Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Cloud Cap Games Part Two

Welcome to the second, and final, installment of our interview with Cloud Cap Games. Complete with footage of the shop!


Interview with Cloud Cap Games Part One

I can’t thank Kirsten and James enough for taking time out of their day to talk to me. Today we have part one of my interview with Cloud Cap Games.

Cloud Cap Games

1226 SE Lexington St.
Portland, OR 97202


Interview with Jim Pinto

Today we are joined by hard working insomniac Jim Pinto. Listen to the interview and then track him down at these fine locations:


Interview with Souljar Games

Today we are joined by SoulJar Games. We first ran into them at Gamestorm 17. We were immediately impressed by Alyssa’s knit beholder hat and then by their games, Torn Armor and Dice Crawl. You can see Brandon talking about them here and look for a review of Dice Crawl soon(ish). Be sure to visit them at and


How did Souljar games come about?

We were a group of friends and industry developers who met through the wonderful means of social media. Once we encountered each other and started to talk, we knew that we had to produce something together.

What does the name mean?

HA! The truth is, we just wanted to tap into the soul of gaming: the fun, the enjoyment, the friends around the table, all sharing in the soul of what it means to play. The name was accidental, but driven by that spirit,

How did the three of you come together? 

Facebook. I’d like to elaborate on that further, but the simple truth is that via the social channel of Facebook we met and were able to experience each other’s views on gaming. and design.

What do each of you bring to the team?

Jim brings great game design, Jack brings stunning attention to detail and a insurmountable ability to bring red tape together, and Natalya just loves the spirit of social networking. Great games, designed and built by the best companies, delivered to your for your learned and respected consideration.

What are the challenges in having your creative team spread out? 

Communication and understanding; what everyone is doing, where they are at, and bringing the mutli-faceted parts of game design together … and to your mail box … in a manner that is clear and understood by the entire team. This is a big question in many ways. Jim does an excellent job of creating a new game with wholly new mechanics, but then he doesn’t necessarily know where we’re at with the promotion of the same game, or gathering of component quotes, unless we make a strong attempt to communication these facts to each other. And that’s really the greatest challenge: clear communication.

What is the design process like for SoulJar?

Jim dreams up a game – I’m not entirely sure how he does it – and he pitches it to the team during our next meeting. if we like the idea – and we typically do – we then get a draft set of rules and pieces from him. jack and I play the game through with friend, and at the same time jim is playing with his friends, and together we hash out any tweaks, adjustments, and changes that need to occur. Over a series of months we hash out the draft rules, bring in industry experts, give them a play test, and gather their feedback. Ultimately, at the end of the day, the final game form has had much input and the creative feedback of 24×7 gaming professionals, so by the time we’re ready to crowd fund a game, we know that it’s the best that it can be.

What challenges do you run into as an indie game company?

Figuring things out that the big boys already figured out years ago. Shipping to Australia and New Zealand I think is the biggest one right now =D

Dice Crawl

What lead to the creation of Dice Crawl?

The desire for a family orientated, competitive game, inspired by the dungeon crawl classics.

You ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign for Torn Armor. What was that like?

Stressful, but also rewarding. Crowd funding is an artform and the epitome of social interaction, but with hourly feedback when you are getting it right or wrong. There were great highs, but terrible lows. It is a psychological experience more terrifying than going against Cthulhu.
Torn Armor
What lead to the design of Torn Armor?
A desire to bring about a quick to learn, low cost, skirmish based game. I love wargaming and I think that it could have a broader audience, but cost, time, and play-area holds a lot of people back. We wanted to design something that was extensible, but also provided an introduction into a much larger genre.

Any plans to revisit Gondola?

Yes, absolutely. Gondola is a great, family orientated game; who doesn’t like the prospect of racing a gondola through the canals of Venice?

What are your hopes, dreams, and goals for SoulJar?

To provide entertaining and unique gaming experiences.

What’s on the horizon for SoulJar?

100 AD; a politically driven games in the Roman Empire.

What’s the best gaming experience you have had?

Honestly, any gaming experience in which you come away smiling, happy, content, and having bonded even more strongly with your friends … that’s the best gaming experience. If we had to choose -as a team – then it would have to be Geekdad playtesting 100AD with us … and wanting to play through to the end .. and winning .. with lots of smack talk along the way. We lost … but it was glorious.

100 A.D.

What lead you to design games?

The joy of games and wanting to give a new and unique gaming experience to the gaming audience.

What do you want people to come away with after playing a SoulJar game?

Simple to learn, deceptively deep, lots of options, fun to trounce the whole family into the dirt.

What keeps bringing you back to board/tabletop/rpg games?

Friends, family, fun.


Interview With Julian Courtland-Smith Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of Spaghetti & Meeples’s interview with the inimitable Julian Courtland-Smith. If you missed Part 1 you can find it here.

What is your design process like?


There are some board games combining modern technology (i.e. iPads or tablets) with a traditional board game the way X Com does. Is this something you would be interested in pursuing?

Yes. I have recently devised a word game, which I devised with the purpose of it being published online.

Have you ever tried to market your own game?

Yes. In 1975 I designed a game called Warlords. It had a wooden board made of Honduras Mahogany. I cold cast the playing pieces in brass and copper. The first three boards and a couple of hexagonal boxes to store the game were made by Games Workshop when they were just starting out. The game sold about a hundred copies and was on sale in Harrods for £30. I also made a chess set, which was too costly to manufacturer.

Warlords and Chess Set

Have you made any money inventing games?

I have received royalties on and off for many years. Sometimes a pittance and very occasionally a large amount. In 1986 I earned more than the Prime Minister, but that was a one-off. Looking back, I suppose I could have earned more had I had a career as an architect or similar.

What are your favorite games to play, that you haven’t designed?

Interesting question. Don’t really have favorites as these change over the years as new games are published.

Worst games experience, greatest games experience?

Worst experience is plagiarism. In my early days I invented a game called Oil Strike. I showed it to a Product Development Manager who turned up at the next Trade Fair with his own new company, marketing a game very similar to mine. I went to chin him, but was promptly escorted out by security!

I think the nicest experience a games designer can have is people enjoying your game. To think someone somewhere in the world is sitting down and playing your game is very heart warming.

Any tips you’d pass onto a newcomer?

As in any venture, success doesn’t come overnight. I understand 9/10 games fail due to poor rules. That’s a tip I’d pass on. Get your rules right. Also, the 3 Ps. Playtest, playtest and playtest. Join a games group. Read games magazines like Spielbox and follow websites like Board Game Geek, YouTube and Facebook. Very important, find out who’s who in the games industry. A good contact is worth a thousand presentations!

What inspires you in life?

New inventions, new discoveries, new ideas and original thoughts all inspire me. I’m always amazed how mankind can come up with something old, something new, something borrowed and turn it into a silver sixpence. 🙂

What are you up to these days? Designing more games maybe?

True! Due to medical issues I retired early. However, since Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games relaunched Survive! he has reawakened me to carry on designing games. Some are rehashed old  games and a couple are new. Will they ever see the light of day? Only time will tell.

When might we expect a new game from you?

Million dollar question! I always have new games in stock, but getting them to market is the big problem. Next year, year after? Who knows! There is a product in the pipeline coming out this year which I can’t discuss at the moment.

Keep your eyes and ears on Spaghetti & Meeples for more information from Julian Courtland-Smith as it becomes available.


Siblings Trouble-Interview With Ed Baraf

Today we are joined by Ed Baraf who is launching a Kickstarter for his new game, The Siblings Trouble. From the BGG page:

The Siblings Trouble is a card-driven, cooperative, storytelling game inspired by finding the mysterious places in your backyard.

The Siblings Trouble boils down all the core elements of an RPG (storytelling, exploration, discover, treasure, encounters, etc) into a fun-to-play narrative romp with your family or friends.

This is a 30 minute narrative game you can play as an ice-breaker, in-betweener, or as a way to introduce storytelling and adventure games to new players. This is not a simplified, beginner version of Dungeons and Dragons. It is an experience unto itself which leverages the fun of pen and paper games and lets players have quick, fun adventures together.

The Siblings Trouble is influenced by Miyasaki, The Goonies, The Hardy Boys, and even Pikmin. It is about Grabbing a backpack, a sandwich, that monster you call a “sibling,” and heading out into the wilderness, leaving the comfort of home at your back.

