Today’s feature is another double feature, this one is a little different though. Today we have Dave Logvin, designer of Vampires & Villagers: The Curse of Christoph, and Hannah J. Merchant, the art designer and illustrator for the game. Dave is carefully considering building an addition to his family home in Lowell to make room for more board games and is looking forward to joining us at Granite Game Summit in May. Happily, his family will join him for this event, too. Hannah is a middle school teacher and freelance illustrator who lives with her husband (a robot designed to infiltrate human society), a small angry rabbit, and a three-legged chinchilla. Working on Vampires and Villagers has been a new and exciting experience for Hannah; she has gained a +15 buff in Layouts, Photoshop, and Backgrounds, and a much needed permanent stat boost in Planning. She suspects she’ll be ready to take on the Card Game Creation Dungeon Boss soon. Outside of game design, Hannah is working on a soon-to-be-launched webcomic. She loves puns, small animals, and terrible Hawaiian shirts.
Three Random Facts About Dave:
He’s a nursery school dropout.
He once ate an entire baguette out of spite.
He has a 15-year- old pet frog.
Three Random Facts about Hannah:
Hannah lived in an actual castle her sophomore year of college. Once, she backed her car into the castle.
Due to having a mysterious tuft of blonde curly hair at the back of her otherwise straight brunette head, she is in a discredited medical textbook from the late 80’s.
Hannah owns an extensive collection of utterly bizarre stuffed animals, including a 3-foot tubular bear, a blobfish, a carrot with rabbit teeth, and a realistic flounder.
Questions by Kimberly Bullock (KB), answers by Dave Logvin (DL), and Hannah Merchant (HM).
Three board game design related questions:
KB: What inspired you to delve into the world of game design?
DL: I have been playing D&D since the 4 th grade. I was always the DM, so that’s where I found my original interest in world building. I have a ridiculous number of notebooks filled with scenarios that I created for my gaming group or to bring to local cons in New England. I don’t play RPG’s anymore, but I still enjoy tabletop and miniature games and I would like to share my creations with a few more folks, so that is what is motivating me right now. Hopefully, other people will have some fun building stories and playing V&V.
HM: Serendipity! I had never contemplated doing illustration for a game on my own. As an only child growing up with a single parent, I played a lot of single player video games, but multiplayer board games and card games were not a big part of my life. It wasn’t until meeting my sister-in-law and her family that I really played any tabletop games. Her husband David, the other half of Askwith, had been interested in game design for a number of years, and he asked me if I would be interested in doing the illustration for a card game he designed. We started prototyping Vampires and Villagers not long after that. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it’s been a really productive partnership. I’ve feel like I’ve learned and grown as an artist exponentially since starting the project.
KB: Are you designing on a time frame?
DL: Definitely using micro and macro goals has aided the development of this project. Some goals are small (demo with a new gaming group), others like improved iconography for a convention, or rewriting the rulebook in advance of a game design contest have been invaluable.
HM: Vampires and Villagers has had something of a sliding time frame, as David and I have been learning as we worked. The game itself is finished at this point, and now we’re working on finishing up the final rulebook, box, quickstart guide and add-ons before moving into mass production. We’re planning a Kickstarter and first expansion for this August.
KB: Do you have any theme or IP that you’d love to design around?
DL: We have a lot of expansions (and some mini-comics to flesh out the background of V&V) that will keep me busy for the rest of this year. But in 2017, we are going to start working on a new terraforming utopian sci-fi game. It will be hopeful and optimistic and a nice change from the world of bloodthirsty vamps. There will be a wonderful retro nostalgic sci-fi art theme and an interesting alternate history of the 1960’s space race where several other countries also make moon landings... and then everything changes. It will be nice to develop a game with other world powers in play, especially as no one will have daggers drawn and no guns pointed at one another.
HM: Now that I have more game design experience under my belt, I’d like to do something really “out there.” There’s nothing I like more than a theme that seems bizarre or unfeasible but just clicks perfectly. David and I have another game idea stewing for when we’re done with Vampires and Villagers, and I don’t want to spoil the theme yet, but it’s a wonderful and unexpected combination of thematic elements.
Three Questions that are just for fun:
KB: Is there any popular game that you would rather not play again?
DL: Coup. I am a big fan of Love Letter and The Resistance so in theory this should be a game for me, but this one just didn’t hook me in.
HM: No specific popular game, but I’m not a big fan of heavily dice-based games. I find playing games that rely more on luck than skill to be unrewarding and not particularly engaging. Suffice to say, I’ve never understood the appeal of gambling!
KB: If you could live anywhere in New England, where would you live?
DL: Burlington, VT, for the maple Creemees alone.
HM: I already live in my favorite Massachusetts town, Waltham, so would buy a giant turn-of-the-century Queen Anne. Probably purple. I would hope local children would start to think of me as the eccentric woman in the big weird house.
KB: What is your favorite mythical creature?
DL: This one is easy. Back in the good old days of D&D, Judges Guild created a creature that combined a Gorgon, Griffin, Spider, and Scorpion. This legendary beast is of course… the Gorgriffspidrascorp. As a DM, I could never resist the opportunity to throw that at my adventurers.
HM: My favorite mythical creature is the baku, a giant smoking tapir that eats your dreams. Japanese folklore describes the baku as being made “from all the leftover parts after all the other animals were made.” It’s generally considered benevolent, but its appearance and function are both marginally creepy.