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Book of Villainy: A Game About Being a B-List Villain, So You Write a Book About it Instead

What got you started in game design?

A friend told me she wanted to make a board game, so I hypothetically asked myself what kind of game I would make if I could. It was really fun to think about, and next I wondered how hard it would be to actually try it out. I made my first prototype at work during my lunch break. I went down the street to the CVS, bought construction paper, then use my scissors and glue from the office to create the board. I carefully cradled it on the train ride home, and when I got home, I tried playing it. I figured out how things would move, and I asked the same friend, as well as our third to play it with me. That was my very first playtest. I never used that board again, and immediately iterated to the next. From there I dove into the rabbit hole of game design.

Which of your upcoming games did you design first and what inspired it?

I designed Book of Villainy first. Book of VIllainy was the first game I ever made, so my start in game design was also my start with this game. As for the theme, I chose villains because I wanted a game where all the players had to be up to no good. My friends always pinpoint me as the villain or traitor in games, because I naturally look mischievous, so I wanted a game where everyone had that role. Which game has been the easiest to work on? Mansplaining was the easiest to work on. It was my first co-design, and it was the design which happened the quickest. Mondo and I designed it through email over two weeks, then put it in TTS. Within 4 months of creating and playtesting it, we were able to get it signed with Breaking Games. It was definitely one of the games which intuitively unfolded and revealed its fun side immediately.

What spawns game design ideas? I think it's different for each person, but generally speaking, experiences spawn game ideas. Whether it's playing other games, reading fictional stories, listening to podcasts about other people's experiences- they're all inspirational.

What part of the game design process do you enjoy the most? The least? The part of game design I enjoy most is development and refinement. You're trying to find the game's core and streamline it for design elegance. That's fun to me because you can pull so many levers and get so many results, and when you finally hit jackpot it's the biggest dopamine rush. My least favorite part of design is when you have to connect your idea to reality. That moment where you thought of an amazing sloth worker placement game where you're trying to bathe all the baby sloths, but now you actually have to figure out mechanically what that looks like. It's so difficult to build a half-formed picture, but you also can't see and fill the holes in your design until you actually build it. It's a weird limbo that's easy to stay in for way longer than you need or want to. Do you generally come up with mechanics or theme first? It always changes. Usually I'm motivated by theme, but a lot of my games have also been challenge motivated. Wicked & Wise was born from the thought of how I would make a cooperative game I'd enjoy. My games made for my company also can be assigned based on theme/IP or certain components. I think I more so think about what makes the game fun (theme or mechanic) and I move forward from there, so the answer is always different.

What do you hope players get out of your games? I hope more than anything that I get new gamers out of my games. I want non gamers to pick up my games and be curious about trying another one. And I hope that gamers who play my games think they're great introductory games for their non gaming family and friends. What experiences in the community (conventions, playtests events, etc.) have you found most beneficial to your process? I think Unpub and Protospiels have been amazing resources, as well as Tabletop simulator and the plethora of online playtesting groups. BGG, Board Game Design Lab, and the gaming community on Twitter have been outstanding as well. Lastly the mentorships, scholarships, and sponsorships I have been a part of put me in places I never would have financially been able to go, and helped me meet people I possibly never would have without those programs.

How does collaborating on a design differ from working on it solo? The biggest thing I've found with collaborating is that you are being held accountable by another individual. You can't just keep things in your head, and you have to explain things before you may feel ready, because you're not used to answering questions at certain stages of the process. Communication is everything, and when you have a solid partner, it takes so much burden off you to know that someone else is just as invested in the success of the game. You can depend on them to move things to the next step when you might not be able to, or to help you cover more ground. That in itself is an amazing feeling. The other thing is, when you sign a co-design, keep in mind that your royalties will be split rather than the percentage you may have researched for solo designs. I got really lucky with my first co-designer, but I've heard horror stories. Make sure to pick your partner carefully.

What's one thing you wish you'd known going into the process that you'd like to share with new designers? You can make a career out of game design. It's not easy, and the opportunities are limited, but you can be in the game design industry professionally and still support yourself. There are more routes than starting your own publishing company. Find people doing what you're interested in and see if they can give 15 to 30 minutes of their time to answer questions about their experiences. You can do it!


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