Bruno Cathala is not only a great designer, but also a nice funny guy. He’s the man behind some of my favorite games (including Five Tribes, Mission: Red Planet, Jamaica and 7 Wonders: Duel). He’s also a very busy man, but I did “trick” him into giving a short interview.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Well… After 18 years working as R&D engineer in material sciences, I became a full-time game designer after being fired for economic reasons.
I’ve always been passionate about games. All kinds of games, in all categories. There are games i love, and other one that are not for me.
Aside from games, I like riding my bike in the french mountains, and fly-fishing, and searching mushrooms…
What’s your favourite game?
Magic: The Gathering, but also an abstract game called Gyges are at my top.
What game would you use to introduce new people to the hobby?
Probably games like Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, 6 Nimmt! or Times Up
What’s your best game experience?
5 years ago, I was in the states. I enter in a small restaurant, where some people were eating, others where watching NFL on TV and four guys were playing Shadows over Camelot !!!
I asked them if i could take a picture of them playing the game. They agreed but asked me why I wanted to take this picture. I answered “Because I’m one of the designer of the game“… They didn’t believe me, so i had to show them my passport! Then, they were so happy that we took a lot of pictures together and i had to sign their copy… Amazing!
What is the most important aspect of playing games for you?
The best is all the social interactions that games create with other players.
Games reveal your true personality.
Why do you design games?
To forget that we are all just are waiting for our deaths.
What are you most proud of?
Probably Five Tribes, for personal and professional reasons.
It’s a game I still play again and again, without getting bored.
What is the most important part of making a game for you?
The last 20% of the development which takes 80% of your time.
Having ideas is not that difficult. Being able to develop them start to end is something different… And that’s what makes the difference.
Do you usually like to start from the theme or mechanics?
It depends, I would say 50-50… And don’t forget that it’s also possible to start from a specific kind of component you want to play with.
Where do you find your inspiration for new game themes and mechanics?
I never sit at my table reaching for ideas. They come to me when they come.
And their birth is probably the result of a lot of influences, like books, movies, games and discussions that crossed my life in the past.
My personal favourite designer, he’s overtaken Antoine Bauza (sorry Antoine!)