You might not know a lot about Nicolas Sato, but one thing you should know is that he makes great games. I had the pleasure of interviewing this new hot name in the game designing world.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Hi ! My name is Nicolas Sato, I’m 35 years old and I live in Epinal (North East of France). I’m a former sports trainer for children, but currently I work as a development analyst.
What’s yours favourite game?
That a pretty tough question to answer, the list I’d make could turn out to be a long one. I like games of all kinds so I will try to name one per type:
I’d start with the game that introduced me to ‘modern’ board games’ world:
‘Citadelle’ by Bruno Faidutti.
Then, my favourite games on top of my head would be:
Puerto Rico, Himalaya (Lord of Xidit), Seasons, Love letters, Targui, Kingsburg, 7 Wonders, Dixit, Abyss, Augustus, Gobb it and Hanabi.
Lastly, I really enjoyed playing 7 Wonders Duel, Mafia de Cuba and Mysterium.
Also, I can’t wait for the release of ‘Polaris’ by Roberto Fraga and ‘Manchots barjots’ by Bruno Cathala and Matthieu Lanvin.
What game would you use to introduce new people to the hobby?
Without any doubt: ‘Dixit’. This game allows players from all age to use their imagination, without any particular knowledge about modern type board games.
I’d then make them play ‘Augustus’. Based on a simple method known by all, this game introduces basic mechanics used in modern style board games. In addition, it’s a rather short game to play, to me this is an essential point for new games.
What’s your best game experience?
Luckily, at the moment, I keep having new best memories every month. This is probably the reason why, I always take so much pleasure from playing games in general. Just to name one, I’d say it was a test run for one of my prototypes with some of my friends.
This game turned out to be so rubbish that we were laughing to tears, we just couldn’t stop laughing. Despite this great time with my friends, I decided this game still shouldn’t be released!
What is the most important aspect of playing games for you?
This depends on my mood at the time, I don’t always expect the same from a game. Could be either having good laugh or spending a couple of hours focus on a strategy, the most important isn’t really about this but it’s all about having a fun time with friends.
Why do you design games?
When I was working as a sports trainer for children, I was always trying to create and come up with new sports games for the kids because I found it very sad and boring to keep doing the same things I was doing when I was their age. All it takes is a bit of imagination.
After this, I started to create board games for them when we couldn’t go outside because of bad weather. Game creation is as a true hobby to me. I very much enjoy any step on the way making possible the creation of a new game. I mean, find the mechanic of the game, imagine its universe, prototype making, and last but not least present it to others. It’s very rewarding to see people having a good time thanks to something you imagined and created from scratch.
What are you most proud of?
What made me be the proudest is definitely receiving congratulations from authors I’ve always admire the great work!
What is the most important part of making a game for you?
Never stop questioning yourself. Don’t just be satisfied with what you managed to achieve already. You can always do better. This is the key for constant improvement.
Knowing where to you want to take the game allows you to make the relevant choice in the creation without trying endlessly to achieve it unsuccessfully.
You need to listen to players’ feedback and take it into account, however, without forgetting your personal views and wills.
Do you usually like to start from the theme or mechanics?
The process is pretty much always the same, I start with getting an initial mechanic, an idea that seems interesting to me and once I found a way to magnify it, I look for a good suitable theme. Finally, I finalize the game development by trying to link as well as possible theme and mechanics.
A few times, I tried to start by the theme, and every single time, I couldn’t manage to finish the game.
Where do you find your inspiration for new game themes and mechanics?
There’s no rule, can be varies a lot. For instance, for ‘Kenjin’, the idea came to me while going for a nap. I was in a dead-end with another game, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I went to sleep, when I woke up… Eureka! I have the whole mechanic for ‘Kenjin’.
For ‘Lutèce’, the inspiration came from day-to-day life. I came to a shop where there were sales on and I saw women both trying to pull their way the same cardigan. I just thought to myself: If only one of them pulls, it’s hers, but if they both do it, it’s going to break: the concept for ‘Lutèce’ was born.
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Nicolas a bit more, I know I did. So go pick up his great games and keep an eye on him and his games in the future.