035: Dungeons & Dragons with Nick Finck

As our heroes set out on their new gaming quest, they encounter Nick Finck: “The Director of the Forest of Trees.” Nick discusses being a UX professional, advisor, mentor, coach, speaker, and founding Craft & Rigor.

Things discussed on this episode:

Nick Finck 0:04
I’ve played a little bit of everything at different times, you know, Call of Cthulhu, Pathfinder… you know, just different aspects that are kind of connected to the world of d&d, or how I kind of feel like afterward to kind of be more like community driven in some ways. And, you know, just because it’s like, if the rules get too complex, just like in designs, like if they get too complex, people find their own ways to do things, you know, simplify things down. And I actually found like, this is kind of something interesting that’s kind of, in my world of, you know, tabletop gaming and stuff. I found that, yeah, you know, there are the rules, there’s how to do stuff, but like, you know, I found I was a more effective DM when I didn’t worry so much about the rules.

Introductory Guy 1:02
It’s time for an adventure in the worlds of user experience and game design. On season three of the Design Thinking Games podcast, join old-school UXers and aspiring game designers, Michael Schofield, Tim Broadwater, and an array of quirky characters from pixelated heroes to mischievous NPCs in search of the ultimate player experience, design thinking is a process that is applied to different types of games in this podcast. If you’re wondering whether your favorite games have already come up, you can listen through the backlog at designthinkinggames.com. Now Rapid ProtoBot, fire that design thinking laser!

Tim Broadwater 1:47
You have a very, very extensive background in UX, and as we are a gaming and UX podcast, your resume reads like Intel, AWS, Facebook, General Assembly… like crazy, like, so the question, I guess is, and you’ve probably answered this 100 times on podcast before is how, you know, the backstory, how did you get into UX, you know, like, what’s your elevator, pitch your backstory.

Nick Finck 2:17
I started way back when the web was just becoming a thing. My first internet connection definitely was like, dialing up with a modem, right? So when I got into design, I was doing web design. Before there were web designers. Like there wasn’t a title, there wasn’t a role. It was just kind of this ancillary thing that was mostly used by schools, libraries, universities, that kind of stuff, and the government. So when I got into UX, and when I got into design was just a natural progression for what I was doing. The one thing I think, like, if I was to look at what was like that tipping point was that, you know, moment where I kind of transitioned, because I was doing web. And again, there was no design. You know, no web designers even really, there was like webmaster, which like, ran the website, but nobody, like, there wasn’t a role for this. I was doing web development, essentially, I was doing Front End Web Development, pre-CSS generation. And I was working at an agency. And we were creating like, these things at the time were like, considered like mind-boggling amazing. Like, you know, everything from like, interactive ads to like websites that had you know, 5000 pages on them or something like that, you know, and I’m talking like static pages, nothing was generated from the database at the time. And you know, the first ever e-commerce sites, that kind of stuff. While I was doing this, you know, I was involved in the community, the web design community, there were like web design forum. There’s a bunch of online sort of chats and lists and things. And I came across Christina, what key and, you know, me and her just had been friends kind of ever since. And I remember talking to her one day when I was at this job. And she was like, Hey, Nick, you know? So I know you’re like, have this like front-end developer web developer title? What exactly do you do, something I was saying in the forum must have like, triggered some interest. And I talked about, like, how was creating Sitemaps for these massive sites, and figuring out how to organize all this stuff to make it more digestible, at the time I was working for, on a site for a company called Sequent, which later became part of IBM, the Numa server kind of category. And so these are like, extensive sites that have lots of content for all the products and all this kind of stuff running on flat files. And, you know, when she talked to me about this stuff, she’s like, okay, so like, do you figure out flows? You figured out organization? What about like naming, labeling navigation? Like yeah, absolutely. As a web developer, I have to create all that stuff, if you can, is UX wasn’t a thing, Information Architecture wasn’t a thing. Well, it was I just didn’t know about it at the time. So this was after, you know, the kind of genesis of information architecture in terms of the articles that were written about it. And Christina says, you should check out the polar bear book. And I’m kind of like smiling and nodding. What’s the polar bear? Because, I mean, I’ve picked up O’Reilly books, but I never referred to them as like, you know, the quality book, you know, right. And so it kind of intrigued me. And she’s like, oh, yeah, no, it’s just an O’Reilly book. It just has a polar bear, just go to the store, look for the polar bear book, you know, on the shelf, and I went to Palace books, found the book on the shelf and said, Okay, you know, here’s this book called information architecture. And I think it’s like at the title was originally like, for the World Wide Web or something like that. It was the first generation first edition take, probably have over on my shelf somewhere. But I started reading through it, I’m like, wow, this is actually like a resource for the stuff I’ve been doing, in addition to like, writing HTML all day. And from there, I was kind of hooked, I was like, Okay, I need to learn more about information architecture. And I started like, connecting into all these folks in the industry. And, you know, just like Peter Morville, Lu Rosen filled, you know, just a number of folks, including Christina, who authored at the time, she authored the, there’s information architecture book, she wrote, at the time, the blueprints for the web. So, so that said, you know, I dived deep into it, and got into it to the point where I was doing both sort of the web standards, web development and kind of stuff, CSS was starting to become a big thing. And, you know, information architecture was was kind of getting its footing, after not too long than interaction design came up. And then there was sort of this moment where everybody sort of, if you imagine everybody standing in room kind of going, Okay, we’re splitting into two factions, because we got too big is that what’s happening here, and everybody wants to, like, you know, go either and be this different thing. Or, you know, there’s this concept of big guy and little IA going around at the time, too. And eventually, the idea of UX became a thing where we said, you know, what, all this interaction design, all this information architecture, these are sort of aspects of this thing called user experience. And that’s where really the first user experience designers kind of got their title. Because it was sort of this, this kind of grouping title. And it quickly got misused and grew into the mess we have today where like, titles mean, almost nothing. And, you know, you can have people called UX designer by title, doing product design, and product designers doing UX design, and, you know, everywhere in between

