Marriage, Design, Sandwiches

I had the pleasure of bumping into Jason Tagmire on Twitter…like you do. I was immediately drawn to him, mostly because in some photos he resembles rock god Dave Grohl. More importantly, Jason let me take a sneak peek at his game Sandwich City before he submitted it to The Game Crafter for their Resource Competition. The game looks really fun and the water color art style is great.

Fun Fact: Jason won that competition. Another Fun Fact: He didn’t do so alone. Jason worked on the game with his wife, Carolyn. It was really important to me to get a female perspective on Hyperbole Games. By getting Jason to agree to write a column, I got his wife to agree to write a column. That, my friends, is what they call a twofer.

Guest Column by: Jason and Carolyn Tagmire (Championland.net)

Jason: For me, designing and developing a game has often been a very solo process, and with a full time job and family, I don’t see much alone time. I’m constantly trying to find the balance in squeezing as much as I can into every day, bouncing between work and play, and back again. As I started working on my most recent game, Sandwich City, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to create the game overnight, and also realized that I wasn’t going to be able to do it alone. So I consciously took a different route and involved my family in the process… especially my wife, Carolyn.

Carolyn: My role in the game is that I wanted to do something with my husband while supporting his desire in creating a board game. I know it’s hectic in our house and the family takes a toll, so I wanted to do what I could to help. I enjoy drawing and painting, which is something that I rarely find time to do anymore, and I find the art of many of the board games interesting so I wanted to take a chance at it. I was inspired the most by Junta: Viva El Presidente, and enjoy the colors and art style of Carcassonne.

Jason: We discussed the project and decided that it needed decent art. I was creating it for The Game Crafter’s Resource Design contest and I wanted to make the best game possible, in all areas. My own art lacks style and edge and just wouldn’t cut it. Carolyn is very artistic, but she doesn’t have a regular creative outlet. She teaches high school biology and wrangles our kids during most of her free time. We’ve worked on some art projects in our 14 and a half years together (whoa!) and have an unnatural understanding of each other. I’d say we often read each others minds, but you won’t believe me. So I’ll just say that we think alike, a lot of the time.

We think alike in the fact that we can express our ideas to each other very easily, sometimes even non-verbally. We can be brutally honest with each other because we would know immediately if one of us was holding something back. On the other side, we have very different artistic styles and ideas. I am more mechanical and straight-forward, and Carolyn is more natural and whimsical. As I described my ideas for Sandwich City, Carolyn started drawing these top down buildings for the market board, which were perfect. It was the exact opposite perspective of what I had planned and turned out to be much, much better.

Carolyn: After hearing J.’s ideas for the game I immediately imagined the buildings in a circular top down pattern. He gave me some ideas of what the game was about, but I automatically started creating my own little world. I named each building and started creating some of the businesses based around the sandwich pieces in the game. I decided to make the different areas based upon the values of the pieces. These are small details, but they are the kind of details I look for when playing a game. Usually while J. is taking an hour to read the instructions, I’ll look over the game boards and I’m amazed at some of the details that artists put into the game. I wanted to add the same level of detail and my own little quirks of creativity to this game.

Jason: Carolyn brought more than just her art to the table, she brought game-changing art ideas. My very basic template idea showed intersecting roads with a low priced zone, a higher priced zone, and a zone that was not available yet. These represented street vendors, city, and farm. What Carolyn did at this point totally changed the tone of the game for me. It’s a small detail that may be overlooked, but it’s the tiny details that make up the whole thing.

Carolyn decided that each area of the board would have a focus. The main shop in one City area is called “George’s Meats” (named after my vegetarian brother). The street vendor in this same area is a hot dog cart, and the farm area is filled with pigs. She did the same in the other three areas and I was in love.

Having someone right in my own house that can create art that not only complements your game, but also develops your game, is a wonderful thing.

Carolyn: I was happy that I was able to add little elements to the game. I’m hoping to be able to spend more time developing an artistic style and work with my husband as he continues to make more games. As a high school teacher, I find it frustrating that many of today’s youth do not tend to sit down and play games that require some of the thinking and interactions that board games do. I’m hoping that by creating more projects like this I can inspire my students and my own children to be creative and use their intellect at the dining room table instead of the television.

Jason: Being able to collaborate with those that you know best is something that I’m really happy to have the opportunity to do. I’m hoping we can squeeze in some more family fun art days and work on other game projects together. Next up is our 4 year old daughter. She’s already making her own games and making her own rules to my games. We could get a whole production team going soon enough.