Your Friendly Neighborhood Aspiring Game Designer: An Interview with Ben Moy

Vaughn Reynolds

About Ben

Was “Your Friend Ben Moy Designs Board Games” a name inspired by Spider-Man?

Though not directly inspired by Spider-Man, I do like to think of myself as a “friendly neighborhood” designer, and my Facebook Page is a way I like to keep in touch with that. 🙂

What makes you resonate with Spider-Man the most?

Just like how Peter is one of the youngest members of the Avengers, I see myself at a bit of the tail end when it comes to years in the hobby board game design industry. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it gives me an advantage when bringing my youthful optimism wherever I go. But his power set and extreme acrobatics have always been something I’ve wanted for myself. And his quips are some of the best!

Flight or invisibility? Why? (Question submitted by Brandon Vieira)

Hi, Brandon! I feel like this is a Shazam! reference.. 😀 Between flight and invisibility, I will go with flight – hopefully it can get me to conventions and destinations faster than driving or by plane!

What published game is a game you wish you had designed?

There are so many published games I wish I designed! If I had to pick one, my top pick right now would be the Wendy’s RPG: Feast of Legends. As our group gets deeper into the campaign, I am loving the tongue-in-cheek humor as well as the story that unfolds; it would be so great to craft a campaign like this in the future!

What are your hobbies outside of board games and game design?

Outside of board games and game design, I enjoy the occasional indoor climbing, learning mythologies, browsing talented artists on Instagram, learning German on Duolingo, thinking about what food I am in the mood for and getting it, and reliving childhood memories with LEGO products. You know, the usual stuff.


About Gaming Events

For gamers and designers who don’t know, what is Protospiel and what was your highlight of attending it this year?

Protospiel is a network of tabletop events devoted to playtesting prototypes in all stages of development, from approaching completion to a fledgling idea that is iterated on throughout the weekend. Most take place in the United States, but I believe the first UK Protospiel is happening at the time of my answer (go, Nottingham!); they generally span Friday – Sunday. Designers can upload information about their games preceding the event for interested attendees to note, and the free-form structure means you might be playing your design, then one someone who sat down for yours played, then another person’s, and another before heading off for a meal!   

I am such a social person that just being in the buzzing environment of people providing constructive feedback and brainstorming solutions to games’ pain points is so good, but in my most recent memory I had an awesome time playing Matthew’s social deduction mint tin game, Shrödinger’s Cat, at Protospiel-Madison, which his team just launched on Kickstarter! (http://kck.st/2QO1YFV) Meeting internet friends in real life is always a highlight for me. ♥

Are there any events you’d encourage game designers to attend?

For me personally, Protospiel has been magical, but I definitely encourage designers go to all kinds of conventions to simply enjoy themselves. Many, like Gen Con and Grand Con, have a demo area that can be registered for in advance to build their communities, and other prototype events like Metatopia exist for people who really like to sink their teeth into shaping the direction of a game. If pitching is more your prerogative, I have heard “Unpubs” can be a great event to get out to, and setting up meetings at Origins is a lot easier for publishers to accommodate. And lastly, there are also plenty of conferences too popping up, one I can think of is the Board Game Design Lab’s Ignite by Gabe Barrett, who has industry folk conducting panels online so those who register can sit in from the comfort of their own home. 🙂

What conventions will you be at in 2020?

I can’t commit for sure, but I definitely plan to be at numerous Protospiels in the Midwest, with my fingers crossed for Gen Con and Essen, and anything else I can get to with my always-not-enough PTO. 😀


About Game Design

If you could go back in time, what piece of (relevant) information would you give your first-time-game-designer-self. Not as a I-wish-I-knew-then sort of thing, but more so as a grandfatherly guiding piece of wisdom. (Question submitted by Haplo d’Biggs)

Wow, Haplo, this is such a deep question! As a grandfatherly piece of wisdom, I would tell my first-time-designer self that so much is possible if you put your mind your to it. Since joining the hobby, I have seen so many people create wonderful things, and it is through perseverance and passion that they have not only risen to the occasion but maybe even exceeded even their own expectations. I design for the creative outlet, and the more I think about it, the more I realize how further inspired I am by other fellow designers. A few names that come to mind of consistently amazing individuals are Nathan, Wes, Matthew, and Eric, but that number isn’t even close to the entire community of members who have been involved and engaged and awesome my whole journey. My other favorite thing is how many friends I’ve made internationally by interacting and geeking out over game design!

How well do you manage your time for design along with your other responsibilities? Do you have any techniques that work for you? (Question submitted by Brian Cable)

Hi, Brian! I am not super great at managing my time alongside other responsibilities; I often find I will skip out on things like meals because I would rather be throwing card layouts together (I do not recommend this!)! Lately, I’ve found for myself that the best thing I can do to get something done is to start – after that, it’s usually pretty easy. I might want to go to the gym, but until I drive myself to it there’s no way I will get my work out in; the same goes for game design, rules writing (my bane), and the like. From personal experience, having a committed day or times throughout the week helps with my content creation – record then, edit then, upload then – and I would like to incorporate more of that into my day-to-day. Actually, the first thing I started doing in the mornings is open my Duolingo app and get my exercises in, and now I am 4 weeks strong. Having someone or someones to keep you accountable has helped me so much too; I have two or so devoted playtesting groups that regularly meet, and I always aim to have some kind of development to show, no matter how small, to keep me pushing forward.

