Last weekend we got to hang out at SC Comicon and demo games for Boardwalk, our favorite FLGS. We had a blast playing our game Steam Court, meeting lots of cool people, and taking in all of the sights and sounds of one of Greenville, South Carolina's fastest growing conventions.
Seth Williams is a hard working, brand-new-daddy, podcast consuming, textbook definition "board game geek." After sticking him in a dark room, and shining a bright light in his face, this is what we were able to get out of him:
TH: Seth, tell us all about yourself in 10 words or less.
Seth: Okay... wait, does that count? Oh my. I like games.
TH: What drew you to working with us? And tell everyone what you do here at Tantrum House?
Seth: I’ve been into board games for a long time, so when I stumbled across Tantrum House, I was thoroughly impressed with the high production value and content quality. Then I found out they were in my hometown, and I nearly fell out of my seat! I started attending game nights and started chatting with Will about opportunities to get involved. Technically, I have an internship that is officially titled “Social Media Marketing Internship”, but that was just a way for me to get my foot in the door. Now they can’t get rid of me. Soon, my wife, Megan, and I will be joining the Tantrum House family with an audio podcast. That’ll get my whole leg in the door.
TH: Tell us more about this podcast?
Seth: My wife and I will be doing a podcast that hobby gamers and casual gamers alike should be able to enjoy. It will be a concise (+-30 minutes) look at games we’ve played, news in the industry, upcoming releases, and then most interestingly, we are going to use my wife’s amazing hostess skills to help you plan board gaming nights/events.
TH: Interesting, but sell everyone on why they should look to you guys as board gaming authorities.
Seth: I have been an avid board gamer since college. I worked in a board gaming store and spent most of the time I should’ve been studying text books, digging into rulebooks instead. While I enjoy most board games, I am a huge fan of Amerit(h)rash games, and have been digging into various RPGs recently. I look for rocking miniatures, lots of action, and strong narrative. My wife is my Newton’s third law. She is a Eurogamer who is content playing a game with wood blocks as long as the game has solid mechanics, not a lot of luck, and no storyline at all (the last one is just how I feel about some of her game choices). I dig into the news in the community abroad, and Megan jumps into setting up game nights with friends and planning how to make each game night we host a memorable event. Between the two of us, we will bring a lot of different things to the table, and coming in under the Tantrum House umbrella means that we will produce shows with top-notch quality.
TH: Wow, that was long. Since we're now running out of time let’s have you answer some rapid-fire questions. How does that sound?
Seth: Let’s do it.
TH: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Seth: Teleportation. It would make days off of work so much more interesting. I want to have breakfast in Ireland, take off to Thailand for lunch, and for dinner, have tapas throughout a few more countries. Teleportation seems like the only way to make that happen. If you see any chance for turning into a mutant, let me know.
TH: Do you have a favorite game piece color?
Seth: Not really, but I think I’m going to start trying to snag blue or yellow just to mess with Will, Ryan, and Kevin.
TH: Do you play to win?
Seth: I used to much more than I do now. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy winning, but it’s not as important as it used to be…unless I’m playing against Megan. We are ultra-competitive with each other sometimes.
TH: Favorite gaming snack?
Seth: I don’t usually snack while I play games. If I do, it’s something like pretzels, or another salty, game-safe food. I do like to have a drink on hand though, and that drink is usually iced coffee. We are absolute fiends when it comes to iced coffee. We don’t have a caffeine addiction. Probably.
TH: Favorite theme in board games?
Seth: It isn’t so much that I have a favorite theme as much as it is that I love playing a game with a theme that hasn’t been done before.
TH: Top three games right now?
1.) Deception: Murder In Hong Kong
2.) The End of The World RPG series
3.) The Grizzled
TH: Cool. Now go get me some coffee.
We had the opportunity to go to MACE, in Charlotte N.C., last month. Got to hang out with friends, introduce them to our game Steam Court, and got to playtest a couple of other prototypes as well. Here's a recap of our adventures!
Ryan Pilz is a clever, introverted, bundle of witty one-liners and dedicated boardgamey love. After sticking him in a dark room, and shining a bright light in his face, this is what we were able to get out of him:
TH: Ryan, tell us something interesting about yourself.
Ryan: My left shoulder is higher than my right. I used to have a pet rat. I'm related to Armagil Waad. My siblings and I got my neighbor to eat sand and paste when I was a kid and told him it was cinnamon ice cream. Is that enough?
TH: Haha! Yeah, that's a good start. Tell us what role you play at Tantrum House?
Ryan: The Bard.
TH: Ok, let's try something else.. Tell us about your earliest board game memory?
