trentellingsen

E7: Jamey Stegmaier's Thoughts on Tapestry Balance, Wingspan Misprints, and Kickstarter [Interview]

I spoke with the owner of Stonemaier Games, Jamey Stegmaier about his games, business, and how he deals with criticism. We discuss reported issues with Tapes......

7 points by trentellingsen - updated 3 months ago | 49 comments | report | subscribe

jameystegmaier 4 months ago | 9 points[-]

Thanks for sharing this, Trent! It was a fun chat. If anyone has any follow-up questions, feel free to let me know! :)

JamesReid860 Supporter4 months ago | 3 points[-]

It was an insightful interview to watch. Thanks!

Skurvy5 Supporter4 months ago | 3 points[-]

This was probably one of the most laid back and conversational interviews I’ve ever watched. It was almost like you were interviewing Trent at the same time! I also really admire that you took the time to create an account and leave a comment here! Thanks for being such an awesome game designer and publisher. 

rancidmike Supporter4 months ago | 4 points[-]

This is great! I know some people who know Jamey, so I feel secondhand famous :) Whether or not his designs land for me, I appreciate how thoughtful he is as a designer and as a publisher, and I'll always pay attention whenever he makes appearances/announcements. And I love how he threw questions back at you!

Skurvy5 Supporter4 months ago | 4 points[-]

Ooo! So excited to watch this one. How cool to be interviewing a real legend!

Skurvy5 Supporter4 months ago | 4 points[-]

Finally had time to watch. I love how conversational the interview was. At times it was almost like he was interviewing you. 

BenjaminK 4 months ago | 3 points[-]

@jameystegmaier  Thanks for doing the Interview, Jamey! Always a pleasure to hear your insight on these topics. 

A question I have is in regards to you signing on game designers (that aren't you). What are some things you look for in a game design that helps you make the decision to sign the game? I know this could be a long answer, so feel free to abbreviate where necessary. I dabble in design, so I'm always curious what speaks to publishers, especially ones with great track records, such as yourself. I know ever publisher is different in what they look for in a game, but perhaps you could shed some light on some things you personally are drawn to. Thanks!

jameystegmaier 4 months ago | 4 points[-]

Thanks, Benjamin! In short, we look for well-playtested games that fit our overall design and publishing philosophies. The detailed answer is pretty long, but you can find it in detail here: https://stonemaiergames.com/about/submission-guidelines/

JamesReid860 Supporter4 months ago | 3 points[-]

This is great! Contrats on the interview. Good interview for sure!

JamesReid860 Supporter4 months ago | 3 points[-]

Are there any IP’s out there, Jamey, that would be personally satisfying to design a game for?

JamesReid860 Supporter4 months ago | 2 points[-]

(And do you think you’ll ever pick up Red Rising again?)

philryuh Supporter4 months ago | 2 points[-]

@jameystegmaier

jameystegmaier 4 months ago | 2 points[-]

I hope so, James! We'll see. :)

JamesReid860 Supporter3 months ago | 2 points[-]

That most recent book was great! Have you looked up the prequel series? 

jameystegmaier 3 months ago | 2 points[-]

For Red Rising? I think they've been written in chronological order--I started with Red Rising, and I recently finished book 5 (or the second book of the second trilogy). :)

JamesReid860 Supporter3 months ago | 1 point[-]

Yes that’s the one I just finished as well. But there is a prequel series of sorts that chronicles the beginnings of the sons. But it’s not a book series but a 6 issue comic series. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Rising:_Sons_of_Ares


JamesReid860 Supporter3 months ago | 1 point[-]

I just found out about it myself. Pierce Brown was a co author in it. 

jameystegmaier 3 months ago | 1 point[-]

Oh yes, the graphic novel series? It's great!

JamesReid860 Supporter3 months ago | 1 point[-]

Yep that’s the one! 

philryuh Supporter4 months ago | 2 points[-]

@jameystegmaier Thanks for giving us your time Jamey!