Michael Schofield 7:49
Our greatest pet peeve.

Nick Finck 7:52
So we’re not gonna go down that debate, because that’s like a, whatever you want to call that. It was endless debate. It just never stops. But that’s how I got into it. And that’s where I started doing more of that sort of stuff. There was kind of another milestone in my career where I was doing work with Kelly goto, in her organization, go to media. And we were working on things like I was doing like usability evaluations on the FDIC website, I was doing, you know, web design and web development for different projects of hers that she needed just extra support on or information architecture on some stuff. And we, you know, I just happen to be I think I was like, web 2000, or I don’t remember what it was like a conference downtown in San Francisco, and I got to meet up with her for dinner and chat. And we were talking and she’s like, you know, Nick, like, I know, I’ve hired you for a bunch of stuff. You know, I’ve know I hired you for this and that and usability and information architecture, but I don’t really know what it is. You actually do. You know, and I remember, you know, at the time, you know, because I was in web development. I got to know Molly Hall Schlag. And that’s what got me down, I think to San Francisco for the I was, I want to say again, it’s web 2000 conference. And I asked Molly, you know, because she’s my mentor, pretty much at this point. And like, Molly, this is what Kelly said to me. What how do you interpret that? And she’s like, oh, you know, I think she’s saying you need to have a mantra, and I’m like, What the hell’s a mantra? So, you know, Quick, Quick Search and I’m like, okay, you know, I get I get this like, idea that this is kind of like my, my ethos, my embodiment of like, what I want to do for my career, how do I want to talk about myself? You know, how do I frame what it is I do? And that’s what really brought me closer into looking at myself as a UX professional, as I titled myself eventually. So that’s a long answer. Or, you know, how did I get into this, but you know, that’s going back 25 years plus, so

Tim Broadwater 9:56
I know thank you for speaking that because it’s a lot I think. It resonates with probably both Mike and I definitely like the UX job fractioning that’s happening right now to where if you’re a UXer who writes code, you’re not a UXer, or we’re, we can’t even give you UX developer status. And I definitely remember Flash. Oh my god, I remember when everything interaction design was just like popping and

Nick Finck 10:27
Wait wait future splash, right?

Tim Broadwater 10:29
Yeah. I remember I tell people, when I said some of the people I work with today, it’s like, oh, yeah, I’ve been using Photoshop since four.

Nick Finck 10:40
That had version numbers for this thing? Well, you know, that’s kind of interesting, because I, you know, I’ve heard people do that sort of thing, where it’s like, oh, you’re not in this field, or you’re not really practicing this, unless you’re doing this. And I’m even guilty of saying those kinds of things. You know, if you go back in the recesses of my Twitter, you’re probably so sure. Yeah, you know, and I’ve learned over time, and kind of grew a little bit more maturity around it and realize that like, you know, as, especially as a mentor, and coach, like, I have a lot of clients are like, you know, hey, you know, this person is telling me, I’m not this because I’m not doing that, or, you know, whatever. Or even like, when they interview, they don’t get the job. And they get told things. I’ll say this to the listeners is like, you know, don’t ever let anybody tell you what you can and can’t do for your career, you could do anything, totally, you could redefine the role, if you need to, you can extend it to areas that never went into this is this is how we get experts in different things like this is how we have accessibility experts. This is how we have people who are voice speech experts in the field of UX, doing some kind of design connected to that. So you know, don’t ever let things like that dissuade you from getting into the field much less continuing to career and interest that you have that might marry multiple things together.

Tim Broadwater 11:57
Here here, I don’t even know how to better say that. I think it’s just everything by default is institutionally I think is just siloed, you know, by default. And so, I feel like, in many ways, you just have to have sledgehammers with them all the time to break down walls, and just talk to be able to talk to the people on the other side of the walls and say like, listen, I mean, a lot of what I find what I, you know, my experience is always UX is more conversation, you know, and just kind of like, can we talk about this? Can we think through this? Can we understand it from a different perspective?

Ad 12:30
I like how there was a few caveats in there that just kind of said, like, remember how old this right? I’m, uh, I think I’m like, the UX generation after you so so like my first like, Angel Fire and GeoCities website still have, like, had like, your CSS one in there. Right? And, and I followed like, like, a fairly similar like path. But like, everything you’re talking about, just feels like nostalgic to me. I was like, oh, it’s like, oh, the days when I had passion. It was like, no one born after 2000 knows like that Pat like the hassle of like, uploading, like 700 files over like FTP, like, it’s like this kind of like old like cPanel like version one. It was like that. So there were some like great moments there to like, sorry, I’m just like, I’ll set up but like, like CSS Zen Garden, like the first one, like, like really cool stuff that like really emerged that’s worth revisiting and kind of like this. Back to the Future style thing.

