In this fine episode, Jonny and I talk about area control game problems, the wide, wide world of auction games, flow state and how to run a board game development business. Plus pudding.

DTD: It’s the delayed gratification thing. T’zolkin, all of the… The marshmallow games. [laughs] The later you play it, the better it works. And that’s a really cool mechanism that only a few games are doing.

I am, of course, referring to the famous 1972 marshmallow test. The essence of it is, the longer you wait, the better the payoff.

JPC: Yeah, I’d be happy to see that explored more.

DTD: With a line of cards, that’s pretty cool. There’s a couple, like Concordia has a card I think that’s you get money for how many other cards you’ve played before.

JPC: That’s the basic mechanism, right.

DTD: So that thing has been in there. But the generalization of that.

JPC: Yeah, because there’s some, like Mission: Red Planet, where you play through a series of cards, and there’s usually some card you play that does something and allows you to take back your hand.

DTD: And you tend to get a bigger bonus the more you’ve played. So, you don’t just chuck them back in every time.

JPC: Or it’s a waste of your time to play, recall, play, recall, so you need to try to go as far as you can and ration that out. I think that’s a cool mechanism. There’s an obscure German game called Kreta by the guy who did Valetta [Stefan Dorra]. It’s a big “penninsulary control” kind of game.

DTD: Crete?

JPC: [laughs] Yeah, and it’s all divided up into different areas with little nodes on it. And you have a bunch of territory control figures: so you have little ships that will control from the water; you have got little buildings that will control nexus points, that will influence everything next to it. You have little roaming dudes that will add influence to the interior of these things. But overall, you are trying to have influence on these spots, and score them as you go through a series of rounds. Each card you play allows you to move a particular type of unit: so you do this one, you can move your ships. And just like Concordia, it’s played; it’s in front of you. All these [cards] play out, and then there’s one card that you can lay down and it will score the board. That will score for everybody: global scoring happens. And everybody returns their cards to their hand after that happens. So, I might play out…

DTD: A little game of chicken of who’s going to do that [first].

JPC: And you bolster up the next thing. And the beauty of it … is the numbers on the board are all over the place. All these regions, I think there’s 20-something regions. There’s a queue saying we are going to score region 6 next. It’s random, it will have a face-up card, saying we are going to score 8, then the next is [region] 5, down. So, you always have a little bit of headlights, as to which region. So, you can go, “I’m going to let… I’m going to sweeten the pot for region 6, you’re going to play the score card. I’m looking at region 17, which is going to score next, and I’m going to get that [influence] in there.” But the neat thing is, the person who scores it gets to reveal the next [scoring] card down the queue, which is one [space] removed from the literal next one, and they get one mulligan – keep it or throw it. And so, you know the next one is going to be this one [scoring card], but the one after that they get their choice of. “Ooh this is good for me” or “No way, we’re not going to have that.”

DTD: I think I might have played other games that have these global scoring cards where you can decide, “Now’s when we score.”

JPC: San Marco kind of has something like that. Score a region or whatever, and it will score everybody in that region. It’s neat stuff, kind of … plays with that player agency to end the game. Is it player agency? When does it score? Or is it on track that every third round it scores.

DTD: I really like that. I think it was [Ryan] Lauket’s redo of his space game [Empires of the Void II], had a scoring like that. You could pick when it scored, and kind of drive the end.

JPC: That’s a neat thing. Some of those are neat, especially with those dudes-on-a-map or area control games, because you can just tip the majority just by a Sliver, and then try to freeze frame on it, before you know you’re going to get mopped right after.

DTD: Right, when’s the perfect time for me to do it? One of the new Arcane Wonders games is this military abstracted game, this card game Air, Land and Sea. And what’s neat about it, is you are setting up cards on three areas – air, land and sea.

Surprise, surprise.

DTD: And it’s the value of your cards versus the value of my cards. And you can bail, you can say, “I fold, I’m out. I lose”. And the earlier you do that… Like, if you fold and bail, the other player gets points. But the amount of points they get goes up the longer you wait to bail. So, if in the very beginning, I say I give up, then you may only get 1 point. But if I’ve built up and built up, and it’s like I am losing my butt on this, you will get 6 points if I bail too late.

