053: Rose Gauntlet

Our heroes in the final interview of the season clamber before Isaac Vega of the Rose Gauntlet Foundation, who shares his 13-year journey in the board game industry, transitioning from a game designer to a publisher. The Rose Gauntlet Foundation’s mission is to foster diversity and inclusivity within the gaming community. He offers insights into the financial and strategic aspects of game publishing and emphasizes the importance of passion and message in game design.

Here’s what we discussed:

  • 00:00 – Introduction to Isaac Vega
  • 00:35 – Founding Rose Gauntlet Entertainment
  • 00:59 – Nonprofit Initiatives and Community Outreach
  • 02:23 – Big Gay Dinner and Inclusivity Efforts
  • 04:32 – Game Design Journey
  • 05:20 – Early Gaming Experiences
  • 06:45 – Current Projects and Game Preferences
  • 08:52 – Rose Gauntlet’s Publishing Philosophy
  • 13:08 – Advice for Aspiring Game Designers
  • 16:00 – Budgeting and Marketing for Games
  • 23:17 – Rose Gauntlet Foundation and Events
  • 24:46 – D12: The Q&A Game

The following is a somewhat cleaned-up automatically generated transcript from our chat. Thanks for understanding that the bot’s transcription isn’t perfect.

Introduction to Isaac Vega

Isaac Vega: my name is Isaac Vega. I am the CEO and co-owner of Rose Gauntlet Entertainment. I have worked in the board game industry primarily as a designer, but also as an art director and now as a publisher, for over 13 years. I love working on board games. I see them as a Great tool to connect with other human beings and just a wonderful opportunity to spend time with people that you love and care about or get to know new people that you’re getting to know across the table through gaming.

And I love being able to be a facilitator of that.

Founding Rose Gauntlet Entertainment

Isaac Vega: Yeah I own, I am in charge of two separate companies now. Rose Gauntlet Entertainment is a publishing company that started back in 2020, and was announced in early 2021. through part of our efforts of community outreach and wanting to be more involved in seeing the community grow in a way that we were hoping would be more diverse and more equitable.

Nonprofit Initiatives and Community Outreach

Isaac Vega: we decided to also branch out into nonprofit work and then it became very evident that we needed to actually have a nonprofit wing. We opened the nonprofit last year. We officially became a 501 C three nonprofit, shortly before, the BIPOC lounge at Gen Con last year and have been so ever since and are currently an official charity partner of Gen Con for 2024.

Tim Broadwater: What was that point that made you like, okay, we actually have to do this now?

Isaac Vega: Lindsay Rhode is the co-owner of Rose Gauntlet Entertainment as well. Lindsay and I knew that we wanted to approach our company and utilize our company in a way that was going to change the industry for the better. We didn’t see a lot of people like us, being owners of companies, let alone necessarily being represented in the community at large.

So we wanted to make sure that was part of our company his mission to reach out to other people like us, LGBTQ folks, people of color, and women in the industry that didn’t feel like they had a lot of representation or opportunities to have mobility in the industry, and give them a space to be able to do or at least try to open up pathways, for them to be able to communicate with other people in the industry that would be able to help them on that journey.

We felt that it was very important. This industry is prevalent in knowing who you know and getting to know other people, to have events that would allow people to do that.

Big Gay Dinner and Inclusivity Efforts

Isaac Vega: prior to even starting Rose Gauntlet Entertainment, I had started this little kind of get-together called Big Gay Dinner, where I would reach out to other LGBTQ folks in the industry and try to just meet with them and have dinner with them and get to know them.

Because I personally, When I started in the industry felt like the only one so I knew that other people out there felt the same way and didn’t know other people that were lgbtq in the industry and that was an event that just kept growing, and growing every year as my own little private thing And then when the company, as soon as we opened the company, we decided to make that part of who we were, right?

And have it be something that the company supported. And then we wanted to go ahead and reach out to the other aspects of who we were as a company as well. I am a Dominican and Mexican American person. Lindsay has been a woman in the industry for many years since the beginning. It can be a struggle existing in this space also as those identities as well.

