Thanks for accepting this interview! So, you are Bryan Sharkey, the author of C56 « Smash and Grab ».
1/ Where are you from? Could you give us a quick word about you and how you fell into Zombicide?
I’m currently living in Seattle, though I’m from Missouri originally. That’s where I was first introduced to Zombicide as I had a friend (who is actually the trench coat Seeker from Angry Neighbors) that backed the first Kickstarter. I immediately fell in love with it after our first game, and thankfully he had ordered extra copies of everything so I was able to buy a set from him. From there the obsession only grew, haha!
Trench Coat Seeker, you meen Shawn ?
I was the one that took that picture, haha! We originally met locally to play Last Night On Earth, after that we became zombie friends. Once he brought Zombicide to the table, ha it was all over for me as no other game stood a chance for years to grab me like Zombicide did.
2/ Which Zombicide(s) do you own, play?
I own every Zombicide and currently am waiting for Invader to arrive! I’ve backed each Kickstarter since Season 2 and have shared my love of the franchise to countless people, it’s been a fantastic gateway game for non-board gamers I’ve found. Nothing is more fun than seeing strangers walk up to my table and gawk in awe at the board covered in zombie miniatures! I’ve pretty much been playing the Black Plague series exclusively since it came out. As much as I loved the modern series, there’s just something more alluring with the fantasy setting and cooler mechanics and designs of the baddies, such as the necromancers, deadeyes, dragons(!), orcs, and the wild arrange of abominations! I’m very much looking forward to trying Invader and am super pumped for 2nd Edition to get back into the classic modern setting!
3/ How did you worked your Mission out? How did you playtested it?
One of the most appealing aspects of Zombicide is the customizability the game offers to players. Unlike video games, I could easily create my own content, from new missions to my own houserules (that friendly fire rule was the first to go in my games). I started playing with all sorts of mission concepts and finally submitted my first design to the map contest, which was Smash and Grab. The concept was simple: what would happen if your bunker ran out of supplies? So the mission tasks you with braving the city as you hunt down supplies and get back to the shelter before the area becomes too infested with zombies. Since Zombicide is playable solo, I did all of the playtesting on my own as I could freely change anything on the fly. Some minor tweaks were made here and there, but after a few plays the mission felt solid enough to me to submit.
4/ Could you timeframe the different steps to the publishing?
The timeline was about a week from mission concept to submission, after that I didn’t hear anything until TWO YEARS later, haha! I don’t know what Guillotine Game’s process was for the mission selection, but I was definitely shocked at the time lapse, haha. I was a little bummed it was that mission actually as I had submitted better ones during those two years, but hey at least I got a win in!
5/ Did Guillotine rework anything?
Guillotine actually didn’t change anything aside from formatting the mission into their published format. Looking back I wish I was able to reformat some of the rules writing as it wasn’t the best at the time, considering it was my first submission, but c’est la vie!
6/ So now you won. How did it feel?
Oh man, I was floored and ecstatic when I got the email from Nicolas Raoult! I was also flabbergasted when I realized it was my Smash and Grab mission that won from two years prior and none of my better more recent ones I had made, haha. In the end it was the published part that was the best prize as I was also sent an Audrey figure pack (which I already owned from Season 3 Kickstarter) and Zombicide Compendium #1 (which I also already owned).
7/ Are you still motivated to win a second time?
I definitely haven’t been as motivated in creating custom maps for Black Plague as I was for Moderncide. I did make a two part mission involving a Lich King’s fortress that acted as a prequel to Green Horde, but I typically end up playing the core mission #3 « The Shepherds » as it’s probably my favorite for teaching new players. I’m not even sure if Guillotine Games still reviews player submitted maps as there haven’t been any contest winners since Black Plague came out. I can’t blame them as it’d be a near impossible task to review the countless submissions they must get given how popular the franchise has become over the years!
8/ Tips? Advice?
Haha, the only tips I can offer is the same as Guillotine: make your mission UNIQUE and FUN! Also make sure to playtest it A LOT, I’m definitely guilty of resubmitting two of my personal favorite designs a few times each as I would find little tweaks here and there the more I played the missions with my friends. Definitely be patient in that regard, it can separate an OK design from a GREAT design with the right amount of polish. Even then, you’ll probably have better ideas down the road for that same mission, it can never be perfect, haha!
9/ What do you think about other Missions? Any favourite?
I absolutely LOVE the ingenuity that other players have come up for their missions! My winning submission is nothing compared to some of the awesome winners I’ve seen online, with my favorite being a rather simple concept that’s incredibly fun and also added such a great concept to the franchise. That mission was « 300 », by Rafael Roca, is essentially a survival mission that requires you to kill 300 zombies on a 2×2 tile map. It’s a fun challenge and it introduced the concept of « Ultra Red Mode », which I believe Guillotine credited this mission for as an adopted mechanic moving forward. My other top favorite mission is « Day Zero », by Jeffrey Alley. I LOVE storytelling and what better way than a mission set right at the start of the zombie outbreak to get a glimpse of our hero’s civilian life at that moment? I hope Guillotine brings this mission officially into the 2nd Edition core box as it just makes the perfect intro story for the cast.
10/ What do you hope for, gaming-wise, CMON-wise or Zombicide-wise?
Well I’m definitely excited for the 2nd Edition of Zombicide to hit Kickstarter in the very near future! I already have my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles packs preordered with IDW, and Invader should be arriving very soon for myself, so I’m riding quite the Zombicide high right now, haha! There’s still also Evolution next year and the previously announced Night of the Living Dead and Zombicide RPG games that were announced last year! I am a bit bummed to see that the 2nd Edition Survivor ID cards are formatted differently from Black Plague and Invader, which means 2.0 and BP/Invader ID cards aren’t compatible between each other. In case you’re wondering, 2.0 has a landscape layout whereas BP/Invader have a portrait layout. Other than that, I still never achieved my ultimate aspiration of becoming an official Zombicide Survivor. This was such an amazing honor back for 1.0 and Season 2 backers, and I had actually saved up the money for that pledge tier for Season 3 only to find out Guillotine was no longer doing that. Maybe they might bring it back with the 2nd Edition Kickstarter? Whatever the case, I’ll still be hanging out in the comments and having a grand time with all of the returning Zombicide veterans as these campaigns are always a fun community reunion!
Thank you very much!