Siblings TroubleWhat inspired The Siblings Trouble?

The Siblings Trouble was inspired by the nostalgia for being a kid and going on an adventure.

What mysterious things did you find in your backyard as a kid?

One of the coolest things I ever found near my backyard was a gigantic piece of rose granite about the size of a bowling ball. That was awesome.

You have a 15 year background in making video games. What design aspects or approaches, if any, were you able to bring to tabletop games? Are there elements of tabletop design you are able to carry over into video game design?

Ultimately, the best training you can have to make something is to make stuff. In video games, I spent 15 years making complex stuff with lots of people. You learn so much from doing things a to z it is hard to quantify. For me, it is less about design and more about the ability to be a producer and put together a project.

Who is this game for?

You can look at this from two angles

–        The game is for people who like telling stories. People who are nostalgic for childhood.

–        The game is filler for core role-players. Something different for Game night storytelling, or introducing your kids to playing characters.

What do you want people to get from or a take away from The Siblings Trouble?

Honestly, I hope people have fun telling stories and touching their childhood again. For kids, I hope they enjoy imagining themselves in the fantastic.

It appears to be quite a bit different from Lift Off! Was that intentional?

No, not really. They game from completely different inspirations.

What was it like developing this on Tabletop Deathmatch?

Well, the game wasn’t developed on Tabletop Deathmatch, that was more about experiencing what is like to be on reality TV. It was strange and wonderful experience.


What was strange and wonderful about it?
It is a surreal experience to be talking about your game, your passion while on camera and in front of other contestants/judges. This may be something that is more common to movies, but it isn’t that common for board games 😛

What experiences did you bring to The Siblings Trouble from developing and funding Lift Off?

Good question, as far as the actual game development there wasn’t a whole lot, but now that I’m running another Kcikstarter a TON. Your first Kickstarter is a massive learning experience. It is actually super cool to be able to leverage that again.

What qualities or skills do you feel help someone to be an effective producer and/or designer?
Drive, Organization, and Communication.

What are your hopes for The Siblings Trouble?

I hope we can fund and people can play. I hope they enjoy themselves and share with others.

Where can people find out more information? How can they help?

Campaign is set to launch on Tuesday, 4.12 (today!) will link into the campaign and they can also visit
What do you like about storytelling in games?
The experience of walking into another world. There is something different when you are pretending to be the character.

Follow Ed on twitter: 
Subscribe to his youtube channel:

Interview with Julian Courtland-Smith Part 1

The first time I saw someone explain Survive! Escape From Atlantis I knew I had to have it. The theme, the look, the interesting gameplay. I loved it so much I did a video review of it for Ed Baraf. This game had a huge impact on our family. Even our 11 year old, who is not as interested in board games, asks to play it, Then I did some research on the designer. Surely he created other games that my family would love. But I only found information on an out of print game and a never published game. I needed more information. Luckily we live in the 21st century and I have this wonderful thing called the internet and this other wonderful thing called electronic mail!! Once I combined the two I was able to contact and communicate with Julian Courtland-Smith, designer of Survive! Escape From Atlantis and bringer of joy to my family.

Today Spaghetti & Meeples brings you Part 1 (yes there will be a part 2!) of our interview with Julian Courtland-Smith.

Julian Courtland-Smith with Survive!What inspired you to design Survive?

 Survive! is the name (title) Parker Brothers, USA, chose to call my game Escape from Atlantis (EfA). What inspired me to invent EfA was, one day in Hastings Library I chanced upon a row of books all about the ‘mythical’ island of Atlantis. In a flash I thought a game about a sinking island would be a good theme for a board game.The rest is history.

Survive has been through many publishers. Did you have anything to do with that?

Yes and no. Survive went through many publishers because each publisher had survival issues, pun intended. Parker Brothers were hit badly when computer games came along and wiped out 80% of the board game market. Following the success of Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs! I took EfA to Waddingtons UK with a 3D version which they marketed. A few years later, Waddingtons were hit by a recession and taken over by Hasbro. I renegotiated with Hasbro who launched their version of EfA in 1997, but when European sales of Atlantis! dropped below 100,000 per annum they axed it. Stronghold Games came along and relaunched the game in 2010. Since then it has remained a success. EfA is also sub-licensed by Asmodee in other languages and called ‘The Island’. There’s also a digital version of the EfA on smart phones. It’s marketed by Quado and called Escape from Atlantis. Yes, many publishers have marketed Escape from Atlantis but each has played a part in its continued success.

