2014 is shaping up to be a big year for the design team of Jay Cormier and Sen Foong-Lim. The creators of Belfort and Train of Thought just wrapped a very successful Kickstarter campaign for Tortuga, published by Queen Games. They have many games in various stages of production and an excellent 2-player strategy game being released later this year. Working as a team can be tough at the best of times, but if you add in the fact that they live on opposite sides of the country, the two have overcome some interesting challenges.
Akrotiri is their latest collaboration, set to be released sometime in 2014 by Z-Man. This two-player brain burner was originally conceived 14 years ago before Jay and Sen had really got into the serious business of game design. At the time they had a concept of what they wanted to do, but no road map to get there. Creative types usually tend to file away good ideas until they can be realized and it’s a good thing that’s what happened here. For a full review, check out Adam’s Akrotiri Article (AAA).
Their design styles are very different, but complement each other. “I think about design in my head a lot and do it all there and Jay puts it on paper, puts it out in front of people,” says Sen. “The biggest benefit to working with a partner is that both of us realize we’re not 100% awesome at doing everything. Together we’re 110% awesome!”
On top of busy schedules the two have to contend with a 3 hour time difference. Face-to-face communication can often be a problem. “Even just a year ago we couldn’t do that as well.” Using a private online forum and FaceTime and Skype conversations Jay and Sen are able to go out and try different things and come back to report what works. Without excellent communication, a partnership of this nature wouldn’t work. They will often leave notes for each other that can amount to little more than streams of consciousness until they have time to actually speak to each other and elaborate on the original intent.
“Our ideas diverge, which is almost a good thing,” Sen says. “There are pros and cons. The cons are that we’re not always on the same page. The pro is that we go down different paths then we would have as individuals.” Both agree that they draw inspiration from their lives and the media influences around them including films, comics and even video games.
Play testing can offer occur separately and they’re forced to communicate online about what works and what doesn’t. The goal is to always follow the fun. “When we’re play testing and find out what’s fun we try to go towards that,” explains Jay.
Working towards their MVP mantra, Motivated, Versatile, Persistent, they feel a responsibility to each other. If you design on your own you only have to worry about yourself. If you design with a partner you are always working to hold up your end of the partnership.
Watch for Jay and Sen’s upcoming Kickstarter for But Wait…There’s More! It is an excellent product pitch man game! It has tons on replay value and no other party game has made me laugh as hard as this one!