Eyeball Boxing Game Designer Larry Nybo Q&A

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1 - What was your inspiration for Eyeball Boxing?

I am highly inspired by visuals or concepts where when the exact moment you see or hear it--your mind (almost on its own without conscious choice) is branded with a distinct memorable impression. With this in mind, I began to visualize a game premise that would do this. I concluded the vulnerability of a stark naked eyeball getting directly, squarely, purposefully punched in the eye (itself) very much does this for me, and can be reduced down to two words "eyeball boxing."

2 - What came first, the game mechanics or the game concept?

The concept came first, then the game mechanics. But this is a great question. For me, a newly discovered unique game mechanic can spark an objective un-skinned game-play experience where then a memorable theme needs be painted around to compliment. In other instances, a memorable theme or virtual world can drive the need to invent unique complimentary game mechanics.

3 - What was the design process like for Eyeball Boxing?

I wanted the experience to be absurd, funny, simple and most importantly fun. To keep it simple, I wanted everything to be iconically driven; rather, mostly the cards are pictures with very few words (just titles). It was a very iterative process. Each session that the game was practiced, attention to what was fun about the game had to dominate and drive the game. Ultimately, if the game isn't fun to play, it's not worth playing (no matter how compelling the concept is). Recently, I've been steering away from games of elimination, so with eyeball boxing, integrating two methods of ability-to-win while at the same time keeping-it-simple became much of the focus of iteration.

4 - What was the most difficult part of the game-designing process?

Finding a balance between the two possibilities of how to win was the most difficult part. Those being: 1. Last player to not have fully injured set of eyeballs or 2. First player to complete 3 hotdogs. I learned it can be challenging to invent an easy-to-learn simple game with multiple-ways-to-win without including elimination. At moments, it felt like it was going to be too complicated and un-doable. But as I stayed focus on the two simple objectives, the complexity was reduced. I feel the game is funner to win by completing the hotdogs rather than being the last eyeballs standing, so balance was weighted this way. (When I say last eyeball standing, it’s tempting to judge that it is a game of elimination. It's not, play and see.)

5 - What was your process for designing the look of the game?

Most games we build here at Quirky Engine Entertainment typically have a virtual world that you will escape into. You will also connect with strong characters in a fun engaging way. With the double objective of the game (fighting and hotdog making), we concluded the eyeball characters must have 4 arms to multitask these objectives. This became a hilarious way to portray the characters. One memorable funny moment while designing the look and feel was when Mike Terrell (artist for the game) proposed that the eyeballs have no eye-lids! This seemed to conflict with our idea that they are pulling hot dog parts out of each other’s eyes. Mike solved this with a clever idea that near around the retinas of the eyeballs are portrayed equivalent to eyelids (at first it looks correct but is hilarious when reasoned through).

6 - How do you approach game testing?

I approach it with three perspectives. First, in the initial several play-throughs, I have to be present and fully immersed in every play session of the game, paying close-extreme attention to detail. I have to feel the fun of the game. I feel during this you discover things that are fun and things that are anti-fun. When I say anti-fun, I don't mean "things that are challenging" (Challenge is an important part of the game). Anti-fun are things that annoy and kill fun. I have to get the game to a point at which (at first) I myself feel it's fun. Second, when the game has reached this point, it is time to back off and help iterate it until people other than myself would also consider it fun. So at some point at which the game begins to feel as if it has a semi-stable base, I begin to disassociate myself from the game and rely on feedback I hear from others, or watch as an observer to witness if and how the players are having fun. Third, it must be then taken even further to audiences who have no bias toward the game (1. they are not friends or family, and 2. They are playing it for the first time without any previous knowledge of the game.) If the game can weather through these three perspectives of game testing and still be concluded as fun, then I feel the game is a good game.

7 - What are some other games that you have designed?

Trash War and Hoagie are two that have been fully manufactured and are on sale. There are several on the operating table incubating in development for manufacturing. The next game nearing completion is one called Kubwa, of which I am very excited about. More information will be available soon.

8 - Do you have a personal game design philosophy?

I do very much so. There are so many games out there and so many people with so many differing reasons why they play which games. For me, I feel games facilitate the perfect reason for people to assemble and enjoy each other for long periods of time. I feel (a lot of the time) the enjoyment is had outside of the game, but during the game. What I mean by this is, the game ignites a reason to laugh or talk/joke about something, and when those moments are over, you resume playing the current game in motion in order to ignite the next similar moment. The game itself simply established the context and reason to gather and merely facilitates the reason to talk, laugh and joke. I feel there can be an amazing game, but unless you are enjoying the people you are playing it with, the game becomes less worth playing. So in perspective to the question of personal game design philosophy, the game must absolutely have the ability to ignite fun, laughter, good conversation and joy.

9 - Do you have any hobbies that influence how you design games?

Yes. Games (to a large degree) draw together many of my interests and hobbies into a single medium. I have a huge love of music ... listening, creating and performing. I love the technical-creative processes in computer programming. I love DIY electronics. I love DIY creation of things mechanical and/or artistic nature. I love the puzzle solving side of outdoor adventure found in cave exploration, rock climbing, repelling and canyoneering. I love passionate/engaging conversations about almost anything. I love video games, board and card games. Most importantly, I love laughing extremely hard with people that I love and care about. Believe it or not, I feel there are aspects of all these listed hobbies and interests that can be wired directly into the single medium of a good game.

10 - What are some of your favorite games?

Like music, I like games widely across the board. This being said, I consider myself more of a social gamer than a strategy gamer (even though there are several strategy games I like). As a kid, I loved the game Dark Tower. (I haven't played it in such a long time, but I imagine I would still very much like it now.) I like many classic card games (Hearts, Spades, etc). I really love the game Robo Rally. A few others that come to mind are: Sequence, Mission Risk, King of Tokyo. All this said, I feel D&D (and/or rather your own interpretations of) is my favorite game -- it's limits are as wide as the imaginations of those playing and have been reason for some of the funnest, funniest and most enjoyable game play moments with family and good friends I've had. (I've officially now exposed the fully admitted geek-side of me having just stated that (you are welcome to judge me.))

11 - Who are some other game designers that you admire?

There is really one main game designer (who is quite popular) that I feel I really connect with in gaming philosophy. I feel Richard Garfield has been able to explain some of the best descriptions that I've ever heard as to why people play the particular games they enjoy. Robo Rally itself (created by him) was the game that inspired me to reflect and begin tampering in my own game creation.

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