Tim Broadwater 15:14
How did you get into gaming?

Nick Finck 15:16
Gosh, I mean, I that is going back aways. The red box I want to say the original d&d First Edition red box was oh my gosh, the first time I started playing d&d, I was over at a friend’s house and well, actually no, like that was maybe the second time the first time Okay, going back the first time, it was a red box, but my brother and one of his friends were over, and they were gonna play d&d, and I didn’t know what it was. And I was interested because, you know, I played all kinds of board games at the family and whatever, you know, you know, monopoly, whatever. And I remember, like, there was sort of this resistance, like, oh, I don’t know if it’s for you, or whatever. And I’m like, oh, like, Tell me about it. And like, what is it, you know, and then I finally convinced them to let me play. And I lasted about, like, you know, two whole minutes before I killed myself through by going through a door where it sucked me into another dimension. And there was like, a demon there or something. I don’t remember exactly, but like, I died.

Tim Broadwater 16:21
It’s exactly what you see on YouTube skits, you know,

Nick Finck 16:24
I mean, I was the, you know, I was the player like, oh, there’s a little bit baby dragon. I’m gonna make friends with it, you know, like, right, I just had no idea what I was doing. So so there was a lot of, kind of interestingness about the game that intrigued me. And then again, you know, like, I went to my friend’s house, they had the red box. And, like, I think I played that once. And they had the actual, if you could remember the first, it’s not even a box set, it was a white booklet. That was like introducing the original d&d, because the I think the red box might have been advanced or something like that I can’t remember now. But there was, I remember, there was two different game systems, I didn’t really understand that these were like, different systems, fundamentally, in terms of how they operated. But we ended up playing d&d, in my, I think my friend was DMing, or his brother was or something like that. And, you know, had a fun time had like, little figurines and stuff, you know, the cool, crazy dice that you didn’t see before, like this, like, Oh, what the heck a four sided dice? How does that work? You know. So, you know, just like all this kind of interesting pneus about it. And when I got into it, I kind of realized, like, it’s a lot about storytelling, it’s a lot about theater of the mind, it’s a lot about kind of trying to visualize how something might be. And it relies on, you know, the sort of a column, the referee, the DM, the game, Master GM, and they have to depict the scene in order to be for the game to be really successful, so that characters can kind of understand how to interact and you control this other character. So, you know, if you remember, I don’t know if maybe I’m also dating myself here, but the clash of the titans, the original, yes, the gods kind of placing the figure in the, you know, it’s like, TV like that, like, that’s kind of how I felt like when we had the figurines, and we’re moving them around on a hand drawn map, you know, on a piece of paper or whatever. And, and I was like, oh, yeah, we’re controlling this other entity, kind of, you know, and a lot back then a lot of the material was very, I don’t know how to describe it. Like, I know, like, a lot of people thought it was very culty, or whatever, or, you know, anti religion and all this stuff, you know, I didn’t really see it that way. Because there was like, not just demons or as angels, there was dragons that were, you know, benign creatures. And there were, you know, creatures that would go on defense as soon as you saw them kind of thing. You know, so it was kind of a whole world. And I do remember, you know, picking up like the the Lord of the Rings books and reading those and getting intrigued by this and kind of seeing the kind of overlap between the two worlds of the, you know, d&d game world. And this this book, which really fostered that kind of fantasy fiction world, you know. And that’s, that’s how I started I started in d&d.

Tim Broadwater 19:21
Your family played commercial, like board games, or you played board games with your family and friends that were out. But then you got exposed to Dungeons and Dragons. And do you I know the reference of Clash of the Titans. Do you do I’m assuming you know of Mazes and Monsters, right? Yeah. So we actually on episode, I think season one, we actually talked about, like the religious fervor and the stuff behind or that the original perception of like Dungeons and Dragons or Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, right? I think Stranger Things the TV show is even touching on it on Netflix because it’s I Think in their last season, they have this d&d club at their high school. And so I kind of remember that it was like this is is this? Are we allowed to do this? We’re making up the rules. We’re writing the rules and playing it, or is this is this even a game? And that’s, I think what broke people’s minds about it?

Nick Finck 20:16
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that was absolutely me.

Michael Schofield 20:20
Oh, yeah. How much of it like what like, like, it seems to me that like one of the things that was maybe like paradigm shifting then was that I can’t really think of other games. Other than like d&d, like at the time that was like, like, co creative, right? Like you were participating in the game. It’s like, Yeah, you were playing or whatever. But you were also like, an integral part of how that game was designing around you too. Mind blowing stuff.

Tim Broadwater 20:52
Fifth Edition now is a is a format, right? You can. There’s a lot of podcasts, play podcasts. There’s Critical Roll Dungeons and Daddies, the Real Housewives of D&D, you can go out to a comedy club and go to role 20 tavern where they do a live d&d show with you. It’s kind of like a vehicle now. And I think it’s really interesting how that’s evolved. Yeah, especially fi ve because it’s become really, I think, a lot of people. I started to E, I’m a second edition person. So you, you have facto, everyone, this eye on Asus that everyone hated, because they didn’t like the points in the math. But I think isn’t in the next year to sixth edition coming out.