What about the expansions Stronghold Games has released?

They’re great! Stronghold Games consulted me about their expansions and I agreed.

I read Survive originally had pirates in it. Do you want to get pirates back in the game?

My prototype of Survive (Escape from Atlantis) did indeed include pirates. Parker Bros, USA, substituted the pirates for whales. I think this was a good idea. My pirates and Parker Bros whales do the same thing, which is sink a boat upon impact and make the fleeing Atlantians swimmers. I believe there are fans of the game who would enjoy seeing pirates in the game. What’s needed to include pirates in a future expansion is a new set of rules which legitimize their presence and doesn’t upset the balance of the game.

What does it feel like to have Survive not only still around 30 years on, but also very popular and on many “best of” lists?

Very humbling! The fact that so many people still enjoy playing my game after all these years is really amazing. Yes, I feel very honoured.

You also designed Lost Valley Of The Dinosaurs and the unreleased Mammoth Mountain. I sense a running theme. Not so much a question as a leading statement… 

I love thematic games. As such, in the 80’s, I designed a trilogy of adventure games. Because of major changes in the games industry explained above I  was unable to get my third game Mammoth Mountain released. See picture of Mammoth Mountain, not seen elsewhere.

Mammoth Mountain

Any chance of Mammoth Mountain getting made?

There’s a lot of interest being shown at the moment to publish the original prototype of Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs, not the Waddingtons version. If that’s successful, then there’s a slim chance Mammoth Mountain will follow.

Lost Valley Of The Dinosaurs

 Why did you decide to invent board games?

 In 1965 I read an article in a magazine about Waddingtons latest game, Mine A Million! I thought I could do that!

 What was the first game you invented?

 My first game was called World Power. Looking back, it was rubbish and a variation of Risk!

How many games have you invented?

Somewhere between 50 to 100. When a game goes nowhere, I take any good mechanics from it and put them into another game.

How many years have you been inventing games?

42 years out of the last 50, as I took an 8 year sabbatical. In the last recession 1988/96 lots of board game companies went to the wall. Like frenzied sharks on a blood lust, the major manufacturers Mattel and Hasbro gobbled up most of the opposition. Today Waddingtons, Spears, Parker Bros, MB and the like have become brand names. I took a back seat during that recession waiting for the fallout, as people in the business were losing their jobs and games companies stopped marketing new games.

How long did it take before you were successful?

17 years. Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs was marketed by Waddingtons in 1982 and sold 1/3rd million. It took me 2 weeks to invent the game, 4 weeks to write the rules and 6 years to get it to market!

Be sure to join us next week for Part 2 and find out a little more about Julian’s design process and what’s next for him!

In the meantime here’s more picture goodness of a prototype version of Survive! Escape From Atlantis!

Prototypes of 2d and 3d versions

Part 2 can be found here.


Interview with Will Stateczny on Monkeys Need Love Too

Today we are joined by Will Stateczny of Topwise Games to discuss his recently Kickstarter-funded game Monkeys Need Love Too. In the interest of full disclosure I did back this Kickstarter.

MNLT Card Back

You mention in your Kickstarter video that games like Munchkin and Killer Bunnies inspired you to make Monkeys Need Love Too. What made you choose the theme?

If I remember right (it’s been 7 years since MNLT was first created), I believe it was just purely from my imagination.  A lot of the times my best ideas come when I’m not even thinking about them.  I like to think of myself as a very creative and imaginative person.

How did you get connected with artist Rick Menard(artist for Monkeys Need Love Too)?

I actually found Rick Menard on a website called  It’s a site where you submit a job, people with those trade skills offer their services for the job, and you then choose who you’d like to work with.  Rick was one of about 25 illustrators/artists who submitted their services.  I visited his website and found his previous illustrations to be right in line with what I had envisioned in my head.

What was the Kickstarter process like for you?

