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?
Order of development. THEME, TITLE, MAJOR MECHANIC, MINOR MECHANICS, MATHS, RULES.
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.
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.