JPC: It’s like anteing up.

DTD: And then it’s not worth it anymore. So that might be how much you win if I let it go to the end anyway. Because it’s a defined end, and number of cards. And you can play your cards face-up or face-down, and there’s some special abilities on cards that can move a card from pile to pile, or take a face-down and make it face-up. So, I can play a face-down to kind of scare you, or maybe it’s a terrible card and I just don’t want it played. You may call my bluff and flip it. And it may be a really devastating card that I now have, that lets me move something else. All this neat little interplay there.

JPC: And that’s a 2-player game right?

DTD: 2-player, small deck. It was fun.

JPC: So much of that stuff doesn’t work with multiplayer games, which is a shame. It’s just the way that stuff works. Because “who to shoot” in a 3-way duel is such a classic [Game Theory] problem.

DTD: It’s always two versus one. 3-person, big, huge, thematic Amerithrash games tend to fall flat. Because you get two people fighting each other, one wins, one is devastated, and the third person wins the whole game because they just go on.

JPC: Attrition. Yeah those are kind of those game problems that just go on and on and on in design.

DTD: There’s not an elegant solution.

JPC: At least not yet. Perhaps.

DTD: Root worked pretty good with that. Because there was an odd player that could basically march around and ally with whomever. “Oh, you seem to be winning, I’m your buddy now.”

JPC: I have a little territory control game I’ve been working on for a couple years. It’s on the shelf right now, because I haven’t been out pitching. But the idea was you were trying to put your dudes out on a map and control a region just by having simple majorities. And you can lay out tiles of your color, so if I am the red player, I can lay out some red tiles. And if neutral pieces are on red tiles, they become red effectively. So, I can put a bunch of neutral pieces on mine while I try to go conquest and put my actual red guys out on your [colored] thing to take it over. And what I did on purpose, is I limited how many units you have of your personal colors to very small, like 3 or 4 units.

DTD: So, you need to rely on those neutrals?

Go, Switzerland.

JPC: And the neutrals will act on your behalf only if they are on your [colored] thing. But for each one you put on your thing; it subtracts a point for what you would score on it. So, you might bolster your thing up, and when you score it’s zero, because you have got too many neutrals on there. So, you want to have as few neutrals on there as possible, while you run off and put your guys on somebody else’s [colored] thing. Which means everything looks sweet, and everything is moving around. The game never ends up with “This is owned. This is turtled.” It’s just this shifting, shifting, shifting. And then you actually have to choose, as one of your actions, to score the board. And you do that thing where you snapshot [the game state] right now, score it like this, while I’ve got one guy defending my spot, and I’ve just tipped over here on your spot, and you score it. And the next thing you know it’s a s–tshow and everything moves around again.

DTD: Looking for that perfect moment.

JPC: Yeah, and I think for a territory control game, I think it’s good. I just don’t know who’s looking to sign those right now. It’s a little tricky.

DTD: There was a glut of them, and now they’re not as hot. Now it’s the little elegant card game, and things like that.

JPC: Drafting is in.

DTD: I’m tired of card drafting. I’m ready for card drafting to lay low for a little bit. Dice selection is hot.

JPC: Action drafting and all that. Some of that stuff that Engelstein was talking about in his book was interesting, how the 2000s, what I think of as the first wave of euro games to get here with Rio Grande and Mayfair and all. Auctions and territory control and stuff like that was very in vogue and doable. So, you would get all these great games that had an auction core mechanism to them. It would take repeated plays to have a proper valuation of what something was worth. So, if you play Ra for the first time, you will probably get stomped by somebody who sees the synergies of what something is worth, and when to pay big money and when to pay little money. And one foolish bid can put you in such a tailspin in an auction game that you will never recover from that, overpaying [for] that one thing to somebody who’s savvy with their process. And so, in that sense, it gets into that whole thing: are bidding games friendly to first time players? Probably not, because you get in there and go, “I don’t know how much is this worth. I thought I put in an OK bid.”