And didn’t have a lot of opportunities to meet people like that, in the industry that are working professionally and making it work and also just making safer spaces for them. And we had done such a great job, with Big Gay Dinner and saw the appreciation that was, given to us by the LGBTQ community that we wanted to make sure that we could facilitate the other.

Aspects of who we were and also expanded to other areas in the industry that we also felt were lacking and didn’t really have a lot of opportunities to meet with each other. So we wanted to make that a part of our mission goal, which is why we decided to reach out to Gen Con and see if we could host something like the BIPOC lounge.

And lo and behold, they said, yeah, we’re thinking about something along the same lines and we would love your help on this.

Tim Broadwater: Oh yeah.

Isaac Vega: So that’s how the BIPOC lounge came into existence. And, then we also wanted to make sure that we had an event specifically focused on women and making sure that women could go ahead and meet and discuss ways in which they could have more mobility and equity within the industry as well, which is why we started Game Changers as of last year as well.

Tim Broadwater: Are you yourself a game designer or do you, just want to help publish other people’s games or both?

Game Design Journey

Isaac Vega: Yeah, I started the industry as a game designer. My first published game was City Remnants released in 2013. I’m probably most well-known for Dead of Winter, which was released in 2015. another big success of mine was Forgotten Waters and Ashes as well. Mostly, primarily through Plaid Hat, where I operated as the VP of that company, as well as a lead designer and art director at that company.

Then I stepped into the publishing world when we opened Rose Gauntlet Entertainments, back in 2020.

Tim Broadwater: So rewinding time and looking at a young Isaac, how did you get into gaming and publishing or any of this? What type of gamer were you were a kid or what’s your like gaming experiences? Can you walk us through that?

Early Gaming Experiences

Isaac Vega: So my tabletop games experience was pretty light when I was a kid. It was mostly, through Magic the Gathering and Dragon Ball Z, the card game, growing up with some friends. But those games were very, hard to get into, Based on my family’s income level. So most of the stuff that I had access to was stuff that was just given to me by friends.

So it wasn’t something that really stuck around a lot in my gaming experience. I understood that Monopoly existed. I’d try to get my family to play that every once in a while. And that was really the extent of tabletop for me as a child. I didn’t really understand that tabletop games were its own industry or a thing that was still.

Cool. Actively growing and being created or you could have a career in it up until my early 20s when I came back from college and started meeting up with some of those old friends that I played those card games with, and they had all transitioned into tabletop games and introduced me to them. one of my first games was like, Dominion and Puerto Rico and Battlestar Galactica and those games.

And that’s when I really started understanding like, Oh my gosh, these games are so interesting and so cool. And I really liked them. And about six months after discovering that an industry existed and that new games like this are coming out, I decided to start making my own games and, reaching out to publishers.

And luckily, I got signed by Colby Dock, the owner of Plaid Hat Games, for my first game, City Remnants.

Current Projects and Game Preferences

Tim Broadwater: So then if you had to describe yourself now, like you’re a video gamer as well as a board gamer as well as a game designer or like what all gaming do you touch?

Isaac Vega: as much as I have time to, in all of those aspects, it’s sometimes hard as a publisher to just focus on the game design aspect of things as much as I would love to all the time. Half of my week has been spent on paperwork or seeking to hire another contractor or things like that. Haven’t even touched design this week.

But that’s how it goes. Sometimes as far as like when you’re working in the industry and you’re in the position that I’m in. primarily I still do a lot of design work for the company. My next game Wild Gardens will be released, later this year. It was, Put up on BackerKit early last year.

So it will be out hopefully before Gen Con, which is the current plan. And then, we also have a slew of other games that I’m working on for the company, right now. As far as what I personally like to play, I love playing as many JRPGs as I can get my hands on.

Tim Broadwater: yeah.