How do you choose which mechanics to use in a game over others? (Question submitted by Kyle Mitchell)

When I can, Kyle, I try to find mechanics that fit the theme in a way that emulates what a player in their role within the game world would be doing. Abstracting is fine, and sometimes necessary (we don’t actually have to wait for coal to be pressed into diamonds by the land, maybe we speed the game up by visiting a machine that does it for us [not a great example]), but any chance I can throw a thematic element into a game, I give it a try. Which leads me to my next decision point – are the players enjoying the mechanic? If feedback is consistently, “I think there could be a better fit” or “it feels like a disconnect between me and the game”, I try to rectify it as soon as I can so playing the game is enjoyable and satisfying, while still remaining true to my initial design goals.

What would you say your biggest sacrifice is that you make to follow your passion? (Question submitted by Sean Fenemore)

I would say that time is my biggest sacrifice I make to follow this passion, Sean. I think like so many others I have dreams of doing other things, and unfortunately time is a finite resource that keeps us from exploring all those possibilities. Which is why I consider myself extremely lucky for falling into this love so early, so I can grow that much more and hopefully do that much more in this field. Would definitely still love to be in a movie though!

What’s the elevator pitch for:

  1. Break It Up A Notch
  2. Happy Hong Bao!
  3. Flipfrogs

Elevator pitches – here we go!

Breakdancing Meeples components

1. Breakdancing Meeples (formerly Break It Up A Notch) – Lead your breakdance crew to victory by rolling your meeples on the table in real-time to complete routines and build up your crowd appeal. Improve your moves between the minute-long battles to bounce back and claim the title of breakdance champion! [Break It Up A Notch has been signed by Atlas Games, and is currently scheduled for a Summer 2020 release as Breakdancing Meeples!]

Playing Happy Hong Bao!

2. Happy Hong Bao! – Play your cards right to outwit your family and friends and end up with the most valuable red envelope. Put dollar bills inside and use special powers to peek, trade, and protect your envelope – just know that when someone else does the same their dollar value might be higher in this game inspired by age-old tradition!

Flipfrogs about to flip!

3. Flipfrogs – Prove who is the most royal of the pond by flipping your frogs onto lily pads and collecting dragonflies, lightning bugs, slugs, and flowers. Turn these in to fulfill “quests” for fame until the jumping season closes, and see what fun you can make flipping frogs!


About Indie Game Production

What has been the greatest piece of game design knowledge you’ve obtained from working with The Game Crafter?

The greatest piece of game design knowledge I’ve obtained working with The Game Crafter would probably be that constraints breed solutions. With all kinds of contests hosted by TGC and others, I have seen some amazing entries that really push the boundaries in unforeseen ways, not only in the way the rules might be interpreted but also what appears to be physically possible. Some of my favorite board games have three-dimensional punchboard and learning about some of the innovative uses people have found for it is astounding and awesome to behold. Finding creative ways to wiggle out of tight spots is ingenuity at its finest, and oftentimes the simplest solutions are the best!

For a brand new game designer looking to print prototypes, where would you point them on The Game Crafter?

For a brand new designer looking to print prototypes, I might direct them to my playlist on their YouTube channel, the Board Game Blueprint (www.boardgameblueprint.org). On it I try to go over a whole flurry of design topics, from components and how they can be used, to mechanics and how they could be implemented, to basic design principles like layout and hierarchy. On The Game Crafter website itself, the Search Bar is honestly such a great tool for seeing what pieces they have for sale that can inspire an idea or scoping out games others have created and the pages they have put together for them. When it comes to printing, visiting their Make Games > Products page is invaluable for learning standard card/board/token dimensions, as well as downloading art templates for getting a better grasp on safe zones and bleed areas. There is so much good stuff to hit!

For a designer ready to publish a game, where would you point them on The Game Crafter?

For a designer ready to publish a game, they can absolutely do so by creating a shop page alluded to above and putting their game up for sale. I would also point them to TGC’s Crowd Sale crowdfunding platform, different from Kickstarter in that there is no offering of stretch goals, which means less planning required ahead of time, and instead a greater number of backers equates to a greater price drop for each copy! Another amazing thing from the indie publisher standpoint is that production begins almost immediately after the Sale is completed, and fulfillment – completely handled by The Game Crafter – starts a number of weeks following the campaign, instead of several months.


I’m A Social Gamer Questions

Do you have any sneak peeks at any upcoming games you’re working on?

Any sneak peeks of upcoming games I am working on..there are two shelved designs that I really want to come back to: the first is my first game design entry ever, an asymmetric hidden movement game The Halcyon Is Stormed (THIS), and the second is Fantasy Golf, a dexterity-light game that utilizes your table as the play space.

Preview: The Halcyon Is Stormed (THIS)
Preview: Fantasy Golf

Do you host any game nights at your home or at a local store/eatery?

I personally do not host any board game nights at home or a store, but I do meet biweekly with a group of friends to play their Kickstarter hauls. From a design standpoint, it’s a great way to see what’s relevant (how the market tastes might be changing), but more importantly an important lesson in taking a step back and enjoying yourself. 🙂

What is your favorite beverage (alcoholic or not — we are I’m A Social Gamer after all)?

I have a couple favorite beverages, but one I’ve become reacquainted with recently is chocolate milk. Once December starts some peppermint schnapps might find its way in.. I am also always down for some matcha milk tea.

Where should people follow you and your work?

People can follow me and my work on my Facebook design Page, Your Friend Ben Moy Designs Board Games, and Facebook is my main social media. I also post weekly content to the Game Crafter’s YouTube channel playlist Board Game Blueprint (that I have been putting off editing to type this), and can be reached by e-mail at benjaminwmoy [at] gmail.com. 🙂