Ryan: I remember playing Clue as a family when I was a kid, and suddenly discovering that it was super simple if you just kept track of what others were asking. I remember in college visiting my friend Phil as he sat at the desk in one of the Academic buildings and being introduced to Settlers of Catan. Then one Christmas, my sister Jaime gave me Race for the Galaxy out of the blue, and I suddenly realized there was a whole world of amazing games out there to explore.
And thus began my rapid descent into madness.
TH: Great games! I know it's hard to name just one, but tell us about a few of your favorite games.
Ryan: Kingsburg has a great mechanic of dice rolling and deciding how to split up your dice and what buildings to build first. Smash Up is fun to play and to try and figure out which two decks interact the best. Star Wars: Imperial Assault gives me my Star Wars fix and builds off what I love in RPGs. Race for the Galaxy is fun to try to build the perfect tableau of interacting cards. Shadowrun Crossfire and Mechwarrior: Age of Destruction are a few thematic favorites. Cosmic Encounter, King of Tokyo, Rise of Augustus, 7 Wonders, Dominion...
TH: Ok, ok, so what game are you just the worst at?
Ryan: Card-counting games where I need to remember what's been played 4 rounds ago. I can't keep track of cards. I have the memory of a goldfish.
TH: Tell us about this Katie person?
Ryan: Katie is a beautiful brunette that I have the privilege of being married to. She is the love of my life and my primary source of support and encouragement. She's pretty much amazing. I could go into more details, but for the sake of your self-esteem I will refrain. Oh, and she likes board games. That's definitely a plus.
TH: Does being color blind effect your gaming experience?
Ryan: Yes, I have a harder time distinguishing my pieces at a glance if they're certain colors. For that reason I usually choose to be the Yellow player if that's an option.
TH: You say your super power is awkwardness. How do you use that exactly?
Ryan: Awkwardness isn't so much a super power or skill as it is a way of life. You've got to live it, be committed to it. When others doubt your ability to fumble awkwardly through a situation, you prove them wrong by your utter commitment to the ways of awkwardness. Personally, I utilize awkwardness best when I talk to strangers by showing them I haven't quite mastered the minimum social norms on interacting with others. It has never failed me yet. But, the best is the handshake/fist bump/high five triple threat. There's nothing quite like stumbling through this social variant of rock/paper/scissors. Do I handshake+half hug? Do I go for a solid firm shake? Do I slap hands, grab thumbs, bump elbows, pirouette, and end with a chest bump? Yes.
TH: Besides the art of awkwardness, do you have any other hobbies?
Ryan: RPGs, Video games, Reading and Watching Science Fiction, Paintball (I don't really get to play anymore), Creek Stomping, Bike Riding, Wondering why my car is making that funny noise...
TH: Favorite gaming snack or beverage?
Ryan: Snack: Fudge Mint Oreos. Beverage: Mountain Dew. Not necessarily those two together though.
TH: If you were an alien race from Cosmic Encounters, which would you be and why?
Ryan: The Pacifist. It's simple. It lets me use the multitude of Negotiate cards I always end up with to better effect. And it isn't so obviously overpowered that I'm going to have trouble finding allies. At least not so far.
TH: If you could only have one, which would it be: Video games or board games?
Ryan: Well, I definitely love both, however if I had to choose I'd probably pick board games for 3 reasons: 1) You can play board games without electricity. 2) Board games are more conducive to playing with others. 3) There is less of a social stigma against board games. Right?
TH: Yes Ryan, you chose correctly.
Will Meadows is our Chief Fun-Haver, El Presidente, and all-around creative guy. After sticking him in a dark room, and shining a bright light in his face, this is what we were able to get out of him:
TH: Will, tell us all about yourself.. In 10 words or less. Go!:
Will: Creative out the wazoo. Aspiring "Father-of-the-year". Karate maste...
TH: I said 10 words. What role do you play at Tantrum House?
Will: I'm kinda responsible for moving the needle, keeping everyone on point, and making sure we look good while doing it. Right now I'm just trying to get the packaging and component design for our game, Steam Court, wrapped up.
TH: How long have you been making games?
Will: I think I made my first game when I was 11? It was a variant of Mancala. As a kid I used to love drawing really complex mazes too. And a friend of mine helped me program my first computer game, in Qbasic, when I was probably 14?
TH: What got you into graphic design?
Will: Veggie Tales. I loved drawing as a kid. I didn't realize you could make a living doing design work until I watched the credits on a Veggie Tales movie and first read the title "Graphic Designer". That pretty much settled it for me.
TH: I know it's hard to name just one, so tell us about a few of your favorite games.
Will: Monopoly all the way. Also Candyland (whoever edited this <-- I hate you).
TH: What's your kryptonite then... what game are you just the worst at?
Will: My brain freezes up when I try to play Race for the Galaxy. Why are there so many random shapes?! Why don't they make any sense!?.. If you love this game, more power to you.. It's not for me.
TH: Tell us about this Sara person?
Will: She's pretty much the most amazing person I know. Her list of talents and accomplishments is too long to include here. She likes me and our children, AND board games, so she's basically perfect. Our 10 year awesomversary is coming up this year year :)
TH: We've heard that you are from The Ohio State. How is it possible that your favorite Marvel character is Wolverine?
Will: You know how when Wolverine shoots his claws out he says "it still hurts every time"?.. Yeah, it's like that.
TH: Other hobbies?
Will: Riding roller coasters, studying martial arts, playing the piano, playing soccer, building steampunk junk, hanging out with our Youth Group, building stuff with my kids, trying out cool little Mom & Pop restaurants, designing websites, reading a book and then watching the movie version, playing with my iphone, there's probably other stuff too.
TH: Favorite gaming snack and beverage?
Will: Jalepeno popper dip and Cherry Coke.
TH: If you were a tool in Photoshop, what would you be?
Will: One of my super powers is sarcasm, so I guess I'd have to go with the burn tool. Yeeeah!
TH: What's up with you always choosing the blue game piece?
Will: An aged sage once lent me his mystical scepter and granted me the ability to change anything I wanted to the color blue.
Plus, its my favorite color.
TH: What are the next steps for Tantrum House? Anything big on the horizon?
Will: I hope so. We've been having a blast play-testing our game Steam Court and meeting lots of cool people at all of our events. Our hope is to launch the game in May on Kickstarter and just see where it goes. Everyone in the company has been having a lot of fun (one of our primary goals) and we hope to have lots more fun putting out more games in the future. If you haven't already subscribed to our YouTube channel do that now in order to keep up with us and everything we have going on.
Jeremy Dooley is an accomplished typographer with more than 128 typefaces to his name. He's partnered with Tantrum House and is designing a custom typeface for our new game Steam Court. We interviewed Jeremy and after sticking him in a dark room, and shining a bright light in his face, this is what we were able to get out of him:
TH: Jeremy, tell us all about yourself... in 140 characters or less. Go!:
Jeremy: I'm typeface designer and a father living in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
TH: How did you hear about Tantrum House?
Jeremy: I first learned about Tantrum House on Facebook. From college, I knew some of the folks involved, especially Will.
TH: What was it about them that pulled you in?
Jeremy: I thought they had a fantastic and fun business idea. I've done two Kickstarters now. (Chatype and The Clothes Letters Wear) I have also contemplated a board game of my own, a simple strategy game.
I love Kickstarter. It's getting fantastic products to people who want them. I'm excited to see Kickstarter incentivize the creation of games. There's also a great community that's formed to make games happen. Without Kickstarter, I doubt we would see as many great products on the market. Kickstarter has created cottage industries and democratized and decentralized creation. Perhaps most importantly, it gives more back to creators with fewer middlemen.
I knew that Will and his team would do an excellent job. In conversations that we've had, it's apparent the company is design driven. As a designer, that has a great appeal. Will's original impetus was to make sure that the design aspect was done right. I've seen some fantastic and popular games where this is lacking. I appreciate approaching game design with an emphasis on total quality.
TH: How long have you been designing typefaces?
Jeremy: I've been designing typefaces since 2004. I've been doing it full-time since 2007.
TH: What got you into graphic design in the first place?
Jeremy: I was initially a business major in college but I started to think a little bit about what the long-term future would look like. I concluded there are many jobs that, either through globalization or modernization, will be annihilated. Any job that involves creativity cannot be automated. (I doubt the singularity will occur.) All humans should be involved in creating and making things with their minds; we’re not animals.
For me the immediate opportunity to do that was with graphic design. In high school I had done a total conversion of a video game. I enjoyed that. It was a marriage between the technical and also the artistic. I've always enjoyed Gaming and making stories. Graphic design was the natural fit.
A subset of graphic design is Typography or the use of type. We were given an assignment to do a poster for a famous typeface designer. In particular, a typeface designer by the name of Adrian Frutiger impressed me. Looking at a 'U' in Univers, one of his famous typefaces, I was amazed at how simple and beautiful it was. I wanted to be able to do that kind of beauty myself.
TH: How many faces have you published? And which one is your favorite?