Isaac Vega: that can capture my attention when I have an attention span for video games.

just I’m a big fan of Square Enix stuff,

Tim Broadwater: Are you playing Final Fantasy Rebirth right now

Isaac Vega: I haven’t bought it yet, because I know I don’t have time to jump into it, I just want a good two weeks, where I’m okay, work isn’t that intense right now, I can go into it, so I haven’t picked it up yet, but I want to so badly.

I did play the first one,

Tim Broadwater: Oh, nice. Do you like it, is it on your radar and have you played or seen Octopath Traveler?

Isaac Vega: I have played Octopath Traveler. I only played the second one. I didn’t play the first one.

Tim Broadwater: I’ve played the first one and I haven’t played the second one yet.

Isaac Vega: yeah, I really enjoyed it, but I still haven’t finished it. And that’s unfortunately the case of my life with most video games. I like to get about two-thirds of the way through and then work or some other life event gets in the way and I can’t actually finish it. And then a new shiny game captures my attention and that’s what I want to do.

Tim Broadwater: Of course. Yeah.

Rose Gauntlet’s Publishing Philosophy

Tim Broadwater: I’m wondering a little bit about, we’ve heard from previous guests on the podcast that, Hey, if I’m a game designer and not a publisher, Certain publishing places are known for Oh, we just do these little kind of mobile family games or this other place is just we only do card builder games.

Or this is what our vibe is like, we want this gothic punk come play versus player game. I’m wondering, do you feel that Rose gauntlet, do you have a vibe for the publishing house? I guess I’m wondering what are the games you look for or how would you describe the vibe.

Isaac Vega: Yeah, originally when we started the company, our goal was to release games that we had a deep passion for that had something to say in the industry and was putting out some sort of message. That’s really our main focus. We want to make sure that we are saying something through the games that we design.

But we are also, as we’re continuing to mature as a company, we understand the need for different types of products, and for customers that we want to go ahead and attract to our company that may not always fit a specific vibe or ideal and may have to stretch out. And also me as a designer, personally, I have always.

Evolved in different ways of my design. So like right now, I’m very much focused on, simpler, smaller games when that wasn’t really the case. I used to do big story games, that was really more of my vibe or, competitive head-to-head card games and area control games. So I have evolved quite a bit over the course of my career.

As far as Rose Gauntlet is concerned, we just want to do things that excite us. We’re not necessarily trying to stick to a specific script. One of the big reasons that Lindsey and I started this company is because we wanted the freedom to be able to explore that side of ourselves and we felt a little bit more restricted at the companies that we’re at.

Before, because we had to start being within a specific box that can have, it’s, that can be a double-edged sword, depending on what your type of audience you’re trying to attract. So we’re also trying to make sure that the things that we design stay within the realm of something our audience would expect from us.

One of the things that you will definitely see a lot of, in Rose Gauntlet is some sort of element of nature or, Floral patterns or things like that coming through, our designs because of, obviously the Rose in our name, and having some of that. Our first game released, was Keystone North America that focused very much on nature and, ecosystems and things like that.

Wild Gardens focuses on foraging and Wild Gardens. Being able to bring together the community. So those things are also important to us too, but overall we try to make games that make us passionate, and that we want to continue supporting for the long term.

Tim Broadwater: Nice. I have one more question and then I’ll let you jump in, Mike, because I know I’m like, hogging it all, but the name, Where’s Gauntlet? What’s the derivation? Or what’s the idea there too, I of course would think it’s oh, this is Steven Universe, or maybe something, but I’m just wondering is there a story behind the name?

Isaac Vega: So we threw out hundreds of names when we were trying to form the name for the company. We definitely wanted something that was impactful and would lead to some sort of logo that would also resonate with people. And we wanted something that represented both, a fantasy bend. So like gauntlet was able to do that.

We wanted something that represented Soft, inviting, like it’s not necessarily all about Oh, we’re aggressive, like gamers, like in the Rose aspect came in through there. We threw a lot of different names around that kind of helped feel with that vibe. We wanted to make sure that we could step into both areas and Rose Gauntlet just seemed to resonate the most with people when we shared our top contenders with a lot of friends.