History Lesson! Mayfair games was founded in 1981, and in 1996 became the US distributor for Settlers of Catan, bringing euro games to the US for the first time. Rio Grande Games, led by Jay Tummelson, saw potential. Now Mayfair was bringing in games from Germany, but Rio Grande went one step further, and began co-publishing English versions, including Carcassonne and Puerto Rico. In 2016, Mayfair sold the rights to Catan to the newly formed Catan Studio, a subsidiary of Asmodee. In February 2018, Mayfair also sold the rest of its assets to Asmodee. Rio Grande is still going strong.

DTD: But I think that’s changed. QE I think is friendly to first time players.

JPC: Oh sure, absolutely. I think that’s great actually. I’m glad that game exists.

DTD: And I think, interestingly, Medici is pretty good to first time players. Because Medici is such an all-in bidding game. You bid with points to get points. It’s like the purest auction game.

JPC: Yeah, I think Medici is good.

DTD: And the Medici Card game, I’ve had really good luck with new players.

JPC: And stuff like For Sale is fun.

DTD: For Sale is usually on the list for best beginner games.

JPC: Yeah, it’s right there. Nice auction games. There’s stuff like that, then there’s other ones where it’s integrated into a larger system. Or TMG’s Homesteaders, which was one of their first big games [back] then. You’re auctioning off the building tiles and you can pay stupid amounts of money for a tile, and that will handicap you if you overpay for something. And you can just sit back and wait for next time and get something as good for a little bit less and be more resourceful. And that game has a debt system, you can go negative money-wise and then lose points for that.

DTD: One of the games I played recently had an auction system where one person would start the auction, and if they didn’t win, they just got to start another auction. And each player who won an auction dropped out.

JPC: Colosseum does that.

DTD: Colosseum does that. No, this was a more recent one. [Raccoon Tycoon] Seemed to really balance out that auction mechanism. Because if you start an auction, and you just decide not to bid, you’re probably going to get the last one for free. Yeah, that was a neat way to meter it out. I’ve never been a huge fan of the auctions that go around multiple times.

JPC: The ones that keep raising.

DTD: Unrestricted crazy auctioning turns me off more often than not. But some restriction, like once around, or “if I don’t win it, I get to try again.” You know, something that reigns it in has always worked for me.

JPC: I think the game Modern Art is really cool, just to teach players about those different types of auctions, because it has all the typical ones in it. You get the one where everyone just goes in a screaming match; one of them is the first person to meet the value you declare, and you are really playing to the person to your left at that point, because if they accept it, nobody else will get a chance. So, do I want this person to take it? How much do I think they will pay for it?

Knizia! Knizia! Knizia! I dont think I can do a segment without some Reiner love.

DTD: And if you have a one time around auction, you really get into the power play of position. The start player who starts the auction is at a very disadvantaged point.

JPC: Either you can pay out the nose for it, and in some of them if somebody buys something, you pay the person. 

DTD: And the last person gets that golden decision of do I want it or not, I can pay just one buck more.

JPC: It’s one of those games where you don’t necessarily want to win your own auctions. Like The Estates. You don’t want to win your own auctions in those games. You want to sell everything, and you want to sell it big. And you want to buy cheap. That stuff is cool, though. I feel like the drafting and stuff, it’s the evaluation of what is this card worth. Well, it’s worth 5 [money] and it’s worth this [many points], and it gets you this. You don’t have to go, “Well, what would you pay for it? Would you pay 17? Well, maybe. Well would you pay 18?” That’s a more complicated question.

DTD: And it’s always that balance of known information and unknown information. Like if that card works very well for me, but works very terrible for you, then I know you’re probably not going to throw a lot of money just to keep me from getting it.

JPC: Yeah, and that’s where board state needs to be fairly transparent. Because, you know if somebody doesn’t understand the value that they ask from somebody, you get this whole thing about “hate drafting”. And ultimately is it worth somebody doing the favor of taking that thing out of the gene pool, even though it’s worthless, [to] cull this. We just can’t let him have the linchpin thing. That’s OK in my book as long as that is clear. Wherein something like The Estates, where everything is up front and center; You know what people want. You want this to finish or else you’re going to end up paying through the nose. That’s the kind of game where you say, “I’m going to make you pay everything you have for this, even though I don’t want it, and that’s just the way it is.” Or you stick somebody with the chore – and be like, “I’m not paying for it. You have to keep it away from them.”

DTD: I’m not the last player here, so I don’t have to.

JPC: It’s your job.

DTD: I don’t have to outrun the bear. That’s fun dynamics.

I just have to outrun you.

JPC: And that stuff is great if there’s that transparency. And the understanding of that.

DTD: Have you played Sidereal Confluence? I haven’t played it, but it’s kind of the next step in pure auction. The game has almost no rules. It’s… you are all aliens, and you all have a resource that is useless to you, and everyone else has mechanisms to convert: blue cube to red cube, red cube to green cube, stuff like that. So, they need yours, but yours on your board is useless. So, you need to bargain with other players to get what you need, in order to get cubes you need, in order to win. And it is free-form, Pit-style without the bell.

At this moment, I experienced a terrifying flashback of a family gathering, everybody holding cards in my face, screaming. And a bell incessantly ringing, ringing, ringing.

JPC: Oh wow, just straight up negotiation.

DTD: Straight up negotiation.

And horror. So much horror. And ringing.

JPC: That would be kind of cool. I mean, Chinatown is kind of on that level, but this sounds like it’s even more.

DTD: This is even more freeform. I’ve talked to lots of people who’ve played it, and they all love it. Especially if you are a social kind of gamer. It’s just such a neat idea, that I start with absolute garbage resources, and I am the only source of this garbage that you need. And vice versa.

JPC: Right. And every time I give one to you, it is separating us by this much. I wonder about the, if somebody was able to calculate all the differences. If I give this to you, you can get that, even though I need this

DTD: And there’s a lot of cubes. It’s just cube pushing.

JPC: Sure, sure. Because that’s the thing with Container. I’m not smart enough to play Container, because I hear about these amazing experiences. To me, it’s like, “I make this thing I can’t use, and I can’t hold it. And I’m going to sell it for this much, and you buy it, but then it appears in your space. But then I pick it up, but then I bring it, and I sell it to you.”

DTD: Cooper Island had a really cool… Did you see that one?

I know, I talk about this game quite a bit. But I really like it. At least I don’t bring it up as often as Masters of the Renaissance, which I also love.

JPC: Yeah, I saw you guys had it on the table, and you were kind of showing me the elevation of the cubes.

DTD: Yeah, it’s got really neat ideas, in that you are putting tile on tile on tile, making it higher and higher. Tiles generate cubes, and the height of the cube is the value of the cube. So, if it’s a wood on a wood on a wood, and you put a cube, that cube is worth 3 wood, and you can spend it right off the board as 3 wood. But to put a new tile on, you have to get rid of the cube. To get rid of the cube, you have to put it in your storage area, and everything in your storage area is worth one. And your storage area has a limited space. What’s even meaner is your storage area, it has a limited space, and if you have to put something in it, you’re not allowed to discard from your storage area. So, you have to convert, and there’s these nasty conversions, like 4 to 1. Turn 4 cubes into anything else, and you are forced to do that to make room.

JPC: So that reminds me a little of the storage in Masters of the Renaissance. Where managing your storage in that was very similar.


DTD: That’s what I was thinking about. And managing your storage, maybe that’s the next cool thing.  [laughs] “Storage Management”. It sounds really boring, which is probably why no one talks about it.

JPC: Housing your cubes.

DTD: We are going to have a new game about filing. It’s just about storage management.

Alphabetizing – the Card Game! I think its an evergreen.

JPC: Some of that stuff, it’s surprising where the joy can come in from organizing a little thing like that. Fine line.

DTD: At one point I had to do emergency medicine, and it’s this awkward mix of nothing happening for a long time, and then absolutely everything happening at once. And switching between is ridiculous. It wasn’t a bad day if nothing happened all day, and it wasn’t a bad day if it was crazy all day. But that mix would kill you.

JPC: That’s the strange thing. And I think it has to do with that psychology of flow.

DTD: Oh yeah, flow state.

JPC: You can get in the flow of customer service, and you can get in the flow of filing stuff in a dark basement. You can. And some of these other things…

DTD: And the interruptions will bring you out of your flow state.

JPC: People even say you can tell you are in a flow state, because if you get interrupted, you feel it. You don’t like it.

DTD: There’s a really cool lecture that John Cleese did about how to be creative and how to force creativity. And strategies for achieving and maintaining a flow state. And it’s really intelligently presented.

JPC: A lot of that, they talk about needs a certain idle period, or almost boredom, and then you start to engage in it. And it’s kind of like falling asleep or something. Sometimes it’s hard to go from a high stimulating something or other, and then find yourself immediately in a creative environment.

DTD: I’ve always thought there’s a certain degree of “cooking” involved. Like, when I would learn something or study or even learn a new game, there would often be an intense period of taking it all in, then it was technically in, but none of it works. So, you need a dull period for everything to “cook”. And then, you’d move on to actually being functional with it afterwards.

JPC: The clincher is I think you need to not know when the party ends. It ends when you’re done. There’s that different rest you feel if you rest until you wake up. Instead of being woken up by something. And then there’s that endpoint, going, “OK, got the supplies, got the vibe going. I don’t need to check off at 5 o’clock. In fact, I don’t need to know when 5 o’clock is or isn’t. This is open ended”, and if you feel like you’re satisfied and ready to stop, or need a break, you can take a break when you need to. But if you feel like forgetting you’re hungry, and you feel like just going as far as you want to go, that’s a great thing. Where if you say, “OK, I’ve got 2 hours”, and you go do some development on such and such a game, and I’ll clock in here, and I’ll do this for my client. And OK, this game has been developed. I don’t think it works that way.

DTD: How does one clock that? It’s very bizarre. And that would be like game development or game design. How does one clock 4 hours of game design? Do you say, “No, I can’t think about that anymore, I’m not on the clock?” [laughs]

JPC: Because I’m new to this, and when I was first doing some contract work, I needed to establish, obviously, I’m not going to have a time-card and check in. No one is going to observe me doing this [work] in a lot of cases.

DTD: No, but you need to prove to yourself, and possibly to others, when you are working on it and when you are not.

JPC: And when do I bill for it, and how much do I bill for it? And I looked at it like I play a music gig. There’s a lot of things musicians complain about that don’t involve actually playing the music. And finally, you get there and play the music which you practiced your whole life to do. And that’s what the venue is paying for. They say, “We want someone to play this music.” They don’t say, “We want someone to set up a PA and drive 5 hours.” – They don’t care about that. If you just magically showed up and your stuff was set up and you started to play the music, that’s what they are putting their money towards. And you need to know in the back end: I am charging you X amount because I know I need to compensate myself for gas and time, setup and basic equipment. You bake that into part of the equation, but you can’t charge that to everybody. Because you buy an amp or something for a few hundred dollars, well you don’t charge that to one particular gig. I kind of told them [the publishers], “I want to charge for when I’m playing music, if that makes sense. So, don’t worry about [it], I’m not going to charge for when I’m tuning up, plugging in cables, and doing stuff like that, and getting there. So, when I’m on the clock is actually when I’m in the flow state, I’m doing something, I’m moving assets around, I’m making decisions and taking notes, and things that will fundamentally change this game. And not be sitting there doing something else – watching an update on my computer while I’m thinking. That doesn’t really count.”

DTD: Thinking about it.

JPC: Then the other time is, well, if I have to actually cut out a prototype, I don’t really consider that skilled labor. It takes freaking forever. So, at that point, I charge half hours. And I’ll tell them, “Well, I cut out a prototype for 4 hours. I’m going to charge for like 2 hours.” Because I’m just listening to music, and just chopping stuff.

DTD: It almost seems like something that lends itself to pay per product. This is the fee for me to develop this game, rather than for the time. But then, you are definitely going to run into some that need more work, and some that need less work.

JPC: How do you scale that? Some developers do it by that, and they will give an estimate, and they will have this window, and if it’s… That’s kind of their guarantee, and if it goes beyond that and needs additional work, you renegotiate for further time. And…

DTD: It gets fishy.