I would say it was a grind.  The only reason I say that was that I had to work the entire length of the campaign to get every single backer.  I unfortunately didn’t have the luxury of getting my name out via conventions as most game companies do before firing off their Kickstarter.  So because of that, I was up late almost every night working social media and searching for new avenues of advertising and backer acquisition.

Will you use it again?

I will definitely use Kickstarter again, but I plan on building up my company’s name a little better before I do so I have a somewhat easier campaign next go around.

3-layer cards

What are your hopes for Monkeys Need Love Too now that your Kickstarter is funded?

I think my hopes for Monkeys Need Love Too, or any game that I plan to put out for that matter, will always be the same.  I would love for it to be that one that just takes off like wildfire and gains popularity at an exponential rate.  I got word from a lot of people at the last convention I attended, including the convention manager, that they heard nothing but good things from those that had visited the booth.  That gives me great encouragement that I’m doing something right.

I know you don’t want to reveal to much about your next project, A Bad Day For Donuts, but it looks like it will be a board game…? What made you want to do a board game instead of another card game?

I didn’t want to limit myself to just one type of game.  When you limit yourself, you reduce your potential customer base.  As of now, the only common theme that all our games will have is that they are intended to make you laugh, whether it be by the flavor text, the artwork, or just how the game is played.  Aside from that, I don’t plan on restricting myself to one specific type of game.

Where did you come up with the name “Topwise” and what are your hopes for Topwise Games?

Topwise comes from growing up watching the Simpsons.  Most Simpson fans will know exactly what I’m talking about and where the reference comes from.  My hopes for Topwise Games are to become a self-sustainable gaming company.  Right now my day job is a great one and it pays the bills, but I’m a gamer at heart and would love to both design and sell games full time while also having more free time to spend with my family and get a good night’s rest each night.

Other than Munchkin and Killer Bunnies, what games inspire you?

Fluxx has been a good one lately.  What The Food?!? is actually a fan favorite right now in my household.  Carcassonne is one that my wife and I like to play together.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  The range of games is actually quite large.  My friends and I are avid MTG and D&D gamers when we can get together.  I’ve also built my own crokinole board to play on and plan on making a carrom board and wall-mounted chess board before the year is over.  You have to have a wide range of games to play if you want to create games yourself.  And it’s not only just about what games you play, but also about the variety of people you play with.  You can play a game a hundred times with one person and then learn something completely new as soon as a new player sits down.

2-layer cards

What do you think makes a good game?

In my opinion, the main component to a good game is if everyone walks away happy.  If you’ve achieved that goal, you’ve got a winner.  You’ve also got to keep the game flowing.  I have many friends who can’t stay focused on a game if they aren’t constantly involved.  It was a lot easier to stay focused when everyone didn’t have a smartphone that they needed to check every 10 seconds.  That’s why I’m not a big fan of playing games where you’re constantly having to reference something in the rulebook.  It just slows down the pace of the game.

What do you look for in a gaming experience?

Again I’m looking for a game where I can walk away happy, whether it be by winning the game or by having a good time with the people I’m playing with.

What games are you playing right now and what games are you excited about?

I’m currently playing my game (of course), What The Food!?!, Magic, D&D, Tichu, and a few others on a regular basis.  I’ve got about 10 kickstarter games that I’m backing that are still live, and another 24 that have successfully funded that I can’t wait to play.  One of the live ones that I’m psyched about is Dumpster Brawl by my good friend Dave Killingsworth.  I got to play this one night up at WaCon and it was a pretty cool game.

If you were a monkey, what kind of monkey would you be?

I would probably be one of the super tiny monkeys that you can get as a house pet.  They always amuse me when I see them at the zoo and they seem very entertaining when you see them on tv.  Plus you never know exactly what they’re thinking.  I think I possess that similar trait.

The Kickstarter for Monkeys Need Love Too is over, but you can preorder your own copy at

Simpsons Rubix Cube from Jack Stocker on Vimeo.



Today we are joined by Cartography creator Jon Adams. Cartography’s Kickstarter goes live October 14th.


I wanted to start with your background. What lead you up to Cartography?

