It was great getting the opportunity to ask a few questions of and get to know Henry Audubon the designer of Space Park, which you may recall I loved the art direction and simplicity of.
Chris Michelotti: So first congrats again on the successful Kickstarter, is this the first game you have ever designed to be funded?
Henry Audubon: This is my first board game that will be out in the world. Like many game designers, most of my games don’t see the light of day, so it’s great to have one make it over the finish line. Lots to look forward to!
CM: Why Space Parks? How did the theme form in your mind?
HA: Originally the game was called Pirateland and it was about visiting a pirate theme park. When we started developing the game we drifted away from pirates and towards retrofuturistic science fiction. You can learn a lot from how the past viewed the future, especially since they got so much of it wrong! But the optimism of the artwork is endearing. We wanted to channel that optimism into a game about being an explorer at a time when it’s possible to enjoy the galaxy, not merely survive it.
CM: I love that, so when designing games, do you find yourself developing the theme first and figuring out mechanics to support it? Or do you find yourself really liking various mechanics and then developing themes to utilize them?
HA: That’s an age-old debate: theme vs. mechanics. I try to stay flexible and start with an idea that I’m excited about, no matter what it is. I think good ideas are rare, so I try not to let them go to waste.
CM: When did you know you wanted to create games?
HA: I’ve wanted to make games for as long as I can remember, so there isn’t a single moment I can point to, but getting serious about game design has been a gradual process.
As a kid, I was the neighborhood game master for tabletop RPGs. I always wrote my own stories and created my own content for the games I ran. That was actually a major distraction for me at school.
When I learned about modern board games I immediately wanted to get involved. I took my first shot at designing a strategy board game about 10 years ago. The game wasn’t good, but it got me started.
CM: Why Tabletop?
HA: I love the social interaction that tabletop games provide. They give people an additional reason to take a break from looking at screens and gather around the table with friends.
I’m interested in video games too, though. I’ve even made a few using GameMaker Studio. I enjoy participating in game jams where you are encouraged to make a tiny video game in a weekend. I would love to design a larger video game, but my programming skills are somewhat limited so I would need to team up with someone.
CM: This Kickstarter is being run through Keymaster Games – what made you go with a publisher instead of self-publishing? Why Keymaster Games?
HA: I decided to seek a publisher because I am specifically interested in game design. Self-publishing requires you take on all the roles required to run a company. I can imagine a time in the future where I will be interested in taking on that challenge, but for now, designing games is challenging enough!
I teamed up with Keymaster Games because Kyle and Mattox are absolute pros. If you take a look at Control and Campy Creatures (their two games prior to Space Park), you will see that the production is top-notch. I knew my game would be in good hands with them.
CM: How do you balance your personal life and the creative life?
HA: Honestly I am putting everything into game design right now, so my life isn’t exactly balanced. I try to maintain a healthy level of obsession throughout the day if such a thing is possible. I enjoy cooking, but while I’m cooking I think about games. I love to walk and listen to podcasts, but sometimes I have to press pause so that a game design thought can run its course. I believe these idle moments of thought are just as important as putting in time at the desk, so it’s important to pay attention to them and write them down.
I think good ideas are rare, so I try not to let them go to waste.
CM: If you could go back 5 years ago, what is one piece of advice you would give yourself?
HA: Assuming we can avoid temporal paradoxes, I would tell myself to start doing 1 push-up per day and increase that number by 1 each week. I would be able to do over 250 push-ups by now! Oh, and buy some Bitcoin.
CM: I also wish I picked up some Bitcoin, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me, Henry!
The Campaign is still going and you can check it out here. As always, if you back it then please let me know! I would love to hear what excited you about Space Park, and if you think I missed another great game then feel free to share it with me in the comments below.