Shannon Kelly gets on board the Game Designer train. Though he is half Canuk half Aussie I think we will give him a warm welcome as a full Ozzie for the day! Besides – Canadians are the Australian’s of North America.
Tell us who you are and what you have designed?
My name is Shannon Kelly. I am a 27 year old, Canadian-born, half Australian working as an editor. My brother and I have been designing computer games since we were four and five respectively, and I have been making board games since I was ten.
My first game (circa 2000) was called Mission to MIR, a board game where about astronauts who go to the international space station to combat a deadly virus that turned players into aliens. Players moved around the board and answered space-based questions to progress. Don’t ask to play though – the idea of “balance” in a game hadn’t quite occurred to me by then!)
Let’s face it Shannon – balance is a myth in a lot of games 😀
What is it that makes you want to design games?
Tabletop games really bring people together. Of all entertainment media, I think they are the most social and the most fun. I’ve always loved games, and part of the reason I want to design games is that I want to bring that perfect game to people. One of those games that people pull out whenever they get together.
I’ve also always been a very creative person. So I guess the other reason I want to design games is because I want to turn those random ideas into reality instead of leaving them in my head!
If you leave all those ideas in your head I am sure it will cause some kind of madness – let them out!
What are the games that inspire you most?
My favourite games are the most immersive ones and the ones with just enough constraints to keep you on track. For instance, Netrunner might not convince you that you are hacking into corporate HQs, but the adrenaline rush you get from the bluffing game draws you into the world of the game just the same.
For RPGs, systems like World of Darkness are so flexible that they allow you to do practically anything, but there is a defined rule for what you are trying to do.
I really need to get my hands on a copy of Android Netrunner is what you are saying?
What makes Australian games different from others?
I think Australians are really innovative. In practically everything Australians lead the way on inventiveness, and games are no different. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because of the heat. Or the Australia tax, combined with shipping times! So I think Australian games are willing to try things that haven’t been done before.
Or maybe all games are willing to try that, but Australians are more willing to give games like that a fair go. Either way, it’s a really cool scene to be a part of.
We are awesome aren’t we…
Where can we get your games from?
Tempest: Shards of the Gods is coming out via crowdfunding (Kickstarter) on 22 January 2016. If you’re interested in playtesting, you can send me an email (email@example.com). I will also be at CanCon 2016 to show it off! It should ship in July 2016, after which you will be able to get it from www.foxtalegames.com.
And as for the old ones like Mission to MIR? The one copy is sitting somewhere in storage at my house. But trust me, you wouldn’t want to play it!
Just by telling me I do not want to play it makes it the holy grail – you know that yeah?
Are you working on anything at the moment?
A strategic deck-building card game called Tempest: Shards of the Gods. It is based on history and ancient myth, and asks players to ration limited resources to build their deck and also hold their opponent off. Players either win by destroying their opponent, or by using clever card combos to retell ancient mythical sagas within the game.
The game has been a real learning experience (throwing me straight into the deep end of game design), but the concept itself has been kicking around in one form or another for ten years. In the last year, I have rewritten the rules, organised playtesting, and commissioned tens of pieces of art for it.
Sounds cool. I hope it does well.
Anything else you would like to mention?
Crowdfunding. That has completely changed the creative industry in recent years. Seriously, how many fantastic games have been launched when they would never have gotten off the ground under traditional publishing arrangements? It’s an amazing time to be a designer right now. (And a consumer, for that matter, because – let’s face it – designers consume heaps of games too!)
Crowd funding has certainly changed the traditional models of game design (and more). There has been a lot of awesome stuff come out – but also a lot of stuff that sounded great but ended up a straight to the shelf in the cellar/basement kind of stuff too. I find myself quite lucky in that regard BUT I also tend to stick to safe bets most of the time.
Shannon certainly seems to have the drive to succeed and I hope to see that card game on my counter top in the longer run. We had a new sign on for the designers in the past 24 hours so still a couple of days to go 🙂 Keep rolling!