  • I'm curious--what was the biggest surprise game of the year for you? Or maybe your top 3 from this year?
  • With so many people curious about your upcoming games, do you ever have trouble keeping everything a secret?
  • Are there any up-and-coming designers you've been paying attention to for a future project with Stonemaier Games? 
  • The interview touched up on various topics related to criticisms. Although it's a great sign of your success/popularity of Stonemaier Games, how have you learned to deal with them?


jameystegmaier 4 months ago | 4 points[-]

Thanks Phil! I'll answer below:

  1. I think Sushi Roll might be the biggest surprise to me, though Just One is up there as well. I just posted my top 10 list of 2019 a few days ago--feel free to check it out here: https://youtu.be/A6XFbNBT-h8
  2. Oh yes, I want to talk about pretty much everything! :) But I've learned that it usually doesn't bode well to talk about something too soon, as a lot can change during design and development.
  3. Most of the designers I think about in these terms are fairly established, like Uwe Rosenberg, Rob Daviau, and Alexander Pfister.
  4. One key thing I've learned about myself is that sometimes I'm in the mood for constructive criticism...and sometimes I'm not. So if I'm jumping into a forum or thread about one of my games, I try to stop first and ask myself, "Am I really open to criticism right now?" If the answer is no, I come back later.

philryuh Supporter4 months ago | 2 points[-]

  1. I see Just One has managed to stay in your list and pushed up even higher! :) It's my favorite go-to game with the family alongside Welcome To.
  2. Andrew made a comment in his interview with me that he was working on a project that's a big secret. Turned out to be Tapestry in the end hahaha--by the way, when considering which illustrator to work with, is it purely a stylistic choice or do you factor in their social following/popularity? Ever since Everdell, I feel like Andrew's name has been all over the map with different Kickstarter titles.
  3. I was curious whether you look out for promising "young talent" but that certainly makes sense for the DNA of Stonemaier Games
  4. Hahaha that's wise of you, must've been hard along the way when you have such a large target on your back due to your vocal/active online presence. 

jameystegmaier 4 months ago | 3 points[-]

I was definitely excited to work with Andrew, but it was due to the quality of his work (an artist's popularity isn't a factor for me).

JamesReid860 Supporter3 months ago | 2 points[-]

@jameystegmaier what have been some of the games you have been enjoying (If you've had time for game playing)? Recently, we had a thread for our "Last 5 Top 5" - list the last 5 games you've played and rank them 1-5. What would be yours?  

jameystegmaier 3 months ago | 2 points[-]

The most recent games I played for the first time were Sushi Roll, Clank Legacy, Paladins of the West Kingdom,Taverns of Tiefenthal, and Pathogenesis. I've listed them there in the order of my ranking (Sushi Roll actually made my top 10 list of 2019).

JamesReid860 Supporter3 months ago | 1 point[-]

Very nice! 

Marshwiggle92 Supporter4 months ago | 2 points[-]

This should bump viewership, at least a little. 

philryuh Supporter4 months ago | 2 points[-]

I've been waiting patiently for this one :D

Looking forward to watching it after work tonight.

rancidmike Supporter4 months ago | 2 points[-]

@jameystegmaier How does your career compare to what you had envisioned for yourself when you started out? You've mentioned before that some of your design philosophy is a bit different, but I'm wondering on a more wholistic level.

jameystegmaier 4 months ago | 2 points[-]

When I started out, I had no idea I'd make any games other than Viticulture. :) Every step of the way has been a delightful surprise.

rancidmike Supporter4 months ago | 2 points[-]

Well, I'm glad that's been the case, and I'm thankful for your influence in the hobby.

jameystegmaier 4 months ago | 2 points[-]

Thank you! :)

JamesReid860 Supporter4 months ago | 2 points[-]

You mentioned that you probably spend ~95% of your time running the company and ~5% designing games. What does a “day in the life” look like for you running Stonemaier Games? 

jameystegmaier 4 months ago | 2 points[-]

I hope you don't mind sharing a very detailed link about that, James! :) This has changed a bit recently, but this is roughly what a work day looks like for me.

https://stonemaiergames.com/a-work-day-in-the-life-of-jamey-stegmaier/

JamesReid860 Supporter3 months ago | 2 points[-]

Not at all! Much appreciated @jameystegmaier!

philryuh Supporter4 months ago | 2 points[-]

@jameystegmaier

philryuh Supporter4 months ago | 2 points[-]

Awesome, finally got around to watching it! One of the most chill interviews I've watched and I'm so curious about Sand haha

So do you think Scythe is the game with the most potential for an animated series? 

