Hey readers! I find myself wondering if I will ever get over the fact that I have gotten to connect with some amazing thinkers and designers in the tabletop game community… I don’t think so. This time I got to ask some questions from a member of the team bringing us Sunset Over Water – Eduardo Baraf! This team is coming off a success with their game Herbaceous, and Eduardo is definitely a strong presence in the design community, so you can imagine my surprise at the chance to ask a few questions from him.
Chris Michelotti: I don’t normally jump straight into the campaign side of a game to start things off, but for this Kickstarter you are trying to shorten your campaign pretty significantly. You released a video that talked about this being one of the things you are most excited for on this particular campaign… what are your expectations with this decision that excites you so much?
Eduardo Baraf: Excited might not be the right word, I may have used it. It is the most interesting/different thing about this campaign to the 6 previous games I’ve run on Kickstarter. It’s “exciting” because I’ve never done it before and it could be a huge risk (if we struggle to fund).
CM: So, how did Sunset Over Water come to be? Did you start with a mechanic that appealed to you? Was it just the theme?
EB: In some ways, the better question is “How did Herbaceous come to be?” Herbaceous started with Beth Sobel’s art – She was posting incredible herb images for a Reskin of Bonanza. I approached her to work together on an original title and then approached Steve Finn to do the Game design. Keith Matejka and Ben Shulman joined on soon there after. Herbaceous was a wonderful collaboration and we were all eager to make something new. Steve and I felt strongly that we wanted to start with Beth’s art again, so we asked her what she longed to draw. She brought up Landscapes, shared a concept piece, and Sunset Over Water came to be!
CM: So with Beth’s concept piece in hand how did it click for the team to make a game about journeying out into the wilderness to find the best sights to paint?
EB: Steve dove in and early on it became clear that we wanted the player to “move through” the wilderness. Once that was in place, it was a matter of finding the best sweet spot for the game’s complexity/fun.
CM: I noticed that this game was for 1-4 players, what was the process of transitioning Sunset Over Water to a one player game like?
EB: Solo play for both Herbaceous and Sunset Over Water was a unique process. In both cases, Steve has completed the solo design when Keith jumped into the design work. One of the reasons I think both games have such great and original feeling solo games is because they are inspired by the main game, but not simply trying to make automated players. They feel fresh, yet familiar.
CM: The art is beautiful, do you feel with the increasing market in tabletop games that the most successful games will focus on the art used?
EB: Perhaps. It really depends on what you consider success. Do you mean units sold? Critical acclaim? There is certainly a growing interest in diverse game themes with fantastic art.
CM: That is a very valid point, I guess for me it is less about units sold and more about the critical acclaim and the impact your creation has after it’s release. I guess the question I am actually asking is, judging from Herbaceous and now Sunset Over Water, you put a high value on art in your games. Do you find that art is the “make or break” for a fully funded project? Is there anything else in game design that belongs in that tier of importance?
EB: More than the “Art,” I aspire to make games that feel cohesive and intentional. I want all of it to feel and look as if it was lovingly crafted and of one vision. This is something I believe Pencil First Games has delivered across all of its games. I don’t think a game, by definition, needs incredible art (eye of the beholder anyway) – It just needs to look intentional.
CM: That is a solid word. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me, and I look forward to seeing the success of Sunset Over Water!
Readers, you can find the Kickstarter for Sunset Over Water HERE and decide if this game is for you! It is hard to find games with well established single player rules, so I am personally excited for that.
Intentionality. Eduardo said that he aspires to make games that are both cohesive and intentional. My friends and I get into a lot of discussions about the world today, and where we as a species are going. I think that this may be one of the key pieces missing in the lives of a lot of people – intentionality. Readers, how are you intentionally living your life? When someone looks at your life, will they see beauty? I hope so.