One of the things that you had said was basically that you’re looking for these one-of-a-kind games.

Michael Schofield: and I’m curious how academically you all approach that. A good portion of our audience are folks who are. Early career, early dabbler, indie game designers, one-off people. And I’m curious that if you think of what is a one-of-a-kind game that meets certain criteria, have you all actually established or thought about

a rubric, that an aspiring game designer could at least aim for, or keep in mind when they’re in the early stages of their planning.

Advice for Aspiring Game Designers

Michael Schofield: If I came to you and I was like, I want to develop a one-of-a-kind game. What would you tell me?

Isaac Vega: Yeah, I think number one, you need to understand what you’re trying to say. With your game. I think that a lot of people sometimes don’t understand that the medium of gaming has a lot of opportunities to actually share a little bit of your soul with another person. Whether that be through the story, the theming, or the actions that are coming through in the mechanics and the way that it resonates with people in gaming.

And I definitely want to see from a first-time designer or designer who’s trying to get something published through our company. The game resonates at the table with the human beings that are playing it. If it’s not being able to connect in that way, and it’s not being able to have that, intended feeling that you’re trying to get a lot, or if you’re not even thinking about that feeling, as a designer, then I have a little bit of red flags popping up.

And then the other thing is like, where does this sit in the market? What is our budget as a publisher? How much is this going to cost to create we have the means to be able to represent this game in the best way possible and bring it to life in the best way possible.

I’ve seen some designers present games to me before that are fantastic fit all of the other check marks of it resonates with people. It can be made into something gorgeous. The mechanics are unique and interesting, but I know as a publisher, we’re not the best fit for it because we may not have the amount of investment that’s needed in that project or the amount of, contacts manufacturing wise to be able to produce the unique aspects of what the game needs or, will intake as far as testing and things like that.

So let’s say it was a competitive card game and we know that kind of community in order to be completely engaged with the product needs a lot of investment and a lot of stuff. And we’re a small company, so we can’t support something like that.

So it’s not always about just being. Able to hit that perfect home run as far as resonance and making people feel, what you’re intending, and bringing something unique to the table. But it’s also about making sure that we’re a good fit as a publisher for the designer. And my entire ethos around accepting designs for our company is making sure that we’re being as honest as possible.

As possible with the designer and making sure that we are going to do the best job possible for this game and no one else is going to do a better job than us. So if I feel like, hey, this design would actually work better at this other company, I will tell the designer that, and suggest sometimes other contexts that I have ability to go ahead and reach out to, that might be a better fit.

Because overall I want you to succeed When you’re a new designer, putting something in front of us. And I don’t want to go ahead and say, we’re going to be the person that’s going to make you succeed unless I believe that a hundred percent.

Michael Schofield: You had mentioned that, somebody comes to you with maybe a competitive, card game or whatever that there is a cost.

Budgeting and Marketing for Games

Michael Schofield: You can get the vibe check of that cost probably real quick. What kind of dollars does it actually practically take to bring something to market in a successful way?

Isaac Vega: I think there’s a few things there. Recently, we’ve decided to break down the level of investment that we put into specific projects based on the type of game they are. We’ve developed a specific budget for games that are smaller games, for games that are mid-weight, and for games that are like, Hey, these are big, risk take, chunky games that we know It’s a big risk, but hey, it could have a big return as far as what it is.

Those three categories are always going to, have a different level of investment. So how much are you willing to spend on art? How much are you willing to spend on graphic design? How much are you willing to spend on development and play testing, and ordering different things from the manufacturer that may need to test out?

So it’s just going to all depend on where your game is sitting in one of those three different categories. I suggest looking at games that are similar to where you are currently trying to aim for or have the audience that you’re trying to aim for and looking at their price points. So if your game is going to be about a $60 game that requires maybe okay, we can put a little bit more investment into that, but that also means that a certain level of the clientele is not going to be interested because they’re like, I can’t spend $60 on a game.

I can only spend 15 or 30 dollars on a game. So understanding that means you’re going to want to go ahead and put further investment into the aspects of is this really worth. 60. How many games out there have this involved in their games, right? It’s sometimes hard to answer.

This question is, how much do you actually put into a game like dollar amounts in order to make it a reality? You can put. Hundreds of thousands of dollars into the game if you want to. You can be really strategic and put, a thousand dollars into a game if you want to. It really depends on what you have access to and you’re needing to put into that game.

Like right now, we are developing a smaller card game that only has 50 cards. So that’s one sheet. At the factory, like it goes up to 54 cards. So understanding the different types of ways that manufacturers print can also help you in understanding like, Hey this is how much I can, how many cards I can fit on a sheet on a normal manufacturing, level.

And understanding what kind of components are you going to want something that’s like pretty traditional, is it going to be made out of cardboard? Are your player boards going to be made out of cardboard? Are you trying to make everything out of wood? Or are you trying to make a gear in your game that no other game has, or some sort of folding, material in your game that no other game has?

Right? So it doesn’t matter if you want your game to be 15, if it has some sort of unique, token or thing that’s never really been made for before or your manufacturer doesn’t have experience with it, you could be sitting out of that.

I would suggest for a first-time designer, if you are trying to get your game to be made in reality and you are on the path of wanting to publish it yourself, right? To establish a very small, as small of a budget as you can. That is going to make your game an attention grabber in some way, if it’s oh, I have 300 cards in my game you’re not going to get unique art on all of those cards, right?

That’s not going to happen, right? How can you be strategic as to what art pieces you can utilize in order to make that game still stand out, but still be able to have those that the amount of components that it needs in order to stand out right? In order for the game to work in the way that you’re intending, and that will resonate with your audience.

And then also understanding, how much is going to keep you in a safe. Zone, right? Like you don’t want to go ahead and over-invest in something. It’s Oh, we’ll make it back in the Kickstarter because you may not. Understanding that all of this is a gamble. Every time you put a new product into the world, it is essentially gambling that money away.

And hopefully, it resonates with enough people. And then I would also suggest like doing your best to try to market the product beforehand. We have so many games coming out. so many excellent-looking games that would resonate with a lot of people Now every game has great graphic design. Every game has great art. Every game has a new gimmick. That’s easy to market. How is yours going to stand out from the pack? And how much are you willing to spend?

On marketing how much are you willing to put into going to every show and showing it to as many people as you can, getting people to sign up for your newsletter or sign up for the pre-order before you launch your campaign? It does take a lot of legwork there too, in order to stand out.

So there’s a lot of different factors that go into making a game successful. Especially in today’s market, but I wouldn’t say you still can’t do it I would say if you have 5, 000 you could probably make something that works. But if you don’t, and you’re completely doing it yourself, it’s going to be harder to do that because it’s going to be harder to find an artist, a graphic designer, a marketing person, that may have expertise in areas that you don’t.

Now, if you have those talents yourself, That’s even better, but it’s not always going to be the case. But somewhere in the range of three to 5, 000. I think it’s necessary to make a good product, in our current climate that’s going to resonate with enough people on Kickstarter to make more than what you invested into it.

If you’re looking to make money off the project. Now, if you just want to see the project become a reality, That’s a different question. Because whether or not some people may not need to make money off the project, they just want to be even right. It just may be a little bit less or Hey, like maybe you just want to resonate with people, through a different, maybe Kickstarter isn’t your best option.

Maybe something like game crafter or some other, area of production is better for you. So it really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Tim Broadwater: Okay, that’s an amazing answer. There’s a lot of great data there, and that’s a lot of great advice about keeping it simple for your first one, and then minimizing, costs, and don’t do Everdell for your first game where you’re literally cutting out a hundred pieces or something.

