I started a public Facebook group yesterday, Breaking Games Backstage. It’s been a fun time setting it up, and we’re off to a great start with lots of chat. I got the idea from Luke Laurie, who helps run the Manhattan Project Games Facebook group with James Mathe.

I love this industry because ideas are shared freely and advice, collaboration, and inspiration – particularly in designer circles – is the default.

On the Breaking Games Facebook group, I asked our designers to share about their projects, and Jeff Johnston (designer of MoonQuake Escape!) told a story about one of my favorite parts of the game making process – when someone finds your game and really enjoys it, and appreciates you for sharing it with them. Jeff wrote:

On the last day, with my energy flagging but realizing that for many people this is their first and only day so trying to keep up the pace, a couple returns to the booth. They’d been given one of Gamewright’s Sneaky Cards (a game concept I LOVE!) that said “Give this card to someone who made you smile.” They wanted me to have it. Nice moment, and then I was able to pass it along later that day.
Jeff Johnston Game Designer

MoonQuake Escape!

Jeff said, and I agree, “just a small moment, but exactly why I’m in this hobby and I love it so much.”

Now I am inspired. Not just by Jeff, and moments like this, but by also by these Sneaky Cards (awesome idea Gamewright!). So from a forum to a designer to a blog post, here is my idea for today, for all of us:

Gamemaker Play it Forward: Gamemakers!

  • Let’s hear a story about who inspired you in the game industry
  • Tell us how someone helped you with a design, illustration, development or publishing question.
  • Comment if you have a story to share about a game maker who made you a better game maker!

We’ll make it a new Play it Forward Sneaky Card variant in the red category, connect.

After you share your awesome story about a mentor or friend in this process, let’s tell them about it, shouting it out here and on social media. Perhaps they will also mention a gamemaker inspiration here on the blog, and we’ll see other connections beyond our own!

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Peter Vaughan

Game Developer at Breaking Games

Peter eats games for breakfast! Founder of First Play LA, Squirmy Beast and League of Gamemakers, and Director of Development for Breaking Games. First published designs include What the Food?! and Nightmare Cove, and development credits include Letter Tycoon, Boomtown Bandits, Sparkle*Kitty and Rise of Tribes.

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  1. John Shulters on April 29, 2016

    Great idea Peter. There are too many awesome people to list at this point! (and you know you’re one of them)
    But I’ll start by acknowledging Luke Laurie. He was one of the first designers we ever met at a con. He was outgoing, in his laid back kind of way. Very inclusive, very knowledgeable, a very gifted gamemaker and also a little intimidating because of it. (Also, he had a shirt with a logo on it, so he must be ‘somebody’!).
    I wasn’t very good at Luke’s games, but I tried…and he helped show me the value in giving back as much as you take. Playing other peoples’ games, giving insight and encouragement when and where you can, and most of all being a kind person. And testing, testing, and more testing to make your stuff as good as it possibly can be.
    He’s been a role model for me personally as we build our presence in the community and in our efforts to contribute to the growth of that community. I’ve stolen more than a few ideas from Luke about how to operate in this industry, and I’m happy to count him among my friends and peers. His success helps motivate me. Heck, now we even have shirts with logos on them! 🙂

  2. Michael Domeny on April 29, 2016

    It was a whirlwind introduction into the industry for me–I feel like I’m still getting my bearings. But a few foundational figures have really made it a joy. Peter, I feel like I went from Kickstarter backer to friend very quickly, and by no merit of my own, just by your cheery support and desire to include others in your visions. Shari from AdMagic, with her overwhelming generosity and genuine desire to bolster creators–I know she gives more than she receives, and her putting-others-first mentality is one major reason why Breaking Games is booming. JR Honeycutt could probably be on everyone’s list. He loves connecting people to people, and almost everyone I know in the industry I met because of JR. Randy Hoyt has given me a glimpse deeper into the developer and publisher world. It’s there that I see how his attention for detail and a high standard of output amidst a low-stress outlook make for highly successful product. Good folks in the game world. Pleasure to know you.

  3. Tom Jolly on April 29, 2016

    The list is endless. Early on, pre-Wiz-War, the late Jeff Halsey Smith who contributed a lot to the design of the game. Then, when the first and second editions were around, Perrin D. Tong (of Starbattles: Mainline) and Jeff Siadek (of Battlestations) who allowed me to share their con tables with them as a walk-in at conventions. Very cool of them. Don Reents of Berkeley Games (at the time, which he subsequently sold) for picking up Wiz-War. Peter Olotka, Jack Kittredge and Bill Eberle, and Bill Norton, who designed Cosmic Encounters, which had so much effect on my design decisions, along with Gygax, of course. And thanks to Chris Petersen who took a chance with DiskWars and Drakon about 17 years ago. And to Luke Laurie, who somehow gave me the impression that I might be able to design a WP game, or at least help with it. Yeah…there are a ton of people I’m leaving out.