BenjaminK 4 months ago | 2 points[-]

Loved the back-and-forth nature of this.

In regards to the Wingspan typo of "betweeen," I was pained when I first saw that haha I get that these things happen, and I'm glad he mentioned he always double checks changes he requests. Since this wasn't one of those requested changes, he didn't look. That is a very realistic thing that happens more often than you might think. Proofers do their best, but sometimes late additions simply don't get proofed. Good to hear he's made steps to make sure everything is 100% correct (if that's even possible with humans haha). It'll cost him a bit more, but worth it in the end I'm sure.

But dang, I love how Jamey throws the questions back at you! Makes you think twice about your questions haha Fortunately, you've had good questions, so it's been great. Thanks for setting this up and making it happen! Very interesting stuff.

rancidmike Supporter4 months ago | 3 points[-]

I've really only had great customer service experiences with Jamey, whether the goof is his fault or mine.

1nf1n1ty Supporter3 months ago | 1 point[-]

So I see you like cats...

jameystegmaier 3 months ago | 2 points[-]

Indeed! I have two cats.

1nf1n1ty Supporter3 months ago | 1 point[-]

I prefer cats. 

You've done the bird theme already. Now a cat theme? Claws versus Wingspan, the reckoning?


nealkfrank 3 months ago | 1 point[-]

Hey @jameystegmaier, First of all thanks for an excellent interview. Not often do you hear a person being interviewed throw the same question back to the interviewee, love that.

I did have question come up as I was listening in regards to Viticulture. You mentioned that you take time to listen and read reviews, do a ton of play testing and receive feedback and the like. With that in mind I am curious how the development of Viticulture went. The board game community tends to say it is a good game but a great game when Tuscany is included. Did you develop the base Viticulture with Tuscany in mind or did you develop that expansion, new board, new cards, etc. after watching reviews and getting feedback? I guess this question could apply to all of your games but just curious on the development cycle of expansions and adjustments. 

jameystegmaier 3 months ago | 1 point[-]

Thanks! Viticulture has evolved quite a bit over time, as it was my first published game. There was the original Kickstarter version in 2012 that, honestly, wasn't where it needed to be (I had a lot of room to grow as a publisher). I learned a lot over the next year about design and playtesting, and I created the second edition of Viticulture while designing the original version of Tuscany (which was a massive expansion). That was supposed to be the final edition, but a collaboration with Uwe Rosenberg led to Viticulture Essential and the more streamlined Tuscany Essential.

nealkfrank 3 months ago | 1 point[-]

That is great! Thank you for sharing! It sounds like you utilized more input within the industry to develop and fine tune Viticulture. From the interview it sounded like you listened to some of the board gaming community for input on Tapestry balance updates, you can correct if me if I am wrong there, but have you turned to the customer for any suggestions on what to tweak?

jameystegmaier 3 months ago | 1 point[-]

Yes, I would say most of the feedback I use to improve my designs comes from customers (I pay attention to what they say on social media, and for Tapestry they're reporting data to us via the form on our website) and from playtesters.

nealkfrank 3 months ago | 1 point[-]

That is honestly super encouraging. I appreciate your openness to critique, definitely makes me feel valued as a customer!

LScott 3 months ago | 1 point[-]

This is great and reinforces the good impressions I already have of you guys. Thanks for sharing your insights and experiences and for your good work in the game industry. 

daver 3 months ago | 1 point[-]

Great interview! Thanks for sharing.

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