Isaac Vega: And there are definitely cases of people making it work with bigger games, right? Gloom Haven is a great example of a huge game that came out of nowhere that people really resonated with you. If you are able to put that little investment in a project, I can’t necessarily say it’s.

The most sound idea, but it doesn’t necessarily mean It won’t be successful because if you can find that way to resonate with a large enough audience, you can make anything successful.

Yeah, no worries. As far as how to find us, rose gauntlet. Com is a great resource for everything rose gauntlet entertainment. If you want to learn more about the foundation, the events that it works on, and, any other upcoming events that we’re going to be working on and are going to be going on, you can go to www rose gauntlet foundation.

And that has all the relevant information there, too.

And we are planning on having, another campaign before the end of the year. Please, check out our website. We are at Rose Gauntlet on most social media platforms and at Rose Gauntlet. FDN for the foundation. If you want to check out anything that we’re doing, please check out, those on our socials.

Tim Broadwater: Yeah. You are actually the Rose Gauntlet Foundation.

Rose Gauntlet Foundation and Events

Tim Broadwater: Can you speak to you can have people who sponsor or, associated with, or could donate to it or be sponsors, or can you speak to that a little bit?

Isaac Vega: Yeah. If you want to go ahead and donate to the Rose Gauntlet Foundation, you can go ahead and do so at the rose gauntlet foundation. com. We are seeking donations to be able to support the three events that we run throughout the year, which are the BIPOC lounge at Gen Con, which facilitates a space for BIPOC individuals that are looking to either Advanced themselves professionally in the industry, either through mentorship or meeting with other professionals in the space or being able to utilize the space throughout the show.

Just to have meetings and just to be able to pitch their ideas or if they’re looking to just enjoy the space as a person to have a space where they can see other people enjoying. And, walking into a room where they can see other people like them enjoying their hobby. And then we also have the big gay dinner that takes place at Pax Unplugged.

That one is for industry professionals, that are LGBTQIA. Feel free to email me, Isaac@rosegauntlet. com. If you are interested in attending that events, and you are part of the community, and we also have another event called Game Changers, that is focused on women within the industry that are looking to, advance professionally and meet with other professionals in their space.

So if you want to reach out to me as well, feel free to do and those other two events are dinners, that are Meeting greets between people, but we also have resources there and activities. So you guys can get to know other people there.

D12: The Q&A Game

Michael Schofield: what is your earliest palpable positive gaming memory?

Isaac Vega: it is purchasing probably my favorite Final Fantasy game, which is Final Fantasy 9. It was the first game I ever bought with like my birthday money or something like that. I don’t even remember where I got it from, but I was just like, Oh, what’s this game?

I’ve never heard of it. It looks interesting. I don’t know what it is, but I like the cover. So I’m going to go up and take it home. And it became my favorite game. One of my favorite games of all time. I still think it’s sitting there. I have a little shrine dedicated my office to Final Fantasy IX and little figurines and things like that.

And I just enjoyed it so much. And I’ve been a big fan of the Final Fantasy series for a long time since.

Michael Schofield: And I suppose with the most dramatic reasoning as possible, describe your favorite dice.

Isaac Vega: I think it’s I don’t I think I have a preference as far as I think anything above D20 is going to be too much for me and I hate D4s. Because it just don’t feel like they roll well. There’s not enough stuff going on. So D6 to D20, very happy. With, doesn’t matter which one. I feel like I’m most known for my, in my game designs for D12s.

In dead of winter specifically, like that die of death, it’s a D12. So I’ll go with a D12. and then as far as the styling, I go to my primitive brain for this shiny. I want it to be some sort of way, have some sparkles, have some colors going on.

Every time I go into a store and look at a shiny pair of dice I want all of them. I want them all. So as long as they’re good quality, they feel good and they’re shiny in some sort of way and have some fun colors going on. I’m happy.

Michael Schofield: You’re basically a crow.

Isaac Vega: Yeah, exactly.

