The game world includes all sorts of people, designers, illustrators, publishers, sellers, enthusiasts and people who make the connection between games and modern technologies such as computers and all other platforms. We actually see more and more well known board games going to different platforms.
Nicolas Guibert took the bet in 2012 by creating a web site online gaming: Happy Meeple. So of course it’s still different from classic games or modern board games, the interaction is reduced but the fun and challenge are still interesting. With a game like The Lost Cities, which is anyway a 2-player game, Happy Meeple is an alternative to some problem: find another player. I recommend you try Lost Cities online and all other online board games that offers Happy Meeple.
In the meantime, here are 7 questions for Nicolas Guibert from Happy Meeple.
1 – How old were you when you played your first board game and what was it ?
« Ooh there! I have no recollection of my first parties. Like everyone else, I played Monopoly, Risk, Scrabble and I remember great times with Scotland Yard, especially when my father put his hat of Mister X.
What is certain is that I have always been very attracted to the games without unfortunately have many partners available. «
2 – Why and how did you decide to create Happy Meeple ?
« The idea of Happy Meeple came to me after practicing 1 ) modern board games, 2) games on Iphone / Ipad , and finally , I am ashamed to say 3) the highly popular Farmville, symbol of the « casual gaming » wave that might be vaguely translated as » online game for all. »
At the time , the company Zynga was making 300 million of people play per month at its various games ( today only 90 million , it is King who took widely the leading position ) and it became possible for me to make a crossover between » casual gaming » and » board gaming » . In short, to invent modestly « casual board gaming . »
By definition, the casual gaming is for the general public and the idea was , and still is, to make the modern board game accessible to more. That is why I wanted Happy Meeple to propose 1) relatively simple games, 2) tutorials for each game, 3) a simple and multilingual interface.
Those who practiced the modern board games know that these games have in their hearts pleasant and efficient mechanics. In any game, the gameplay is the most important thing. You can put all the special effects in the world. If the basic mechanism of the game is not convincing , the game will not find public. With high quality games such as Lost Cities, I was sure not to have to worry about it. And I am now convinced that there is a place for « casual board gaming » on this planet. «
3 – What are your 3 favorite board games and why ?
« First Carcassonne, because it is a game of great quality and yet extremely easy to access and mainstream. Then Dominion and Race For The Galaxy. Both games have great replay value, great strategic dimension but also a significant share of chance, three points are also relatively related to my opinion «
4 – For you what is the best combination for a successful game ?
« In a former life, I practiced checkers competition. A former French champion Marcel Bonnard wrote: « If the ideal of a set of combinations to achieve maximum difficulty starting from the minimum conventional complications, checkers is near perfection. » I think this phrase applies beautifully to board games.
We know the problem with the rules. Nobody except a few geeks including myself, want to read the rules and this is a major obstacle to the practice of the game. Of course, this is not an absolute rule for a game like Catan whose success is not to be questioned, a dense rules and far from clean. But I think a modern game must seek the blueprint. This also seems to be quite a point now generally accepted among games designers as well as by publishers. «
5 – How did you manage to create Happy Meeple ?
« The first step was to select games that meet the criteria that I had set. I probably tried a hundred games. Then I contacted the authors or editors as appropriate to obtain the rights. In parallel, I started development work on the platform and games by adding brick after brick and also created the company « Games in Mind. » In June 2011, I presented the project to the UK Game Expo in Birmingham saying that the site was launched. In fact, I was optimistic because many additions and finishes (eg illustrations and translations) have pushed the official launch in March 2012.
Promotional work then began with the drafting of a big press release in English and French (I have the impression that no one in the world of board games the has read it to my dismay. Virtually nobody writes about online gaming.) of the creation of a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Google + page, and finally the establishment of a newsletter. All this takes a long time to animate. Last year, I also experimented a lot with Facebook, Google ads, and even Boardgamegeek.
Alongside the development of the platform of course continued. We have provided a fifth game (Keltis Ór, unpublished from Knizia), added sound and music, improved our ranking systems and our help pages, resumed our meta-game with a magnificent work of our illustrator Pedro Soto.
I set up the project myself, but given the magnitude of the task, I decided to hire someone that will get things done faster. «
6 – What advice would you give to someone wishing to create a gaming site ?
« Doing it for fun. There is so much competition today, whether on the web or in the market for apps that only a select few really derive benefit from it. Or it must be part of a start-up whose funding was provided by business angels which are then those who take the risk. «
7 – Could you give us some information on your next project ?
« We hope to release two new games before summer. One comes from a French author, the other a German author. They were published in 2013 and 2012 respectively. They will be on Happy Meeple exclusively.
Of course, we also want to improve the quality of the site and its functionality. In particular, we will continue to develop the meta-game, but also a mode « Tournament », a mode « Play with friends », etc..
We hope to make new partnerships with stakeholders in the game world (publishers, websites, online shops). We recently have a system that allows players to earn gold coins in exchange for a little tour of 20 seconds on the site of a partner. This system is a promotion tool extremely convenient for the shops of course, but even more for publishers who want to promote a game effectively. Click through rates on conventional advertising are extremely low. In contrast, our system provides a sympathetic ear from the player who is particularly pleased to participate because there is something to gain. »
Thank you Nicolas for taking the time to answer the 7 questions and for more information about Happy Meeple: