Interview with Francesco Nepitello

em português

Left to right: Francesco Nepitello, Marco Maggi and Roberto Di Meglio

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Many thanks for the Age Conan review, Paulo! You got me barely before going to bed...

How did you come up with the idea to create “Age of Conan”?
Roberto Di Meglio, one of us three designers, is also the CEO of the company publishing most of my games. He is a big Conan fan, and was the one to propose the project.

Where do you get the ideas for your games? Do they start with the mechanics, or the themes?
Always theme first, when it is the time to invent new mechanics. In the case of Conan we knew since the beginning that we were going to use something from our War of the Ring game, though. So in a way, in this case you could say that some mechanics came first.

What kind of mechanics do you prefer to focus on the development process of your games?
Usually, we try to focus on the main mechanic, the one principle that will sustain all the rest. In the case of “Wotr” and “AoC”, it is the action dice system.
When did you realize that create games were your dream?
When me and Marco started to collaborate on creative projects. We found out very early that we shared a common passion for games.

Which level of luck is acceptable for you in a game?
As long as any element in a game doesn't distract me from enjoying the game, I'm fine. I am not a competitive player, I am all for the 'experience'.

How many games do you work on at one time? Are you working on several designs simultaneously, or do you work solely on one project?
At the moment, I am working on three games and an expansion to another game. I usually have only one major project going on, and several smaller ones.

Can you tell us anything about the project you are currently working on?
Unfortunately I cannot say much, as two games depend on a license, and I am not allowed to talk about it... Please ask me about it in three months from now!

Can you tell me any details?
Again, I cannot. But one game is probably the biggest project I ever started to work upon. Yes, even larger than War of the Ring! But it is a completely different genre of game...

How do you define yourself as a game designer?
I grew up playing war games, but when I started to work in games I was able to see at work (and even collaborate with) some of the best Euro designers around (Leo Colovini, Alex Randolph...). In ended up designing games that I love to play, regardless of type, school, or whatever classification games can be categorized into. Even if I am from Europe, I am certainly not a designer of Euro games, but I think I know their trade well enough that some of their philosophy shows sometimes in my designs.

Are you a lonely game designer or your family and friends participate in your adventure to create a new game?
I always work in tandem with Marco Maggi, and very often with Roberto Di Meglio. Then, a bunch of friends are regularly tapped for their opinions, and to help with the playtest.
The creation of a game, have several moments - creation, editing, testing and publishing - which is the most pleasant for you? Why?
Creation is a thrilling moment, and in games like mine it is usually a long process. Development is very exciting too, though, as very often ideas that seemed good at first are supplanted by better ones that you didn't suspect were there to be discovered. Playtesting a game, even when you are doing it yourself, is the most important moment, as it is when you see if the game is a real game, or simply the idea of a game that works only in your mind...

You play games time to time, or the games are part of your daily life?
I have a real office, now, full of the games I accumulated in years. There is always a game on the table, so I can say that playing games is part of my daily life. By the way, Monday morning is the day when we play new games, either to test designs by somebody else, or simply good new games that we bought. Tomorrow morning (Monday!) should be the turn of Conflict of Heroes!

How often do you play your own games after they've been published? Do you prefer playing your own games or the games of others?
It depends. War of the Ring for example will always be a fundamental of my gaming table. Age of Conan is also doing very good, as it can accommodate more players with better ease. But I try to play new games whenever possible, as I like variety.

Can you tell me the game you enjoy playing the most? Why?
As I said before, playing War of the Ring is an experience I rarely encountered with other games, so it's the game I play regularly the most often. But recently I played some very good ones: for example, Battlestar Galactica was great, and I love the 'storytelling' potential of every game of Last Night on Earth.

Can you tell me your favourite game? And your favourite type of game?
To pick up a favourite is almost impossible. But I should point out that I play also role-playing games, and since I spent the majority of my gaming life playing those, I should conclude that rpgs are my favourite type of game. And my favourite rpg ever is King Arthur Pendragon, hands down.
Do you prefer play the games or create them?
I love both activities. Playing games is usually more fun, though, as you have less responsibility.
Do you normally follow any particular game designer with especial attention?
No, I think I don't. I am always on the look out for good games, regardless of who designed them.

Do you have another job, or you are a full time game designer?
I am currently almost full time as a designer, and I own a toy shop together with Marco Maggi. He's doing most of the managing for the shop nowadays, and I manage the studio.And I recently became a father, something that makes you a part-time-everything!

Do you think that board games can be use for an education purpose?
Board games already have an educational purpose, without using them expressly for that. But I know what you mean, and the answer is yes. I designed a couple of games for museums and exhibitions for example.

How have your games changed over the last years? What have you learned to do and not do when designing?
I streamlined a bit the design process - I think now I am more cost effective. But I don't think I succeed as much as I could, as I am still too dependent on my personal taste and pleasure.

What you think about the economic crisis? It will affect the games sales?
It is already affecting the production of games, so I think it will certainly affect sales. Producers will have to think about how to make less expensive games, or start producing smaller games.

What you know about Portugal?
It is difficult to summarize such a concept! If you meant what I know about Portugal and games, I know the guys from Devir Portugal, as they have been often our partners in production. And I have a good friend called Pedro Lisboa, a true scholar of games, and his girlfirend, Joana. I promised to come visit them in Lisbon, and I will, sooner or later! I will bring along some games...

Have you ever visited Portugal?
No, but as I said, I will soon make amends...

Thank you very much for your interview.
Thank you, Paulo! It's been a pleasure. And now, off to bed!

Francesco Nepitello Board Games:

Age of Conan: The Strategy Board Game - 2009
4X4 - 2000
Flying - 2001
Goal - 2000
The Golden Compass Movie - 2007
Hector and - 2003
Marvel Heroes - 2006
Micro Mutants - 2007
Star Wars: Das letzte Gefecht - 2008
Star Wars: Galaktische Schlachten - 2008
UFO - 2002
War of the Ring - 2004
War of the Ring - Battles of the Third Age - 2006
X-Bugs - 2001

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