Michael Schofield: All right. Next. I rolled a seven. You put, you’re playing RPGs, you’re playing JRPGs and stuff. When you are choosing a morality track, do you take a Paragon Or a renegade route? Are you a good guy? Are you with a bad guy?

Isaac Vega: I usually, if I’m going in, if it’s a video game, I’m typically somewhere in the good guy to moral gray. Area, if it’s a video game, if it’s an RPG, I love pushing the envelope and I’m playing with my friends. I love pushing the envelope, being a bad guy, and just a little bit more fun to fully role-play and be a little bit more mischievous, but if it’s not the vibe of the group, I’ll go with the vibe of the group.

And it’s okay, we’re all trying to do something good here. But it’s always fun to add that little sense of. Betrayal or mystery and what your character is. And then if it’s a second play-through. Of a video game. I’m going all evil. Let’s see what happens. Me too.

Michael Schofield: You get in a fight. What is your go-to attribute?

Isaac Vega: I like usually wisdom or, dexterity because I think those are fun. Charisma is great, but it just depends on the character.

Tim Broadwater: I attack with my Riz.

Michael Schofield: It’s like basically describing every bard, right? It’s I seduce you.

Michael Schofield: what game, Is a guilty pleasure of yours or what game do you love that other people really disagree with or brings you shame?

Isaac Vega: I think the weirdest one for being a gay man, is the Dead or Alive series, which is a fighting game that is mostly known for, Busty Ladies. I just, I enjoyed the fighting style of the characters. I thought were fun, but it’s not something that I’m very proud of.

Tim Broadwater: one, yeah.

Isaac Vega: Who,

Michael Schofield: with everything I understand. I drive most of my information from just the people around me, but also heavily from drag race and I’m like, yes, this is, this seems totally in character.

Michael Schofield: eight, what is your favorite card game?

Isaac Vega: You know what? I think I’m just gonna still stick in the CCG. If I could play any card game right now, I would probably go hard into the Digimon CCG that’s out right now. I have a whole bunch of cards. I haven’t played it in over a year. But I really enjoy it.

The play style and it’s a lot of fun and I just don’t have the time to keep up with any of the meta or, understand what’s going on anymore or how a deck should be constructed. But if I had all the time in the world, I would love to dive deeper into it.

Michael Schofield: What is your go-to genre? Alternate history, fantasy, cyberpunk, goth punk. What genre speaks to you? Yeah.

Isaac Vega: bit. Um,

and that’s where like most of my thought process like leans towards when I’m thinking about storytelling or I’m thinking about stuff, I, usually lean in that direction. But it’s funny because. I think I’ve only done one fantasy game.

Michael Schofield: When you are playing, whether it’s an RPG, like at the table or just a board game or whatever do you prefer like Theater of the Mind or like maps and miniatures?

Isaac Vega: do like my bits, but I feel like I have a more fun tapestry in my mind. I want both.

Michael Schofield: What is the most like usable game that you’ve ever played and why?

Isaac Vega: Splendor, Century. I like a lot of these Plan B or earlier games, that just really had a fun aesthetic feel, but also really have some depth of gameplay and allow for high-level players and introductory level players, that are just. Getting something out of it.

But I also enjoy a lot of party games. One of the games that we’ve been pulling out a lot. That’s always just a little funny and a little bit of reverent is left left-right dilemma. Have you guys heard of that game?

Tim Broadwater: I’ve heard of it,

Isaac Vega: the game is you start on it. It’s like you arrange these cards a little triangle and the first card asks you a question between these two directions and you’re a skier and you’re skiing down the mountain.

So you go from one card to the other and you have to discover where the skier ended up and the person playing is the one saying, okay, I’d choose this direction. I’d choose this direction. I’d choose this direction. And they’re just always fun, weird, decision points that can be a little bit irreverent, but it’s a fun way to get to know someone.

And it’s been an interesting game, for people to play as well. So I like that. I like code names, pictures specifically a lot, because I’m a visual person. A lot for that kind of thing. So there’s lots that I have, but, those are some, my tops.

