/chits/etc.

    How do you overcome designers block?

    Thanks!

    Michael

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:55 am

      It’s really all over the place. I get mechanical and component ideas from games I’m playing from other designers, and I get thematic ideas things I read and watch.

      If something about a game is stumping me, I (a) research other games that have a similar element that works well and (b) sometimes I set aside the game to work on something else for a while.

  • Brian Chandler

    Member
    February 7, 2022 at 8:00 pm

    Hi Jamey –

    You’ve been creating and publishing games for awhile now. What is something you’ve changed your mind about over the years – in any of your roles as a gamer, designer, developer, or publisher?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 10:57 am

      So many things! But I’ll pick a big one: I started Stonemaier Games as a Kickstarter game company. I think crowdfunding was crucial for us to get off the ground and grow. But I’m also really happy that we moved to a different system around 6 years ago, which has evolved into what we do now: We make something we believe in, and when it arrives at fulfillment centers, we announce it, reveal it, sell it, and ship it, all within a span of 30-45 days (followed by a retail release, which is also a much bigger focus for us now than it was in 2013 when Viticulture released).

  • Nicholas Bartlett

    Member
    February 8, 2022 at 11:20 am

    Which version and what modules are your recommended for Viticulture, which are still in print. Tuscany, essential, please tell us the recommended way to play, what is the most fun we can have, that we can still purchase?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 11:00 am

      Viticulture Essential Edition is the only edition of the game we’ve printed for the last 7 years, so definitely that one! šŸ™‚ If you play it and enjoy it, that’s when you can expand it to Tuscany Essential if you’d like, playing with the extended board and either/both of the structures or special workers modules (they’re all “essential,” so I recommend trying all of them to see which fit for you). If you want more workers, you can buy the Rhine Valley or Moor Visitors expansions.

  • Nicholas Bartlett

    Member
    February 8, 2022 at 11:23 am

    Next question, since no limit has been stated šŸ˜ˆ: which Stonemaire should I donate to my board game library in my board game cafe? We have RuneWars, so not worried on games that take a while to learn and play. This can be the game you want in front of more people, or the game you think represents your company the best. Could even be one you only published, like Wingspan. We currently have zero SM šŸ˜”

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 11:01 am

      That’s a little sad that your board game cafe hasn’t chosen to carry any of our games, but I appreciate you wanting to find one for them. I think Rolling Realms is the perfect choice for a game cafe. It’s easy to learn and teach, it’s fast, it scales well, and it gives people a little taste of all of our games.

  • Denis Giles

    Member
    February 8, 2022 at 8:10 pm

    When finding collaborators and designers to work with Stonemaier, is it sheer talent that draws you to them, or does personality and passion factor into wanting to work with them?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 11:02 am

      I think sheer talent is normally the initial draw, but after that it’s communication. Personality and passion play a smaller part.

  • Denis Giles

    Member
    February 8, 2022 at 8:12 pm

    When making the first prototype, are you currently more paper, scissors and markers, or more computer? Do you work out the math of various aspects before making tactile objects?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 11:03 am

      I use InDesign for prototypes, and I print and cut them. I do try to keep the math in mind throughout the design process, but I don’t agonize over it early on, as so much will change during the process.

  • Ken C

    Member
    February 9, 2022 at 10:07 am

    Although you have stopped using Kickstarter/crowdfunding, do you still recommend first-time self-publishers use the platform? If not, what would you recommend instead, and if so, what should we do to enable breaking away from crowdfunding later? Thanks!

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 11:05 am

      I think crowdfunding is still a crucial tool for self-publishers to use when starting out, especially given how much it helps you mitigate risk. I think maybe the biggest key to keep in mind is that the tone and foundation you set at the beginning will determine what type/size of an audience you have that may later enable you to break free from crowdfunding.

  • Carlos Vela

    Member
    February 9, 2022 at 11:12 am

    Hi Jamey,

    1) When developing a new game idea, do you design specifically with a niche of gamers in mind, or do you let the game find its own niche naturally?

    2) Also, I love the iconography used in tapestry, it’s so intuitive and clear. At what stage in the game design do you start thinking of iconography? Is it at an early stage so the icons influence in some way your design process? Or is it at a later stage where the game mechanics, systems, and rules are already defined?