Nick Finck 21:38
There’s there’s Digital D&D, which is kind of a mind blowing kind of experience, and very much turns the tables literally on the world of d&d and how we think about playing. And then, of course, are developing D&D Beyond, which is like their platform. As far as sixth edition, I imagined or working on something like that. But I kind of also thought like maybe digital d&d is somehow connected to that, but I’m not 100% Sure. I don’t work at wizards. So I don’t really know.

Tim Broadwater 22:07
I remember someone talking about the timetable recently. And they’re just like, fifth edition has been out for X amount of years.

Michael Schofield 22:14
I’d love to hear Yeah, just about this, like, multi year super involved campaign full of UXers? I didn’t know that one. Or two? Yeah. How do you design for like it? Can I can I can encapsulate it in this like large questions like, how do you how how, like, game as a product? How do you design a multi year long narrative that holds up, it’s still fun to return to every year?

Tim Broadwater 22:39
That’s full of all UXer players?

Michael Schofield 22:43
Who are seriously critical.

Nick Finck 22:45
I mean, you know, so in the campaign that I’m currently running, I mean, it’s definitely multi year campaign, we’ve had players come and go, there was kind of a match at the beginning. And it really speaks true to several mistakes I’ve made in my career and clearly didn’t learn from as a returning to being a DM, since second edition, which is set expectations early and often. So I had a group that I learned, you know, partway through, I mean, I’ll say at the start of the campaign, that it wasn’t going to quite work out for everybody, because they had different impressions of like, how the game should go. And what what it was, is, you know, and again, I’m not a huge advocate of like doing personas on every UX project, but like, what it was, is, all these users all these players had had personas, some of them wanted to get in the game, and they just wanted to beat the heck out of stuff hacking slash just like, throw me in a dungeon, give me a monster, I’m gonna attack it, I’m gonna, you know, totally like, you know, do that or

Tim Broadwater 23:44
Murder hobo!

Nick Finck 23:44
Murder hobo, murder hobo. And then other other players are, you know, like more about the storyline. And that’s more intriguing to them and kind of untangling complexity in stories and stuff. You know, and piecing things together like a giant puzzle. And then other players are more like, you know, I’m going to, you know, do these kinds of buffs and do this kind of stuff so that I could get, you know, I’m going to use the action economy, and I’m going to, you know, it’s like the card counter and poker kind of thing for d&d.

Michael Schofield 24:15
Yeah. Mid-maxer!

Nick Finck 24:16
.Yeah. And so and that’s a good strategy, you know, and maybe that works, you know, but like, there’s a point where, like, some of those players, like, don’t have fun in a campaign where like, hey, this might have more of a narrative to it than that, you know, you might not we might have a whole entire session where we’re not, you know, in combat at all or multiple sessions in a row. And there are some gamers that just like, this is a DD I don’t know what this thing is, you know, they just, like, throw in the towel, like they’re out, right? It’s like, okay, fine, you know, fair enough. I understand that, you know, and just like in business, like, you know, there’s a customer for every business, right, every product, right? And if you tailor your product towards a particular audience, you know, some of the other audience might suffer and they might eventually leave. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe you’re now able to focus on what the real true intent of the product was. I find a lot of companies now are just trying to, you know, do everything for everybody. If I was at Diem trying to play a game to satisfy all those different users, all those different players and their sort of Persona, I would be at a loss, I would, there would be winners and losers in every game, not in terms of like, who died or TPK, or whatever. But, you know, there just be a lot of like, you know, folks that would not be happy with the game, and that’s defeating the whole purpose is having fun, right? So, yeah, to answer your question about like, how do you create a world like this? How do you do a game that’s multi-year? The sort of answer is, is I started this campaign in a certain way I knew was going to be narrative focused, I didn’t set expectations, I lost some players to that process. You know, these are all good people, meaning Well, meaning people but you know, that said, it wasn’t a good fit, got some new players that kind of joined in and kind of picked up the campaign from there. And that’s where I was very clear about setting expectations, like, Hey, this is what’s going to be here’s what you can expect from some of the sessions. We also do like, sort of like speed round sessions are not the like half day of playing d&d kind of thing. They’re small, every other week kind of game sessions. And so it does extend the storyline. And what I started with was essentially this like epic novel, or a series of novels that call it call it a series. You know, think of like, Lord of the Rings, or Game of Thrones, you know, all these? Well, you know, the books, actually. And that’s what I had, I had these overarching, what are we trying to do? What’s the end goal of this whole thing, the big aren’t right? And the time, yeah, and then inside of that are multiple arcs right? In, they all kind of intertwine in different ways, and they all connect, so we play essentially every other week, and then we kind of swap weeks when it’s around holidays, I start at seven, we end up at nine. So not a whole lot of space. And it’s a six player game. So So you know, there’s, there’s lots of voices, or you know, lots of folks contributing to the conversation in the room. And we really just focus on playing like, we might spend the first 30 minutes of our session just talking, just talking about design, or late job hunts, you know, like, whatever random things are going on, you know, just anything, you know, nothing even related to d&d, just to kind of remember that, hey, this is kind of a social event, a bunch of friends getting together and playing and having fun, you know. So yeah, it’s a short, you know, sort of thing, and we don’t accomplish a whole lot. And there is a lot of like, you know, the player wants to do this, and they want to do that, especially like, when they get to the city, it’s like, the sort of reading joke is like, Well, we actually make it out of the bar today, or we actually make it out the magic shop today, you know, kind of thing. Negotiating negotiation with the shopkeeper and all these different things and stuff, you know, and it’s all fun, and we just roleplay it out. It’s like, if this is how we want to play or you know, spend our time, that’s cool. Let’s do it!

