Interview with Michael Schacht

em português

« dreamwithboardgames »
« Michael Schacht »

How did you come up with the idea to create “Valdora” and “Bürger, Baumeister & Co.”?
Well, with Valdora was the first idea the book and creating a game with quests. Because long time ago I liked role playing and so, I wanted to do sometimes something a little bit like this. Finally the game development went a different direction. So, now there is not a lot left of. The people like the book idea very much. Perhaps there will be the possibility to make another game with it.

Bürger, Baumeister & Co. was a remittance work. There is a 150 year old institution in my home town Frankfurt that asked me to create a game for the celebration. So, it plays in older Frankfurt and I tried to keep it as close as possible to historical correctness. I learned a lot about the place where I live :-) During the development Abacusspiele joined and supported me.

Where do you get the ideas for your games? Do they start with the mechanics, or the themes?
When I began developing games I mostly started with the theme. But now it is opposite. Nevertheless I try to get the final theme as early as possible into the process. Then it gets more organic and i also can have some nice influences resulting of the theme.

What kind of mechanics do you prefer to focus on the development process of your games?
I do different things. But for most of the games I like mechanics that are cross-linked - not only side by side. I prefer easy to understand things and work very much on making things easy without changing the game play.
When did you realize that create games were your dream?
Well I have a lot of dreams :-) Anyway designing games is a big one.
In the beginning it was more like experimenting - trial and error. I really started when I had my first releases. And after two or three years with just small ideas or so I got more courageously and felt more safe about what I was doing. I think that’s was the moment.

Which level of luck is acceptable for you in a game?
It depends on the size and the effort.
A small lucky game is absolutely fine for me.
But playing a game for two hours and then luck decides is totally frustrating. Nothing for me.

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?
Usually I work on several projects on the same time.
But rarely two big games.
In the last two years the number of parallel projects decreased. A lot of stuff around the designing like my website and support block some of the slots.

Can you tell us anything about the project you are currently working on? Can you tell us any details about the game itself?
Ok, Zooloretto is still a thing. The next weeks there will be made decisions on the next releases. There are very different possible things. A special two player game, a kid game, another expansion. And after the decision I will do the finish. I worked on Industria and made some nice changes and it seems that this one will be re-released. At the moment I’m testing a lot of stuff for Valdora and Goldene Stadt like 2 player variants, additional cards and workshops. These will be mainly released on my website as downloads soon. There are some small kid’s games I’m actually working on. And afterwards in June I will continue on a big boardgame I started two years ago but had to stop several times because of other projects. But for this one it is too early to talk about.
How often do you play test a board game before publication?
A lot! Most of the tests are simulation just with myself. That is best for the details and balancing. The general game play I test with different groups. Mostly I’m not part of it.
What game that you've designed took the longest and had the most changes?
Perhaps Valdora. Because when Zooloretto got the “Spiel des Jahres” price we had to delay the release two or three times. And after a year I had some new ideas and made a really big rework. So, the game exists in two quite different versions. And - fortunately - the second one is far better. That is very typically for me. My mindset concerning my developments changes over the years. And the same concept would lead to different games in different times.
How do you define yourself as a game designer?
10% inspiration and 90% brooding. But mostly fun!

Your family and friends participate in your adventure to create a new game?
Yes, my wife is also testing, the first critic and supports me on every fair. Very important to me.
The creation of a game, have several moments - creation, editing, testing and publishing - which is the most pleasant for you? Why?
I like the idea part. I’m very enthusiastic when I think I have a strong idea. But mostly some hours later the idea emerges as not good enough. But nevertheless always fun. The part behind until the very final prototype is the hardest one and costs the most power. But if I know the game will be finished I’m also very happy about that part of the work. Denials from the publishers can be very frustrating. So, if I get a contract offer I’m always very, very happy. It is good to know that the work leads to a happy end.
I also like the presentations very much.

You play games time to time, or the games are part of your daily life?
It is my daily life but I’m not playing every day with other people.

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?
In the first year a lot of times with friend on conventions and events. Then just a few times because play testing is more important. And with the testing sessions we also play the actual games from others. Always only testing would be boring for my testers. So, that’s the chance for me to play the other games.

Can you tell me the game you enjoy playing the most? Why?
Can you tell me your favourite game?

I have different favourite games depending on the situation. When having newbie’s on the table we play games like Cartagena, Würfelbingo (High Score) or Verflixxt!
All times favourites with experienced groups are games like Saint Petersburg, Kakerlakenpoker, Agricola. In holidays we usually have a bunch of two-player games. Even one or two from myself. The selection is caused simply by fun and enduring fun.
And your favourite type of game?

There is no specific kind of game I don’t like. My wife doesn’t like cooperative games. Below two hours length. I have a slightly preference for tile placement games.
Do you prefer play the games or create them?

That’s inseparable connected to me.
Do you think sales are a determining factor of whether a game is good or not?
Not only. Let’s have a look on games with a licensed theme like f. e. a specific tv series. Do they sell it well because of the tv series fans? Or is it because of the quality of the game? Sometimes it is just the name or the cover that makes the difference positively or negatively. But I don’t think that things that sell a lot can’t be good. This is a too elitist viewing for me.
Do you normally follow any particular game designer with especial attention?
A little bit. For a designer it is a point of interest. I like the style of some designers but not necessarily all their games. What I mean is that designers have a different point of view on the work of the others.
Do you think that board games can be use for an education purpose?

Sure. Why not.
How have your games changed over the last years? What have you learned to do and not do when designing?
I hope the quality of my designs rises. Besides creating new ideas I always try to improve my work. I always spent a lot of time in the development. Even if the game is complete. The last years I even invested more to activate the last 1 or 2 percent.
You can make a lot of faults but fortunately with some experience you can skip the most of them.
Do you have another job, or you are a full time game designer?

Before I was an art director in advertising. Now I’m just game designer. Some times I make the graphics for games.
What you think about the economic crisis? It will affect the games sales?
It will affect the games as well. Not that strong in the beginning because children are very important to their parents. So, saving money there will come later. But board games already have a hard time since some years.

What you know about Portugal? Have you ever visited Portugal?
I’ve never been there. A little bit about the history.
The sound of the language - I love 60s Bossa Nova.

Thank you very much for your interview.
Thank you for your interest.

ValdoraBürger, Baum. & Co
BoardGameGeek Michael Schacht

Rules: Valdora - Bürger, Baumeister & Co.

Sem comentários: