28 September 2010

Tuesday Q&A: Jim Snyder

A true wargaming double-threat, Jim Snyder has worked on both computer-based games and on the tabletop. He is a rocket scientist by day (no, really!) and a game designer by, well, any other time

If my plaque was to go in the Wargaming Hall of Fame next week, the 2-sentence bio on it would say this about me:
“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” I guess a one sentence bio.

You would know me from my work in this corner of the wargaming world:
From working with Mark Walker on modules for his awesome World at War series and testing/reviewing/suggesting on other systems like White Star Rising. I’m also working with Rob Crandall on a Matrix Games follow up to Flashpoint Germany.

I'm currently working on:
Flashpoint Middle-East for Matrix Games. It is slow moving beast but we see a speck of light at the end of the tunnel. I’m also helping on the latest WaW module “The Untold Stories” and also scribbling notes on a few other game ideas of my own. I’m also looking over this game called “Orange Crush” for another very handsome, manly, high profile game designer.
(ed note: I did not pay him to say any of those things.... yet.)

What was the first wargame you taught to someone else?
I would have to go with teaching my brother how to play a Star Wars trench battle game I designed on the back of some PanzerBlitz counters back in 76-77 time frame. Basically the first game I put together.

Favorite gaming website(s)?
Wargamer, Matrix Games, Lock n’Load, GrogNews, CSW sites related to the games I support, and The Escapist for Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw reviews.
OK, OK... you're sucking up now. But that doesn't mean we want you to stop!

When I mock up a game for playtesting, my general process is…
Simple steps. Maps. Units and OOBs. Counters. Rules. Test. Then rinse and repeat.

What's one wargame rule you've given up on as hopelessly broken?
I think is more a general wargaming theory that more detail and granular resolution provides a more accurate result. Wargame design, whether it is board or computer, requires a level of abstraction to make the system playable without dragging a truckload of super-computers around to analyze every minute and quasi-insignificant factor of a particular action. Some games I feel get lost in trying to account for everything to get to a result just as good from an abstracted system. Plus more rules and tables and time can really take away from having a good game experience.

What are your three favorite types/genres of wargames?
I’m definitely a tactical/grand tactical modern themed wargamer. Any thing 1939 plus with tanks, planes and/or ships works for me. That’s not to say I haven’t hit other eras or genres. A touch of Sci-fi/Horror/Fantasy works too.

What is one historical outcome you'd change to make a compelling alt-history game/scenario?
I’d say having a NATO and Warsaw Pact throw down in the late 80s. At least we would be able to answer all of the questions of whose toys where better. Assuming we just wouldn’t nuke the world back to the Stone Age.

What was the first wargame you designed your own scenario for?
Mark Walkers “Death of the 1st Panzer”. I got started working with him after Origins a few years back doing the scenarios for that expansion.

Coolest thing you've ever done on a computer?
I have to go with being part of the development team for “Full Canvas Jacket” about 8 years or so ago. It was an add-on for Red Baron 3d, made good reviews in several game mags and was runner up for Flight sim of the year to boot. We lost to MS flight sim. Their game had NO guns and was bank-rolled by a giant. I sensed shenanigans, but there was no way to prove it.

If you could be the filmographer at any one battle in history, which one would you view?
There are a ton of good selections, but I think the Battle of Midway. Such a pivotal point in the war and just a series of right place right time moments for the USN.

What actor would you like to see play you in a movie?
I would like to say Brad Pitt or possibly Robert Downey Jr, but the reality is more along the line of Kevin Smith. We both have the same build, beard, quiet genius, and mad Batman/Jedi/Ninja skills.

Ginger or Mary Ann?
No contest. Mary Ann.

People would describe my fashion sense as…
just short of tragic…
I think we can all agree on that one...

By: Brant


Mark H. Walker said...

Yes, Mary Ann.

Shelldrake said...

Full Canvas Jacket was a memorable addition to Red Baron 3D. It should have won Flight Sim of the Year!