The Tinderbox Times

13 Mar 2017

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Team Profile – Ben Hoban

Ben Hoban

Ben Hoban is the other Creative Director of Red Genie Games. He is not sure what he is directing but the whole endeavor is feeling pretty creative.

Ben lives in Spain with his family and pretends to have a real job, while secretly putting the finishing touches on a mid life crisis.

But let’s hear it in his words:

Where and when did your love of gaming begin?

A love of reading fantasy led inevitably to fighting fantasy gamebooks combined with a local library (remember libraries…) well stocked with White Dwarf magazines planted the seed for gaming.

I was taken in by a generous group of local gaming friends that formed, as many young gaming groups are, via the local scout group.  They introduced me to roleplaying and tabletop around 12 years old. We still get together to game on occasion, although not so much since I moved to Spain.

What is the game that holds the favourite memories for you ?

God there have been so many games! We had a great run at warhammer/40K for a while, and the early days of Magic the Gathering were mind blowing, but Advanced Heroquest probably holds my favorite memories as it was the first big box game with minis that I owned. 

(secretly it’s Crossbows and Catapults but I can’t say that)

When did you design your first game?

I remember writing a Fighting Fantasy story in class in grade 6 and confusing the hell out of the english teacher who didn’t know what to do with a book written in the second person. It was around that time I would write up uber complex rules for fighting it out with 28mm toy army men. I wasn’t until my recent “mid-life crisis” gaming renaissance though that I have seriously looked at design.

What is your role in Red Genie ?

Well so far it’s been a bit of everything, I have been the one floating the themes mostly and managing the conceptual stuff while Alex has been doing the more down to earth game development and playtesting. We have a lot of overlap with our skillsets but have managed to avoid each others toes so far. I’m sure as the company progresses our specialities will become more defined but so far the process has been really smooth despite it’s lack of traditional roles  

Do you have a favourite game designer?

I’m kind of new to the whole world of famous game developers, so I’m going to kiss ass and say Alex is.

What games are in rotation in your group at the moment ?

Well my group is limited to my family at the moment until my Spanish improves. But I was lucky to finally receive a copy of Arcadia Quest with a bunch of expansions that I backed 18 months ago and we have been playing it almost daily, really fun gateway dungeon crawler for the girls.

What was the last tabletop Kickstarter you backed and why?

It was Deep Space D6 Dice Gaming System I couldn’t say no to 100 dice with 100 games for $30! It felt like a crash course in game mechanics that will come in handy for future mental blocks when developing for Red Genie.

What would be your dream game to design ?

I’m looking for a future in which cheap, high quality 3D printers exist so I can develop a campaign skirmish game where players print minis at home. It will also allow them reprint units with variations as they upgrade weapons and armour or lose a limb. I dream a lot.

What do you find hardest about game design ?

Finishing a game! I am always so eager to get onto the next one, it’s a challenge to see through the development to the end.

Do you have a day job?

I project manage website development and marketing strategy. I only have a couple of clients but I’m happy to take it easy and use the spare time to enjoy the expat thing and work on Red Genie.

What are the most useful game design resources you have come across?

I’m with Alex on this one, spreadsheets are getting us through the development and project management of the Brigade. I was lucky enough to be placed with a mentor via the TGDA facebook group. Allen from Rule & Make offered some great advice as an experienced Kickstarter campaigner and laid out a lot of the formulas to manage the finances and marketing.

What is the game in your collection you will never part with and why?

Island of the Lizard King was the first Fighting Fantasy book I ever owned, I think I would struggle to give that up. There is also an old GW game called Blood Royale, I only ever played one game of this in my teens and just remember it being epic and complex and involved grand politicking. So when I was starting this rediscovery of gaming a few years back I tracked down a copy on eBay. I am scared to play it again to find that, like so many of the early GW games it doesn’t hold up. There is a good chance I will hold onto it as some kind of weird physical reminder of one perfect gaming memory.

How do you account for the renaissance in gaming and can we keep it up?

I think it’s a bit of a timing thing, looking out from my bubble at least. A lot of the geeks of the 80/90’s are at a point where they look back at their youth with rose coloured glasses and recognise the gaming hobby as formative and a highlight of their (sober) social interactions. Now we can afford to invest a bit into the hobby and re-live the good old days while using the excuse that we are buying it for the kids.

I think integrating more with apps and technology, designing games for interesting viewing and taking ideas from product, software and computer game design will keep the industry evolving.