  4. Philip duBarry on April 29, 2016

    The guy that really got me inspired was Jackson Pope of the late Reiver Games. One of the first games he published was It’s Alive!, which we constructed by hand. I believe he made 300 copies. I still have mine numbered copy. This is the guy who convinced me that it was possible (normal?) to make a game by hand and just sell it to people. This strategy avoided the rookie mistake of getting stuck with a garage full of games. The downside is painting all those cubes and gluing all that cardboard. But the experience was valuable and led to a call from Steve Jackson Games. I’ve lost track of Jackson in the last few years, but he’s a big reason why I now have a . . . garage full of games. But in a good way.

  5. Frank Liu on April 29, 2016

    As a rookie designer, I have to say, there wasn’t a person who inspire me to create new works. Actually, it was the hobby that gave me so many good ideas. So I think if I have to find someone to say ‘thank you.’ It will be a problem to me because I have to find each author, editor, graphic designer and artist individually. So I think the people that I should thank for is everyone in this hobby.

  6. Andy Ashcraft on April 30, 2016

    This is terrific! Also, Happy Table-Top Day! I’ll be spending the day running a D&D game that has been on-going since 2004 – the longest-running campaign I’ve ever been involved in.

    I have to give a shout-out to the guys I found playing D&D in the school library, who then let me join in. They were running Tomb of Horrors, which is such a brutally hard dungeon, I’m surprised at how thoroughly I was hooked! But it was all because of one moment: there is a room in that dungeon with a demon chained to a wall, and it’s one of the bigger illustrations in the booklet. We fought and killed the demon, and then searched the room. There was nothing to be found. However, I remembered that there was an urn in the drawing and asked to look inside the urn. The GM let me find a silver sword! Later, I read the module, and the urn is not mentioned at all in the booklet – it’s just a nice visual touch the artist added. However, for ME, searching the urn and finding the silver sword was the thing that hooked me to a hobby that I have loved ever since.

  7. JR Honeycutt on April 30, 2016

    Boyan Radakovich and Luke Peterschmidt were the first people who challenged me to try to design games, and it led to this whole amazing world of making things with people I love. Brad Talton gave me my first job in the industry, and let me be around for the making of some of my favorite games. Andrew Christopher Enriquez is my partner in making DFW Nerd Night all it can be, so of course he’s been an incredible inspiration as we’ve helped so many people find communities and make theirs stronger. Rob Daviau plucked me from obscurity and asked me to work on one of the coolest games I’ve ever played in my life. Dirk Knemeyer lets me work on games that he holds as closely as you might a newborn baby. All of these people are amazing. Doug Levandowski came on my show one time and now I can’t stand the sight of his face on my screen (because it just means we’re not hanging out in person <3). Shari Spiro published my first game and Peter has helped push it to heights I didn't expect. All of these people are amazing. Ryan Bruns is the happiest guy in gaming, and always puts a smile on my face when we time to hang out. Larry Roznai has supported our Nerd Night efforts since before anybody knew who we were, just because he liked the cut of our gib. Marcelo Figueroa and Jessica Blair literally picked me up by the scruff of my neck and brought me into the tabletop world when I knew absolutely nobody. Without them none of the other stuff would have ever happened. I could seriously write about this forever.

  8. Jackson Pope on April 30, 2016

    Thanks Philip! Too kind. My inspirations were many, from the designers of Mighty Empires (a game of which made me think I could do better!) to Christian T. Petersen of FFG whose Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition got me thinking about the possibilities. Along the way I met many excellent game designers, publishers, shop owners, distributors, playtesters and gamers. Far too many to mention. But special shout outs to The Ragnar Brothers, Surprised Stare Games, Paul at Games Lore, Paul at BoardGameGuru, Dean from Ludorum Games, Mad Peter from Geode Games, Phil at Spirit Games, Steve at Travelling Man York, all at Inner Sanctum Collectibles and Stefan at LudoFACT.

    It was a great experience running Reiver Games, from hand making 100 Border Reivers and 300 It’s Alive! up to manufacturing games in their thousands and attending Essen and the UK Games Expo.

    Like an idiot, I’ve started hand-making games again, having just sold out of Zombology which is now on Drive Thru Cards. I’m a glutton for punishment!



  9. Luke Laurie on May 2, 2016

    I have been very lucky to have had some chance encounters and supportive interactions with people in the industry.

    I’d like to give thanks to Tom Jolly for being my mentor. From very early on, he taught me a lot about the do’s and don’ts of being a designer, and has become a great collaborator.

    I thank Peter Vaughan for reaching out to me and others to form this League, which has been incredibly fruitful for all involved.

    I thank Seth Jaffee for taking a serious look at two of my games, even though they were ultimately rejected by TMG, they’re still on their way to publication.

    I thank Jeff and Nathan Cornelius for publishing Stones of Fate, my first game.

    I thank James Mathe for all of his resources, for running the publisher speed dating events, and for publishing The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire!

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