Tim Broadwater 28:11
How do people get in… touch, or do you want people to get in contact with you? I don’t…

Michael Schofield 28:17
Stay away.

Nick Finck 28:18
Yeah, no, I’m not the mysterious of folks out there, where it’s like, hey, you know, can he does anybody have this person’s email? And I, I readily share my contact stuff, probably a little too much. But yeah, you know, I run a business called Craft & Rigor. That is my coaching and mentoring business. If you’re looking for a coach, slash mentor, and I do combine both of those aspects into one offering, that’s something I do if somebody is looking to get into the UX field, or the design field, or become a product designer, or UX researcher, you know, a Content Designer, that’s stuff that I can help with. So the career coaching part of it of, you know, what should my portfolio look like? What should my resume look like, helped me, you know, finesse my resume, so it’s more desirable to a hiring manager, you know, in mock interviews, and, you know, practicing presenting portfolios in an interview setting, virtual or in person. That’s all stuff that I do through Captain rigor. And, you know, pairing it with, you know, the sort of mentorship of, you know, oh, I’m struggling with this aspect of design, how do I, you know, find a solution for this particular thing. But a lot of it tends to be folks that are like, either trying to move up having some challenge, like a pm or engineer person, you know, how do they work together better, how do I help them see the value in that, you know, and then, you know, maybe they’re looking for a lateral move or, you know, going into management or they’re, you know, try to move to another company, all that sort of stuff is folks that, you know, are my current clients and I help with at a number of levels, whether they’re new to the field, sort of mid levels, senior level, Principal, or, you know, pretty far up in pretty experienced in the individual contributors sort of mindset. Or in the management, new to management. That’s like, the one thing I feel like we lack a lot of in our industry is we sort of move people over from an icy track a lateral move to management, but we give them almost a lot of companies don’t give any l&d to that space. And they’re just like, expected to just know how to manage right? And not everybody’s good at it. Right? So there’s a lot of things that I give advice and suggestions on about how to structure that how to do that effectively instead of organization. So I also advise businesses on how to build a design team, how to grow a design team, you know, thinking about, you know, how do you implement a design process? How do you build a design system? How do you build a design ops team? Where should it live? You know, who should it report into how many levels should there be, you know, all this kind of stuff is also part of what I do as craft and rigor on an advisory level for businesses. But the main bulk and better bread and butter of it is, you know, people looking for coaching and mentoring, especially in this economy where like the job hunt is excruciatingly painful…

Michael Schofield 31:22

Nick Finck 31:26
… even for the most talented, well positioned greatest portfolio ever, people. And so there’s a lot of folks out there that need that kind of support. I’m one of many that that do this sort of stuff. I think my niche is specifically that I’ve been in the field of UX. So I could give kind of customized coaching around the UX field where most like career coaches and executive coaches don’t necessarily have that background. Some of them do. And I’m happy to refer people who want that kind of coaching. But you know, for those that are looking for the design background paired with coaching, that’s, that’s my thing. So Craft & Rigor, you can just go and find me on Twitter @NickF. And I’m on several Slack channels, I’m probably on your Slack channel out there. So just a bit of a lurker pretty much on Slack. But um, you know, just find me on LinkedIn if you need to, or go to my website nickfinck.com, you can find a way to contact me there. I don’t publicly share my email. But you know, fill out the form, send me a message, I’ll get it and go from there. It’s one of those things where like, sometimes just the right advice at the right time, and I know there’s like in the field of UX advice is cheap. I mean, anybody and everybody, like you go on Twitter and get 1000 different answers to the same question. It’s not hard, you could, you know, heck use chat GDP to get a response to something. The thing is, is you have to understand where it’s coming from, right. So I find a lot of like, for example, my entry level designers that that are my clients now, you know, had got advice from people who have only hired senior designers that only are used to, you know, working with senior designers, and then they kind of get this daunting task of creating a portfolio of like, eight plus case studies are something you know, and can’t be on Squarespace and all these things. And it’s like, I think they’re speaking of a senior designer, maybe that person hasn’t been calibrated for somebody entering the field. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a portfolio on Squarespace. If you’re new to the field, you know, going back to my earlier statement of like, don’t let somebody tells you how to do you know, your you know, what you need to do for your job, you know, you know, kind of carve your own path. I think it’s important to make sure that the advice you’re seeking and more importantly, who you’re getting asking for advice from is somebody that has done what you’re trying to do, you know, has been down that road and has a lot of expertise to provide in that space. Because so often it’s very easy to just, you know, get misled and then you find yourself like three months down the road still without that first job, wondering why you’re not breaking into that field and it’s painful, right?

Tim Broadwater 34:11
I am a huge advocate of mentorship. I tell everyone to do it. I’m glad that this is a service that you offer. I have mentorship in a couple of different mentors like over the years from working in UX and so yes, the source is very important where you are getting the mentorship from.

Nick Finck 34:34
Yep yep.

Rapid ProtoBot 36:10
Rapid fire no time to rest, put your knowledge to the test from gaming to UX? It’s all fair game answer right and you earn your fame! D12 D12 roll the dice answer well, D12 D12 will you triumph or fail… with 12 questions and a whole lot of fun, D12 is the game that’s number one!

Michael Schofield 36:42
We have a series of 12 questions right

Tim Broadwater 36:44
Inside the Actor’s Studio right is that’s how you describe it?

Michael Schofield 36:47
Inside the Actors Studio. They’re kind of random. What the way you respond is however you want just off the top of your head, you can elaborate or not. And we’ll just kind of like move on. And this is how we’ll kind of like end the session.

Tim Broadwater 37:03
Roll and tell us what your D12 Is and well that’s where you can start.

Michael Schofield 37:05
Yeah, tell us the number.

Nick Finck 37:07
All right, I got a roll. I got a two. I didn’t do too hot.

Michael Schofield 37:11
theater of the mind for maps and miniatures.

Nick Finck 37:14
Oh, gosh. It’s a balance. It depends. I’m gonna give you a UX answer. Oh, gosh. Yeah, yeah. I mean, that that’s, that’s, it’s like a holy war in some cases. Like if you follow some of the forums, but, you know, I really think I do better with theater of the mind. And I do with maps. You know, because usually, like I think of maps is like the combat and if I’m playing like more of a story driven kind of, you know, experience it’s going to be more you know, narrative, right. So the next day I got a seven

Michael Schofield 37:54
if you couldn’t make up any UX title to give yourself what would it be?

Nick Finck 38:00
Ah, boy, director of the forest of trees. I read that once in a Fast Company book and I thought you know what, I love it. I’m gonna go with that. One because I’m from the Pacific Northwest and to just because it’s kind of like see the bigger picture but also see the parts you know.

Michael Schofield 38:16
100% I I’m a little shocked how fast that just came off the top of your head

Nick Finck 38:30

Michael Schofield 38:33
favorite design tool?

Nick Finck 38:35
Oh, immediately fail. My my, my favorite design tool? Gosh. Yeah, I mean, I love figma I love sketch. I’ve used Accenture. I’ve kind of used everything OmniGraffle was great for wireframing the heck out of stuff. Yeah, that’s a tough one.

Michael Schofield 39:00
OmniGraffle was a great,

Nick Finck 39:01
yeah. There’s somewhere out there. There’s a video of me explaining how my team does. OmniGraffle on the Omni site. I actually redesigned that site a long time ago. Oh, no. A new Omni company. OmniCorp. Yeah. So I’m gonna say I would say figma. Because not because I’m just like, let’s go with the latest trend. Let’s you know, whatever. You know, I know it’s now an Adobe product and things could change. But the community aspect of figma was kind of revolutionary, the multi participant aspect of it. I hadn’t seen that since, gosh, Sabetha edit dates. I mean, like, you know, and where you can, like one person is writing code, another person is filling out the content in between the code, you know, that’s what I’ve seen, like the benefit of figma is just bringing the community together in a lot of different ways. I think it’s one step. I think there is going to be an evolution Maybe it’s gonna be figured out, maybe it’s gonna be something else that’s going to take us even closer as a community. You know, because right now we have all these tools outside of that, like Twitter used to be the design center for the world, you know, not so much maybe anymore, but, you know, that’s where the conversation would happen. So I think that’s important to bring that aspect in because design has many different you know, like use pace layering here. Well, it has many different layers that move at different speeds. So the fashion of it, like, what’s the cool design trend for this year? You know, isn’t the next trend for next year right? What is you know, the right kind of tool for this year might be different next year too. But for right now, I think figma figma Is it because it gets award for bringing community so that was a failed rule that Okay, three

Michael Schofield 40:52
What game should everyone play at least one time?

Nick Finck 40:58
Oh, gosh. So my my friends Kelly and RAs are avid game players like tabletop you know, type games. I’m gonna say and this is just because it was a fun ridiculous experience but trailer park wars so it’s, it’s this ridiculous game where you have trailers and everybody has a character and there’s all the personas of the different kinds of folks you might see in that kind of space and how they interact with each other and you know how they deflect or absorbed sort of like impair up well with other neighbors and such. I’m totally doing the game a disservice is a roller coaster of a wild ride just did like hey, we’re gonna do this tonight you know and go down to your favorite game shop see if they have it. Set it up read the rules and then just play it How are you going to play it because man is so fun

Michael Schofield 42:05
awesome yeah, we’re totally gonna like the check out that

Nick Finck 42:09
All right, we’re gonna roll here and I got a 12 Nice

Michael Schofield 42:15
Oh my god this deep Tim you fail your you fail your last death save what are your final words?