I’m a programmer for a living. When I was younger I had roommates. Two of those roommates where programmers as well. I did websites, they did programming for video games. They got me in my nerdy days. The thing that was most influential was playing a lot of board games with them. We played Go, Settlers Of Catan and Carcasonne. All those standard games. I think that was the beginning. I had a vision for a game that had a terrain element to it. Initially, the origins of Cartography had triangular tiles with risers that would allow you to build 3D terrain. The game was more like Risk at that point. It was all about building a defensible terrain, so you needed to build a castle and a farm and all that kind of thing. The truth is, it wasn’t all that great. It had all the tediousness of Risk without the payoff. Eventually, I wound up changing the game and there was a moment I had in the car where the concept of using Go came to me.

What is it that you like about Go that you wanted to use it as a jumping off point?

Well, there’s Go and there’s Carcasonne and it’s kind of a mash-up of those two games. I think Carcasonne is successful because it’s casual while still somewhat strategic. It’s easy to play so even if you’re a horrible player you’re not going to have a miserable time. What lead me to develop Cartography is that while Carcasonne is a game that you get to build stuff, the design of it didn’t really matter all that much and you didn’t have very much control over what you built. You got to place your tile where you wanted, but it is randomized. Even a really good player can lose if they got a bad draw. And a really bad player might win if they got really lucky. When I play Carcasonne I often feel frustrated. I want to be able to effect who wins and I want to win because I’m a better player, because I built something that mattered. That is what Cartography is really all about. What you build really does matter. Where you place your tiles matters. What tiles you choose and where you place them can determine if you win or lose the game.


Why did you go with triangles when most modern board games seem to favor hexes?

I chose to use triangles initially because of the terrain aspect of the original game. I wanted to be able to have a map that flowed up and down with hillsides. Triangles are excellent for that because you can build a mesh with triangles in any orientation. You can raise or lower one of its corners without messing up the ability to add additional tiles. After removing the 3D terrain mechanic I tried different shapes.

The first reason I kept triangular tiles is because of the range of liberties they offer when using walls. (More on liberties here: In Go it’s difficult enough to capture territories using a square board with four liberties per territory. Using  triangular tiles with only three liberties it is a little too easy to capture, but walls can be used to create additional liberties. Walls separates tiles into multiple regions. They also create additional liberties. Adding walls can result in four and even five liberties.

The second reason is tile matching. I didn’t want Cartography to be luck based, but I also didn’t want you to have to choose from a massive range of tiles. You only need four tiles to cover all different variations of either open or a wall. I added an additional two variations that are either a gate tile or an end cap tile. Those were added to more easily start or end a wall. These five tiles make it easy to match.

What has it been like having input from potential backers before your Kickstarter is live?

It’s been really amazing! I’ve gotten great feedback. There are so many people that have taken their time to look through the preview page very carefully. People are making great suggestions and finding typos. Many people are very encouraging and excited for the Kickstarter. I’m really excited about the potential of all the interest.



What are your biggest hopes for Cartography?

My real hope is that the Kickstarter is successful and that I get the first edition off the ground. After that I hope Cartography is picked up by sombody else will take over. I’ve got a day job that I love so I’m probably not going to be a full time board game designer. I’ve been working on this for probably about 10 years. And so I doubt I’ll have another really great idea like this. I hope it has legs and that it goes somewhere. I’m just kind of excited to see if it succeeds on Kickstarter or not. If it does, I’ll feel pretty good. I’ll be happy that I made it. I like creating stuff.

What do you want people to know most about Cartography? What do you hope they get out of it?

The feedback I got at the convention was really great. There were people that would look at the game and say “Oh that looks really great”, but weren’t interested in abstracts. But the people who were interested in abstracts …there was one phrase that I said that they really responded to… “Cartography is a mash-up of Carcasonne and Go” I think that hit home for a lot of people. People who like abstracts want strategy to matter. People who like maps and who like building will really get the feel of the game pretty quickly. I think they’ll like it. I want people to see that what you build really matters; that the placement is not just aesthetic. It’s not just random placement but it really matters how you build and it effects the game.

Do you have any interest in expansions if Cartography is successful?

I have a couple expansion Ideas that I’ll either sell along with the game or if I’m still involved in the design I’d love to design them as well. But I’m not ready to let the cat out of the bag.

If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be?

Probably an old cabinet, Something with dark wood and a Spanish look.

You can follow Cartography on Facebook here:

And check out the soon to be live Kickstarter here: