June 2024 Newsletter for the BGDG of Utah

Guild Update

Guild Playtest Meetings

Discord and the Guild

The BGDG of Utah’s Discord is a great way to get to know those in the guild and discuss all things game design! If you’ve not joined yet, we’d love to have you come and participate with us!

BGDG of Utah Social Media

We have active Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts now! Please follow and start using #bgdgofutah in your game design related posts and they will be liked, retweeted etc!

Upcoming/Current Events

ProtoCON Online
We have scheduled ProtoCON Online to take place on Saturday, July 20th! This is a great opportunity to get one of your board/card game in a digital format (like Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator) and playtest it at that event! Participants are not restricted to guild members and the event is completely free for designers and playtesters!

If you would like to sign up as a designer then click here!

Current Design Contests

ContestHostDeadlineRestrictionsJudgesPrizesContest Link
May-June 2024 Bi-monthly 24 hour design ContestBGG06/30/24Key word: “Party”BGG CommunityGeek GoldContest Link
2024 Solitaire Print and Play ContestBGG09/01/24Solo gameBGG CommunityGeek GoldContest Link
Coloring Book Game ContestThe Game Crafter09/02/24Design a game within a coloring bookIndustry panelistsCash and Shop CreditContest Link
2024 War Game Print and Play ContestBGG10/01/24War gameBGG CommunityGeek GoldContest Link
LUCI AwardPlaytest NWTBDNoneIndustry PanelistsNoneContest Link

Contest information gathered from https://cardboardedison.com/contests

Interview with Nathan Cybulski

Personal Questions

What’s your backstory?  Tell us about yourself and how you got into game design.

Hi there! My name is Nathan Cybulski. I’ve been designing games since I was a kid, but really got into game design when I came to college back in 2011. I started by looking at classic games and looking for ways to mathematically analyze them and expand them in interesting ways. Now, I look to design experiences and let social groups experience something that makes them think and smile.

Can you walk us through your design process?  Do you start with specific themes in mind or want to utilize certain mechanisms?

I have several design processes that I often pick from. I highly recommend THEME VS MECHANICS: THE FALSE DICHOTOMY as a great article to consider when approaching game design. It was a framing article in my design approaches.

Before reading this article, my approach was first to observe, then write down whatever came to mind. It was generally just brain splatting ideas out hoping something would stick. After reading this article, I would say my process has become much more sophisticated. I now approach a game as an experience, with physical components, imagined flavor, and virtual rules that lead a player or players into some interesting decision spaces.

Now I must say that this does not illustrate my entire process. I could write several articles on at least 3 of the different approaches I choose to take to create experiences. But each of them follow at least one basic design loop process. 

I start with a feeling.

Then expanding that feeling through brainstorming.

I often return to brainstorming during each stage of my design loop to look for additional aspects.

Then, after filtering the ideas I start iterating the idea into something physical as soon as possible.

Constructing the design comes next. Followed by analyzing playtesting and then creating feedback loops to repeat the entire cycle in a superior way. 

Theme vs Mechanics False Dichotomy (League of Game Makers)

How did you come to be involved with the guild?

I discovered the Board Game Design Guild of Utah and became a member a few years after living in Utah. I decided to go to my local meetup near Pleasant Grove/North Orem. I didn’t always have a way to get there so my attendance fluctuated over the years. I always enjoyed checking out and playing various games. I was really glad when the discord became a thing and I tried to be more consistent on that platform. 

If you could pick 3 games that every designer should have to play, as a sort of game design curriculum, what would you choose?

Besides my favorite games? Well, I would say to someone who has never played a board game ever, some critical games that completely changed the world would be good one’s to start with. I’d say, Chess, Monopoly, and Settlers of Catan, Specifically for Board games. They are simply so fundamental to how the world perceives games. Oh, I’d throw Magic the Gathering as a need-to-play a couple times, just so you know why people play games and people’s perspective on Gaming as a whole.

Game Related Questions

You have been working on a game called Pirate Mutiny. Could you tell us more about that?

I have been working on Pirate Mutiny: The Card Game. It is a social game for 3-8 players. It works best with 5 in my opinion, but I usually play with 6-10 cause group sizes at parties. It is a negotiation game, where you feel like a pirate brawling on a pirate ship. Whoever has the most gold coins when someone reaches 15 gold wins. As you play you introduce more ideas and more concepts that bring the world to life and you feel more and more like a Pirate discovering the seas.

What design challenges did you have to face when designing Pirate Mutiny?

The art. Art is a difficult aspect of game design for me as I am not an artist. This side of component design is a real struggle for me as I have focused directly on mechanics and feel of the interactions, over the aesthetic and physical components. I haven’t developed that skill nearly enough. Mostly due to practice.

Do you have any advice for others when it comes to designing a game?

Don’t just play a lot of different games, though that is really good advice. Practice designing many different games. Learn your own design process. Develop that process. 

Be patient with your designs, and with others. Remember that everyone has different tastes, so one person’s opinion could be detrimental to another’s. Listen yes, but take all feedback with a grain of salt.

Tell us about some of the other designs you’ve been thinking about/working on.

I have over 50 designs at various stages of development, but my favorite project I’m working on is The Verse. 

It’s an action adventure inheritance experience that I have been brainstorming for over 3 years now.

Imagine a world in a box, and your experience determines the next playthrough for other players. 

Every world might start with the same pieces, but they diverge into infinite possibilities. 

I’m finally constructing physical prototypes recently with great success in the process. 

I hope to have a virtual prototype in a few months.

Final Wrap up Questions

How would you suppose the guild could improve to better assist in the game development process?

I feel like this might have been a thought a while ago, but having a contest of some sort could be really good. Basically a sanity test before taking the game to publishers or to self-publish. Having members of the guild feel free to contribute to these “contest tests” could be a good way to get the name of the guild out there without putting too much load on leadership.

If people wanted to contact you or follow your game designs how should they go about that?

Message me! I’m happy to take contacts through discord nathancybulski or yekasilver, email at nathancybulski@gmail.com or yekasilver@gmail.com.

Feel free to check out the Pirate Mutiny Crowd Sale on The Game Crafter too! Artwork was wonderfully done by Ethan Brown. Check out his stuff here!

Pirate Mutiny on the Game Crafter

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be on the newsletter! Best wishes to all designers out there. Good luck with your projects!!

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