Ask Me Anything—Part 1 (January 9, 2020)
Over the last couple of years, I’ve playtested JUST RUN hundreds of times with scores of different players. Here are answers to a few of their questions.
How do you even start designing a game like JUST RUN?
I started with three concurrent ideas. I wanted to create a game in which players build the board. I wanted every mechanic and playing piece to be fun or satisfying. And I wanted component and mechanism to build and maintain tension. So the first thing I did was test the idea of room tiles. I drew them on index cards and just experimented over a couple of days until it all just worked. As I built the rest of the game, I used the last two goals as tests. It all came together relatively painlessly, but not at all quickly.
Is JUST RUN your first game?
Sort of. I’ve been designing RPG campaigns for decades. I even wrote a book-length spec supplement for the old Shadowrun RPG that was never published. I tested a few other board games before JUST RUN, but they had flaws that were difficult to overcome. So JUST RUN is my first—but hopefully not last—board game to reach the printed prototype.
Because they’ve been my favorite monster since junior high school, when I saw for the first time Night of the Living Dead on Channel 20’s Creature Feature. To this day, no movie monsters have left me as thrilled and scared as the creepy zombies in Romero’s Dead Trilogy--with the possible exception of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Plus, I needed an antagonist that could multiply, fill rooms, and respawn.