Nick Finck 42:27
Man I’m going to make a little bit of mockery of myself here and use the phrase the catchphrase that one of my characters in the not the five year campaign but a different campaign that my friend restaurant ran a while back and he was the character was a warlord so very courageous, very you know strategic and all this and upon encountering I think it was a troll or something like a cave troll or something I don’t remember exactly what it was and later became a character flaw as like a feared creature because his words were as the as all of the players all the characters are running across the field to go and attack this thing he’s retreat so maybe my last famous words will be retreat

Michael Schofield 43:34
let’s keep going.

Nick Finck 43:35
I got a 3 so

Michael Schofield 43:37
what is what is your color mode RGB ry B Pantone CMYK which one speaks to you?

Nick Finck 43:45
Well um I definitely want to throw in the alpha layer on there for anything I play with

Michael Schofield 43:53

Nick Finck 43:57
Yeah, so it is it is a bit of the RGB and also RGB because like throwback to my you know, digital video world and going from you know, cinematography CMYK in print there’s a number of different you like humans see and all this kind of stuff. So I think RGB a and gosh, I feel like I have to pop up in my CSS to see what the heck I actually used on my own personal website now. hand coded that thing. So I’m like I should know this but I think it’s already been

Michael Schofield 44:38
Let’s see where your adventure takes you.

Nick Finck 44:42

Michael Schofield 44:46
when you attack, do you use strength? Or dexterity?

Nick Finck 44:53
Yeah. Am I more like brute force or am it’s like, what is judo, right? There’s there’s kind of an interesting ness to that a lot of characters have played have been fighters. So there’s definitely a strength aspect but I think I like to use the dexterity and be able to kind of manipulate the weight of the other person into the, into the attack in the attack in a way that favors what needs to happen. So not necessarily manipulating people, but more or less using their strength, their weight, their attack as a benefit for how we’re going to make this happen.

Introductory Guy 45:34
I have to ask, Are you do you do judo or BJJ?

Nick Finck 45:38
I know a little bit of judo but I don’t think I would say I do judo.

Michael Schofield 45:47
Tim. Immediately, like perked up. He’s like, Oh, Judo?

Tim Broadwater 45:56
It was great. That was a really good description.

Nick Finck 46:00
I got another one. So I’m totally going to the

Michael Schofield 46:05
advantage URL again.

Nick Finck 46:06
Okay. All right. All right. This time, I got a 10. So let’s go with the 10.

Michael Schofield 46:11
A 10. Oh, Nick, I hope I hope you’re I literally know you’re sitting down. I hope you’re sitting down more. What is your visceral? What? What is your visceral reaction when you hear UI slash UX?

Nick Finck 46:28
cringe, absolutely cringe. Not because I don’t value UI, but I firmly believe

Michael Schofield 46:37
tell the truth.

Nick Finck 46:40
of the user experience, it is connected inherently. This goes back to form follows function. Its form ever follows function, if we want to go into the architectural aspect of it. But yeah, I feel like UI is always going to be part of the experience, whether it’s digital or physical or anything, there’s always some part that the individual is interfacing with, even if they’re not touching it, right. So I feel like when we say that, either, we’re really trying to say, hey, we want a UX professional that is really good at UI, which they can just say in the bullet points. Or they really have no idea what they’re trying to hire. And a lot of times those roles you find out, like I had somebody I talked to yesterday, and I said you know what this company really needs to just hire a UI designer, they don’t need a UX designer for this role. And they’re like, What do you mean? And I’m like, well, they, they need aesthetic, everything else is figured out, like you know, and it’s very seamless, there’s not friction, you know, you really just need a nice aesthetic to map across this product. It’s like that’s a UI designer that will help and that’s what

Michael Schofield 47:47
made the world see its failures.

Nick Finck 47:52
All right. And five, do I get advantage? Or do I use my proficiency bonus?

Michael Schofield 47:59
Plus three proficiency… What is your dump stat?

Nick Finck 48:03
What is my dump stat? Oh, gosh. I mean, it depends on the character. But if I had to pick and I’ve had a lot of fun with this actually intelligence, unless I’m playing Of course, like, you know, a character that is required. So yeah. Yeah, cuz just, it’s, it’s actually really fun to play somebody who’s kind of stupid as a character, and just run around and doing these kind of ridiculous things. Because, like, you know, when the party is going, why are you doing that? You know, and have some purpose within the party. Right? You know, so

Michael Schofield 48:44
It’s probably like, like therapy, like delayed in their cycle. So like you spend every day being the thinker. You just turn that off.

Nick Finck 48:54
Less thinking, more doing… Let’s do it

I scored another one. Man. I’m glad I’m rolling. Yeah. Gateway advantage. roll again. Yeah. All right to

Michael Schofield 49:22
…a two plus four. What a what’s a game that is a really guilty pleasure.

Nick Finck 49:31
really guilty pleasure. I mean, some people have different degrees about what they feel as guilty pleasure. But I’m gonna go with cards against humanity. I feel like it’s one of those things where like, awkwardly I find some sort of delight in being able to play that like perhaps with my parents even sometimes and the awkwardness that can happen in that game. Absolute awkwardness. Not that I thrive on that but like, you know, just in A new person who’s never played it before they always you know, always kind of get them into the victim the mix and try to set expectations that pretty much you’re gonna walk away with this from this game offended and if you’re not offended, you probably haven’t played it well, you know… I got a nine.

