"So I wanted to make a game where it wasn't distinctly one team versus the other, or a 'good' team trying to work out who's on the 'bad' team so I came up with the idea that everyone is doing their own deductions essentially."
- Daniel Jamie Williams
Note: This is not a word for word transcript of the interview, some grammatical mistakes and other things of that nature were altered. For the full unaltered transcript, go find this interview listed under the interviews tab in The Social Deduction Network discord.
Dino: The Social Network is ecstatic to be joined today by Danie; Jamie Williams, creator of the newly launched kickstarter social deduction game “Hunting Me, Hunting You.” Welcome to the discord, Daniel! I wanted to start with a two part question. Do you personally think that other people are fun to hunt because “man is the most dangerous animal of all,” and are you the Zodiac Killer?
Daniel: Hello! Thanks for having me! I think man is the most dangerous animal but my game also has a frog in it - they come a close second. As for the second question... no comment.
Dino: Hmm… Are you right or left handed... Never mind... I don't want to get sucked into your mind games… So, most social deduction games have teams or factions, but in your game, most players are on their own. The exception is that the Curator and the Protector are on the same team. Could you explain how teams are created in this game?
Daniel: Ambidextrous. Yeah! So I wanted to make a game where it wasn't distinctly one team versus the other, or a 'good' team trying to work out who's on the 'bad' team so I came up with the idea that everyone is doing their own deductions essentially.
The Curator is the player that decides who everyone is hunting - they get to appoint another player to secretly be on a team with them - that's The Protector role! Everyone gets a 'Target Card' to tell them who to hunt but The Protector doesn't get a target but, instead, a friend.
Dino: Ah, I see. Does the Curator give a card to himself?
Daniel: Yes, The Curator has someone they're hunting too. The Protector doesn't know who that is though so they have to try to work that out to join in with the hunt!
Dino: Very cool! Would you also mind quickly explaining the game mechanics for those tuning in who are not familiar with your game?
Daniel: Absolutely - so basically the game takes place over two phases, The Night Phase and The Day Phase. Once everyone knows who they have to hunt The Night Phase begins. Everyone takes turns (going clockwise) to be the only player with their eyes open, placing Damage Cubes on other players' cards. As players wake up they can see where all the cubes are placed but they don't necessarily know who did what. They have to use the varying levels of information to work out who is hunting them, whilst trying to kill their target (and also not die, that's important). In The Day Phase players have their eyes open and can pick up more cubes, spy on someone else's Target Card or choose to identify their attacker. If they're right the accused player dies, if they're wrong - they die! There's a lot of death. If you successfully hunt AND identify, you win!
Dino: That sounds really awesome! A “Full Game” is meant to be played as a tournament, and there are two types of tournaments: Cash Tournaments and Full Tournaments. How do these work, and why did you decide to have players play each game as a round that is part of a tournament?
Daniel: Thank you! Yeah, so you can play short rounds or a bunch of rounds where players try to make as much money as they can. Cash Tournaments are based on getting to a set number of coins the quickest, Full Tournaments are where everyone gets to be The Curator once. I decided to do this because it really opens up how you can play the game - you can get coins at the end of a round even if you didn't win so it encourages you to try to make a bit of money, even if you think you're close to death. The dynamic changes as the tournament goes on as well - rich players might become unofficial targets, for example.
Dino: Ah, I see. That could definitely impact how the game is played and add extra balance. It also seems to add quite a bit of balance to me by ensuring that everyone gets a chance to be the Curator with the Full Tournament. From your play-testing, does the Curator team win more often than the other players? I thought that might have influenced the idea of the full tournament.
Daniel: You can definitely be quite tactical with The Curator role! Often, when players first start playing The Curator role gets away with not being attacked, because no one's directly hunting them but people quickly realise it's good to make sure they don't get away with that. There's also the incentive that players who aren't on The Curator's team get coins if The Curator dies. They become a bit of a safer bet if you want to attack someone without giving away your target too easily.
Dino: Yes, I can see that. I understand that you have been making games all your life and refining them over time. When did “Hunting Me, Hunting You” originate, and how has it evolved since its inception?
Daniel: Yeah, I love making up games and rules for things. It actually started a few years back as an idea for a co-operative social deduction game where one player was infected and doing damage at night time, when everyone else had their eyes closed. A few of those same core ideas carried over into Hunting Me, Hunting You but it's a very different game to when it started. I've been working on it since April last year and it mostly evolved over a long series of notes on my phone, and playtesting by myself, pretending to be other players. Surprisingly that worked quite well! ...Sounds a lot lonelier now I read it back...
Dino: No, not if you invited imaginary friends to the party. They really do enrich our lives, don't they?
Daniel: Not sure what it says about me, imagining up friends and then hunting them down, I guess they hunted me too though, so it's all equal!
Dino: Yeah, you seem to be punishing your coping mechanisms there… Anyway, glad that system worked! Because now we have "Hunting Me, Hunting You"! I love the unsettling art style you chose to use for this game? What came first, the art style or the game mechanics? And why did you decide to combine the two?
Daniel: Thank you! The art style was first because I work as an illustrator and animator primarily. That's the way I draw so I almost wanted it to feel like a game version of my art. The characters in the game were thought up pretty early on - I was looking at old sketches from last year when I was still refining the mechanics and most of the characters stayed the same. I wanted them to all be a weird mix too - a skeleton, a devil, a frog, a robot praying mantis...