Michael Schofield: So I rolled a three, and on our list, that is, what is a game that everybody should play at least one time?

Isaac Vega: Everybody should play at least one time. At least once. This is hard because I don’t think anybody needs to play anything at least once.

Because there’s always going to be things that people gravitate towards. I think a good Dexterity game. At least give it a try. It may not be your cup of tea, but Dexterity is Just fun for everyone. But then again, it’s not necessarily fun for people with disabilities.

Michael Schofield: Twister, like what is it?

Isaac Vega: yeah, there’s mostly like the ballot, like one of my favorite ones is riff-raff, I’m designing and dexterity game right now.

So that’s why they’re sitting high in my mind. I’ve just always seen most of the time people enjoy a good dexterity game, just laugh. And it’s like multiple different levels older parent, grandmother, or like a young little child just trying to balance these dumb little blocks or things, like just laughing and having a good time.

Junk Art is a good one, Riff Raff is a great one, even games like Animal Upon Animal, are just these things. These kind of stacking games are gonna there’s always a sense of tension one of my favorite rpgs ever is Dread.

Have you guys ever heard of dread?

It utilizes that Jenga tower and it’s just there’s so much tension in this dumb Thing that’s it’s like it’s gonna fall over and you’re gonna die your character is dead and it’s just like It’s so interesting. So it’s just a fun way to enjoy other people and add that level of tension in the room in a fun way.

Tim Broadwater: It’s a brilliant storytelling facilitator because honestly, playing Dread is, it’s so easy how that equates to like success, critical success, failure, critical failure, and then in a storytelling game. We’ve applied it to Friday the 13th before and played Dread the 13th. I love Dread and I know exactly what you’re saying.

Isaac Vega: Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever felt, truly scared in a game, outside of Dread. It’s just oh, crap. If this falls, it’s over. Because it’s just you’re actually feeling it in your body.

Final Thoughts and Farewell

Tim Broadwater: This is the penultimate question 11, and just as a warning, we always last ask the same last question.

Michael Schofield: As either a game designer or a game publisher, what is your favorite, like tool of the trade that helps you make something good?

Isaac Vega: Honestly, like just like having Adobe into something like learning how to use that tool has been so helpful to me. Making games and just pumping out prototypes very quickly, has been so great. But, the other thing that’s also. Needed is another human being. I think we could probably divide anything as long as there was someone else Someone to play with me give me feedback.

Michael Schofield: Sad.

Tim Broadwater: No, it’s,

Isaac Vega: But it’s if it didn’t exist, none of this would happen.

Michael Schofield: I feel like the most goth thing you can do is just be exclusively into solo RPGs.

Tim Broadwater: only make so.

Michael Schofield: going to roll dice. I make solo RPGs. That’s a shirt. But it’s like someone crying.

Isaac Vega: I’ve experienced a lot, experimented a lot with, solo design and I, enjoy it so much and I think there’s a lot of fulfillment there, but, for me, the best experiences in gaming are always going to be when I’m enjoying it with another person.

Michael Schofield: Yeah.

Michael Schofield: On that good note, let’s bring it down the lights dim as like you’re at the table, playing with your buddies. The camera turns to you, zooms in on your face. You’ve just rolled your last death save. Your character is dying. What are your final words? I was like, this is the most honest one.

Isaac Vega: Help.

Tim Broadwater: That’s the most useful answer we’ve received so far. Help me! Someone!

Isaac Vega: It’s I’m going to hold on to that hope that somebody can get me out of it.

Tim Broadwater: I love it.

Isaac Vega: That’s probably true.

Michael Schofield: coming through the other side of D12, the gauntlet of 12-sided questions. and we don’t have any way we don’t outro this like we’re just end the podcast awkwardly.

There’ll be some like background music and stuff, but, thanks for making the time to, chat with us.

Isaac Vega: Thank you for having me.

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