Welcome to the last of our Micro Chat interviews for the 2017 1st Quarter line-up of Kickstarter games. This time we talk with designer Mitchell Shipman on this game Find Your Seats.
In Find Your Seats, players take the roles of party planners having a terrible day. They have completely misplaced their seating plan! Each player will start with a hand of cards representing dinner guests and, over three rounds, draft what they believe to be the best group of guests to sit next to each other. Players score points based on the seating arrangement of their guests. The player with the most points in a round wins the round, the player with the most round-wins will win the game.
Thanks for joining us, Mitchell. Could you share with us the story the story behind the creation of Find your Seats?
Mitchell: The story behind the creation of Find Your Seats is that while looking for competitions and game jams, I stumbled across Button Shy's 2016 Wallet Game competition on twitter, and loved the idea of the 18 card restriction.
At the time, my team at work had just started having weekly lunches together. Unfortunately, I am not the best in social situations with more than five people, even if they were people I’d worked with for years. As we sat and ate, I never really participated in the conversation. Instead, like in most situations, I was an observer more than a participant- unless I was seated next to certain members of the group.
In my observations, I noticed our group was made up of multiple “generations”: folks that had been with the company for thirty years, people like myself that had been there for a handful, and a couple of interns. These age groups formed natural cliques, and our conversations varied wildly, but based on our seating configuration there was always either a lot or a little conversation. Thus, the idea for Find Your Seats was born.
What in your opinion make Find Your Seats different from other card drafting games out there?
Mitchell: Drafting naturally comes with interaction with your immediate neighbors. I think what sets Find Your Seats apart is that while you can affect your neighbors during the draft, you can also affect them during play as well.
That sounds silly without knowing exactly how the game plays, but you and your neighbors essentially "share" points for one of your cards. The leftmost card I play shares points with the rightmost card my left opponent plays, so while knowing what they could have possibly taken during the draft is important, what position they play it in can net you a lot of points. On the contrary, it can also help them deny you a lot of points at if you're doing too well.
What was the most challenging part of designing Find Your Seats?
Mitchell: The most challenging part for me was getting it playtested. I have a great group of friends who always help out, but I always feel guilty whenever I ask them to try something for fear of it breaking and just not being fun.
What has been your favorite part of designing the game?
Mitchell: I think my favorite part has been seeing my janky looking, Excel-created prototype turn into an attractive game. The art for each character really matches their personalities, in my opinion, and brings everything together in a cohesive whole.
I guess the whole process of developing the game is fascinating to me: seemingly little decisions like making the conversation topics into a rondel so you can fan the cards out and see everything easily never cross my mind when I'm designing. To be clear: that was Jason's idea, not mine :)
What has been the biggest lesson you have learned in the designing on Find Your Seats?
Mitchell: That no matter how clear you think your writing is, it can always be clearer. I can't tell you the number of times someone brought up a phrase I used and questioned it.
You'll have the initial "well, obviously it means such and such" moment and then the ambiguity of your words will set in. Given the number of rulebooks I've read over the years (and complaints I made about the same problem), you'd think would know what to do to avoid it. Apparently not!
Thanks for taking some time out to do this interview with us.