Today we are featuring Michael and Jason O’Connell from Anarchy Game Studio who will be joining us in Designer Alley. Michael works as a software/ IT consultant and Jason is a student. Jason’s younger brother Zachary also assists in game design and play-testing but unfortunately will not be joining us at Stumptown Game Summit. Michael got into game design to spend productive time with his sons, doing an activity they would all enjoy. Their game Red Spiral is a Cardboard Edison finalist, and will likely be hitting Kickstarter before the end of the year. Make sure to stop by Designer Alley to check what this father-son design team is working on!
THREE RANDOM FACTS ABOUT MICHAEL:
Michael used to write and publish comic books under the imprint Anarchy Press.
Michael used to play collectible card games competitively. He was ranked in the top ten in the world at one time at an obscure card game called Overpower.
In college Michael created a roleplaying game called Nightfall to play with friends. He was the GM.
THREE RANDOM FACTS ABOUT JASON:
Jason likes to relax and play music with my mom and brother for fun.
Jason goes to school at Cascadia Community College, majoring in Chemical Engineering.
Jason’s favorite game is Diablo 2, and his favorite tabletop game is Magic: The Gathering.
Questions by Kimberly Revia (KR), answers by Michael O'Connell (MO) and Jason O'Connell (JO)
THREE BOARD GAME RELATED QUESTIONS:
KR: How long have you been designing board games?
MO: Since early 2017.
JO: Same. We designed our first game, Daylight, together.
KR: What are some of the challenges you have had with designing?
MO: My biggest challenge has been that my designs were difficult for players to learn because they were not well grounded in designs that came before. Players want games that feel new, but in general, they don’t want games that feel foreign to what they’ve seen in the past. Lately, I have been deliberately borrowing elements from previously published games to help ground my designs in players minds in order to make them more approachable.
JO: I often find it difficult to make decisions as to which path to take when trying to first create a game. I visualize multiple mechanics to accomplish the same goal, and I struggle to evaluate which one is the best.
KR: How does the design process typically begin for you?
MO: I start with a theme in mind, and I start to think of ways, within the context of a game, to bring that theme to the table.
JO: I start with an idea for a game I would like to play that I haven’t seen before. Then I try to create a theme around it.
THREE QUESTIONS JUST FOR FUN:
KR: What would you say is your most played game?
MO: When I played Overpower competitively, it was essentially a lifestyle. I can’t imagine how many hours I spent playing it and refining deck designs.
JO: Recently? Gloomhaven. Overall, I have played Magic: The Gathering more than any other game.
KR: If you could create some sort of hybrid animal from a combo of existing ones, what would you create?
MO: I don’t know. Probably something adorable and soft and hypoallergenic.
JO: Some kind of monkey cat.
KR: What are you looking forward to about Stumptown?
MO: Seeing creators local to the Portland area.
JO: Getting fresh eyes on our newest project, Ocean of Fire.
You can find more about Michael and Jason, their games and what they’re up to by clicking on the links below.