Designer Interview: Vincent Baker
What happens when you put a traditional fantasy setting into future and sprinkle a little alien technology on top? Well this is what you can decide in Otherworlds RPG designed by Vincent Baker. Vincent has released 11 games since 2016 and shows no signs of slowing down. I have interviewed Vincent regarding his newest creation Otherworlds a unique skill branch system where Sci-Fi meets Fantasy.
What brought you into game design?
My dad is an avid gamer of all types and really got me into gaming early. Pokémon was my favorite show when it came over to the U.S., so naturally, my dad bought me lots of Pokémon cards. I immediately learned how to play the card game and as I got older I got into Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic: The Gathering and many other card games and board games. Game design came naturally, as I remember playing the original Mario with my sister and thought, "wouldn't it be so cool if my sister and I could both play in this world and explore it more?!" So, I took the characters, items, and places from the video game and translated them into a board game with RPG elements for my sister and I to play. I ended up doing this for many video games, including but not limited to Halo and Gears of War (as we got older). By middle school I became pretty well known as "the guy that made really fun games," and we even had a game take off so much that I was called into the principal's office and was told that I had to end any discussions of the game because it was causing such a disruption! What is currently your favorite game to play? My friend group is pretty into Cartoon Network's Crossover Crisis by Cryptozoic. An odd pick I'm sure, but we're really into themes and games that are easy to play. We also enjoy Campy Creatures, Neon Gods, Horrified and many other similar style games! For me personally, I'm a bit of a strategy gamer. I think strategy players tend to write off casual games completely, not realizing that it can be very rewarding to try and increase every margin in your favor and in a game with more luck, it's even more crucial to do so (if winning is a goal). In many ways with my background being in card games, I'm more of a "card gamer" than a board gamer in terms of what styles and things I enjoy. I think that has come across in my designs so far as well, but I do look forward to making a big box board game at some point! What did you find was the most difficult part of the design process?
Out of everything I do, it's setting up and running a successful Kickstarter. If we're talking game design specifically it'd be translating the rules into an easy to understand and well laid out rule book. A good rule book is important and a weakness of mine that I'm constantly working to improve. Being aware of a problem is half the battle though, so people can look forward to seeing improvements made in strives here!
What was your favorite part about the design process?
I'm an oddball that can talk for hours about the story and lore behind a game and on the flip-side of that, talk hours about the mechanics of a game as well.
Because I love story and mechanics, my favorite aspect of a game is the marriage between the two. Do you feel like a spell-caster slinging spells? Does "Bite The Bullet" feel tense as the name implies? Does the werewolf in the game feel vicious? I even think about these things when using numbers in my game. The "Saint '' card in Guillotine is represented by a "7" as that's seen as the perfect number, whereas the strongest monsters in the game have a value of "6," which is sometimes associated with evil (in western culture). Of course, it's important to keep in mind to not make game play suffer by being "cute" with the numbers or anything, but I think having resonance can help in many unspoken ways when players play a game!
Also, as an artist, I love designing a lot of the characters found in the game and giving them ample and subtle details about their story that are either explored in the game or later down the road in expansions and other media!
What was the hardest issue you had to overcome while designing Otherworlds?
The biggest issue with Otherworlds has been marketing it. Not just marketing something financially, but sharing what makes it unique in a way that feels not only exciting but also palatable. It's a weird middle ground to find because something that's too abstract isn't understood and loses your audience. Whereas something that's been done a thousand times isn't exciting and won't be winning over people either. I'm a fan of Wade Dyer of Fragged Empire RPG and saw his recent post about having your game be 1/3 commonplace, 1/3 familiar, and 1/3 new. Certainly a more concise way of saying what I'm trying to. So for Otherworlds, the commonplace things are elves, dwarves, humans, spellcasting, and d6 skill resolution. Familiar is a playable vampire race and the "future fantasy" setting it has. New is a "Skill Tree" class system where you create your own class by combining Skill Branches to form your Skill Tree and the way you level through your Skill Tree can be entirely different than someone else who has an identical Skill Tree as you. This in addition to "Themes" and your "Characteristic Traits" make it so every character feels entirely unique from the next, even if there's some overlap in choice in the beginning. How is the design process different for a RPG vs a board game? Great question! RPGs can feel less intimidating at first because a lot of it is "words" and you don't exactly have to worry as much about components such as dice, tokens, miniatures, etc. like you would for a board game. With that being said, assuming you have a medium weight or heavy RPG it can be far more daunting as a whole to get it to a good place. There's so many systems to consider. So many words and grammatical syntax to pay attention to. I'd recommend someone new give a simple card game a try before an RPG or big box board game. Do you have any advice for up and coming designers?
A lot of people would have you believe that there's so many obstacles in your way, but your biggest obstacle is yourself and your own preconceived notions. Ditch those and go for it! :) Remember, a game doesn't have to be expensive to be fun to play, and keeping things simple isn't a bad thing!
What's next for you? As someone who stays busy, this is a very dangerous question to ask, so I'll try and be brief! We're releasing an updated version of the Quickstart Guide for Otherworlds, January 31st (along with many other guides). I've also partnered with a talented artist, miffed.akane (Instagram Handle) who's been working recently on some Marvel and DC projects. They're going to be helping me bring to life our Heads or Tails: The Monster Dating Game into a new updated version with tons of anime style artwork! Any fans of Trigger (which recently did some Star Wars: Visions episodes) will like the art style! We've got a lot more going on, so for anyone interested, check out our website: www.vindicatedentertainment.com. People can jump into our Discord server as well if they have any questions and just want a chill place to talk gaming and anime! What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?
saratoga.com says,"In the end, it's concluded that the airspeed velocity of a (European) unladen swallow is about 24 miles per hour or 11 meters per second."