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Subject: Interview with Xavier Georges rss

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Arno Quispel
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On the website of Paolo Santos (Portugal), an interview with Xavier Georges, designer of the coming game Carson City by QWG Games, will be published. This website is:

Here is the text of the interview:

My name is Paulo Santos. I have a blog, where I make reviews and news about the board games world -

I made a few questions that I hope you can answer.

How did you come up with the idea to create Carson City??

I am an architect engineer and I have worked in urban planning for several years. It is also the first theme I look for in games: a game where you are building "something like a city" in interaction with other players. But, regardless of the quality of existing games, I must say that the feeling of building a city is not always very realistic or present.

Where do you get the ideas for your games? Do they start with the mechanics, or the themes?

It depends on the game. For Palais Royal, the mechanics came first, and the theme changed several times during the creation process. For Carson City, my intention was to create a game simulating the building of a new city, with a grid plan. Historically speaking, a lot of cities developed with a grid plan, but an early Western city theme particularly appealed to me. So that is what I chose to focus on.

What kind of mechanics do you prefer to focus on the development process of your games?

I try to develop games that offer a wide range of actions and strategies to the players. I try to let players be free to do what they want, and give them the possibility to act in very different ways.

Which level of luck is acceptable for you in a game?

It is a very difficult question. It has been a central question during the development of CC, because on the one hand, CC is a complex game lasting more than one hour (luck is often more appreciated in shorter and simpler games), and on the other hand, luck is for me inherent to the "Wild West" spirit. Taking part in a duel without fear about the result doesn’t make sense! I remember that during a play test, I lost an important duel with only one chance in 36 to lose, and against a player who generally hated dice. It was so unexpected, and very fun!

How many games do you work on at one time? Are you working on several designs simultaneously, or do you work solely on one project?

I don’t know exactly how many. Very often, I just make some notes about a new idea, and then I forget it until another project brings it back to me. A lot of old prototypes are sleeping in my "cold room", and more or less four prototypes are seriously in progress simultaneously.

Can you tell me anything about the project you are currently working on? Can you tell me any details about the game itself?

I am working on several projects, most of them aren’t ready enough to speak about. With a friend of mine, Pascal Cadot, we have created a very simple and short game (from my point of view) called "Cupidon", where players help Cupid to search for the best ways for men and women to meet each other in the right place and... fall in love!

Your family and friends participate in your adventure to create a new game?

Of course, yes. When I imagine a new game, I can’t test it alone for a long time. Very quickly, I need to test it with other players, to know if my idea has a real interest or only in my imagination.

The creation of a game, have several moments? Creation, editing, testing and publishing? Which is the most pleasant for you? Why?

The most pleasant is when the brand new box of your game first arrives. A game with beautiful illustrations you don’t need to print, paste, cut, sort and package yourself!
Reading good comments and reviews of your game is also very pleasant and important for me.

How often do you play test a board game before publication?

I’m afraid, with only (nearly) two published games, that my experience is not representative. As far I’m concerned, I test and modify my prototype until I’m happy to play it again, just after one or more plays. At this point, the game becomes "stable". You can find this feeling very quickly or not. It’s depends on the game complexity, on your experience, the quality of your play-testers, your luck...

What game that you've designed took the longest and had the most changes?

Carson City. Nine years. I am afraid I will never again be able to repeat such an experience: taking the time to develop, to make prototypes, to test it and to start again so many times, and finally have the incredible chance to find an editor crazy enough to publish a game with so many components! When I think about it, I feel so lucky that I have to pinch myself to convince myself it is real. This is why I am so proud of CC.

Once you give a game to a publisher do they ever develop the game past your original design? Are you always happy with such development?

As far I’m concerned, yes.

How does the internet affect your designs? Do you read the feedback about your games online?

Yes, I read it, and I must say that I have taken some into account for the new prototypes I am working on.

What do you think about playing board games online?

Why not? I must say that it is not my cup of tea for two reasons: the contact with other players is for me very important, and I need to protect myself from such a time-consuming activity!

How often do you play your own games after they've been published? Do you prefer playing your own games or the games of others?

I really like to play my own games, and luckily so, because I have to explain and to play it very often just after publication!

You play games time to time, or the games are part of your daily life?

Certainly, games are part of my daily life.

Can you tell me the game you enjoy playing the most? Why?

Fortunately, I like to diversify my playing experiences, from Time’s up, to San Juan, to Le Havre, to 1830 series, looking forward to the moment I will have time to play wargames and Role Playing Games again! Above all, I like to discover new releases.

Can you tell me your favorite game? And your favorite type of game?

My favourite games are medium-heavy games, development games, managing resources games, like Puerto Rico, Caylus, Though The Ages, Power Grid, Brass, Goa and so on.

Do you prefer play the games or create them?

I need both.

Do you think sales are a determining factor of whether a game is good or not?

Big sales could be a criterion to know whether a game is good, especially if the marketing is not very developed. But on the contrary, bad sales are not a good criterion to assess a game is bad. Why? Because the rhythm of new releases is so high, that a lot of new games don’t have enough time to find their public.

When did you realize that create games were your dream?

When I was a child, I played Monopoly dozens of times. On the one hand, I had fun, but on the other hand, I was wondering about a game more realistic, more fun and where players could make their own choices, and not with dice.

How do you define yourself as a game designer?

I feel like a craftsman making a musical instrument. I do my best, hoping the musicians will play it with pleasure, passion and happiness.

Do you have another job, or you are a full time game designer?

Creating games is only a hobby, not my job! I do it for fun; I need it to exercise my imagination (I must say that my job is not very creative). Maybe it would also be fun to do it full time, but I don’t want to replace my desire to create by an obligation to achieve results. It would cost me my independence, and certainly my hair.

Will you be present in Essen with Carson City?

Yes, I will.

Do you normally follow any particular game designer with especial attention?

I’m very impressed by the work of so many of them, for example Stefan Feld, Friedemann Friese, Philippe Keyaerts, Wolfgang Kramer, Uwe Rosenberg, Martin Wallace...

Do you think that board games can be used for an education purpose?

Certainly, yes. Games are a good medium for many topics. But it isn’t easy. A game always has to be fun, or at least interesting from a player point of view, before anything else. If you place your educational objective above the interest of the game itself, you risk losing everything. Moreover, I think that the existing games could be more exploited in educational contexts.

What you think about the economic crisis? It will affect the games sales?

The crisis will certainly affect the games sales, but I don’t know when and how. If you want to know a good summary of what I think about this crisis, follow this link (in French):

The Age of Empires III and Goa board games retract the glorious days of Portugal history.
Do you think that Portugal history can be a theme for a game made be you?

Of course, yes. Portugal’s history is so rich that we are far from having exhausted this source of inspiration!

What you know about Portugal? Have you ever visited Portugal?

I had the chance to spend two weeks in Sesimbra, near Lisbon, during my honeymoon. During my studies, I did some work about The Pombaline Baixa district in Lisbon. You know, this city area shaped by a grid plan...

Arno Quispel
QWG Games
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Eric Knauer
United States
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aqwerty wrote:

What game that you've designed took the longest and had the most changes?

Carson City. Nine years. I am afraid I will never again be able to repeat such an experience: taking the time to develop, to make prototypes, to test it and to start again so many times, and finally have the incredible chance to find an editor crazy enough to publish a game with so many components! When I think about it, I feel so lucky that I have to pinch myself to convince myself it is real. This is why I am so proud of CC.

Wow, this one is definitely on my radar.
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Surya is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
New Zealand
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That is indeed a very long development cycle, but it shows: the game works very well and plays very intuitive, I found.
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