I have been looking so hard for an excuse to put in Vicious Fishes.

JPC: It gets fishy. Because you might over-quote, and say “Oh, I need this much time”, but ultimately you…

DTD: Especially in the beginning, you are… At least me, in the beginning I would always be worried that they are going to think I am fleecing them.

JPC: [laughing] Yeah! I know developers that work in different regards, and sometimes I think things are ethical, and sometimes I don’t. I’ve seen a couple guys, no names, that do what they say, they say they’ve got “deliverables”. And they go down the list, and they say, “I told you in contract that I would deliver this prototype, as doing this, this, this and this, as said, and play tested this many times. Here you go, and here’s my fee for it.” And the company says, “We can’t use this. We can’t publish this. In fact, now we are 3 months behind schedule, and we have to hire somebody else.” And they said…

DTD: “I did exactly…”

JPC: “I did what I said on the check list”, and by contract they bake in that they get an extended period to continue their service, to give a second and third attempt at this, which is eating up obviously, time and effort.

DTD: And that’s rough, because that gives incentive for you to not finish, because then you get your extended period. You always worry about conflicts of interest in your own contract. That’s a hard deal.

JPC: Yeah, yeah, it’s a really strange one. Because I also read a book, and I like the term “Skin in the Game”. And I feel like when peoples’ incentives align, and they all have skin in the game, maybe it’s a slightly different utility, but ultimately it hinges on the same success. If the publisher needs this Kickstarter to go well to make their games, make more games, be a publisher, and if I, the designer, need the Kickstarter to go well to continue to be a designer to do all these things, we are converging on the same goal, even though our shares in it may be different. Where I’ve been resentful if, sometimes there’s a freelancer working [hourly] on a project of something that I’m working on for royalties. And I’m going, “I get paid nothing unless this is good. And if this is really trash, it’s not even going to come out. So, ask me good, and the faster and better I can make this thing is my best return”, and the freelancer just goes, “The more hours I can spend on this, the more money I make.”

DTD: The money incentive is not to finish it.

JPC: “And I don’t care if it’s done. And I don’t care what it is, as long as my name’s on it, and I get paid what I’ve been paid.” And you’ll even feel that in meetings, where it’s like a Skype call, and I’m going down a list of things I want to get done, and be ready to go, and work on this. And they go, “What if we rebuilt the whole thing?” And want to extend it and extend it, add stuff.

DTD: I’ve seen that conflict between pay per job and pay per hour.

JPC: So, that’s one where it’s like, when I was working with Bellwether, which I still am, I was talking with Dennis [Hoyle]. I said, “Hey, I just want to know, how many freelancers do you hire to do what you do? Do you write your own rulebooks? Do you hire a freelancer to do that? Who does the graphic design? Do you hire somebody for that? Are you going to hire another developer, and if so, who?” And I think he was kind of taken back, like why is this designer asking me so many questions? But my experience, I have had some really bad times with interns, hired hands, and people who don’t have “skin in the game”, have caused me a lot of emotional distress and put marks on things I have worked on, that I am resentful for. Going forward, Dennis is like “I do the graphic design in house. I write the rulebooks myself. I use this one artist on Freshwater Fly and this and this.”

DTD: Freshwater Fly was amazing.

JPC: “He’s my guy, and I like working with him, and I think he’s going to do a great job on this. I do one game a year.” And to me it’s like a company that says that is also saying if this doesn’t go right, my company taps us. Like, you need to hand me a good game and I need to make it good. And that same kind of thing, like we are in this together. I need to give you a good game and you need to make it good.

DTD: There’s so much stuff going on right now, it’s… reputation is so big in such a vocal, small pool.