    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 11:07 am

      There’s a big image in your post that I can’t see for some reason, but I can see your question. šŸ™‚ (1) I let the game evolve organically for a while before I decide who it might be for. (2) I think about iconography as soon as I start building the prototype, but I’m not an artist or graphic designer, so the real decisions there come later. I’m moreso thinking about creating an intuitive user interface as I design the prototype.

  • Daniel Muntean

    Member
    February 9, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    I’m working on a an euro game, and the most difficult challenge for me is balancing all buildings and abilities. Not only between themselves, but also between other goals and bonuses. Do you have a process for balancing a game properly, between all of its components?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 11:09 am

      My process mostly amounts to lots of playtesting–there’s a math side to it, but if playtesters *feel* that a building is overpowered because of another goal or bonus in the game, that feeling matters, and I try to adjust accordingly.

  • John Caravella

    Member
    February 9, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    Hey Jamey,Really appreciate all the effort you put into helping and growing the tabletop community. You have created tons of great material which has a boon to myself and many others.
    My question is, looking at the industry now how would you try to break in? If you had all your knowledge, but not the name recognition what path would you take?
    Thanks again!

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 11:09 am

      Thanks, John, though I feel like I still have so much to learn about this industry! Interesting question, though. My other creative passion is writing, so it would probably be focused on that.

  • Grant Kerwood

    Member
    February 9, 2022 at 8:17 pm

    Hey Jamey, Thanks for doing this. you have been a big inspiration to me as I have been chasing game design.

    I am working on my Viticulture, I hope to build a self publishing company as you have done. what is your advice for anyone following a similar path as you did? Specifically, how do you balance making quality games, compared to getting your feet wet especially when just getting started?

    how much do you recommend Investing into your first game financially? What should those finances go towards?

    I have a friend who we enjoy designing games together. What have you learned by partnering with Alan? To what degree is a partnership a business relationship compared to a friendship? Do you have any advise for how to incorporate a partner when first starting out? Any pitfalls I should avoid?

    How did you come up with the name Stonemaier Games?

    Thank you for your time Jamey. I understand you are a busy man, but I hope to get an opportunity to meet you, and maybe even work with you someday!

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by  Grant Kerwood. Reason: refined question
    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 11:15 am

      Thanks Grant! When I was getting started, I think it helped that I had a lot of time (after my day job) to focus on game design. That was the key: Time. It also really helped to find a playtest partner in Alan (my eventual business partner).

      I recommend keeping investments to a minimum until you know you’re building something that people actually want. I’d put money towards anything that can make your game as fun and functional as possible, that help you build and retain your audience (i.e., a blog and e-newsletter), and then your most crucial expenses are art and graphic design (not necessarily ALL of it, just enough to show people what the game will look like.

      With Alan I definitely learned how important it was to have someone I could rely on for playtesting and game design discussions without feeling guilty about wasting someone’s time. I have an article about partnership that I’d recommend, but the biggest thing is that I’d recommend working with someone for a while (and taking on various responsibilities) to see what each person actually does and enjoys doing. That’ll save you a lot of trouble later on. The name Stonemaier Games comes from Alan’s last name (Stone) and mine (Stegmaier).

      • Grant Kerwood

        Member
        February 10, 2022 at 11:20 am

        Thank you for you input and the care you put into each of these responses.

        I hope all goes well for you in your upcoming projects!

  • Kathrine McMillan

    Member
    February 10, 2022 at 3:28 am

    Hi Jamey, really love getting your games to the table. Iā€™m currently designing my own game, actually a couple on the go. How did you go about balancing them?

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 11:16 am

      Thanks Kathrine! Most balance I’ve found with my games is based on lots and lots of playtesting, both local and blind, gathering both quantitative and anecdotal data.

  • Devon Mettlin

    Member
    February 10, 2022 at 8:20 am

    Jonathan Weaver asks….
    “How do you play SO MANY games and run a publishing company, design games and create content? Or basically, can you admit that you, Jamey, are in fact a robot?”

    • Jamey Stegmaier

      Member
      February 10, 2022 at 11:17 am

      I wish I were a robot! Then I wouldn’t need to sleep. šŸ™‚ I’m just intentional about the time I use to play games, and I think that helps. Part of it is that playing games is a small part of my job: They’re helpful for me as a designer and for my YouTube channel.

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