Dino: Because all the characters share the same art style, the characters fit well together, but thematically they seem to range from supernatural to sci-fi to fantastic to horror. Was it your goal to create this diversity while rudely opting not to include a werewolf? (This is the part of the interview where I chastise the interviewee for not including a werewolf. Loyalists have come to expect it.)
Daniel: Yeah, I definitely wanted it to feel a bit mismatched and diverse. I like that kind of mix of characters you get in fighting video games, for example. Although there doesn't appear to be a werewolf, I could argue that they're notoriously difficult to spot.
Dino: Hey, that's a good point...I'll recheck the art for unibrows.
Daniel: Maybe there's a werewolf in every game… Even games like Uno...
Dino: Uno... Unobrow...?
Daniel: The clues were there all along!
Dino: Clue? Clue isn't really a game of finding the killer. It's a game of finding the werewolf. At least in my mind… Monopoly is a game of bankrupting... the werewolf.
Daniel: Mr. Monopoly has sharp teeth under that tache.
Dino: Actually, I really think it would have been cool if you included a dinosaur, in particular a raptor like the clever girl in the original Jurassic Park. She was awesome at hunting the hunter… Do you think that you might eventually make an expansion for this game, perhaps with new characters with different win conditions or something that could be mixed with the characters from this game?
Daniel: I do have some ideas for an expansion! And characters that didn't make it to this game too. I feel like I need to walk before I run though, so that's not an announcement. No dinosaurs yet but who knows?
Dino: Hey, what about a weredino...?
Daniel: Never heard of such a thing.
Dino: You never heard of a weredino, but you heard of Farrago Bones (one of the characters from Hunting Me, Hunting You)?
Daniel: Farrago is based on a skeleton I know in real life.
Dino: Real life...? Or imaginary life?
Daniel: I don't know the difference any more
Dino: Oh... Ugh… Here’s one idea for an expansion: New “Target Cards” are created, some with different types of win conditions. Before the Curator can give out the target cards, all the target cards (including these new ones) are shuffled together, and then one for each player is randomly selected from the shuffled deck so that no one knows what “target cards” are in play. The Curator gets to see them and hands them out. Thoughts?
Daniel: That's interesting! I have an idea for a different win condition which is added mid-game, secretly.
Dino: Care to share your idea...?
Daniel: I won't say specifically what it is because it hasn't been ironed out and may go nowhere, but I think it's an idea that could bring a bit more unease and suspicion to the game for sure!
Dino: Well, I'm intrigued. I like that you included flavor text for your game in the form of character biographies. Why did you decide to do this?
Daniel: That came from people's feedback. I wasn't sure if people would want it and I proposed the idea that people could make up names and backstories for the characters. Almost everyone who responded to that question (I had a feedback form) said that they'd love for me to include the bios in the rulebook. I already had ideas about who each of them were so I went with it!
Dino: Well, it's definitely a nice touch.
Dino: It doesn't enhance the game, but opens up the universe in which your game exists, and distinguishes each character from one another all the more. Just how big of an inspiration was Russian Roulette for you when creating this game, and how are you still alive?
Daniel: My aim is terrible.
Dino: Hey, don't dock it. Bad aim saved your life.
Daniel: And put a hole in my wall.
Dino: Better air conditioning! Why did you decide to begin your board game career with a social deduction game? And are you a fan of the genre?
Daniel: I'm a big fan of social deduction, yeah - I'd say it's one of the types of game that excites me the most. It's nice to be able to lie and accuse people dear to you with no repercussions! Largely I went with this idea because I got so obsessed with it and into refining how it would work and also I think it was sensible to not start with a game with a huge table-sized board, miniatures, etc.
Dino: What are some of your favorite social deduction games?
Daniel: I love Mascarade, Bang! The Dice Game, Love Letter, Werewolf of course. Also the video game 'Among Us' - very into that right now and it's cool to see the genre getting a lot of interest because of it.
Dino:Yes, that game really exploded and made social deduction more mainstream, didn't it? Do you know what is next for you? Will you follow this one up with another social deduction game or will your next game be very different? I really hope you go for expansions for this one, as well... Lots of potential...
Daniel: Yeah, I've played with groups of people who previously would never have played these types of games. I think sometimes people don't realise how much fun they'll have lying until they're actually playing. I have a few ideas in mind for other games, one which is inspired by the asymmetrical card game 'President' which I think is great. Mostly I'm going to work on getting the game out there a bit more - Kickstarter has been great for it so far but I'm planning to send it out for reviews etc!
Dino: Sure! Reviews posted on kickstarter campaigns often go a long way. Are you thinking of Kickstarter for future projects? Personally, I love kickstarter...
Daniel: I think I'd use Kickstarter again, yeah - I use it to find new games a lot and I think there's a more personal element to it when you're supporting someone and also able to talk to them, make suggestions and see the progress in real time. Speaking of which, we literally just hit 75% funded before this interview started!
Dino: Here, here! That's awesome! And you still have twelve days to go! Not too shabby for a first time creator on his first campaign.
Daniel: Yeah, I've been so happy with the response to the game. First time using it so it was hard to know what to expect!
Dino: Well, you got our attention. I certainly was immediately drawn in by your game and I hope many others discover it during its final twelve days. We appreciate you taking your time to come here to talk to us. The game is “Hunting Me, Hunting You,” and its kickstarter is currently live. Check it out!
Daniel: Thank you very much, I'm glad I did!