Michael Schofield 50:23
Describe your favorite dye, dye and dice like, Okay, we know that dye is singular. But c’mon, describe your favorite dice.

Nick Finck 50:32
Well, I mean, I’ve, so I’ve had the liberty of handling a lot of dice in my time. And also like, my players, one of the holiday gifts, I was able to get them previous year was a set of dice in a nice case and all that kind of stuff. And kind of sewer, they were all different. You know, like, there was like, I had the middle dice, there was the kind that was like, super, like the four sided dice was like, literally could be used as a weapon with sharp. So I, you know, and I actually, you know, understand the value and like, Okay, why do you want to have rounded corners on the dice? Just like why do you wanna have rounded corners in your designs? Right?

Michael Schofield 51:14
Oh, why did why do you want rounded corners on your dice?

Nick Finck 51:17
Because, one the roll, it’s a little bit smoother. And then also, like, if you tend to be like me and kind of fidget with your dice. It’s a lot better experience in that super sharp, hot dice. That’s like going to stab your hand and you’re like, oh, you know, in the middle of gameplay?

Michael Schofield 51:33
or thought about that at all

Tim Broadwater 51:35
Border-radius 10? Yeah. I mean, it’s the same thing.

Nick Finck 51:39
Right, right. Yeah, you know, and the metal dice, like, there’s some value in it. Like, they’re very beautiful. I’ve seen some of these dice up close. And some of them are really well crafted. And but man, they’re so so heavy. And when you roll it, like there’s very little, like spin on it, you know? So it’s like, if it lands, it’s going to land it’s going to stay put, you know, like, right. So I just..

Michael Schofield 52:03
THis is the most shop talk about dice it’s amazing. I’ve never really thought about that. But you’re right, you like you have a preference? Oh my god.

Nick Finck 52:11
Yeah. So so the ones I’m playing with right now are kind of a combination, they’re purple and green, it’s really hard to kind of see it here, sort of mostly transparent. And, again, the numbers here actually matter to another thing in terms of accessibility and contrast ratio, the number of dice that I’ve seen that actually either don’t paint their numbers, or they paint the, the opposite, you would think like it’s a black color. And but the dice is dark, it’s like really hard to see, you know, same thing goes with like, I have another set of dice up in my Kevin over here that is a metal that has their themed after character classes. And so it was like the Ranger class and have like oak leaves and things like that on it very intricate, but almost impossible to read the number when you’re rolling. And so you’re sitting there staring at it going. I think that’s I think that’s a five, you know, or could be a seven but I’m not sure. Because all the all the churches around it. So same thing with design. It’s like a lot of flourish, right? So I tend to go with actually a pretty vanilla very readable, easy to roll lightweight dice, like this.

Tim Broadwater 53:20
Final question is my favorite one just saying… I love it and came out this way.

Michael Schofield 53:26
What is your d&d alignment?

Nick Finck 53:30
Oh, gosh. So I’m gonna have to go back to the toilet paper model of alignment of how you hang toilet paper on the roll kind of thing, which is great. We’ll have to link to that in the show notes. But I tend to be somewhere in the neutral to chaotic good side of things. Like I love helping people. And sometimes I’m a little bit crazy about how I go about helping people. So wanting to do good in the world wanting to help our users use systems wanting to help people get into the field wanting to help elevate designers so they get that promotion and get to where they want to go. So definitely on the good side and I would say neutral because I can play like by the rules or I can go a little bit off the rules at times.

Tim Broadwater 54:18
So you’re saying neutral good, or neutral or chaotic good?

Nick Finck 54:23
So I actually would say it’s yeah, you’re right. It’s on the chaotic good spectrum. Yeah.

Rapid ProtoBot 54:39
Want a game that’s hot, D12 is what you got, 12 questions better be quick can you handle it, can you stick? D12, D12, roll the dice answer well, D12, D12…

Michael Schofield 55:00
In this season we really promise we’re going Design Thinking games is going to be more active on various social media we understand as I aged Gen Xers slash millennials, elder millennials that like yo, wait, wait,

Tim Broadwater 55:23
I’m I’m firmly rooted in Xenial I am a Xenial. So I am right between GenX and Millennial.

Michael Schofield 55:31
As as as Xenial and a millennelder There we are. We acknowledge that look like our social media game for the last two seasons hasn’t been on point but this season, you’re missing out. If you’re not following Design Thinking games on the three T’s tick tock twitch and Twitter probably in that order as Twitter is a dumpster fire. Actually see Ben shooting some like Excellent. Like just like footage of some of the really cool and interesting games for playing. As you know, we look at games clinically, and deconstruct them to the point of no longer being enjoyable, but that makes for some really good footage. The other thing you’ll find there are like this kind of like network of amazing indie designers who we are interviewing some of whom are we’re interviewing on this show for the season, and we’re all going to be engaging there. We’d love for it. If you’re an end user experience if you’re into the player experience, you’re into the craft of game design and freedom to us Design Thinking games.

Introductory Guy 57:00
Thank you for listening and connecting with design thinking games on tick tock twitch and Twitter. You can also check out design thinking games.com To request topics, ask questions or see what else is going on. Until next time, game on. Any final thoughts for our listeners Rapid ProtoBot?

Rapid ProtoBot 59:54
Destroy, destroy!

Liked it? Take a second to support us on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!