Jeremy: I have published 128 font families, comprised of up to 75 individual fonts. My favorite is always whatever I am working on.
TH: How much impact do you think graphic design, and specifically type design, has on the board game industry?
Jeremy: Graphic design is important. You need good information design to convey the information and rules. Branding is also important: you want that art to stand out and be interesting.
I don't believe that custom typeface design has made a major inroads into the tabletop gaming industry, yet. I’ve been fortunate to have my work used for several that I'm aware of, most recently the Hasbro redesign of Battleship.
I'm looking forward to seeing more possibilities for typeface design for branding. It's a missed opportunity for brands to not incorporate custom typefaces. They are becoming more affordable and also have greater utility. Even a simple font can make your brand. Whether it’s for a board game, or a motorcycle company, or a tree nursery, a custom typeface offers a distinct flavor.
TH: You seem to be a traveling man. Got any great stories? Or a favorite spot?
Jeremy: My wife and I used to hit a new international destination every two months on average. I traveled a lot and lived internationally as a child. My days of travel are reduced now that I'm a father.
One anecdote from my childhood: Shortly before unification, my family snuck over into East Germany to collect some sections of the Berlin wall that were painted white. (Painted white so that the border guards could see escapees more readily and shoot them.) We were out there collecting, when we spotted an East German border guard puttering along in his Trabant. We took cover as he shone his light down among the trees. Fortunately that border guard moved on.
Europe is great for graphic design inspiration. Asia is fantastic for seeing what humans can build. But, some of the best spots are closest to home. Next year, I'm looking forward to a trip with my wife to Hawaii to celebrate our fifth anniversary and snorkeling.
TH: We're heading to SCComicon this weekend. I understand that you've attended a couple yourself?
Jeremy: I attended a Comicon last year in Denver, Colorado. Both my wife and I had never attended and we decided it would be a fun adventure. We didn't get to do much more than look at some of the exhibits and artists, but in the future, I look forward to attending some of the classes.
TH: If you were a letter of the alphabet, which letter would you be?
Jeremy: If I were a letter of the alphabet, I would be R. R is my favorite because it has a lot of interesting characteristics.
Capital R has swash legs, which affords all sorts of great design opportunities. It also has a rounded bowl. R is one of the very first letters I design. It sets the tenor for the entire work.
You can differentiate typefaces with an 'R' more than perhaps any other letter.
TH: I suffer from a disease that won't allow me to purchase products that exhibit poor graphic design (I'll even choose one product over another solely based on package design). Am I alone in that? Or what was the last product you purchased solely based on aesthetics?
Jeremy: I recently purchased some die cast airplanes for my son. I made sure they were as correct as possible. :)
You can judge a book based on its cover. You can learn a lot from the package design on how much quality is contained or invested into the product. This is not a hard and fast rule, but you can infer a lot based on just the general design of a product.
One of the great pleasures of being a typeface designer is to see your work used by others. Type design is like creating a child. It heads out into the world, and it does great things or it flops. Seeing your fonts in use is one of the pleasures of the process.
I also collect uses of my fonts. I have four movie posters and have purchased many different food items because they use one of my fonts.
TH: Working on any other cool projects you want to tell us about?
Jeremy: I'm about to finish up an extension of one of my more popular brands: Aviano. Aviano Silk is a kind of "velocity stencil” or centerline effect. I also have other side projects, including writing and various business ideas.
TH: Where can we follow you and see more of your work?
Jeremy: My website is insignedesign.com and my twitter handle is @insigneDesign.
Ben Fields is our Chief Media Maker. His life is about to change forever (...Tantrum House gets almost no credit for that). After sticking him in a dark room, and shining a bright light in his face, this is what we were able to get out of him:
TH: Ben, tell us about your life before Tantrum House.
Ben: My life before Tantrum House was similar to life after Tantrum House except it didn't include Ryan Pilz. Ryan fills my days with hilarity and endless outtakes, it's pretty awesome. Also, I've been exposed to this whole new world, the Tabletop community, and I'm really enjoying that.
TH: What role do you play at Tantrum House?
Ben: I am Chief Media Maker, which means I get in on all the behind-the-scenes action for our game reviews and any other videos we make.
TH: What is the most difficult/awesome part of filming the Terrible 2-Minute Reviews?
Ben: The most difficult is trying to figure out if Ryan is giving a game the full Thumbs Up or a 3/4 Thumbs Up or what his thumb is doing. The most awesome is just hanging out with the team while we shoot. It takes a while to make these reviews, so it's nice that it's with a fun group of people.
TH: What advice would you give to Will and Ryan in regards to their acting career?
