Jeff Dougherty – Founding Producer

Jeff Dougherty - Founding Producer of Shenandoah StudioI’m a New England native through and through- grew up in Connecticut and went to Williams College in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains. I’ve always been a gamer, ever since I got my hands on Avalon Hill’s old Naval War game and my brother came across an old boxed set of Dungeons and Dragons at about the same time.  As time went by, I got more and more into adapting the existing rules when they didn’t make sense to me, or even writing new sections to expand on what was there.  I also got an exposure to some of the best of late 1980s computer gaming, games like Oregon Trail, Silent Service, and Neuromancer that had to emphasize good gameplay and interesting story because graphics and sound weren’t enough to carry the whole production.

Looking back, my first foray into game design was one summer vacation, when my brother and I made a game in an old school composition book about mercenary space fighter pilots in a Spaceman Spiff-style far future. (Wish I could find those notes, now that I think about it- who knows, with a little reworking…)  I also caught the history bug early, particularly naval history, thanks to a rich childhood spent traveling all over the country with my family and crawling over what seemed like every preserved museum ship we came across. To this day, the smell of paint, metal, and fuel oil is comforting because of all those happy memories. Yes, I know I’m a weirdo. During college I mostly stuck to pencil-and-paper roleplaying games, but never really lost the rules-writing bug. I kept up my gaming throughout college as part of WARP, the Williams Association of Roleplayers, as fine a group of weirdos as you’ll find anywhere on planet Earth.

Unfortunately, after getting a degree in molecular biology, working as a lab technician, and briefly pursuing medical school, I decided that research work wasn’t really for me.

I graduated college in 2005 and lived in Boston for three great years afterwards figuring out what to do next.  Unfortunately, after getting a degree in molecular biology, working as a lab technician, and briefly pursuing medical school, I decided that research work wasn’t really for me.  It was, as they say, time for Plan B.

Fortunately, about that time I fell in with a bunch of board gamers around Philadelphia and started working with local designer Steve Cunliffe on his games “The Hell of Stalingrad” and “The Fires of Midway”.  That lead to working with “Harpoon” designers Larry Bond and Chris Carlson on “Persian Incursion”, a card-driven simulation of an Israeli attack on Iran, and my first solo design, War Patrol.  Now I’ve fallen in with two great compadres and I’m psyched to move into the exciting new world of iPad gaming.

I’m psyched to move into the exciting new world of iPad gaming

Favorite games, other than the ones I’ve worked on:

1. “HeroQuest”.  Swords, sorcery, and hordes of monsters to hack through.  What else could I have wanted from my childhood?

2. “Screaming Eagles”.  Ameritrash at its finest.  F-16s against MiG-25s in a dogfight straight out of Top Gun, launching missiles and sending the enemy down in flames.

3. “B-29 Superfortress”.  Underappreciated solitaire title that gives you a really great look at what it was like to bomb Japan during World War II.  I know the classic game in this genre is Avalon Hill’s “Queen of the Skies”, but by the time I came onto the gaming scene that one was unobtainable.

4. “Hornet Leader”.  Anyone noticing a pattern here yet?  Cool planes, cool weapons, tough missions, and a squadron of pilots to keep healthy and happy.  It really is kinda like Screaming Eagles for the more grown-up set.

5. “Last Night on Earth”.  Because sometimes you’ve just gotta shoot a zombie.

6. “Tinners’ Trail”.  What can I say?  There’s something oddly compelling about pumping water out of mines in Wales so you can get tin out of them.  Like a lot of Martin Wallace games this one has a lot of moving parts, but I like the result- there’s always something you can do no matter how far behind you are.

7. “Twilight Struggle”. The running dog capitalists shall tremble in fear before the newly established power of the Mexican Soviet Socialist Republic!

8. “Vegas Showdown”.  I know there are other, more complex building games out there, but there’s just something about building a mega-casino that I love.  Even when I lose the game, I can look out over “my place” and know I built something cool.

9. “High Frontier”, because for a hard-core space enthusiast and tech head there’s nothing more fun than staring at a board for 90 minutes trying to figure out how to get your crew to Mars and back- and then finding out when they get there that it’ll take them five years to refine enough fuel to get back.  Sorry guys.  Hope you packed some extra helpings of trail mix.

10. And finally, “DungeonQuest”, the game where you die.  No, seriously.  But you’ll have so much fun before you die, trying to make it through an uncharted castle, grab the dragon’s treasure, and make it out before sundown that you’ll be back for more.  It’s either brilliant game design or Stockholm Syndrome in action.

My personal pet peeve in game design is games with a runaway leader or lagging loser effect, where once you fall behind or get ahead things start to snowball and it’s hard for any catching up to happen.  This is less of a problem with two-player games since you can always agree to “call it” when one side gets an advantage, but in multi-sided games there’s nothing more annoying than spending an hour watching the other two people at the table play for first place. A lack of meaningful decisions for a player to make annoys me as well. No, I didn’t do well with “Monopoly” when I was a kid.

When I’m not playing games, my hobbies include sailing, writing, military history, and aviation.

Cheers, and I look forward to making the next generation of games with you.

-Jeff Dougherty



BREAKING NEWS

Designer Chat with Mark Herman on Youtube

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Reviews on Desert Fox

Reviews on Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein are out! Click here to read articles at Pocket Tactics, Touch Arcade, Pocket Gamer and more.

Strategy Chat with Mark Herman – Thursday at 3pm EDT

Here is the link: http://youtu.be/okhRinpfJCI

We are back this week with another look at Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein in action. Designer Mark...