Eoin Costelloe, Software Engineer and Board Game Developer

Hi, my name is Eoin Costelloe, and I am a Software Engineer in the travel industry. I work alongside customers in all parts of the world to help them understand and manage the software my company produces. I was born and raised in Ireland, but luckily my job has allowed me to live in places like Poland, Hong Kong, and Montreal. Travel is a beautiful thing that has changed my perspective on so much. It has opened doors to experiencing interesting cultures and friendly people.

I have always been interested in tech ever since I was kid playing computer games and building desktops for my family and friends. Building code was the next step. Seeing my software used by people gave me a great sense of satisfaction. It is a mixture of problem solving and design that I love. Even the most basic programs can make someone’s life that little bit easier. Finding a travel job on top of that was a great experience.

However, if I could, I would quit my job and work full time as a board game developer. About 3 years ago, I co-founded Decking Awesome Games, a board game company, with my sister and brother-in-law. They say never get into business with family, but we are passionate about the industry and we work well together. The mission of Decking Awesome Games is to develop games that bring people closer together. We want to design games with styles and themes that everyone can enjoy. We want to give people joy in the games we make. The same joy we feel when we play other games.

Eoin Costelloe, Right

I remember a computer game night in college that turned into my first ever board game night. The Internet went down halfway through the event, but luckily someone had a board game called Werewolf. This is a social deduction game where players must find out who amongst them is a werewolf. The rules are very simple, some people are villagers, and some are werewolves. It leads to people accusing each other of being traitors, and a lot of shouting, but everyone is included in the dialogue. Feeling that social interaction was when I knew that board games could do things that computer games never could.

Designing board games is the perfect outlet for creativity. Unlike computer games, creating prototypes for your ideas is as simple as writing on a piece of paper and using your imagination (or pieces from other board games) to play the game. It is fun and challenging to watch your game get feedback from play testing with people. I use the same problem-solving techniques for writing code as I do designing game mechanics. It has also given me a great experience of running a company. This includes things like communicating with artists to represent the theme of your game, to negotiating with manufacturing companies to bring your game into the real world.

Designing board games is about taking changing ideas and reiterating them over and over until you produce a product that people want to use. It gives you a much wider view of the issues facing software development. Several skills are transferable from both domains. I use scrum methodologies to ensure we do not waste too much time going down dead ends. For our next game, Dice Summoners, I am developing a mobile app so people can play the game on the move.

The more I develop board games, the more I realise what I love about software development. I have started to focus my tech career around architecture design. It has made me appreciate project management in a way I had never considered. Both board games and software development work together, helping to round each other out.

Decking Awesome Games’ latest creation: Dice Summoners

Our new game, Dice Summoners, is my favourite that we have developed so far. It is a dice and card game where two players duel. Players use dice to summon creatures and wield powerful spells. Players build a strong army to help them gain dice and give them more options to strike their opponent. The objective is to deplete their opponent’s health to eliminate them and win. We have been developing this game for over a year now, and I still love playing it. We are finishing up development soon and posting the game to several competitions to get feedback. A Kickstarter for it will follow so find us on social media to see our updates.

There is no time like the present to begin. You do not need to set up a company to develop your own board game. Start your idea on paper. Do not worry about balancing the game or if the rules are confusing, just play the game. Find out which parts of your idea are fun, develop it a little more and prototype again. It is fun to create something and by the end of it, you might end up with a game that everyone enjoys playing.

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