2020 brought us a global pandemic and, along with it, social distancing, masks, financial uncertainty and postponed delivery dates. For our end-of-the-year special we decided to turn to some of our favourite solo and soloable game designers and ask them to share their own experiences, feelings, plans and hopes both for the year we leave behind and the year to come. Every day since December 23 we have published one of these short interviews (we have no patience for long ones). Our last guest is R. Eric Reuss, designer of Spirit Island. He was kind enough to answer our 3+1 questions.
1. Nobody likes being forced to stay at home, but did the quarantine actually help you concentrate on your design work? Or did it instead feel restraining and cause designer's block? Did you miss any face-to-face meetings or conventions?
It's made things much more difficult. The news about the pandemic was super-distracting (at least for the first month or two), the preparations and ongoing care around masks / errands / supplies have used up attention, the worrying has used up cope, I'm an extrovert so it's denied me one of my primary recharging mechanisms, and to top it all off I've got two grade-school kids who are at home instead of at school and for whom I can hire no babysitting. I'm used to doing my initial creative work away from my home office (coffeeshops, libraries, etc), and the conventions I usually attend - which are a delightful combination of work, leisure, and professional development - all had to be canceled or turn into pale online shadows of themselves.
Going into 2020, I was iterating on 1-2 different projects every month, and had a whole suite of games I was psyched to work on. Since the pandemic, the only games I've managed to get much done on have been titles already in the publishing queue. (For SCIENCE! and Spirit Island expansions.) Part of that is because For SCIENCE! went to Kickstarter in April... but much of it has been the pandemic.
2. Marie Kondo shows up in your dream in the form of a yokai. She is throwing away your entire board game collection and only lets you keep one game: the one that 'sparks the most joy'. Which one is it?