Left to right: Francesco Nepitello, Marco Maggi and Roberto Di Meglio
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« Roberto Di Meglio »
Most of the games I created, or participated in creating, start from the theme. Looking at all my games (including a few unpublished one), I see that there are certain mechanics I like and that appear in most of my games...
What kind of mechanics do you prefer to focus on the development process of your games?
I see that there are two things I really like and try to include as much as possible. The first is that you have restricted choices, based on a random factor, so that you've to do your best in a given situation - this mechanic appears in two games as distant as RATTLESNAKE and WAR OF THE RING, of course in different ways.
The other thing I like is multi-functionality of game elements - the fact that you can have a multi-purpose card, or that a character like Conan may be useful in different ways to pursue your victory goals.
I think I share both of these tastes with Francesco and Marco, as many of their games has similar mechanics, and we get along quite easily when designing in a team.
When did you realize that create games were your dream?
I did not start in the game business by creating games, but I started to create games - as most designers do - when I was a kid, together with my brother, Ugo. The funny thing is that he wanted to be the game designer, at the time I wanted to be a scientist. Now he's a math professor, and I am doing games (he will also be doing games, in the end! He is co-authoring one of our upcoming games, BATTLES OF NAPOLEON),
Which level of luck is acceptable for you in a game?
As much as you can have, as long as the game still gives to the best player a chance to win most of the time. Lady Luck is a big part of our lives, I will leave her share in games, too. I don't want to anger her, you know :-)
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?
I never succeeded in working on more than two designs at the same time, and normally only one - I am not a full-time game designer and I can just do this in my spare time, which is not much.
Can you tell us anything about the project you are currently working on?
I am working on many project as a publisher - as a designer, however, I started to work with Francesco and Marco on Age of Conan expansions and the Conan miniature game. I am also working on a vampire hunt game, which is still very early in the process, though, and I don't know if it will ever be published!
Can you tell me any details about the game itself?
The Conan miniature game will have several interesting concepts - it will be a character, adventure-oriented board game, with a lot of scenarios related to Conan's stories. Everybody who wanted a larger role for Conan in Age of Conan should be quite happy! On the Age of Conan expansions, we've lots of ideas but we have to start to test them seriously. The vampire hunt game - if it becomes what I want - will be a semi-cooperative game with an investigative-deductive element.
How do you define yourself as a game designer?
I am at best a part-time designer. Hopefully not an amateur anymore, but far from being a full professional! I would like to do more, but I can't!
Are you a lonely game designer or your family and friends participate in your adventure to create a new game?
You need to involve people when designing games - the sooner the better!
Apart from my fellow co-designers, I also play games with my kids and a few friends of mine I've been gaming with for a long time. In the later states, many more testers become involved, but that only happens when a project gets into the production pipeline.
The creation of a game, have several moments - creation, editing, testing and publishing - which is the most pleasant for you? Why?
Definitely the creation, because it's the one I do less than the other ones! The rest is mostly "just work"... I also like to keep in touch with the production of the art and sculptures as much as I can, because it's where a game takes its physical shape. And of course, to see the game completely done!
You play games time to time, or the games are part of your daily life?
I don't have time to play games every day, but try to play as much as I can.
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?
I play them occasionally and more when I work on expansions of course. I like to play my games, if they are good! But I did not design so many that I can only play my games, and I don't think it would be wise to do so anyway...
Can you tell me the game you enjoy playing the most? Why?
This is a tricky question... ONE game only? Among my games, War of the Ring is my favorite.
Can you tell me your favourite game? And your favourite type of game?
Generally speaking, I like games with lots of interaction, strong theme, and enough possibilities for treachery, duplicity and backstabbing. If you can't have them because you have only two players, than a strong conflict may be suffice.
Do you prefer play the games or create them?
You know, you can't really put the two things apart, and separately they are very different experiences. It is like you were asking if it's better to have sex or be a father ;-)
Do you normally follow any particular game designer with especial attention?
I like Bruno Faidutti's games a lot, and CITADELS very much. I like Bruno's games enough that I wanted him as the first designer to be published in the Nexus Designer Series, with the upcoming AD ASTRA.
Do you have another job, or you are a full time game designer?
I work as a publisher, in the game industry. Game designing is just a very small portion of my daily job, which involves a lot of less creative work than that!
Do you think that board games can be use for an education purpose?
Definitely. But it's more likely they succeed in doing so when games do not try to educate. A game may educate only if it's fun. A boring game is not played, so it's not going to be educational. Unfortunately, most of the time if your focus is being educational, you end up designing a boring game.
How have your games changed over the last years? What have you learned to do and not do when designing?
I have not published so many designs to see a development process yet, to be honest.
What you think about the economic crisis? It will affect the games sales?
It will for sure affect the way the gaming industry is organized. However I don't see people playing less, and I think board games are a very good category in a time of crisis, as they give a very good number of entertainment hours for their cost.
What you know about Portugal?
Very little unfortunately, except what I learned at school and the stories told by my mother, who lived in Lisbon for several months when she was young - but that was many years ago, in the '50s, so I am sure a lot of things have changed.
Have you ever visited Portugal?
Thank you very much for your interview.
Roberto Di Meglio Board Games:
Age of Conan: The Strategy Board Game - 2009
D3 Time Warriors - 1996
Marvel Heroes - 2006
RattleSnake - 2007
War of the Ring - 2004
War of the Ring - Battles of the Third Age - 2006