Ben: Stick to comedy. Maybe a Reality show...so, not acting.
TH: Are there any board games you learned overseas that aren't played here?
Ben: I grew up playing El Banquero (The Banker). This is Monopoly, but in Spanish, using Paraguayan streets and the local Guarani currency. In typical Paraguayan fashion...it's unlicensed. Also, since there is only one train in Paraguay, they had to use the Airport, Harbor, and I think Bus Station in lieu of multiple railways.
TH: Tell us about this new little person?
Ben: Our little girl is going to be life changing. It's ironic how a helpless little person who knows nothing ends up changing you in very profound ways and teaches you more about yourself then you'd ever expect.
TH: Since you grew up speaking Spanish, are you planning on teaching your daughter Spanish?
Ben: Not only Spanish, but French as well. My wife speaks French. It's such a cool thing to aspire to, but will be suberbly difficult to achieve. This will be a huge challenge for us.
TH: Any cool goals in life?
Ben: To confuse our daughter. Haha - Seriously though, there are a lot of stories to be told in the world. I'd like to help tell some of those stories through film...and by film, I mean digital media. Another goal is to live outside of the US for short periods. It's part of my upbringing, and my wife has traveled more than I have. I think it's important to expose yourself, in this case my family, to different cultures. Few things make you feel both the enormity of our world and yet the smallness of our communities, besides traveling.
TH: So you're a soccer player? What position do you play in soccer?
Ben: I played forward in college, but these days it's either midfield, defender...or Injured Reserve.
TH: Favorite gaming snack or beverage?
Ben: I love chips and I love cookies...I can throw down some cookies. But if I had access to them here, it would be Chipitas. A snack version of Paraguayan cheese bread.
TH: If you had a super power, what would it be?
Ben: In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Officer Earl literally grows his beard in 2 seconds by sheer will and force. I think that would be awesome. My beard takes an infiniternity to grow.
TH: A noble set of priorities indeed.
Kevin is the newest member of Tantrum House. After sticking him in a dark room, and shining a bright light in his face, this is what we were able to get out of him:
TH: Okay Kevin, tell us all about yourself.. In 10 words or less. Go!:
Kevin: Charming, musical, magical, swift-fingered, game-playing fiend
TH: Wow, well done. Ok, tell us about your earliest board game memory? You can use more words then 10 this time.
Kevin: Playing Parcheesi with my Dad brings back fond memories of fun times and super strategic gameplay -- at least that’s what seven-year-old me thought. Parcheesi is a reworking of a game called Pachisi, the royal game of India. Which is significant because I am neither royal nor from India….oh well.
TH: I know it's hard to name just one, so tell us about a few of your favorite games.
Kevin: Kingsburg - love influencing people in high places, Power Grid - still ranked number 10 on BGG, Agricola -it is always good to feed your family, Dominion - duh, and Lewis and Clark - I feel this game is a hidden gem with a great combination of deck building, worker placement and resource management.
TH: What's your kryptonite then... what game are you just the worst at?
Kevin: Probably Race for the Galaxy….but I still enjoy playing it!
TH: You're the most recent member of Tantrum House, what is it about those guys that drew you in?
Kevin: I knew I needed to be a part of Tantrum House when I saw the talent, skillz and passion of the group.
TH: What role will you play/how do you plan to contribute to the team?
Kevin: You will want to follow @tantrum_house on Twitter since I'll be spreading board game awesomeness there. I will also help coordinate regular community board game days/nights. So stay tuned for that! And one more thing...I should probably keep this secret for now, so I’ll just say board games mixed with cotton/poly blends and leave it to your imagination….
TH: Tell us about this Melissa person?
Kevin: Melissa is my lovely wife. She is the perfect Thurn to my Taxis. We actually met while playing a game of Pit.
TH: Other hobbies?
Kevin: I sing in a community choir - Rivertree Singers. My wife and I also entertain in Greenville, SC through balloons, puppets and magic (check out www.handsfulloffun.com). We also teach Sunday School at a local church in Greer.
TH: Favorite gaming snack?
Kevin: Chocolate covered pretzels.
TH: What's up with you always choosing the yellow game piece?
Kevin: Two main reasons. It’s usually the brightest color so I don’t confuse it with other player’s pieces. Also, yellow is often overlooked by others and seldom fought over as a favorite color. Someone needs to show it some love.
TH: If you lived in Smallworld, what race would you be?
Kevin: Bivouacking Sorcerers - Bivouacking is such a cool word! I am glad I got use it in this interview.
TH: Well I think that about wraps it up. Do you think anyone will read all the way to the bottom?