JPC: It is. Honestly, I have been working on one game a little bit, I’ve been developing one a lot, and then there’s one I touch bases with. And I don’t think it’s a game I can help a lot. I don’t have a strong vision for it, it’s gone through a re-theme and some things. And I’ve been on this with the publisher: “Look, I’m not going to bill you for any hours. I’m going to tell you what I think of this game. You can send it to me, I’ll tell you, you can take or leave the advice. We will discuss it amongst all the other things we are working on, but I don’t feel good about charging for this time, because I don’t have a clear vision of what will make this better. In fact, the things I’m suggesting to you might upset the designer. It might not be within the scope of what the intention of the product is, for the right demographic. I just don’t “get” this product very well. And I think I need to recognize that, and I apologize, and be like, “Can you reassign me predominantly to this other thing, which I feel I have a vision for, and do this…” So, they kind of moved me around a little bit, and going forward they’ve been really cool, they’ve been like, “OK, we saw how that went.” Usually I’m not like this, but it also comes down to the whole thing of “don’t agree to work on something until I really investigate it to see what it is”, because it was pitched to me as a “this game meets this game” mash-up. And I like this game, and I like both the games they are talking about a lot, so I was like, “Dude, I’m your man!” But it wasn’t the elements of those two games I particularly understood, it was other parts of those games. I was like, “Oh no. I actually don’t know how to make this in a compelling way. It’s a different type of thing [altogether].”

DTD: It’s tough, because you want to charge for the work you do.

JPC: Developing has been an interesting gig and I think it’s a slippery one, because even on forms, people say, “What exactly does a developer do?” And you get these people jumping on semantics, saying, “a developer does this, this, this… And they do that, and they make the game this.” And it sounds great, but different projects need a certain amount of work. And even talking about it, sometimes you need to wear a designer hat and actually throw spaghetti at the wall in development, which is weird. Like if you are doing a re-theme, and you don’t know what it’s going to be re-themed as, and the author doesn’t care, a lot of spaghetti gets thrown at the wall. Because this game could be this, or that. What would this system be if it was this thing? It doesn’t make any sense.

DTD: Try it out.

JPC: And that’s a very different one than going, “This game is done but the math is wrong. And you just need to go in there and move numbers around. And take data from playtests and come up with it. And hey, we need to nerf this card, buff this card and do that.” And effectively leave it the same. Well, both of those are developer jobs, but they’re very different jobs from each other. I’d like to be able to do both, but some people are better at one than the other.

DTD: You are expert witness and bouncing board.

Jonny, a much stronger man than I, makes another run to the buffet. Not only am I baffled at his endurance, I’m not sure I could even become vertical at this point. I am hallucinating won tons.

JPC: How are we doing on time?

DTD: We are doing fine. Oooh, what did you find?

JPC: There’s some pudding and won tons, and things. There’s some Jell-o up there.

Suddenly, I am not quite as full as I had anticipated. Surely, going back for more food at a buffet could not be a poor life decision.

DTD: Pudding sounds good.

JPC: It is good.

DTD: No, I’ve got no time restrictions at all. It was a mistake, I looked at the recorder. It says we’ve been going for 4 and a half hours.

JPC: Oh boy.

DTD: So, there’s going to be some editing. [laughs]

Ed.- Oh, there was some editing.

JPC: Probably have 30 minutes of content in there.

JPC: Corey… Is… Greatest… Guy… Ever…


DTD: No, there’s a lot of good stuff in there. I like talking shop, I like talking games. Because I think you’ve played more games than me, and I don’t run into a lot of people who I say that about.

JPC: Maybe. Tom Vasel.

DTD: He’s played a lot, and a lot of times he can come up with a name right off the top of his head. But I can usually keep up with him. Alright, the important question – Cooked pudding or instant?

JPC: Instant. Hint of powder, which I like.

Philistine. This man obviously has no taste. Cooked pudding is vastly superior. But I have to remain polite. I am a professional journalist.

DTD: I think this is [instant]. But what’s your favorite though?

JPC: Not picky.

DTD: As a kid, cooked pudding almost never happened. But it was like the most exciting event in the universe. And eating it hot and having that skin. That all is still very, very exciting to me.

JPC: Yeah, that’s the real deal. This is just a trough of whatev. But the cookies are good.

Next time Jonny and I talk about some of our favorite Grail Games, dredge up pre-pandemic memories from Germany, and just spew endlessly about games from our favorite designers.